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

Archive for October, 2010

Character Bios on the SV Confidential Page

Woo hoo! Somewhat mollifying my annoyance at the little slide show “trailer”, the official Sweet Valley Confidential page has put up some new content. Under “Remember It” at the top, you can find “Meet the Characters” bios – with, naturally, Liz’s being the first one featured – as well as the original SVH covers and blurbs from the first ten books. The bios might contain tiny teasers about what we’ll find in the new book. Todd Wilkins’ bio says “…did Todd trade twins again?” I’m tempted to just go “Well, duh” but I hope Francine has a trick up her sleeve with that one.

Bruce Patman’s bio asks some weird questions.

“Remember those rumors about him and Jess? Did he really date Regina Morrow just to improve his image and win an election? What’s with him and Lila Fowler? 10 years later, what’s with him and LIZ??”

What rumors about him and Jess? Did I not read far enough into the series yet, or are they talking about book 3? Maybe Francine is finally going to admit that Bruce made like a thief in the night with that golden cherry. But I thought the Regina Morrow question was answered in book 18. Yeah, he really liked her, he just couldn’t keep it up for too long. The Lila Fowler question, I assume, refers to whatever happened between them in Sweet Valley University. Or is it hinting that they are going to hook up in Confidential? (Please?) And we already know from the Chapter 1 preview that Liz considers Bruce her best friend. Please please please don’t let this mean anything further than that, like they are going to hook up or something. I can’t stand to read about Liz crying all over Bruce’s junk after she orgasms.

The depth of my hatred for Liz is starting to scare me a little.

Alright, so Winston’s bio asks if he’s still pining over Jessica ten years after the fact. Haha, well I hope Winston’s living better than that, I really do. Um, but how about the website author(s) putting up the picture of him from the SVH board game, because he/she had no choice? That is the only (non-TV show) pic of him that exists, to the best of my knowledge. He looks like Mr. Collins’ older, less popular brother in that picture! Oh, Winston! I’m so sorry that you were wronged in this way 😦

Then we have Lila’s bio. I am not at all amused by the question that it asks: “Will Lila be a main character in Sweet Valley Confidential?” The main insinuation that she may not be around is not even slightly funny! This is one girl that must never be killed off!

And lastly, some mention of Enid. We’re supposed to wonder if Enid and Liz are still best friends. I wonder why the question in Lila’s bio doesn’t show up in Enid’s where it belongs! Because really … who needs Enid?

The book covers and synopses are cool to scroll through, but um, the description for book 3 decidedly does not match the plot. I think the wrong one was listed with it on Amazon.com too.

If you go check the new site stuff out, make sure you also click on the Quizzes tab at the top.  It tells you which of the four female characters profiled matches your own personality. You guys, I am so sad – I just finished taking it and it said, I can’t say it … I AM ELIZABETH. Now, it said the same for 51% of the quiz-takers, but, aaaaaaaah. A little piece of me has just died. And somewhere, a Wakefield laughs and laughs, the cruel glint of condescension still fixed in her blue-green ocean eyes …

Sweet Valley Confidential Book Trailer at MTV.com

Sweet Valley Confidential just posted that MTV has an exclusive book trailer for the upcoming novel … right here.

It’s, ah, interesting … more like a slide show than a trailer. I was expecting one of those trailers you see on YouTube with actors playing the characters in a scene from the book. Oh Francine, you’re really not going to let us know anything until the release date, are you?

The suspense is killing me, you guys!

#52 White Lies

The title of this is a lie!

I wasn’t too excited about this book until I finished struggling through Against the Odds, which was so undeniably boring that I wouldn’t have cared if Hard Choices 2 was next in line! Seriously, you could pass that book out to people at an Insomniacs Anonymous meeting and dissolve the whole support group, permanently. (To be fair, the author didn’t exactly have a great plot idea to work with, but I don’t care anymore.)

So, the gist of this one is, we get an inside view of some other secondary characters we’ve never given much of a crap about before, or in Jennifer Mitchell’s case, never heard of. Jenn is a sophomore, and she thinks she’s in love with school dropout and resident loser Rick Andover. Rick works at Mello Music (where?), and Jennifer is a stellar keyboard player, so music brings them together. Jennifer’s good friend, Oracle sports reporter John Pfeifer, doesn’t approve of their relationship because hello, Rick is a loser. It doesn’t help that John also has a secret crush on Jennifer. Then Jennifer tells John she’s planning to run away to New York with Rick to start a new music career and be a STAR. Good luck with that one, Jenn. John turns to Liz for advice on whether he should tell or not. (He “turns” to her because she pretty much demands it, after she sees him looking down and he doesn’t want to talk about what’s bothering him. I know, we’re all so surprised.) The real surprise is that Liz gives John the advice to stay out of Jennifer’s business and let her just run away with Rick. What the h? Has a doppelganger murdered Liz and taken her place?

Never fear, this book is definitely trying to make a case for Liz as Patron Saint of Teenagers Everywhere. There’s a scene where she sighs to Jeffrey about how hard it is to give advice to everyone when she doesn’t always know what to say. Jeffrey’s all sympathetic and, “Everyone ends up pouring out their problems to you.” Yeah, because Liz makes them! She practically twists John’s arm to get him to tell her about Jennifer and Rick running away! But like I said, she doesn’t even give a crap about that until she and John witness Rick stealing a guitar from Mello Music. (They’ve followed him because John thinks this is the night Rick plans to run away with Jennifer, which he is, after he finishes ripping off Mello Music. Liz is reluctant to go – another example of what a martyr she must be in order to be a perennial teen guidance counselor. Cry me a river, prissy pants, and get your panties out of the wad your worrying ass has twisted them into.) After witnessing Rick’s hand eerily reach out of the darkness to grab the neck of a Fender Stratocaster, Liz is all about turning Rick in. Snitches get stitches, Liz! Oh wait, that’s only in real life. She helps John call Luke Lander, the store’s owner, to report the theft. That night, Jennifer waits at a crossroads for hours for Rick to come meet her, which he never does since he’s been arrested. Jenn goes home in defeat.

The next morning, Jennifer is a total brat to her parents. She whines inwardly that they treat her like a child because they slightly question her staying out PAST TWO A.M., AT AGE FIFTEEN – then proves she is a child when she yells, “I don’t want any!” as her mother offers her pancakes. Shove those pancakes right up your ass! Then Jennifer’s dad gets a phone call in which he learns that Rick was arrested for burglary. Jennifer convinces herself that her father had Rick framed because he somehow listened in to one of her phone conversations with Rick, and KNEW that she was going to run away. So, in Jennifer’s mind, rather than just be a parent and refuse to let her leave the house that evening, he just made some shit up to have Rick put away. That’s 100 percent ludicrous, but Jennifer believes it and screams at her dad that she hates him out of nowhere. Mr. Mitchell is totally confused. This chick sucks. Of course, her parents don’t make any real effort to find out what her deal is as she ignores him for days on end, so they kind of suck too. My dad would not be having that behavior from ME. Boy I tell you what.

The next day, Jennifer talks to John about what happened and he feels guilty for the fact that Jennifer now hates her father. He even thinks to himself that it’s all his fault that she does. No, John, it’s all Jennifer’s fault that she’s such an idiotic little turd. Then Jennifer gets a call to the office, and John goes with her because she’s upset, thinking that something awful happened to Rick in jail, like he got raped with a toilet plunger handle or something. But no, it’s just her dad needs heart bypass surgery, no big deal. Jennifer refuses to go see him. Someone needs to just let this chick go to juvy. I have zero sympathy. Finally, Liz convinces John that he needs to tell Jennifer the truth and gives him a ride to the Mitchell house to confess his sins. Jennifer is enraged, of course, and they all go into the hospital only to find that Mr. Mitchell had complications and has been checked into surgery earlier than expected. Jennifer cries and punches John in the chest in front of Mrs. Mitchell, who has no idea what’s going on because she is a terrible parent. Jennifer is such an idiotic little brat. “Waaaah, it’s all your fault John!” I mean, who’s the one who made up a whole story in your head that doesn’t even make any sense? You mean to tell me if your dad had in fact framed your stupid boyfriend, it would be okay that you can’t even say goodbye to him before he possibly dies? You little bitch.

