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

#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.

 

 

#95 The Morning After

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Several mornings after the morning after, actually. womp womp. (And apologies for my crappy cover photo.)

So yes, I am back and I will actually be doing those reviews I said I would two years ago! I felt bad about doing all those false-start return posts in the past, so I decided not to say anything in advance and just go for it this time. Thanks for checking up on me over the past couple years, everyone! Life seriously just got in the way.

Now that I’ve (finally) reviewed the Magna Edition that ushered in a new age for SVH, let’s take a moment to review what has changed in the SVH format:

  • The series has increased the soap opera drama dramatically – no more plot A and cutesy plot B. While we still have a main story line carrying the title, there are numerous little plots weaving in and out throughout the rest of the book, like a TV show.
  • The series has also now divided itself into “mini-series” that carry out for several books, as opposed to introducing a fresh new plot (more or less) with each new book. So now if you find a particular story line dull as dirt, too bad! It’s going to hang around even longer.
  • The covers have swapped Sears portraits for paintings of dramatic scenes from the book, featuring several characters.
  • The covers also now have varying colors on the spines and back covers, a la Sweet Valley Twins. (#95 here is orangey yellow.)
  • The Sweet Valley High logo on each cover now features Elizabeth and Jessica hovering over everyone like a pair of smirky goddesses secure in the knowledge that they will always reign.
  • The font in these books has changed to a more grown-up looking one. They are serious about this makeover. 😉
  • The length of the books has also increased quite a bit, by nearly 100 pages. A typical series book is now close to 215 pages.
  • Lastly, I happened to notice that the book spines are now imprinted with dramatic logos that read “Sweet Valley Horror” or “Sweet Valley Deception” and so on. I assume these are the mini-series titles; it doesn’t say what it is anywhere else. Looks like books 95-100 are officially the Sweet Valley Terror mini-series then. That sounds so goofy. This first book was so dull that I can’t wait for the “terror” to begin!
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Sweet Valley TERROR! I feel like they put this on the spine primarily to appeal to YA Horror fans.

So let’s jump right into book 95 and the main plot. The Morning After isn’t an accurate title for this book, as we don’t get the pleasure of seeing what goes on the morning after. Instead, the book jumps ahead in time to several days after the Jungle Prom. (They should’ve called THAT book That Fatal Night!)  We learn that Sam was indeed killed in the accident, and Elizabeth was found wandering around outside the mangled Jeep in a daze. The only physical injury Liz maintained was a badly bruised forehead. Pyschologically, she’s a mess and suffers from nightmares. As for Jessica, she had to be sedated at the scene after she and Todd came upon the wreck. Sam’s funeral was held two days after the accident, but Jessica was too distraught to go. The cops didn’t arrest Liz , so Liz showed up to the funeral with her parents, who, by the way, almost have this whole “The kids will get over it” attitude about everything. They seem like they aren’t really all that concerned. The twins have a rental car to replace the Jeep for the time being, but they don’t seem to be sharing it, and the twins also aren’t communicating with one another except with icy glares. Jessica, bitch that she is, continues to blame Liz for killing Sam and keeps completely mum about the fact that she spiked Liz’s drink, so Liz is also blaming herself. Jessica is at times tempted to reach out to Liz, but she makes a deliberate effort to stay angry. I guess the alternative would be for her to own up to her own terrible actions. We already know there aren’t any real consequences for Jessica ever, so I’m unclear as to why she doesn’t just speak the fuck up. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone might shove her in a pool? Her Jungle Prom Queen crown might be revoked?

When the night of Sam’s big dirt bike race – you know, the one Jessica couldn’t have cared less about – finally arrives, a big memorial to Sam is planned ahead of it. Jessica is invited by some of Sam’s friends and she starts to drive out to Bridgewater to attend, but she can’t bring herself to go. Instead, she drives to the cemetery and cries and screams on top of Sam’s grave in the pouring rain (while also yelling that Liz took Sam from her – yes, because of what YOU did!).

