It’s time to meticulously chart every detail of another Sweet Valley Super Edition. This one is easily one of the most contrived ones I’ve read yet. Get ready!
It’s Christmas time in Sweet Valley and the twins are still juniors, despite their also being juniors during the last spring break. Yeah, yeah, it’s like a comic strip — they never age until a new SV series is needed. Anyway! That last spring break took place in book 11, when Suzanne Devlin visited and proceeded to traumatize Sweet Valley forever. (You can read more about her in my review of that book.) This would be but a distant memory for all the Sweet Valley kids, but now Ned and Alice Wakefield have done their children the ultimate “fuck you” gesture by agreeing that Suzanne can stay at their house for the holidays in order for her to have a chance to convince the town to forgive her. (Mr. Collins has apparently already forgiven her for accusing him of trying to rape her — chump.) Steve finds out and exposes the plan to the twins, who desperately try to convince their parents to keep Suzanne from coming. It doesn’t work, and so Jess and Steve then force Liz (by way of tickling – ew) to call Suzanne and try to convince her not to come. Liz is way too nice when she talks to Suzanne, so Suzanne continues with her plans to visit. It would’ve been better if Liz had been a complete bitch to her on the phone, but since she wasn’t, the Wakefield kids and their friends decide to be as bitchy to Suzanne as possible while she’s there to make her want to go home early. They appear especially concerned for the welfare of Winston Egbert and Aaron Dallas, who had crushes on “Suzy” last time. I guess those guys can’t man up and get over it. And what the hell did Suzy do to Aaron anyway, except go with him to a dance and get bored with him?
Meanwhile, there are plenty of other Christmas festivities planned at SVHS, which is funny because I’m reading this in politically correct 2010, and there’s no mention of any other winter holiday at all here. Hahaha. There’s a Secret Santa giveaway that apparently only involves the junior class (despite the book’s claim to the contrary), a big dance at the Patmans’ mansion, a holiday parade, and a “Miss Christmastime” pageant. Another beauty pageant?! Aside from trying to sabotage Suzanne, Jessica is busy crushing hard on a German exchange student named Hans and engaging in a stupid war for the Miss Christmastime title with Lila Fowler. They want to win so they can ride in a float in the parade and wave at people. Meanwhile, Liz just wants to get her hands on Todd and his “coffee-brown eyes” – he’s visiting Sweet Valley again and staying with Ken.
The story of Suzanne takes up most of the book, with the kids getting progressively more juvenile and assy as they try to think of a good way to get her to go home. They:
- Go all summer camp pranks with plans to short-sheet the bed and put burned-out lightbulbs in Jess’s room while Suzy is staying there. That’ll get her.
- Have Aaron and Winston send Suzy “Secret Santa” bullshit like a note telling her to go home, a gift box with nothing in it, and a prank call
- Have Aaron ask her to a party at his cousin Eddie’s house, then give her directions to an abandoned, supposedly haunted house on Forrest Lane (which I guess must be in the area of town Betsy Martin and Annie Whitman live in, haha, since it’s a “bad area”)
- Generally act like jerks to her, making snide comments and pretending they forgot she was coming and where she is from
Of course, Liz feels bad about it the whole time, and Steven eventually feels so bad he drops out of these childish schemes. But the joke’s on the kids. Oh my lord, this is just so dumb. It turns out Suzanne found out she has multiple sclerosis and that’s why she is so desperate to make amends with everyone in Sweet Valley. She explained the situation to the Wakefield parents, and they actually agreed to keep this a secret from the kids so that Suzanne could get them to forgive her on their own terms. Come on Suzy, why didn’t you just write them a letter and let it go? The Wakefield twins do notice that Suzanne looks pale and too thin, but she pretends she was on a diet recently, which of course gets Jess to suggest putting butter in her food to make Suzanne fat. Why am I not surprised? Getting fat in SVH (read: gaining half a pound or more) is the ultimate punishment. When they notice that Suzanne has a lot of prescription meds and gets dizzy a lot, Jess does what anyone would do and tells people she is a drug addict.
