A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

Archive for March, 2009

New Post Up + Contest Deadline Approacheth

I have a new SVH review up, at long last. It appears in the March 16th entry since I took so long to write it! So scroll down a bit to see. And don’t forget to enter Lenore’s book giveaway contest! See the entry below this one for all the details. You have until April 5th, so get going 🙂


New Book Giveaway Contest!

Presenting Lenore has yet another great book giveaway going on. This time, you can win a big book prize package from Penguin with 11+ titles! Please visit this link for the list of books and details on how to enter. You can get in up to three different entries, so don’t let this pass you by!

Link below!

I’ll have my latest social commentary on the world of Sweet Valley soon. I’m sorry to tell you it is a sad, sad affair dealing with the judgmental attitudes of Jessica Wakefield … oh wait, that’s every book! 🙂 See you there.

#10 Wrong Kind of Girl

Hey guys, did you know that Jessica Wakefield is a horrible bitch? In case you had any doubts, this book introduces a brand new type of person that Jessica hates. We have already seen her cruelty to nerds, obese people, former drug users, and anyone who likes another chick better than her. Now we introduce the newest target of JW’s pure, unadulterated loathing (thank you, Wicked) – the school “slut”! (In other words, the chick who’s getting more dudes than Jessica.) Brace yourself … the WTFs will be OUT OF CONTROL for this one.

The cover: The color of this cover really vexes me. It’s like a weird off-white that kind of wants to be purple. Did you guys know that the cover model for this was reportedly Courteney Cox? Nice touch with the tiny tear on her face; surprised her raccoon-eye makeup isn’t running. You see, only trollops wear that much eye makeup. Her hair is classic 80s pseudo-mullet. Jessica’s cheerleading sweater is hideous.

The plot: Girl-about-town Annie Whitman is desperate to become an SVH cheerleader — they are “the cream of the crop” after all –but even though she’s pulled up her grades and memorized all the cheers, she has a reputation. As we all know by now, a “reputation” (for having SEX, silly!) is the mark of doom for an SVH girl. Now, they have to let her try out, but Jessica Queen Bitch Wakefield sure isn’t going to approve her, no matter how good she is. Jessica and Robin are co-captains of the cheerleaders … even though they’re both juniors … in fact, I’m not sure there is a single senior on this team! Yes, the school revolves around this crowd! (Annie is a sophomore, though .. how refreshing to hear about someone from another class.) The other cheerleaders include Helen Bradley, Maria Santelli, and Jean West, who are all described as being simply gorgeous, charming, and classy. And Jessica can’t have someone on the squad who has no class. Yes, because Jessica has so very much of that.

“Easy Annie”‘s grades are awful, but with the help of Liz the math tutor, she starts getting As. Jessica is still determined not to let Annie on the squad, but is surprised when she is clearly the most talented girl at try-outs, if not better than the entire team. Liz keeps the tutoring a secret from Jessica, as she tries to get Annie onto the team. Sound familiar? Yes, in many ways, it’s Power Play.

Liz goes over to Annie’s apartment, where she lives with her drunken, chain-smoking mother (who had her at 16) and mom’s lecherous boyfriend, Johnny. So Liz learns the sad life story of Annie Whitman and realizes that she really is a great person deep down inside (although to be honest with you, even Liz sounds like she has her doubts). But Jessica will never be convinced, especially after Annie and Bruce Patman tie Jessica and Skip Harmon in a dancing contest at the Beach Disco.

