A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some (with lots of swears)

#4 Power Play

This is the one in which Jessica Wakefield tries to sabotage some poor innocent person! Oh, wait … that’s every book so far!

The Cover: …is a depressing gray. That’s somehow appropriate for the subject matter. Liz and Jess are all up in each other’s faces! They look … different from the previous covers. I somehow figured their profile views wouldn’t be quite so delicately featured. Jessica’s shirt is really farmgirl. Ha ha ha, the cover of Sweet Valley Twins: April Fools shows Jessica dressed up in a red gingham shirt in order to make people think she’s Liz, because only Liz would wear one of those, right? HA HA HA! Tables have turned!

The Plot: Robin Wilson is an overweight social outcast whose greatest dream in life is to join Pi Beta Alpha. She believes that if she does this, everyone will suddenly adore and love her. Even sadder, she also believes that Jessica Wakefield (now the PBA president — how does that work? she’s only a junior) is her best friend, despite the fact that Jessica treats her like an underling, running the errands that Jessica is too lazy to do. Jessica makes snotty comments about Robin behind her back and leads her on into thinking that yes, she will be a PBA pledge. Liz realizes that Jessica will never actually do this, so she goes ahead and shows up for her first meeting in eons just to nominate Robin. Jessica flips out and screams and yells at Liz for daring to do such a thing (after the meeting, of course). Liz is determined, though; Robin’s mom has been talking to her about badly Robin wants to be in the sorority! So thus our great “power play” is set up: Bitchy McBitcherson vs. Saint Liz the Meddler (Robin’s new confidante).

Of course, this is Jessica’s cue to override Liz by sending Robin on all sorts of pledge tasks that are extremely degrading and demeaning, which are:

  • Going to the beach, in a bikini. Liz is a dumbass and doesn’t understand why Robin is so upset about this. Jeez, even size sixes get nervous about showing up half-naked in front of their friends. Oh, I forgot: her body is perfect. *eye roll*
  • Running laps around the track every day while kids sit on bleachers and yell taunts at her. Why the hell does she think these kids are her friends? She honestly seems to think that she deserves this kind of treatment and it’s really sad.
  • Getting Bruce Patman to go to some disco dance with her. As he was yelling the worst of the comments at the track, it’s pretty much guaranteed he will say no. And yes, I said disco! It’s 1984 … was disco still popular then?

Elizabeth is so desperate for Robin to get into PBA that she bribes Bruce into agreeing to take Robin to the dance by promising to write a dumb tennis star article about him for The Oracle. Liz fucking sucks for pandering to Robin’s desperate need for approval like that. She’s just setting her up to be blackballed. Like Jessica is actually going to vote to let her in.

So yeah, Bruce takes Robin and he leads her out into the middle of the floor, gets everyone’s attention, then publicly humiliates her about her weight with everyone listening. He calls her the Queen Mary. Ouch. After he leaves her standing there, she runs into the bathroom where Liz dumbly tries to comfort her and Enid blocks people from coming in …. hysterical. Yeah, if I had to pee, I’d really let Enid Rollins stop me from getting to the toilet. Meanwhile, Todd gets all up in Bruce’s face about what he did, so Liz runs out there to break that up while sending “shy” Allen Walters after Robin, who’s run out of the school. Allen and Robin bond and agree to go back and have one more dance.

Needless to say, when pledge time comes around, Robin is blackballed. She is stunned. Really, Robin? Elizabeth is disgusted and shocked. Really, Liz? Liz writes an article for the Oracle about snobby bitches in the halls of Sweet Valley High. Sounds like some objective reporting there, Liz. Either way, Jessica is pissed. Robin misses school for a bit, then when she does appear, she goes into a stupor and stops talking to people. Then she suddenly starts exercising and dieting. In a matter of a few weeks, she miraculously loses all that weight, becomes co-captain of the cheerleaders, and beats Jessica out for Miss Sweet Valley High. Yep. YEP.