Steven comes home from college on the weekends to try to cheer up the depressed family, but nothing works. They would probably be less depressed if he stayed his ass at school for a change. Steven tries to perk everyone up by doing some babbling about a new dating show called Hunks that he might audition for, presumably in order to find himself a new Tricia clone, but nobody cares. My interest is actually piqued because that sounds better than this current story line, which is truly rather yawn-inducing.

At school, Todd always goes out of his way to avoid Liz and makes no attempt to comfort her or act like her boyfriend. Enid clues Liz in to the fact that there are rumors Liz was drinking at the prom, but Liz doesn’t see how that can be possible. I STILL don’t get how Liz doesn’t understand that she was in fact drunk that night. Knowing her, you’d think she’d go to the library and research the effects of alcohol intoxication, or she could just think all the way back to Dear Sister and try to remember for herself! Or just ask Enid since Enid used to party back in the day. Or ask virtually anyone else. Enid also tells Liz that Todd might be avoiding her because many people saw Liz and Sam embracing at the prom, and think something was going on between them. Liz insists there wasn’t, but she’s less worried about that then she is that she could be arrested soon for her role in the accident. Seriously, out of nowhere she suddenly stands up and makes a big proclamation that she knows “the other shoe” is about to drop. I mean, if it were anyone else that shoe would’e dropped a long time ago, but these are Wakefields, so Enid is sure Liz is just being paranoid. Liz’s recently acquired ESP is going into overdrive!

Sure enough, a whopping three weeks after the accident, two members of Sweet Valley’s crackpot police force show up at the Wakefield homestead to talk to Elizabeth. The whole family sits down in the living room as the cops interview Liz. Ned does his lawyer thing, saying Liz shouldn’t speak without a lawyer present, but Liz overrides him and says she wants to talk about it. Of course, everything she has to say is useless because she can’t remember shit, and the police think she’s lying. It turns out the police DID test Liz’s blood alcohol level the night of the accident, and they knew that both she and Sam were drunk as skunks. Liz insists she knows nothing about any alcohol. The police ask Liz if she was driving, and she doesn’t know that either. (Jessica saw Liz driving off the night of the prom, you remember, but she can’t bring herself to speak up and say ANYTHING – until one of the cops mistakenly says Sam was Liz’s boyfriend! That’s the most disturbing part of the whole interview for Jessica!) The cops already know that Liz must have been driving based on the location of Sam’s body outside the vehicle, so I guess they just wanted to see what they could get out of her, which is nothing. If you, like I, are sitting here wondering why they didn’t arrest Liz’s ass at the scene then if they already knew all this, well, the police go ahead and state that they put it off as long as possible because Ned Wakefield is a prominent member of the community and they know Liz is a good kid! I’m half “come the fuck on” and half “well, at least they had the balls to just admit to it”. So three weeks after the fact, the cops finally arrest Liz for involuntary manslaughter and take her away. Oh don’t worry, the golden Wakefield doesn’t have to be taken to the station in the police car. They just flat-out tell Ned he can just drive Liz himself – he doesn’t ask, they just offer. “It’s not police procedure, but I think we can trust you.” HO.LY.SHIT. As Liz is taken out the door, she mouths “I’m sorry” at her sister, who is standing there wrestling with herself for not saying anything about having spiked Liz’s drink. Jessica doesn’t want to say anything because she knows her family wouldn’t protect her the way they are currently protecting Liz. OH PLEASE JESSICA. I would say this is all just so disgusting, but at this point, I am not surprised by any of this. Stay tuned to find out how Liz and Jessica will both surely get off scot-free!

