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

Archive for November, 2010

#58 Brokenhearted

Oh, Jeffrey ūüė¶

I know this book is a pivotal title in the series, but I was left really unsatisfied with it. And yeah, I rag on Liz and Todd all the time, but if we’re going to have a book about them finally reuniting, it needs to be drama packed and full of Todd punches, insane car chases, and hopefully, Jeffrey walking away from Liz to hook up with Lila at long last. This book does not deliver!

Yes, Todd Wilkins is moving back to Sweet Valley at long last, and by the looks of this cover, there are two blondies who aren’t very happy about it! Why, the title even has some weird dramatic shadowing behind the letters! (In truth, this cover creeps me the hell out. Liz and Jeffrey look like they are related.)

Liz is very sad – oh wah – because it seems everyone in Sweet Valley has been getting letters and hearing gossip from/about Todd but her. Todd wrote to Winston and Ken to say that he won’t be at Sweet Valley High; his parents are insisting on sending him to Lovett Academy in nearby Cedar Springs as a day student. How many “nearby” towns and private schools are there anyway? And Lila Fowler heard from her friend at the Sweet Valley Country Club that Todd’s father was such a swell office manager that his company, Varitronics, has promoted him all the way up to President, hence why he’s returning, and will be living in a 12-bedroom mansion just around the corner from Fowler Crest. WHOA, whoa, wait a minute. Todd’s dad was an office manager and is now the president of the company? Well, that gives me some hope that my own salary can suddenly skyrocket from 5 to 7 figures. Sweet Valley, keeping corporate dreams alive.

Liz knows Todd is no longer dating Suzanne Devlin, but she figures he probably found another sweetheart and doesn’t really care about Liz. Then she finally gets a banged-up letter in the mail from Todd; it didn’t get to her sooner because he has some sloppy-ass handwriting. In the letter, Todd says he’s available, he still loves Liz, and that he knows she’s dating somebody else already so he’ll leave it up to her, or something like that. Liz is so excited but also scared shitless because she might have to let Jeffrey go. It’s 100 percent obvious that her relationship with Mr. French is doomed. She keeps saying she is “confused” but I don’t hear the “L” word being thrown around at Jeffrey anymore. Todd is all Liz can think about. Worst of all, Jeffrey like … hangs in there, losing his more assertive personality in favor of letting Liz string him along until she realizes they’re done. Suddenly, it’s very clear that Jeffrey is an A.J. Morgan-type character, one whom Francine only introduced to give Liz someone to date until Todd could return. And I’m sad, because I love Jeffrey. He doesn’t throw self-righteous punches, he doesn’t inspire Liz to moan “Oh, Todd!” every other page, and he’s just way cooler. But I guess this book is our adios to him. We’ll never hear from him again in this series, mark my words.

Todd comes to see Liz and they talk somewhat awkwardly and almost kiss. Then Todd comes over to have dinner with the Wakefields and that too is awkward. Liz feels bad for hurting Jeffrey. Well, cry me a fucking river, Wakefield. Next, Winston throws a party at which everyone is gossiping about whom Liz will choose because everyone can see that Liz is moping around all lovesick. Todd and Jeffrey very awkwardly meet for the first time at this party, and don’t have much to say to one another, which is a far cry from that other first time they met back in Winter Carnival and became instant best buds.

There are several awkward scenes between Liz and Jeffrey in which he desperately wants her to assure him that she doesn’t plan to leave him for her old boyfriend, but she can’t do it. She’s quiet and depressed a good deal of the time that they’re together, even when Jeffrey takes her on a fancy date to the Valley Inn. Well, who wouldn’t be depressed at the Valley Inn? That was Tricia Martin’s favorite place and it’s also where Steven ruined Cara’s birthday (that is, her real birthday, as opposed to the fake birthday at the Mariner House that he also ruined). They go parking out at Las Palmas Canyon and Liz is so quiet and weird that I want to shake her and tell her to get a grip already. Dump him and get it over with! I seriously can’t believe Jeffrey is still hanging around with her after the Bruce Patman shit, and now this bullshit! Jeffrey, regardless of how “confused” Liz is, you deserve better!

Jessica and Liz go to some lame-sounding residence hall party at Lovett with Todd, where they meet all his snooty friends. Hey, they go to private school, of course they’re snooty. A pretty stuck-up girl named Courtney Kane tries to make Liz feel uncomfortable. Courtney is the daughter of the Varitronics chairman or something, and she is Lila’s friend from the country club, and she looks down on Lila for going to public school and thinks about how she normally wouldn’t bother to be friends with someone like that. Oh lord. Do we really need another snotty private school girl, let alone another one named Courtney, let alone another Courtney trying to steal Todd? (See also: Perfect Summer.) Courtney talks about some dinner date she had with Todd, and Todd has to explain to Elizabeth that it didn’t mean anything, it was just part of his new rich boy obligations. There are an awful lot of those, by the way. Apparently if you are rich, there are 2117689 things you must do to build and keep a social standing. Todd even has to plan some big party at the Wilkins manor that he doesn’t want to, and put Courtney as the co-host or some shit. Well, you know what I’m going to do when I’m rich? WHATEVER I WANT, HAHAHA. But with that said, why does Todd have to explain anything to Liz? Isn’t she making a conscious choice not to date you? Are you really going to wait around till the day you die for her to decide she wants to be with you?

When Todd drops Liz off from Lame Lovett Party, he does kiss her, but she pulls back before he can stick his tongue in or anything. Alice has a chat with Liz about her confused feelings and says that her heart will tell her what to do. Sure, ’cause it’s doing a real swell job so far! Liz thinks Todd might ask her to be his date to his party, but instead she hears from Lila that Todd is taking Courtney. In fact, that’s just a rumor that Courtney started. Todd isn’t planning on taking her at that time, but then Courtney tells their friend Sheffield Eastman that Jeffrey gave Liz a promise ring, signaling that Liz made her choice. Sheffield tells Todd, Todd believes it, and Todd asks Courtney. Todd mails Liz a fancy invitation which is addressed to “Miss Elizabeth Wakefield and Friend” showing that he understands Liz is bringing a separate date. Liz is terribly upset, but resigns herself to a lifetime spent pretending to love Jeffrey. Liz: “I know I was just telling Olivia it’s better to be independent and self-reliant than to spend all your time clinging to a man, but I didn’t really mean it. I was just trying to be helpful and shit.” You know, f you Liz. You were hoping Todd would ask you, and then you’d dump Jeffrey for the party even if it was last minute, is that it? God, she’s worse than Jess, and we’re supposed to accept it because hey, she doesn’t mean it, she’s just confused, waaaaaaaahihateyou.

At the party, Jeffrey has finally accepted that Liz doesn’t really love him anymore and is only staying with him because she can’t have Todd. He sees Courtney slipping a note into Liz’s jacket while Liz is in the bathroom (yes! the bathroom! they said it!), and decides to get all Sweet Valley P.I. He follows Courtney and Todd in the shadows and sees Courtney pretend to get a bad headache around Todd. She asks him to take her to a secluded gazebo out in the Wilkins gardens. Todd does as she asks, and Liz walks up with the note just as Courtney throws her arms around Todd and starts kissing him. Todd kisses her back for lack of anything better to do. Liz drops the note and runs off crying and tears off in the Fiat (stranding Jeffrey) while Jeffrey runs up and grabs the note and reads it. It’s a fake note from Todd, in handwriting other than his – what the fuck? How did this not make Liz suspicious? Dammit, why do I even ask. The note asked Liz to meet Todd in the gazebo, but it was all a set-up, bla bla.

Jeffrey makes the difficult moral choice to lose the only girl he’s ever loved, or whatever, by telling Todd the truth about Courtney and Liz. Todd drives off looking for Liz and finds her perched on some rocks at their old make-out spot at Secca Lake. They get back together and make out again and go back to the party to make their little debut to society as an officially reunited couple.

Jeffrey, I’m gonna miss you buddy. This book was mean to you and I don’t like it.

The sub-plot: Jessica meets Sheffield Eastman, a friend of Todd’s and an ex-boyfriend of Courtney Kane’s, at the boring Lovett party. They start dating and she thinks he’s the most perfect man ever simply because he’s rich, conveniently overlooking that he bores her whenever he talks. She tries to show him off at Todd’s party to Lila, who’s clearly jealous until Sheffield announces he’s planning to sell his car and all his possessions and spend a year living and working in a homeless shelter as a special project. Jessica is so upset and disgusted that she wants to throw her drink on Sheffield, and Lila is highly amused. He’s rich … he’s handsome … he’s philanthropic … oh, we can’t have that.

WTF? Okay, let’s think about how long we’ve known Jeffrey. He and Liz started dating in book 31 and have just now broken up. They were always serious and always said “I love you” and Liz always thought of Todd fondly rather than mooning over him and wishing he’d move back home. Jeffrey was never presented as filler – until this book. Suddenly Liz never says she loves him or even thinks it to herself, she’s said to have been dating Jeffrey for “a few months” rather than “a long time” or whatever, and it’s like Todd never left.

I cannot get used to the idea of Todd’s family being wealthy. He’s even traded in his Datsun for a BMW.

Todd and Jeffrey are said to be the only two boys Liz has ever loved, so I guess Tony Sargent and Eric Hankman aren’t supposed to have really happened.

There are a ton of old movie and TV star references in these books. I love that stuff, but it’s rather odd that teenagers in the late 80s are supposed to be obsessed with it too. Sheffield Eastman looks like “a young Paul Newman” Would Jessica even know what that looks like?

Random character: April, another chick at Lovett. Kent, Sheffield’s “cute” younger brother.