There are three phases of tryouts for the cheerleading team, and only two slots available. Cara Walker pretty much already has one of the spots. She was a cheerleader previously, but she and Lila Fowler were both kicked off the squad for setting off sprinklers on rival team Palisades High’s performance … they got KICKED OFF the squad for that? For reals? Cara wants to come back on the squad, but Lila isn’t interested. So no one is sure about the other slot, but Jessica thinks Sandra Bacon (Jean’s best friend) might be a great choice. Sandra is pretty clumsy and not necessarily well-liked – Cara and Jess make fun behind her back for trying to impress some boy named Mark with crappy flips off Lila Fowler’s diving board. But, hey, she doesn’t fuck around, and the implication is that Annie does. So Jessica plans to put Sandra on the team in place of Annie. But Jessica has it coming to her when Annie successfully passes the first two phases of tryouts and wows them all with her own amazing dancer-like moves. Robin, Helen, and Maria are all delighted and want Annie on the team, but Jean will vote for Sandra since Sandra’s her best friend and all. Jessica knows she can’t sway Robin or Maria, so she puts it in Helen Bradley’s hands and gives her a talking-to about what a hobag Annie is and how Helen can cast that third decisive vote that splits the tie and saves the integrity of the cheerleaders! When Helen starts to waver on her promise to vote for Sandra following Annie’s amazing third performance, Jessica gives it to her straight: If you let Annie on the squad, I’m off! And of course, that elicits wails of “NOOOOOO” from Helen, who goes ahead and votes clumsy-ass Sandra on instead. You see, Jessica is apparently the heart and soul of the cheerleading team, which I 100% don’t get. It’s Maria Santelli who can do the backflips, y’all! And what the fuck, how does a girl who falls on her ass during a tryout (I’m looking at you, Sandra) fit these rigorous cheerleader standards?

So Annie is cut, and of course, she is in complete shock. She freaks out, and when she learns about WHY she was cut, she leaves school for a few days. She apparently had no idea that everyone talked about her trollopy ways behind her back. She’s found unconscious in her apartment, having overdosed on pills to try to kill herself. Jessica immediately feels like the soulless bitch from hell that she is, and she goes with Liz and some other kids to the hospital, where they learn that Annie is slipping in and out of consciousness and doesn’t seem to want to live. The doctor suggests that Jessica fix the problem by sitting by Annie’s bedside and telling her that she is being let on the cheerleading team after all. And, lo and behold. It works, Annie wakes up, is magically cured of the horrendous depression that usually leads someone to kill themselves, and goes right back to the squad.

I wish I was making all of that up. I really do.

And, because no girl at Sweet Valley is complete without a love interest. Annie gets Ricky Capaldo, the shy manager of the cheerleaders. What in the hell do the cheerleaders need a manager for? I guess they’re too lazy to fetch their damn megaphones? Ricky and Annie really love each other, but even Ricky’s loving talk to Annie can’t get her out of the coma. She lives for cheerleading, y’all, she really does.

This book kind of made me want to puke all over myself.

The sub-plot: There isn’t one.

WTF? Where do I start?!

-I think it bears repeating that 75 girls signed up to try out for the team. You’re telling me that many chicks are really that desperate to be cheerleaders?

-AGAIN, why are all the cheerleaders freakin’ juniors? Why does Jessica dominate everything? Can I go throw up now?

-A lot of other bloggers have asked why it’s okay for Jessica to slut around, but not for Annie. Well, you see, Jessica doesn’t actually DO IT. She CONTROLS her boyfriends! And because the boys can’t ever pick the Golden Cherry, Jessica maintains her respect. Oh, silly Annie. You have to keep them from untying your bikini top, girl!

-I guess Francine can’t let her ghost writers say S-E-X in these books. Everyone, even Annie herself, says she’s been “deeply in love” … what the hell? I mean, now I’m confused. Deeply in love? Well, if you put it that way, it doesn’t sound any different from what Jessica does! And uh, it also sounds like a porno to me … Deeply in love … Deep inside Annie Whitman. Heh, heh, heh!

-Annie has banged Rick Andover, Bruce Patman, Tim Bradley (Helen’s brother, who’s a senior, and who I guess is the Tim that Lila once dated), some dude named Billy, and apparently, all the other boys in school. Of course, it doesn’t come out and say that she slept with all of them. It just says that she’s been on tons of dates. Again, when you put it that vaguely, it doesn’t sound any worse than Jessica.

