A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some (with lots of swears)

Archive for the ‘Sweet Valley High’ Category

Campus Cool: Jessica’s Story

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Girl you know it’s true, oooh oooh oooh, you look like doo doo

I’m back with the second of the two Campus Cool booklets, released with the Sweet Valley High dolls sometime in 1993! This booklet came with Jessica’s doll (duh), and the ugly outfit on this cover is the same as what the doll wore. I’m just not feeling it. This cover is the same as that found on Elizabeth’s Story, only with the twins’ faces reversed, and it’s purple (like Jessica’s bedroom) rather than bright blue. Their outfits are still fugly as fuck. Something in me almost wants to like the purple and neon green of Jessica’s top, but something in me just can’t. I think it’s the color blocking.

This story starts in the summer, with Jessica and Liz shopping at Valley Mall. Liz is stunned when Jessica says she can’t wait for school to start soon. (They are still juniors.) Jessica spies a new outfit in the window of Lisette’s and flips out. It’s the same outfit on this cover. Liz is just like, “I like the hat.” I feel like that’s Liz’s way of saying, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that fool getup.” Not that Liz’s fashion sense is any better, as shown by this cover and every other cover she’s been on. Jessica tries on the outfit and falls in love. It’s the top and hat shown on the cover, plus a green mini skirt. Jess plans to wear it with a black vest she bought at a flea market, so that explains that part. Jessica is sure she’ll be hit of the school with this outfit. Yeah, maybe in 1989 you would have been. I swear to God this feels way too late for something like this to be a hit.

Anyway, Jessica sees the price tag on the outfit and realizes she can’t possibly afford it. She has three days to earn the money. She rushes home from the mall and sets the table super fancy-like to impress her parents, using their best china and crystal, complete with fanned napkins and fresh lemon slices in the water glasses. Alice sees it and thinks it must be Liz who set the table. The book notes that this is a “natural” reaction. Steven says Jessica must want something, which is another perfectly natural reaction but gets him scolded by his mother.

At dinner, Jessica wastes no time asking her parents for money. Ned actually gives a flat-out “no” and Jessica is sad because I guess she usually just gets whatever she wants. Then Liz asks Jess if she will help her wash sand out of the Jeep. Jessica immediately refuses for obvious reasons (nothing in it for her; she’s messy and doesn’t care about a bunch of beach sand). But the question gives her the bright idea to create a car wash business. She makes up business cards advertising the car wash at the Wakefield house and goes out to distribute them. She plans to charge $5 a wash, and to run the car wash just over the next two days. On day 3, which is the Sunday before the school year starts, she’ll stop and go to the mall. I sure hope she made this schedule clear on the cards. I don’t think we can trust her to have thought about it.

Jessica waits for her customers the next day while Liz takes off with Todd. They tell her she should probably change out of her outfit before washing cars, but Jess doesn’t see the problem. After the first car, she’s exhausted, dirty and messy and has wax and soap all over her clothes. Then Bruce Patman pulls up in his Porsche, saying he has a date with “a beautiful girl” that night and he wants his car to look extra nice. He mocks Jessica’s looks, throws his money on the hood and yells at Jessica that she better not scratch 1BRUCE1 or he’ll demand his money back. He rides off with his cousin Roger while Jess angrily does a half-assed job at washing the car. Bruce is her last customer of that day and she vows she’ll get back at him when she shows up at school in her hot outfit. She’s sure he’ll take one look at her and want to bang her, and she’ll just ignore him and laugh.

The next day, Jessica gets way more customers. She accidentally leaves the windows down in one car and gets water all in the inside; that customer yells at her and demands double his money back, so Jess loses $10. She eventually washes just enough cars to make all the money she needs for the outfit. Liz congratulates her and offers to take Jessica out to Casey’s Place for an ice cream sundae, but Jessica says she’s too exhausted, prompting Liz to pout she doesn’t get to see Jessica much lately. Calm down girl, you just went shopping with her two days ago!

Sunday morning arrives and Jessica rushes straight to the mall to buy the uglyass DayGlo nightmare outfit of her dreams. What do you know, the last one has been sold. Jessica rushes home upset and scoffs at her parents’ attempts to talk about what she learned washing all those cars. She quite literally CRIES herself to sleep. When she wakes up a little bit later, the outfit is lying next to her. It turns out Liz just went ahead and bought it for her the other day. Awwww, that Liz! This is Jessica’s reward for refusing to help wash the Jeep. Hehe, Jessica is such a spoiled little brat, and Liz is such an enabler, awwww, it’s sooooo cute. I wonder why she thought she could get away with spiking her sister’s drink and killing her boyfriend! Hmmmm. Jessica agrees to go get that sundae with her poor deprived sister after she tries on her new eye-burner of an outfit.

The booklet ends much like the other booklet, by saying “YOU DECIDE” whether or not Jessica was a hit with her outfit and got back at Bruce Patman. I decide Jessica looks hideous and is booed out of the school within seconds of entering. Liz too, with that ugly set of rags she’s wearing. Bye girl! Bruce is too busy carrying out Regina’s last wish of death to Amy Sutton (and then himself) and doesn’t even notice.

Yeah, this story was way more boring than Liz’s.

Coming up next: Jessica and Lila are headed on a fabulous vacation now that everyone can forget about Margo and Sam and James and death and mayhem, you know, all that pesky shit that doesn’t really matter!

Campus Cool: Elizabeth’s Story

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Bust out some Milli Vanilli songs in this bitch

What the hell is this?! Let me explain: Sometime around the time of A Night to Remember, Bandai toy company released a series of Sweet Valley High dolls, including “Campus Cool” versions of Elizabeth and Jessica (each sold separately!). Each doll was similar to Barbie, with interchangeable fashions you could purchase. Each doll also came with a special Sweet Valley High booklet featuring her own little story, in the style of the full-length novels. This is my review of the Elizabeth doll booklet; I also have the Jessica doll booklet.

Although the doll boxes are copyright 1992, the booklets are copyright 1993 (the same year as the infamous Jungle Prom “change” in the series). Each booklet is basically the same size as a “real” SVH book, but only 14 pages long with no chapters and (very slightly) toned down for younger kids. The booklets also kept the original classic SVH circle cover design, which SVH mostly retired (in the U.S., anyway) back in 1991.

(There was also a separate Prom Perfect gift set released with both dolls in full A Night to Remember prom night regalia – seems kinda fucked up! – and another booklet called Moonlight and Roses that came in that set. I sadly do not have that booklet in any form at this time.)

So let’s talk about this booklet’s cover, shall we? Look at those fucking outfits! I know that these are the same outfits that are on the dolls themselves, so I guess they’re wilder than usual to sell toys to Barbie fashion plate lovin’ kids, but seriously? Did these girls just leave the rejection line at the In Living Color Fly Girl auditions? And I wanna play some Candy Crush or Bejeweled or some shit on that hat Jessica’s wearing. And Liz? Honey, no. She looks fucking doofy and we all know she would never expose her midriff normally. I guess she raided her mom’s outfits from the last four decades and just threw some old bullshit together and Jess let her parade out of the house looking like that because we all know she secretly hates her anyway.

This story begins with Liz tiptoeing back into the house at midnight, wanting to dance and sing with joy, following a “special date” with Todd. She heads right to Jessica’s room because she has “something wonderful to show her.” Uh, to me this comes off like Liz and Todd finally did it and I don’t even want to say what I thought Liz was going to “show” her sister. What the fuck is wrong with me?! Back to this innocent story. It turns out Liz is talking about Todd’s letter jacket. Oh. Jessica proclaims it’s no big deal and then tries to talk Liz out of dating just one boy seriously (for the millionth time). Liz realizes Jessica is just jealous. She puts her Oracle pin on the jacket proudly while Jessica watches.

The next day after school, Jessica comes home from the Dairi Burger in a huff and stomps around bitching about how all anyone could talk about all day was Todd giving Liz his letter jacket. Well Jess, it sure beats everyone talking about how you killed your own boyfriend by spiking your sister’s drink, Miss Thing! OHHHHHHHHH no I did not!

The next morning, Jessica takes off for school in the Jeep for an early cheerleading meeting. Yeah fucking right! Jessica is the captain and she would never allow an “early” anything! Liz is too dumb to be suspicious, not even after she finds Todd’s jacket is missing. She rides to school with Enid who makes some smart ass remark about Liz not wearing the jacket Todd gave her. Liz tells her to shut up in a joking manner, and Enid salutes her and shuts up, and it kinda comes off like Peppermint Patty and Marcy from Peanuts.

Liz races into school two minutes before the final bell rings. Seriously, Jess getting up early and Liz running late? Liz runs into Julie Porter and Olivia Davidson, who say they just saw her 15 minutes ago. Liz is confused. Hurrrr, who could they have thought was her? Then when Liz gets to class in the nick of time, Mr. Collins says he thought she was going to be late because he just saw her run the other way past the classroom. Liz realizes Jessica took her jacket and is wearing it and everyone thinks Jess is her. Well, slap me silly and call me Chrome Dome Cooper! Never woulda thunk it.

Liz doesn’t see Jessica for the remainder of the day, and then Todd stands Liz up for their usual lunch date. Hmm, Jessica is impersonating Liz, and she and Todd have disappeared. If this story is supposed to take place after Jungle Prom, Liz should be flipping out!

After school, Liz sees Jess at home and demands she give back the jacket. Jessica first tries to say she doesn’t have it, then admits she borrowed it because she thought it would look cute with her new jeans. What the hell, she didn’t think that would make everyone think she was dating Todd? Or, you know, was Liz? This bitch doesn’t care about shit. Jessica goes on to admit that earlier, Todd walked up just as Aaron Dallas gave her a kiss. Todd freaked out and demanded the jacket back from “Liz” while Jessica tried to explain, in vain. As per usual, Todd is ready to believe the worst about his girl when there’s an obvious explanation to the contrary. Hypocrite from hell! Liz makes Jessica call Todd up and explain to him that it was Jessica wearing the jacket. Todd believes her over the phone, but not in person. What in the flying fuck? Todd then asks to speak to Liz, and he tells Liz that he’s sorry for the way he acted, but that Jessica didn’t even explain that morning – she just handed over the jacket without a word while Todd was in one of his Todd rages. Ohhh I see – I guess. Of course Liz hears this and thinks Jessica lied because she wanted Todd to be mad with Liz, but I’m honestly wondering if Todd might be the one who is lying. Whatever. After Liz hangs up, Jessica sweetly says she’s glad they got everything worked out and Liz can’t believe Jess is “acting so innocent.” Of course you can’t, you freakin’ dumbass. Liz decides she is going to come up with a way to get back at Jessica. Then the booklet pulls this on me:

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So, what do YOU DECIDE? I DECIDE that Elizabeth gets back at Jessica by giving her an extra stern glare, causing Jessica to burst into tears, at which point Elizabeth forgives her, apologizes, and makes it up to her by doing the dishes and making dinner for her for the next two weeks. Oh, and by offering to let Jessica borrow her flowery church hat, but Jessica is so nice she tells Liz that’s okay, she doesn’t have to take it THAT far. Yay! The End.

Actually, if I’m being honest the real ending is complete murder and mayhem with Liz pulling a reverse Jungle Prom and spiking Todd and Jessica’s drinks – with poison.

Also included with the Elizabeth Campus Cool doll was this little ad for SVH lavalier necklaces and a map poster:

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Yeah, those are not the SV lavalieres we know! I guess fake gold bar necklaces are a lot less exciting than a big gaudy SVH pendant, for the kids.

Anything else interesting? Yeah, the copyright page was obviously copied from the SVH books, because they had to partially cover up “Printed in the United States of America” with a little “Hong Kong” sticker. (The same is true of the Jessica booklet.)

Coming up next … It’s time for Jessica’s own little story, before we return to the main series.

#100/Magna Edition #4 The Evil Twin

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“Merry Christmas, bitches!” Love, Margo

Here we are! At long last, we’ve reached book number 100 in the series, which Francine or the publisher or somebody decided to combine with a “Magna Edition” to give us a 339-page wonder full of Margo and crying, screaming twins! I’m definitely ready for this “Sweet Valley Terror” six book mini-series to be over and done with. In this tome, Margo is narrowing down the date by which she’ll murder Elizabeth “Golden Child” Wakefield and take over her life. Thrills! Chills! A yawn or two!

As you can see by this cover, this particular story takes place on the twins’ 187th freaking Christmas! If you think too hard about how the entire Sweet Valley High series is technically supposed to have taken place over the course of about four months, you’ll drive yourself absolutely batshit, so don’t do that. (I know, who would think too hard about that, right … uhhhhh…. *hides face*) We’ll get more into the cover a little later on. For now, I’ll just say that I’m disappointed the artists didn’t reflect Margo’s evil face cackling in the smashed Christmas ornament shown here!

Our story opens with Liz and Jessica getting ready for the last day of school at Sweet Valley High before winter break. I keep waiting for these kids to get major deja vu, but nobody does. They have plenty of premonitions about the evil to come, however! Ned and Alice are preparing to fly to San Francisco for their mysterious trip arranged by some environmental engineering firm via a letter .. no phone call or anything, just one single letter signed by some lady named Michelle De Voice that nobody ever heard of. And in the last book it sounded like they wanted both Wakefield parents to work for them, but in this book it seems like Alice is just coming along to make Ned feel good about himself and keep him warm at night. Steven wisely points out that it might be a good idea to call this firm in order to verify the details and confirm they’re coming, but Ned pooh-poohs that idea. Why, this mysterious lady who set it up has already said she’s taken care of all the details! What could go wrong? Of course this firm is so desperate for the expertise of a Wakefield that they just went ahead and set up a limo transfer from the airport, a hotel room, and a series of meetings without even requesting any confirmation from Ned at all! Makes perfect sense!

At school, we learn that SVH has some kind of incredibly dumb Secret Santa tradition where kids can send anonymous candy canes and notes to one another, like a candygram. That’s not the dumb part. The dumb part is that this stuff gets delivered by students dressed in goofy red and green elf costumes. They sound like what Lila had to wear in the Christmas parade in the Special Christmas Super Edition! Speaking of Lila, she hates this tradition because she always gets candy canes from “dorks.” Liz gets a candy cane from Todd, delivered by Winston as elf courier, on the auditorium stage after making a speech about the Oracle student newspaper. The whole school hoots and hollers like Todd wasn’t just openly cheating on Liz with her sister the other week. Jessica gets an anonymous candy cane in the middle of math class, delivered by Ken, who makes her sit on his lap and bounces her on his knee. Haha, okay, so a Christmas-themed re-enactment of something that’s already happened a million other times at Miller’s Point?  The Secret Santa note for Jess reads “Happy Horrordays” and freaks Jessica out. Finally, Elf Dana (with her hair dyed red and green) delivers another Secret Santa candy cane to Liz in the cafeteria. Liz’s note reads: “I’m dreaming of a red Christmas. Wreck the halls with bloody bodies.” Ya’ll don’t EVEN know how fucking hard I am laughing right now! Oh my god, when I first read this I almost spit out my tea all over the book.

Of course, we all know who sent these creepy notes – Margo! She’s spending her days skulking around the halls of SVH, hoping to fool people into thinking she’s Liz. She goes into the library and tries to fool Enid, but Enid looks right at her and can tell she isn’t Liz. She thinks Margo is Jessica trying to fuck with her, and she stomps out of the library in a huff. Enid finds the real Liz and tells her about what happened, and Liz is weirded out and says she hasn’t been able to trust Jess ever since she hid Todd’s makeup letter from Liz. Wait, THIS is what caused you to not be able to trust Jessica?

Meanwhile, Josh Smith, sworn to avenge the death of his little bro, is still busy running around pretending to be a reporter so he can interview all the dimwitted detectives that apparently get assigned to the Sweet Valley area after they flunk out of the police academy. He learns that the woman Margo ran over in Ramsbury was a young single mother newly employed by a catering business. (Somehow, it makes perfect sense to me that this series would decide to have something horrendous happen to a single mother.) When he talks to the Mrs. D’Angelo lady who owns the catering business, the lady just goes ahead and helps him figure out who he’s looking for and gives her name and info. It’s only after she does this that she begins to get suspicious of the man she just handed over her former employee’s info to! What a fucking asshat! Armed with the info Asshat D’Angelo has given him, Josh soon realizes that Margo was indeed the one who killed the lady and that it was likely so she could have her job at the Fowler wedding and spy on the twins. Nice work, Sherlock. He also has her assumed name, Margaret Wake, and her address, which he saw on an envelope Mrs. D’Asshat just left out for him to see.