We finally have a reason for Lila and Bruce attending SVH rather than a private school. That reason is that Sweet Valley is such a great school that there’s no need to send them away. Yeah, it’s so great that no one goes to class for more than an hour at a time, they have umpteen random breaks from school, and SVH is willing to cut class time so that the kids can paint a picture.

Liz is so nervous about the return of Todd that she doesn’t eat her dinner at all one night, and no one in the family notices or cares. Typical.

Lila is at Todd’s party with that college kid Drake Howard that she dated in a couple of books previously … well over 30 books ago. I had almost forgotten he existed.

Amy and Bruce are together at Winston’s party, so I guess they are still getting it on. Must be one hell of a ride.

Jessica flirts with Aaron Dallas and Ken Matthews because she used to date them both and wants them to keep their hard-on for her for all eternity. same ol’ same ol’

Coming up next: “Todd’s back and Elizabeth’s got him!” Oh, I’m just so excited for a book full of “Oh, Todd!”s.


#57 Teacher Crush

Look everybody, it’s Olivia Davidson on her very first cover! And she looks totally stoned and glassy-eyed. (I wish I had a bigger picture to show you just how crazy she looks … if you click on this one, you can try to enlarge it and see!) She musta been sniffing some of those acrylics.¬†The earrings make my lobes hurt just lookin’ at them, and that shirt is … guuuuh. (I want those bracelets though!)

Background of this book: Olivia and Roger broke up back in book 48 (Slam Book Fever), and it was probably the most normal break-up that has ever occurred in Sweet Valley. They decided they were tired of fighting over every little thing and that it just wasn’t worth it anymore, so they called it quits, and that was that. Now let’s compare and contrast to some of the other break-ups we’ve seen:

  • Elizabeth and Todd: Evil Suzanne Devlin got into a car accident, and the twins and their friends learned she had been diagnosed with MS and wasn’t evil anymore. Then Liz realized Todd had fallen in love with Suzanne and decided to quit dragging out her long-distance relationship with him. Suzanne then received the joyous news that her MS was a wrong diagnosis by some crap doctors.
  • Elizabeth and Tony Sargent/”Jamie”: Liz found out her beloved college boy was really a famous pop star after his stalker tried to kill him in front of her. Then she ignored¬†him and refused to have anything to do with him ever again because she’s an old sourpuss who can’t have any fun.
  • Jessica and A.J.: Jessica realized she just couldn’t stay with A.J. after Christopher (“the other man” for a weekend) stalked her and then tried to kidnap her twin in a case of mistaken identity.
  • Jessica and Jack Howard: Jack tried to slit Jessica’s¬†throat after she found drugs in his apartment and flew into a rage over them. Hey, he¬†was already secretly engaged to Lila anyway.
  • Regina and Bruce: Regina dumped Bruce after he made out with Amy Sutton pretty much right in front of her, and then she died of a heart attack the first time she tried cocaine to help her get over him.
  • Enid and George: He crashed his plane and paralyzed Enid while trying to tell her he had fallen for another girl.
  • Steven and Tricia: She died of cancer and left behind one hell of a lot of baggage for Steve and any other girl he tries to date, which we will be reminded of forevermore in Sweet Valley world.
  • Nicholas and Barbara: She had to move back to Switzerland and leave him forever after weeks of meeting secretly and then dodging murder attempts from her “uncle” and his insane brother.

There are way more, but let’s not drag this out … unless you want to discuss your favorite ones in the comments! (Go for it!)

Sweet Valley is doing a special two-week “minicourses” program for the juniors and seniors. Time will be shaved off of the end of each class and the lunch period so that the students have an extra fifty minutes for a special elective at the end of the day. And that’s all they are – electives: pottery, dance, nutrition, painting, electronics, bla bla. Everyone is all up in arms about which one they want to sign up for. Jessica gets so much attention at the lunch table, making a big show out of choosing her mini-courses, that I want to throw up. I guess I don’t get what the big deal is about this program. Wow, so you get to add another class onto your day and have more work to do. Fun fun. Of course, Enid and Liz are about to orgasm on themselves at the thought of an extra class.

Olivia, Caroline Pearce, Liz, Maria Santelli, and Enid all get the painting class. Olivia starts whining to Liz¬†in the very first chapter that she’s lonely and miserable without a boyfriend. Which reminds me, why haven’t we heard anything about Roger lately? Isn’t he dating somebody new by now? Weren’t he and Olivia best friends before they started dating anyway? Now there’s zero word on him. Truly out of character, Liz thinks that Olivia doesn’t need a boyfriend and she should be happy to be independent. What the fuck? Is this the same girl that tries to set all the Miss Lonelyhearts in the school up with their own man and smugly pities everyone for not being in the fantastic relationships that she is?

The painting teacher is a local artist named Stuart Bachman. He’s described as being handsome in a hipster nerd way, and Olivia is infatuated instantly. She gets totally annoying, offering to help him set up and clean up the classroom, monopolizing the class, and being a teacher’s pet to the¬† max. Caroline and Maria are pissed that Olivia gets all Stuart’s attention because she’s the best artist. Olivia’s behavior grows progressively more obsessive, and Enid gets concerned and tells Liz they should do something. Liz isn’t convinced and is like, “Oh, it seems natural to me” and Enid has to try and ¬†prove it to her by having Liz track Olivia’s behavior in one class. It’s pretty obvious that Olivia is acting like a psycho, but Liz still doesn’t believe Enid. Again, what the fuck is up with Liz in this book? She is totally not herself. I expected her to follow Olivia and Stuart around and nose into their business, and corner Olivia in the Oracle office so she can lecture her on the dangers of student-teacher relationships. Liz only thinks Enid is right after Olivia is late with her stupid proofs for the Oracle. You know you don’t mess with Liz and her Oracle. God.

Seriously, Olivia is fast morphing into a scary stalker. She decides Stuart likes her after he winks at her. She freaks out when Liz and Enid remark that Stuart is a great teacher and seems to care about his students, because it’s news to her that he cares about anyone but her. She changes her outfits, wearing a tight black dress and boots to school rather than her usual long tie-dye skirts and Birkenstocks, or whatever it is she wears. She finds out that Stuart’s favorite artist is David Hockney, who¬†of course has paintings at the Sweet Valley Museum, so she conveniently works that into her conversations with Stuart. She says that’s her favorite artist also, but I’m never clear if that’s really the case or if she’s making that shit up to impress him. She starts¬†reading the same art magazines that Stuart reads, and talking about how awesome he is to anyone that will listen. She reminds me of DeeDee in book 22 (Too Much in Love). The worst is when she looks up Stuart’s address in a Riverside Arts Academy alumni directory, drives to his apartment on a Saturday morning, then decides to just go ahead and ring his buzzer. She wakes Stuart up and he is confused as to why she is bugging him on a weekend, not to mention how the hell she found out where he lives, but invites her up for coffee anyway. Olivia doesn’t like coffee, but she drinks it and tells Stuart she likes it. Okay, I get being madly infatuated with a hot teacher, but this is getting ridiculous. Oh, but wait … it gets worse.

Stuart shows Olivia some earrings he’s considering getting for “someone special” and Olivia is SO CRAZY that she thinks they must be for her. Her birthday is coming up that Friday, you see, and even though Stuart has no way of knowing this, she’s convinced he somehow snooped around, found it out, and is going to surprise her. He even takes Olivia shopping because he wants her to help him pick out a present for the same someone special, or at least, that’s what he says. I think it’s really because she won’t go the fuck home already. Man, I’d really be afraid of being accused of statutory rape if I were old Stuart. He’s 25¬†or something. ¬†Anyway, Olivia picks out an artsy frame and Stuart is all, “THAT’S PERFECT” woooooo. Enid thinks Stuart is leading Olivia on and I gotta say, uh, way to go Captain Obvious. But the book wants us to think that’s not correct and he really has no idea. If you want my personal opinion, I think Stuart is enjoying egging her on because it makes him feel younger that some loony piece of jailbait wants to blow him as he paints his Hockney-inspired masterpieces.

By now, there’ve been a few clues that Stuart is attached to someone else, other than, you know, the whole “someone special” bit. First, there’s a picture at his¬†place of him with some friends, including a pretty woman next to him. Then, Olivia practically invites herself to this Alumni Association night he’s speaking at,¬†where someone asks Stuart where “Monica” is.¬†Stuart tells Olivia he has a surprise for her that Friday at his gallery opening at the Sweet Valley Museum and he wants her to meet him there. She sees him buying the frame she showed him earlier and loses her shit. It’s really¬†happening! He’s going to confess his feelings and make sweet sweet love to her!¬†She spends a ton of money buying some ugly purple jumpsuit for the opening so that Stuart can rip it off later as he presents her with his penis with a ribbon tied around it and a dangling “Happy Birthday” card. Instead, Stuart presents her to his girlfriend Monica, who’s wearing the earrings Stuart showed Olivia, and gushing about the fabulous frame Olivia helped Stuart pick out for her. ‘Cause guess what! It’s Monica’s birthday too! HAHAHA! And then a lady named Cyndi talks about how “adorable” Olivia is! ‘CAUSE SHE’S SO YOUNG! Olivia almost cries in front of everyone. This part is indeed awesome. I read it in a sleep-deprived state and laughed deliriously.

So what’s the big surprise? Stuart has Olivia’s painting from class on display at the gallery! Wow, I didn’t see that one coming. That’s all it takes for Olivia to get over herself, seeing her art on display between Stuart’s shit. She realizes what a nut she was being. Then she goes home to find a big surprise party everyone had set up for her, and Stuart and Monica show up there too. Ha ha ha, I wonder what Stuart had to promise to do to Monica later to make up for dragging her to some¬†high school party.¬†

OH OH OH I almost forgot. There is a totally forgettable kid named Rod Sullivan who pops up out of nowhere to tell Olivia how much he admires her Oracle work and gives her a new layout for it that he designed. He asks her out twice and each time she says no, but he keeps following her around mumbling about shit and calling her house. And then he shows up at the party because Mrs. Davidson and Liz thought he should come! So Olivia tells him she’d like to go out with him after all and I guess she got her wish for a new man and can get over her stupid “Lonely, I’m so lonely” blues and I hope we never have to hear about this bullshit ever again. Unless the Droids write a song about it.