-“If only Annie had one guy like Todd, Elizabeth thought, she wouldn’t need an army of other guys.” Liz, you disgust me. No, if only Annie had more respect and love for herself, she wouldn’t need an army of guys who disrespect her! Why do you have to have a boyfriend to be a success at this school?

-While Liz is usually pretty open-minded, caring, and desperate to help out a boyfriendless soul, in this book she seems like she’s ready to bolt from Annie Whitman. She gets uneasy every time Annie starts talking about her family history or her dates with boys. I guess Annie’s non-nuclear family is just too unsettling for our little perennial do-gooder.

-We learn that Cara has a huge crush on Steven Wakefield and that Jessica really wants to set him up with her so that he won’t keep dating Tricia Martin. Only people with two parents get to hang around the Wakefield clan, you see!

-Jessica introduces Ricky to the cheerleader hopefuls by saying, “…and please don’t rip his clothes off.” Well, if they did, then I guess you’d be able to keep all of them off the team too!

-Jessica is PISSED about Annie and Tim Bradley because she is “mildly interested” in him herself, and thought he was going to buy her a Coke. HAHAHAHA. Can’t you buy your own Coke out of the vending machine, Jessica? Of course, maybe she’d just mad because according to Helen, Annie went “all the way” with him. Yep, he told his sister about this. Isn’t that just a little bit creepy?

-Annie horrifies Liz by telling her she’s going to the Dairi Burger with Billy and then to the beach with Rick. Two dates in one day! Inconceivable!

-The band that plays at the Beach Disco is called “The Surfers’ Waves” … what? I’m surprised they let anyone but The Droids play anywhere in Sweet Valley. And apparently Jessica’s date that night, Skip Harmon, is a senior who usually proclaims he won’t look at any junior girls. Silly Skip. Guess he never dated any cheerleaders then!

-And by the way, you’re not fooling me, Jessica! I know you let Bruce hit it.

-Annie laments that no “nice guys” want to ask her out. And she also is shocked that someone like Liz would want to be her friend. Oh, barf. A Wakefield on a pedestal again! Of course, Liz is such a good friend that she doesn’t even notice when Annie is out of school for a few days following the cheerleading tryouts.

-Annie’s mom chain smokes cigarettes all over the hospital, even right outside Annie’s room. I guess that was okay in the 80s, but it sounds totally crazy now!

-I don’t like the way this book treats suicide. If you’re going to introduce this topic, then do it right. A girl who literally doesn’t want to live because she can’t be a cheerleader needs more help than Jessica flippin’ Wakefield can give her. And she isn’t going to be magically okay a couple days later.

-What is it with Sweet Valley and girls who can only truly be worth something IF they get to be part of some horribly snotty club?

In the back of the book…My copy just has an ad for an upcoming “Sweet Valley High/Soap Opera Celebration Contest”! But you have to wait until August 1984 to get all the details!

Coming up next…Liz meets someone who’s even worse than Jessica! Actually, they’re probably about the same.

#9 Racing Hearts

This book was originally supposed to be called Love on the Run, but it was changed at the last minute, apparently. I kind of like the first title better! But either way, you get a silly pun … because Roger Barrett stars in this one … and he races … get it … he’s a runner … har, har.

The cover is the first to omit a Wakefield twin’s face! Instead, we get slinky brunette Lila Fowler and shy nerd Roger Barrett. I loved Lila as a kid, probably because we both have dark brown hair, and she was one of the few brunettes in the whole series that wasn’t portrayed as a dumpy nerd.

The plot: Well, it’s pretty much the exact same shit as the last book, with the story built around a dopey love triangle that we will probably revisit again and again in Sweet Valley: Shy Boy, thrust into the spotlight by his amazing talent , is hopelessly in love with bitchy, gorgeous girl who spurns him. Shy Boy has a good friend in a dumpier, nerdier chick, who’s secretly in love with him but who must watch as he ditches her for Sexy Bitch over and over. Shy Boy hides a deep, dark secret that torments him almost as much as Sexy Bitch’s withheld love does. Eventually, Shy Boy wises up and goes for Nerd Girl, but only after she’s cried herself to sleep over him multiple times (why not just ditch his dumb ass?) and Sexy Bitch has been served her comeuppance by having Shy Boy dump her just as she decides she wants him because he has a cool, previously hidden talent that makes him a star. Yep, I think that about covers it. Of course:

Shy Boy = Roger Barrett
Nerd Girl = Olivia Davidson
Sexy Bitch = Lila Fowler
Amazing Talent = Track racing
Painful Secret = Family is poor; must work as a janitor at Ned Wakefield’s law office building

Anyway, the big dance in this book (because there’s at least one in pretty much every book) is the Bart Dance. Hehehe, that reminds me of the Bartman. This Bart Dance is based on the big Bart Race that Roger runs in after Liz needles him endlessly to try out (although it’s Lila who finally convinces him). What a meddler. So annoying! The big prize for winning the Bart race is a full scholarship to Sweet Valley College, because everyone who graduates from Sweet Valley High is going to want to go to a school in the same town. Well, they all pretty much do, don’t they? So Roger agrees to race while knowing that he can’t, because his evil boss doesn’t obey occupational laws and will fire him if he takes off for it. But then big bad Mr. Wakefield gives his boss a stern talking-to and Roger’s good to go. Of course, he beats out Bruce Patman, Tony Esteban, and El Carro’s Joe Epson, wins the race, snubs Lila and ruins the victory party she planned for him by not showing up. Kind of like Bill Chase snubbed Jessica’s congrats on his newfound acting superstardom by running off to smooch DeeDee.

The writing isn’t nearly as good in this book. It just seems a little stiff. In fact, this book pretty much sucked.

The sub-plot: Jessica decides to be a lawyer, but ditches the idea after her first day doing grunt work at her dad’s office. But she does meet her latest obsession, Dennis Creighton. She starts staying late at her dad’s office every single weeknight to do “homework” (read: make out with Dennis, who doesn’t want to go anywhere else with her). Her secret is exposed when Liz behaves like a spy and follows her there to find out what she’s really doing. But then it turns out that Dennis insists on meeting only in the office because he’s only fifteen and can’t drive. Jessica ditches him because this is completely unacceptable. (Dude, I dated a 15 year old when I was 16. Big fucking deal!) She is actually kind of heartbroken over Dennis but consoles herself with a male cheerleader from El Carro High (where Dennis goes – burrrrn) named Kevin Borden.
-There’s also some little thing where everybody thinks Coach Schultz is dying of cancer or heart disease or some shit and thinks he’s going to quit after the Bart Race. Dudes … he’s fine.

WTF? Jessica thinks to herself that she won’t lie about her age to Dennis because it’s gotten her into so much trouble in the past. Is this an allusion to a previous book? I don’t recall her lying about her age to Scott Daniels or anyone else … and Sweet Valley Twins’ The Older Boy wasn’t out yet when this was published! Were they setting the stage?
-Bruce Patman’s running shorts are “short enough to expose nearly the entire length of his long, muscled legs…” Boy booty shorts!
-Who is Barton Ames (as in, the namesake of the Barton Ames Memorial Race)? All we know is that he was a young dude who loved to run and who died before his time … A mystery!
-Jessica likes Dennis so much because he’s a “gentleman” and knows when to stop “when their passions were reaching the point beyond which they would no longer be able to control themselves.” HAHAHA
-Oh yeah, we learn that Lila and soccer player Aaron Dallas tried dating in junior high, but there was no chemistry. But Lila thinks there’s chemistry between her and Roger?

-Random characters: Peter Sorley and Mark Riley, fellow runners in the BART.
-Jessica and Lila are seriously at their shallowest ever in this book. I almost can’t stand it. And Lila is written as the dullest, dryest character ever. Gag.

In the back of the book: Did you know Sweet Dreams had Special Editions? Is there a series that didn’t? 🙂 Seriously, that’s the hallmark of a good YA series … the SPECIAL EDITION!

Coming up next…A total whore has dreams of cheerleading superstardom! No, I’m not talking about Jessica!