Meanwhile … When Lila finally comes back to school, kids are treating her a little weird because they think she might have made up the Nathan attack story. Then Mr. Cooper sets up a meeting with Li, her father, and Nathan Pritchard to review what happened the night of the prom. Nothing is said about any charges filed against Nathan, so I guess he’s been released, because he’s back at school and everything. Lila has to wait a week for the big meeting because her dad is in Amsterdam on business. While she waits, she wears baggy clothes, lets her hair and makeup go, and bites off all her nail polish and that’s how everyone knows she isn’t doing so well. Lila and Nathan have to recap what happened in front of each other, Lila’s dad, and Principal Cooper at this school meeting, and it just seems really inapprop. It’s also clear that Mr. Fowler has no idea that John P. tried to rape his daughter, and no one bothers to mention it to him or clue him in. The fuck? Lila talks about how she and Nathan danced and everyone wants to know who initiated the dancing, and Mr. Fowler gets all mad and is ready to bust a cap in Nathan’s ass. Chrome Dome has to calm everybody down. Then when Nathan starts telling his side of the story, it takes all of two seconds for Lila to realize that things didn’t happen the way she thought they did and that he was trying to comfort her, not attack her, when he reached out to touch her with his unprofessional stroking hand. She apologizes to Nathan, who is all “It’s okay, you’ve been traumatized and I shouldn’t have shut you in a classroom alone with me.” I guess his reputation and career are saved; it doesn’t really say. Lila doesn’t understand how she thought he was going to attack her when he wasn’t, and no one seems interested in helping her figure that out. She then essentially drops out of school and falls into a deeper depression than ever before. Ol’ George Fowler just kind of hangs around not knowing what to do, giving his daughter these awkward pats, and “Okay honey”ing her not wanting to go to school. Amy calls trying to cheer Lila up, but Lila isn’t responsive. For some reason, Amy is the cheerleader of everyone’s spirits in these books. The hell? Finally George decides it’s time to bring Lila’s long-lost mother back into her life. He calls Grace Fowler in Paris, and then informs Lila her mother is coming back to try to do the parenting that George is incapable of, and Lila throws herself gratefully sobbing into her father’s arms.

Bruce Patman seems to have some brain damage from that kick to the head he took last book, as he’s now wandering around in a daze outside Big Mesa High stalking the girl who saved him from the Big Mesa goon’s baseball bat. He learns the girl’s name is Pamela Robertson, and every time he asks where to find her, people giggle and make snide remarks about how she really gets around. Bruce is sure they are just jealous. But no one knows how to find Pamela until he meets a kid named Edwin, who after freaking out over Bruce’s 1BRUCE1 Porsche, tells Bruce that Pamela is a star tennis player. Bruce is convinced that’s just one more reason why they were meant to be together. So Bruce stalks her at a tennis match and Pamela is happy to see him, and delighted to go out on a date with him. He takes her out a couple times and is convinced she is the angel of his dreams and he is in love. At lunch at Sweet Valley, he tells the gang about his new girl, and everyone already knows who she is. Amy Sutton laughs at him and implies Pamela is the jezebel of Big Mesa. OK, so she’s your counterpart, Amy? Maria hurriedly changes the subject by talking about the chocolate peanut butter pudding. Bruce is sure everyone is just jealous of Pamela’s fabulous looks until he drops by her house unannounced to bring Pammy some roses. As he waits on her porch, he sees a gold Trans Am (it’s always a Trans Am!) screech up. Pamela gets out and storms toward the house, but some dude named Bobby chases after her. They have a brief spat and then Bobby roughly grabs her and kisses her. After Bobby leaves, Pamela spies Bruce watching them. She tearfully tries to explain that she was breaking up with Bobby and he wasn’t taking it well, but Bruce isn’t having it. Okay Bruce, we get it. No female Bruce Patmans allowed in any relationship of yours. Bruce is devastated that everyone was “right” about Pamela, and I do not give one sliver of a shit.