Oh god, you guys. This was the worst one to slog through. In fact, I used it as an insomnia cure the night before Thanksgiving. No joke. And then I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of something decent to say about the plot ever since.

The sub-plot: Jessica jokingly puts electronics as a third or fourth choice on her minicourses sign-up form, mainly because it gets her attention from everyone at the lunch table. And wouldn’t you know? She gets electronics! It’s taught by the nerdy Mr. Drexel, whose teaching methods consist of standing there asking people what they want to make, and then walking around hovering over people as they magically construct some crazy shit in just two weeks. So I guess everyone already knows how to make talking toasters and shit like that? This school is so weird.

Meanwhile, Lila is bragging about two things: that she got into dress design and is making a fabulous frock for herself, and that her father is dating Anika Hunt, star of The Willoughbys soap opera. Jessica is all jealous and doesn’t believe that old George Fowler is really dating Anika, so she’s inspired to make a lie detector … only she cajoles Randy Mason into doing it for her. GROW A SPINE, RANDY!

Lila’s dress doesn’t work out right, so she gets Jessica to loan her one that looks just like it by holding some great secret over Jessica’s head, and promising to tell her only if Lila can wear the dress and tell her teacher that she made it. You see, at the end of the minicourses, there’s a special day for everyone to show off their projects in the auditorium. So Lila walks around preening in Jessica’s dress, and then Jessica displays her lie detector and it’s a huge hit. She can’t wait to make Lila use it so that she ask if George Fowler is REALLY dating Anika Hunt and humiliate her. Lila’s answer is, “What a dumb question. Of course he is.” And it’s the truth. Ha ha ha, I love Lila. Jessica is “dumbfounded” because she didn’t want to believe that a filthy rich, handsome computer magnate could somehow snag a hot piece of ass like Anika Hunt.

The lie detector also exposes that Winston owes Ken Matthews $25, which embarrasses Winston. Hey Winston, go ask that man who got his winning lottery ticket back from you to loan ya a little. Oh, and then Olivia gets shoved up to the lie detector, and someone yells out that Jessica should ask Olivia if she is in love with Stuart Bachman. Everyone laughs! Olivia had NO IDEA that she was so obvious about it, so she yells at Liz, assuming that she let her secret out and runs off crying. Oh, no worries, they make up at her surprise party. I love the way Liz always gets accused of doing shit like that, and then we get to read about her oh-so-graciously accepting whomever’s apology later on. Gag me.

This book made me lose all respect I ever had for Olivia … or whomever decided to turn her character into such a self-deprecating stalker piece of shit! Isn’t it time for DeeDee and Bill to break up? Make DeeDee act like this, her history proves she’s well-suited for it!

Some other bullshit: Anika Hunt is described as a soap star, someone who’s solely famous because of her role on The Willoughbys. Then later on, they refer to her as a movie star. Then she’s called a¬†famous soap star again. Pick one!!!

Amy and Jessica and Lila are all coming to Olivia’s birthday party … uh, why???? They’re trying to pick out a present for her and all that. What the fuck? Next we’ll have Amy Sutton highly concerned about what flowers she should put on Regina Morrow’s grave. Yes, I just went there.

Olivia says she has never really tried painting before and seems to not know much about art other than she kinda likes looking at cool paintings and shit. I’m confused. Isn’t she always described as the artsy, granola type? I mean, she is the arts editor for the Oracle after all. Maybe I just assumed!

Maria Santelli says she has gotten the nutrition  & fitness minicourse rather than her first choice, which was dance. But then Maria is in the painting class!

When Jessica first sees the list of kids in the electronics class, she’s dismayed that she¬†doesn’t recognize anyone¬†besides Winston and Jeffrey. So that means she has forgotten Randy Mason exists, which I suppose makes sense when you consider that she’s the most popular girl in school and he’s just a nerd who helped her¬†hack into the school system to change her grades,¬†and then put up with her bullshit on an island¬†field trip. Yep, no importance to her, just another doormat for her to wipe her fucking peaches-and-cream feet on!

If Lila is so rich, I don’t see why she can’t just hire a seamstress to fix her dress or make her a new one, or go buy a lookalike like Jess has.

Mr. Jaworski is described as the history teacher. Dude, he’s the drama teacher!

Random facts: Sweet Valley has a sewing shop called McMahon’s and an artsy boutique called Domain. Todd’s dad’s¬†name is Bert Wilkins.¬†George and Anika are going to be on the cover of the next Celebrity magazine along with six other couples.

Coming up next: The secret that Lila was hiding from Jessica: Todd Wilkins is moving back to Sweet Valley for good.¬†She springs it on Liz at Olivia’s surprise party while Liz is hooked up to the lie detector, wanting to know if Liz and Jeffrey would survive, and¬†Liz just gets up and calmly walks out of the room rather than answer. But even if you really have no idea, the next book is called Brokenhearted, so I guess that kind of gives it away. I HATE obvious titles!

Super Thriller #4 Deadly Summer

The twins are getting their O-faces on once again for another detective story at the Sweet Valley News! It’s the same summer that it was in the previous three Thrillers, so the twins are almost relieved to go back to school and start their senior year (or a repeat of junior year). Whatever. The title Deadly Summer is supposed to sum up all the shit they’ve gone through while working for the News without being forever traumatized one bit!

The twins open the book reminiscing about all that’s happened to them over this deadliest of summers, but somehow fail to mention the events of book 3 completely. Then they head over to the Dairi Burger where Jessica and Lila excitedly talk about the Ouija board Lila brought back with her from London, where it’s the “latest craze.” I thought Ouija boards were all the rage in America for a long time, man. I loved playing with those long before this book came out. Anyway, Liz brings out the condescension on page 8 for fuck’s sake, so you know this book is going to be a real gem! Lifting her precious golden California girl good looks chin at Lila, she says, “I don’t understand how you can waste your time on something so incredibly silly. I know Jess can be a space agent, but I thought you were smarter, Lila.” HOLY SHIT. We got fucking Buzz Killington here slamming her sister and Lila in the same sentence! No one talks to Lila like that, so she snaps, “Maybe I’m just a stupid idiot with nothing better to do, right?” and then storms away while Liz shrugs and goes all, What’d I say? What’d I say? Everyone else tells her not to worry about it, it’s just Lila. God man … when is someone going to throw a Dairi Burger clam special in Elizabeth’s face? Someone do it soon, please, pretty please? Can we have that scene in Sweet Valley Confidential? Francine, I’m begging you. Or, AT LEAST – and I’m just going to volunteer myself for this right now – allow me to ghostwrite a brand new SVH book called LILA’S SECRET DIARY in which it’s revealed she had a fling with every boyfriend of Liz’s behind her back! Oh man, I would so love to do that.

Jessica spends the night at Fowler Crest that same night, where Lila rages about how Liz thinks she’s “so superior” (correct) and “Little Miss Perfect Know-It-All” (correct) and Jessica insists that Liz wasn’t cutting Lila down (incorrect) and thinks to herself that “Elizabeth would never deliberately be insulting” (incorrect). Lila decides to teach Liz a lesson about the Ouija board and use it to play tricks on her, and Jess is eager to help. You’d think Jess has had enough drama for one summer. (What am I saying? Never!)

Liz agrees to play Ouija with Jess and Lila, secretly admitting to herself that she is curious about how it works. The hypocrisy is just stunning, I know. Jess has been reading Jeffrey’s letters to Liz from summer camp, so she directs the planchette to spell out that Liz will get some good news soon, but that it’s a secret. Jeffrey recently wrote such a thing, so Liz is instantly suspicious of Jessica, but she swears she didn’t read the letter and Liz seems to believe her. Next the planchette claims that the big Endless Summer concert is going to be delayed by a week. Liz thinks that’s ridiculous, because she and Seth Miller have been working on an article for it, and they would know if it was in fact delayed. So she runs off downstairs with her haughty ass, where she receives a sudden phone call from Seth Miller at the News. And guess what? The News editor Lawrence Robb just found out that the Endless Summer concert has been delayed, and now Liz and Seth have to get in there early the next day to rewrite their whole big feature story on it. Liz is completely taken aback and starts feeling dubious that Lila and Jess were really moving the planchette. (Of course they were; Lila’s dad had found out about the delay early because the concert organizer is a friend of his.) Liz doesn’t even try to do any of her classic detective work to discover how the girls already knew about the concert. For someone so smart, Liz sure is dumb. And then she goes upstairs and finds her journal is missing. I was hoping Lila would pull a Gimme a Kiss (anyone else love that Christopher Pike book?) and plaster that shit all over the school walls. Nope, instead Jessica had just stuck it on top of the refrigerator.

The next day, the Ouija board tells the twins where the journal is, and Liz continues to freak out, because she’s sure Jessica wouldn’t lie to her about a thing like that. So, this book further confirms that Liz is a patronizer, a hypocrite, and an idiot. Awesome work, ghostwriter.