James has one final meeting with Margo at Kelly’s bar. That’s right, final – along with essentially giving up drinking and smoking cigarettes, he tells Margo he doesn’t want any part of her “job” anymore, not even for the $2,000 she promised. Margo correctly guesses he’s fallen in love with Jessica. She tells him he can get out of the job, but he can’t ever see Jessica again, or she’ll kill him AND Jessica. Terrified, James calls Jessica and breaks their date, then later he calls again and coldly dumps her over the phone. Jess is devastated and falls back into her depression, spending most of her time in bed. At the same time, James starts getting threatening notes at home indicating Margo is watching him, and begins freaking out that Margo is plotting to whack him anyway.

Meanwhile, Margo is continuing to spend plenty of time in the Wakefield house on Calico Drive. She leaves a window open in the basement and unlocks the basement door so she can wander about any time she pleases. She waltzes in one day and gives Alice a hug, and THIS time Alice realizes she doesn’t feel any motherly love for Liz and thinks she’s going nuts. Then Margo goes upstairs to Liz’s room, where she spends a good hour reading Liz’s journal. Man, somebody is always reading Liz’s journal. Put that shit in a safe or something, Elizabeth, damn! Margo is so enthralled with reading about Liz’s boring ass life that she almost gets caught by the real Liz. Margo tosses the journal in a drawer and darts into Liz’s closet just in time. Liz then sees the disarray in her room and her journal out of place and thinks Jessica did it, which is a pretty reasonable thing for her to think. When Jessica innocently sashays into her sister’s room later, planning to have a nice chat to reveal “the big secret” (that Jessica spiked Liz’s punch and caused the Sam-killing accident on prom night), Liz bitches her out for snooping and going through her stuff and yells at her to get out, and Jessica flees in tears.

Next, Margo moves back in on Todd. Sure, Todd has been with both twins over and over by now, so why not have him get with the fake one too. Posing as Liz, Margo calls Todd and says she wants to go out and see some art house flick. Todd is surprised because he thought Liz had a Christmas caroling date with Enid that night, so Margo says Enid had to cancel. With the date set, Margo poses as Jessica and calls Lila, saying she wants to go shopping for a new outfit for a date with James. Lila hasn’t heard about the break-up yet from Real Jessica, so she says cool because she’s going to Paris with her parents for Christmas (for like, three days) and needs cool new clothes as well. The girls visit Lisette’s and Lytton & Brown’s in the mall, and Lila is stunned by how uncharacteristically nice and non-competitive “Jessica” is. For example, when Lila sees a bronze top she wants, Jessica just lets her have it, even telling Lila it looks better on her. (Fake Jess is too used to pretending to be nice while she plays Fake Liz.) Fake Jessica buys a slinky blue dress, which is really for Fake Liz’s date with Todd later that night. The date, of course, is really … interesting. Todd and Fake Liz eat at the Box Tree Cafe, where Fake Liz startles Todd by suggesting they go see some heavy metal concerts later that month instead of a boring play they’d planned to watch with Enid and Hugh. Fake Liz covers up for it as best she can. Then they go see the art flick, and Liz suggests they sit in the back row, where she snuggles close to Todd all through the movie. That of course sets off his radar because I guess Liz normally barely touches him. After the show, Liz tells Todd to go to Miller’s Point. They make out for a bit and Todd is freaked out by how eager she is and decides this must be Jessica playing one of her tricks. He makes excuses to leave in a hurry, drops Liz off and then goes back and forth trying to figure out if that was truly Jessica pretending to be Liz or if he is just “ready for the nuthouse.” As Todd speeds off, the real Liz, home from caroling with Enid, hears his motor and peers through her window to see his black BMW driving away. She’s confused and figures that can’t really be Todd and that she’s seeing things.

The next day is Christmas Eve. The real Jessica goes over to Lila’s to help her finish packing for Paris, and when Lila mentions James, Jessica busts into hysterical tears and blubbers about the break-up. Lila momentarily confuses her by telling Jessica not to return the special dress she bought. It doesn’t really get cleared up because Lila is distracted by where her hair mousse went. When Lila hugs Jessica goodbye, she has a terrible premonition that Jessica is in terrible danger. What’s with all the ESP in these books all of a sudden?

Meanwhile, Liz is over at Olivia’s house. When she comes home, Alice insists she couldn’t have been at Olivia’s because she saw Liz sneaking some freshly-baked Christmas cookies off the rack. Haha, nice. Not only that, but Fake Liz was apparently also helping Alice clean the house! Okay, this is pushing it a little. I can’t see Margo doing that shit, no matter how badly she wants to be Elizabeth. We’ve already seeing her re-considering her choice of twin a few times as she is definitely just a more psycho version of Jessica. Real Liz is freaked out – not good since she’s already having nightmares (about Jungle Prom) and can’t stand the sound of “Deck the Halls” ever since she got that creepy Secret Santa note at school. Then Todd shows up to join the family for Christmas Eve dinner. More confusion reigns when Todd starts to mention that he went out with Liz last night just as Liz starts to talk about being out with Enid last night. Todd awkwardly covers for himself by saying he meant to say something else. Now he’s sure he was out with Jessica, but he never says a fucking word about it to Liz. That night, Jessica unintentionally scares the living shit out of Liz when she tries to creep into her room again to tell her the truth about Jungle Prom, and once again, Liz yells at her to get out. I think this is Real Liz yelling, but it’s sometimes hard to keep track.

Man, Christmas Day fucking sucks. It’s just as depressing as it was built up to be. Liz and Jess can’t muster any enthusiasm for the presents or the festivities, and Margo is busy slinking around outside the window (and Steven nearly catches her). Back in his motel room, Josh Smith makes a Christmas Day call home to his mother, who can barely talk while she sobs about how much she misses her younger son. The only one who’s really happy is Margo, who’s gleefully skipping around in the rain. Man, you know it’s a dark day in Sweet Valley when it’s raining!

After Christmas, Ned and Alice the dumbasses take off for San Fran, leaving Steven to look after the twins (after he drops his parents off at the airport). Another storm rages as Steven and Liz leave the house, leaving Jessica all by her depressed self. But then James calls. Margo’s notes are freaking him out more than ever, and he’s decided he’s going to flee Sweet Valley and take Jessica with him. He doesn’t tell Jess all of this when he talks to her, he just begs her to meet him at an old pier at the marina at 7 PM. After Jess agrees and hangs up, the power goes out at the Wakefield house. Jess wanders out into the hallway to find a flashlight and smacks into “a body”! It’s Margo, pretending to be Liz and slinking around the house. Okay, +100 for the ghostwriter for the creepy ass ambiance in this scene. It’s genuinely spooky. Jessica screams in fear at the “body” and Fake Liz gives her a hug and tells her it’s okay. Of course, real Liz is still pissed at Jess and doesn’t give a fuck if she’s scared, but Margo isn’t the best at paying attention to that shit. The lights come back on, and Fake Liz goes into real Liz’s room, where she was a moment ago, eavesdropping on Jessica’s conversation with James. Oh shit, y’all are in trouble. Before she steals back out of the house through the basement window, Fake Liz steals the real Liz’s precious golden lavaliere.

While Margo is out at the Wakefields’, Josh Smith is anxiously driving up and down her street looking for her address. He finally sees the boarding house and sees “Margaret Wake’s” name next to the door. He goes right inside and jimmies the lock to Margo’s room, and enters to find something out of a horror movie. No bodies, but the place is a wreck, and along with a bunch of knives piled on a table, Margo has also been collecting loads of newspaper article and pictures of the twins. She’s pinned these up on the walls along with papers on which she’s practiced writing in Elizabeth’s handwriting. Creepiest of all, on the mirror she’s written “I am Elizabeth” in lipstick! Josh decides to wait in the room and whack Margo when she comes back. Unfortunately for him, Margo notices her door lock has been fucked with and realizes he’s in there before she goes in. She stands near the end of the hallway and loudly holds a fake conversation about going to the marina, all for Josh’s benefit. Heading back outside, she hides in her car and watches Josh speed off for the marina with glee, then follows after him.

Todd and Liz (real Liz) arrive back at the Wakefield house, confusing Jessica, who doesn’t understand why Liz is suddenly wearing different clothes and being cold to her. Jessica begs Todd to give her a ride to the marina in his BMW because Steven has used the Jeep to take the Wakefields to the airport, and Jessica can’t find her parents’ car keys anywhere. Todd and Liz finally agree, but they’re all running late. Jessica begins flipping out because she’s having one of those ubiquitous Sweet Valley Terror premonitions again. At the marina, Margo has already arrived, wearing a denim jacket and baseball cap. She fools James into thinking she’s Jessica, and he pours out his heart to her about Margo and telling her he loves her and wants to run away with her. Just then, he tips her face up and realizes he’s actually looking at Margo. Margo says “Hello, James” all creepily, then pushes him off the marina onto the rocks below to his doom – just as Todd and the twins arrive and witness this. As everyone screams and wails, Margo slips away and Josh, wearing the same outfit Margo just was, pops out from a hiding place nearby to try and get her. Of course, you can see where this is going. Everyone thinks Josh is the one who killed James, and Todd helps apprehend him with a good Todd punch or two. Josh tries to tell everyone about how Margo is a psycho who is after the twins and looks just like them, but nobody believes him. Liz and Jessica cry in each other’s arms. Damn, Jessica’s second boyfriend in a row has been killed, right in front of her eyes. They really want to make you feel sorry for her ass so you’ll forgive her for all she’s done to Liz so far.

The next several chapters add up to just one intersecting comedy of bullshit errors. I’ll just talk about stupid Ned and Alice first. They arrive in San Fran to find the limo that was supposed to pick them up is nowhere to be found, and so they have to take a taxi from the airport to their hotel – where all the rooms are booked up and nothing was ever reserved for them. Alice’s mother’s intuition starts going crazy and she’s ready to get the hell out of dodge, but Ned is being a stubborn ass and refuses. He marches over to the engineering firm the next day for the first of several meetings he’s been told he should attend, and is just shocked to find that no one there has ever heard of him. In fact, the employee who sent him the letter doesn’t exist. Time to go home, right? Nope, Ned and Alice decide to stay a second night so that they can speak to the head of the legal department when he returns the next day, and get all this straightened out! There’s got to be a reasonable explanation! The worst part is that Alice really wants to go back home and get to her children and is just breaking down, and Ned keeps telling her there’s nothing to worry about. He’s sure there is a reasonable explanation. He keeps being condescending and cutting her off when she tries to point out how odd all of this is. Oh, no worries honey, we’ll get this figured out! This is the stupidest shit ever and I hate him. Oh yeah, and whenever Alice calls home, Fake Liz or Fake Jess picks up and tells her everything’s fine. *womp womp* I know Margo is just always around the Wakefield house now, but these turns of events are really starting to be a stretch even for Sweet Valley.

In reality, everyone is falling the fuck apart, of course, so at least that part is realistic. Liz and Jess both have nightmares the night they witness James die. Liz’s nightmares are magically getting her closer and closer to finding out how she got totally wasted the night of the Jungle Prom. Jessica’s post-James nightmare is essentially the same as the one she had about Margo way at the beginning of the mini-series. Both nightmares end with the twins screaming and then finding one another to hug and cry. Steven finds them like this and is bewildered. Nobody thinks to suggest the twins might greatly benefit from some counseling, because counseling doesn’t exist in this world unless it’s at the stupid Teen Center doled out by unqualified twat-wagons like Amy Sutton.

Margo spends another night at the Wakefield house, where she is unexpectedly spotted by a sniffling, mopy Jessica, but Jessica just thinks it’s Liz again. Margo briefly considers murdering Jessica and taking over her life instead. Todd shows up, and Fake Liz takes off with him on a dinner date at Guido’s pizza. Once again Todd is weirded out and he drops Fake Liz off without so much as a goodnight kiss afterwards, pissing her off.

Lila comes back from Paris, and Margo / Fake Jessica sets up a date to hang out and prepare for the upcoming New Year’s Ball at Fowler Crest. Margo prowls around the mansion scoping out a place to kill Liz on the night of the ball (in the pool house) and a place to bury Liz’s body (in the woods behind the pool house).

It’s New Year’s Eve and Josh Smith is locked up in jail where nobody gives a shit about his Margo story, even though there is in fact a wanted woman named Margo on the East Coast and Josh’s brother was in fact murdered by a woman matching that description. Josh tricks a jail guard into thinking he’s ill, then stands up and knocks him out, steals his outfit, and escapes the jail. He’s headed for Fowler Crest and Lila’s big New Year’s Eve ball.

Back on Calico Drive, Margo is pretending to be both twins with dizzying speed and nobody is catching the fuck on, already. Margo carefully arranges things so that Liz wears a “slinky” fuschia dress that belongs to Jessica to the ball, then goes out to get the same dress for herself. The sales clerk is taking too long on a personal phone call, so Margo just runs out of the store with the dress without paying for it. Then she stops by the saleslady’s car in the parking lot and slashes her back tires. (Margo heard the lady describing the car over the phone to her friend – see what I’m saying? This shit is too convenient.) The real Liz falls asleep while hanging out in her room preparing to get ready for the ball, and has her final revealing nightmare, in which she realizes Jessica was the one to spike the punch. I guess her memories of the evening were slowly coming back to her in dreams … or something. Liz wakes up crying and thinking to herself that Jessica is a complete monster.

Back in San Fran, everyone’s favorite stubborn horse’s ass, Ned Wakefield, finally gives up on his dream environmental engineering law consulting job when he meets with the chief legal dude and is told there seriously is no meeting. Good, get the fuck out of here! Ned finally tells his timid wife they’ll catch the next flight home, but of course it’s canceled. They wind up on a train … which gets stuck in a raging thunderstorm or some old bullshit like that. The train lets them off at the next stop and they rent a car … and the car is a fucking junker. Yeah, yeah, we know what’s coming … a breakdown, on all fronts. Well, a flat tire, to be exact. The rest of the breakdown is just my sanity, and everyone else’s. Ned struggles to change the tire in the storm on a hill right above Sweet Valley while Alice stands next to him, dutifully watching and doing her silly wifely fretting or whatever Ned thinks it is.

At Fowler Crest, Lila’s ball is in full swing. Jessica shows up wearing a spaghetti strap cobalt blue dress that she borrowed from Amy. I can’t believe she’s even at the fucking ball mere days from the night she witnessed her latest boyfriend’s death, but there she is. Maybe she feels better this way, I don’t know. Liz shows up in her daring low-cut fuschia gown, as does Margo, who is prowling around Fowler Crest wearing the exact same outfit plus Liz’s missing lavaliere. Josh Smith hides in the bushes and spies through the windows, looking for Margo. Steve and his girlfriend Billie are at home watching movies and making out on the couch. Alerts are going out on the TV and radio for “escaped killer Josh Smith” and everyone is kinda freaked out, but not that much … y’all know how this goes. Okay, Steve is freaked out enough to dash off to Fowler Crest, leaving his girlfriend to fend for herself at the Wakefield house until she begs to go with him. You’re a horrible boyfriend, Steven.

Liz is talking to Enid at the party, who’s being a wallflower by herself by the punch bowl because what else would she do with her life, when Jessica shows up and walks toward Liz. Liz freaks out and runs upstairs, confusing everybody since no one knows what happened with Jess spiking dranks and shit.

Todd goes upstairs to look for Liz and finds Margo instead, hiding in a guest room. They start making out and Fake Liz suggests they stay up there and “have our own party” which of course just makes Todd go limp as a dead dick again. Staring into Fake Liz’s eyes, Todd slowly comes to realize that what Josh was hollerin’ about was true. He confronts Fake Liz and demands to know who she is, and Fake Liz knocks his ass out with a miniature gold statue and Todd drops to the ground faster than Amy Sutton at a blowjob party.