Mr. Mitchell survives the heart bypass surgery and Liz strong-arms John into going to the hospital with her to try to talk to Jennifer. Yeah, just barge in on the family in their time of need and cause more stress, sounds great! I hate Liz so much right now. John has second thoughts on the way to the hospital, but Liz is all, “Well fine, I’M just going to go in then.” (But let’s be clear, John WAS a fucking wimp not to say anything earlier, but my hatred for Liz far eclipses his wussiness right now.) She buys some flowers for Mr. Mitchell and fills the card out with John’s name and then gives the whole thing to Jennifer, who’s shocked to see Liz there since Liz has never deigned to give her the time of day before. Liz tells Jennifer a “white lie” by saying the flowers were at the nurses’ station when she got there, but then Jenn sees the card is from John and tries to throw everything away. Liz stops her and Jennifer stalks off crying and Liz fucking follows her, and then sits and presumptuously holds her hand while Jennifer cries. You know, when Jennifer walked away from you Liz, it should’ve been clear she wanted some time to herself, not time with a 16-year-old who snuck into her dad’s ICU against hospital rules to play counselor. I wish Jennifer would punch Liz in the face, and then go play in some freeway traffic. But of course it doesn’t happen that way. Instead, Jennifer pours her heart out to Liz, Liz goes and gets John, who’s been talking to himself and alarming a pregnant lady in the parking lot for 15 minutes, and John comes up and he and Jenn make up. Are they supposed to be a couple now? I couldn’t care less.

The sub-plot is pretty damned boring. Jessica’s true colors are on full display to A.J., leaving Liz skeptical that they will last much longer. Jessica begs out of eating dinner with A.J.’s uncle (or grandfather depending what page you’re on – see WTF?), mock-strangles A.J. into agreeing with her about what the ideal vacation would be (dumb scene), flirts with Aaron Dallas and Michael Schmidt in front of him, coerces him into learning to play tennis, and shows up late for their date. She also admits to A.J. that she and her friends were discussing which boys in school are the hottest kissers without thinking about how he probably doesn’t want to hear about this. We’re supposed to be left wondering if opposites really do attract, or if their relationship will fall apart under the stress of conflicting interests. Isn’t that what we were were supposed to wonder about in book 49, or something? Either way, that’s what Liz does as she fucking noses around eavesdropping on them and thinking all condescendingly about how they can’t possibly survive. A.J. even asks Liz if Jess is getting bored with him, giving Liz further satisfaction that her sister’s relationship isn’t anywhere near as good as the one she shares with Jeffrey. Nosy ass Liz even eavesdrops on Jess and A.J. as they do homework together on the patio, trying to figure out how they could possibly be getting along so well all of a sudden. It turns out that Jess claimed Enid’s idea to start a Big Sisters club at the high school was her own so that A.J. would be impressed, and Liz is appalled. Serves Liz right. I really, really hate her. She thinks she’s so much better than everybody, but she’s at least at their level, if not lower just because she honestly thinks she isn’t! Ugh! And just look at how Liz’s libido totally rises whenever she thinks in her head about the way things should be done in a relationship compared to the way Jess does them. For example, Jess says that tickets to the Jack Hunter (who?) rock concert sold out before A.J. could buy a pair for the two of them, but Lila’s dad was able to score a couple for L and J to use. Yet according to Liz, it would be mean for Jessica to accept the ticket from Lila. Wouldn’t A.J. want his girl to go and be happy, especially since she’s the bigger fan of rock shows to begin with? Shut your trap already, pseudo-martyr!

WTF? The book opens with a very typical scene of Jessica begging Liz to make dinner for her so that she and A.J. can go to the Dairi Burger with “everyone.” Of course Liz agrees to do it, while probably praising herself for making a self-sacrifice to the doormat god yet again.

Elizabeth thinks about how “Jessica had fallen hard” for Rick Andover (during the events of book 1). That’s blatantly untrue. She didn’t fall for him at all; she just wanted to feel better about herself after Todd didn’t give her enough attention, so she went on one shitty date with Rick. But later on the book once again reminds us that Jessica “dated” him like it was something serious. Lila also apparently knows that Jessica dated Rick, even though Jessica let the whole school think it was Liz because she was too embarrassed about it – and neither twin ever corrected anyone’s perception!

A.J. and Jessica have a disagreement because Jessica wants to postpone dinner with A.J.’s uncle so that she can attend Dana’s party. Four pages later, his uncle has changed to his grandfather. A few more chapters and it’s changed back to his uncle.

Dana Larson is apparently good friends with Jessica’s crowd now, even though she always just hung out with the Droids before. Weird.

Everyone is so annoying at the Dairi Burger when Jessica and A.J. have a mild disagreement! They all start breaking in teasing them and acting stupid. Winston is the worst!

I’m confused. In the last book, the soccer team won the state championship against Big Mesa, did they not? Did I just make that up? But in this book the soccer team is still practicing and playing, like the season is still on, with no mention of their big win.

Neil Freemount’s around in a couple of scenes, but Penny Ayala is never with him.

Jessica thinks Bruce Patman and Tom McKay are at the top of the hottest kissers list. And Jess tells Amy and Lila that according to her cousin Kelly, Kirk Anderson was an amazing kisser. Yeah, because 1) Kelly had so much experience before him, and 2) when he finally kissed her it worked out real well for Kelly. I’m not even going to comment about Tom … not this post …

Everyone knows that Jennifer was seriously involved with Rick, but she doesn’t catch even half the shit that Liz did when everyone thought she went on one date with him.

Liz has the unique ability to piss me off without even doing anything half the time. For instance, John thinks to himself that he has some good things going for him, and that “Elizabeth Wakefield was one of them.” Bah! Yeah, fucking Prisspants Liz Wakefield!

Enid doesn’t show up at all until Chapter 11! More proof that she is totally useless! She’s only there to tell Liz about the Big Sisters program. When she sees Liz coming down the hall, she says, “Liz! Thank goodness you’re here!” and Liz laughs, “It’s nice to feel wanted.” Don’t give her false hope, Liz.

The title of this book does not fit the plot. What the hell are the White Lies? A white lie is defined by dictionary.com (and multiple physical reference books that I have sitting right next to me) as “a minor, polite, or harmless lie; fib.” Hello, that hardly fits the “lie” that Jennifer’s dad was the one who turned Rick in. Who really told a lie, anyway? John never actually came out and said that Jennifer was right; he just didn’t admit that he was the real snitch. You could say he lied by omission – the back of the book’s sub-heading is “Hiding the facts…” – but that’s still not a white lie. So if you ask me, this title is bullshit. Okay okay, we could say that Liz told one about the flowers, but that’s hardly the center of the plot.

EDIT: I just published this and realized I left THIS golden gem out! Dana tells everyone that Rick once tried out for the Droids, but all he wanted to do was goof off and get “high” all the time. He wanted all the “rewards” without any of the “work.” So in a way, it sounds like Dana considers getting high a reward. Just the way she phrased it … I just couldn’t help but notice … anyway, I was under the impression that all Rick ever does is cruise around picking up chicks and getting wasted, so I’m shocked that 1) he has a freakin’ job and 2) he made the effort to try out for a band at all.

Possible spoiler for later on: John undergoes a total character assassination later in the series. Although I haven’t read any of those books, I know what happens, which makes this story sound ridiculous to me.