#8 Heart Breaker

This is the last catch-up entry I’m doing today … then I’ll be ready to dive into #9! So let’s get going.
The cover: A very pretty beach blue with Jessica twisting Bill Chase’s gold chain around her finger. Jess’s face looks really harsh. She also looks just like Madonna … Madonna at age 50, that is. Bill is either resting his arm on an unseen shelf or on the back of Jessica’s head. Weird. And, I actually really like Jessica’s bikini!
The plot: Bill is that crazy good surfer boy who barely talks to anybody and lusts for Elizabeth from afar. At the end of Dear Sister, he finally made a play for Liz after his good buddy Todd told him it was fine, but Jessica somehow fooled him into thinking she was Liz and that caused him to fall in love with her, and when she revealed who she really was it was too late … damage was done … that makes no sense … I’ll now end this run-on sentence because that whole premise just kind of hurts me.
So now Bill has been reduced to a bumbling idiot who can’t seem to get Jessica to pay him any attention. The two of them are starring in Splendor in the Grass, and while Jessica makes him rehearse the kissing scene over and over, she won’t kiss him at any other time. Instead, she runs around with Tom McKay the tennis player and basically acts like an ass. All because Bill didn’t want to go with her to some stupid ass dance. Yawn. Meanwhile, we learn about Bill’s old surfer girl lover, Julianne, who died in a car wreck following a jealous fight he picked with her at a party. This has left him with a lot of guilt, and Bill’s thoughts explain that he fell in love with Elizabeth because she looked and acted like Julianne, which means Jessica looks like Julianne, too, of course. (We’ve already learned all about this in Bill’s character profile from a previous book.) Bill’s good, mousy friend DeeDee Gordon is secretly in love with Bill, herself, but Bill doesn’t realize that he loves DeeDee, too, until the end when he saves her from drowning as they practice for the upcoming women’s surfing championship. Then mouth-to-mouth turns into mouth-to-mouth. That leaves Jessica out in the cold, which is funny since she’s actually started to like Bill and dumps Tom for him. Even better, DeeDee’s father, a Hollywood agent, picks Bill as the perfect actor to audition for roles when Jessica’s convinced it’s going to be her. Fail!

The subplot: We haven’t had a good Liz and Todd fight since, oh, last book, so now we get the issue of Todd’s sexy ex-redhead Patsy Webber from ninth grade, who’s moved back to Sweet Valley after living in Paris for a while. Liz is terribly threatened, and Jessica, being a good sister, encourages Liz that Todd is probably cheating on her with Patsy. Eventually Todd explains to Elizabeth Wimpfield that no, he doesn’t want Patsy back, and in fact, she just got dumped by her Paris boyfriend for someone else, thank you very much! Then Patsy spends the night at the cast party for the play dancing up a storm with Tom McKay, so I guess all’s well that ends well.

WTF? I actually don’t have a whole lot of WTFs for this one. I think it’s supposed to be a lighthearted reprieve after the heavyhandedness (I’m being saracastic) of books 6 and 7, but Bill’s story about Julianne is a real downer, dude.
-In one of the earlier books, Jessica was described as a “sensational surfer” but here she is begging Bill for lessons.
-There are some quips about how sexy Richard Gere is. Hehe, Pretty Woman wasn’t even out yet, either.
-We learn that Jessica once blabbed all over school that Bruce was going to take her to the Sophomore Fling (the tenth graders have their OWN dance?) but he took Lila instead. So why didn’t Jessica treat Bruce the way she treated Bill?
-Elizabeth catches Todd rubbing suntan lotion all over Patsy’s bare back. Sexxxy.
In the back of the book we have an order form inviting us to read the first SVH Super Thriller, as well as an order form for the Sweet Valley Twins series! (This printing of Heart Breaker is from 1988 – SVT and the thrillers weren’t out in 1984 at the original printing.)
This book actually wasn’t half bad. It was pretty well written compared to some others, especially since the plot line the ghostwriter had to work with was pretty dull. Of course, coming up next, we have the whole thing all over again, this time with Roger Barrett and Lila Fowler in the roles of Bill and Jessica! See you there.