Soon afterwards, Jessica catches Liz reading a book titled Beginner’s Guide to Occultism. Wow, really? That is hysterical. Lila next decides that she and Jessica will have the Ouija board say that Bruce Patman is dying from cancer or something but that he doesn’t want to talk about it. Liz is dumb, so she’ll feel sorry for him and spend a lot of time meddling in his business. Lila knows that Jeffrey will be pissed off when he comes back from camp and sees his girlfriend hanging all over the boy (or man, since he’s 18) who once tried to rape her. In fact, although she doesn’t share that thought with Jessica, she hopes that Bruce and Liz will wind up getting together so that Lila can finally get with Jeffrey for real. Oh, god. Okay Lila, I love you and all, but please get over Jeffrey already. Anyone who would seriously choose Liz over you is a tool, and it’s time to let it go! But the plan works, so Liz gets all depressed and hangs all over Bruce, who’s excited at the thought of finally being able to close the deal with the other Wakefield twin.

The news report at work the next day announces that a paranoid schizophrenic named Donald Redman has escaped from San Rafael Psychiatric Hospital, and the whole area flies into a panic. He once kidnapped a cheerleader named Melanie, because she rejected him and got all her jock friends to bully him in high school, and he also attempted to kill his parents with a homemade bomb. Then Liz goes to babysit for this kid Max Bartel and tells his mom, Elsa, about Redman escaping. Elsa is so freaked out that she decides to stay home with Max herself and kicks Liz out. Gee, do you think Elsa has some personal connection to Redman?

Meanwhile, Liz and Bruce are together all the time, and Bruce is always about to kiss Liz but she excuses it thinking he’s just hiding behind a facade. I think she’s had too many head injuries. Jessica wants to end the whole charade but changes her mind after Lila casually reminds her that telling Liz the truth means also letting her know that she snooped around in her notes and journal. Later on, she does tell Bruce that Liz is only being nice to him because she thinks he’s dying, but that only makes Bruce more convinced that he can get in Liz’s pants. Then Jeffrey comes home early from camp – that was his surprise for Liz – and finds Bruce and his girlfriend getting all close in the Wakefield’s Spanish-tiled kitchen. Liz does that same shit she pulled in Two-Boy Weekend where she drapes herself all over another man while refusing to tell Jeffrey what’s going on, yet insisting that he trust her and getting pissed off when he doesn’t.

Redman starts making bomb threats and leaving fake bombs behind for the police to find. In the first one, he leaves a gift-wrapped package at the Valley Cinema, and the police just pick it up and are all, “Oh, this is fake.” WTF? No testing it out first? He makes another threat to Sweet Valley’s “county airport”. Liz also begins getting prank phone calls at home, work, and at Elsa Bartel’s. A couple of the calls are from Lila, who’s trying to keep up with the latest Ouija “prediction” that someone mysterious is trying to reach Liz, but Redman is doing the rest of them. He thinks Liz is Melanie, the cheerleader he kidnapped, and he’s out to get her again. Then a mysterious visitor, who says he’s an old college friend of Elsa’s, comes to the Bartels’ house wanting to see her while Liz is there sitting. He says he has to leave town very soon so he’ll come back the next day. Liz thinks he looks familiar but can’t figure out that’s it’s in fact Redman with a little facial hair … huuuuuurrrrr.

The Droids are playing a “Be True to Your School” back-to-school pep rally at the SVH stadium with a song called “A-Plus.” Yes, that’s what it’s called! Holy shit. Liz is at the stupid rally with Bruce and Jeffrey and they’re fighting over her and it’s lame. She storms off by herself into these tunnels that connect the stadium to the school. Then Principal Chrome Dome cuts in on the Droids to make the announcement about the bomb threat. Everyone in the stadium freaks the fuck out and total pandemonium ensues. Liz runs into Elsa’s mysterious visitor man in the stadium tunnels right before the announcement. She finally puts two and two together and realizes the man is Donald Redman. But when she calls Elsa to ask her about the visitor, Elsa acts weird and insists that it really was an old college friend. Then we learn that Elsa is really Redman’s brother and that it was him, and that she just doesn’t want to turn him in to the police yet. You’re not helping things, Elsa.

Jeffrey goes to the record store ahead of a date with Liz, where he sees Bruce buying a huge stack of “compact discs” – you know, just to help rub in how rich he is. Bruce brags about how Liz is going to ditch Jeffrey for him tonight, then he calls Liz and pretends he’s about to commit suicide. Liz runs out of the house to meet him at the tennis courts. Jessica and Lila are over there, and she makes them swear not to tell Jeffrey where she went when he gets over there for their date. So of course Lila pretends she has to go back outside to look for something she left in her car, waits for Jeffrey, then tells him where Liz went when he pulls up in the driveway. Jeffrey tears off like a bat out of hell and finds Liz and Bruce embracing in the stadium stands, where they’ve gone to have a chat about Bruce’s suicidal thoughts. God, Liz is such an idiot. Not only does she try to convince herself that Bruce isn’t really kissing her collarbone – his lips are just moving because he’s sad – but she is ENRAGED that Jeffrey came to see what was going on. Why can’t he just TRUST her! Jesus!!! Liz is so upset that she yells out Bruce’s “secret” that he’s sick and Bruce starts smirking and Liz realizes it was all a joke and that she is the planet’s biggest moron. (If it was such a secret, then why doesn’t she think about how Bruce knows that Liz knows? Shouldn’t Bruce be surprised that Liz has figured out he’s ill?) HA ha! I only wish she hadn’t figured this out until she’d agreed to sympathy fuck Bruce so that he wouldn’t die without knowing the pleasures of the flesh one last time. I’m sure he could pull that off. Liz tears off into the tunnel under the stadium and thinks that an electrical closet is a great place to hide so that Jeffrey and Bruce won’t find her. When she steps into the closet, she sees this giant bomb and then Redman traps her in there, calling her “Melanie” and roughhousing her a little. Next he gets her to scream to help lure Jeffrey and Bruce inside the closet, then tells them about how he’s going to blow them all up a week earlier than planned. He was going to wait till the season opener football game. This is the climax of the book, but I’m getting bored. Try to hang in there you guys, I’m almost done with this recap, I swear.

Jessica and Lila are back at the Wakefield homestead, where they try out the Ouija board yet again. Jessica is upset because she just knows something isn’t right with Liz. Then the board spells out that “EW” is in danger at the stadium. Jessica flips out and accuses Lila of making it say that, but Lila really wasn’t doing it. Elsa comes over and shares what’s going on at long last, and they call the police and rush to the stadium. A SWAT team comes out and the cops try to get Redman to leave the tunnels. Instead he sets off the bomb’s timer, and Bruce grabs it and takes off running. Redman follows, and Jeffrey and Liz struggle to grab the remote out from under a cabinet and destroy it because they think that will stop the bomb. (They really just had to hit the button again, but I guess only Redman knows that.) BOOM! There’s an explosion. But the bomb doesn’t go off the way Redman wired it to. It was supposed to start a whole series of bombs that would implode the whole stinkin’ stadium. Fail. Liz screams and cries thinking that Bruce exploded, but instead he’s just injured. The dead man is Redman because he tackled Bruce or something to get back his precious bomb. I’m so confused.

Oh, and how did the Ouija board know that Liz was in trouble? Well, according to Liz’s Occultism book, people often subconsciously control the planchette with their thoughts when they’re stressed about something. So Jess was doing it with her famous twin intuition but didn’t realize it. That still doesn’t explain how she knew Liz was in the stadium. She said she was going to the tennis courts!

Anyway, the ordeal is over. Liz and Jess link arms and skip off to the Dairi Burger. No really, they do. The end.

I find this cover HILARIOUS. The twins don’t look even slightly scared. Liz: “What’s that, you say there’s a bomb? You really should get some professional help, sir. Here, let me assist you and help you do a complete turn-around and see the error of your ways.” Jessica: “Wait, did you say sir?! It’s a man? Does he sound cute? Tell him I’m making my best blowjob face right now and he just has to come see it!” Also, why is Jessica dressed like Liz? And WHY IS SHE WEARING A SWEATER IN THE SUMMERTIME? That makes me sweat to death just looking at it.

WTF? So! Since about book 50, Liz has been knocked out and dragged away by a mobster, tied up and threatened with a gun, tied up and shoved into the trunk of a car, and trapped with a bomb. But she’s still here. And still annoying.

Jessica keeps saying “y’all” to her friends. Since when does she ever say that? Isn’t that the type of slang she made fun of those kids in Kansas for using?

No one in this book really talks like themselves. Something about the tone is just … off. I know that can’t be helped when you have multiple people writing a series, but it strikes me as really odd this time. In fact, the dialog sounds like some Girl Talk or Fifth Grade Stars characters speaking. I haven’t read those books in years, but I still remember the basic tone because I’m a big nerd with a memory like an elephant.

When Liz and Jess get to the Dairi Burger, Enid is already there and sitting with Lila and Cara. The book explains that sometimes Enid finds herself hanging out with people she can’t stand just because of the way her social life with Liz interacts. So in other words, Enid has no other friends besides Liz and has no choice but to do whatever it is Liz wants to do. Although that still doesn’t explain how Enid was already sitting with Cara and Lila voluntarily.

It’s genuinely funny to me that Liz is such a fucking stick-in-the-mud about having a little fun with a Ouija board because she’s sure the supernatural doesn’t exist – then, less than a year later, the Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers were published in which Liz meets a ton of ghosts at age 12.

There is all kinds of talk about how Liz has always been disdainful of Bruce and made “cutting remarks” to him, but NO mention whatsoever of what he did to her in book 7! Liz thinks she must have just misunderstood him all this time, or not looked hard enough to see the real Bruce (because she wrecked his junk when he tried to make her look hard enough).

There’s a brief mention of the events of Slam Book Fever, but the ghostwriter gets it way wrong. He or she writes that the slam books said Liz was in love with Roger Patman (it was A.J.) and that Jeffrey was in love with Enid (it was Olivia).