Margo steals away thinking that she can just tell people that Todd hit his head or something and doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he tries to say she isn’t Elizabeth. Man, didn’t they have DNA testing in 1993? I can’t imagine this charade can be kept up for long. Anyway, Margo finds out where Real Liz is hiding (in another bathroom, thinking about how horrible things must have been for Jessica). Fake Liz pretends to be Jessica and calls through the door to Real Liz that she needs to talk to her and that they should meet in the pool house. Josh and Jessica separately notice Liz running off to the pool house and chase after her, but not before Margo gets to Liz and corners her with a knife, taunting her about having made out with Todd and how she’s going to take over Liz’s life, and how she’s already dug Liz’s grave in the Fowler woods while Liz whimpers and just stands there. Jessica busts in and dives in front of Margo’s slashing knife twice, taking a cut to the arm. Then Josh rushes to the shed only to be tackled by Steve, who’s just showed up with Billie. Oh God, it’s always Steve in the way, isn’t it!  Todd shows up and convinces Steve to listen to Josh and Steve lets him up just in time for Josh to run into the pool house and tackle Margo as she’s about to stab the twins a second time, sending her crashing through a window and dying from a giant shard of glass to the jugular. Josh looks down and watches as the blood burbles out of that dead bitch’s neck onto the Fowler Crest pavement. Ew, gnarly! Ned and Alice show up right afterward, and the Wakefields unite and cry and everyone’s back together and not traumatized at all, and Liz forgives Jessica in the blink of an eye for all the shit she did. Ah, jeez.

You know, I actually think the idea behind this book was really clever. The ghostwriters wanted to stir up some crazy twin drama to turn this series around and gain readership, starting with A Night to Remember. But they knew that Jessica was a POS who could only be forgiven if there was someone even crazier than her present in the story – someone so over the top, so batshit insane that Jessica would just look like an innocent teenager in comparison, a mostly sweet girl who made a couple of stupid mistakes. Compared to that bitch, Jessica would be easy for Elizabeth to forgive and everyone could just move on. So they decided to change things up further by introducing the TERROR of Margo and intertwining it with the truth behind what Jessica did, how Liz finds out, and how Liz decides to forgive Jess (because hey! they all could’ve died!). That’s my theory, anyway.

Jess is still an awful person in her own right. I’M not forgiving her for shit!

Oh oh oh, and I don’t get one (more) thing. No one could tell that Margo wasn’t Liz or Jess right off the bat except for Enid. Everyone else was fooled for a good long while, if not the whole time. How is that possible? Twins, if someone pretended to be you, would your “other twin half” be fooled? Would your family and closest friends?

And DAMN are there REALLY that many people out there who look just like Liz and Jess? Don’t answer that … I’m well aware there’s something else coming NEXT Christmas … 🙂

Let’s take a look at the cover’s stepback art! That’s right, there’s more cover to examine …

stepback

So the main illustration here is of Liz entering the pool house – nice lightning bolt in the background – to find Fake Liz standing there with the knife. Okay, are these supposed to be the “daring” fuschia dresses that are so unusual for Elizabeth? They look like something out of a 1950s Sweet Sixteen party! To the right is the illustration of the depressing Christmas morning, with the twins sitting there moping and Margo peering in the window at them. In the lower left corner, we have Todd knocked out on the ground with the statue and a mysterious hand grabbing at him. The stupid fucking barcode blocks out what’s going on here, so I looked around online until I found the full illustration on the Norwegian cover of this book:

full stepback

You can’t really see that image too well, but it looks like Jessica trying to wake Todd up or something in the blue dress she wore to the ball. Yeah, this scene never happened. By the way, the Norwegian title of the book apparently translates to The False Twin in English. I actually like that title better!

Other crap: Talk about a blast from the past! In the first SVH book, Double Lov(October 1983), there was a mention of an outfit Liz had with a tuxedo shirt, vest, black pants and a little bow tie. Jessica begged to borrow it for a school dance. In the opening chapter of THIS book (December 1993), Liz sees that same outfit in her closet and thinks sadly about how much Jessica used to love to borrow it “in the old days.” Hah! Nice fan shout-out, Francine.

Elizabeth’s Oracle column is apparently now called “Personal Profiles”. How boring compared to “Eyes and Ears”.

Mrs. Wakefield tells the twins that she has asked the Egberts and the Beckwiths to look after them while she and Ned are in San Fran First of all, I am positive the Beckwiths moved away just a few books ago and that the Thomases (Annie and Cheryl) are living in their old house. We know for certain the Beckwiths aren’t around because nosy old asshole Mr. Beckwith would definitely have caught Margo peering in some windows if they were! Second of all, since when do the Egberts live anywhere near the Wakefields? It’s Caroline Pearce that lives on their same street.

Margo hates Enid’s guts. She decides that Liz is dead and Margo has officially taken her place, she will kill Enid next and then ensure Lila becomes “Liz’s’ new best friend. I find myself oddly delighted by this.

Lila’s “signature flavor” of ice cream is Million Dollar Mocha, from Casey’s Place. I now realize that a signature ice cream flavor of my very own has been sorely missing from my own life.

Liz thinks about how everyone always knew someone had spiked her and Sam’s punch, they just didn’t know who did it. That is such bullshit. Everyone was such a douchebrain right from the start. “Huhhhhhh, if you weren’t drinking Liz, how could you possibly have gotten drunk?”

Margo thinks about how hot Steven is and basically how she wishes she could bang him, but that might be weird since she’s supposed to be Elizabeth. Blehhhhhhh!

Jessica and Lila talk about Paris like Jessica has never been there before, despite the Spring Break Super Edition that’s set in France (and which I could swear has the twins dropping by Paris).

After she gets back from Paris, Lila has a dream about a sexy Frenchman named Jean-Claude. It’s not clear if this is a guy she invented in her dreams, or a dude she actually met in Paris. (Liz’s guy in the France Super Edition was also named Jean-Claude.)

At Lila’s ball, Bruce smooches Lila on the cheek and goes on and on about how hot she looks right in front of Pamela. I think we’re supposed to think this is cute and funny banter between friends, but considering that Bruce and Lila hate each others’ guts, and that this is Bruce we’re talking about, it’s really just creepy and shitty. Run, Pamela, run!

In the back of the book: There’s an ad for the next mini-series, which is called Sweet Valley Passion, is “sizzling” and is mercifully just three books long. I’m not sure I want to read another story that’s drawn out over a total of seven books. There are also two different ads for the “brand new” Sweet Valley University series. It tells us which books to look out for in 1994, so keep an eye out you guys.

Coming up next: Jessica is going to work off her dead boyfriend blues at some lush resort! Maybe it’s in Brazil and she’s finally claiming that Jungle Prom Queen prize she sacrificed so much for? Zing! Before I post that review, I’ll have a little write-up of an SVH read that’s much, much, MUCH shorter than The Evil Twin.

#99 Beware the Baby-Sitter

BWTBS

How dare you have to take a piss, you little brat!!!

I have to get this off my chest: This is the dumbest title ever. Ugh! The whole book revolves around babies. I’m decidedly not a fan of stories that are all about babies, so this spelled hell for me from the start. Maybe that is why I finished this book approximately 2 months ago and have been sitting on a half-finished review for nearly as long. I’m ready to read the last “Margo” book (for a while).

This cover is dumb, too. We have Margo as “Marla” (her newest alter-ego), working at the daycare center and taunting some kid who has sad eyes and a bowl cut, but it’s never explained who this kid is. Also, the kid looks like he totally has to take a piss. In the upper right corner, SPOILER ALERT! That’s Liz and Todd, who don’t look anything like themselves if you ask me, but as you’ll see, there really isn’t anyone else it could be. I’m going to have to these kids no longer looking like themselves on these new covers. :/

So, the main plot here has to do with a baby named Daisy Zvonchenko that Winston is stuck caring for when Daisy’s mother has to leave suddenly in order to bring her journalist husband some papers at an airport or some shit, in a Central American country that’s in the middle of a coup, because he had to leave his passport behind in the hotel when it was taken over by terrorists, and I can’t believe I cared enough to go back through the book just now and make sure I was giving you the accurate story. But that is what I did! Anyway, Mrs. Z. just rings the doorbell, and then gleefully flings Daisy and some baby-care items into Winston’s arms, asks if his parents can look after her real quick and disappears acting like it ain’t no thang. What the fuck, lady? She runs off saying she’ll probably be back the next day, and Winston doesn’t get a chance/doesn’t care enough to run after her and tell her that his parents just left for a week’s vacation, and he was planning to sit around at home and do nothing but eat peanut butter and sardine sandwiches by himself. LMFAO, I am serious – that’s really the only thing he envisions with a house all to himself. Boy, I had different ideas at 16. Well, now Winston is stuck caring for this kid – let the hijinks ensue, am i rite!!! And guess what, Mrs. Z doesn’t come back the next day, like she said she would … or the next day … or the next. She just vanishes. So instead of asking an adult or, I don’t know, another neighbor or something for help, Winston spends the week caring for the baby in secret.

Yeah, so this plot is supposed to be so cute or something, but it’s horrendous. Maria comes over to visit and get some hot sexy times I guess, although that appears to be the last thing on either her or Winston’s mind. Winston hurriedly shoves Daisy in a closet, but then Maria hears her making baby noises and shit, and he has to let the secret out. Winston has been freaking out over how to change a diaper, so he’s secretly kind of glad Maria knows now. Later, Winston’s mom calls, and she keeps hearing Daisy in the background and he keeps lying about what is going on. I don’t get it. It’s not his fault, so why can’t he just say something? Does he want the baby off his hands or not? Then, Maria brings a bunch of her friends over – Amy, Lila, Annie, Pamela, Cheryl, and Jean (who’s now regularly referred to as Jeanie) – to meet the baby the next night, and they all coo and shriek over her. Okay, except for Lila, who’s more concerned that the  baby’s clothes look out of fashion. Maria gets the idea to go to Olivia’s boyfriend’s upcoming costume party with the baby and that they should all wear costumes. Gee, I thought they wanted to be inconspicuous about this! Winston starts seeing a future taking care of babies with Maria and gets sick and has to sit down, or something. I would get sick and have to sit down thinking of raising babies with anyone in this freaking universe.Kind of wish Ned and Alice had gotten sick and had to sit down at some point.

The ladies keep coming over to the Egbert house to help Winston with Daisy, because he’s totally incompetent and oh my god, it’s so funny! LOLLLLLLLLZZZ! When Amy makes fun of Winston for being utterly hopeless with diapers, Winston bets her that he’ll be a master at it by “Friday”. If he is, he gets to choose Amy’s costume for the costume party. If he isn’t, then Amy gets to choose Winston’s costume. I’ll just relieve you of the suspense: Winston wins, and Amy has to go to the costume party as a nun! HAH! Now that shit is funny. Good one, Francine.

Winston has been skipping school to take care of Daisy, but he finally realizes he can’t fake it anymore (why not?) and so he comes to school carrying the baby inside a duffel bag. Principal “Chrome Dome” Cooper almost catches him, and then Mr. Collins nearly does as well, and it’s just really silly. The baby gets passed around from student to student. When it’s Lila’s turn to care for Daisy (outside in a school courtyard/park), Lila successfully teaches her to say “Porsche.” Then the principal appears, and Lila has to make up some shit about why she’s hanging around outside while keeping old Chrome Dome from noticing there’s a fucking baby hanging around. Meanwhile, Daisy crawls away without either Lila (or the principal) noticing. When Chrome Dome finally leaves, Lila chases after Daisy and finds her under a bench untying Bruce Patman’s shoelaces. He has no idea, because he’s busy listening to his CD player and singing/drumming along. And after Lila carries Daisy away, he stands up and trips over his shoelaces. Ha ha! OK, I gotta give this scene some credit for the genuine laugh it gave me.

Mrs. Z is still missing in action, so Winston ultimately realizes he needs help, so he, Liz, and Todd take the baby to … the local daycare center. The fuck? They’re going to go in there and ask what to do. Damn, y’all really don’t want to talk to your parents! Not even Ms. Perfect Liz wants to ask her perfect parents for their fucking advice? Probably because she can’t find their absentee asses or is too tired from making their fucking dinner every night. Or you know, you can just call the police … The baby’s mother is overdue to come back and you haven’t heard shit from her and for all you know she is dead. I guess I have to give these kids a break because they’re 16, right? Ughh.

Unbeknownst to the gang, the daycare center is the worst place they could have taken little Daisy. Margo is working there as “Marla” and she gives Winston “advice” from time to time, and she silently flips the fuck out when she sees the Scooby Gang show up with this baby. She starts seething (to herself) about how unfair it is that Liz has Todd, and that Liz loves the baby and the baby has parents who love her too, or something, and starts thinking about how she’ll get revenge on Liz by hurting the baby. What?

The costume party night arrives, and Winston and Maria goes as Ricky and Lucy, and Daisy is Little Ricky. God, does that sound like a trainwreck straight out of hell or what. They hang out on the loud-ass dance floor with the baby and Daisy doesn’t seem bothered by this at all. Maybe I really do know nothing about babies.

Back to Margo/Marla/WTF: Winston is totally freaked out by “Marla’s” weird behavior at the daycare center and thinks she is strange. Then Marla/Margo just randomly appears at his house one day despite Winston never giving her his full name or address, and she says she wants to watch the baby so Winston can catch a break and go out and run errands for a long time. Seems legit. Winston decides it’s cool for her to hang out alone with the baby one day at his house, because everyone in these books is stupid as all fuck, and so he leaves. And then Margo is just about to smother Daisy with a pillow when the doorbell rings, and it’s Liz, showing up unexpectedly. Margo is completely star-struck by coming face-to-face with Liz, who doesn’t recognize her in her “Marla” disguise (remember Margo was just hanging all around Liz at the wedding the previous week). Marla/Margo freezes and she doesn’t know what to do, so she just tears out of the house and Liz is all “Gee, how strange! Huh.” She doesn’t say anything to anyone about this, of course. Of course! Margo has been urging Winston to leave Daisy at the daycare center so she can take her to Social Services, because I guess the gang can’t do that themselves, and so Winston drops Daisy off and waves goodbye. When he gets home, hey! There’s Mrs. Z. And she’s just all, “Oh sorry I couldn’t call, tee hee! I’m sure my baby’s fine.” Winston tears back to the daycare center to pick up Daisy, and gets her as, once again, Margo is clearly about to kill her because all happy babies with good homes and loving parents must die, plus this will teach Liz a lesson somehow. Daisy is saved! Thank god, fuck this dumb ass story.

Major spooky bitch moment: Enid and Liz are hanging out on the beach when Enid suddenly spies Margo standing way down the way just staring at Liz in her maillot. In a blink of an eye, Margo vanishes and Enid freaks the fuck out that there was a dark-haired girl who looked a lot like Liz, just standing there staring at Liz. And then Enid goes back to staring at Liz herself and the moment is forgotten.

What’s going on with everyone else: Let’s start with the twins and their fucking drama. Liz is sad because even though she and Todd danced together at Lila’s parents’ wedding, he still hasn’t tried to talk to her any. Why would he talk to you Liz? That would totally break with the normal post-breakup pattern that you guys have. Liz’s relationship with Jessica, however, is slowly getting patched up. By that I mean that one twin will occasionally act like she remembers the other twin exists. Then, they suddenly start talking more. Jessica asks Liz if she can borrow her sweater and they banter about old times. Jessica invites Liz to come to an “ice cream bash” at Lila’s house and Liz says she already heard about it through Enid (LOL) but she wasn’t going to go because she didn’t think Jessica would want her there. Jessica tells her she would, actually, and then the twins laugh about how funny it is that Lila even invited Enid or something, and everything seems hunky dory again …

BUT there’s still the little matter of that heartfelt letter from Todd that Jessica hid from Liz. Liz goes into Jessica’s room to do her laundry for her (hah! it really is back to normal!) and she finds the letter under Jessica’s bed. For once, Liz isn’t a doormat- she confronts Jessica about it the next morning, and when Jessica starts crying and tries to explain, Liz tells her to shut up and that they won’t ever be friends again. Damn! Then Liz drives herself over to Todd’s house and throws herself into his arms and kisses him, and they are back together again. I don’t get it. Todd is still a complete asshole for everything he did. This letter does not make up for it. He’s an emotionally abusive prick who has already shown himself not averse to giving Liz the silent treatment and yes, sometimes taking off with another woman at the tiniest slight (real or imagined) from his long-time girlfriend. We’ve been seeing this since book 1, and this book is just the latest example (and the worst one). Why do you put up with this, Liz? WHY? (WHY do you write this shit this way, Francine and co.? WHY?) Even worse, Margo spies on Todd and Liz kissing and making up and thinks about how she’ll be the one doing that soon.

