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

Archive for the ‘Super Editions’ Category

Super Edition #6 Spring Fever

Prairie bitches and hos

God, look at this fucking cover! What the hell! The twins are dressed like freakin’ Laura Ingalls Wilder or some shit. This book finds them vacationing in Walkersville, Kansas and I guess that’s what they assume everyone in Kansas dresses like. I remember showing this to my sister when I was a kid and she goes, “They look like dorks.” Yes! Also, the cover of mine claims it’s a “Special Book Club Edition” and has an arrow like it’s pointing to some special content, but there is none. What the hell would make it a special book club edition anyway? Discussion questions? How about:

1) Expand upon Elizabeth’s deep-seated desire to interfere with the lives of all the mere mortals who cross her path. How does this exemplify Elizabeth as the Patron Saint of Sweet Valley?

2) Do you think Jessica is really still a virgin? Explain why or why not.

3) Compare and contrast Elizabeth’s relationship with Jeffrey to the relationship she had with Todd. Which boy is the bigger tool? Which boy evokes your sympathy for being stuck with Elizabeth more, and why?

Sounds like a fucking delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon! But I have no room to talk, this is the fourth SVH book in a row that I have read in just the past two days and I feel like parts of my brain have died. I need to give it a break soon.

Uh, so why the hell are the twins dressed like that? Well, they are headed to Walkersville, Kansas, to visit their great Uncle Herman and Aunt Shirley for 11 days, and I guess that’s what they think everybody in Kansas dresses like. God, Liz looks like  a DOUCHE with that stupid belt and scarf over her schoolteacher outfit. And Jessica is just like, “Uh …. is this really happening? Am I really wearing a prairie hobag dress and spinning around a big old field waiting for a farmer boy to come pay me a sweet penny?” GUH.

Herman and Shirley Walker are Alice Wakefield’s aunt and uncle. Alice warns the girls that they are to “do as the Romans do” meaning that Kansas can’t possibly compare to the sunny streets of Sweet Valley and the twins should just accept that and shut the fuck up. Speaking of Rome, Lila is going there with her dad for spring break and Jessica is pouting about it. Should’ve refrigerated that Tofu-Glo, Jess.

The twins arrive in Kansas and they literally ride around the town with their heads hanging out the windows ooh-ing and aah-ing and gasping with disbelief that they are in a real small town. For some reason their great-aunt and uncle are not insulted by this. It gets even worse when they arrive at Five Elms, the family homestead. They gasp out loud at the country decor and the “huge brick fireplace that really worked”! What the fuck, have they never seen a wood fireplace before? What the fuck is this shit? Do I have to read the rest of this?

Ugh … moving on. Herman and Shirley are pretty old-fashioned. I can’t believe the twins really wanted to spend almost two weeks with them. What a complete drag for two sixteen-year-olds. I would’ve died of boredom. Even the car ride to the town sounds awful. Herman and Shirley rag on Elizabeth when they hear she has a serious boyfriend because she’s so young, and then Jessica sucks up to them by talking about how she agrees completely and would never date just one guy and Liz gives her the evil eye. Heh … one of my close friends has two old country grandmas who wanted her to get married and have kids right out of high school.

The girls go out to get a tour of Walkersville from Shirley and Herman. Jessica ditches them briefly to “go look in a craft shop” and by that I mean she wants to drape herself over some boys she saw hanging outside Walker’s, the five-and-dime Herman owns. She introduces herself to Dennis Stevens and his four friends, Louis, Sam, Hank, and Matthew. She starts flirting with Dennis and the boys “couldn’t believe she was really from California” and stammer from the nervousness of meeting glamorous Jessica. They even ask her if she’s ever met any movie stars since I guess people living in Kansas are too dumb to understand not everyone in Cali knows a movie star. Seriously, who wrote this?

While Jessica is still giggling with Dennis and friends and making them all tongue-tied, Dennis’s girlfriend Annie Sue Sawyer and her friend Mary Hamilton show up. Jessica doesn’t understand why Annie Sue doesn’t like her very much since Jess was just flirting with her boyfriend and all, no big deal. Annie Sue brags about a party Jessica isn’t invited to, and Jessica feels bad. WAAAAH. You NEVER treated anybody like this, right Jess? Jessica catches up to her boring relatives and asks Shirley about Annie Sue. Shirley thinks Annie Sue is “the sweetest girl in town” and later on introduces her to Liz and tries to get them to hang out. Annie Sue makes up some bullshit about having to run but it’s clear she hates both twins. You and me both, Annie Sue Sawyer. Is that the most stereotypical name you’ve heard so far or what? Liz wisely surmises that everyone probably feels threatened by them because they’re such glamorous outsiders and they’re just too much for this small town. Jesus.

The next day, Herman and Shirley take the twins to the carnival and Jessica creams herself because she’s never been to a real live carnival before! Ohboyohboyohboy! (And by the way that’s bullshit, there are numerous books that revolve around a fair or carnival of some kind.) Jessica scandalizes Shirley by wearing a ridiculous rhinestone jumpsuit, but Liz isn’t much better with a plaid skirt. Who wears a skirt and sweater to a carnival! Jessica can’t wait to meet a sexy carnie and is pissed when Shirley warns her of the obvious: carnies are gross. DUH. The carnival kind of sucks until they meet a sexy college boy from Kansas City named Alex Parker who’s giving horsey rides. Golly gee whiz, he’s a twin too! His twin’s name is Brad! Brad happens to be a lot like Liz! A twin for each twin! Wowsers! I’m sorry, I’ll try to control myself. This book is just way more ridiculous than I remembered. Long story short, Jessica tries to set it up so that the two sets of twins can double-date. Alex is extremely uncomfortable at this idea, and starts mumbling shit about why it isn’t possible for Alex and Brad to be together at the same time (their schedules are just so different in this tiny town!). He also studies Elizabeth carefully while slowwwly figuring out how to describe Brad to them, and hey! it just so turns out Brad matches everything Elizabeth already said about herself. If by now you haven’t figured out that there is no Brad, and Alex is just a creepy carnie hoping to score with both underage chicks, then you are hopeless. But the twins totally fall for it and Liz sends herself on a guilt trip for being attracted to someone other than Jeffrey.

Jessica makes plans to meet Alex later that evening. She tells Shirley about Alex and almost gives the old gal a heart attack. No, really! She literally clutches her heart and begs Herman to bring her her pills! I am not making this up. So Jessica stomps back to her room because Aunt Shirley doesn’t want her to get raped by some strange overage carnie man. Jess then sneaks out to meet Alex and Liz freaks out over having to cover for Jessica which she should be used to doing by now. Jessica has a lovely evening riding a stallion named Midnight with Alex.

Annie Sue spends a lot of time stalking around glaring at the twins, particularly Jessica. Jessica and Elizabeth get put to work helping out a girl named Mindy behind the soda fountain counter of the five-and-dime … man, what a vacation. Dennis and friends come in and flirt with them, then Annie Sue and Mary come by and see that and aren’t very pleased. I guess not since Mary’s boyfriend Hank was just checking himself out some Jessica.

Annie Sue’s grandmother invites them out to her farm to have lunch with Annie Sue and her friends. But when they get to the farm, no one has shown up but Annie Sue’s little sister Janie, who’s dressed like Carrie Ingalls and is also a 9-year-old brat from hell. Janie tries to get Jessica kicked by a cow, Elizabeth stampeded by pigs, gets the twins lost in the woods, and tries to lead them into poison ivy. Then the twins get back and decide not to tattle on her … what the fuck? I’d be all about that. I hate bratty kids. Then they have to wait on the porch for Annie Sue, who of course stands them up. The twins feel “humiliated” which I don’t get. They still get to eat lunch and apple pie and instead of enjoying it they feel “mortified.” Dude, you’re not the ones acting like assholes. Enjoy the nice lunch so Mrs. Sawyer doesn’t feel completely horrible about her dumb granddaughter.

Jessica sneaks out every night to get some Alex action, causing Herman and Shirley to become concerned she is either sick or depressed since she “goes to bed” at 9 every night and then sleeps in past 10. Of course, Liz goes ahead and comes clean to Shirley about Brad, and convinces her to let her see him (in the daytime) since Shirley is terrified the twins might get knocked up by a carnie baby daddy. Hehehe. Shirley relents because it’s Liz. So Liz sees him, feels guilty about liking him, but ultimately nothing happens between them at all, no kisses or anything. The most exciting thing that occurs is Brad injures his hand on a nail or something and gushes some blood.

Jessica, meanwhile, tries again to get old Herm and Shirl to let her see Alex, but flips out when they won’t let her walk to the carnival in the dark by herself to meet him. And then she freaks out again when they ask to at least meet him first before giving their consent for Jess to date him. What the fuck? My parents always wanted to meet guys that I was dating. Is that so strange, to want to make sure your daughter is hanging out with a decent fella?

Jessica doesn’t bring Alex over, but continues to see him after dark anyway. She decides she’s falling in “love” with him, or Jessica’s version of love anyway. Annie Sue sees them out one evening with Midnight, and comes into the five-and-ten the next day to harass Jessica about it and threaten to tell the Walkers. She starts blackmailing Jess into giving her a bunch of shit like her rhinestone headband, cowboy boots, a pin, sunglasses, necklace, etc. You’d think Jessica would just stop wearing these accessories since she knows Annie Sue will take them. Of course, Annie Sue can’t help but want to be like Jessica since she’s so stylish and glamorous and beautiful. Annie Sue and her friends Mary Hamilton, Susie, and Carol all start dressing like Jessica, but of course they’re described as looking plainer than Jess. Just kill me.