That bratty intern Darcy Kaymen is completely absent and there’s no mention of her. Perhaps Whitehead Academy starts school earlier than everyone else. But there are new reporters named Anita Solarz and Pete.

Near the end, Jessica goes back and forth from thinking Lila’s gone too far with the Ouija crap, and thinking it’s hilarious and they should keep fooling Liz. Hey, she never said she was consistent.

It kind of bugs me that everyone keeps calling San Rafael Hospital the “nuthouse” over and over. I know, I know, that’s what many people call mental hospitals. But let’s face it: no one in Sweet Valley has any kind of mental illness except crazed killers that try to blow up high school stadiums. Everyone else can just sit on their lofty perch and call mental institutions nuthouses.

There’s a lot of talk about how the SV police force is made up of bumbling idiots since they can’t catch this guy. Some try to defend them and say they’re doing all they can. Sorry, I have to agree with the “bumbling idiots” opinion.

Oh, and although the whole town seems to be lined up outside the stadium waiting to see if it blows up or not, Ned and Alice are nowhere to be found! Um, and HOW was everyone allowed to get that close anyway?

Sweet Valley is referred to as a county in one paragraph and then as a city several paragraphs later. Whatever it is, it has its own airport and towering office buildings, so it can’t be THAT small!

I’m not clear if San Rafael is just the name of the hospital or if it’s also the name of a neighboring city. The book doesn’t seem to know either.

Jessica and Lila are watching Terror in the Subway, Part Four when the bomb threat is called in to Valley Cinema. Awesome movie name! It’s about droids climbing out of drains in the subway stations!

I laughed to myself every time I read “Redman” in this book because it made me think of the rapper Redman.

Sweet Valley timeline issue: Lila thinks to herself about the time that she sabotaged the slam books to break up Liz and Jeffrey. That happened after the first two Super Thrillers had been released, yet here’s the fourth one and we’re supposed to still be in that same summer as the first Super Thriller. *Note to self: Stop doing this to yourself … stop doing this to yourself …*

Next up: Olivia has a crush on a teacher, because the book is called Teacher Crush! Unless they’re going to have a hot affair, I’m so not interested.

A Lost at Sea Postscript

Why is it that no one in Sweet Valley ever has to use the bathroom? Not that I want detailed descriptions of people sitting on the toilet, but at times it seems almost unreasonable not to mention it. The only mention at all (in SVH, anyway) that I can recall was in book 13 when Elizabeth is kidnapped and has to get her captor to carry her to the bathroom. Even then, I was surprised to see it in there just because it made sense and Sweet Valley is so not about making sense. Regardless, I find it very odd that there’s no mention in Lost at Sea of Jess or Winston having to dig a hole in the woods or take a piss in a bush or something. Hehe, can you see Jess having to take a crap in a hole in the ground?

It’s just another example of something that I KNOW I shouldn’t even be questioning, but I can’t help but do it anyway.

#56 Lost at Sea

What a sad, sad experience this was. Few things can compare to the utter disappointment of revisiting one of the first books to spark my obsession with deserted-island tales. Okay, I’m pulling some Jessica-style melodrama. But a chapter or so into this book, I found myself wondering, “How did I think this was so cool back in the day?” Then I remembered that … oh yeah … I was 7 years old!

I guess it’s not that bad. I’ve read worse, especially since these books in the 50s have been about two things: new characters finding themselves, or our favorite lavaliere wearin’, dimpled-left-cheek identical twins experiencing severe brushes with danger. But the whole book has this stupid tone that is supposed to be humorous, but it fails on so many levels that Jessica and Winston become weird caricatures of themselves. Both of them are terribly annoying, with Jessica acting so juvenile I think maybe this was supposed to be a Sweet Valley Twins.

So, how did Jess become Lost at Sea? Well, since she and Amy goof off so much in chemistry class, Mr. Russo has suggested they earn some extra credit to save their grades by joining a Sunday field trip to Anacapa Island, where they will study marine life for just a few hours. Even though this is for marine biology, he’ll still give them credit for chem class. The trip sounds fun – I did something kinda similar my senior year – but leave it to Amy and Jess to act like it’s the worst thing ever. Amy gets out of it by claiming she has a family obligation, but she’s really at the beach on Bruce Patman’s dick – again. And because Jessica can’t go even four hours without making out with somebody, she zeroes in on Ken Matthews for the day. Liz and Lila are both surprised that Jessica wants to sneak off into the woods with Ken, especially since Jessica already hit that in the past. But let’s face it, he’ll go for it.

When the kids get to the pier, Jessica starts acting totally nutty, thrusting her crotch at Ken and moaning and stuff like that. There are sixteen kids total on the trip; we aren’t told who all of them are, but some of the ones I haven’t mentioned are Enid, Liz, Lila (who doesn’t want to go either), Tom McKay, Aaron Dallas, Lois Waller, Randy Mason, and some girl named Katrina. Mr. Russo announces that everyone will be divided into four teams of four. Jessica immediately sidles up to Ken, hoping to be on a “team” with him so they can spend some quality time studying human anatomy in the woods. (Hey, Winston isn’t the only one who can make bad jokes!) But Bob Russo is no fool. He knows Jess won’t do any work unless he sticks her with the nerds, so he puts her with Lois, Randy, and Winston. Then he also makes Winston and Jessica safety buddies in case of an emergency, and THEN makes Jessica the “scribe” for her team so that she has to do some work. Ha ha ha!

Man, Winston is so not funny here. I guess he figures since his girl Maria can’t come on the trip, he’s got to harass Jessica instead. He bugs her every second, making bad jokes that would put Bazooka Joe to shame. Every time Jess tries to show Ken that her panties are all ready to drop for him, Winston appears to shatter her reverie. He sneaks up and drapes two life preservers over Jessica while she’s moaning at Ken like a bad Cinemax softcore porn. The weird part is that Tom, Aaron, and Ken are all cracking the hell up, but not at Jess, at Win. They really think he’s hilarious. I hate to say it, especially since normally I kind of like Winston, but in real life I think the jocks would probably toss him over the boat and have a laugh at that instead. Now Jessica doesn’t exactly win me to her side as she sticks her tongue out at Winston and yells shit like, “Why don’t you go jump in the ocean?”

The kids reach the island, and Jessica acts like a bitch to her nerdy teammates. Randy and Lois seem afraid of her for some reason. Why is Randy such a doormat? Doesn’t he remember how Jessica almost got him expelled for hacking into the school grades system? (Not that she forced him to do it, that is) So the first task for each team is to find a tidepool and then write down a thorough description of it and its contents. Jessica acts like it’s the hardest thing anyone could ever ask of her, Randy and Lois tremble at her trifling ways, and then Winston stumbles and stamps his big foot right into the middle of the tidepool and ruins everything. With these four bozos, this is definitely the Worst.Team.Ever. The second task is for each team to identify twenty plants and insects within a 10 yard area. All Jessica has to do is stand there and write shit down, but she whines the whole time. No worries, Winston plays a dumb trick on her every couple of minutes. He throws wet seaweed on her, puts a big hermit crab on her head, and throws coconuts at her from a palm tree.

Let’s get to the storm already. It blows up quick and the boat’s captain, Marsden, orders everyone to leave the island early. Jessica sits next to Ken on the boat and uses the turbulence as a good excuse to get thrown into his arms. He’s starting to ask her to go to Bruce’s party with him when the boat gets so full of water that everyone has to evacuate into inflatable life rafts while Captain Marsden calls the Coast Guard. Winston dumbly grabs three oars instead of two, yet Liz and Aaron somehow get into their raft and out in the water before they realize they’re missing one. Winston paddles over and stands up to throw them the third oar, and it flips the raft over, throwing him and Jess into the water. Jessica is swept away from everybody, gets caught in an undertow, and can’t see anything, so she just swims for the heck of it until she comes to a random island somewhere. She staggers on shore and falls asleep on the sand.

When she wakes up the next day, she has no idea where she is. She stumbles around looking for “fun” and decides this is a great place to sunbathe. Yes, really. Then she starts thinking there might be cannibals/headhunters on the island and freaks out at some noises she hears, but it turns out to be Winston crashing through the bushes. Winston confesses that he paddled to the island in the lifeboat after the big wave separated him from the group, but that he didn’t secure it well enough, so it drifted back out into the ocean. Jess is enraged and yells at Winston that she hopes the cannibals eat him. This is getting old fast. Winston shows Jessica the big piles of fruit he’s collected and some fish that he caught, but it doesn’t win her over right away. First she stomps off in a “melodramatic rage” and pouts by herself, so Winston guts and cooks the fish by wrapping them in palm leaves and throwing them on the fire. Then she magically has a change of heart when she smells the food and comes over to eat.

After they eat, they start arguing about what to do next. Winston insists they set up a rescue signal, collect some more food, and make a shelter, but Jessica just wants to sunbathe and have “fun”. God, just club her over the head and toss her back in the ocean. She refuses to let Winston use her gold bracelet to make a rescue signal; thankfully, he has a Swiss army knife to use instead. Then he coaxes her into helping him make the shelter by saying she can decorate it after they’ve built it. Okay, I know this is supposed to be a parody of Gilligan’s Island and whatnot, but this book is not endearing me. They build a lean-to against some rocks with palm leaves and sticks, and then Winston gets to work making a fire pit while Jessica makes a “couch” out of palm leaves (how does that work?), a dividing curtain out of vines, and decorations out of flowers. Winston praises her work to high heaven like it’s the best thing ever. I guess that’s how you keep her lazy ass moving; it’s the old “OH WOW! THIS IS SO GREAT! LET’S SEE WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO” trick I use on certain people I have to work with. And it works on Jess: she eagerly tramps off in the woods with Winston to gather more food, after they have an awkward bonding moment on the palm leaf couch.