Jessica and James start the book by going on a hiking date, where James tries to shove Jessica off the side of the cliff, then “saves’ her. Haha! Jessica believes she just fell or stumbled, but at the same time she cannot shake the feeling that James pushed her, because I mean, he did. Jess decides that’s a crazy thing to think, that this guy she just met and knows zip about, but who’s already obsessed with her, would possibly try to do a thing like that. James later meets up at Kelly’s bar with “Mandy” (Margo’s alter-ego where James is concerned), and he tells her that he pushed Jess to see if she trusts him. Truthfully, James is starting to get weirded out by how much Mandy wants to know about these kids. There are some hints that maybe he’s falling in love with Jessica. One of these hints is that he’s being slightly cagey with Margo about Jessica now. And, you know, he could have killed Jess earlier, but he didn’t! He saved her! Aw, that’s so sweet, James! He still wants that cool $2K Margo promised him, so note he isn’t dropping their arrangement or anything. He wants that cash money more than he wants Jessica to live.

Josh Smith or whatever his name is has arrived in Sweet Valley to find Margo and avenge the death of his little brother. He attempts to get some information out of the crackpot Sweet Valley police force by posing as a reporter. The officer he talks to is just like, “Well son, this is Sweet Valley, it’s a wonderful and amazingly peaceful place.” Who the fuck is he kidding? The officer mentions Liz and Sam’s accident and then brushes it aside like, “Welp, the dude who caused that came forward though.” What? Man, I still can’t believe how Liz just got off scot-free for driving wasted. Though I gotta be honest, this mini-series has made me feel genuinely sorry for old prissy Liz. If this is karma biting her in the ass, it’s leaving scars on that booty.

Margo has continued running around Sweet Valley stealing shit so that she can look just like the twins. Her hair is dyed blonde and she is wearing blue-green contact lenses. One day, she dresses up like Liz and heads to Calico Drive. She briefly considers strangling the Wakefields’ four year old neighbor before waltzing on into the Wakefield house. Alice sees her and fake Liz gives her a hug. Alice is totally fooled. Liz steals a knife from the house and takes off. Real Liz comes in later in totally different clothes and Alice is baffled at her daughter’s sudden reappearance and change of clothes. Liz thinks old mom is losing her fucking mind again. No big deal!

Olivia’s stupid boyfriend Harry’s costume party is coming up, and it promises to be a most douchey evening. Liz and Todd decide to go as Cinderella and Prince Charming. Liz picks out the perfect dress and shawl and heels. What neither she nor Jessica nor Margo realize is that Jessica is putting together the exact same outfit for herself. Margo gets James to give her all the details on Jessica’s outfit, and then she goes out and buys, I mean steals, herself a very similar outfit. It actually sounds kind of pretty – pink dress, silver filmy shawl, silver heels, white glittery pantyhose (whuh?), and hair put up with gold combs and a pink scarf draped over the back like a veil. Jessica plans to wear her rhinestone earrings, which James gave her – but at the last minute, she puts on some pearl drop earrings that Sam had given her instead so that she can feel close to him. On the night of the costume party, Jessica reluctantly tromps downstairs to meet James just as Liz is leaving with Todd. The twins are blown away to find that they are dressed almost exactly alike. The only major difference is that Liz is wearing a pair of crystal earrings. Pay attention kids, this little detail is crucial to the plot.

The party at snooty Harry’s house is on! It’s being held outside at his artsy-fartsy mansion. There’s a dance floor set up on the back lawn next to Harry’s sprawling gardens … the perfect place for a killer like Margo and a pseudo-private detective like Josh to hide! That’s right, Josh Smith has learned about the party by following Lila and Amy at the mall, and he shows up as well to spy on everybody and find Margo. This dude is not right in the head.

Liz and Jess are both still kind of sad from their recent fight. Liz is feeling freaked out in general and having premonitions of awfulness. Oh, and there’s a creepy mime walking around who freaks Liz out briefly, but then, she spends the whole evening being creeped out. She wanders away from the party by herself to take a walk down a garden path and “think” or something, and Jessica steps into her path and then wordlessly disappears. Liz sees that Jessica is wearing the rhinestone earrings instead of the pearl earrings and gets even more spooked. Of course, it’s not really Jessica … it’s Margo. Liz goes back to the dance floor and finds Todd, then leaves for a second. Suddenly, Liz reappears and grabs Todd. He quickly realizes by the way the twin is dancing on him and feeling up his back that this can’t be Liz, because she don’t play like that, so it must be Jessica. He thinks to himself that he’s never seen Jessica hit on anyone like that. ARE YOU KIDDING ME FOOL? She’s spent the past month or so doing more than that to you and throwing herself on your dick ALL.THE.TIME!!! Todd pulls himself away from Jessica and literally runs from her while Jessica stares after him with eyes like “ice picks.” Of course, it wasn’t really Jessica. We know who it was. It’s Margo, and she spends a good amount of the evening standing casually at the edge of the dance floor chatting with Jessica’s friends like she’s Jess, and eating up the attention. Suddenly, she looks up and sees Josh staring at her. She takes off and Josh pursues her but loses sight of her. He has no idea there are twin sisters who look just like Margo tonight, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. When he spies Jessica standing by the punch bowl, he runs up and grabs her and I’m not sure what he’s trying to do with her. Winston knocks Josh out with his bongo drums, and Josh wakes up to see two Margos … a nightmare! He realizes these are twin girls who like Margo as he is being thrown out of the party by douchey old Harry. He puts two and two together and realizes Margo is trying to look like the twins and that they are in serious danger. Way to go, Sherlock. I’m for real; you probably should actually join the Sweet Valley police force and smarten those assholes up a little.

So that’s that. Margo leaves this book without having killed any twins or any babies. Poor Margo, she’s probably hurting for the lack of carnage lately. She’s definitely ready to get rid of Liz now, though. She types up a letter to Ned and Alice from a lady in San Francisco claiming she wants to talk to them about a lucrative hotel remodeling deal and will host them at her hotel for two nights for dinner and an interview. Ned and Alice fall for it and prepare to take off and leave the twins alone. Good, because I’m really ready to finish this mini-series and move on.

Other stuff: LMFAO: Maria, talking about who she, Winston, and Daisy can dress as for the costume party: “Who could we be?” Lila responds: “Lizzie Borden’s parents?”

To no one’s surprise, Lila does NOT change diapers.

Jessica has a pair of “psychedelic stirrup pants” in her room.

There is a lot of reminiscing about the last costume party at SVH, which I think took place in Bitter Rivals. Actually, no, there was one in Don’t Go Home with John! But the costumes everyone is remembering are definitely from Bitter Rivals. That means they want to forget the horrible Jon Pfeifer-centric party with Lila confronting him ever happened. Oh, and there was also a costume party in Who’s to Blame. These kids and their damn costume parties!

Lila shows up at the costume party dressed as a Southern belle, with Tony Alimenti as her date. Steven and Billie are there as Mickey and Minnie Mouse … gag me. Enid is an aviator. Bruce and Pamela are a sultan and his harem girl …. why am I not surprised!

Lila has lots of awesome lines in this book. Here’s another one: Maria says, “You’re a great humanitarian, Lila.” Lila replies, “Don’t say things like that in public. Somebody might hear you.”

Elizabeth thinks aloud that she should really stop helping everyone in town with their problems. Shut the front door, the NO SHIT SHERLOCK Award goes to this one right here.

I’m not sure why the series is suddenly bringing back the old forgotten “lost in a black hole” one-off characters, but they really are. In this book, Paul Jeffries is mentioned as a member of the Oracle staff that Mr. Collins is looking for. Paul was last seen in Who’s to Blame? (#66) as a guy with a “bad reputation” that Liz went on a date with.

There’s all sorts of Enid worshiping Liz in this book. I mean, here’s how the fucking book opens: “Enid Rollins lay on her stomach on a beach and watched as her best friend, Elizabeth Wakefield, emerged, dripping, from the surf.” LOL!!! She then openly ogles Liz in her bathing suit and offers to be her date to Winston’s costume party.

In the back of the book… Another ad for the Sweet Valley High fan club. The person who had this book before me cut out the form and sent away for it. There is also another add for 1-800-I LUV BKS.

Coming up next … It’s another Magna Edition and it had better be good, because that’s an awful lot of pages if it sucks. I think it’s also Christmas-themed, which makes me annoyed I didn’t get to it a few months sooner! 🙂 I’m desperate for it to be fun and crrrrrrazy.

 

#97 The Verdict

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I got nothing

Oh lawdy lawd, these kids! What will they get up to now? Let’s venture between the Pepto-Bismol pink covers of this book and find out! Warning: I’m not feeling very good tonight, so this is going to be the grouchiest entry ever – like my readers mind, heh.

Let’s just check out this cover first. First we have what I guess is the Sweet Valley Courthouse in the background, with Alice Wakefield – oh wait, that’s Liz Wakefield on the cover. She’s obviously borrowed Alice’s Easter dress jacket and she’s styled her hair like Jessica for some reason, and if you look all the way to the right you can just make out the judge’s hand slamming down a gavel, hahahahaha. Above the gavel, we finally see a photo of psychotic Margo, heading resolutely toward Sweet Valley with a death glare going on. I guess I kind of see the resemblance to Liz and Jess … *tilts head at odd angle to see* *pinches nerve in neck, curses the name of the cover artist*

SPOILER ALERT! There’s zero mention of Nicholas Morrow and his newfound love from the dating show or whatever in this tome. I for one am relieved. Nicholas Morrow is a total asshat. Grab a hatchet and get him, Margo.

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of other asshattery to go around. I’ll start with our main story, that of Elizabeth’s ongoing … trials. It seems the ordeal of poor Liz’s trial has made her entire family a mess. Ned the Wonder Lawyer is frantically trying to get Liz to remember something, anything, about the night of the accident and is so frustrated she just can’t. What the fuck is wrong with these people? If she was drunk, how would she remember? Plus she probably had a head injury from the accident, plus she had a past head injury from her motorcycle accident with Todd way back in the day, plus she is a dumbass anyway. Yet everyone expects her to just magically remember through the alcoholic haze, and that’s going to be the key to her case. Also, I feel like everyone just keeps conveniently glossing over the fact that LIZ WAS DRUNK. It’s like Liz is a visiting queen you don’t want to offend somehow, so when she does something all gauche you just smile and act like it’s cute. No one wants to question anyone else about where Liz might have gotten the hooch from. No one considers that, gee, maybe some of those Big Mesa assholes spiked some drinks (or you know, maybe Liz’s shitty sister did). It’s all up to Liz’s lightweight ass to remember!

Meanwhile, the rest of the family is just crazy. Jessica is pretty much being ignored in her pain for her lost love, which she deserves if you ask me, but the rest of the fam doesn’t know that she deserves it and they kind of treat her like she does anyway. I guess they’re just treating Jessica like they usually treat her. Steven comes home from college each weekend, which we’re supposed to think is unusual now, and he does it mainly just to get in the way and act like his mom is weird for bringing them snacks and cleaning windows. Seriously, Alice keeps cleaning everything and smiling oddly, so we’re supposed to think she’s “lost her marbles.” Isn’t that what she does anyway? she cleans and cooks! Ned sure as fuck isn’t cleaning and cooking anything, old Leave It to Beaver ass. Funny how no one talks about how crazy Jessica’s marbles have always been lost. This bitch is still over here blaming Liz for Sam’s death. Ned asks her to testify in the trial, and she outright refuses. Can’t she be subpoenaed for that shit? She’s the one who witnessed them driving off! If they were smart they would check that shit out, but everyone who ever said the Wakefields are smart was lying to us. So Jessica refuses to go to Liz’s trial and secretly hopes to see Liz convicted, but we’ll get more into that later. Liz is miserable; there’s a kind of disturbing scene where she rides a bus to the beach, wades way out in the water, and it seems like she’s considering continuing to wade out so she will drown and find out “what it’s like” where Sam is. Then she snaps back to herself and wades back out of the water. This book is getting dark! If it was a little less boring and drawn out, I might be more astounded by this.

The trial is a joke. And I’m pretty sure it has no relevance whatsoever to actual courtroom proceedings, but that’s to be expected. Also, the state prosecutor’s name is … get ready for it! you’re not ready for it! … HEMPSTEAD DILWORTH. Hempstead! Like a cannabis farm! Dilworth! Like a creative nickname some came up with for a budding pornstar’s huge wang! They just had to put those two names together! I guess that is their idea of a mega-lawyerly name. And the questioning basically goes like this: “Where’d ya get the alcohol, Liz?” Liz: “I don’t know.” And it drags on like that for four whole days (with a weekend break after three, if I’m remembering what I just slogged through right). The Wakefields and a bunch of the twins’ friends, including Enid, Olivia, Lila, Amy, and sad sack Todd, all take off from school and work to cram into the courtroom and watch. Jessica remains conspicuously absent,  and uh, we don’t hear anything about, you know, SAM’S PARENTS. I assume they care about this case, but if we inserted them into the book, that might remind us that there are people more important on the planet than the Wakefield family. All we know is that it’s totally unfair Liz has to answer for her DUI that killed a person and that Mr. Hemprancher Wangsworth is so mean to ask her questions at trial about it and it makes Steven clench his fists in anger!

On the night before the last day of the trial, Jessica eavesdrops on her family preparing for the final day of testimony. She has some kind of strange out-of-body experience that makes her reconsider her attitude (for maybe a whole split second) and freak out about the secret she’s hiding (that she spiked Liz’s drink). Ned sees her watching them and begs her to join them, but she flees. The next day, however, she does appear at the trial with her mother and only then do things actually get interesting. When the lawyer questions Liz, AGAIN, about where she got the alcohol, because that’s all that ever happens, Jessica flips out and stands up in horror thinking Liz knows the truth, and her mother has to pull her back down into the seat. Just then, Ned calls his surprise witness. It’s a 20-year-old “chubby” guy named Gilbert Harding, from “Ramsbury” (isn’t that where that fair was that Liz was so intent on going to in one book?), and he’s a community college student who lives with his parents. I can’t help but feel like they’re trying to say he’s inferior for these things, like we’re supposed to think this means he is beneath the Wakefields or something. Jessica even compares Gilbert’s appearance to her brother’s when she sees him. Fuck that, not everyone lives like the Wakefields, all getting to grow up to practice law that they clearly know shit about. Anyway, Gilbert says he had a fight with his girlfriend at dinner that night and drove off after having a few beers. He drove on the wrong side of the road and then he sideswiped Liz’s Jeep and that’s what caused the crash. He claims Liz was driving fine before he hit her and the whole thing is his fault. Bam, trial over. The judge rules that Liz’s manslaughter charge is dismissed but that her license will remain suspended because of the whole DUI thing. Everyone celebrates wildly and I can’t help but feel like this is total bullshit. She was still drunk. How do they know she wouldn’t have been able to control the car better when Gilbert hit her, if she was sober? I don’t know how this shit works. Whatever, it’s good enough to get your charges dismissed in Sweet Valley. Jessica is momentarily elated her sister was freed, then she sees how much attention her sister is getting and almost instantly reverts back to “Fuck my sister, she deserves to rot.” She sidles up to Todd in the courtroom and is like, “It’s just you and me Todd, now, right?” She’s so creepy.

When the Wakefields have dinner that night, everyone is just like, Jessica, don’t you think you should help us celebrate your sister for getting away with killing your boyfriend? This does seem pretty fucked up man. Jessica screams at them and tears out of the room, and they’re all like, Gee, what I’d do? Margo, kill them all. I’M BEGGING YOU GIRL.