As the end of this too-long vacation comes to a close, Herman and Shirley decide that since they haven’t even met these Parker twins the girls are always talking about, and the bratty Wakefields refuse to let them meet them, that they can’t go to big square dance with them. Jessica thinks that Herman and Shirley should just get a grip and accept that since Alex’s dad OWNS the carnival, he’s clearly a good guy. Only poor people commit rapes and shit. God. Just let them meet your stupid carnies already, then go have fun rolling in the hay at the square dance! But noooo, Jess just flips out about the square dance and runs away to the carnival to see Alex one last time. Annie Sue is there and she announces her daddy just bought Alex’s prize, but moody stallion, Midnight and then demands to ride him. Jessica tries to stop her, but Annie Sue throws herself on the horse and jerks the reins too hard, and of course the poor horsey flips out and gallops around trying to throw her. I wish he would. Jessica saves Annie Sue in front of a bunch of people, conveniently just as the Walkers arrive with Elizabeth. This is all it takes for the Walkers to completely forget their precious grand-nieces are a couple of lying twats. The whole town praises Jessica, and Annie Sue does a complete 180 and has a deep talk with both twins about what an ass she has been, and why she’s that way, and how insecure she’s always been, and she feels trapped, and bla bla, and riiiiiiiiight. Liz thinks about how much she “pities” Annie Sue and I want to slap her. Annie Sue even throws a huge party and invites the whole town, and stands up on a chair and makes an impassioned speech about how much she loves the twins. Then she starts insisting they come visit again soon. Yeah, right, we all know we’re never going to hear of any of these people ever again.

At this party, Liz sees that Alex has a hand injury just like the one Brad has, and finally puts two and two together. DUH! There is no Brad! It’s all Alex! Liz is infuriated but keeps the secret from Jessica because she doesn’t want to hurt her, because Jess loves Alex so much. Just like she allowed Jean-Claude to think Jessica was her because they loved each other so much. But Liz does decide that she has to get back at Alex in the most juvenile way possible. So when the square dance rolls around, she gets Annie Sue to torment Alex by continuously cutting in on him to get him to dance with Liz, then Jess, then Liz, then Jess … Alex gets worn out and he finally apologizes to Liz. You see, he liked both twins! They’re both so beautiful, and glamorous! They don’t have anything like that out thur in Kansas! He couldn’t help it! But now he really likes just Jessica! It’s okay!

I think anyone from Kansas who reads this book should be personally insulted and write Bantam nasty letters!

Other stuff: Cara Walker’s name is typoed as “Cora Walker.” Oh, Cara, you’re so effing forgettable.

Dennis is baffled by the rhinestones on Jessica’s jumpsuit and asks her if they are real diamonds. Kill me

When Alex tries to hide his bandaged hand, he puts his hand in his pocket and “looks uncomfortable” and everyone wants to know why. If it were me, I would’ve assumed he had a boner and left the poor dude alone.

Annie Sue explains herself to Jessica by saying that she’s an only child, and Jessica doesn’t challenge it even though just a few chapters back, Annie Sue’s little sister Janie was harassing them. Wow, a glaring continuity error within one book.

In case you were wondering – no, Herman and Shirley Walker aren’t any relation to “Cora” Walker. It drives me INSANE how uncreative the ghostwriters are with names.

Worst. Super. Edition. Ever. Seriously, this one might be worse than Winter Carnival! And I REALLY hated that one.

Next up: A pretty high school dropout tries to give school another shot, which of course means she’s fair game for Jessica and her bitch friends.

Super Edition #5 Winter Carnival

This book is so lame, especially for a Super Edition. It’s all about Elizabeth taking Jessica’s shit like she usually does, and then resenting Jessica extra hard, and then ultimately realizing the best course of action is to continue to take Jessica’s shit and just be happy about it. There, I summed it up in one long sentence. But seriously, how does Liz feel about having “the old Jessica” back now, huh? (See the previous book.) And where’s this winter carnival? Well, we don’t get to read about any carnival events until the very last chapter, Chapter 19 – and there’s only 11 pages of it. BORING.

Liz’s breakdown begins when she starts silently noticing that everything goes right for Jessica and everybody loves her. I guess it’s Liz’s turn to have a book 21 moment. Liz feels that Jessica has also been treating her especially shabbily lately. But really, it’s just Jessica dicking Liz over the same way she always does: Jessica “forgets” to do the dinnertime chores and then begs Liz to do it (which she of course does, because she’s a fucking doormat). Jessica takes credit for the chicken dinner Elizabeth made, runs off with the Fiat and leaves Liz stranded and forced to walk home from school, borrows Liz’s perfume and then losing it in her room somewhere, and also borrows her mulberry sweater without asking. Ho-hum, business as usual! But Liz just gets especially depressed and moody about it, and never tells Jessica to get her shit together until several chapters in. Grow some ovaries, Liz.

Things only worsen when Jessica and that bitch Amy Sutton hear about a trivia contest a local TV station is holding. The contest involves students from two area high schools sending in answers to trivia questions. Teams who answer all the questions correctly get entered into a drawing, and one team will be chosen from each of the two schools. (The other school is Westwood High … where’s Big Mesa? Or Palisades?) Then the two schools will have a little trivia showdown, and whoever wins gets to compete in the first episode of a local trivia game show on TV. Jess and Amy know Liz and Enid have been studying hard to get all the answers right, so they just go ahead and steal their answer sheet and enter the contest … and they win the drawing!  And hey, Amy even meets with Scott Hamilton, the TV station owner or something, and suggests the name “Trivia Bowl” as the title of the show, and he loves it … did Amy happen to be blowing him at the time? I’m just sayin’.

Jess cheerfully proclaims she and Amy took the answers from Liz, then doesn’t get why Liz looks so upset. And Liz doesn’t bother to tell her what an asshole thing to do that was, but just sits and foams at the mouth. You see why I am out of sympathy for this girl by now. So Amy and Jessica get to compete against the Westwood kids for the grand prize. Jessica announces at the dinner table that one of those kids, David Campbell, is too sexy and, oh yeah, she’s about to go on a date with him in 15 minutes. Her parents don’t even bat an eyelash, and don’t ask to meet this kid they never heard of before he takes their daughter out. Is this normal, or am I the only one whose dad demanded to meet every dude I went on a date with? (Every dude I told them I was going on a date with, anyway) Surprisingly, when Liz explains what’s happened with the show to Enid, Enid is just like, “Oh, well, whatever.” I don’t buy that reaction AT ALL since we know Jessica and Amy are the two people Enid hates more than just about anyone in the world.

Liz gets more depressed when she learns that she only got Honorable Mention in an essay contest she entered. Oh, waaaah. She’s only won every other contest she’s ever entered in her life. To rub salt in the wound, Jessica and the cheerleaders have won an entry into the All-State competition and Jessica can’t stop talking about it. Then Jeffrey tells Liz he’s taking her on a surprise date to Tiberino’s to cheer her up, but when Liz goes home to get ready, she finds that Jessica has run off with Amy and left behind dinner duties once again. Liz tries to call Jess at Amy’s house, but the housekeeper says they are gone. Now, what do you think Liz should do? I think she should just go ahead and go on her date and let Jessica take the heat when Ned and Alice come home to no dinner. Yep, that sounds like a good idea but – hey-o! – Liz calls Jeffrey and cancels the date. Wow. Could you be any more of Jessica’s bitch, Liz?

Despite all of this mess, Liz doesn’t REALLY lose her shit until Jessica fails to leave her an important note. Liz is supposed to give Teddy Collins a ride home from some other kid’s birthday party. Mr. Collins can’t for some reason. Doesn’t matter. Anyway, Liz has to go on a tennis date with Jeffrey around the same time. So she tells Jessica that the birthday kid’s dad is going to call as the party winds down and tell Liz what time she needs to pick up Teddy. Jessica is supposed to write the time down and leave it for Liz. So dude calls and Jessica takes down the information, but then she accidentally takes the note with her on a date with David. Elizabeth gets home from her date, thinks no one’s called yet, and then the birthday kid’s dad winds up having to take Teddy home because he thinks Liz isn’t coming. Why wouldn’t he just call the house again to see where Liz is? Elizabeth is humiliated and has to go to birthday kid’s house to apologize to the dad. Yikes, you can see how cell phones would’ve really helped everyone back then.

Meanwhile, Jessica is out eating at a sushi house called A Taste of Tokyo with David, his pretentious sister Barbara, and Barbara’s boyfriend Mitch. Jessica has never eaten sushi and thinks it looks gross, but decides to try some just to get Barbara off her back about it. She accidentally eats some horseradish instead and almost chokes to death. Good one, Jess. She then sees the note for Liz in her purse, realizes she took it, and tries to call Liz from a payphone, but it’s too late; Liz is already on her way to birthday kid’s dad’s house to say she is sorry. Jessica decides she might as well put it out of her head. On the ride home, she tries to seduce David into losing the trivia contest on purpose so she and Amy can go on TV, but he just laughs. Jessica almost sounds like she was planning to give it up to him if he would agree to lose. How whore-y. Jessica is really mad at David because after two or three dates they’ve had, he should just give her what she wants. She storms inside the house, and Liz is furious with Jessica for making her look like an idiot, and Jessica promises to shape up. She seems like she does mean it, but what Jessica means to do and what Jessica actually winds up doing are rarely the same thing. Funny how I know this better than Liz.