Olivia Davidson is working on her latest masterpiece of a watercolor. No one in Sweet Valley is ever just marginally good at anything, so she’s being hailed as a genius in her art classes. We learn Olivia’s boyfriend James (from Olivia’s Super Star book) accepted some job in Paris recently, and that the couple agreed to break up rather than try to carry on a long-distance relationship. Now Olivia is going on lunch dates with Nicholas Morrow where they both moan about how difficult it is being single, and Nicholas asks Olivia if she has a twin sister he can date. Huh? Since when are these two such close buds?Anyway, there’s a cute boy in Olivia’s art class who kinda creepily stares at her a lot. Then one of Olivia’s amazing watercolor paintings sells. She is told she has to go to an art foundation in Bridgewater to give a speech about it at a big event as part of the sale. When she shows up to the foundation, late for the event and nervous about her speech, she finds the foundation building looks like a private (but elaborate) home, and hers is the only car parked there. She cautiously steps inside, and the cute staring creeper from art school comes down the stairs with a fairy tale-like “You’ve come!” Of course she has dipshit, she had to. He says this is his house. He introduces himself as rich 18-year-old Harry Minton and merrily informs Olivia that he tricked her so she would come over and he could talk to her. He didn’t want to waste her time talking to her at school, so he decided to waste her time with this big elaborate lie and story about an event she has to prepare to speak at, instead. Nope, there’s no art event or art foundation. Gee, that’s not creepy or infuriating at all. Instead of telling Harry to go F himself for wasting her time and making her prepare a stupid speech for nothing, and then getting the hell out of there, Olivia agrees to go on a date with him, and promptly falls in love. She then tells the story to Nicholas who is just like, “Oh, that’s great.” Yes, we know Nicholas the Obsessive would approve after his obsessive behavior with Liz in the early books. As for Olivia, I’m pretty sure she’s been brainwashed.

Lastly, we have … drumroll … the introduction of MARGO! Liz has one of her premonitions again, right at the opening of this book, with a nightmare about a girl who looks just like her and Jessica, but who has black hair, coming after her with a knife. Cut to Long Island, New York, where a sixteen-year-old foster kid named Margo lives in a shitty basement bedroom, in a cramped, dirty house with her alcoholic and absentee foster parents and her foster sister, five-year-old Nina. Margo hears voices in her head and thinks about how much she hates everybody, including Nina, who adores her even though Margo is a straight up asshole to her. Margo has been secretly saving money in order to run away to Cleveland and start a new life. Unfortunately, Nina sees Margo’s money stash and Cleveland bus schedule, so Margo decides she has to die. While the foster folks are out gambling or drinking or whatever, she pours kerosene all over the kitchen, then suggests Nina use a butter knife to get her stuck toast out of the toaster. Margo then stands across the street disguised as a boy, listening as her neighbors watch as the ensuing fire rages and Nina’s body gets carried out of the house. Everyone thinks Margo’s body might be hidden in the rubble of the home. With that, Margo assumes a new identity as “Michelle” and heads to Cleveland, where she rents a room at the YWCA and scams her way into a job as a babysitter for the rich Rossi family. She’s faked reference letters and come up with a sob story about her mother recently dying, and I guess this family is too stupid to actually check her references or even an ID or something. They even offer her money in advance. She starts her first day on the job freaking out little Georgie Rossi by staring wordlessly at him for 10 minutes, then pockets Mrs. Rossi’s ruby ring and fantasizes about seducing 16-year-old Josh Rossi. Ultimately she decides she has to stay focused on her new goal .. going to California. A Wakefield twin lookalike heading to California? I’m sure this won’t be dramatic at all. It’s got to be more lively than this book was, that’s for sure. Seriously, Margo is the best thing about this mini-series so far. (And she’s obviously the “Terror” in Sweet Valley Terror.)

Other stuff: There are at least a couple of references to a freight train rumbling through Sweet Valley. Liz can hear it as she lays in bed. This is new, right? What convenient ambiance.

I like the way Lila dressing bad is conveyed as her wearing a sweater that was on sale six months ago at Bibi’s. That’s our Li, always more in style than everyone else even at her worst.

There’s no mention of what became of the Jungle Prom article and photo shoot for Sweet Sixteen magazine, or when Jessica is going on her big Brazil trip. I assume that will be revived later on in the mini-series. If it’s not I won’t be surprised, but I will be pissy about it.