Robin gets together with Allen, and all is well. She sure showed them! Now she’s the equivalent of homecoming queen (I guess — if she’s that, then where does that leave Jessica, the Fall Queen?) and a head cheerleader. Everything anybody at SVH ever dreamed of – hanging with the bitches who loved to humiliate you in the past. Sounds like a blast. Robin is even invited by PBA to join them after all, but thankfully the ghostwriter has her turn their bitch asses down!

The subplot: Lila Fowler keeps stealing stuff from luxury store Lisette’s and giving it to Jessica when she gets tired of it. Elizabeth figures it out and has to come save Jessica from being arrested when she goes shopping with Lila, since the store thinks Jessica was in on it. Lila is arrested and Elizabeth has to testify for her character in juvenile court. Mr. Fowler takes them out for dinner at the Palomar House, which we learn is the poshest restaurant in Sweet Valley. Jessica is furious with Liz for not explaining to her what’s going on with Lila, and is too dumb to figure out that LILA was the one doing the shoplifting!

WTF? I have a whole lot of WTF’s for this book, but I’ll try to keep them down …

-Let’s start with the obvious: Robin Wilson somehow dropping all that weight, when she was described as basically grossly obse before, in a matter of weeks is ridiculous. Unless “grossly obese” in Sweet Valley world equates to a size 8. Which wouldn’t surprise me!

-Lila Fowler says that Suzanne Hanlon should be let into PBA because her father is filthy rich and drives a Rolls Royce. Oh that Lila.

-Most hilarious quote in the entire book: Part of the football team runs through the cafeteria with a banner that reads: “ROBIN HAS US THROBBIN’.” Gold, pure gold

-The people at Lisette’s are aware that someone is stealing from them and make a big deal out of telling Liz they have enhanced security measures in place (because for a time, they’re convinced she is the thief). So they just go ahead and keep their jewelry out on the counter where anyone can get to it. 14K gold rings are just right there for anybody to grab, not in a case. Makes sense.

-The girls at school are described as transforming into fashion plates in order to get voted Miss Sweet Valley High.

-Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I must say the writing style was a wee tad melodramatic. And the dialogue makes me think that the same ghostwriter wrote this and Double Love.

-I find it really strange that Robin appears to have no friends simply because she’s fat, especially since she’s also described as being smart and kind. Sure, the popular crowd didn’t want her around, but do you mean to tell me everyone is an equally shallow asshole at this place?

-Liz is horrified when Robin chows down on a candy bar as a reaction to stress. “‘Robin, doesn’t eating like that make you – don’t say ‘fat,’ she warned herself – break out?'” Way to go, Liz. 1) I’m sure Robin is well aware that her snack choice is not the best in the world and 2) nice cover-up. For some reason Robin actually can’t tell what Liz was about to say.

-When Robin starts dieting near the end of the book, she eats “lettuce leaves, two tomato slices, and a hard-boiled egg.” Dude, that sounds like a crash diet to me! For fuck’s sake! What a great example of a proper way to diet, Francine. Kill me.

-Robin’s mother told her that being best friends with the Wakefield twins was something she desperately needed to do. Vomit.
-Robin paid attention to The Iliad in class, so she’s awesome in my book!

Ads in the back of the book: Nothing fun. Just your typical SVH and Sweet Dreams mail-in order forms.

Next time: Jessica might get done by a college boy!


Comments on: "#4 Power Play" (4)

  1. What would a size 6 back then be today? A 0 or a 1? I can’t understand.

  2. Hey
    Can someone read the chapters and record?
    Please if you got the audios or Sweet Valley Kids/Twins send them to msoofloo@yahoo.com
    Thanks a zillion
    Mehdi Sufi

  3. WTF…. I always thought it was Jessica in white on the right, and Elizabeth in the red gingham. My mind is blown. Wait, but HOW do you know which is which from this pic? No barrettes, they both have the same hair, its like they used one model and used each side of her face. No, I just refuse to believe the one in white is not Jessica. I also refuse to believe I spent the last 5 minutes thinking about this.

  4. Carolyn Barratt said:

    One thing left out of this review, was that after all the degrading things Bruce Patman called Robin Wilson, when she lost all that weight, he fell heads over heels for her, so when she wins that beauty contest, he has the gall to assume that she would take him as her escort on the football field!!!! How narcissistic is this guy?!?!

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