The cover: This is our first cover shot of John Pfeifer. (Why can’t Winston ever get a cover?) John is wearing lip gloss, and perhaps a touch of mascara. Jennifer is really pretty, but could be mistaken for a nicer-looking Amy Sutton, or even Liz. Hate her popped-collar button-down, but love the little tears trickling out of her eyes. Mathewuse is a master at little tears! (See also: Wrong Kind of Girl, Runaway, Say Goodbye, Rumors, etc.)

Next up: Some chick we never heard of before would rather practice tennis than go to the beach. Elizabeth does not approve. I hope the chick whacks a tennis ball into her cranium and knocks a sucka out

#51 Against the Odds

Every once in a while, a Sweet Valley book comes along that is so boring, I have to force myself to finish it. It’s not laughably bad, it’s not amusing for its retro pop culture kitsch, it’s just … boring. My friends, this is one of those books.

We already know that Ronnie Edwards is one of the most douchey people at SVH, however fairly minor his role has been up to now. We saw him treat Enid like crap in books 1 and 2, getting all rapey with her in their break-up scene, which permanently branded him a major league asshole. Now this book wants us to know that hey, no one else likes Ronnie either! Oh, really? Is that how he managed to join Sweet Valley’s exclusive fraternity, Phi Epsilon? Is that why his influence was supposed to swing a thousand Fall Queen votes in nerdy Enid’s direction – enough to make Jessica worry about losing to her? My, how things have changed.

So yeah, no one likes Ronnie, and guess what? His parents are divorced. Oh, that explains it. Gaaah. But now Ronnie’s found a way to Win Friends and Influence People. He’s taken up with some bookie named Big Al, who takes bets on – get this – high school sports. And not just football – soccer! Frickin’ public school soccer! Big Al has even lent him his Mustang to drive around town in! And Big Al calls Ronnie “Smallfry” … HAHAHAHA. That is the most appropriately undignified nickname for an SV character I have ever heard of. In fact, I’m going to call Ronnie “Smallfry” from now on!

Smallfry shows up at the Dairi Burger flashing his cash and trying to impress people. Some stereotypical big goons, one of whom is named Bruno, are hanging out there and take special note of his cash. They ask to go look at his car outside, and Smallfry is stupid enough to fall for it. The goons lure him into an alley and try to take the money. Liz begs Jeffrey to go do something, so he goes out there and winds up saving the day by speaking menacingly. That’s right, these three huge dudes are scared of some little high schooler threatening them. Oookay.

From that point on, Smallfry is like effin’ Prince Albert the golden retriever, constantly following Jeffrey around and bothering him. It turns out Smallfry owes his bookkeeper, Big Al – yes, that’s his name! – a few thousand smackaroos or something. So Smallfry has basically become a high school panhandler, begging for money all day long. Jeffrey relents and gives him 25 bucks, but obviously that’s not enough. So Big Al tells Smallfry that he wants him to pay the money back by having Jeffrey fix the big state championship soccer game. Oh, he doesn’t have to lose it, he just has to make sure Sweet Valley wins by only two points. Jeffrey was previously on a high because with Big Mesa’s star player, Jack Everly, out with an injury, SV is sure to win. Now he’s afraid if he doesn’t do what Smallfry asks, he’ll get murdered, because nobody can like, call the police or anything. But Jeffrey still turns Smallfry down flat, but then Liz overhears them talking about it. She’s upset because now it seems like Smallfry is the third wheel in their relationship. Truthfully, he’s only interrupted like one lunch, but he’s so irritating it must seem like a thousand lunches. Liz starts badgering Jeffrey to tell her what’s going on and why Smallfry is his new best friend. He doesn’t want to discuss it, and he also resents Liz trying to tell him who his friends should be, so they get into a big fight. Hahaha, we haven’t seen this type of situation before … Out of Control, anyone?

Seriously, Smallfry is SO fucking annoying. He comes to Mr. Russo’s class while the soccer team is in there taking a test and stands out there whining and bitching that he HAS to talk to Jeffrey. Mr. Russo has to threaten to suspend him to get him to go away. Jesus, what the hell? It turns out that one of Big Al’s goons just beat him up and so now Smallfry is especially desperate not to be sleepin’ with the fishes, see? That’s about the way Big Al talks. Hahaha. I gotta few names I wish Big Al would take care of. Seriously, I have no idea how this kid managed to get into Phi Ep. Speaking of, even his frat brothers laugh their ass off when he says he needs to borrow some cash. You telling me Bruce can’t be persuaded to hand it over? Just offer to write up an article about what an awesome Phi Ep president he is or something. After Jeffrey sees how Smallfry got beat up, though, he feels bad and finally agrees to shave the points. Good, shave them and let’s move on. I just want this book to be over with.

Liz tells Jeffrey that a scout from Branford University is coming to watch him play, so he’s got to do his best. Not only that, but Jack Everly is back in the game. Jeffrey’s about to lose his head, so he finally confesses the point-shaving scheme to Liz, who flips out. She couldn’t give a shit less about what happens to Smallfry, she just doesn’t want Jeffrey to betray his team. Wait, you don’t care about someone’s well-being Liz? Because he treated Enid like dick, right? Let him suffer! Liz … I see your true colors shining through.

On the day of the game, one of Big Al’s goons, Max, appears and takes Smallfry off to an old abandoned bar to taunt him with a noose. Liz follows them and gets dragged in there herself. Back at SVH, the game starts and Jeffrey decides to just play his best. But then he gets a TELEGRAM warning him that if he wants to see his “little pal” again, he’d better not play his best! Oh no! Big Al is in the crowd, too! Jeffrey starts to play like shit without even trying, he’s so wrecked. It doesn’t help that he can’t find Liz in the stands anywhere … because she’s his inspiration. That’s because Liz is now tied up in the old bar while Max plays the game on the radio. He’s all eager to mess up these 16-year-olds, but he hasn’t even tied up Ronnie yet. Liz is just like, “Ohhhhh noes, what’ll I do”. Yeah, okay, in the last book she was fired up enough to kick old John Kincaid in the leg as he dragged her off WITH A GUN and here this dude just needs a noose to keep her quiet and still. But THEN he mentions that Jeffrey is also gonna kick the bucket if the final score isn’t what Smallfry promised. THAT gets Liz all fired up and she distracts Max by flailing around in her chair while Smallfry sneaks up on him with a bottle and bashes him unconscious with it. So then what do they do? They spin out of there, call the police, and then Liz screeches up to the field and makes Coach Horner call a time out so that she can tell Jeffrey to not worry about it anymore. Coach Horner agrees to do the time out just because he knows and trusts Liz as such a good student. There’s no way she would pull a stunt like this if it wasn’t serious! GAAAAAAH! Liz, the Angel of Sweet Valley! Liz gets Jeffrey to look and see how the police are showing up and dragging Big Al away, and then they take Smallfry off to the station for questioning, but even though it was clearly a female who made the call, no one asks or requires Liz to give a statement as well. And that’s that. That’s the end of it. SV wins by one point as Jeffrey’s stress is allllll gone. If I was him, I’d be too distracted wondering what the fuck was going on to make any goals. And Liz is not traumatized by what just happened to her AT ALL.

The sub-plot: Jessica starts making her own ugly ass earrings and gets her friends to wear them. Smallfry overhears her talking about making more to sell at local shop Treasure Chest and offers to loan her a grand to buy the necessary supplies. So Jessica delivers her sales pitch to the Treasure Chest lady, who looks rather dubious. But just then, Lila and Amy conveniently walk by the store talking about how hot the new earrings are. And that’s really all it takes. Wow, Jessica’s life is easy. Now Jessica doesn’t have enough supplies, but Alice agrees to loan her a couple hundred that she can pay back once the jewelry starts selling. They actually have a halfway smart conversation about the loan and its implications, except this is Jessica Wakefield we’re talking about. Jessica places her order for supplies and it winds up being over 900 bucks. So she hits Smallfry up for that loan, but he turns her down because he lost all his money. Oops. Jessica tells Alice that it’s going to be more than 200, more like 500, or a little more, and her mom’s just like “Okay, that’s fine, I’m just going to forget all about the other heinous charges my daughter has surreptitiously run up on my charge before.” Jessica spends the whole weekend making new jewelry and forgetting to return a call from Treasure Chest lady. When she does remember to return it, it turns out the lady was calling to tell her about a change in policy that bars her from accepting Jessica’s jewelry anymore. Treasure Chest will only be selling just a few pieces of established designer jewelry. Doh. Then the bill comes and Ned and Alice are just SHOCKED that Jessica ran their shit up like that and lecture her about how she made Ned’s card decline at the gas station. Her punishment is that she has to be a saleslady at Treasure Chest until the bill is paid off. Wauh wauh wauuuuuuh.