Although the Jungle Prom is seen as a huge tragedy, everyone at Sweet Valley seems to be going on with their daily lives except for the Wakefields and Todd. Everyone else has this attitude almost like the sadness is annoying and inconvenient for them.

It rains in the book, but don’t worry, it’s not in Sweet Valley! The rain is in Bridgewater. I’m sure the sunshine breaks as soon as you reach the SV border.

Margo’s foster parents have neighbors named the Lewinskys. (This book came out years ahead of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.)

Bruce meets two girls at Big Mesa who giggle about Pamela’s reputation. Bruce thinks about how they are probably just jealous because they are so ugly. Of course.

The slut-shaming is heavier than usual in this book. Bruce is predictably the worst. He figures Lila’s story about Nathan is likely false because she’s “always been a tease.” When he sees Pamela being chased down and then forcibly smooched by the Big Mesa lunkhead Bobby, he reacts like Pamela is the whore of the century. You mean, she’s too much like you? There can’t be that many innocent virgins left with the way you plow through them all, Bruce, sorry. Don’t worry, we know Pamela is redeemable because she protests to Bruce that she finally feels loved for the first time with him. In Sweet Valley world, any presumably bad sexual choices are always attributable to not feeling loved – if you’re a female that is (and not Jessica Wakefield, who doesn’t need an excuse for shit). Then, just so we know how evil Margo is, we see that she likes to look at dudes and think about getting some play from them. Good girls just do not think like that! When Mrs. Rossi is interviewing Margo as “Michelle,” Margo lusts for Mrs. Rossi’s teenaged son and thinks to herself, “What I know about teenage boys would curl your hair, lady.” So that’s one way we know Margo is one bad apple. She wants the D, but she has no reason offered up for it that we know can be redeemed later. The series is 10 years old at this point in the game, and some things never change!

This cover! Let’s take a look. Below our smug, bangs-sportin’ twins, we have Bruce staring in dismay as Pamela is yanked into the arms of the big brute Bobby, in his menacing leather jacket. Bruce could just as easily be wearing that leather jacket with his Club X bullshit, but instead he’s dressed like, well, like Prom Night. We can just barely make out 1BRUCE1 behind him. To the right, we see Lila in a sweater dress and interesting scarf fleeing a dismayed-looking Nathan. Nathan kind of looks like Professor Lasky from Saved by the Bell: The College Years. And in the distance, the Sweet Valley sunshine breaks free of the clouds! I guess that’s supposed to represent the dawning of the “morning after.”

In the back of the book: There is an ad and order form for Sweet Valley University, “where the motto is: ‘Welcome to college – welcome to freedom!'” Yes, because they weren’t totally free before what with Ned and Alice doing nothing but clicking their tongues and talking about Spanish-style interior design. Mmmmkay. There is also an ad and order form for the rest of the current mini-series. “Your friends at Sweet Valley High have had their worlds turned upside down! Meet one person with a power so evil, so dangerous, that it could destroy the entire world of Sweet Valley!” (Is that Liz with the ESP, Jessica with the spiked drinks, or Margo with the kerosene and her wanton lust for teenage boys?) “A Night to Remember, the book that starts it all, is followed by a six book series filled with romance, drama and suspense.” Well, this first book certainly wasn’t that. I actually found it quite dull. I HOPE this shit picks up soon, and I expect it will. (It better.)

Coming up next: There’s no promo or tagline for the next book like there was in the “old” series, but we know we are going to find out what happens to Liz in THE ARREST! We already know she can go back home as soon as they finish booking her. I wish Ned would make this shit really interesting “on the way to the police station” with his daughter, and just make a break for the border instead! Break bad, Wakefields! In addition to the continuation of the other story lines reviewed above, we’re also probably going to hear something about this new Hunks TV show, which we know both Nicholas Morrow and Steven are interested in (starring in, not searching for hunks … although in Steven’s case …). (PS I’m assuming Hunks is the Sweet Valley version of that old TV show Studs. I used to sneak-watch that sometimes after my parents had gone to bed.)