#7 Dear Sister

Ahhh, another Sweet Valley classic! I felt like I should be kicking back in a giant armchair by the fire, smoking a pipe and introducing Jessica as she cries by Elizabeth’s bedside …

The cover: A lovely lavender with a dead serious (and somehow very 30-something-looking) Jessica clutching a black and white picture of her sister, Elizabeth. The tag line, the blurb on the back, and the excerpt in the front of the book are all designed to make us think that Liz is in a coma for the entire book, and that we won’t find out if she lives until the end. But…

The plot completely breezes past this part. Liz wakes up at the end of Chapter One, after several pages of helpless crying from Jessica and Todd and a sexy doctor convincing Jessica that all she has to do is beg Liz to wake up. So, yeah, Liz wakes up, and she flirts with that doctor and basically every other male she comes across – except Todd. She decides Enid is indeed a bore, that too much makeup is not enough, and that grades and chores are for chumps while clothes and boys-only parties at the Wakefield lair are totally awesome. Yeah … she wants a party with a ton of boys all to herself. What’s that about? Dreams of gangbangs? (She’s talked out of that last idea by Jessica, who secretly wishes that they could have that kind of party!) So Liz has become Jessica, pretty much. Yet Jessica is completely shocked and feels like she doesn’t have a sister anymore, but when she tries to talk to her parents about it, they brush her off. Nice parenting there, Ned and Alice.

Jess realizes Liz now equals Jessica with an extra dash of crazy and starts to see things from old Liz’s view … or so we think. Todd decides that crazy new Liz just hates him because the accident is somehow his fault and slunks around the school moping and losing basketball games. Enid just kind of fades away after one confused conversation with Jessica. Nice. Meanwhile, I don’t recall seeing any mention of Crunch McAllister getting his due for driving drunk! And if there is one, it’s so small that I forgot all about it! A perfect opportunity to teach kids about driving drunk … wasted. Way to go

Anyway, crazy new Liz:

  • Flirts with Mr. Collins. INAPPROP!
  • Writes a fake item in Eyes and Ears about Susan Stewart cheating on Ken Matthews, because she thinks this will help her get into Ken’s pants
  • Gets fired from the paper for writing that shit
  • Coaxes Winston into letting her copy his paper because she doesn’t wanna do hers
  • Gets in big trouble for cheating
  • Pisses Lila off for trying to steal her boyfriend Tim (um, Tim who?)
  • Drives Max Dellon’s motorcycle (Max is another Droid)
  • Causes Jessica and Todd to bond over the situation! WOW!
  • Gets wasted with Bruce at Lila’s “pickup party” (yes, I said pickup party … sounds like college!)
  • Rides off in Bruce’s Porsche and is about to drunkenly do him when Todd punches Bruce and makes Liz go home
  • Stands up Bill Chase, who’s been in love with her for a long time, to run off with Bruce. (Todd actually tells Bill to just go ahead and date Liz if that’s what he wants. We aren’t supposed to think Todd would want to punch Bill out??)
  • Almost bangs Bruce at his parents’ beach house! He slides his hand onto her breast and she says it feels good! You dirty slut, Liz.

The only reason Bruce doesn’t get to hit it with Liz is because she falls and hits her head in the bedroom and comes back to life. When she freaks out and tries to get away from Bruce, he tries to scare her into banging him with threats of ruining her reputation, and shows her how strong tennis has made his wrists by twisting Liz’s around … oh, Bruce, you silly rapist, you. Yes, another one. Liz wrecks Bruce’s shit and tears out of the house and up the beach to find Todd and sob in his arms. Epic FAIL, Bruce!

