Oh God, do I have to read this? That was my first thought upon looking at this book. You see, I already read it once before, and it was rather craptastic. I’ve always loved a good Super Edition, but this one was really stupid. In the interest of keeping with my goal to read (or re-read) every single SVH book from beginning to end — to make sure I don’t miss any of the excruciating little details! — I went for it. You know I can’t miss a chance to over-analyze this one along with all the rest!
A Super Edition, in case you didn’t know, is a lengthier tome that isn’t part of the “regular” series but whose events always fit in the timeline (or are supposed to). Super Editions are a treasured part of most YA series. In SVH’s case, there were originally six released, with two each for the summer, winter, and spring seasons respectively. (Eventually, more were put out.)
So, here’s the gist of our first SVH Super Edition. The Sweet Valley kids are going on a bike trip up the coast for the summer. I guess Liz and Jess put off those tour guide jobs they were so excited about several books ago. Anyway, we’ve got Lila, Todd, Olivia, Annie, Bruce, Roger, Principal “Chrome Dome” Cooper’s nephew – Ohio kid Barry Cooper, and Bruce’s friend Charlie Markus coming along for the ride. Enid and Cara are staying at home so Jessica and Liz can write gossipy letters to them. And, I’ll give you one guess who’s going to chaperone! That’s right, Mr. Roger Collins, and his recent love interest Nora Dalton, who apparently broke up with him recently for an as-yet-unstated reason.
One of the key attributes of a typical Super Edition is, along with the holiday season, vacation, and/or momentous event that christens it, we also must have some type of conflict for everyone in the book. So here’s everyone’s respective problem:
The main issue is, surprise surprise!, Elizabeth and Todd‘s. You see, early on the trip the class stops at Patman friend Steve Thomas’s giant mansion to spend the night (in tents in the backyard — wtf?), where they meet his over-the-top spoilt rich bitch daughter, Courtney Thomas. Courtney makes a big deal out of being snotty to everybody while openly defying her dad’s wishes that she not date a motorcycle-driving baaaaad boy named Nolan Ruggers. Yet when her dad suggests she join the goody-goody SVH trip in order to get her away from Nolan and provide her with discipline, she is surprisingly agreeable to the idea. Elizabeth and Jessica are promptly suspicious, especially when Courtney sucks up to the whole group and spends most of her time either crying and sniffling all over Todd about her terribly rough life (more on this later), or randomly disappearing from the group. Liz is terribly upset and jealous while Todd, total douche that he is, acts like Liz is a complete bitch for not supporting poor wittle Courtney.
Jessica is crushing wildly on a dude named Robbie October (yes, that’s really his name!), but every time she runs into him, Bruce calls her out on her shit and embarrasses her in front of him. Robbie is clearly like every other older jackass Jess pursues, but even after she hears that he got kicked out of a youth hostel for tossing beer cans out the window, she still wants to cocktease him a little.
Olivia doesn’t really have any conflicts other than trying to support Roger as he and Bruce bicker at one another about whether or not Roger is a “real” Patman. Oh, Bruce, I thought snagging Regina had made you a kindler, gentler Patman!
Barry Cooper is apparently very fat and ridiculously clumsy. He lusts after Jessica and gets picked on by Bruce constantly.
Lila hates Ms. Dalton‘s guts because she’s dating her father again. Roger Collins (as he’s referred to pretty much every single time in this book) can’t understand why Nora left him and is devastated, but he spends more time ruminating on Courtney and Liz. *eye roll*
Charlie and Annie keep trying to get together, but are stopped by Bruce’s taunts about Annie’s old slut days. Again, pot calling the kettle black, Bruce. (I have no idea what happened to Ricky Capaldo; Liz’s first letter to Enid explains they broke up but are still good friends.) Annie thinks Charlie agrees with Bruce and spends some time sitting around crying about that. I’m not even going to waste time on this plotline, as eventually Charlie explains she just misheard him, and they reunite.
The Liz-Todd-Courtney triangle is unbelievably tiresome. First of all, I can’t stand Todd, and this book just proves my point about what a douche he is. He can’t seem to understand why his girlfriend is upset that he’s spending all his time with Courtney, hugging her on all the rides at Disneyland, and snuggling up to her in her sleeping bag/holding her hand when she cries, very unconvincingly, that her father is a secret alcoholic and that’s why he sent her on this trip. He rails against Liz for even daring to express doubts about precious Courtney, and eventually they break up (for at least the third or fourth time, already) when Liz says she can’t take it anymore. Of course, we’re already on to Courtney after we read a ridiculously stupid letter she writes to Nolan, explaining that she is charming Todd away from Liz so that she can bring Todd home, convince her father she’s changed, and then … go back to Nolan? This plan MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL (and I don’t know why I expected it to).