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

Happy Turkey Day!

I’m working on a brand new review for you as I speak! Here’s a (big) hint:

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Yay! Yes, I really am coming back. I got my big Sweet Life book, I got my audiobook on CD from Aubyn, I got my crazy A Night to Remember … Let’s do this!

I want to thank reader Erin M. for bringing this to my attention, because I had no idea.

Francine Pascal has written an alternate ending to the last installment of The Sweet Life, and released it on her Facebook page as a FREE download – along with a letter of apology for the original ending to the series. (Hey, where’s my apology for Sweet Valley Confidential? lollllll)

I’m preparing to read it now, but I won’t post a review until I’ve put up my reviews of the rest of the original Sweet Life, ’cause that would get weird. That will also give my readers time to read this new ending before they get confronted by spoilers from me.

If you’ve already read it and want to discuss, please feel free to do so in the comments to this post! And stay tuned for more soon!

Get the alternate ending to The Sweet Life HERE!

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I recently bought the complete The Sweet Life in hardcover. I did this both to add it to my permanent collection and so I could re-read the last 3 books for recap and posting. In hardcover format, it’s a much thicker book than the original Sweet Valley Confidential.

I’ve gotten a few questions on whether the paper copy contains any new material or extra goodies. Unfortunately I can now confirm that’s a no. The only thing you could possibly consider an “extra” is the fact that the back cover of the book’s dust jacket shows you bigger pictures from the stock photos originally found on the e-book serials. I’m grasping at anything here, haha.

Sweet Life recaps 4, 5, and 6 coming soon … as is my A NIGHT TO REMEMBER recap …

#94 Are We in Love?

ARE WE READY TO GET PAST THIS BOOK?

ARE WE READY TO GET PAST THIS BOOK?

It feels so good to be back! And to be done with this boring-ass book, which is the last of the original series. I understand the series is about to flip its shit on me and I kinda can’t wait! If I thought it was soap-opery before …

Check out this cover. Steven is smiling for the first time in his grown-man life … no more helmet head and stern expression. Cheryl looks thrilled to be alive. I guess they decided to go get their portrait done at the mall since Annie and Cheryl were just there last book.

In our latest story, we have Steven and Cheryl hanging out all the time as he teaches her to drive and she confides in him. He’s easy to talk to and they make great buds, but the Sweet Valley Gossip Mill keeps churning out rumors that they are something more. Neither Cheryl nor Steven seems particularly interested in the other that way although they occasionally think about it. But then they take a fateful post-driving lesson trip to a restaurant we never heard of before, the Crooked Canyon Cafe. It’s good we never heard of it because now it will be forever tainted. As Cheryl and Steven walk in, everyone stares at them like an interracial couple is the weirdest thing they have ever seen. The two sit down to order and some chain-smoking skinheads in the corner see them and move to the adjacent table. They start staring and cracking racist jokes until Cheryl is so upset that they leave right when they’re about to order. Although Cheryl was starving before, the incident has apparently killed her appetite because Steven drives her straight to the beach where they walk, talk and then start making out as they deal with the emotions of the night. When they get home, they feel like they must be a couple now. Cheryl tells Annie, and Steven tells the twins, and there is much celebration at hand.

At school, everyone has differing opinions about this momentous and shocking news. All the SV kids can talk about is whether or not an interracial relationship is acceptable in today’s world and how people will view the new couple. Oh, fuck these people. (Most people seem generally accepting, but Suzanne Hanlon and Lila Fowler stick up their noses and seem sure people will ostracize the two.) Scott Frost goes on about how “they’re trailblazers, pioneers” and everyone is all “Yeah!” Scooby Doo style. Jessica especially makes a huge deal out of how amazing this is, and goes out of her way to show Cheryl how much she loves and adores her and welcomes her into their family and it’s really fake and weird. It’s so over the top that Cheryl privately wonders later if Jessica isn’t just trying to make up for her own uncomfortable reaction to Steven dating a black girl. I can’t say I blame Cheryl for feeling that way, but then again we all know Jessica is over the top by nature, period, no matter the occasion.