This cover shows Smallfry as about as big a douche as he really is. Perfect expression, except that’s not really what he looked like when he turned down the loan to Jessica. He was really down in the dumps and mumbling to himself, not desperately trying to explain anything away. It would be more appropriate if the chick on the cover was Liz, or hell put Jeffrey on there again. But you do get to see a small bit of Jessica’s ugly earring, although it’s somewhat covered up by the giant hair pouf she has going on here. It looks like a gold feather surrounded by green plastic beads … lovely!

WTF? Jessica thinks to herself that she’ll need to design some type of Wakefield logo or crest to advertise her jewelry. Yes, make it a golden W sitting on a throne, with angel wings and a halo.

Jeffrey thinks to himself that “just the thought of high school gambling made his stomach turn.” Wow, is it that evil? I didn’t realize this was such a big problem, except on Beverly Hills, 90210.

Jeffrey gets PISSED when Smallfry calls him “Jeff” and says nobody calls him that. Hehe, I seem to remember reading somewhere that he does in fact go by that name in the SVH:SY series!

I love when teen series try to do a play on a real college name. In this book, it’s Branford, not Stanford. In Saved by the Bell, it was Stansbury.

Random character of the day: Chris Wells, a JV soccer player.

I don’t get why Jessica didn’t just try to continue selling her jewelry on her own to at least make a dent in the giant debt. We’re told she had just lost interest in it, because that’s her usual pattern with her hobbies. Which makes it doubly stupid that Alice agreed to loan her any money at all.

I have such a hard time believing that Liz wouldn’t have called the police earlier, you know, before she got abducted, since she’s had such a close personal relationship with them and all.

The only reason the SV police want to talk to Smallfry is because Max already gave them a description of a kid that looks like him. Hahaha. So they show up to the game and are like, oh, there he is. But Max didn’t say anything about Liz? And he’s already talking about his victims so the police can go ahead and slap charges on him? Is this like the end of Home Alone 2 where Marv is babbling nonstop to the police about what brilliant criminals he and Harry are while Harry yells, “SHUT UP MARV!” and kicks him over and over?

Enid update: She’s only in a couple of scenes, to serve as a spectator cheering on Jeffrey, and to make fun of how ugly Jessica’s jewelry is. Man Enid, you are the most unnecessary character ever. Hugh is in the book though. And the ghostwriter decides not to mention how he’s also from Big Mesa. You could’ve had at least a couple of scenes of them joking around in a couple-y way about which team to cheer for at the championship game or something. But then, we might decide Enid isn’t really just in the closet lusting after Liz after all.

Smallfry’s dad is the worst parent ever. He makes a slight remark about how he doesn’t like Smallfry hanging out with that Big Al character, and that’s all we see of him, saying that as Smallfry dashes out the door. So be a parent Mr. Edwards, make him stop doing it. None of this mealy-mouthed “errr, I don’t like you hanging out with — oh, what’s that? You’re running off to drive around town in that flashy Mustang this weird older guy lent you? *speaking to empty room* Oh, okay, that’s fine. I’ll just be here. Alone. Hoping my son will come to his senses. Sigh. It’s so odd, being a divorced parent in this town. I keep wondering when I might have friends. Just me and the birdies. Yep.”

From the Mouth of Lila Fowler: “Oh, please. What have you been doing, mowing every lawn in Sweet Valley since the age of two?” ~to Smallfry, when he boasts that he earned his stacks of cash.

Next up: John Pfeifer is in love with some chick named Jennifer Mitchell, but she’s going out with Rick Andover, and you know what that means!

Sweet Valley Confidential: U.S. Cover Revealed!

As revealed by People.com

As People.com announced this morning at 9 AM, the Sweet Valley Confidential cover has been revealed! It’s much better than the one shown on the Amazon.co.uk site. I prefer this cover a thousand times over!

With that said, the back cover photo is weirding me out a tad. The way the model’s hair was styled makes the end of her nose look odd to me, with it just peeking out like that. I’m probably unusually persnickety about things like this, given that I’ve been criticizing the old covers for over 2.5 years straight now! But I love her necklace – is that supposed to be a more modern lavaliere? Of course, since she’s the made-up twin she must be Jess, and au naturel chick on the front cover is Liz. Some things really do never change.

View the details, and please share your thoughts with me!

Sweet Valley Confidential cover at People.com

Super Thriller #3 No Place to Hide

‘Cause this is Thrillaaaa, Thriller night …

I’m getting sick of these Super Thrillers. By now, I get that they’re supposed to be some kind of mini-series all taking place in the same long-ass, traumatizing summer. (How, exactly, this fits into the Sweet Valley timeline is beyond me – let’s not go there.) I just feel like whoever wrote these had to be the same person who wrote Hostage! because they’re that dumb. And the idea of these ridiculous kids working at the Sweet Valley News – the reporting and writing of which sucks by the way – grates on my nerves the same way getting cropdusted during a cramped elevator ride up 13 stories does. (Oh it’s happened)

Look at Liz on this cover. She’s like a prissy version of The Scream! “Oh my word! There are strange things afoot. Oh, I’m just so frightened!” And nice frosted lipstick and super-sprayed hair there Jess. At least we get a cool Gothic romance background with a foreboding house rather than some weird garage or closet, or the typical Lifetouch portrait background. That’s appropriate considering this book is obviously trying to be one of those old Gothic romances (of which I am a big fan), but the whole thing falls flat, and had me snoring just a couple of chapters in. So I’ll do my best not to put YOU to sleep as you read this re-cap …

Here’s the deal. Remember Nicholas Morrow? Of course you do. Well, now it seems he’s still moping over Regina’s death. He’s so depressed he won’t even leave his house. In real life that would make sense, but let’s think about this for a second. We are told that’s the way he’s been since the events of book 40. Riiiight, that’s why he was so happy to come hang out at the Dairi Burger in book 45, and cheerfully agree to get Kelly Bates to go out with him. Whatever, just roll with it.

Liz decides the best way to get Nicholas over his grief is to pushily convince him to come to the News‘ COMPANY PICNIC. Wow, I know if I was devastated over a loved ones’ passing you could brighten me right up by dragging me along to watch a bunch of douchebags pretend to like each other as they make painfully awkward small talk and look for excuses to leave early. Oh, but there’s going to be VOLLEYBALL! And FIREWORKS! And debate about the next Sweet Valley mayor! Jessica rightfully thinks Liz is fucking crazy, but Liz literally congratulates herself for getting Nicholas to come out!

The company picnic happens to be in Ronoma County, yet another one of the many mysterious environs surrounding Sweet Valley. It’s only 40 miles away, but Jessica and Liz have somehow never heard of it. Nicholas takes off from the picnic to follow a mysterious unpaved road so he can have some time to walk and think alone, but then Liz insists that she come along too. They end up in the yard of Bayview House, which sits on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. There they meet a yappy little terrier named Rory and his teenaged owner, Barbara, who’s supposed to be the most gorgeous woman ever created. Nicholas falls in love with her, instantly. Lucky Barbara. Barbara tells them that she was raised in Switzerland but her parents sent her out here to spend the summer with her Uncle John, whom neither she nor her parents had ever met or heard of, and his housekeeper Josine. Although initially excited at the chance to learn more about her family history, now Barbara is terrified of her uncle. He forbids her to leave the house without his permission and to hang out with kids her own age. Meanwhile, Josine keeps getting confused and thinking that Barbara is her grandmother, also named Barbara, who died in a mysterious fall on the cliffs many decades before, on her birthday. Barbara shares her birthday with that of her dead grandma Barbara and now she’s having nightmares that she will suffer the same fate. Sounds like a fun summer.