Meanwhile, Jessica hates Courtney’s guts, as well as Todd’s for making her sister so miserable. She and Lila are initially a team against Courtney and Ms. Dalton (because they’re apparently still in grade school), but eventually start fighting after Lila seems charmed by Courtney’s fake-alky-dad story. Lila goes out of her way to make Ms. Dalton miserable, doing dumb shit like sticking lime Jell-O in the bottom of her sleeping bag. But she finds much a better tactic after she meets two dudes from Arizona, Pat and Don, at one of the youth hostels, who help her unravel that Ms. Dalton is REALLY Beth Curtis, a young divorcee who left her abusive, rich husband behind and was subsequently shunned by the community when he killed himself later. Now Mr. Fowler has subtly blackmailed Ms. Dalton into dating him again by implying he knows the whole story and will give her away to Ms. Dalton’s ex’s crazyass family if she doesn’t become his paramour. That’s really fucked up. Nice work, old George. Lila doesn’t know that Nora is only dating her dad again because he is evil and is making her, so she promptly blackmails Ms. Dalton into doing Lila’s share of the daily work. But after saving Nora from drowning, Roger Collins soon cajoles the truth out of her, and all is right with the world again … yawn. And I’m fairly certain we will never hear of the Beth Curtis shit ever again.
Jessica makes an idiot out of herself to get close to Robbie October, throwing herself at him and then claiming she thought he was someone she used to know named Bart Templeton. Robbie is clearly a huge sleaze, but Jess … oh, you know how she is. Long story short, the pair sneak off together one night and wind up hopelessly lost and bickering with each other, then trapped in a cave by a giant she-bear. I am not making this up. The rest of the camp goes looking for them and Barry finally proves himself as he encourages the she-bear to chase after him instead. GOD this is dumb.
Courtney throws herself at Todd after he and Liz break up, they make out in the woods, and he somehow fails to notice the smell and taste of the cigarette that she just threw out when she saw him approaching. Later, a huge fire blows up and the kids have to work together to put it out. Liz thinks it’s her fault, but it soon becomes clear that Courtney did it with her *GASP* cigarette! Liz exposes Courtney, Todd sees Courtney for who she is, he and Liz make up … wah, wah. The day is saved.
WTF? First of all — Robbie October? Is that a porn star name or what?
-The kids spend the night in TENTS IN THE BACKYARD at the Thomases’ place. I am shocked Lila and Bruce did not demand more upscale quarters!
-I’m shocked that Jessica, Lila, and Bruce are on this trip at all, come to think of it.
-There’s a scene where the kids dance in a canteen to Jackson 5 that is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I have read yet. Liz dances with “Roger Collins”, of course. Gag me.
-At one point, Olivia pulls out her guitar. How the fuck can you bicycle comfortably with that thing strapped to your bike?
-The kids have lobster for one of their routine campground stops … seriously, what the hell kind of bike trip is this?
-Steven and Jessica have a dumb argument on the family’s way to drop off the twins for the trip. Jessica yells, “Steve, why don’t you make like a seafood special and just clam up.” WOW. That’s the worst I’ve read yet!
-Bruce checks out chicks at the hostel and decides to try to pick one up at Jessica’s suggestion. Uh … did the ghostwriter forget all about Regina and how Bruce is supposed to be loyal to her? Hahahaha.
-Robbie has a brother named Danny. I was disappointed they didn’t hook Danny up with Lila.
-Lila flirts wildly with a boy named Tom and goes on a “walk” with him. Get it girrrrl
-There was apparently a nerd in Cara and Jessica’s math class named Theo who wore polyester pants … the horror!
-Jessica complains that Robbie tried to “get romantic” with her while they were trapped in the cave overnight, and Lila points out that Jess was “aching for Robbie to get romantic” anyway! HAHAHA! I love when people call Jess out on her shit! It’s such a rare occurrence.
-Mr. Collins has to save Ms. Dalton when she sees a stingray and freaks the fuck out rather than just… you know … swimming away.
-Barry is so clumsy that it’s kind of ridiculous. I’m reminded of the stupidity of Bella Swan in the Twilight books. Even after he redeems himself to the group, he promptly wrecks it by spilling hot and sour soup all over everyone at a Chinese restaurant. Of course, we know there’s no real place for him in Sweet Valley-land anyway since he’s fat, which Jessica and Bruce don’t let us forget for a second. Only size sixes here, Barry!
-In case you care, Enid apparently had a summer romance with some dude named Hank.
The cover has the twins striking silly poses with their bikes. Liz looks like a two-year-old in that ugly yellow outfit. Jess’s shorts are kind of cute but also look like they are going right up her crotch when she rides … ouch.
The back of the book announces the Caitlin trilogy and encourages you to stay tuned.