Winston and Jess find tons of firewood and oranges, which they carry in Jessica’s cheesy gauze shirt, and then a storm starts to blow up, but they still go up on a bluff because they spot more fruit up there. Then they run into a bear snuffling around some blueberry bushes. Yes, a bear. On an island. It sounds like a black bear, so they could probably just dash by and leave, but Winston freaks out and drops EVERYTHING over the cliff and into the ocean. And I guess Jess forgot whatever it is she was supposed to learn from that OTHER bear encounter she had back in Super Edition #1, because she has to take some time to figure out what to do. Ultimately, she decides to pitch fruit over the bear’s head and then take off running back to their “camp”. Winston is in complete shock so she has to drag him after her. Then he’s feeling guilty about dropping everything, so he hangs out in his side of the lean-to as the rain pours down. You know, if they hadn’t run into the bear, they probably still would’ve been stuck with sopping wet firewood and fruit anyway, since they had to dawdle so much to pick some damn blueberries even though they KNEW a storm was coming. Jess comes over to Winston’s side and they chill on the palm couch and share their true impressions of one another. Did you know Winston thinks Jess is a snob, and Jess thinks Winston is a big goon? These are supposed to be startling revelations. Winston reveals he knows he went overboard with the jokes on Jess earlier and he’s sorry but that it’s not easy being the class clown. Awwww. Then Winston puts his arm around Jess and they settle back to wait out the storm, and I’m hoping that it will later be revealed that they in fact found a good use for that palm leaf couch.

The storms passes and the kids look for ways to pass the time. They play 20 Questions, Charades, and Truth or Dare. What kind of dares can you get up to on a deserted island? Heh, I can think of a few … Instead Winston whines that Maria will ditch him for some jock while he’s gone. You know what’s funny about this book, in the beginning of the series Jess was Winston’s dream girl and he probably would’ve killed for some alone time with her like this. But now he has it and he doesn’t even want it. I wouldn’t either, she’s a real piece of work, and not in a good way. As sunset approaches, Winston sets up a fishing pole and gets to work on a sand castle while Jessica looks for seashells and then sits and prays about all the things she’ll do differently if she’s rescued. These include being nicer to people, more considerate of Liz, and getting a part-time job to help her parents pay her way through college. Just then a Coast Guard helicopter appears to rescue them, and all thoughts of that bullshit fly right out of Jess’ head. Come on, if none of the other shit she’s gone through has changed her, this certainly won’t! They get on the helicopter and Jess kisses the pilot on the cheek and thinks about how cute he is. They’re SAVED! and Jess can go back to her normal role as leader of the Mean Girls.

A shitload of reporters are waiting for the helicopter to touch down at the U.S. Coast Guard station. So anybody can just come up to those? I’m confused. I figured they’d have it cordoned off since it’s a military property and all that. Instead the reporters ask all sorts of questions and Jessica tells them that SHE did all the work! She even makes up some shit about being chased by a school of sharks, but “kindly” leaves out the part about the bear because she knows she’d have to tell them what a wimp Winston was. Funny how she can’t fudge that part and act like Winston wasn’t scared, but she can stand there and tell them about all the survival techniques “she” came up with. And Winston just stands back and lets her run her big lying mouth! What a bunch of horseshit!

The sub-plot is just about everyone worrying about Jess and Winston. They find Jessica’s life preserver and Winston’s ball cap in the water after their boats are washed away, prompting Lila to start screaming hysterically. At least that gets Tom McKay to snuggle up to her. And then the next day, the Coast Guard finds their empty lifeboat. Liz insists on going to school even though her sister’s gone, and spends the whole day not eating and acting like a zombie while everyone around her acts ridiculous. Lila screams and wails about how terrible it is that Jessica is gone. Amy makes it all about her like usual by saying she’s glad she didn’t go. And everybody just assumes that Jessica and Winston drowned, and meanly shove that assumption in Liz’s face! Um, what does this say about how people really feel about the two of them?

Nicholas Morrow takes everyone out on his boat, Nighthawk to see if they can find anything, but then another damn storm blows up and they have to return. Ned and Alice are terrified they lost Liz and Steven and cry with relief when they return home. Why let them go out on the boat in the first place then? You can’t go check the weather report first?

The cover doesn’t really happen …. Jessica doesn’t walk around crying at any point. And by the time she’s making her pleas for rescue, her gauze shirt has been thrown over the cliff with the oranges and firewood. Doesn’t she look awful though? Check out her little tears, sunburned skin, and running mascara! That’s gold right there

WTF: Nicholas tells Liz and Steven that he is very sympathetic to the Wakefields’ plight, and they think about how he lost Regina. Yet there he is all chillin’ and chattin’ with Bruce on the boat, like Bruce never did anything to his beloved deceased sister!

In an attempt to get that Ken Matthews magic going on, Jessica reminds him about some dates they went on in the past. Ken was Jessica’s 10th grade homecoming date, and “last spring” they danced at the Beach Disco and kissed once. Woooo eeee.

The island Jessica and Winston were marooned on is called Outermost Island. How appropriate

How was there a bear on the island? Especially if it’s so far away from all the islands?

Not only do the kids back at school all have an “Oh, well, they’re dead” attitude about Jess and Winston, barely shedding any tears, but when Liz insists she knows they’re alive, they’re all “Look Liz, YOUR SISTER IS DEAD”. Not in so many words, but that’s the basic attitude! The only one who seems genuinely upset is Lila, who is wailing miserably in every scene she’s in!

When Winston cooks the fish, Jessica initially decides to ignore her hunger pangs because that way she can lose some weight and impress Ken with her skinniness when the rescuers come.

Lois Waller’s mom is the school dietitian. SVH has its own dietitian? And I’m guessing that’s supposed to be funny since Lois is overweight. Hardy har har

We know Ned and Alice are genuinely worried about Jessica because they’re described as looking older than their children for a change.

The boat is named Maverick. There’s nothing really weird about that, except that it makes me think of the last presidential campaign and giggle.

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “All the times I’ve made her feel inferior because she can’t afford as many expensive clothes as I can and she doesn’t have her own car or as much jewelry.” ~while bawling about how mean she’s been to Jess in the past. Liz has to remind her that Jessica has stolen boys from her to calm her down.

Coming up next … It’s the last Super Thriller we’ll have for some time. This may be a good thing.

#55 Perfect Shot

Hi, Shelley! I'm Jim! Did you know I think you're purrrrty? I wish you didn't look like you want to kill me

I have a theory about some of these dumb books in the 50s! Francine and friends decided that we, the (then) young readers, wanted to get to know some characters other than Jessica and Liz and the rest of the crew. GUESS AGAIN. I couldn’t care less about kids like Jennifer Mitchell, Kristin Thompson, Jade Wu, and now Shelley Novak – all people we hadn’t heard ANYTHING about prior to their respective storylines. But all of a sudden, they’re so important that they get a whole cover, and we’re supposed to give a damn. I remember being a kid and being reluctant to spend my allowance on SV books that featured characters I had never heard of and knew nothing about! I didn’t feel particularly urged to find the answer to questions like, Will Jade continue to do her fabulous dancing? Will Kristin continue to be the best tennis player ever? Will Jennifer stop fucking whining about how much her parents suck long enough to realize nobody cares? Fuck that! I wanted more Lila stories! Is it too late for me to picket Bantam Books’ corporate offices about this now? WE WANT LILA! WE WANT LILA!

*Ahem* Alright, so this new random talented chick that we have to hear about is fucking Shelley ass Novak. Is she related to Dana Larson’s once and vanished boyfriend Jerry Novak (book 30)? Just curious. Shelley is on the ladies’ basketball team, and we’re supposed to give a damn. We first met Shelley in book 53 when she ran into Kristin Thompson in the library and they had a two page exchange about sports. Now, just like Kristin, here’s Shelley striking a menacing sports pose on this cover with this dumb douche holding out his camera and staring at her in awe. Nice thick bangs, Shelley. My forehead is breaking out just from looking at them. Jim looks like a skinnier, puffier-haired version of Ben Affleck. I bet if you stuck a ruler in that ‘do you’d get a full six inches of height. The cover also wants us to question whether Shelley will “lose her chance for love” like love is some gem that you can only find once, and if you blow it, you’re destined to be an old maid for life. (Unless, of course, you’re a Wakefield.)

It’s a new week in Sweet Valley, so that means there is a new big dance coming up. This time it’s for the Varsity Club which wants to honor all the athletes who lettered this year. Shelley is a basketball player, so in SV Land it goes without saying she’s very tall for a girl (6 feet), and of course it also goes without saying that she is ashamed of and shy about her height. Shelley hates her appearance so much that she refuses to let anyone take pictures of her, and when her classmate Jim Roberts, who has a huge crush on her, does anyway, Shelley makes him swear never to show the pix to anyone. He reluctantly agrees.

One reason Shelley hates her height is because mean kids in middle school teased her about it constantly. (Can we all just agree that middle school is the fucking worst? I hated it too!) Shelley’s best friend, another chick on the b’ball team named Cathy Ulrich, keeps telling her she’s beautiful and graceful, but Shelley doesn’t believe her. Now Cathy is a little sassy and way cooler than 90 percent of the people we’ve met in this series so far, which makes me sad we’ll probably never hear another word from her after this book. But back to Shelley: she has a horrible crush on her good friend and neighbor, a senior named Greg Hilliard, but worries he’s still got a thing for his ex-girlfriend, the “tiny, ruffly” senior chick Carol Stern, whom he just broke up with recently but still hangs around. Cathy encourages Shelley to ask Greg to the dance anyway, and when she does, he turns her down in shock. He’s never thought of Shelley that way. But instead of just leaving it at that, he makes it worse by carrying on about how she’s way too tall for him anyway, and how ridiculous they’d look if they tried to dance together. Way to go, ass. Shelley is humiliated and further convinced that she is the ugliest creature on earth.