Liz is nervous because Todd is flying back to attend the winter carnival, and Jeffrey doesn’t really like the idea because he thinks Liz might still have feelings for Todd. And Liz can’t attend the opening night of the winter carnival because she already agreed to go to an awards banquet for a Big Brother-like PTA program with Todd, where he’s going to be honored for his work with his “little brother.” But Liz didn’t bother to tell Jeffrey about this dinner, and so when Jessica lets the beans spill at the Dairi Burger one night, Jeffrey is hella mad. He and Liz wind up fighting, and because Liz is a fucking idiot, she actually listens to Jessica’s advice to play hard to get with Jeffrey to make him really jealous. But it doesn’t work and Jeffrey gets even angrier, and they have a huge blow-up at lunch. Of course, Liz blames Jessica for giving her shitty advice, not that Liz actively chose to listen to it or anything. Then Jeffrey leaves her a note in her locker. If Liz can come meet him by six at Las Palmas Canyon (where?), he’ll know that she wants to make it work between them. Otherwise, he’ll assume she’s breaking up with him. Why somewhere so far? Jeez. That sounds like he’s planning to throw her into the canyon. I wish he would.

Jessica happens to be participating in the trivia contest the night of the canyon meeting, but she promises to have the Fiat back in time for Liz to drive out to meet Jeffrey, and you see where this is going. Jessica and Amy actually win the contest, Jessica decides she’ll keep dating David even though he hasn’t bent over far enough to take all of her shit yet, Mike Malloy (the game show host) offers to take them out to the Pizza Palace (not Guido’s?) for dinner, and Jess forgets all about the car. Liz can’t get out to the canyon so it’s over between her and Jeffrey. This is so dumb. Just call him later and tell him what happened! Liz is devastated and sits around crying instead, and when Jessica gets home and is reminded of her broken promise, she swears to herself that she will fix things between Liz and Jeffrey. I don’t know if it’s worth fixing. They just got together two books ago and they’ve already fought and broken up twice. I’d just let it go, dude.

And how about that winter carnival? What the fuck is that anyway? Well, it’s an annual event that takes place at Mont Blanc ski resort for juniors, seniors, and alumni. Here’s all the shit they have planned (and naturally, most of it is organized by the junior class who apparently have a say in everything):

-An ice show (what is that? like ice skating?) on the ice rink organized by Amy Sutton

-A big dance called the Snow Ball, of which Winston Egbert and Enid are co-chairs. Worst dance ever.

-A mock Winter Olympics by Bill Chase and Ken Matthews

-Card and board games, Ping-Pong, and hot cider and chocolate for all the losers who don’t want to do the fun shit outside. Okay, that was mean of me

-An opening night pizza party

Sounds like it would be pretty fun, especially for Sweet Valley since no one there ever sees snow. Except since Liz and Jeffrey are refusing to talk to one another, neither one is really looking forward to it. Also, Jessica has gone ahead and taken the liberty of insinuating to Todd that Liz doesn’t really want to go to the dinner with him. This is part of Jessica’s brilliant plan to “fix things.” Todd does what he assumes is best and tells Liz he doesn’t want her to come to the dinner anymore. And even though Jessica always tells lies to fuck shit up between Todd and Liz, he somehow doesn’t question what Jess says. I hate Todd. Liz thinks Todd hates her guts and gets even more depressed.

Jessica executes the rest of her plan. She writes a note from “Liz” and drops it in Jeffrey’s locker, saying she wants to meet him at 6:30 the opening night of the carnival so they can make up. This is necessary because Liz would just rather mope around about losing Jeffrey and can’t be persuaded to fix shit herself. Then let her reap the consequences, dammit! Jess plans to tell Liz about the note on the bus to Mont Blanc so that Liz will make up with Jeffrey once they get there, and all will be right with the world. Only Jessica and Amy are late meeting the bus for Mont Blanc because Amy is fucking slow and has to pack her whole closet or something, and so it leaves without them and they have to drive to Mont Blanc themselves. My head hurts.

They get there and since Liz can’t be found and it’s almost 6:30, and Liz has no idea she is supposed to meet Jeffrey, Jessica goes to meet him instead, posing as Liz of course. He is delighted they are making up and gives Jessica sexy eyes and she gets uncomfortable. A senior gossip girl we’ve never heard of before named Chrissy Nolan sees them and tells Liz she saw her hanging all over Jeffrey. (I guess we can’t have Caroline be the gossip now since she supposedly redeemed herself way back in book 17.) Liz knows it wasn’t her with Jeffrey, and she freaks out, thinking that Jeffrey is now doing it with Jessica. This is supposed to be an example of Liz blowing shit out of proportion, but you know what? I don’t think so. After all, in the last book, Jessica wasted no time going after Jeffrey when she heard he and Liz had split up. Why should she change now?

Liz has had enough. She packs her shit and takes a bus out of Mont Blanc. Ken, Cara, Enid, and Steven all realize she is leaving but no one stops her. I guess I wouldn’t either, seeing as how we’re now nearly 200 pages into the book and the carnival is just now starting. Liz gets home and Jessica calls demanding to know what’s going on. Liz screams at her that she wishes she never had a sister which is way harsh, come on, and hangs up on her. She falls asleep crying and wakes up from a phone call from the hospital. Jessica tried to drive down the mountain after Elizabeth and wrecked the Fiat, and she’s in bad shape. Liz runs outside and into Todd who obviously should be at the banquet. He drives Liz to the hospital and they are told that Jessica died by their pediatrician (pediatrician? they’re 16!) who’s wearing strange glasses. We get a view of the next couple of weeks in which the whole family mourns Jessica and silently blames Liz. Mrs. Wakefield wears her dead daughter’s clothes which is creepy. When Liz finally meets with her friends again at Enid’s house, Enid is wearing Jessica’s silver ski suit (ew! the one she died in?) and Jeffrey and Todd are both there and they get in a fistfight that is flat-out fucking hilarious. By now, you should be fully aware that this is a dream if you somehow didn’t get it initially. Did anyone read this when it first came out and think Jessica really died? I’m just curious.

Here’s the bullshit ending. Liz wakes up to hear Jeffrey and Jessica come into the house and call for her. She is overcome with joy that Jessica is alive and that it was just a nightmare. Jeffrey apologizes for being possessive. And Liz is so grateful that Jessica is alive that she forgives all the crap Jessica did. That’s nice and all, except Liz decides to keep taking Jessica’s shit because “Jessica was Jessica.” That’s right, she’s not going to force her to be accountable for her shitty nature because hey, that’s just the way she is! At least she’s alive! At least she has a sister! It’s okay that she treats Liz like shit and keeps doing it no matter what Liz says! Fucking enabling bullshit! Then they go to the stupid winter carnival and Jeffrey and Todd get along great and everyone has a blast at the stupid carnival doing goody-goody shit and it’s really, really boring. Oh, and I don’t think Liz ever finds out that Jessica had Todd tell her not to go to the banquet with him, so she gets away with that, too.

This book sucks. A fat one.

The cover makes me laugh so hard. Once again, Liz has a totally stupid expression on her face that makes her look like she ate some shrooms. Nice poofy ponytail. I kind of like Jessica’s jacket. I did not say that out loud. Also, the back of the cover mentions this is the twins’ “mid-winter break.” What the fuck is a mid-winter break? Is that like, a break after the regular winter break so no one has to go to class for more than a week or two at a time?

Stuff and Things: Further evidence that the ghostwriters can’t be too creative with names: Todd’s “little brother” is named Timothy Bryce. Jeffrey’s cousin, mentioned in book 32, is named Bryce.

Amy and Jessica have to go to the library to research what the longest river in Africa is. Uh, you mean the NILE RIVER? DUH!

Jeffrey is irritated because Liz uses the excuse that she can’t let Jessica just take the heat for not making dinner, because their parents will be so tired when they get home they won’t feel up to cooking anything, and that’s not fair to them. I was going to say Ned and Alice should just zap something in the damn microwave until I remembered most people probably didn’t have microwaves back in 1986. In fact, I think we didn’t get ours until maybe a year or two after this book was published.

The outfits in these books have always been amusing, but lately they’ve been especially horrendous. I didn’t think anything could beat the tuxedo pants with the bow tie or whatever the fuck that one was in book 1, but I’m thinking Jessica’s sparkly silver ski suit in this one might do it!

More one shot characters: David’s trivia partner, Jake Thomas. Some senior dude named Craig that Lila dances with at the Snow Ball, while wearing a white dress covered in feathers. HAHAHA I told you … these outfits are hilarious!

Liz wears a hideous-sounding silver dress with puffy sleeves, but Jeffrey thinks she is beyond gorgeous in it. I guess that dress would’ve been really popular back then though. Guuuuh … things I don’t miss about the 80s!

The Droids play a godawful song called “Snow Girl” with crappy ass lyrics. I think “Summer Girl” by Tony Sargent was better. And Dana Larson sings it which sounds funny since she’s telling the “Snow Girl” she sets her on fire with desire or something. Maybe Dana is bi and these early books are more diverse than I thought.