From then on, things get REALLY annoying. While everyone at school can’t shut up about the new couple, Cheryl and Steven spend a lot of time thinking about how they aren’t really attracted to each other, and how they don’t *want* to be more than friends, but they just won’t talk to each other about it … or anyone else, either. Their first weekend together as a couple, Steven is so freaked out at the idea of spending any time alone with Cheryl that he instead takes her to meet a ton of his friends at the Beach Disco. Cheryl dances with Steven’s (black) friend Martin Bell and finds they get along really well and she wants a piece of that, and that leaves her hemming and hawing even more. Seriously, nearly the entire rest of the book is like this. We finally get to see Cheryl’s thoughts, and they’re all about whether or not she should keep dating Steven even though she really just wants to be friends with him. Steven and Cheryl wonder (to themselves) if they’re not attracted to the other person because of the other person’s race. Then they start thinking they HAVE to make their relationship work even if they aren’t really attracted to each other, just to show that an interracial couple CAN make it. (Um, what about your dad and stepmom-to-be, Cheryl? Do they not exist?) Then they can’t stand the thought of hurting the other person after all they’ve been through together. So they just sit there mumbling and exchanging chaste pecks on the cheek and it’s so boring that this book successfully put me to sleep two nights in a row. Thank you Steven and Cheryl!

It doesn’t help that when they do get up the guts to have a chat about everything, they are constantly being interrupted by someone running up to them, cooing over them and talking about what a powerful statement their “love” is. Dude, they just started dating! Back the fuck off! Annie is the worst; she’s like somebody’s mom always butting in. Well, she looked like somebody’s mom on the cover of the last book so I guess that makes sense. Annie is always popping up where she’s not wanted and cutting people off. She reminds me of the Wakefields’ old neighbor Mr. Beckwith who was a real pain in the ass while fucking murders were going down in one of those detective books. Holy shit, Annie and Cheryl and their parents are living in the old Beckwith house! That’s right; it was the Beckwiths who “moved away”! They probably just got whacked because of all the nosing around Mr. Beckwith was doing! HOLY SHIT. ANNIE HAS BEEN POSSESSSED BY THE SPIRIT OF MR. BECKWITH!

Andrea Slade throws a big fucking party that’s supposed to be the shit or something, and I really don’t care, but Lila sneers about how if Cheryl and Steven aren’t invited, then her prediction that nobody will accept an interracial couple at Sweet Valley High has come true. It looks like they aren’t invited until Elizabeth is suddenly all “Oh duh, I forgot to tell you Andrea called over here trying to make sure you guys could come because she only had your old number at Annie’s apartment!” The couple go and have a great time and everybody is thrilled with them, even Lila, which means more pages of hemming and hawing and bullshit like that. I’m guessing the only person who doesn’t like Cheryl now is Suzanne Hanlon but nobody cares about that bitch anyway, except when it is convenient to the plot.

Meanwhile, Steven has been helping Cheryl write her toast for Walter and Mona’s wedding. (She and Annie are the bridesmaids.) Every time she writes it, it comes out as a big statement about race and bravery and is all wrong, but Steven is no help at all. Everything Cheryl writes, he’s all, “Oh yeah, that’s good.” Steven is studying to be a lawyer and he can’t provide any constructive criticism, sad. Finally, the night before the big backyard wedding arrives. Cheryl is working on her toast in the kitchen and feeling sorry for herself when Mona comes up to chat with her. Cheryl talks about how great it is that Mona and Walter are getting married to prove something to everyone, and Mona is really offended and tells Cheryl that NO, they are marrying because they love each other as people and the appearance has nothing to do with what they feel for each other. Suddenly Cheryl gets it and feels brave and writes the best toast ever or some shit. But she still doesn’t call Steven to have the frank chat both of them have clearly been dying to have. She’ll save that for an overly dramatic scene AT THE WEDDING.