Shelley starts fucking up the playoff games against Emerson High School because her mind’s on how mean Greg is. She starts going on dates with Jim primarily to get back at Greg, who couldn’t really give a fuck. But Shelley finds she really likes Jim way more than she liked Greg. And conveniently, Jim happens to be about the same height that she is. I call bullshit on that one. Hello, look at the cover, the only reason he’s her height is because of that hair! Jim and Shelley start making out and stuff and all of a sudden she’s crazy about him and couldn’t care less about Greg. But then Jim messes the whole thing up when Jeffrey French gets all on his ass about entering some photography contest the Sweet Valley News is having. He must have learned this shit from Liz because he’s really pushing it, even playing the old “Oh, it’s none of my business but I really think you should …” bullcrap. At the last minute, Jim agrees to enter this picture of Shelley gracefully soaring through the air toward the basketball hoop, like a gazelle or something. Everyone agrees it’s the best picture ever and can’t wait to see it on the front page of the News. Then Shelley finds out through Olivia that Jim entered the picture and throws a fit because he broke his promise. Even though Jim could have chosen to enter any of his other equally awesome pictures that we keep hearing about, we’re supposed to think Shelley is a mean bitch for expecting Jim to keep his promise. Jim has the News (through Mr. Collins, who has some kind of hookup there) withdraw the pic from competition. Not to worry, Shelley soon sees the error of her ways and feels bad for telling Jim what a jerk he is! She pedals over to Mr. Collins’s house and he agrees to get the pic back in the competition. And Jim wins, so he should be happy Shelley got over her fear of being laughed at long enough to fix shit for him, right? But we still have to sit through several pages of Jim and Shelley stumbling through conversations with one another. AWK-WARD!

Finally Shelley sees Jim at one of her playoff games and has Maria take him a note telling him she is in love with him. Jim sees it and he forgives her! For getting mad that he broke their promise! And suddenly Shelley plays like the champ she really is inside! Awwww! Gag me. Then Greg comes up after the game and tells Shelley he changed his mind about the dance because of course now that she’s a star, he does think of her “like that” after all! Shelley’s like, “That’s nice” and shows off Jim as her date. So they go to the damn Varsity Club dance and Shelley wins a surprise scholarship, and then she and Jim win a waltz dance-off contest or something (see the sub-plot). Shelley knows she is a winner, so now she is one, get it! Take note for the future, kids. Just remember, if you’re the type of person who really doesn’t like having his/her picture taken, you’re clearly in the wrong and should just get over it when someone decides to ignore your genuine discomfort for their own personal gain. (For the record, I’m not that kind of person, but I don’t force people to come to terms with their inner beauty by insisting on having a picture of them published on the front page of the damn newspaper!)

But what do I really think about Shelley? Well, she bores me. Because she spends most of the book thinking about how ugly she is. Yes, I spent a good part of my teenage years doing the same. That doesn’t mean I want to hear about someone else doing it. Is that mean?

The sub-plot: Now that Jessica and A.J. are officially over, Jess isn’t wasting any time “getting back in circulation.” Ha ha! I’ll just bet she’s ready to get passed around the block a few times. Oh, and that whole stalker thing from a couple days ago? Jess is already over it. I guess we knew she was over it when she agreed to leave her weak, gasping, just-rescued, horrified sister lying on the ground so she could go get some fucking crown she wound up not caring that much about anyway. But I digress. Now Jess has her eyes on a senior football player named Kurt Campbell. So when a UCLA dance major named Patrick McLean starts holding free ballroom dance lessons in the SVH gym on Wednesday afternoons, Jess goes hoping to have an excuse to dance with Kurt. Kurt’s a frickin’ football player; I’m sure he’s all about learning to cha-cha. Amy is still delusional and thinks she’s the world’s best dancer, so she’s all about going too. Amy is a total bitch who makes snotty remarks about Shelley’s height, and she’s also just a complete idiot, but we knew that. Jessica forgets all about Kurt when she sees Patrick, who’s supposed to be the most gorgeous man ever created … at least since the last most gorgeous man Jessica saw, whoever that was. Jess and Amy start competing for his affections because they both think someone who’s a senior in college is going to want to waste his time with some giggling 16-year-olds who step all over his feet. Or maybe I’m wrong about that, because Patrick actually comes to watch their stupid cheerleading practice after school at Amy’s invitation. I’m thinking Chris Hansen needs to come get all To Catch a Predator on his ass. The girls make a dumbass bet over who’s going to get Patrick to dance with them first at the Varsity Club dance, which is being held at the new Royal Hotel downtown. Uh, wait, WHY does Patrick give a fuck about some high school awards dance? He’s not even from Sweet Valley, he’s just looking to set up a dance studio here. The loser of the bet has to pay for the winner’s dress. Then Amy and Jess show up to the dance wearing the same dress. Hurrrr! That’s a new gag if I ever heard one! Amy demands Jess take off the dress immediately. She goes, “Jessica, there’s no way we’re going into that ballroom wearing the identical dress. I’d rather die.’ Jessica snaps, “So die!” Heeeeeeeeeeee! I really did giggle out loud at that one. I hate Amy that much too, Jessica. But can you guess who does get to dance with Patrick? His date, a hot chick named Ellen who looks completely bored out of her skull and disdainful at the fact that she’s being forced to attend some high school function with a bunch of 16-year-olds giggling over her drinking-age boyfriend. Jess and Amy are shocked, shocked I tell you, that Patrick would show up with a date. So Jessica dances with Kurt and Amy gets on Bruce’s ass yet again. Shock me shock me shock me.

WTF? Regarding the video camera he could win in the photography contest, Jeffrey looks at Elizabeth: “‘I wouldn’t mind winning a video camera. I can think of someone I wouldn’t mind taking movies of!’ He winked at Elizabeth.” Good luck with getting her to agree to that one, Jeffrey old pal.

Minor characters: Cathy’s boyfriend, a freshman at UCLA named Tim. How original, there’s only been three or four other Tims in this series. Nancy Roy, Emerson’s “best player.”

Sweet Valley High has its own darkroom for the Oracle staff to use. Wow man … they take their newspaper shit even more seriously than I thought. What do you want to bet the darkroom is used for less appropriate purposes 90 percent of the time?

Jessica is surprised at how mean Amy can be sometimes. Dude, Amy is the worst bitch on planet Earth, Jess, aside from yourself that is. Get used to it already.

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: After seeing Jessica and Amy show up at the dance wearing the same dress: “Jessica, I thought you had enough of that twin stuff with your own sister.” She’s serious too! HAHAHA

In the back of the book: an ad for the Sweet Valley High board game. “NOW SWEET VALLEY HIGH IS A GAME!” We do have this game at home and I might get around to reviewing it sometime. Please don’t kill me, because I know a lot of you do love this game, but my sister and I played it once and we thought it was very boring. The gist of it is that you choose to be Jessica, Lila, Elizabeth, or Enid and then you run around the board trying to collect your respective party, outfit, boyfriend, and teacher by picking up random cards on the board and hoping that they match. It seemed to drag on forever when we played it, and ultimately we just quit without anyone winning. I don’t know, maybe I was just put out because my sister called dibs on being Lila.

Coming up next: It’s one of my absolute favorite SVHs of all time … LOST AT SEA! I am so, so excited to re-read this one!!! In fact, knowing this one was coming up was one of the only things that got me through this book! “HANG IN THERE, girl,” I told myself … “HANG IN THERE! Lost at Sea is coming!” (I think I had too much caffeine today) Why don’t you guys answer a little poll for me while you wait to hear this Wakefield-centric story? Because I wanna know …

#54 Two-Boy Weekend

Every now and again, I will catch my boyfriend rummaging through a small pile of my SVH books. He does this for his own great amusement, making fun of the covers and titles, and it’s kind of a riot to be honest with you. This week, we laughed and laughed about how the title of this book sounds like a porno flick and talked about whom we would cast. Later on, I was working on the computer and all of a sudden I heard him go, “Damn, Jessica’s a bitch!” I looked up in surprise to find him reading the back of this book and shaking his head. So, because he was so very interested in this particular book, I solicited Eric to offer his thoughts on the plot, too! (No, I didn’t make him read the story!)

Jessica and A.J. Morgan have been dating since book 49 and they are in love, but the ghostwriters have made it clear that Jessica is too much of a flirt/cocktease to stay with just one man. But even Jessica doesn’t realize this yet; in fact, she thinks she’s going to DIE when A.J. goes away to Texas for all of three days. She is so upset that she can’t even properly congratulate A.J. on winning some stupid essay contest (subject: “Sweet Valley in the Year 2000” … ba ha ha) sponsored by the Sweet Valley Samaritans Club. In fact, she didn’t even READ his essay, and just wanted him to enter because if he wins, he’ll be crowned King of the Citizens’ Day Ball at the Country Club, and he’ll get to choose Jessica as his Queen … alright, hold up. Who gets made a king of a dance for winning an essay contest? What the fuck? In case you’re wondering how A.J. won instead of Liz, we get a convenient explanation of Liz thinking to herself that she thinks she’ll sit this contest out. How amusing is it that they knew we’d be wondering why Liz didn’t win?

With A.J. gone, Jessica proves to be the type of annoying sad sack she bitches about her couply friends being. She’s really, really terrible. UGH. She is completely melodramatic and whiny, bitching at Amy, Cara, and Lila for not going out of their way to cheer her up. She sits out some party Ken Matthews is throwing because A.J. can’t come. She’s just a general pain-in-the-ass. She even wanders out into the ocean, convincing herself that her friends wouldn’t care if she drowned. At this point her thoughts are verging on suicidal and I’m wondering what the fuck point is supposed to be made by this. Eric says: “Who cares, I wish she did drown.”