The sub-plots: Todd Wimpkins is a totally useless piece of shit who can’t stand up to Jessica about anything. He keeps thinking about how he really misses Liz, but then Jessica just throws herself on top of him and he’s all “Okay, I guess I have to make out with you.” He seems scared of her for some reason. I mean, I’m scared of her too because she’s clearly a fucking psychopath, but not enough to make out with the bitch. Jessica drags Todd out to the Beach Disco on a school night and he just goes along with it and makes out with her anyway. And then there are several more scenes like this. Whenever Todd protests, Jessica says the worst things about how Elizabeth deserves what’s coming to her and she’s dead to them and he just kind of lamely agrees like this: *Eeyore voice* “Okay Jess, whatever you say. I wish I could move my lips and make sound come out of them when I see Liz. Since the first 37 misunderstandings we had in this series didn’t teach me how to do that, I’ll just thrust my tongue down Jessica’s throat instead.” I mean, if Todd is too frightened to tell Jessica he doesn’t want her deranged twat in his life, he could at least fake like his dad is suddenly poor and he has to sell his BMW or something, and I’m sure that would take care of things there. Instead, Todd goes to see Steven to whine at him about what’s going on and ask his advice, and Steven is just like, You’re an asshole, son. He doesn’t really flip out as much as I was hoping he would. Seriously, someone needs to give Todd a good ass-beating. Todd finally decides that since his voice box doesn’t work around Liz anymore, he will write her a letter and slip it through the mail slot at the Wakefields’ house, and ask Liz to wear a turquoise bracelet he once gave her as a sign. He requests that she touch the bracelet when it’s okay for him to approach her. Jessica of course, finds the letter first, and she trashes it after a good crying bout for having lost Sam. She then lies to Todd and tells him she saw Liz ripping up a letter, and since we already know Todd is a stupid piece of shit who believes anything anybody tells him that’s negative about his own longtime girlfriend, he believes Jessica and mopes. You know what, Todd, I’m not sure why you would think Liz would want to talk to you anyway, though, when she knows you are clearly banging her SISTER, you presumptuous DICK. At the end of the book, there’s a disturbing scene where Jessica walks with Todd on the beach and waxes romantic about how the Jungle Prom showed her they were always meant to be together, and he’s all, “What’s wrong with you? That’s the night Sam died!” And she’s like, yeah well I don’t think of it that way, and starts making out with him again, and thankfully it cuts away before we’re treated to another nauseating beach make-out scene, but I hope Jessica gets sand up her crack that won’t come out, and I hope a big crab comes along and pinches off Todd’s limp ween … A crab with a magnifying glass that is, y’all know what I’m saying

Bruce and Pamela … whanggggg, there go my eyes rolling into the back of my head. Whannnng, there goes Bruce’s penis of stone every time he spies Pamela, though he tries to hide it by being the biggest asshole you can possibly imagine. Yes, Pamela has transferred to SVH and is trying out for the tennis team and she’s also teaching little kids arts and crafts after school at Project Youth, trying to keep her mind off of the fact that Bruce is the only boy she will ever love, even though he’s busy making horrible remarks to her about what a slut he thinks she is. She even goes to the Dairi Burger by herself, and just sits there staring at her food and feeling sorry for herself because nobody will come to talk to her. And yes, this girl has zero self-respect. Every time Bruce makes her cry, she’s still just like, “Oh, if only I could make him see!” Girl, he’s a jerk, give up on him already. The worst part about this part of the book, is that it tries to convince us Bruce is only a jerk because Regina died and broke his heart. Bruce even thinks to himself about he’s only this way because his girlfriend died. This is so not correct. Bruce momentarily thought he was in love with Regina, but he then he decided to slide right into Amy Sutton’s outstretched beckoning vag, and basically made no effort to hide it from Regina, and Regina actually stood up to them and she dumped him. And then she decided to do some coke to feel better and she died suddenly. Oh, but let’s gloss all that over. Let’s act like Bruce is actually a good guy with a decent heart, and he just needs to heal from “his girlfriend’s death”, that’s all. And that’s all they have to say about that. And Pamela is the bad one in everyone’s eyes, because she is alleged to have a (male) harem of her own about a sixteenth of the size of Bruce’s. So basically she’s the straight female version of Bruce, or let’s be real, she’s Jessica, she’s Amy, she’s the original version of Annie Whitman or Betsy Martin. And that’s the part that is repeatedly shown as getting Bruce’s goat, not that he thinks Pamela cheated on him with Bobby/Jake/whatever his fucking name is, but that he thinks she likes to sleep with a lot of dudes and (supposedly) isn’t a virgin. Even Pamela knows that’s not fair. Don’t worry, they’ll work it out in dramatic fashion. Bruce actually thinks for a hot second about how this might be something of a double standard – after a talk from the second most horrible person on Earth, Amy Sutton, of all people – then he runs into Pamela being dragged off to a car by some guy yelling about how she has to come with him because he knows she isn’t a virgin. Straight-up caveman shit. Bruce knocks dude out with one punch – are we replacing Todd punches with Bruce punches? – and then grabs Pamela to tell her he loves her or something and of course she forgives him.

RANT: I don’t like this good guy Bruce shit. Bruce is one of the few characters who is interesting in these fucking books! Don’t let him get all soft again! Keep Bruce assholish. And, “nice guy” or not, he deserves to be fucked over hard (and not the way he wants) by Pamela, so I hope she’ll break his heart in a thousand pieces for real one of these days, and then laugh about it. Yeah, right, like THAT will ever happen because that would mean Pamela isn’t a good girl, because she’s not a pushover who just waits for her man to come apologize to her for all the awful shit he said! I’m so tired of these horrible female characters!

Oh yeah, and Pamela is friends with Lila and Amy now. They see her at the Project Youth Center and realized she isn’t all bad and draw her into their dwindling circle of friendship hell, and then Amy takes the blame for repeating what she heard about Pamela to Bruce when it wasn’t true, so she tells Bruce it’s not true and THAT’S why he starts to change his mind. Let’s think about this for a minute. Bruce is in love with Pamela but when SHE explains the situation, he doesn’t believe her. Amy, horrible foul-breathed demon from the most fiery corner of Dante’s Inferno, says “Oh, tee hee, I am not sure that what I said about your girl was correct!” and Bruce is like, “Oh, gee.” FUUUUCKED UP

On to Steven … god, Steven is boring. He hangs out with his starry-eyed roommate Billie all the time, who’s the perfect demure female, and it’s obvious they are falling in love. He confides in her about the trouble at home, including that his mom seems kind of crazy. Then he runs into this dude Bart Lloyd that he doesn’t really like. Bart graduated from SVH a year ahead of him and is now in his poly sci class, and Bart is all, “Yo, I heard your mom is in the nuthouse dude!” or something like that and Steven flips out and decides Billie must have spilled the secret. He goes off on her at dinner, and she’s just like, “You’re wrong, but I’m sorry and I’ll move out.” DON’T APOLOGIZE TO THIS ASSHOLE, BILLIE! GOD! She moves out, and Steven later finds out that it was Jessica who spilled the shit about Alice cleaning too much or whatever, like anybody is going to do anything productive about Alice’s “problems,” anyway, so the fact that someone said something about it is the least of your worries, Steven. But Steven goes to Billie’s house and gives her some flowers and she forgives him instantly for his little outburst, because that’s what good ladies do. And there’s no smooching or anything, but I guess Billie will wind up being the next dull as dirt Steven girlfriend. Oh, Billie, pro tip … if you have any friends that look like Tricia Martin, give their names to Margo now.

Lila’s mother Grace is still in town, and thankfully there’s zero mention of her shitty heavily stereotyped French “lover” Pierre. Lila and Grace are getting along swimmingly now and they tend to hang out by the pool brunching a lot. Grace shares the story of how she met and married George Fowler when she was 19 and he was 27. Grace came from old money, and George was new money, and Grace’s family didn’t really approve .There were a lot of dumb fights because of this, what with George feeling like he needed to make more money to impress Grace and her family. Finally, Grace told George she was leaving and taking Lila with her. George told her if she did, he’d make sure he used his influence or something with all the powerful people in Sweet Valley to have Grace declared an unfit mother and win full custody of Lila in the divorce proceedings. Grace left anyway, George made good on his threat, and Grace fled for Paris after losing Lila. Daaaaaayaaaaam. George is cold! Despite this, Lila decides all is good between them now and she’s going to make them love one another again. I don’t know about that Li. If I were you, I’d blow this sickeningly sweet popsicle stand and head for Paris with mom. Fuck these douchenozzles.

Saving the best for last – Margo! She is on her way to LA! She earns money on the bus by lying to a little old man about her life story and the mother who abandoned her on Christmas Eve on some church steps but continued to send the church an anonymous donation each year at Christmas in Margo’s honor and bla bla bla and the man gives her a fiver in sympathy. At a rest stop, Margo earns herself some free snacks and a magazine from a teenage boy who feels bad for Margo for having recently lost her grandmother (another story, of course). What the fuck? I want to go into a store and go “*sniff* My grandma died” and have someone just shovel magazine and food into a bag and toss it at me! Seriously, what voodoo is this girl dealing in? From LA, Margo has a ticket for a train to Sweet Valley. She goes to eat in a diner and is enjoying having all the dudes stare at her, when suddenly she spies JOSH SMITH! That’s the older brother of little Georgie, the one whose picture Margo saw and thought he was hot in The Morning After. He’s on to Margo’s whole gig, and he is PISSED. He confronts her as she’s trying to eat, and Margo creates a huge scene, yelling that a strange man is bothering her. As the other guys in the diner leap to Margo’s defense and hold Josh back, Margo makes a run for it. She does the quickest train ticket exchange I’ve ever seen in my life, swapping her ticket for San Diego in order to throw Josh off the trail in case he saw her. She makes it to Sweet Valley from San Diego and rents a room in a boardinghouse with some money she earned pawning jewelry she stole from the Valley Mall. Also in the mall, she spies Pamela, Lila, and Amy coming out of Casey’s and follows them. She overhears them talking about how Liz has gone free. Remember Margo knows all about who Liz is and wants to be her or something, so she is all excited over this. Then she eyes the girls, thinks about how she could be their friend, but then thinks about how Amy might be too gorgeous to live. First of all, now I really do feel sorry for Margo because I didn’t realize she qualified as legally blind. Second of all, if I’m supposed to feel scared for Amy, I don’t. I feel excited and hope Margo can carry out her threat successfully. Might I suggest Margo avenge Regina’s death by forcing a verifiable fuckton of cocaine up Amy’s nose? Yeah, you heard me. I WANT JUSTICE.

Oh yeah, Margo also steals a blond wig from the mall which she tries on, laughing gleefully because she looks just like Elizabeth, and now she knows she’s ready to impersonate her. Margo always wanted a twin sister …

If this book taught me anything, it’s that I want to make a hit list for Margo.

WTF? I mentally calculated Lila’s mother’s probable age and if I’m doing it right, she’s only slighter older than me and I really, really shouldn’t have done these calculations.

Bruce makes a remark about how he already got what he wanted out of Pamela like everyone else did, so I guess we are supposed to think they already slept together.

Return of minor characters from the black hole: Wendy Jones from the Kristin Thompson tennis story plays tennis with Pamela. Chad Ticknor from the Penny Ayala Secret Admirer story plays tennis with Bruce.

Elizabeth taking the bus since her license is suspended: “It felt a little funny, taking public transportation, but these days, with her driver’s license suspended indefinitely, the bus was her only option.” Are you kidding me? Oh wah, the 16-year-old had to take the bus!

This book erroneously states that Roger Patman moved to Sweet Valley after his mother died. Uh no, he lived poor in Sweet Valley, worked as a janitor, was scorned by Lila but adored by Olivia, and then his mom died and it was revealed that he was Bruce’s cousin.

Amy talks to Bruce about how everyone thinks she’s an airhead but she really isn’t, right after she provides at least two glorious misuses of the word disfavor. I bet the ghostwriter did that on purpose.

Pamela sees lonely Liz picking up takeout from “the new takeout counter” at the Dairi Burger, and considers befriending her, but Liz walks away too fast. Even after she’s killed a dude via DUI, everyone still wants to be Liz’s best bud.

I don’t get how everyone just believes that there’s no way Liz could have been voluntarily drinking (except for the prosecutor). Liz just says “I don’t drink” and they’re all like, “Oh okay. Well do you remember anything about how the accident could have happened? No? God this is shocking. I know your blood alcohol level showed you were drunk, but it’s not like you had been drinking somehow.” Seriously, “Liz is a saint who can never do any wrong” is bonafide canon for this series.

I still can’t believe that NO ONE SAW Jessica spike those damn drinks! I have to believe mysterious Big Mesa boy is going to pop back up sometime later to expose her. Actually, what I really believe is that Jessica will have to save Liz from Margo or something, and then she’ll be moved to confess and cry, and Liz will forgive her in about two sentences, because that type of ending is too easy, so it’s perfect.

The judge in the book is actually a FEMALE judge! I would want to give Sweet Valley kudos for that if they didn’t set us back a century or so with most of the other female characters in this series (and don’t do justice to the rest).

In the back of the book: There’s an ad for the “I LUV BOOKS” hotline – 1-800 I LUV BKS. Please somebody tell me you called that hotline and tell me what it said. There’s also an excerpt from Sweet Valley University #2, Love, Lies and Jessica Wakefield! In this excerpt, we learn Todd has dumped Elizabeth for not wanting to sleep with him in his crusty old dormitory bunk bed. Elizabeth and Enid have also had some kind of fight recently, and Elizabeth has only made one friend on her hall, Nina Harper. Liz’s roommate is Celine Boudreaux, a Southern girl who drapes herself over people and drawls the most stereotypical Southern things you can think of, and wishes she could work witchcraft like her grandmother. What? For fuck’s sake. Celine parties a lot and she and Liz don’t get along for obvious reasons – 1) Celine parties and 2) Celine doesn’t worship the ground Liz walks on. A big dude named Steve Hawkins keeps trying to get Celine’s attention at one party, but Celine is more interested in his friend William White. She gives him a flower, and he takes it without a word and then abruptly vanishes. William is a creepy fuck who shows up at the library all night to stare at Elizabeth instead, each and every night, because you know Elizabeth is at the library each and every night. On the same night Celine gives him the flower, William pops up beside Liz, hands her the exact same flower, and vanishes. I think I read somewhere that William turns out to be a white supremacist (William WHITE get it? Oh, these clever names!) and then he kidnaps Liz later on in the series. I mean, somebody has to kidnap Liz at least a half dozen times, or it wouldn’t be a Sweet Valley series.

Coming up next: Lila attempts to pull a “Parent Trap” on her parents; some drama with Liz and Jess will surely also ensue.

#96 The Arrest

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In which, apparently, Elizabeth Wakefield’s attempts at bringing the mullet back meet with disaster.

My dear readers, I am decidedly not digging this new story layout in the post-A Night to Remember books. I think they took a tip from a soap opera and decided to drag out the same story over multiple books with little bits and pieces in order to flesh out each ~215 page book more. Sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t match up so neatly with the events of the last book, and in some cases the dragged-out storyline is most snooze inducing. Thanks for helping me get to bed on time last night, Francine!

This is book 2 of the “Sweet Valley Terror” (LMFAO) mini-series, and “the arrest” in question already happened in the last book (but not the way the cover depicts it). Now we cut to Liz being questioned by the cops, unable to remember much of anything, and her dad Ned yelling “Now see here!” and pounding the table when the cops push Liz to answer. Liz is then booked for involuntary manslaughter which shocks everyone, even though in the previous they told her that’s what would happen. She’s put in a jail cell, teary and disheveled, with two other ladies who are clearly just there to show us how out of place Liz is. There’s an older drunk lady with smeared makeup and a younger lady who is a prostitute (most likely from Betsy Martin’s part of town). The ghostwriter goes out of his/her way to show us that these two are nothing like our saintly Liz. They briefly pick on Liz, asking her if she’s here because she drove her daddy’s Porsche too fast, and then the prostitute says she’s glad Liz isn’t in her line of work because it would be too much competition. She helpfully explains the guys go nuts for the blonde California girl look that Liz has. Oh, for fuck’s sake. Then the drunk picks on Liz some more, and the sex worker tells her to lay off and encourages Liz to cry so she’ll feel better. Liz spends the night in jail before being released on bail. I thought the cops told Ned in the last book that Liz could be booked and released to the custody of her parents. Maybe I’m remembering that wrong, although Liz is a juvenile, so I’m not sure why they would make her stay overnight in a cell with adults anyway.