Not long after Liz and Nicholas first meet Barbara, Uncle John comes out and spots them all chatting in the garden. Barbara is terrified and runs back inside with Rory while ordering Nicholas and Liz to get the hell out of Dodge. But Nicholas has already decided he is madly in love with Barbara, and so he drives back to Bayview the next day to see her. Uncle John slams the door in his face. I’m surprised Nicholas didn’t charge into the house and punch him, haha. Instead Nicholas canvasses the woods, where he finds Barbara having a picnic in the woods with her dog. She agrees that they can meet secretly and he leaves determined to find out what the deal is with this John character.

Barbara is always wearing old-fashioned clothes, carrying her silly dog Rory around, and speaking like she’s from the 1880s.  She’s terrified to leave the house or go anywhere, because Uncle John has been threatening her and she’s afraid he will hurt Josine or Rory. But she keeps meeting Nicholas secretly to make out in the woods, and they profess their love for one another like, immediately. Every time he sees her, old Saint Nick gets all fired up as Barbara sobs all over his silk shirts, but she refuses to let him try to help her. One time he comes over there with the twins, and Barbara is, of course, immediately entranced by the fact that they look so much alike. Sigh. Barbara explains to our three little members of the Scooby gang here that Uncle John keeps having some mysterious man come to visit. Just then, Uncle John almost catches the kids hanging out again, and the twins and Nicholas hide behind some shrubs and watch as he drags Barbara back to the house and boots Rory with his foot, yelling that she can never go outside without his permission. The twins have to hold Nicholas back so he won’t go tackle Uncle John. Why not just let him? Like old John can overpower four people. The Scooby kids leave trying to figure out the mystery of Barbara, and as they do, they see a mysterious silver-blue Jaguar parked off the side of the road in the woods … it’s THE VISITOR’S car …

Most of the rest of the book is all about Nicholas and Barbara meeting and professing their love for one another in an overly melodramatic way. Nicholas wants to help Barbara, Barbara won’t let him, and it just gets very tiring very fast. Nicholas keeps seeing the silver-blue Jaguar parked in the woods and Barbara keeps telling him it’s dangerous for Uncle John or “THE VISITOR” to see him and he keeps right on parking his Jeep in the same area anyway. Nicholas finds a letter on his Jeep one day in Sweet Valley that tells him to stay away from Barbara, but he’s like, “What the fuck ever.” He then convinces Barbara to sneak out of the house with him to go to a special dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant, Francesco’s. There’s always a different fancy restaurant in these books. Anyway, it doesn’t take much badgering to get Barbara out there, so I guess she’s not too scared. Nicholas stops to get gas on the way, and the gas attendant is an old dude who gasps at Barbara and seems to recognize her. Because she looks just like her dead grandma, natch. The couple arrive at Francesco’s, where Nicholas sees the silver-blue Jaguar parked. Not caring about his girlfriend’s safety, he doesn’t mention it to her, nor does he let her know there’s a strange man inside staring at Barbara like she’s a dead person the entire time they eat. I hate Nicholas.

While all this bullshit is going on, Liz and Jess are at the dumb paper where editor Lawrence Robb has, for some reason that just can’t be defined considering all the other shit they’ve fucked up this summer, given them MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS to help with. “Helping” means dragging out the research in the “newspaper morgue” of random old clippings and shit. I have never worked at a newspaper of any type, but why don’t they have microfilms they can use or something? It’s 1988, not the stone ages! Liz gets assigned an article with Seth about the mayoral race which is all she’s been able to run her yap about for half of this book when she’s not clutching her lavalier and worrying about Barbara. Liz is convinced one of the candidates, Russell Kincaid, is an evil evil man but she and Seth can’t prove it so they’re just going to run editorials in favor of the other guy, Miles Robinson, instead. And Jessica gets to work with Dan Weeks on a story about a new art gallery at the Sweet Valley Art Museum (there’s a museum?) by some dude no one’s ever heard of called Paul Lazarow. Art is the last thing I can see Jess being excited about, but hey, she is. It takes the twins forever to write their effing stories. And eventually, they do make the SUPER OBVIOUS connection (after many, MANY agonizingly slow, boring pages) that the Freaky Jaguar Man is Russell Kincaid, that he was an artist in his youth, John is his brother, and that Barbara’s great-grandfather was in fact Paul Lazarow, the famous artist. Even writing this recap is painful for me.

Thanks to Nicholas’s interference, Barbara’s dog Rory goes missing. They find his collar on the cliffs indicating that Uncle John has tossed him over. I’m sorry, I just started laughing at that and I don’t even know why. Animal cruelty is so not funny in the slightest, but this book just has me like … losing it. Nicholas goes back to his car dejected and finds that all the tires have been slashed and his windshield has been broken. Then Liz gets threatening calls when she works late at home. The Scooby kids here decide they’ve got to do something. Well, just do it then, god! This book is way too long!

The kids go back to Bayview House, park near the Jaguar yet again, and formulate a little plan to “kidnap” Barbara, who has no idea about the plan, but it’s assumed she’ll just forget about Josine and leave with them anyway. Liz will go to the front door and distract whomever answers, while Nicholas runs and gets Barbara. Jessica will stay in the Jeep as the getaway driver. But then Liz falls down in the dark and sprains her ankle. Jessica comes running up to check on her, helps Liz grab onto a tree for support, and leaves saying she’ll be right back with Nicholas and Barbara. Oh, they always say “I’ll be right back”… Then Uncle John appears and shines his flashlight right on Liz, helpless and alone! Oh dear! Oh my goodness! John pulls a gun and drags Liz off with him. Liz kicks him because she’s stupid and he bashes her in the head with the gun and knocks her out to silence her big mouth for a change. I wish Uncle John was in every book.

Nicholas and Jess don’t know that Liz has been captured, but they do see Barbara and Russell Kincaid struggling on the edge of the cliffs, so they go to help. Russell and Barbara fall off the edge together, but of course only Russell goes all the way into the ocean. Barbara manages to catch herself on a lower ledge, and Nick and Jess help her back up. They go back for Liz and can only find her broken lavalier on the ground. Jess flips the fuck out immediately and everyone runs around looking for Liz. I have an image of their feet making that noise from the Flintstones, you know what I’m talking about? When they’re in the Flintmobile getting ready to drive off and Fred’s feet make that noise? Hahahaha! And fuckin’ Barbara suddenly drops all her lame delicateness and bawling and springs into action, talking like a normal teenage chick. It’s about time! The kids find Josine tied up inside who directs them to the art studio outside. Liz and freakin’ Rory are in there. Liz goes to the hospital and as the kids leave they see that the Jaguar is gone, indicating that John took off. Why didn’t he just come back and shoot them all? Why must you disappoint me this way, John?

Liz has a concussion and a sprained ankle, and she’s out cold for the time being, but she’ll be okay. Dammit John you can’t do anything right! Ned and Alice show up at the hospital and are like, “Oh, someone tried to kill you again. Huh.” Jessica and Nicholas go to the police station where Barbara gives her testimony. Then the crackpot police force drags in John Kincaid, saying they found him near the border. He vacillates between being defiant about being caught and sitting there bawling about what he did. WTF dude? Pick a side and stick to it! And, he is interviewed, for the first time, officially, right in front of Barbara and EVERYONE right there listening and interjecting as they feel necessary. Right, that’s the way it’s done! Get that shit thrown out on a technicality!