The sub-plot ties in nicely. The Percy twins, twelve-year-old bores from down the street, come to stay with the Wakefields for a few weeks while their parents are away. The Wakefield twins are supposed to look after them, but of course Liz always takes off at just the right time, wrecking her sister’s dates with Danny Stauffer (she’s with him again) by forcing Jess to look after the twins instead. Eventually Jessica has to stand Danny up for a beach date to take the twins to a music audition (no cell phones = you lose) and when she does get to the beach, she spots Danny with his arm around some other girl. But then the twins help Jessica defend herself to her parents after she gets a speeding ticket and then hits some man’s car.

WTF? Jessica has to promise Danny “anything” he wants (a blowjob?) in order to get him to take the twins along with them to their drive-in movie date.
-Jessica tells her reflection that she’s glad she lost TWO POUNDS because “Danny wouldn’t want to put his arms around a blimpo.” Yes, because a size six with two extra pounds is a real blimpo, Jessica fucking Wakefield! I read this as a young, impressionable girl! Can I blame this chick for every body image problem I’ve ever had?
-The twins dress as “sexy matadors” for Lila’s pickup party … WHAT. THE. FUCK.
-Bruce keeps calling Liz “Sweet Liz.” So creepy.
-After Liz stands up Bill, Jessica decides to take a page from her old book of tricks and impersonates Liz so she can meet Bill instead. She’s mad because Bill’s never paid her any attention, even turning her down for the Sadie Hawkins dance one time. She gets Bill to admit he’s fallen in love with her (her = Liz), and makes out with him on the beach. then spills the beans about her real identity. She’s doing this because the plan is somehow supposed to get Bill to fall out of love with Liz and in love with Jess. Because that makes tons of sense.

Personally speaking, I think this book was an excuse for Liz to have some real fun for a change without having to suffer any consequences. Hey, it was that bump on her head! She can’t be blamed if she loses her golden hymen to Bruce Patman! I so wish she had bumped her head again AFTER the dirty deed was already done!

EDIT: Trivia Time! I’ve now heard that this book was originally supposed to be called About-Face and that one of the original printings of book 5 has an excerpt from book 7 with that title.

In the back of the book is nothing special.

Next up: Jessica torments Bill because she has learned nothing from Dear Sister.

#6 Dangerous Love

Reading this book brought me back to my elementary school library and the treasure trove of very early SVHs it held … ah, sweet memories. Nevermind, let’s get going with this riveting tale of love and loss! 

The plot: Todd and Liz made up in the last book after their first big breakup, so now it’s time to throw something else their way. Todd has finally saved up enough money to get a Yamaha bike. He also wastes money on a hot pink helmet for Liz because she’s too big of a baby to tell him she’s not allowed to ride. You see, the Wakefields apparently had a cousin, Rexy, who was killed in a motorcycle accident three years ago. Ever since then, Ned and Alice have been convinced motorcycles are the devil and the twins are forbidden to ride one.

When Liz eventually bites the bullet and tells Todd the truth, he’s disappointed and offers to chat with her parents. They’re pleased he asked them about it, but still refuse to let Liz ride. Todd’s bike gets a lot of attention from the other kids at school. He even stops Jerry “Crunch” McAllister (another teenaged drunk) from beating the crap out of Danny Stauffer for hitting his giant van, simply by distracting him with his flashy bike. All the girls swoon, and Todd can now make good use of that helmet by giving other girls, like Enid Rollins and Mandy Farmer, rides around town. Who the hell is Mandy Farmer? She’s apparently “shapely.” Liz seethes with jealousy and probably secretly wishes Enid would shut the fuck up about her boring sweet 16 birthday party plans, because I know I do. (Did you know Enid is really supposed to be in tenth grade, but she’s so smart she skipped a grade?) Uh, anyway, Liz accepts a ride home with Guy Chesney (from The Droids) one day, who’s still a bit of a douche and hits on her. Todd seethes with jealousy at THAT. Liz concocts a romance in her head between Todd and Mandy and starts flipping out, but it turns out Mandy is actually getting together with Winston Egbert, who finally appears to be over pseudo-trollop Jessica Wakefield. They straighten it out and laugh at their idiocy, but Liz gets steamed again when Todd takes forever to show up at Enid’s boring country club party. (I think I’m just jealous because I never had a big sweet sixteen.) By the time he does show up, everyone but Enid’s mother have taken off to dance at some all ages club called the Caravan, and Liz’s ride, Jessica, is at Miller’s Point rolling around in the backseat with Enid’s college-age cousin, Brian. What a shock! Todd explains he’s been with Crunch McAllister because Crunch is going to buy Todd’s bike. Liz is both sad and happy and she then cajoles Todd into giving her a ride to the Caravan. Meanwhile, Jessica feels guilty for being a mean bitch and gets Brian to grudgingly drive them back to the country club to check on Liz. On the way there, they come across THE ACCIDENT: Todd’s crumpled bike and Crunch’s van! Jessica freaks out wondering how she’s going to tell Liz that something has happened to her boyfriend, when she happens to see Liz lying on the ground unconscious and bloodied. She was thrown from the bike when drunken Crunch hit them head on, and she wasn’t wearing her helmet. The book ends with the Wakefield family gathered in the hospital as Liz lies in a coma and Ned Wakefield tries not to strangle Todd to death! WILL LIZ LIVE?