In the back of the book are these weird ads for grown-up mystery novels revolving around virgins and shit that I think are really odd for being in a Sweet Valley High book. There’s also an ad to sign up for the Bantam Deadline murder mystery newsletter … get it … Deadline? Hehehe.

Next time, we’ll find out what happened with Sally Larson and her cousin. I really do not want to read it. I just don’t. It sounds boring. I’ll try.

Super Edition #4 Malibu Summer


I was so excited to read this. This was the very first SVH book that I ever purchased. I think I bought it back in 1987 from the Waldenbooks in the mall. In fact, now that I think about it, this is probably the first one I ever read, not Kidnapped! I think this book colored my ideals about how summertime should be for every teenage girl. (Oh, lord.) And the cover definitely fascinated me as a kid. We have Liz and Jess standing on the beach looking just delighted to be there. Jessica is the cool one laughing at something and taking off her sunglasses for a better look. I  wanted that pinky-peach bikini. (Note the past tense.) And, naturally, Liz is the one wearing the stupid-ass matching barrettes (come on, even to the BEACH Liz?!) and crossing her arms self-consciously over her conservative tank suit. I didn’t like Liz’s suit, but I still wound up with one that looked a lot like it when I was 12.  (My mom wouldn’t let me get a bikini until I was 14.)

So summer’s here, AGAIN, and the twins and all their friends have just finished up at least their second junior year.  Actually, I think it might be the third. I’m losing track. George Fowler forces daughter Lila to get a job in Malibu  as a mother’s helper in order to build some discipline or character or some bullshit like that. It’s a little late for that George. Of course, the job she  winds up with is ridiculously cushy and she spends maybe two full minutes the whole summer actually doing anything with the kid. In fact, she describes her duties as reading a bedtime story to the kid each evening. What the fuck kind of shit is that? Hiring someone just to read a story … ahhhh, nevermind. I’m taking this too seriously again.

When Jessica hears about this job, she is all about it and immediately wants to do the same thing. Ned and Alice say she can’t do it unless Liz does, too … why? Who cares? Is Liz supposed to chaperon Jessica? Well, Jess can’t convince Liz to go because Liz has been trying to hook up a summer internship for the Sweet Valley News … until LILA makes Liz feel bad about not giving Jessica what she wants. It only takes two seconds for Lila to make Liz reconsider, because Liz is stupid. Liz, I’m seriously going to smack you. So yeah, Liz gives up her prized internship that she worked so hard for, and prepares for Malibu with the oh-so-strict condition that Jessica do all the work, line up the interviews, and pick the families that they’ll work for. You see where this is going. Jessica is basically going to give herself the best family. She goes and interviews with the lady who runs the agency, who doesn’t appear to check any references. In fact, she pretty much hires the Wakefields solely because they are twins and she thinks the clients will dig knowing that twins are working for the agency. Because twins are such magical, special creatures, like unicorns and mermaids.

Despite Liz’s admonishment that Jessica do all the work, she has to do interviews with both families that the girls have been assigned. Why? Well, because Jessica and Robin Wilson are going to a weekend cheerleading camp together. I guess it’s okay for THEM to have other plans. So Liz reluctantly goes to both interviews and yes, that means she poses as Jessica for one of them.

Jessica has picked out a family called the Sargents for herself. Josh and Lucy Sargent have a three-month-old baby named Sam, so you know there is an ulterior motive for this. Jessica only wants to work for them because Josh Sargent’s cousin is a 17-year-old singer/movie star named Tony Sargent, and Jess thinks he might drop by the house and fall in love with her. He’s apparently already released two gold records and done a movie, but he’s never been mentioned in this series before, and Liz hasn’t even heard of him. He’s the 1986 equivalent of Justin Bieber. He sings pop songs like “You’re on My Mind” and “Tonight Is For You, Girl” and I remember reading about him when I was a New Kids on the Block fan, and being totally charmed. Of course, at 28, I find his lyrics a lot sillier.

Jessica sets Liz up with Malcolm and Audrey Bennett, who have a bratty six-year-old daughter named Taryn. She figures Liz is getting the raw end of the deal but will get over it. What a good sister, that Jessica.

Elizabeth goes to interview with the Sargents as Jessica, and finds the house is actually super tiny, six miles away from the beach, crammed full of boxes, and worst of all, Jessica will be staying in a cramped room on a cot, just inches away from the baby’s crib. Then Liz drives to see the Bennetts, and sees that they live in a HUGE oceanview mansion with a whole separate wing for Taryn, and that there’s a housekeeper named Maria who also looks after Taryn. Liz is so stupid she actually thinks Jessica willingly took the Sargent assignment and gave Liz the better house to make up for Liz having to skip out on her internship. Liz, you never learn, do you?

When Jessica arrives at the Sargents and sees the house, she is devastated. Josh also tells her that they haven’t seen Tony in three years and he never comes around. Serves her right! But she perks up a bit when she meets the Bennetts’ hot next door neighbor, Cliff Sherman, who just graduated from high school. Jessica spends a good deal of the rest of the book trying to get Liz to switch assignments with her, but Liz isn’t having it. That’s right Liz, grow that backbone! Jessica tries to change Liz’s mind by pretending she’s allergic to the Sargents’ cat, Spot. Liz isn’t buying it because Jess had allergy tests a few years ago when she tried to claim that she was allergic to dishwashing soap, and everything came out fine. Hah!

The back of the cover tell us that Jessica “desperately tries to get bronzed Cliff Sherman to notice her” but there’s really nothing desperate going on here … all she has to do is smile at him! There’s a mild conflict where Jessica has to convince Liz to babysit for Sam so she can go to a big party Cliff is throwing in honor of his visiting friend. One page later, Liz has agreed to watch Sam. Jessica goes to the party, and she and Cliff are an item for the rest of the book. Yawn. (Do people really throw parties in honor of visiting friends that often? It seems like a nice gesture, but still …) Cliff is okay; he jogs and he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality. So he’s perfect for Jessica.

Lila brags about how she wants to meet a hot older man like the hero in a romance novel she’s reading. Then she falls for Cliff’s friend Ben Horgan, whom she meets at the mall. She just assumes Ben is older than she is. They take a romantic walk, and Ben acts weird about his age, but finally admits he’s only fifteen (big deal!) and won’t be sixteen till September … oh, how horrible. Jessica finds out about Ben’s age from Cliff, and she gives Lila a hard time about it and pisses her off. Um, remember Dennis Creighton, Jessica? Ben offers to teach Lila how to windsurf. She already took lessons last summer but she pretends she doesn’t know how to do it so that Ben can feel like a great teacher. Why do chicks always pull this in these books? That’s a bad message to send if you ask me. Lila and Ben fall in love. I kind of don’t like Ben; he sounds like a douche.

Little Taryn Bennett hates Elizabeth and Cliff and her parents and everyone else. Her parents neglect her and she’s miserable. But Jessica tells her fun “secrets” about a “wicked little girl named Taryn.” Taryn likes Jessica’s style. Haha, take that, Liz.

On the night of Cliff’s big party, Liz is babysitting when the Sargents’ friend Jamie Galbraith, a college junior at Yale, stops by. He’s all intellectual and 21, and he talks about literature and gets Liz all hot and bothered. They share a slow dance and she freaks the fuck out when he’s about to kiss her. I have to say that is a little skeezy for an adult to be after some jailbait babysitter that he just met. But Liz’s main problem is that her parents wouldn’t approve. Liz, you’re on vacation. WHO CARES? She’s also afraid to tell Jessica because then Jessica would have to hide it from their parents and that would be such a burden on her. LIZ. HOW MANY OLDER GUYS HAS YOUR SISTER DATED, EXACTLY? DIDN’T YOU HAVE TO COVER FOR HER WHEN SHE GOT STRANDED OVERNIGHT WITH ONE? GEEEEEEEE …

Lar lar lar, Liz keeps seeing Jamie secretly but feels guilty about it. Give me a fucking break. They fall madly in love and Liz is shocked because she hasn’t felt this way about anyone since Todd. Of course, we quickly learn that Jamie is really famous Tony Sargent in hiding from a stalker who wants to kill him. You see, Tony was lonely on the road, so he “had a drink” with a groupie named Lisa. I gather that is code for “had a one-night stand”. It turned out Lisa had a crazed boyfriend in jail named Frankie LaSalle. Now Frankie is out and he’s going to kill Tony for “messing around” with Lisa. To protect Tony, Tony’s manager, Jody, hired “professional makeup men” to give him a new look … and all they did was dye his hair, give him colored contacts, and have him wear wire-rimmed glasses. Uh, couldn’t he have done all that on his own?

Liz and Jamie/Tony go on romantic dates to the Beach Cafe, and Liz makes a big deal out of how she is going to tell her parents. What a goody-goody. You’re on your own on a beach trip; do what you want! Well, to be fair, it sounds like Liz and Tony were planning on making their summer romance a year-round deal.

Frankie tricks Tony’s secretary into telling him where he is by saying he is a policeman (over the phone). Right. Now he’s on his way to Malibu to kill Tony for banging his girlfriend.

A huge storm blows up one night. Taryn has come down with a horrible fever, but no one thinks to take her to the hospital. She gets out of bed and overhears her parents arguing, and she packs a tiny suitcase and runs away. In the middle of the storm, Jessica drives to the Bennetts’ house on instinct to see if Liz is okay, but Liz isn’t there because she’s at the Beach Cafe again with Jamie. Jess and Maria decide to get Taryn and leave the house because the storm is too dangerous. Jessica is afraid the house will wash over the cliffs or something. Come on, is this a hurricane?!