Oh, but we’re not done yet. First Barbara has to have a birthday with Nicholas, who gives her a locket with their initials, and they spend way too many pages professing their fucking love for one another yet again, and then we get the whole story of Barbara’s history from Josine. So here it is, the sad story of Barbara’s fam, if you care. The artist Paul Lazarow had a beautiful daughter named Barbara, and two of his artist students, Jack Pearsall and Russell Kincaid, fell in love with her. Barbara chose Jack, but she married him in secret so that her dad wouldn’t get angry or something. Barbara got pregnant and the parents-to-be moved to Switzerland for a year, claiming that they were just visiting friends. They were hoping that when they returned, the new baby would charm Paul out of his anger. But when they came back it was Russell who was enraged that Barbara hadn’t chosen him, so he threw her off the cliffs on her birthday. No one could prove that the incident was a murder because there were no witnesses, so Russell went free, Jack went crazy and became a hermit, and the baby, Gwendolyn, was raised in Switzerland by Barbara’s artist friend DuPres and his wife. Russell’s brother John knew the true story of what happened to Barbara, but agreed to keep it a secret for years. But then they started a business together and Russell swindled John out of millions. Then Russell announced his candidacy for mayor and it was too much for John. He decided the best way to get back at him was to use Barbara to freak Russell out and make him think that Bayview House was haunted by the ghost of the girl he killed. So John wrote to Barbara and her parents claiming to be an old cousin or something. They were dumb enough to believe this random man was in fact related to them. They shipped Barbara out to Ronoma County and John forced her to wear the original Barbara’s old clothes and walk the cliffs, then hide the rest of the time so Russell wouldn’t see her and realize it was all a prank. Lar lar lar, don’tcaredon’tcaredon’t caaaaare.

So yeah. Barbara goes back to Switzerland with her grandfather Jack and Nicholas loses out on someone he loves yet again. This book is terrible. I thought it was a little boring as a kid, and now I think it’s way boring.

WTF? Nicholas is nineteen here. I could’ve sworn he was eighteen. Whatever, Steven’s age certainly jumped around enough too!

Ronoma County has a town in it called Denning. If you care. Yet another random environ for the SV world map.

The stupid shit with people not being able to tell the twins apart is just getting old. WOW THEY’RE IDENTICAL! THAT’S JUST CRAAAAZY! Yeah okay, now look for dumb girl with barrettes in her hair, that one’s Liz. Look for chick with crazy feathered bangs covering up her receding hairline, that one’s Jess. Got it? There was a moment where Nicholas was confused for a second because the chick he thought was Liz turned out to be Jess, and I wanted to throw up on his loafers, or whatever the hell rich 19-year-olds wear.

Jess definitely has a thing for WAY older men. Prior to learning the truth about him, she thinks Russell Kincaid is sexy, and he’s in his 60s. And of course, that’s her sole reason for supporting him for mayor.

Darcy Kaymen is still around. She appears for one whole paragraph.

Since the building in which the twins work is called the Western Building, I wonder if Artie Western’s family owns it. Remember Artie? He showed up in book 24 as Steve’s friend who had a crush on Cara before she and Steve started officially dating.

So if Russell Kincaid really thought that Barbara was the ghost of the old Barbara … why would that ghost be sitting and eating food with a modern day boy at Francesco’s? Couldn’t he just figure it out? Especially since he knew “his” Barbara had descendants? So fucking dumb!

Next up: That big dillhole Ronnie Edwards is here to warn you about the dangers of teen gambling!

Sweet Valley Confidential: Is This The Cover?

Check this out!

Everyone, check out this page here at Amazon.co.uk! This is the picture the UK version of Amazon has up for the British version of Sweet Valley Confidential! (Note that the version our friends in the UK will be purchasing is called Ten Years On rather than Ten Years Later.) But is this the real cover image, or is it just being used for marketing purposes only until the real one is released (since that’s what’s happening over here)? Will we see a different cover here in the U.S.? And either way … what do you think of it? (I really like the classic circle design, but would rather see art inside than another photo!)

EDIT: That same page also shows that the book is 400 pages long! FRICKIN’ SWEET

Next Recap Coming Soon!

Hey everybody. I’m still working on my recap of the third SVH Super Thriller, and that will be up within the next couple of days. I was away for a lovely wedding and really fun party weekend, and so I didn’t get to do much reading (of that or anything else). I know, letting real life interrupt Sweet Valley? What was I thinking? 😉

In other SV news, I ordered the Sweet Valley High 1997 Annual through a British seller at Alibris.com and it arrived shortly before I left last week via Airmail. This thing is GOLD. The hardcover, full-color “annual” (another word for “yearbook”) is based on the TV show and contains horoscopes, quizzes, a brief profile of Francine, fashion and diet tips, loads of pictures, and several SVH stories based off of episodes of the show. I highly recommend it! It was published in the UK only, so I had to pay a little extra shipping, but not too too much. I’ve added it to my list of books to review, but if you can’t wait till then, check out Alibris, Amazon.com’s Marketplace, or Ebay to find a copy for yourself! I’d like to thank both Sweet Valley Unlimited and UK site The Hidden Bookcase for making me aware that this even existed! (Although the latter site is no longer being updated, you can still find tons of SV info there along with many pictures of all the SV collectibles.)

#50 Out of Reach

Aw, a purple fake turtleneck. How cute.

Choo choooooo! All aboard the Liz Wakefield meddle train! We’re leaving the station to take a trip into some hapless soul’s life with fucking matching barrette girl here. On the left is Jade Wu, who looks totally grossed out that Liz is touching her bare shoulders, which are probably sweaty from dancing, judging by that towel. Seriously, look at her expression! She’s like, “Um, can someone come get this uppity twat off me?” And you can see that this cover has a shiny gold seal on it proudly proclaiming that it’s the 5th anniversary of the series. And they had to make this that special commemorative 50th story? Couldn’t they send the Wakefields on a cruise? (And throw Liz overboard? Just a suggestion.)

Jade Wu is somebody who no one, including the other characters in this book, have ever heard of before. That’s probably because she’s a) a sophomore, and we all know the junior class runs this town, and b) Chinese, and minorities only seem to be allowed to star in the story when their minority status is convenient to the plot. It’s not funny, but it is true! Okay, well, to be fair, she’s also fairly new in school, having just moved from San Francisco to Sweet Valley six months ago … however long six months really is in Sweet Valley time.

So let’s talk about what we learned at the end of the last book. Sweet Valley is throwing a special music and dance talent show of some kind to raise money for new dance class electives. We’ve been told all along that Jessica Wakefield is the most fabulous dancer this side of Danielle Alexander, so you think she’d try out, but it’s explained that Jess is too busy with PBA and A.J. Morgan’s drawers. How convenient. Good thing we have Liz and the Eyes and Ears column, with an item about how “J.W.” might try out for the competition. Liz put this in there with just a flippant mention from Olivia that Jade is a great dancer. She doesn’t even known who Jade is, but she’s just going to go ahead and write that like Jade is definitely trying out. And she thinks her column has so much integrity. What’s really funny is that no one sees “J.W.” and thinks that must mean Jess. They’re all, “Nah.”

Since Jess isn’t going to try out for the talent show, we have skanky old Amy giving it a go, like she did with Regina’s boyfriend. Not only is Amy annoying, but she can’t dance either. Lila is only too happy to point out that Amy should just give up now because Jade is clearly going to win it. Amy starts pouting and whines that Jade is Chinese and this is somehow supposed to disqualify her. Amy fucking sucks: “But she’s Chinese! She doesn’t look right for the part. The soloist for the finale should be blond, all-American-like me.” I think the Sweet Valley ghostwriter’s bible specifically instructed them to make us hate Amy as much as possible. It’s working. Lila reminds Amy that Jade is in fact American and tells Amy to try out for the chorus line. Wow, Lila is scoring major points with me lately. I’ll forgive that whole dumb slam book plot of hers. Soon after this wonderful conversation, Liz finds out that she has been asked by Ms. Bellasario, the dance teacher, to be the student producer of the show since Maria Santelli is now out with the flu. Liz is genuinely shocked that she would be asked to lead this talent show even though she also did the last one … and everything else requiring a lead role. Fuck, Liz probably deliberately gave Maria the flu in a plot to steal the position from her. “No one will run this school but a Wakefield!” she cried as she surreptitiously paid some little frosh to sneeze on Maria’s lunch tray.