It gets better. It also turns out that Suzanne and Todd met again in Vermont about a month ago, when Todd and his new friend Jerry Peterson went on a ski trip to “Killington”. We get a flashback of this scene and see how Jerry tried to get with Suzy but struck out, but Suzy did hang out with Todd. She apologized for her previous behavior and Todd almost kissed her until she suddenly mentioned Liz and shocked him back to reality. But there wound up being major sexual tension between them, heh heh. So now Todd can’t look at Suzy without flipping out because he’s fallen in love with her, and Suzy stupidly drops a fucking vase of Jessica’s flowers when she sees Todd at the Wakefield house. (Apparently Suzanne understands that Todd has some kind of boner going on for her, although I still don’t get why she would react that way at seeing him. Seriously, her melodramatics are getting a little tiring.) Todd hasn’t said anything about seeing Suzanne to Liz, so Jess determines Todd had some kind of “tryst” with Suzy behind Liz’s back, but decides not to tell Liz so she won’t hurt her. But of course, in reality, Todd and Suzy didn’t even kiss. I think it’s a huge shame that they didn’t; that would throw some real drama in the mix and teach Liz to run off with Nicholas Morrow all the time. Hahaha.
In the end, the last prank — the “Get Suzy to go to abandoned shack” trick — fails when Suzy’s medicine mixes with the champagne she had and she passes out and wrecks the Fiat on the way there. Everything comes out and Jessica is immediately horrified with herself, but you know she’ll pull this shit again at some point. Liz has decided she and Todd don’t belong together anymore, and as the Wakefields rush to the hospital to see if Suzy will be okay, she realizes Todd is in love with Suzanne and is surprisingly okay with it. (I call bullshit.) Of course, Suzy’s condition goes from “seriously injured” to “concussion” and everything there seems A-OK.
At the Patmans’ big party, Todd and Liz can agree their feelings aren’t quite the same and finally end their boring, drawn-out long distance relationship, and Todd and Suzanne start dating later. Honestly, I think Liz would be pretty pissed off that Todd never told her about meeting Suzanne before, but hey! IT’S CHRISTMAS! THE SEASON OF GOODWILL! (That’s what the Wakefields keep rubbing in their kids’ faces, anyway.) Mr. Collins tells the whole school about Suzanne’s MS at the Patman party and everyone is so concerned … BUT! The doctors were wrong! Suzanne doesn’t have MS! She has …. a RARE COMPLICATION! From MONONUCLEOSIS! They were MISTAKEN! It’s going to be okay! She’s won’t be “trapped in a wheelchair”! It’s a Christmas miracle!
I am totally not making this up.
As for Miss Christmastime? Jessica winds up helping as a Santa’s elf at the mall on behalf of Pi Beta Alpha, but Lila gets Cara to (unknowingly) give her the wrong info so that she has to stay there way past the time of the pageant. Lila wins, but Jessica gets back at her by switching their outfits on the day of the parade. Jessica gets to ride in the parade and Lila has to ride on another float as the elf. I have no idea how that actually worked out that way, but whatever. It’s Sweet Valley – we weren’t meant to question it too much (but you know I always do anyway). Lila kind of gets the last laugh though when it turns out that Hans is her Secret Santa — Winston’s was Jess’s. Hans appears to have the hots for Lila even though he was smooching Jessica at the Dairi Burger several chapters back. (“Those foreigners really know how to kiss!”)
One thing that bugs me is that Suzanne blames her prior behavior on being mad at her diplomat parents for abandoning her so much. She also blames the behavior of her ex-boyfriend Pete (who tried to rape Jessica in book 11) on trouble “with his parents.” Apparently in Sweet Valley World, everyone has a reason for being a dick, and it has to do with not having a perfect family like the Wakefields’.
Some other bullshit: John Pfeifer hits Liz in the back of the neck with a paper ball and she yells “Ow!” Wimp!
Steven and Cara are both in this book, but there is zero mention of the fact that they just started dating in the previous book.
AND, whereas Tricia’s death is overly dramatized throughout most of the rest of the series, in this book she isn’t mentioned at all. The only reference of her is reduced to “a personal problem” that Steve “had been very busy with” the last time Suzanne visited!
Ken Matthews tells Liz, “Todd Wilkins will be all the Secret Santa you can handle.” Liz thinks, I hope so. Am I the only one with a mind dirty enough to see the humor in this?
Here’s another one: “Santa’s eyes twinkled as he looked Jessica up and down.”
The Secret Santa drawings are described as being for the whole school, but everyone who draws the names gets somebody in the junior class (except for Jessica getting Bruce Patman).
Liz frets over what to get Todd for Christmas. She thinks a wallet would be too extravagant, but apparently a watch band wasn’t for his birthday a few books ago. Plus, can’t you just get some cheapo wallet? I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than 10 bucks for a wallet.