The subplot: There isn’t one … unless you count Jessica’s dating adventures, which I don’t. She is hanging out with Danny Stauffer until his fight with Crunch. Since Danny doesn’t successfully defend himself, she’s disgusted and needles Liz into asking Enid to get her together with Brian. (Is this the cousin who told Enid about the wild college slumber party?) It’s implied that Brian feels Jessica up when she has to adjust the straps of her top, or something.

WTF? -When we found out the Wakefields’ cousin was named Rexy, did anyone else think “OH REXY! You’re so … SEXY!” Empire Records? Anyone?
-Speaking of Rexy, I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason he was described as like a brother to Jessica, yet we never heard anything about him in any of the series about the twins’ younger days (that I know of)? I guess by the time they started rolling those out, they figured the readers were too young to deal with someone being killed off.
-I don’t get why Rexy’s death is the motorcycle’s fault. It says he was killed in a head-on collision with a station wagon. If he’d been in a car, he probably still would have been killed or at least very seriously injured. It’s not like the motorcycle made him drift into the path of the wagon.
-And, why is Liz’s coma Todd’s fault? Or even Liz’s fault? Crunch is the drunk dickhead that hit them!
-A big part of the story is the re-opening of the Dairi Burger after a remodeling project, but I don’t remember it ever being closed!
-We learn the Dairi Burger is owned by the Doherty brothers. I don’t think they were mentioned before.
-Jerry McAllister HAS been mentioned before … in Sweet Valley Twins! And I seem to remember he was a pretty nice dude in that series! This was before his “Crunch” nickname.
-I was going to make fun of Liz’s melodramatic whining that Enid shared something (a motorcycle ride) with Todd that Liz “never can.” Never? I mean, for fuck’s sake, when you’re 18 you can take all the rides with Todd you want, Liz! (assuming you are actually still speaking to one another) But, then I remembered that when I was 16, 18 seemed an eternity away. And I understood. Just a little.

The cover…does not fit with the story. The only time Liz rides Todd’s motorcycle is at night, and it’s daytime here. Neither of them are wearing helmets although Todd, at least, always did. Todd has nice arms though. I have never ridden a motorcycle (although I’d really like to), but the way they’re sitting doesn’t look like the way you should sit on a motorcycle. Liz, for one, seems like she’d fly right off the back of it!

In the back of the book we get a character profile for Mr. Collins, in which we learn of his disastrous divorce, his love for his son Teddy, and his relationship with Ms. Dalton, the teacher. (No more Mr. Fowler!) We also get an excerpt from SVH book 7, which is designed to make us think that maybe Liz is going to die! Book order forms include one for the Super Editions, which weren’t out when this book was originally released (this isn’t a first printing, of course) and which are made out to be the most fun books in the world (which they kind of are).

Coming up next … I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that yes, Liz lives. But is she the same person? DUN DUN DUN …
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