By now everyone reading this blog should be well aware that I have a tendency to over-analyze things, and be anal about minor details. And why not? It’s fun to be anal. 😉 So it should come as no surprise that this book pissed me off almost immediately by talking about the football team’s upcoming playoff series, including big games against Palisades and Big Mesa. Holy moly, HOW many times has this school played Big Mesa? Weren’t we just in the playoffs, or similar important games, ten books ago when Ken (temporarily) lost his sight? I could’ve sworn they played Big Mesa back then! I think Francine and friends just gave up and said, Fuck this, we’re going to openly repeat the fall semester twenty times.
So here’s the deal. The current Gladiators quarterback, Scott Trost is failing two of his classes and that means he’s getting suspended from the football team. The whole school expects Ken Matthews to take back his old position, but his girlfriend Terri Adams is secretly very apprehensive about it. She knows that Ken still suffers from vision problems sometimes, and she worries about what could happen to him. Ken seems to think her subtle attempts at getting him to discuss this a little further mean she’s an awful girlfriend, or something. Ken even bitches at her in front of John Pfeifer and Jennifer Mitchell at the Dairi Burger. Wow, way to belittle your girl in front of her friends, dick. Of course, another more private concern of Terri’s is that Ken will ditch her once he’s Mr. High School Football Hero again. Hey, it could happen. Only in Sweet Valley can someone nearly lose his eyesight in a serious car accident, then come back with flying colors in the same football season.
Then the new girl, Claire Middleton, announces her intentions to try out for quarterback, too. Ken is nice about it, but Claire gets a lot of heckling from everyone else. Or at least, that’s what we’re told. We aren’t really exposed to said heckling very much. We’ll just take the ghostwriter’s word for it. Terri becomes jealous of Claire because Ken is always talking about how great she is, and John is always going on about how hot she is. Meanwhile, Ken continues to ignore Terri and act like she’s a bitch for being concerned about him, even asking Terri why she can’t be more like Claire. DAYAAAM. Ken is not exactly warming me to his predicament. He sounds like a dickhole. And Claire is no peach either. She’s kind of rude and abrupt to everyone who dares ask her more than one question about herself, as evidenced when Jessica approaches Claire about joining Pi Beta Alpha. Yes, you read that right! Even though all the cheerleaders et. al. don’t approve of Claire trying to join the football team, Jessica thinks they ought to get her in PBA anyway, to prove they aren’t really as close-minded as the last issue of the Oracle alleged. But when she wanders over to Claire to say hi, Claire makes a couple of kinda shitty comments about how sexist cheerleading is and asks Jessica why she does it. I chuckled at that scene, but it didn’t make me happy with Claire, either. Jessica is so enraged at Claire’s crap comments that she has the football team play dumb pranks on Claire, like fill her football helmet with water, stealing her vitamin drink, filling her shoes with toothpaste, and putting hate notes in her locker. I know you’re mad, but way to stand up for Team Girl, Jessica.
Liz is her usual annoying self throughout this whole damn book. First she interviews Claire for the Oracle and then thinks her investigative journalism skills are floundering beyond all hope, just because Claire doesn’t want to talk at length about herself and her background. Get over yourself Liz, it’s a high school paper. You’re lucky if more than 10 people read the damn thing. Then Steven appears out of nowhere at home and everyone’s all, “Steve! What are you doing home!” It should be “Steve! What are you doing back at college? Going to class?” *everyone laughs at this idea, runs off to the Dairi Burger* Steven is conveniently just there to help Liz figure out that Claire had an older brother named Ted Middleton, a freshman at Steve’s school, and a big shot on the college JV team (huh. what.) who died of cancer.
Jessica’s fury at Claire doesn’t get any better when she hears Claire has been talking a lot with Danny Porter, the Gladiators’ wide receiver and Jessica’s latest love interest, who doesn’t seem all that enthralled with her. Jessica and Amy decide to get back at Claire by – are you ready for this? – making up a cheer to intimidate her on the day of the final tryouts for quarterback. Ooooh, that’ll get her. Then Terri, still stinging over her belief that Ken and Claire are secretly in love since Ken is constantly ignoring Terri and praising Claire to the high heavens, sees Claire crying in front of an autographed picture of a handsome older boy in her locker. The picture is signed “With all my love, Ted” and Claire tries to hide it from Terri. Terri figures this is some lost love she had to leave behind when she moved to Sweet Valley from Palisades. So she goes and tells Jess, Amy, and the team about Ted. Jessica convinces the rest of the cheerleaders to do a stupid cheer at the final tryouts for quarterback, which the entire damn town is attending, about Claire to piss her off. The cheer ends with “We know about Ted!” What the fuck? Here, read this and tell me if this is over-the-top dumb or if it’s just me:
“Who wants a guy
when a girl like Claire
can throw the ball
from here to there?