Maria discovers Taryn is gone and she and Jess run out to look for her. The police find Taryn trapped on a broken footbridge over a rushing river, but Taryn won’t come to them. Jessica finally gets Taryn to come to her by yelling out one of her secrets just seconds before the footbridge breaks completely apart. Taryn is extremely ill and is rushed to the hospital. She keeps asking for Jessica and it’s really sweet. Awwww. And, because all family matters and life-and-death issues can be wrapped up very neatly in Sweet Valley World, Jessica has Taryn’s mom tell Taryn a secret herself, about how everything’s going to be okay with them from now on. Malcolm and Audrey apologize for being shit parents and make up with Taryn and with one another. So Taryn pulls through. This is at least the second book where someone has to have the “will” to live and Jessica solves it. (See also: Book 10.) I love this place.

Back to Liz and Jamie. Crazy Frankie goes to the Sargents’ house and poses as Jody the manager. Lucy tells him where Jamie has gone. Then the REAL Jody comes by later to check on Jamie, and they all nearly have a heart attack. Frankie finds Jamie and Liz right as Jamie is about to tell Liz that he’s really Tony Sargent. Frankie attacks Tony with a huge knife, slicing open his shoulder. Liz clunks Frankie over the head with a pewter vase and saves the day. By now she’s figured out who Jamie really is. She basically gives him the cold shoulder and refuses to talk to him because she doesn’t see the point in trying to carry on the relationship. After all, Tony will be on tour all the time soon, banging groupies like Lisa. She’s also suspicious that Tony couldn’t possibly have really loved her, even though he calls her at least three times following this incident. She also thinks that Tony is nothing like literary, studious “Jamie” she fell in love with. Uh, well that’s a hell of a character to fake. What did he do, study Cliffs Notes so he could talk about literature with Liz? Come on. Liz is devastated because Jamie/Tony is the only boy she has really loved since Todd. Jessica thinks Liz is being stupid to not even talk to Tony, and I have to agree with her.

Tony throws a benefit concert and leaves free tickets for everyone at the Malibu Inn, where he’s now staying. Jessica and Cliff keep trying to set Liz up with Cliff’s hot (and literature-inclined) friend Brent, but Liz isn’t having it. (Brent? It’s another name repeat. Enid went after some dude named Brent a few books back.) So then they finally convince Liz to go to the concert with them. The Number One (an L.A. band from book 29) is the opening band. Then Tony comes on stage and he says he’s written a new song for Liz. Even though Liz is pretty much in the front row, he still says “Liz, if you’re out there” so I guess he is blind. Liz is shocked that Tony hasn’t forgotten her yet and she cries hysterically because his love is the best she has ever known. No, really. The song is called “Summer Girl” and it goes like this:

“Summer girl, I think I always knew

My whole life, that it was you.”

That’s deep.

Stuff and Things: Why do Tony Sargent’s relatives seem to be poor? Can’t he help them out a little? And how can they afford to hire a mother’s helper if they’re so broke? I don’t get it.

The plot itself is surprisingly thin for a Super Edition, and of course it is crappier than my 6- or 7-year-old self thought it was. I finished the book really, really fast.

All of the events in the book take place before the 4th of July.

Liz tells Jamie/Tony that she doesn’t know much about music. But in book 28, she spent a lot of time chatting with Enid about music and she even went to The Music Shop (or whatever the generic name was) to check out some records.

Speaking of generic names … The Beach Cafe, The Music Shop, The Tennis Shop, The Malibu Inn … why are there so many unoriginal names in these books?

As usual, Enid is almost entirely left out of a Super Edition. Good.

Lila tells Ben that she just finished her junior year. Hahaha. Yes, for the second (third, actually) time she has.

Mr. Fowler hooked Lila up with her hot job because the people are clients of his. Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Next up … a new school year has supposedly begun. So now we’re back to school and I guess, following the publication timeline, we are supposed to assume that Sandra Bacon spent the whole summer glowering about her best friend Jean wanting to join HER sorority, Pi Beta Alpha. Man, Sandra’s had a lot of time to stew about that shit. This is going to get nasty!

Super Edition #3 Spring Break

It’s April 1986 and we’re on to the third Super Edition, and the twins are off to the South of France for 10 days as part of an exchange program between Sweet Valley and Cannes. The back cover informs us that “Elizabeth can’t wait to practice her French, but Jessica’s dying to meet those romantic French boys.” Of course. Now, if I’m not mistaken this is the twins’ second, possibly third spring break. The first one was in book 11. Then there was a strange one week break from school in book 21, and since that was right before the first Super Edition summer, I guess we have to assume that unnamed break = spring break. Then they had the first winter break with Super Edition 2, and now we are back to spring again. Why do I do this to myself?