As it turns out, Liz’s dumbass column was all it took to get Jade to consider entering the competition. So that’s Liz’s first pat on the back for this book. There’s just one problem: Jade’s father, whom we’re told is strict and traditional, is not having it. He won’t let Jade do anything that she wouldn’t be able to do back in China. Jade is very annoyed and bitches to her best friend, another sophomore named Melanie Forman, about it. Melanie thinks Jade’s parents are pretty cool because they have so many fascinating stories about life in China. Jade doesn’t even known those stories because she wants to blend in and be as “American” as possible. Jade goes out of her way to deny that there’s anything Chinese about her family, even though Dr. and Mrs. Wu are very proud of their heritage and culture. When Mr. Jaworski the history teacher asks Jade for personal insight into modern Chinese-American culture, Jade makes a snotty remark about how her parents don’t own a laundry or anything and embarrasses him. Awww, poor Mr. Jaworski.

Jade goes on to easily win the lead solo part in the dance competition. Her dance instructor Eve really wants her to go for it, as does her mother, but the decision ultimately lies with her dad. Mrs. Wu promises to work on getting his permission for Jade. In the meantime, Jade has to keep her rehearsals a secret. But that’s not the only thing she has to hide. Dr. Wu won’t let Jade date anyone who’s not Chinese, so that causes a problem when Jade falls hard for David Prentiss, a kid in her history class. He’s poor, so I don’t have to tell you that in Sweet Valley that means he has a single mom. And, he also works an after-school job to help make ends meet, since the only kids in this series who work after school are the dirt poor ones. I guess you could say David is the new Roger Barrett, but I do really like David. He’s not ashamed of his family or his work the way Roger was. He’s a little pushy about asking Jade for a date, but that’s only because it’s obvious Jade likes him and he can’t figure out why she keeps making lame excuses about having to study. Eventually, David decides Jade just doesn’t want to be with him because he’s poor. Jade is upset when he confronts her with this; to show him he’s wrong, she tells him what she considers her biggest secret: her grandparents, the Sungs, do in fact run a laundry business in town. She thinks it’s too stereotypical and is therefore mortifying. David doesn’t get what the big deal is and decides this just proves that Jade is a snob. He has no idea about the rules her father has imposed on her. But he does realize that it is pretty shitty of Jade to try to hide her grandparents from everyone when it’s their business’s money that’s paying for her private dance lessons.

The pair stay friends, but there’s awkwardness between them. Things get way worse when Amy Sutton imposes her skankiness on them. Amy is already getting pissed off about having to be a chorus line girl and making scathing remarks to Jade. Then Amy and her mom make a trip to the dry-cleaner’s and meet Mrs. Sung who proudly tells them that she is Jade’s grandmother. Amy and Lila, of course, think it’s hilarious that there is indeed a dry cleaning business in Jade’s family and run around telling everyone. (You lost a point, Lila.) Jade is humiliated and yells at David for telling the secret, which of course he never did. David is so offended and hurt that he runs into the auditorium and tears down the giant backdrop he made of Jade for the show in front of everyone.

Jade, with the help of her mom and Elizabeth (but mostly her mom – thank god), sees the light and realizes she shouldn’t be ashamed of her family but proud of them. She decides she wants to learn more about her family history. Dr. Wu gives his blessing for her to dance in the show, but says he isn’t going to come out and watch. Jade is so miserable about David that she doesn’t care one way or the other; he won’t even talk to her. So of course the Pride of the Valley (Liz) butts in and tells David he needs to quit pouting and understand it from Jade’s side. David realizes he never even though that maybe Jade’s family doesn’t want her to date and feels stupid. Way to stick it to him, Liz. Well, the night of the show arrives, Dr. Wu shows up after all, David replaces the backdrop with a better one, Jade dances her best, the crowd goes apeshit, and Dr. Wu tells Jade he is proud of her. Then David decides to ask Dr. and Mrs. Wu personally if he can date Jade; they’re impressed and say yes. Dr. Wu gives Jade his blessing to make her own decisions because he has learned that “these people” aren’t so bad after all and that some actually have good values. Good thing Jade didn’t decide to date Bruce Patman. Everything is wrapped up just so nicely, because this is Sweet Valley. BUT THEN…

Then, a big pompous fool representing some dance internship conservator lady comes over and tells Jade he is going to have her sponsored by the lady to join a prestigious summer dance company or some shit. Everyone whoops and hollers and congratulates Jade. But then pompous fool man tells Jade he doesn’t want her to use her real last name Wu because the conservator won’t like it if she sees she’s to grant the dance company role to someone who’s “ethnic.” He wants her to use the last name Warren instead. Jade tells him that warrants a kick in the ass! Ha ha, get it? WARREN? WARRANT? HA HAAAAAAAAAAAoh god … these books are making me lose my head.

Everyone is proud of Jade for standing up for the family name for a change. Eve says she knows of another dance company that she could probably get Jade a role in, so not to worry about Stuffy McStufferson and his stupid name change offer. And then David and Jade go to Guido’s with the rest of the talent show crew, eat pizza and joke around, and kiss. I like them. A lot.

The sub-plot is the worst one we’ve had in some time. Mr. Wakefield is having a mid-life crisis. Haha, that’s all I have to say, isn’t it? …

Welllll, the only way that could be interesting is if he went out and bought a flashy new Porsche Boxster and then drove around town banging hot young paralegals. Instead, he sits around moping that life isn’t fun enough. Now we know where Steven gets his bullshit from. The twins decide the best cure is to take him out to the Beach Disco and whatnot so he can realize that a life of loud music and wiggling underage cockteases is not for him. It definitely makes for an awkward evening. All the twins’ friends get in on the plot and I can’t believe a bunch of high schoolers really want to get that involved in someone’s dad’s life. I mean, picture yourself at 16, then ask yourself how YOU would react if one of your friends was like, “Oh yeah, I’m totally bringing my dad to the rock club tonight so make sure you dance suggestively around him and make him feel weird, okay?” (By the way, Amy has no problem dancing suggestively around Mr. Wakefield. What a surprise!)

WTF: Mr. Wakefield wears an insane purple tie with paint swirls on it in an attempt to feel young again.

A heavy metal band called The Razors plays at the Beach Disco. That’s funny. This book was published in November 1988 and heavy metal saturated MTV, so I guess Francine wanted to keep up with the times. (Of course, if she really did she’d get rid of the name “Beach Disco” right?)

The Beach Disco is described as having lots of cigarette smoke in the air … wow, never thought I’d see that casual of a mention in this book of such a thing at a teen hangout.

Random characters of the day: Kevin Johnson: Jade sits behind him in history class. Betsy Weiss: another sophomore who is also a dancer in the show. And holy crap, two other random seniors I thought we’d never hear from again return in this book.

I know I mentioned Danielle Alexander, but she’s not actually in this book. Strange since she’s supposed to be a professional dancer and all.

I’m starting to get very irked by how every book mentions that it’s Jessica and Elizabeth’s job to make dinner because Mrs. Wakefield works long hours. Yes, because MISTER Wakefield shouldn’t have to cook anything? Seriously, WTF? Meanwhile, we have Jade’s family presented as an anomaly because Jade and Mrs. Wu are supposed to be the ones fixing dinner every night for Dr. Wu. This is supposed to be a Chinese-only trait.