When Liz is released, she avoids all of her friends, and, it goes without saying, Jessica. Hey, so is the rest of the fam, for the most part. Ned and Alice are busy prepping Liz’s defense and basically assuming Jessica is doing fine. So you know, they’re ignoring her sociopathic ass like they normally do. Steven is worried about Jess, but the parents encourage him to stay away from their house because his presence might hurt Elizabeth.That’s right, Jessica is the one still grieving Sam’s loss, but everyone’s worried about Elizabeth. I think I’m beginning to understand a lot about why Jessica is as fucked up as she is. Remember no one even knows it’s Jessica’s fault that Liz was drunk in the first place.

Speaking of “Jessica’s fault”, in this book, Jessica pushes aside her guilty thoughts about spiking Liz’s and Sam’s drinks at the Jungle Prom, and instead focuses on the fact that Liz must pay for killing Sam in the ensuing accident. Okay bitch, you do you I guess.

Back at school after her night in the clinker, pretty much everyone but Enid glares at Liz and her close friends all avoid her (including Todd). Even though Enid is trying to be friendly, Elizabeth ignores her and then chooses to sit by herself in the lunchroom. Enid sits down beside her anyway, reminds her she’s Liz’s best friend, and scolds her for avoiding her. Liz says she’s sorry and all seems fine again there. But then when Enid gets up to go pick up her lunch, Liz spies a copy of the newspaper sticking out of Enid’s bookbag and decides to just help herself to it while Enid is in line. Guess what’s on the front page? An article about Liz’s arrest, with Liz’s picture plastered across the front page (huh? can they do that with a 16 year old?). Liz is sure Enid put the paper there so Liz would see it and feel bad. Yes, that’s totally what your adoring best friend would do, Liz. Elizabeth runs out of the cafeteria crying while Jessica smirks nearby. It turns out Jessica snuck the paper into Enid’s backpack as Enid passed her in the cafeteria. She wanted Liz to see it and get upset with Enid. This doesn’t make ANY SENSE. 1) If Jessica can successfully sneak a paper into someone’s backpack as they pass without that person noticing, she needs to be a secret agent; 2) why would Jessica assume Liz would see the paper? I didn’t think Liz had a habit of plowing through people’s bookbags – isn’t that more Jessica’s forte? and 3) why would Jessica assume that Liz would react the way she did? It’s a silly reaction and ridiculous assumption to make. I know that people react in strange ways when they are going through bad times, but this just seems like a mega stretch for the ghostwriter to set this up this way. Anyway, we don’t really hear much about it (if anything) after this, so I guess Liz forgave Enid for her “trick” pretty quickly.

Jessica then moves on to trying to steal Todd for herself. Man, Todd is such a fucking idiot. I mean, that’s canon in this book (that he is a fucking idiot), but he’s really moronic here. He just straight up avoids Elizabeth, then sits around moping that he wishes he could talk to her. HELLO? YOU CAN. WALK OVER TO HER AND MOVE YOUR LIPS, FUCKHEAD! God, I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it. Jessica takes this opportunity to spend every waking moment calling Todd up and bawling about how sad she is that Sam is gone. She thinks to herself about how Elizabeth has to pay for what she did and that she has to go to jail and this stealing Todd will help complete the punishment or something and she just sounds like a fucking psycho (more on that later). She also has a brief scene where she wails at Sam to forgive her for moving in on Todd. Girl, he forgave you for way too much when he was alive as it was.

So yeah, Jessica and Todd start hanging out.Todd hopes Jessica might put in a good word with Liz for him, but of course she’s not going to do that, and he’s too DUMB to do that himself. They take a walk on the beach in the area where Jessica claims she once walked with Sam (she thinks to herself that this is actually not the place), and Todd holds her when she cries, and there’s a weird movie date in the beginning.where Jessica tries to hold Todd’s hand and he blocks her with his popcorn.  Everyone at school starts talking about Todd and Jess, and Todd and Jess keep on hanging out, and Todd and Liz keep on not talking to each other. Then one day Liz and Enid drive past Todd’s house and see the Jeep there and Liz gets upset but doesn’t do anything about it (not that she ever would). Finally, on Todd and Jessica’s second beach walk, she wears a cardigan of Liz’s just to fuck with him. Todd looks at Jessica and starts reminiscing about Liz and how much he misses her, and then Jessica crawls into his arms while wearing Liz’s cardigan and they start kissing. I don’t even care. In my version, Zombie Sam would have already shambled over and ripped Jessica to shreds.

With Liz’s destruction almost complete (or whatever the fuck Jessica sees this as), all that’s left is for Liz to prepare for her trial. Ned hires some shitty lawyer (oh I’m sorry, he’s “the best lawyer in California”) who comes to the house and tells Liz she doesn’t have much of a defense for her drunk driving, since she can barely remember anything. Ned is so enraged he decides he will just defend Liz himself! WOW. NO WAY DID I SEE THAT COMING. Hah! Who the fuck else would defend Liz? Some yahoo defender with decades of experience in criminal law? No way, Ned the corporate lawyer or whatever the fuck he’s supposed to be will just do it himself! And here to help is Steven Wakefield, aspiring law student extraordinaire. Liz mentions that she can barely recall a light in her face before the crash, and Steve seizes on it. He’s sure that’s the key to Liz’s innocence! I’m sure too, just because it wouldn’t make any fucking sense if this book decided to make some fucking sense for a change.

The sub-plots:  Steven Wakefield has a new apartment and no roommate! He puts up some ads and gets some written responses from a Billie Winkler, who he assumes is a dude. Psych! After he’s told Billie he can move in without ever meeting him – Steven is really hung up on Liz’s trauma, you see – moving day arrives and Billie turns out to be a hot girl. I can already see where this is going. Come on Billie, I don’t even know you and I know you can do better than Steven Wakefield.

Lila’s mother, Grace, finally arrives in Sweet Valley after weeks of Lila yammering on at her friends and stressing out over how to impress the mom she hasn’t seen since she was two years old. Damn Grace, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do. When Lila finally meets Grace at her hotel, they are rudely interrupted by her incredibly stereotypical French boyfriend, Pierre Billot, who seriously sounds like the biggest douchewad in Europe. He describes himself as “Grace’s lover.” Lila is outraged and depressed. When Grace comes to Lila’s hotel room to talk to her later and mentions what happened with John Pfeiffer (or is it Pfeiffer? They keep changing the spelling), Lila yells at her and shuts herself in her bathroom.Lila later catches Grace bawling hysterically at George. I’m just curious how Grace knew about John Pfeiffer when even George didn’t seem to.

Bruce is busy driving 1BRUCE1 around scowling about Pamela and the boy he caught her with the other morning. The boy’s name is now Jake Jacoby (it was Bobby in the last book). Meanwhile, we get to hear Pamela’s side. After dating Jake for several months, he decided they “should go all the way”, and Pamela didn’t want to. Jake was so enraged he dumped her and told everyone they did anyway. All Jake’s friends started asking Pamela out and then telling everyone they had sex with her too, so Pamela’s reputation was ruined. When she approached Jake to beg him to tell people the truth, he refused and then kept her out (kidnapping?) so that he could bring her home super early and it would look like they were out doing it at the Point or whatever. That’s what Bruce saw when he spotted Pamela being kissed by that dude in the last book. Now Pamela desperately wants to tell Bruce the truth because she’s in love with him, but he won’t talk to her because he’s so disgusted by her “past.” Bruce’s ridiculous double standard is, sadly, probably the most realistic thing this book has going. Anyway, old Pammy gets Bruce to meet her at the Box Tree Cafe, where she expects to explain the truth to him and also to share “her news.” Every time the book mentions her “news” I half expect her to tell Bruce that she’s pregnant with his baby. Just as Pam is about to explain herself to a sullen Bruce, Jake Jacoby and two other Big Mesa football players show up and starting laughing at Bruce and calling Pamela “trash.” Bruce stands up to fight them, then changes his mind and leaves the restaurant (and Pamela). Pamela cries miserably at home and thinks about her news – which is that she is transferring to Sweet Valley High to get away from her “reputation.” Good luck with that, since half the Sweet Valley kids already seem to know about your reputation and nobody likes Big Mesa anyways after that little gang fight, or whatever the fuck that was at the Jungle Prom. (PS All this “reputation” talk makes me feel like I’ve time-warped to the 1950s instead of the 1990s.) Back at Sweet Valley, Bruce is shocked when he thinks he sees Pamela going into the main office and wonders what that’s about.

Nicholas Morrow receives a letter from the Hunks TV show informing him he’s been selected to compete. He thinks about how his “best friend” Olivia clearly signed him up for it and smiles. I guess they are trying to set up Nicholas and Olivia now. What the fuck man? Anyway, Nicholas goes on the show to meet the female contestants and then he has to go on a date with each one. The first date, Jakki Phillips, is portrayed as a total freak because she has a tattoo, wears funky clothes, and drives a motorcycle. Nicholas is wearing a blue T-shirt with green pants, so I’d say he’s the fucking freak here. Nicholas thinks all sorts of scornful thoughts about her as soon as he sees her, including disdain for how she’s picking HIM up and saying where they will go. Have I ever mentioned I’ve always, always hated Nicholas’ guts? Jakki takes Nicholas to Club Mud, which is some metal club, and Nicholas gets made fun of for ordering mineral water. He gets stuck drinking tap water instead. Aw, poor baby! All the bikers in the club laugh about what a douchebag he is, and Nicholas proves he can’t hang by immediately departing the bar and calling Olivia to come pick him up. Haha, what a little bitch. His second date is Susan Jax, who can’t stop giggling to save her life and who takes him to “Bobo’s Burger Barn” to eat. Susan is hella annoying, and she draws on the table with crayons and Nicholas thinks violent thoughts about how he’d like to shove crayons down her throat. It’s supposed to be funny, but it just fits his obsessive behavior earlier in the series, so fuck him. For the third date, Nicholas picks up a pretty girl named Ann Hunter, who lives in some area called “Shelter Cove.” This time, Nicholas decides he’s not even trying to dress nice – he deliberately wears sloppy, stained clothes. He deliberately avoids checking out directions to her house in advance, so he gets lost and is mega-late, but she forgives him because it’s all her fault for not warning him the maps wouldn’t be updated with her newish road. Of course, a woman being demure and apologetic for shit that isn’t really her fault is right up Nicholas’ alley, and he perks up. Ann also changes out of her dress clothes into casual wear to make him feel better about his shitty outfit. Come on, girl. The date goes pretty badly from then on: Nicholas gets a flat and Ann has to change the tire for him, and then they go to the amusement park and Nicholas pukes all over Ann on the roller coaster. He’s sure he’ll never see her again, but apparently, Ann was bowled over. When the finale show is filmed live, Jakki and Susan talk about what a horrible date Nicholas was, while Ann says it was a perfect match. He and Nicholas kiss in front of everyone and the crowd goes wild, and I’m gonna be the next person who pukes.

Lastly, we have Margo, the creepy babysitter who hears voices and is currently employed under the alias “Michelle” by a dumb rich lady in Ohio who doesn’t check her references well enough. Margo dreams of stealing the rich lady’s jewelry and running away to California. She stole a ruby ring in the last book, but in this book she’s learned it’s not real and now has her sights on some antique jewelry the rich lady is going to sell. In the meantime, she’s busy abusing her poor little babysitting charge, Georgie. She locks him in a closet and kicks him in the head – twice – when he comes out. She’s sworn (threatened) Georgie to secrecy about the abuse. Later, she twists his arm painfully until he agrees to tell her where his mom hid the key to the jewelry safe. The next day, she overfeeds Georgie or something and then drowns him in a lake. Then she takes off on a bus with the jewelry. She has visions about the Wakefield family or something on the bus. Maybe she can connect with Liz’s newfound visionary abilities next. Margo had planned to stop in Albuquerque on the way, but when she starts running out of money for food, the voices in her head tell her to get off in Houston, and she does. There she meets an old lady getting off a bus from LA who has a Sweet Valley newspaper. The lady asks Margo to watch her bag for her while she uses the restroom. Margo sees the article in the lady’s paper about Elizabeth, notes the similarity to herself (or the voice in her head does), and decides she’s going to Sweet Valley. She goes into the restroom to murder the old lady and steal her purse.

Margo is the craziest person in this fucking book and is also somehow the least likable and the most likable at the same time. Also, remember how I called Jessica a psycho before? I’m for real now. When Jessica starts thinking to herself about how she must ruin Liz’s life, she sounds just like Margo.

The cover: To the left we have Liz being taken off to jail in handcuffs, although this never actually happened – recall that in the last book, the cops suggested to Ned that he drive his own daughter to the station because the police “think we can trust” them. Here on the cover, they want you to believe Liz was treated like any other citizen. Hah! Liz looks like Jessica with her hair all down and messy like that. In the background, we can see a rare glimpse of the Wakefield house at Calico Drive! Dig that cactus to the right, separating us from the next scene of Jessica and Todd on the beach in another scene that didn’t really happen. Jessica never coyly pulled Todd to her with his necklace, or whatever the fuck is happening here. These dweebs don’t even really look like Jess and Todd! It’s pretty obvious James Mathewuse is no longer doing these covers. And what’s with all the damn denim on J and T? Looks like fan art of Kelly and Brandon from early 90210 or something.

Other crap: So yeah, this book messes up several names. Bobby from the last book is now named Jake, the Rossi family (Margo’s employers) are now the Smith family, and Bruce refers to a “Maria Santini” when I think he meant to say “Maria Santelli.”

I TOTALLY forgot to mention this two reviews ago, but Abbie Richardson (briefly) appeared in A Night to Remember! She’s back from the character black hole she vanished into many years ago!

And in my review of book 95, I forgot to mention the wacked out time warp around Olivia’s boyfriends. Olivia was dating Rod Sullivan, then in her Super Star book she got together with that James guy, then back in the regular series, nearly one full year after her Super Star book with James, she was with Rod again, then in The Morning After she was recently single again after James had to move, with no mention of Rod.

Jessica’s revenge against Elizabeth is inspired by a story her English class has to read. That story is about a wronged wife who bides her time and gets revenge on her husband 30 years later. Is this a real story? I feel like I should know what this is, but it’s not ringing any bells.

Lila gets her nails done at a salon called The Turn of the Nail. I get that that’s supposed to be clever, but it’s making me cringe with pain because I keep thinking of my nails being bent back because I caught them in a drawer or something. Now, you are too. Sorry :/

Lila says Mexican food is “too ethnic” for her sophisticated Paris-resident mother Grace to enjoy. Too “ethnic”, ce que le fuck does that mean?

The Jeep has been repaired and Jessica is driving it again. I could have sworn they said it was a complete loss after A Night to Remember.

Jessica’s latest bitch trifecta of best friends seems to be Lila, Amy – and Caroline Pearce, that gossipy asshole who wears shirt waist dresses.

When Amy sees Todd and Jessica embracing, Lila laughs and says that “you’d catch Jessica in a clinch with King Kong” before you’d catch her with Todd. Haha, yeah right. You’d catch Jessica in a clinch with anyone who promised her riches, fame, or extreme flattery.