Let’s talk about the cover. Is that a green coat Liz is wearing? She looks like a psycho with that weird expression. In fact, it’s really quite hysterical if you look at it for too long. And Jessica is apparently so delighted to be in Europe that she’s doing an impromptu joyous striptease. At least we get a decent background for a change … are they near a lake?
The twins’ host family consists of a lady named Avery Glize and her 17-year-old son, Rene (that’s Re-nay – I don’t know how to do the accent mark over the ‘e” and I’m much too lazy to figure it out), and younger daughter Ferney who stays with the Wakefields. Of course, the Wakefields noticed right off the bat that there is no Monsieur Glize and appear genuinely shocked and curious as to why this isn’t a nuclear family. Groan. The family picture the Glizes send to the Wakefields shows Ferney with her head to the side so no one can see her face. It makes so much sense that they would choose to send that one shitty picture.
Avery, a nurse, is very nice to the twins, but Rene acts like a dick and makes bitchy comments about “you Americans” as soon as they meet him. It’s a shame because Liz started crushing on Rene as soon as she saw his picture, and Jessica desperately wants them to hook up because the only Sweet Valley people who are single for too long clearly have something wrong with them. While the twins ride to the Glizes’ house in Cannes, Rene quietly bitches to Avery about stupid Americans and “my father” so I guess it’s pretty obvious that his dad was an American and that’s why he hates all Americans. Of course, it’s going to take a bunch of meddling from Liz to figure this out, so we aren’t supposed to have caught on yet. Jessica instantly hates Rene since he’s a big jerk, but she acts like a 6-year-old about it. Seriously, does anyone above that age stick their tongue out at people? Jess goes for a jog with Liz (I had no idea they jogged) and takes off with some rich kid she meets named Marc Marchieller, who turns out to be totally boring. That leaves Liz with Rene, whom Avery has ordered to be kind to the twins. You see, Avery thinks forcing her son to hang out with two Americans is the best way to get him to stop being so full of hatred for Americans. Sounds great.
Rene takes Liz out to lunch with his friends Edouard and Georges who scold Rene for being mean to Liz. They don’t like that Rene is yelling at the waiter that Liz needs more ketchup because she’s American. This just makes him hate Liz even more.
Rene ultimately deserts Liz despite his mom’s insistence that he show the twins around, so Liz decides to spend some time by herself while Jessica is off with Marc again, who is still boring her. Liz finds a lost puppy named Nykki, who happens to belong to a Countess with a hot grandson named Jean-Claude. The Countess loves Liz (shocker), but Jean-Claude and Liz don’t really click. But Jean-Claude does let it slip that Rene is afraid of the water because his best friend Antoine drowned in the Mediterranean some years ago and Rene couldn’t save him. Liz feels pity and you know she’s on a mission to show Rene the light. Liz goes ahead and makes plans to hang out with Jean-Claude soon anyway because she doesn’t have any other friends here besides the Countess. But then she accidentally stands him up because of an emergency errand she had to run for Avery, and a traffic accident that slows up her bus and makes her late getting back to the house to meet him, wah wah. (Liz gets out of the bus to inspect the accident, naturally, and I seriously thought she was going to solve the issue herself!)
Liz did leave a note saying she might be late because of the errand, but Jessica gets home first (fleeing from Marc, who naturally has a puppy dog crush on her), sees the note, and then is bowled over when hot Jean-Claude arrives. J.C. has no idea that Liz has a twin and assumes Jessica is Liz, and Jess keeps up the charade because she wants a piece of that ass. The fake “Liz” and Jean-Claude fall in love, and Jessica sneaks around with him behind Liz’s back for a few days and lets Liz think that Jean-Claude is mad at her, and that it’s Marc Jess is with the whole time. So when Marc shows up at the Glize house looking for Jessica and saying he hasn’t seen her in days, Liz is a little surprised and wonders who Jess’s mystery man is. She’s with J.C., DUH. Liz agrees to go with Marc to an art gallery where they meet Veronique, the daughter of a famous painter named Joseph Gallirere or something. The painter thinks Liz is unusually astute for a 16-year-old (*eye roll*), Veronique and Liz become friends, and Marc falls for Veronique. Aw, now Liz is the only one left all alone. You know the book won’t let it stay that way for long.
Back at the Glize house, Liz tries to bond with Rene when she finds out his dad has been sending him letters every month from America, which Rene throws away without reading. It only takes a couple of pages for Liz to convince Rene to open the letter. I mean, she’s really badgering him about it and I kind of want to stuff the letter up her nose. But then Jessica comes in and ruins the whole thing. Rene is back to hating Americans again. But you know what’s really funny? Rene bitches at Liz for being all up in everyone’s business. It’s funny because it’s true.
Naturally, it takes a near-tragedy to get Rene over his hatred and fear of both Americans and the ocean. A storm blows up at sea while Jean-Claude and Jessica are out on an island making out. Liz runs into Rene again and he tells Liz that Jessica’s mystery man is Jean-Claude and that Jean-Claude thinks Jess is Liz. Liz is furious but surprises Rene by insisting they go to find Jessica and J.C. and save them. I guess Rene thinks Americans are so evil that Liz would just want Jessica to drown. Liz only briefly stops to think of her dead cousin Rexy and her previous accident before hopping on the back of Rene’s moped. She got over that quick. They arrive at the beach just in time to see Jessica get knocked unconscious by the boom on Jean-Claude’s capsizing boat. It takes Jean-Claude, Rene, and Liz working together to save her. Liz realizes that J.C. and Jess have fallen in real love and helps to keep up the charade by pretending to be Jessica. Later, Jessica tells the Countess and J.C. who she really is, and of course the Countess thinks it’s “intriguing” and of course J.C. still loves her. OF COURSE. Remember that dumb shit with Bill Chase in books 7-8? That’s the way it works when you’re from Sweet Valley, kids.
Of course Rene gets over his fears, of course he does it with Elizabeth’s help, and of course it takes a major near-tragedy to hammer it all home. I’m glad to know that’s all it takes to get someone to stop being prejudiced!
Now that Rene has magically transformed from an ass to a nice person, he and Liz hook up and admit they both thought the other was hot from the very beginning. Rene felt he had to be extra assy to her to fight the feeling of wanting to jump her bones. Awwwww, how sweet.
Meanwhile, back in North America, Ferney arrives and Steven is shocked to find she resembles Tricia Martin. He immediately forgets all about Cara and starts hanging around Ferney nonstop and salivating over her every movement, convinced she is the living version of Tricia. There’s a whole boring scene where Ned and Alice discuss the situation. Of course Ned decides it’s not worth worrying about and Alice just goes along with what he says. Well, Ferney sucks at English and Steven sucks at French, so they wind up just hanging around mooning over each other until Steven’s friend David arrives to help translate. Steven realizes Ferney isn’t anything like Tricia (no, really Steve? You mean two people can look the same but be very different? Like some twins do? Hmmmm); he just assumed she was but she’s rather shallow. By this point, he has completely ignored Cara and made her feel so bad that she’s reduced to confiding in Enid, of all people. But when Steven sees how wrong he was about Ferney, he suddenly remembers Cara exists, comes over to her apartment and apologizes to her, tells her she’s special, she forgives him, and damn, why are we not done hearing about Tricia Martin yet? Come on! Man Cara, dump this guy. Seriously, what if Ferney HAD been just like Tricia? Then what? Would Steven have hopped a plane back to France with her?
The book ends without us ever seeing what really goes down between Rene and Liz. We just know they like each other and have a date, and there’s only a few more days left on the vacation. Come on, don’t leave us guessing like that! I can only hope this will be addressed in the secret diary editions much later. I do have to say I got tired of every adult Liz met telling her how intelligent and perceptive she is. Yeah, yeah, WE KNOW!
Little details: This book was written when it was still kosher for people to smoke on airplanes, as the announcer tells everyone to put out their “smoking materials.”
The twins poke at their airplane meals and talk about how gross it is. You know, I’ve been flying since I was very little, and I seriously have never had airplane food that I thought was truly gross. Maybe I am just unusually blessed?
France was still using the franc for currency when this book was published.
This is apparently Lila’s third trip to France, but neither she nor any of the other Sweet Valley kids appear anywhere in Cannes alongside the twins. It’s kind of nice to have a break from those kids for a change! (And the Ms. Dalton/Mr. Collins drama)
Jessica once dated some dude named Chuck Wollman, who was “tiny.” Hmmm … uh …
I love the way there’s always a good reason for someone being a crappy person, and it’s usually the parental units. Rene is a jackass because of his parents. Suzanne Devlin was a jackass because of her parents. Oh, need we go on?
One of the reasons Steven thinks Ferney is just like Tricia is because he mistakenly thinks she wants to be a scientist — just like Tricia did. I don’t remember hearing about this before, I really don’t.
Marc takes Jessica to a private beach where everyone goes topless. Jessica whips off her own top and then dives face-down onto her towel while blushing furiously. Are we really supposed to believe Jessica would be shy about this?
Occasionally this Super Edition will randomly go into a stupid melodramatic sentence, like many SV books. But I think this one may be the worst I’ve read in ANY Sweet Valley book so far: “An oasis of sympathy sprang up in the desert of anger that Elizabeth had felt.” WOW.
I think it is strange that Ferney barely knows any English. She’s in an exchange program for language classes. At my school, you had to have taken a minimum of two years of the language before you could go on the exchange trip. Of course, I know it’s different when you learn a language in a class and then go to a foreign country and hear someone else speak it, but still! Also, Jessica is terrible at the language when she arrives, and then halfway through the trip she’s suddenly fluent. I don’t think I need to tell you that Liz was perfect from the beginning.
Here’s another random place to add to all the others: Estrella Beach! Steven talks about taking Ferney out there.
The back of this book tells us this is a pretty late printing as it has an ad/order form for SVH Super Thrillers and Super Stars, which were published much later, boys and girls. Lord, I can’t believe I’m still doing this.
Now it’s back to our regular SVH books. It is always hard for me to go back to those after reading the fun Super Editions. And yes, our next one is about Liz meddling in some poor soul’s life, this time back on American soil. I wonder how many books in a row this makes about her fucking meddling.

Super Edition #2 Special Christmas

It’s time to meticulously chart every detail of another Sweet Valley Super Edition. This one is easily one of the most contrived ones I’ve read yet. Get ready!
It’s Christmas time in Sweet Valley and the twins are still juniors, despite their also being juniors during the last spring break. Yeah, yeah, it’s like a comic strip — they never age until a new SV series is needed. Anyway! That last spring break took place in book 11, when Suzanne Devlin visited and proceeded to traumatize Sweet Valley forever. (You can read more about her in my review of that book.) This would be but a distant memory for all the Sweet Valley kids, but now Ned and Alice Wakefield have done their children the ultimate “fuck you” gesture by agreeing that Suzanne can stay at their house for the holidays in order for her to have a chance to convince the town to forgive her. (Mr. Collins has apparently already forgiven her for accusing him of trying to rape her — chump.) Steve finds out and exposes the plan to the twins, who desperately try to convince their parents to keep Suzanne from coming. It doesn’t work, and so Jess and Steve then force Liz (by way of tickling – ew) to call Suzanne and try to convince her not to come. Liz is way too nice when she talks to Suzanne, so Suzanne continues with her plans to visit. It would’ve been better if Liz had been a complete bitch to her on the phone, but since she wasn’t, the Wakefield kids and their friends decide to be as bitchy to Suzanne as possible while she’s there to make her want to go home early. They appear especially concerned for the welfare of Winston Egbert and Aaron Dallas, who had crushes on “Suzy” last time. I guess those guys can’t man up and get over it. And what the hell did Suzy do to Aaron anyway, except go with him to a dance and get bored with him?
Meanwhile, there are plenty of other Christmas festivities planned at SVHS, which is funny because I’m reading this in politically correct 2010, and there’s no mention of any other winter holiday at all here. Hahaha. There’s a Secret Santa giveaway that apparently only involves the junior class (despite the book’s claim to the contrary), a big dance at the Patmans’ mansion, a holiday parade, and a “Miss Christmastime” pageant. Another beauty pageant?! Aside from trying to sabotage Suzanne, Jessica is busy crushing hard on a German exchange student named Hans and engaging in a stupid war for the Miss Christmastime title with Lila Fowler. They want to win so they can ride in a float in the parade and wave at people. Meanwhile, Liz just wants to get her hands on Todd and his “coffee-brown eyes” – he’s visiting Sweet Valley again and staying with Ken.

The story of Suzanne takes up most of the book, with the kids getting progressively more juvenile and assy as they try to think of a good way to get her to go home. They:

  • Generally act like jerks to her, making snide comments and pretending they forgot she was coming, where’s she’s from, etc.
  • Go all summer camp pranks with plans to short-sheet the bed and put burned-out lightbulbs in Jess’s room while Suzy is staying there. That’ll get her.
  • Have Aaron and Winston send Suzy “Secret Santa” bullshit like a note telling her to go home, a gift box with nothing in it, and a prank call
  • Have Aaron ask her to a party at his cousin Eddie’s house, then give her directions to an abandoned, supposedly haunted house on Forrest Lane (which I guess must be in the area of town Betsy Martin and Annie Whitman live in, haha, since it’s a “bad area”)
Of course, Liz feels bad about it the whole time, and Steven eventually feels so bad he drops out of these childish schemes. But the joke’s on the kids. Oh my lord, this is just so dumb. It turns out Suzanne found out she has multiple sclerosis and that’s why she is so desperate to make amends with everyone in Sweet Valley. She explained the situation to the Wakefield parents, and they actually agreed to keep this a secret from the kids so that Suzanne could get them to forgive her on their own terms. Come on Suzy, why didn’t you just write them a letter and let it go? The Wakefield twins do notice that Suzanne looks pale and too thin, but she pretends she was on a diet recently, which of course gets Jess to suggest putting butter in her food to make Suzanne fat. Why am I not surprised? Getting fat in SVH (read: gaining half a pound or more) is the ultimate punishment. When they notice that Suzanne has a lot of prescription meds and gets dizzy a lot, Jess does what anyone would do and tells people she is a drug addict.
It gets better. It also turns out that Suzanne and Todd met again in Vermont about a month ago, when Todd and his new friend Jerry Peterson went on a ski trip to “Killington”. We get a flashback of this scene and see how Jerry tried to get with Suzy but struck out, but Suzy did hang out with Todd. She apologized for her previous behavior and Todd almost kissed her until she suddenly mentioned Liz and shocked him back to reality. But there wound up being major sexual tension between them, heh heh. So now Todd can’t look at Suzy without flipping out because he’s fallen in love with her, and Suzy stupidly drops a fucking vase of Jessica’s flowers when she sees Todd at the Wakefield house. (Apparently Suzanne understands that Todd has some kind of boner going on for her, although I still don’t get why she would react that way at seeing him. Seriously, her melodramatics are getting a little tiring.) Todd hasn’t said anything about seeing Suzanne to Liz, so Jess determines Todd had some kind of “tryst” with Suzy behind Liz’s back, but decides not to tell Liz so she won’t hurt her. But of course, in reality, Todd and Suzy didn’t even kiss. I think it’s a huge shame that they didn’t; that would throw some real drama in the mix and teach Liz to run off with Nicholas Morrow all the time. Hahaha.
In the end, the last prank — the “Get Suzy to go to abandoned shack” trick — fails when Suzy’s medicine mixes with the champagne she had and she passes out and wrecks the Fiat on the way there. Everything comes out and Jessica is immediately horrified with herself, but you know she’ll pull this shit again at some point. Liz has decided she and Todd don’t belong together anymore, and as the Wakefields rush to the hospital to see if Suzy will be okay, she realizes Todd is in love with Suzanne and is surprisingly okay with it. (I call bullshit.) Of course, Suzy’s condition goes from “seriously injured” to “concussion” and everything there seems A-OK.
At the Patmans’ big party, Todd and Liz can agree their feelings aren’t quite the same and finally end their boring, drawn-out long distance relationship, and Todd and Suzanne start dating later. Honestly, I think Liz would be pretty pissed off that Todd never told her about meeting Suzanne before, but hey! IT’S CHRISTMAS! THE SEASON OF GOODWILL! (That’s what the Wakefields keep rubbing in their kids’ faces, anyway.) Mr. Collins tells the whole school about Suzanne’s MS at the Patman party and everyone is so concerned … BUT! The doctors were wrong! Suzanne doesn’t have MS! She has …. a RARE COMPLICATION! From MONONUCLEOSIS! They were MISTAKEN! It’s going to be okay! She’s won’t be “trapped in a wheelchair”! It’s a Christmas miracle!
I am totally not making this up.
As for Miss Christmastime? Jessica winds up helping as a Santa’s elf at the mall on behalf of Pi Beta Alpha, but Lila gets Cara to (unknowingly) give her the wrong info so that she has to stay there way past the time of the pageant. Lila wins, but Jessica gets back at her by switching their outfits on the day of the parade. Jessica gets to ride in the parade and Lila has to ride on another float as the elf. I have no idea how that actually worked out that way, but whatever. It’s Sweet Valley – we weren’t meant to question it too much (but you know I always do anyway). Lila kind of gets the last laugh though when it turns out that Hans is her Secret Santa — Winston’s was Jess’s. Hans appears to have the hots for Lila even though he was smooching Jessica at the Dairi Burger several chapters back. (“Those foreigners really know how to kiss!”)
One thing that bugs me is that Suzanne blames her prior behavior on being mad at her diplomat parents for abandoning her so much. She also blames the behavior of her ex-boyfriend Pete (who tried to rape Jessica in book 11) on trouble “with his parents.” Apparently in Sweet Valley World, everyone has a reason for being a dick, and it has to do with not having a perfect family like the Wakefields’.

Some other bullshit: John Pfeifer hits Liz in the back of the neck with a paper ball and she yells “Ow!” Wimp!

Steven and Cara are both in this book, but there is zero mention of the fact that they just started dating in the previous book.
AND, whereas Tricia’s death is overly dramatized throughout most of the rest of the series, in this book she isn’t mentioned at all. The only reference of her is reduced to “a personal problem” that Steve “had been very busy with” the last time Suzanne visited!
Ken Matthews tells Liz, “Todd Wilkins will be all the Secret Santa you can handle.” Liz thinks, I hope so. Am I the only one with a mind dirty enough to see the humor in this?
Here’s another one: “Santa’s eyes twinkled as he looked Jessica up and down.”
The Secret Santa drawings are described as being for the whole school, but everyone who draws the names gets somebody in the junior class (except for Jessica getting Bruce Patman).
Liz frets over what to get Todd for Christmas. She thinks a wallet would be too extravagant, but apparently a watch band wasn’t for his birthday a few books ago. Plus, can’t you just get some cheapo wallet? I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than 10 bucks for a wallet.
Jessica owes Pi Beta Alpha seventeen dollars in dues, which Liz considers a lot. Uh, really? Yet you guys can afford to use your allowances to get your parents dinner theater tickets (book 20)? And you are shocked when you see a teenager who has to get a job (Ricky Capaldo, book 21)?
Ned and Alice explain to their kids that they can’t do anything to stop Suzanne from coming to Sweet Valley. Uh, how about just saying “No”?
Jessica is sheepish about Suzanne’s boyfriend Pete attempting to rape her (in book 11) when Steven asks her about it. Of course, we then get the typical paragraph about how she can usually “handle” the boys she dates, but Pete got out of control. #1, it sounds like they are implying Jess is responsible for keeping boys from raping her. And #2, they say this like he’s the only one who’s done that to her so far! (See book 3, book 5, Super Edition 1, etc.) And once again the book can’t use words like “rape” or “sex”!
Speaking of that shit with Pete and Jessica … Jessica threw herself at him for days, knowing he was dating Suzy, and not knowing that Suzanne was a bad person. So Jessica basically went after another girl’s man … the same thing she thinks Suzanne is doing to Todd. But she always gets away with it because she’s a Wakefield. If you ask me, Suzanne is looking like a better person than Jess.
Liz calls Suzanne “Demolition Devlin” and Jess calls her “Devil-Face Devlin”
Ned and Alice are such great parents that they force Jessica to give up her room and bunk with Liz while Suzanne is there. Okay, seriously, WTF! You’re already forcing this chick your kids hate on them at CHRISTMAS; now you’re going to insist she stay in one of their rooms when there’s a perfectly good den and two studies downstairs! (Don’t Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield each have their own study?) Jessica complains that the last time Suzanne stayed in her room, it “smelled like perfume for months”. Yet Alice insists that “it’s the best place” and then immediately insists that Jessica clean up this “best place” because it’s too big of a mess for anyone to stay there in its current state! Uh … so make Liz give up her pristine room then?
Aaron is now dating Patsy Webber. Remember her? She was Todd’s serious girlfriend before Liz.
Suzanne thinks to herself that she doesn’t want to get in the way of Aaron’s relationship with Patsy, yet she doesn’t seem to think it’s a bad idea for him to take her to the Patmans’ dance instead of Patsy. Jessica, meanwhile, tells Aaron that Suzanne wants to “seduce” him. Hey, there’s a word close to sex.
When a cop sees Suzy wreck the Fiat, he yells, “Jesus!” Watch your language! Kids are reading this!
Suzanne apologizes to Jessica for what Pete did to her. Jessica’s sardonic reply includes, “Well, it’s true that I’m not used to that sort of thing … Out here in small-town America, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen every day.” LIES!
Enid comes to the Dairi Burger with another date, Chip Ettelson, a freshman at Sweet Valley College. Honestly, these SVC kids must troll the halls of SVHS for fresh jailbait.
Olivia Davidson’s Secret Santa has the swim team serenade her at the Dairi Burger. Stan Richards is one of the swim team members. Who the hell is that?
Liz claims she has “never really been the jealous type” which is a HUGE LIE.
I don’t want to go into the whole MS vs. mono shit. But I will mention that Suzanne’s doctor flies in from New York to check on her or something after she’s in the hospital, and breaks the news to her. I find that weird, but I find it even weirder that no one mentions a lawsuit for medical malpractice (with “I’m Every Lawyer” Ned taking the case, of course).
Suzanne was over-the-top sweet to everyone in book 11, but it was part of a fake act; she was just trying to fuck with them. Now she’s still over-the-top sweet, but it’s supposed to be her natural behavior. Give me a damn break.
Finally, Ned Wakefield has an obsession with decorating their tree in blue and silver, and the Patmans’ tree is decorated that way at their dance. I have Jewish friends who decorate trees and bushes that way for Hanukkah. And that’s the closest we have to a multicultural reference in this book, and I’m sure the ghostwriters didn’t even realize.
The cover is very appropriate for the season, but Liz’s eyelids have some weird creases in them, and Jess’s hand looks odd all up on her shoulder like that.
The back of the book has a contest to be a Sweet Dreams cover girl. Must be a perfect size six.
Next, we’ll get back to the regular schedule with Emily Mayer’s problems at home. And by the way, I think it’s weird that Todd and Liz’s official, “final” breakup happens in a Super Edition. Just sayin’.