“Who needs a guy
when a girl gives more?
She steals the ball,
she makes the score!
“Who needs a guy
when a girl instead
can play like Claire?-
We know about Ted!”
I’ve had better poetry come flying out of my ass.
The crowd is confused, but Claire walks off the field. Jessica is delighted because not even in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that her cheer would work so well as to not only make Claire mad, but to convince her to quit the tryouts. Liz explains to the cheerleaders that Ted is Claire’s dead brother in her usual stern 45-year-old way. Jessica and Amy furiously blame the cheer on Terri saying she told them about Ted and put them up to cheering about him. Liz tracks down Terri to ask her if she knew who Ted was. Terri had no idea and is horrified to know what an ass she was, bla bla blaaaaaaa. Liz is like, “Well now that you’ve learned your lesson, don’t you think we should go over to Claire’s house so that you can explain yourself, young lady?” Seriously, that’s probably almost verbatim what she actually says in the book. She is so much like someone’s fucking parent! Terri tells Liz she’s going to go by herself and Liz nods her approval. I hate Liz so much. Yeah, yeah, Terri goes over to Claire’s house to apologize, Claire forgives her very easily, Claire talks to Coach Schultz and he agrees she can go ahead and be second string, and then Ken forgives Terri and tells her how much he loves her and isn’t she crazy to think otherwise? and then they tearfully make out on his couch. Once again, a guy acts like a distant, snippy douchebag to his chick, chick thinks he doesn’t care about her and then he’s all “Ohhhhhh silly, I love you, you were so crazy to think my neglecting you and snapping at you in front of our friends, while telling you that you should be more like this bitchy chick meant otherwise!” Oh, that silly Terri! Finally, Sweet Valley has their 99th game against Big Mesa. Ken’s sight fails him partway through and Claire goes in and saves the day and wins the game, wooooooooo, story over, thank God.
The sub-plot: Jessica gets bored with the existing cheers and launches a competition among the cheerleaders to come up with a new one. Cara makes up a cheer about Ken that wins. It’s almost as bad as the “We know about Ted” cheer.
The cover does not show a pretty girl, so I don’t know what the fuck John Pfeifer is talking about.
Other shit: There are a ton of newly mentioned kids who are on the football team. We have Tim Nelson, who seems to have the most problems with Claire, Stan Skinner, Dave Pollock, who’s almost as good as Claire but not quite, senior linebacker Tad “Blubber” Johnson (Terri’s friend Zack’s older brother), Patrick Reeve, Robbie Hendricks, Bryce Fisherman, Ricky Ordway (the second string to Scott Trost’s first string, who had to drop out due to an injured hamstring), Greg Herly, and Don Cavendish. And the big rival players on the Big Mesa team are Peter Straus and Matt Ambers.
Enid and Hugh are having problems near the beginning of the book and break up by the end. Yeah, I forgot she was dating anyone, too, and it’s only mentioned in like five sentences total. I think they just snuck a couple of paragraphs about this in the final draft of this book, to make sure the next book (our third Super Star) makes some sense.
In Chapter 2, Liz is “troubled” by how she’s been late on recent Oracle assignments, and how it’s not the first time. No, more like the 500th time! Kick this uppity bitch off the staff!
Amy is still dating Scott Trost and in the beginning of the book Jessica teases her about how weird it will be if Scott loses his quarterback position to Ken, whom Amy previously ditched for Scott after Ken lost his eyesight. Haha! You’re such a bitch, Amy!
Major props for the writer not ignoring what happened in the previous book. We get some shit about how the quarterback tryouts are bringing the town’s spirits back up after all the shit that went down in the last book. And there’s a split-second reference to a “racial awareness program” that several people, including Jess and Liz, are working on. But Andy makes no appearance at all, not that I can think of, even though he’s in the marching band. And Neil Freemount is described as a friend of Liz’s rather than Jessica’s old casual boyfriend or as Andy’s best friend. And after these first few mentions, the subject is dropped. NOW it’s over and done with, Sweet Valley style.
Terri and Ken go on a date to … are you ready for this? … the Dairi Burger, and then the library. It’s put out there like a real date and Terri resents Ken for trying to invite Claire along with them to the library. What in the hell? This relationship sucks.
“Listen, I’m probably running the risk of stepping into something that isn’t any of my business, but …” ~That would be Liz speaking. You dumbass, just stop talking.
Coming up next: Enid flirts with her dirty past! Yay, something scandalous! Oh, and Jessica and Lila are going to compete to get on a TV show.