Jessica’s friends leave her alone at the beach to mope and feel sorry for herself while they go off to the Dairi Burger. And by that, I mean that Jess voluntarily chooses to stay behind and think about how much her life sucks! I keep waiting for Nicky Shepard to appear and ask her if she’s ready to reconsider moving to San Fran with him. Instead, a surfer she’s been watching, named Christopher (no last name) walks up and asks her out for that night. Jessica decides the best cure for her blues is to have dinner with this guy rather than fucking going to the Dairi Burger and shit. She rationalizes the whole situation in her head, telling herself it’s just dinner even though Christopher is all about telling her how hot she is. She goes home to get ready for dinner and Liz starts asking questions about where she’s going, and Jess knows she has to hide the truth. “Her twin would no doubt bring up ethical issues and problems, like whether this dinner was an actual date and if Jessica was planning to let A.J. know about it.” Hehe, well, if Liz did bring that up, she’d be a hypocrite and a half. To avert suspicion, Jess tells Liz that she’s going out to eat with a person she met on the beach named “Chris.” Liz is so dumb she thinks Jessica just met a new girl friend to hang out with. This is further proof to me that Elizabeth doesn’t really know her sister.

Christopher takes Jessica to some restaurant outside of Sweet Valley called the Casa Sur (which means the “South House”!). They have a great meal and make out on the beach, and Christopher is already obsessed with Jess and insists on taking her out again the next day. They spend all the next day together, walking around downtown Pacific Shores (another random town). Christopher buys Jessica a huge bouquet of roses and a stuffed baby seal, and they make out some more instead of going to Ken’s party. Then he wants to see her again the next day, but Jess still hasn’t told him about A.J., and A.J. is coming back to Sweet Valley early the next afternoon. Rather than just ditch Christopher now, Jessica misses her chance and goes ahead and agrees to see him in the morning on the Sweet Valley beach. So she shows up to the beach, tells him she has a boyfriend, and walks away. Wow, way to waste his time. Eric says: “This girl is stupid.” A.J. comes home and Jessica is sure her secret is safe for her to pine over while trying to force herself to pretend she still loves A.J. She knows she’s just hanging in there so she can win the stupid ass crown and all that.

Christopher ignores Jessica’s command never to call her or see her again, and starts calling her nonstop, at first acting nice but then threatening to tell A.J. about them if she doesn’t see him again. He sends flowers to the school out of nowhere, and Jessica runs into A.J. while she’s holding them. She has to give them to Cara and make her pretend that Steven sent them for her. (Cara is hella confused.) Christopher starts showing up in the Dairi Burger parking lot and following Jess around. And Jessica never told him she had an identical twin, so sometimes he follows Liz around, like when she’s in the mall bookstore with her little sister (from the last book). Then Jessica is at A.J.’s house helping him wash his car, which is for sale, so that some dude can show up and look at it. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the dude is Christopher. Christopher acts like he’s never met Jessica, but then when A.J.’s mom calls him back in the house to talk to another potential buyer on the phone, Jessica has to go with Christopher on his test drive. Christopher drives pretty fast (like 75 mph on the freeway – big deal), swerves around in a parking lot, and drives super fast toward a brick building, threatening to crash the car unless she agrees to go back out with him that Saturday. (Reminds me of Tarantino’s Death Proof!) Jess says okay just to stay alive and all, but she knows she can’t really go out with him, because that’s the night of the Citizens’ Day Ball. She goes home all shaken up and finally tells Liz why she’s been acting so weird the past week. Liz says Jessica can stop the whole thing by telling A.J. the truth so that Christopher can’t blackmail her into dates (and who knows what else) anymore. Even though Jessica is terrified of Christopher, she decides not to tell A.J. until after the ball, because she’s afraid he won’t want her to be his queen anymore. So clearly, your life is not as important as being crowned on stage, dancing in front of people, and getting your picture in the paper. Lesson learned. Meanwhile, Liz seems to think there’s nothing seriously wrong with Christopher, he just can’t take a hint, that’s all. “He’s not a psycho, Jess.” Sure, his actions thus far have been very reasonable. I know when I can’t get what I want from somebody, I try to kill us both by driving head-on into a brick wall.

The night of the dance, Jessica bows out of her date with Christopher by pretending to have strep throat. She really thinks that has gotten rid of her stalker once and for all. She goes to the dance and waits inside with A.J. for the crowning ceremony to start. Meanwhile, Liz and Jeffrey dance outside and Christopher walks up out of nowhere and cuts in. Liz decides it’s best to pretend to be Jess, because if she doesn’t, Jess will have her night ruined and will lose out on being Queen of the ball. These chicks are hopeless. Liz keeps giving the Jeffrey the “OK” sign as she dances with Christopher, and he just steps back and takes it, even when she walks off into the woods with Christopher. Jeffrey is worried, so he runs inside to find Jess to help, but – I’m SERIOUS – she declines to look for Liz, because she’s afraid she’ll miss being crowned Queen! Eric says: “Wait, let me get my crown first … and then we’ll look for my sister … gee, hope she’s not off getting raped!” She tells herself she’s sure Liz is just fine even though she’s obviously unsure of her thoughts, and Jeffrey’s just like, ok, and walks away. When did Jeffrey lose his spine? I don’t remember him being this wimpy before. Todd would’ve like, shoved Jess into a bowl of punch to get her attention.

So while Jess is anxiously awaiting her fucking plastic-sequined dime-store crown, Liz is being dragged off to Christopher’s car at knifepoint. He ties her up and shoves her into his trunk. She is freaking out because she’s being brought back to the events of book 13 when she was kidnapped, as opposed to the more recent incidents of books 51, ST 1, ST 2, ST 3, and whenever else this shit happened! Eric says: “Oh I get it! I get it! [Jessica] is, ‘She’s always been through this before, so it’s okay, she’s used to it.’ [Jessica’s] crafty. That’s a smart girl.” But then Jessica’s magical twin intuition fires up and she knows something truly awful is happening to her twin, so she sprints out of the ball and stops Christopher from driving off with Liz by throwing herself right on his hood. She and Jeffrey overpower Christopher, who’s very confused, and save Liz. Christopher moans Jessica’s name before being knocked out, and Liz weakly tells Jess to go get her fucking crown before it’s too late. Eric says: “WHAT – THE – FUCK??” Then some security guards rush up all, “What’s that scream we heard?” and Jess is, “Oh, my sister’s back there and she can tell you what happened. I’m off to get my crown!” Eric says: “Yes, my sister’s back there, with her tattered clothes. She’s the girl that looks like me after I’ve been beaten, sobbing hysterically. Gotta go!” A.J. and Jessica are crowned King and Queen and dance while Jessica cries because she knows she has to break up with him, which she does. A.J. doesn’t find out about Christopher, so he’s saved that devastation, but he is still upset of course. Yet he readily agrees Jessica just wasn’t meant to be a one-man woman and they assure one another they’ll never forget their love. I can see why Jessica is such a sociopath. She never has to answer for her actions because people just don’t think she should. Oh, and in case you’re wondering what the Wakefield parents have to say about this? They never find out. It would just be too upsetting for them to know, so the twins agree not to say anything. I guess the twins will find a way to keep this incident out of the newspaper! Eric says, “But why would the local news want to ruin Jessica’s special day by putting that in the paper?”

So that was Two-Boy Weekend. Man. Nobody can break up “just because” ’round these parts, can they?

The sub-plot: None at all.

The cover … yeah, I don’t really have anything to say. Jess looks pretty, but can she please get a new hairdo? Christopher … does not look like he was worth cheating on A.J. I mean, his hairline is receding … something he and Jess have in common.

WTF? We’re really supposed to believe that A.J. is the first guy Jessica has truly fallen in love with. More evidence that “Jessica is in real love with Jean-Claude” was just an excuse for Elizabeth to wimp out and cover for her back in France that one time.

We’re also supposed to believe this is the kind of thing that Liz would never do, that Jessica is having an appalling lapse in ethics by cheating while hiding her relationship from the other man. But this is the sort of thing Liz did first. Eric Hankman anybody?

So why was the stupid ball so important to Jessica, other than her just being Jess? Because it had been such a long time since she had any real attention on her! Yes, all the way back to her winning the fashion show that got A.J. to want to bone her so bad in the first place.

I have no idea if this book was supposed to be a warning to teens on stalking or obsessive mentally abusive boyfriends, or what. Eric says: “Uh … young girls were reading this?” If so, it failed miserably. The worst part is probably how many times we got it drummed into our heads that Jessica was powerless against her stalker because it’s more important to maintain her social standing rather than you know, her life … or her sister’s life. Oh, and what happens to Christopher after he gets arrested? Well, he immediately confesses to everything and begs for help. It turns out he has mental problems. And he just readily admits to everything so that he can become a productive member of society again. You see, he’s not really that bad a guy … he just couldn’t help it, but he knows it, so it’s okay that he terrorized two young women like this! Gee, that seems to happen with every crime. The would-be killer (or flat-out killer) isn’t such a bad dude. He’s rehabilitated within seconds of the police catching him; that’s all it takes for him to do a complete 180 and feel sorry for his actions. Welcome to Sweet Valley, where even the bad guys are good guys.

Is it terrible of me to secretly hope that since the twins couldn’t bother to tell Ned and Alice about Christopher, that he will show up on their doorstep looking for Jess one day, and they’ll just let him in to hide in her closet or something because they didn’t have a clue?

Next up: Shelley Novak needs a date for a dance but is too tall, or some shit.

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