Super Edition #1 Perfect Summer

Oh God, do I have to read this? That was my first thought upon looking at this book. You see, I already read it once before, and it was rather craptastic. I’ve always loved a good Super Edition, but this one was really stupid. In the interest of keeping with my goal to read (or re-read) every single SVH book from beginning to end — to make sure I don’t miss any of the excruciating little details! — I went for it. You know I can’t miss a chance to over-analyze this one along with all the rest!

A Super Edition, in case you didn’t know, is a lengthier tome that isn’t part of the “regular” series but whose events always fit in the timeline (or are supposed to). Super Editions are a treasured part of most YA series. In SVH’s case, there were originally six released, with two each for the summer, winter, and spring seasons respectively. (Eventually, more were put out.)

So, here’s the gist of our first SVH Super Edition. The Sweet Valley kids are going on a bike trip up the coast for the summer. I guess Liz and Jess put off those tour guide jobs they were so excited about several books ago. Anyway, we’ve got Lila, Todd, Olivia, Annie, Bruce, Roger, Principal “Chrome Dome” Cooper’s nephew – Ohio kid Barry Cooper, and Bruce’s friend Charlie Markus coming along for the ride. Enid and Cara are staying at home so Jessica and Liz can write gossipy letters to them. And, I’ll give you one guess who’s going to chaperone! That’s right, Mr. Roger Collins, and his recent love interest Nora Dalton, who apparently broke up with him recently for an as-yet-unstated reason.

One of the key attributes of a typical Super Edition is, along with the holiday season, vacation, and/or momentous event that christens it, we also must have some type of conflict for everyone in the book. So here’s everyone’s respective problem:
The main issue is, surprise surprise!, Elizabeth and Todd‘s. You see, early on the trip the class stops at Patman friend Steve Thomas’s giant mansion to spend the night (in tents in the backyard — wtf?), where they meet his over-the-top spoilt rich bitch daughter, Courtney Thomas. Courtney makes a big deal out of being snotty to everybody while openly defying her dad’s wishes that she not date a motorcycle-driving baaaaad boy named Nolan Ruggers. Yet when her dad suggests she join the goody-goody SVH trip in order to get her away from Nolan and provide her with discipline, she is surprisingly agreeable to the idea. Elizabeth and Jessica are promptly suspicious, especially when Courtney sucks up to the whole group and spends most of her time either crying and sniffling all over Todd about her terribly rough life (more on this later), or randomly disappearing from the group. Liz is terribly upset and jealous while Todd, total douche that he is, acts like Liz is a complete bitch for not supporting poor wittle Courtney.
Jessica is crushing wildly on a dude named Robbie October (yes, that’s really his name!), but every time she runs into him, Bruce calls her out on her shit and embarrasses her in front of him. Robbie is clearly like every other older jackass Jess pursues, but even after she hears that he got kicked out of a youth hostel for tossing beer cans out the window, she still wants to cocktease him a little.
Olivia doesn’t really have any conflicts other than trying to support Roger as he and Bruce bicker at one another about whether or not Roger is a “real” Patman. Oh, Bruce, I thought snagging Regina had made you a kindler, gentler Patman!
Barry Cooper is apparently very fat and ridiculously clumsy. He lusts after Jessica and gets picked on by Bruce constantly.
Lila hates Ms. Dalton‘s guts because she’s dating her father again. Roger Collins (as he’s referred to pretty much every single time in this book) can’t understand why Nora left him and is devastated, but he spends more time ruminating on Courtney and Liz. *eye roll*
Charlie and Annie keep trying to get together, but are stopped by Bruce’s taunts about Annie’s old slut days. Again, pot calling the kettle black, Bruce. (I have no idea what happened to Ricky Capaldo; Liz’s first letter to Enid explains they broke up but are still good friends.) Annie thinks Charlie agrees with Bruce and spends some time sitting around crying about that. I’m not even going to waste time on this plotline, as eventually Charlie explains she just misheard him, and they reunite.
The Liz-Todd-Courtney triangle is unbelievably tiresome. First of all, I can’t stand Todd, and this book just proves my point about what a douche he is. He can’t seem to understand why his girlfriend is upset that he’s spending all his time with Courtney, hugging her on all the rides at Disneyland, and snuggling up to her in her sleeping bag/holding her hand when she cries, very unconvincingly, that her father is a secret alcoholic and that’s why he sent her on this trip. He rails against Liz for even daring to express doubts about precious Courtney, and eventually they break up (for at least the third or fourth time, already) when Liz says she can’t take it anymore. Of course, we’re already on to Courtney after we read a ridiculously stupid letter she writes to Nolan, explaining that she is charming Todd away from Liz so that she can bring Todd home, convince her father she’s changed, and then … go back to Nolan? This plan MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL (and I don’t know why I expected it to).
Meanwhile, Jessica hates Courtney’s guts, as well as Todd’s for making her sister so miserable. She and Lila are initially a team against Courtney and Ms. Dalton (because they’re apparently still in grade school), but eventually start fighting after Lila seems charmed by Courtney’s fake-alky-dad story. Lila goes out of her way to make Ms. Dalton miserable, doing dumb shit like sticking lime Jell-O in the bottom of her sleeping bag. But she finds much a better tactic after she meets two dudes from Arizona, Pat and Don, at one of the youth hostels, who help her unravel that Ms. Dalton is REALLY Beth Curtis, a young divorcee who left her abusive, rich husband behind and was subsequently shunned by the community when he killed himself later. Now Mr. Fowler has subtly blackmailed Ms. Dalton into dating him again by implying he knows the whole story and will give her away to Ms. Dalton’s ex’s crazyass family if she doesn’t become his paramour. That’s really fucked up. Nice work, old George. Lila doesn’t know that Nora is only dating her dad again because he is evil and is making her, so she promptly blackmails Ms. Dalton into doing Lila’s share of the daily work. But after saving Nora from drowning, Roger Collins soon cajoles the truth out of her, and all is right with the world again … yawn. And I’m fairly certain we will never hear of the Beth Curtis shit ever again.
Jessica makes an idiot out of herself to get close to Robbie October, throwing herself at him and then claiming she thought he was someone she used to know named Bart Templeton. Robbie is clearly a huge sleaze, but Jess … oh, you know how she is. Long story short, the pair sneak off together one night and wind up hopelessly lost and bickering with each other, then trapped in a cave by a giant she-bear. I am not making this up. The rest of the camp goes looking for them and Barry finally proves himself as he encourages the she-bear to chase after him instead. GOD this is dumb.
Courtney throws herself at Todd after he and Liz break up, they make out in the woods, and he somehow fails to notice the smell and taste of the cigarette that she just threw out when she saw him approaching. Later, a huge fire blows up and the kids have to work together to put it out. Liz thinks it’s her fault, but it soon becomes clear that Courtney did it with her *GASP* cigarette! Liz exposes Courtney, Todd sees Courtney for who she is, he and Liz make up … wah, wah. The day is saved.
WTF? First of all — Robbie October? Is that a porn star name or what?
-The kids spend the night in TENTS IN THE BACKYARD at the Thomases’ place. I am shocked Lila and Bruce did not demand more upscale quarters!
-I’m shocked that Jessica, Lila, and Bruce are on this trip at all, come to think of it.
-There’s a scene where the kids dance in a canteen to Jackson 5 that is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I have read yet. Liz dances with “Roger Collins”, of course. Gag me.
-At one point, Olivia pulls out her guitar. How the fuck can you bicycle comfortably with that thing strapped to your bike?
-The kids have lobster for one of their routine campground stops … seriously, what the hell kind of bike trip is this?
-Steven and Jessica have a dumb argument on the family’s way to drop off the twins for the trip. Jessica yells, “Steve, why don’t you make like a seafood special and just clam up.” WOW. That’s the worst I’ve read yet!
-Bruce checks out chicks at the hostel and decides to try to pick one up at Jessica’s suggestion. Uh … did the ghostwriter forget all about Regina and how Bruce is supposed to be loyal to her? Hahahaha.
-Robbie has a brother named Danny. I was disappointed they didn’t hook Danny up with Lila.
-Lila flirts wildly with a boy named Tom and goes on a “walk” with him. Get it girrrrl
-There was apparently a nerd in Cara and Jessica’s math class named Theo who wore polyester pants … the horror!
-Jessica complains that Robbie tried to “get romantic” with her while they were trapped in the cave overnight, and Lila points out that Jess was “aching for Robbie to get romantic” anyway! HAHAHA! I love when people call Jess out on her shit! It’s such a rare occurrence.
-Mr. Collins has to save Ms. Dalton when she sees a stingray and freaks the fuck out rather than just… you know … swimming away.
-Barry is so clumsy that it’s kind of ridiculous. I’m reminded of the stupidity of Bella Swan in the Twilight books. Even after he redeems himself to the group, he promptly wrecks it by spilling hot and sour soup all over everyone at a Chinese restaurant. Of course, we know there’s no real place for him in Sweet Valley-land anyway since he’s fat, which Jessica and Bruce don’t let us forget for a second. Only size sixes here, Barry!
-In case you care, Enid apparently had a summer romance with some dude named Hank.
The cover has the twins striking silly poses with their bikes. Liz looks like a two-year-old in that ugly yellow outfit. Jess’s shorts are kind of cute but also look like they are going right up her crotch when she rides … ouch.
The back of the book announces the Caitlin trilogy and encourages you to stay tuned.
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