Lastly, I have to mention the weird ass Chapter 4 of this book. Seemingly out of nowhere, the ghostwriter decided to intersect multiple characters’ storylines. It goes like this:

  1. Lila drives off in her Triumph to meet Grace and is almost hit by a motorcycle rider
  2. The motorcycle rider is Jakki on her way to pick up Nick
  3. Bruce passes Nick and Jakki on his way to the Box Tree Cafe to meet Pamela
  4. Bruce throws a single rose he had bought for Pamela out his car window as he thinks of their situation and grows angry about it
  5. Bruce sees Steven Wakefield drive by him and wonders why he’s in town since Ned is trying to keep him away from the family’s troubles at the moment
  6.  Steven almost runs over a girl who steps in front of his car
  7. The girl turns out to be Pamela headed in to meet Bruce
  8. Todd waits to meet Jessica for a movie and sees Mrs. Wakefield’s car across the street, and something red on the hood of her car
  9. Elizabeth comes outside from a shopping trip with her mom, finds the rose, cradles it in her hand, and starts bawling

All of this is for dramatic effect I suppose, but then they cut to a scene of Margo sitting on the bus thinking about how she drowned “Georgie Porgie” and the effect is kinda ruined.

In the back of this book: We have a special excerpt from the first Sweet Valley University book, College Girls. In this excerpt, Jessica quite literally tells herself that she was put on this earth to go to college. No, really, that’s what her purpose in life is. Looking at the events of Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life, this makes sense to me. She makes fast friends with the sophisticated coffee shop enthusiast Isabella Ricci, who helps fill the void left by a missing Lila – seems Lila might be in Italy or something? Meanwhile, Liz sits in her dorm room by herself crying because Jessica and Enid both had other plans and Todd has disappeared, leaving Liz with nothing to do but feel sorry for herself.

Coming up next: Liz’s trial begins! I’m sure it will be thoroughly realistic and fair.

 

 

Magna Edition #3 A Night to Remember

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ONE NIGHT ….

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…WOULD RESULT IN SOME UGLY PHOTOS FOR POSTERITY.

Here we go, kids. This is it. The “original” SVH format is officially over, and now, here we are in June 1993, the time when the highly hyped A Night to Remember was released and the series took a major soap opera turn. I have never read this book or any of the ones that followed, so this is truly a brand new journey for me. I’m trying to act like I’m not excited about this, but am already failing miserably! Hey, I’m currently stuck indoors with a bad cold. I take my joys where I can find ’em, and right now that’s in the pages of this 345-page book! Let’s get into the winding plot of SVH’s third Magna Edition and the one that changed it all …

Elizabeth and Jessica are getting ready for a big Sweet Valley High beach party and talking about how it’s been a while since Sweet Valley had any big fun dances going on (or fun at all, if you ask me). Liz suggests the twins put together a “Jungle Prom”, and the idea comes off as cheesy in the book as it sounds on your screen. Jess loves the idea and adds that they can get the new environmental group Liz has been talking about, Environmental Alert, to sponsor it and then donate the proceeds from the tickets. The twins are thrilled with themselves. What’s interesting to me is this doesn’t sound like the prom will be the high school’s “real” prom. “Jungle Prom” is just the name the girls came up with.

The twins hit up the beach party, which sounds like it came straight out of the 1950s with kids doing the twist around a bonfire. I have to say that these kids are some of the most well-behaved teenagers on planet Earth, even just drinking plain old soda. Liz and Jess waste no time snuggling up to their respective significant others, Todd and Sam. Lila is at the party, too, with Tony Alimenti, the guy she was flirting with back in She’s Not What She Seems. But her attitude has changed; she’s having a hard time letting go and having fun, and she is worried all the guys around her have ulterior motives like John Pfeifer did. She’s kind of an ass to Tony, to be honest, and every time he moves (at all) she flips out. Amy and Jessica talk about how Lila is still suffering from being nearly date-raped by John Pfeifer. The book actually says “date-raped” so I kind of want to give whoever this ghostwriter is kudos for coming out and saying it, since I’m pretty sure they didn’t in the actual book where this occurred. Thankfully, Tony is patient and kind to Lila, although when he tries to kiss her on the cheek at the end of the night, she runs inside and slams the door in his face.

In book 94, we saw Bruce beginning to hook up with Andrea Slade. He’s at the party with her, making out with her in a sand dune and snapping at her for hinting at any kind of commitment from him. He thinks about how bored he is because Andrea was too easy of a conquest. He’s so bored, in fact, that he dares Jessica to swim out to a buoy and back. Liz has flashbacks to the Club X days and begs Jess not to do it. Then she runs around on shore like a panicked puppy dog flipping out while everyone tries to calm her down. She’s about to grab Bill Chase’s surfboard out of his car and swim out to rescue Jessica (no joke) when Jessica swims back to shore. Everyone acts like Liz is bonkers for worrying so much. Liz is humiliated and decides she’s officially done watching out for Jessica. Normally, I would say that will probably last about 20 pages, but who knows where this is going now …

The party gets broken up a bit by a Big Mesa High School “raid.” A bunch of Big Mesa kids show up wearing their school colors and bull masks. They throw food everywhere, toss a cassette in the ocean, spray shaving cream, and drag around the girls, then run back out. Everyone is horrified but just kind of stands there going “Oh my god!” I am really disappointed that no Todd punches go down. Instead, Jessica slaps some guy who tries to drag her off. The Sweet Valley kids are left to clean up the mess. They later reconvene at the Dairi Burger, where Jessica and Liz excitedly tell their boyfriends, Amy Sutton, and Barry Roark about their Jungle Prom idea. Outside the Dairi Burger, Bruce is mad that no one at Sweet Valley seems interested in paying Big Mesa back. It turns out Big Mesa has been playing loads of pranks on Sweet Valley lately, to include putting super glue on the cheerleaders’ pom poms. (Liz finds this hilarious – so do I, Liz.) Bruce gathers old members of Club X in the Dairi Burger parking lot and gets them to pledge revenge on the rival school, which Winston and Roger back out of. Bruce calls them “pacifists.” Yeah, this guy is definitely going to run for political office someday. By the way, Bruce’s “team” includes racist bullies Charlie Cashman and Jim Sturbridge. Oh, I’m sure whatever Bruce has in mind is going to go real well.

A guy from Environmental Alert contacts Liz to talk to her about the upcoming Jungle Prom. (Seriously, every time someone mentions it in this book, they call it just that – “Jungle Prom”. It is cracking me the hell up.) Liz explains that the Jungle Prom committee has decided they will elect a Jungle Prom King and Queen. The Alert dude then tells her their group has decided to add a special contest to the Jungle Prom. They will choose one student to be an Environmental Alert ambassador for their organization, and this person will also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Brazil. The group wanted to just make Liz this ambassador since she’s so into the group, but since there’s going to be a King and Queen contest, they might as well say the Queen will win it. The last teen ambassador they had was a guy, so this time they want a girl. Liz thinks it’s a great idea though, because the entire prom committee has already decided she’s going to be the Queen. Of course, Liz is all into pulling some modest shit and acting like she can’t believe anyone would want HER to be the Queen, while secretly daydreaming about being crowned the winner.

Speaking of prom committee, Jessica is supposed to be the co-chair with Liz, but you might be surprised to learn Jess has been skipping out on the meetings! I know, shocking, I say. Liz is essentially single-handedly running things, although she does fill Jessica in about what’s going on – this, despite still vowing she’s done helping Jessica out. Jessica repays the favor by getting royally pissed that Liz called a vote for the prom dress code without her (because Jessica didn’t attend the related committee meeting, of cousre, so it’s her own damn fault). And, everyone voted for Liz’s view that attendees should wear formal outfits instead of jungle-themed costumes, which is what Jessica wanted.

And, because Liz is just a complete dumbass when it comes to her sister, always and fuckin’ forever, she can’t believe it when Jessica hears about the Jungle Prom Queen election that will be held and starts declaring herself a sure shoo-in for Queen. The girls have a nasty argument over it in which Jessica insists she’s always the Queen while Liz runs things from the background. Liz is really upset because it’s true, although she claims it’s just because she knows Jessica just wants the crown and the trip to Brazil, and won’t do a thing for the Environmental Alert ambassadorship that goes along with it. I mean, yeah, you’re right Liz, but what are you going to do about that if you want this so bad? Rather than launch her own candidacy, Liz sits around bitching to anyone who will listen while Jessica does more pro-active things, like give Caroline an exclusive Jungle Prom interview in which she takes all the credit, give a speech at a pep rally implying the student body should vote for her, and hand out Save the Rain Forest buttons in the cafeteria to promote the Jungle Prom (without involving the prom committee – Jessica pays for all those buttons herself). Liz fumes and fumes. No one understands what Liz’s problem is. Liz bitches the prom was HER idea. She’s right that the initial idea of the Jungle Prom was her idea, but the Environmental Alert part was ALL Jessica’s – an unusually generous one, at that. So, even though Jessica is being a little um, Jessica-ish, haha, Liz is getting on my damn nerves. I mean, if you want to be prom queen so badly, quit the shrinking violet act and just come out and say so already! Sitting there acting all shy, lowering your eyes and fluttering those lashes demurely like you’re Scarlett O’Hara … bitch please.

Meanwhile, the rivalry with Big Mesa is really heating up. Some kids from Big Mesa cover all the Sweet Valley kids’ cars in shaving cream one day after school, then drive through the parking lot taunting them through a bull horn about it. Haha! That’s actually kind of funny. Sweet Valley retaliates by sneaking the Big Mesa cheerleaders trick gum that turns their teeth green at a track meet between the two schools (which Sweet Valley wins). Then someone keeps anonymously sending The Oracle student newspaper office copies of the Big Mesa Bull’s Eye, where the writers keep publishing inflammatory and false articles about Sweet Valley kids, like saying they cheated at the track meet. Liz is outraged, but she and all the other writers keep deciding to take the high road. Mr. Collins is all, ehhhh, you kids decide what you want to do. Seriously, no adults give a crap about what is going on. I feel like a West Side Story gang fight must be on the horizon.

Lila has been going to counseling sessions at Project Youth to help her heal from her near rape at the hands of John Pfeifer. Her counselor is a guy named Nathan Pritchard. He chats with Lila about her progress and about the date with Tony, but when he gently suggests Lila might have made assumptions about Tony Alimenti’s intentions toward her and that it’s incorrect to assume all guys are as bad as John, Lila bristles. In another session, John notices that Lila seems to be having a hard time opening up to him, and wonders if she might do better with a female counselor. Lila immediately gets upset and tears up at the thought of yet another person abandoning her – like her mothre has! and her father! and all her friends! – and Nathan apologizes and says they can continue to meet. Lila is really having a hard time, but she does seem to be making the effort to continue to get out more with her friends the way Nathan has suggested. When she’s by herself, she thinks about how her mom deserted her at a young age and her dad is never there for her and gets depressed. Jessica is no help – she’s such a bitch that she thoughtlessly says something to Lila like “Aren’t moms the greatest, Li?” in the midst of babbling about her dumb prom queen campaign. Another day, Lila’s walking on the beach with Jessica when they run into Nathan and his black lab, J.D. Lila doesn’t want to waste time talking with Nathan and is surprised when Jessica points out that Nathan is cute – she hadn’t noticed, but now that Jessica mentions it …

Someone else who isn’t doing well is Bruce Patman. He’s been having anger issues ever since Regina Morrow died, and in private, he stares at her picture and cries about what he did to her. Running into Nicholas Morrow only makes things worse. Old Nicholas seems like he’s not holding anything against Bruce, but when Nicholas tries to relate, Bruce shrugs him off because he can’t handle the pain. Damn, this book is really laying it on thick. At least we’re finally getting some of the realism I have been bitching about not receiving for 94+ books. Ha ha! Bruce is a total asshole to Andrea, though, and she seems like she’s just going to sit there and take it. Bruce thinks about how he enjoys seeing how much Andrea will let him use her. So, business as usual there, basically.

Sam is prepping for a big dirt bike race soon, but Jessica seriously doesn’t give a crap because all she can think about is the prom queen contest and how she’s not getting along with Liz lately because of it. She goes to Lisette’s to try on gowns for the Jungle Prom; unbeknownst to her, Enid has also dragged Liz there for the same purpose. Hilarity ensues when the sisters step out of the dressing rooms at the same time wearing the exact same dress. (Neither twin buys the dress – Liz says the dress was much too provocative, Jess says it was much too conservative. Hah!)

When Jessica is supposed to pick Sam up at Sweet Valley High one day to drive him back to Bridgewater (remember he’s not a Sweet Valley kid), she totally forgets and Liz has to come to his rescue. Then Lila deliberately freaks Jess out even more by casually mentioning everyone considers Liz a shoo-in to win. Hahaha! I see the old Lila is starting to reappear. Then Sam takes Jessica out for a nice Italian dinner at Oggi restaurant, and Jessica interrupts him chatting about his dirt bike race to go on and on about her stupid drama. This is feeling like serious deja vu. Wasn’t there a similar scene just a few books back?

Lila thinks back to how Jessica said Nathan was cute. She realizes it’s true. She also thinks about how Nathan has actually helped her more than she’s been wanting to admit. She decides to go to the Jungle Prom by herself and wear a smashing outfit that she’s sure Nathan will love. (He’s going to be there as a chaperone – he also works at the school part-time as a guidance counselor.) Uh, oh. Her crush on Nathan starts to grow and Lila feels her depression dropping away, or thinks she does. Nathan is oblivious and continues what Lila considers his “psychobabble” in their sessions while Lila surreptitiously tries to find out if he has a girlfriend.

Convinced that Elizabeth is deliberately trying to take over the prom so that she can manipulate things to win Prom Queen, Jessica makes Robin, Amy and Lila go to a prom committee meeting with her. Gee, it’s about time. Jessica immediately acts like she’s been in charge all along, making a big deal out of passing a sign-up sheet around the group so everybody can choose a shift for getting the gym ready for prom on Saturday. (Jess deliberately chooses the last shift because there won’t be much left to do by that point.) Just to antagonize her sister, Jessica then suggests that everyone vote on whether or not any Big Mesa kids should be allowed at their prom. Apparently, Sweet Valley has always had an open door policy about who can just show up at their dances uninvited. (Wait, for real?) If no Big Mesa kids can come, that means Enid’s boyfriend Hugh can’t come. Who cares, Hugh’s a drag anyway. Half the group (including Jess) votes no to Big Mesa, and the other half (including Liz) votes they should be able to come if they want. Liz reluctantly agrees to take the issue to Principal Chrome Dome to break the tie, then angrily leaves the meeting without looking at Jessica while Jessica laughs to herself. Later that afternoon, Penny Ayala (who’s on the committee) catches up with them and tells them she forgot to mention something important: Sweet Sixteen magazine heard about the Jungle Prom benefit for Environmental Action and is really excited to interview the two twin sisters who came up with the idea. In fact, they want to do a photo shoot to go with the interview! To prepare, the twins toss their hair and glare at each other. Oh, boy. This is gonna be good.

Chrome Dome holds an assembly that afternoon at which the majority of students vote to have the Jungle Prom be open to whomever wants to attend. Yep, great idea. I’m sure there won’t be any fighting at all, or anything like that. Seriously, the adults in these books are mega clueless.

Liz goes outside the school after the assembly to meet the magazine people, who are thrilled with her looks and talk about how she is a natural model and how great her “real” golden blonde hair is. Yeah, yeah, we know, the twins are the most beautiful girls in the world. They wait around for Jessica, who is late (what? no way). Liz searches the school for her, but can’t find her. Ah, the days before everybody had a cell phone. The magazine people are getting antsy, and say it’s now so late that either they go do the interview and shoot with just Liz or not at all. Liz goes by herself whereas normally she’d probably pull a  “I’m NOT going without my sister!” For once, Liz also thinks about the fact that Jessica definitely wouldn’t wait for her if the tables were turned. Meanwhile, Jessica finally takes her ass outside (45 minutes late!), waltzing out the door doing a comical modeling pose in her “sand-washed” green silk shorts. When she doesn’t see Liz or the magazine people, she’s all, “Oh, at least I’m earlier than they are.” Yes, she’s for real, folks. Eventually Jessica goes off looking for them, and she is told by Lois Waller, of all people, that they left without her and she doesn’t know where they went. Jessica decides this must mean Liz definitely wants to sabotage Jessica; Liz must have either lied and said Jessica couldn’t come, or maybe she even said Penny got it wrong and there’s no twin sister! Um, no, those are all things YOU would have done, Jessica! But Jessica is furious and the twins have a huge fight at home about it later. Oh please Jess. I’m with Liz on this one, frankly. She tried to find Jess, and she stalled the magazine people as long as she could. And Jessica finally got her just desserts and it’s long overdue. And, if Liz HAD refused to do the interview and shoot without Jess? Well, the magazine people would’ve just left, meaning no photo shoot at all, and then Jess probably would’ve found a way to blame her sister for that! Don’t worry, there are no lessons learned here.