Guess what? Jade wishes she could be more like Jessica and Elizabeth. Those are the girls she really admires and looks up to. I know, right? I can’t believe it. Someone thinks if they could just be like the twins, life would be perfect. I’m so shocked, also.

I did kinda like this book. I was surprised. Jade is one of the first secondary characters that’s been introduced in a while that I really do like. The book wasn’t fabulous, but it wasn’t horrible either. I know I’m speaking from white girl perspective here, but I thought we did get some good insight into what it’s like to feel trapped between two cultures. And while I ripped Liz a new one on the cover, in truth, she’s not in this book nearly as much as you might think she is. Jade confides in Melanie and David way more than Liz, which is refreshing. Hear that Liz? She didn’t need your listening ear, biatch!

Coming up next: Nicholas Morrow has fallen for some weird chick in our third Super Thriller! Woooo.

#49 Playing for Keeps

Is it just me, or is Jessica’s hairline receding on this cover? Her sweater almost matches her man’s. When a couple wears matching sweaters, that’s just a bad sign.

Jessica is in love (again), and she’s going to change her personality for the boy of her dreams. Gee, we’ve never seen that happen before. At least this time she’s in love with A.J. Morgan, and not Bruce Patman. I think we are supposed to believe that Jess is genuinely crazy about A.J., even though all she’s done is look at him. Okay, I can buy it. I was a teenager once. But this time around, Jessica thinks she needs to be more like Liz. The hilarious part is that being more like Liz involves being as boring as possible!

She starts wearing terrible librarian-like clothes; in other words, things Liz would wear! She ruins the mood whenever A.J. is with her by making random comments about nuclear war and world hunger. Can you imagine trying to make out with someone only to hear them start carrying on that there are kids dying of starvation? Only Jessica would think this is something a boy would want to hear. Although I’m sure it would make Jeffrey hot. I’m just waiting for her to make A.J. watch PBS specials with her like Liz and Jeffrey do. Jess even gets A.J. to leave the beach when he just got there so they can go to the effing library! The most hilarious is when they go hiking around Secca Lake and Jessica decides to bring binoculars so that they can do some birdwatching. Only she doesn’t have any clue what type of birds they’re to look for, so she makes one up: the “green-crested pod eater.” A.J. is about to crack up at that one! Oh, and then there’s this:

Time is a grinding wheel of merciless pain

We are trapped in our lives

until the hour of death.

But love breaks our chains and lets us fly

into the universe

Where everything is real and alive


That’s a poem Jessica wrote for A.J.! Even Liz is astounded by the crappiness! I’m thinking Jessica borrowed some weed from Rick Andover to get some inspiration for her writing.

Although Jessica is, quite literally, petrified at acting like herself – she freezes whenever she thinks one of her friends is about to expose the real her – she can relax when she’s at home. Liz is sworn to secrecy about what Jessica is really like, and is amused to see Jessica promptly come home from a Save the Whales meeting to gossip about what a loser some environmental chick named Monica Bishop is on the phone to Lila. Yeah, you read that right, Save the Whales. Ha ha! A.J. is totally bored with Jessica, but for some reason he keeps dating her. They can’t even go jogging at the beach without Jessica meditating on the meaning of the waves. It’s pretty clear that he’ll be gone as soon as a more interesting chick comes his way … and one does, in the form of a helpless drowning woman! Her name is Pamela Janson and she goes to Whitehead Academy. Private school chick alert! It goes without saying she’s a horrendous bitch because she didn’t choose to go to Sweet Valley, right Francine? Hahaha. Pamela invites him to her mansion later that week, invites him to a dance at Whitehead, and tries to seduce him, telling him he can just go ahead and get in her hot tub with no bathing suit. A.J. gets out of there like a bat out of hell because he doesn’t want to hurt Jessica. He normally can’t stand girls like Pamela, but Jessica’s weird behavior is making him want some of that. Okay.

Jessica hears about a fashion contest at Lisette’s held by a designer named Nadine. And she almost doesn’t enter just because she’s afraid of what A.J. will think, but she gets over herself after A.J. is late meeting her at the library because he’s trying to get away from Pamela before he gives in and plows the field. Of course, Pamela just happens to be in the store and she makes all kinds of snotty remarks to Jessica. Lila stands up for Jessica, even though they’ve fought over boys before, and I love Lila. I know that feeling, you might get snotty with your friend or your sister or your boss but no one else better do it. Pamela enters the contest herself and coos about how she can’t wait to wear a Lisette’s dress to the dance with A.J.

Jessica and A.J. double date at Guido’s with Liz and Jeffrey. Jessica is being so annoying the way she keeps agreeing with whatever A.J. says. You’d think she’d have gotten tired of that behavior back when she dated Bruce! Liz and A.J. have a second alone at the table and A.J. confides that he thinks he’s too lighthearted for Jessica. When they come back home, Jessica is all, Liz, I’m just acting like you! and Liz is all, What, so you think I’m a wimp? I don’t let people walk all over me! Then she turns around and proves that she IS a wimp when she can’t bring herself to tell her sister what A.J. said about her. Way to go Spineless McSpinlesson.

Cara, Amy, and Lila try to tell Jessica she’s being ridiculous also, but Jessica is so convinced that it’s too late for her to change that she refuses to go back to her real self, even though it’s obvious A.J. is about to dump her. I really want to slap her. Meanwhile, Pamela calls A.J. about the dance at Whitehead again. This time, she calls Jessica “that dishrag.” Ha! One point for Pamela. The rehearsal for the Lisette’s fashion contest arrives and Lila and Amy decide to get Jessica good and fighting mad by constantly talking about how awesome Pamela is. It works. At the fashion show, Pamela keeps fucking with Jessica’s outfits. She breaks the zipper on one and “accidentally” gets her bracelet tangled in another, ripping the threads. Jessica manages to pull it off each time. During the last set, Pamela dramatically trips and throws a cup of ice water all over Jessica’s bikini and beach wrap. Jessica finally loses it and tells Pamela to shove her attitude up her ass since A.J. won’t be up there any time soon. Everyone overhears the throwdown, and the curtains open to reveal Jessica standing there soaking wet with “rainbows” dancing around her from the light hitting the water. How utterly convenient! Jessica wins the fashion show instantly. A.J. falls in love with the real Jessica and they drive off into the sunset to make out at Miller’s Point.

And that’s that. Pamela Janson is sucked through the Rich Bitch Black Hole along with Suzanne Devlin, Suzanne Hanlon, and Courtney Thomas, never to be heard from again.

Once again, there is no sub-plot in this book. What the hell? I needed some relief from Jessica reciting poetry at A.J.!

WTF? The book actually gives us a description of Jessica putting on her underwear, but then doesn’t say anything about a bra before she puts her shirt on. Maybe this explains Jessica’s appearance on some of the covers. Bahahahaa

Liz is still playing that damned recorder!

Enid is barely in this book. The funny part is that I didn’t even notice until I was almost to the end. Francine could probably just get rid of her a la Judy Winslow in Family Matters! And we haven’t heard from her boyfriend Hugh in a long time either. Guess he was just a convenient plot device for book 43.

From the Mouth of Lila Fowler: “I was talking to A.J. Morgan the other day. He said he met a girl on the beach with an ego the size of Utah. And a rear end to match.” ~Lila talking to Amy at Lisette’s while “pretending” not to notice Pamela standing nearby.

“I think you’re turning into the bore of the century, if you want my opinion.” ~Lila to Jessica, at lunch

In the back of the book: a Slam Book ad and order form! It says “Make up your own categories …” I remember seeing that ad and getting excited that I’d be able to make my own categories, only to see there was no room! Thanks for breakin’ my heart, Francine.

Next up: There’s a dance contest or something. Sophomore Jade Wu (who? that’s even what Liz said) might want to try out or something. Liz will get involved or something. Cue sounds of projectile vomit!

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