Jessica owes Pi Beta Alpha seventeen dollars in dues, which Liz considers a lot. Uh, really? Yet you guys can afford to use your allowances to get your parents dinner theater tickets (book 20)? And you are shocked when you see a teenager who has to get a job (Ricky Capaldo, book 21)?
Ned and Alice explain to their kids that they can’t do anything to stop Suzanne from coming to Sweet Valley. Uh, how about just saying “No”?
Jessica is sheepish about Suzanne’s boyfriend Pete attempting to rape her (in book 11) when Steven asks her about it. Of course, we then get the typical paragraph about how she can usually “handle” the boys she dates, but Pete got out of control. Yeah, he’s the only one who’s done that to her so far! (See book 3, book 5, Super Edition 1, etc.) And once again the book can’t use words like “rape” or “sex”!
Speaking of that shit with Pete and Jessica … Jessica threw herself at him for days, knowing he was dating Suzy, and not knowing that Suzanne was a bad person. So Jessica basically went after another girl’s man … the same thing she thinks Suzanne is doing to Todd. But she always gets away with it because she’s a Wakefield. If you ask me, Suzanne is looking like a better person than Jess.
Liz calls Suzanne “Demolition Devlin” and Jess calls her “Devil-Face Devlin”
Ned and Alice are such great parents that they force Jessica to give up her room and bunk with Liz while Suzanne is there. Okay, seriously, WTF! You’re already forcing this chick your kids hate on them at CHRISTMAS; now you’re going to insist she stay in one of their rooms when there’s a perfectly good den and two studies downstairs! (Don’t Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield each have their own study?) Jessica complains that the last time Suzanne stayed in her room, it “smelled like perfume for months”. Yet Alice insists that “it’s the best place” and then immediately insists that Jessica clean up this “best place” because it’s too big of a mess for anyone to stay there in its current state! Uh … so make Liz give up her pristine room then?
Aaron is now dating Patsy Webber. Remember her? She was Todd’s serious girlfriend before Liz.
Suzanne thinks to herself that she doesn’t want to get in the way of Aaron’s relationship with Patsy, yet she doesn’t seem to think it’s a bad idea for him to take her to the Patmans’ dance instead of Patsy. Jessica, meanwhile, tells Aaron that Suzanne wants to “seduce” him. Hey, there’s a word close to sex.
When a cop sees Suzy wreck the Fiat, he yells, “Jesus!” Watch your language! Kids are reading this!
Suzanne apologizes to Jessica for what Pete did to her. Jessica’s sardonic reply includes, “Well, it’s true that I’m not used to that sort of thing … Out here in small-town America, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen every day.” LIES!
Enid comes to the Dairi Burger with another date, Chip Ettelson, a freshman at Sweet Valley College. Honestly, these SVC kids must troll the halls of SVHS for fresh jailbait.
Olivia Davidson’s Secret Santa has the swim team serenade her at the Dairi Burger. Stan Richards is one of the swim team members. Who the hell is that?
Liz claims she has “never really been the jealous type” which is a HUGE LIE.
I don’t want to go into the whole MS vs. mono shit. But I will mention that Suzanne’s doctor flies in from New York to check on her or something after she’s in the hospital, and breaks the news to her. I find that weird, but I find it even weirder that no one mentions a lawsuit for medical malpractice (with “I’m Every Lawyer” Ned taking the case, of course).
Suzanne was over-the-top sweet to everyone in book 11, but it was part of a fake act; she was just trying to fuck with them. Now she’s still over-the-top sweet, but it’s supposed to be her natural behavior. Give me a damn break.
Finally, Ned Wakefield has an obsession with decorating their tree in blue and silver, and the Patmans’ tree is decorated that way at their dance. I have Jewish friends who decorate trees and bushes that way for Hanukkah. And that’s the closest we have to a multicultural reference in this book, and I’m sure the ghostwriters didn’t even realize.
The cover is very appropriate for the season, but Liz’s eyelids have some weird creases in them, and Jess’s hand looks odd all up on her shoulder like that.
The back of the book has a contest to be a Sweet Dreams cover girl. Must be a perfect size six.
Next, we’ll get back to the regular schedule with Emily Mayer’s problems at home. And by the way, I think it’s weird that Todd and Liz’s official, “final” breakup happens in a Super Edition. Just sayin’.