Liz spends the rest of the week obsessing over the prom queen crown. It puts her in one shitty mood as she continues to become “the new Elizabeth” (or whatever you wanna call it, since The New Elizabeth was already tried on for size once and it just resulted in Liz deliberately losing a surfing contest … damn, no wonder Liz is screwed up trying to become somebody new again NOW). Liz suddenly changes direction with the Big Mesa rivalry, and writes a “hostile” editorial for the Oracle that becomes the subject of a minor lunchtime spat with Todd when he points out she’s definitely not taking the high road now. Aw, did someone call you on your shit too, Liz? It’s not just Jessica who should have to face facts, you know.

Speaking of Jessica, she doesn’t show to the last prom committee meeting, but she’s the only one who hasn’t said she can’t go pick up the art supplies. Penny has to go ask her if she can do it because Liz refuses to. Enid tries to talk to Liz about her attitude, but Liz brushes her off. Then the Friday night basketball game between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa arrives. Jessica shows off her cheerleading skills, sure that her ardent school spirit will win her the Jungle Prom Queen crown and the trip to Brazil. Bruce causes trouble with his old Club X mates by tossing water balloons all over the floor. Really, Bruce, is that all you got? This is so cheesy, but if it wasn’t, you know I’d be disappointed. Meanwhile, Liz is in the stands with a big Sweet Valley sign. She also shows her school spirit by nastily trashing Enid’s man, Hugh, for not coming to the game because he didn’t want to get caught up in a brawl afterwards. Seriously, Liz is a real bitch about it. She calls Hugh a “wimpy” and then sarcastically relents that he’s a “hero”. Damn, Liz, you really are going crazy. Enid says something back but it gets drowned out by the crowd, and Liz never apologizes. Enid is the real wimp here, so I’m sure she was over it in about two seconds anyway. God forbid the goddess Liz do anything to turn off her biggest fan. Anyway, Sweet Valley wins the game, and Todd is the hero of the night. As everyone cheers him at the Dairi Queen that night (while Liz and Jess very obviously and conspicuously ignore one another), Jessica suddenly realizes this could mean that Todd wins Prom King easily … and that would make Elizabeth the natural vote for Prom Queen. Jessica angrily thinks about how it’s not fair that her boyfriend is just a “dumb old dirt biker” from another school who hasn’t done anything to help her campaign. You so don’t deserve Sam, Jessica.

The day of the prom arrives. Liz shows up to admire the handiwork all the prom committee members have done (except Jessica) over their shifts. She thinks sadly about how she wishes she could share this with the person who helped her come up with the idea – oh, now you admit it wasn’t just your idea, Liz? – and then leaves. Shortly afterward, Jessica shows up for her shift to find all the work has been done (nailed it, Jess) and then discovers Liz has accidentally left her personal datebook behind a potted palm tree. Jessica pages through it, thinks about all the work Liz has done, and then considers that maybe Liz deserves to win Prom Queen, after all. Just then, she hears a door slam somewhere and gets a chill! “It sounded so desolate, so final …” Shit’s about to go dowwwwwn (and I don’t just mean in some cars at the Point).

Back at home, the twins tiptoe around each other, going out of their way to avoid speaking to one another and being overly formal when they do have to speak. Liz finds her misplaced datebook on her dresser and figures she must have left it there, even though we the readers know Jessica actually just did the right thing and put it there for her. Liz puts on an ice blue dress that sounds kinda ugly, even though I love ice blue. Jessica wears a sleek red strapless gown. Jessica freaks out when Todd tells Liz she looks beautiful, and secretly thinks maybe Liz really does look better than her even as Sam is exclaiming over Jessica’s looks in turn. The twins are rude to their dates who present them with corsages, and to their parents who get them to take pictures together before they leave. Old Ned and Alice seem completely oblivious to the fact that the girls have been fighting. Damn man, they’re almost as bad as Lila’s dear old dad. Speaking of which, Lila is so happy lately that she’s practically bouncing off the walls on the way to the gym to see Nathan. When she sees him, he acts mostly like, well, like a chaperone. He’s also wearing a rainbow-striped tie. Um, I wonder if he’s trying to tell Lila something.

Todd reassures Elizabeth at the dance that she will win prom queen, so she starts the night off happy. But when Jessica frets about her own chances to Sam, he starts to get tired of her shit. He makes a couple of comments about Liz’s hard work that don’t sit well with her and she bitches him out and stomps off, telling him he’ll have to find his own dance partner for a while. She slinks around the floor trying to slyly brag about how much work she’s done for the prom so people will vote for her. I’m not sure people are going to fall for it, Ms. Thing.

A bunch of Big Mesa kids show up to the prom causing a momentary ruckus as Winston lets them in, per the policy, and then Bruce pulls some SV kids together to try and throw them out. A big fight almost goes down, but then Todd stands up for letting it go and letting them stay, and Bruce finally relents. Todd is once again the hero of the hour, and an obvious shoo-in for Prom King. Sure enough, at 9:00 the votes are tallied and he’s crowned King. The ballots for Queen are then passed out and the winner will be announced an hour later, at 10. Liz and Jess are both on edge. Jessica is pouting and being a baby – now that Todd’s been crowned King, it’s almost certain Liz will be crowned Queen. Jess, you really need to get over it already. Just then, Jessica spots Liz dance by, “shaking it” with Sam, who looks super happy about it. Jessica is stunned. Hey, you told him to find his own dance partner, ya ass. A moment later, a drunk Big Mesa boy sidles up to her and starts hitting on her. Jessica sees the cup in his hand and gets an idea. She gets the drunk boy to pour some “clear liquid” (vodka? Everclear?) from his flask into her cup, then some more, till the cup is full. Jessica then leaves … to dump the alcohol into Liz’s cup, which is sitting on a nearby table next to Sam’s. Damn girl, you cold!

Jessica watches as Liz gulps about half of her punch without even tasting whatever it was Jessica added, then offers the other half to Sam. (Note: The book doesn’t say what it was either. I initially assumed it was vodka, but then I thought back to my college days and remembered Everclear. Given how completely wasted these two are about to get, and how they somehow had no idea something was amiss with their punch, that seems far more likely.) A few minutes later, Liz and Sam are totally trashed and cutting a damn rug on the dance floor. Kids are standing around staring in shock while Liz and Sam go totally nuts. They tango, they Charleston, Sam swings Liz over his head in a complete circle. This sounds HILARIOUS. Enid and Hugh come to check on them, and Liz slurs an apology at them for the way she acted at the game. Nathan and Lila overhear some girls tittering about how Liz is totally drunk and running around with her own sister’s date, and he considers intervening, but Lila is sure there’s no way Liz Wakefield of all people is drunk, although she admits that would be “hilarious.” Just then, more Big Mesa kids show up and Nathan walks off to help a trembling Winston decide if they’re allowed in without tickets. Moments later, Liz stumbles over to the ticket table and she and Sam slur at Patti and Andrea that they’ve decided Jessica deserves to be prom queen. Even if Liz wins, she wants to forfeit so that Jessica gets it. She is making a total spectacle of herself and everyone is talking about it. Jessica thinks it’s really funny, but is stunned when the prom queen is announced … and it’s her. She overhears some girls saying that maybe she just won because Liz dropped out. What! No way! Jessica is so shocked that she can’t even be happy about her win. Damn these girls are so fucking wishy washy, I can’t even. Just then, from his bamboo throne on the stage, Todd spots what looks like Sam and Liz making out in the corner. Now, just a second ago, Sam was just doing some babbling (out of Todd’s earshot) about how much he loves Jessica, so I really don’t think so, but Jessica sees the same thing and thinks the same thing and both are horrified. As they’re about to make their way over to them to see what is going on, Big Mesa kids suddenly rush the floor, randomly punching people and making a break for the football field. Half the SV crowd runs after them and the other half goes for the other exit toward the parking lot. That’s also where Sam and Liz are heading. Todd and Jessica try to follow them, but the crowd is too thick. Everyone is caught up in the crush, and murmuring about the fight outside. Jessica’s crown falls out of her hand and she just barely saves it from being destroyed under someone’s foot. The symbolism! The symbolism! She finally gets outside just in time to see Liz DRIVE off in the Jeep with Sam in the passenger seat! Jess has one last chance to stop them, but she trips over her heels and goes flying onto the pavement. She gets up in time to watch them helplessly ride off. At the same time, the big fight is raging on the football field. Not in Sweet Valley!

In the last few pages of the book, a few key things happen that effectively end this Magna Edition on a hell of a cliffhanger:

  1. Bruce and his Club X friends rush to the field, where they find a line of Big Mesa guys just standing there waiting to fight .Hahaha, it’s straight out of The Outsiders or something. Bruce beats the shit out of a couple of kids and relishes in the feel of blood running through his fingers. No, really, it says that. Just then, some giant kid starts beating on Bruce with a baseball bat and I have a Ramones song running through my head. As the giant kid prepares to bash his head in, a girl who looks a bit like Regina appears in Bruce’s vision to beg “Craig” to back off. Bruce thinks she looks like an angel. Just then, the police arrive. The Craig kid kicks Bruce in the head and disappears in a flash with the mysterious angel girl, and Bruce goes unconscious.
  2. Nathan pulls Lila to safety from the crushing crowd outside the dance, pulling her into an empty classroom which is really the only safe place outside the crowd, since they can’t get outside. He closes the door and walks toward Lila. As he nears her, Lila suddenly has a horrible flashback to John looming over her and starts screaming bloody murder as Nathan reaches out to give her a reassuring pat on the arm. The arriving cops hear it and kick in the door. Lila screams Nathan was attacking her. The cops drag away a stunned, “ashen” Nathan as he yells at Lila to please tell them it’s not true. A cop asks Lila if she’ll come give a statement and she – truthfully believing Nathan was just looking for a way to get her alone and was about to attack her – resolutely says yes. You know, I would say What the fuck? but I have seen the effects of PTSD on people in real life. So while this is Sweet Valley’s funky attempt at it, and while this particular example is pretty damn dramatic, it’s also just really sad! I somehow think it’ll end up okay for everybody in the end. Meanwhile …
  3. Jessica begs Todd to take her to find her sister and Sam. Todd is stunned to hear Jessica say they were drunk. Really, Liz’s goody goody rep is that solid? Come on, man. Jessica doesn’t admit she was the one who gave Liz the alcohol. Of course not. She also hangs on to her crown for dear life as they drive. That’s deep. They finally find the Jeep … overturned and crumpled near Secca Lake. Jessica manages to get past the police line and as she rushes toward the bloody, broken glass, she hears a police officer says it’s a shame and that there was no way anyone could have survived that. She screams dramatically as we’re lead to believe both Sam and Liz are now dead. No, Sam, noooo!

Okay, y’all, and that’s it until we reach the next book. Heavy, huh? Did you read this when it first came out and what was your reaction then compared to right now? Am I the only person who never read this book before? I have to say, that’s quite a denouement for what started out as a crazy cheesy story. It seems Sweet Valley wanted to go back to its dramatic roots, and then some.

Can I also say, this book was better than I was expecting. When the book got cheesy, it went over the top. And, the character development had been lacking for some of these kids, and now the writers are kind of, well, overdoing it, but it’s definitely better. Bruce and Lila are traumatized in a way that wasn’t shown before, and we get to hear their inner thoughts and what they’re REALLY thinking for a change. Will that last? Doubtful!

Liz and Jessica’s usual twin rivalry flares to the forefront in a predictable way, but then it heads in a refreshing direction when Liz actually stands up for herself. And then, you know, it fucking goes to hell in a hand basket. Although, come on, you know there’s no way they would have even considered truly killing Liz’s ass off. That’s Francine’s girl.

Random notes: At the beach party, Tony Alimenti pulls a big no-no and tells Lila “you look tired”. OH HELL NO. As someone who always has dark undereye circles no matter how much sleep she gets (and I get plenty), that is one of the WORST “innocent” things you can say to a lady. Why don’t you just come out and say “You look like shit!”

When Jessica removes her T-shirt and shorts to swim out to the buoy, boys hoot and holler and the book says she’s kicking her clothes off “like a striptease.” I can’t help but feel like this book is going back to the series’ roots, before it tried to get all pure and mega boring. Bravo!

Nicholas says Andrea dumped him because she decided he was getting boring. Well, I agree, Andrea, but Bruce isn’t exactly gonna be the kinda thrill that satisfies in the end.

Sam and Jessica snuggle on his couch and kinda/sorta joke about spending the whole night together after the prom. Damn, are they actually talking about having sex?

Oggi means “today” in Italian! Well, that’s kinda a boring name for a restaurant.

Roger takes Rosa to the prom. I guess she’s not seeing Eddie anymore.

Bruce: “I’ve had everyone at Sweet Valley High I wanted to have.” Ummmm….damn. He went ahead and put it that way. Wondering if the ghostwriters meant for it to sound the way that sounded.

Here’s Jessica moping around at home waiting for Liz to come back to the house from the photo shoot: “Through the gloom, Jessica saw the knob turn.” What perfect, overly dramatic writing for Jessica’s way of thinking!

The reggae band that plays at the prom is called Island Sunsplash. Sounds like a Sunny D knock-off drink!

This prom is such a big deal that each attendee gets a Sweet Valley Jungle Prom souvenir YEARBOOK to go with it. Not the regular yearbook, a special book just for Prom.

Jessica compliments Sally Larson’s prom dress. Sally confides it’s actually one of Dana’s. Jessica thinks, Like I couldn’t have guessed that. You usually dress like someone who works at a morgue. Burn. I wish she had said it out loud.

This book does a ton of foreshadowing, like when Liz and Jess seem to have premonitions that something awful is going to happen at the Jungle Prom. I think they really wanted you to believe one of the twins was going to bite the dust.

Bruce taunts Lila and jokingly warns her not to run into any Big Mesa guys, because some of them make John Pfeifer look tame. What an asshole.

I still cannot believe that Liz and Sam could not realize that something was off with their damned jungle juice at the prom, especially since they never drink. They don’t even seem to realize that they might be drunk. Like, not even for a second. That must have been some sugaryass punch. Although I kind of assume half the reason Liz gave Sam the other half of her punch wasn’t because his own cup ran out, but because she thought “Hmmm, tastes a little off. You want the rest?”

When Liz and Sam are dancing the Charleston, Liz starts trying to reminisce about a movie where some kids are doing the Charleston and the floor opens up under them and they fall into a swimming pool beneath them. Are they talking about It’s a Wonderful Life?

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “For your information, I chose to come to the dance alone. What’s your excuse, Bruce? Andrea finally get fed up with your macho behavior? Or did your inflatable blow-up doll pop when you pinned on her corsage?” I. Am. DYING.

The cover: This cover was done by Keith Birdsong, not Jimmy Mathewuse. The cover flap shows the corsages, with the full cover showing three of the photos the Wakefield parents took that fateful night (when the twins were acting like bitches about it). There’s a picture of Jessica and Liz (ripped almost in half, with both girls doing a bitch face), Liz smiling up at Todd (seriously, that does not look like Todd), and Sam and Jess (Jess looks exactly the same as in the other pic!!!, and Sam is pretty cute). The girls’ dresses do not look the way they were described in the book. Here, Liz’s dress is bright blue, has puffy sleeves, and is fucking hideous. Jessica’s looks like a scaly pink getup instead of bright red, and her hair looks like a goddamn rat’s nest. Looks like a horse walked up and vomited a bale of hay up on her skull.

In the back of the book: There is a promo for the next Sweet Valley “mini-series”, books 95-100, which will be “explosive”! It says “someone evil” is coming to Sweet Valley. Wait, someone worse than Jessica just was? What the fuck is going on here?

Seriously…what in hell just happened? I guess I’ll find out!

Coming up next: It’s THE MORNING AFTER!

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