And then the wedding day is here. Everyone wears ugly clothes. Seriously. Elizabeth wears a pale yellow little-girl sounding dress with cap sleeves and a matching yellow bow. She borrowed it from Enid so even if I didn’t just give you that outfit description, you would still know it was ugly. The bridesmaids have to wear calf-length dresses with an ugly “dusky” tri-color floral pattern that sounds like something out of 1993 all right. When I tried to sketch out these dresses in my head I almost started crying.

When Cheryl stands up to give her toast, Steven is sitting there panicking because he now realizes going on and on about the races of the newlyweds is probably not very romantic. But Cheryl’s toast is all about love. She ends it by saying that she is feels “incredibly lucky this example of deep, true love right before me every day.” Steven understands immediately that Cheryl is talking to HIM and that they were meant to be friends and they have a good hug-it-out or whatever about it right afterwards. WOW HOW ROMANTIC, you used your parents’ wedding toast to break up with your boyfriend.

Cheryl laughs with Steven about how it’s a shame they aren’t really dating because now her parents are on their honeymoon and she and Annie have the house all to themselves. You know ol’ Annie Whitman will be taking full advantage of that. Cheryl and Steven come to the conclusion that their scene on the beach was a good thing and it helped them out at the time, but they’re better off as friends and that has nothing to do with what race they are. I’m glad it took you guys a full 148 pages to come to this conclusion.

Later, Cheryl comes to visit Steven and tell him she got her license. She runs into Martin who, as soon as he learns she isn’t really dating Steven, asks if he can give her a call and she agrees.

The subplot: Jessica is so eager to show her support for interracial love that she demands Annie let her bake the wedding cake for Mona and Walter. Annie agrees because she apparently has the power to make these decisions for her mom. Her mom never protests about a 16 year old being responsible for a three-tiered cake for 60 guests (although I think it ultimately winds up being four-tiered)! Because this is Jessica, all sorts of yuks ensue about how she can’t cook. Actually, just a few yuks because not much time is spent on this subplot overall.

And because she is Jessica, Elizabeth has to help her make the cake. They go to a bake shop in the mall (literally called The Bake Shop or something really obvious like that, I’m too lazy to go check) and Jessica buys a ton of cake pans plus every wedding cake cookbook she can find, because her allowance is apparently as limitless as Lila Fowler’s. The twins then run into Bruce Patman who makes racist remarks including that the cake should be “half chocolate” HURRRRRRR. Then the girls have a day where they make small “test cakes” for Cheryl, Sam, Todd, and Steve to taste-test. Each twin makes two cakes and of course Liz’s are a hit while Jessica’s get all kinds of snarky comments. It seems the first cake is really flat because Jessica beat the eggs for too long or used too many or something, and then the second cake has a really bitter frosting because Jessica grated ALL of the orange peel and not just some of it. Yuk! Yuk! Jessica is a terrible cook! Y’all better watch it or she’s going to join a cult or go run off with Nicky Shepard again. Sam and Cheryl are a little bit nice, at least. Ultimately the twins wind up making a different cake anyway. I just don’t get it. Mona Whitman’s fiance is a celebrity photographer; you can’t tell me he couldn’t afford to just hire someone to make that shit.

Random facts and crap: Jessica proclaims Steven and Cheryl Sweet Valley High’s “first interracial couple.” What? So Sandy dating Manuel, Rosa dating Eddie Strong or whomever, Annie dating Tony Esteban, and Jade Wu dating David Prentiss – none of that counts as interracial? I’m confused.

Bruce Patman is dating a girl “this week” named Chelsea. Last week he was dating somebody named Bettina. Then Andrea Slade and Nicholas Morrow break up, and Bruce starts trying to get with her next.

What the hell ever happened to Nicholas Morrow, anyway? I feel like some of our classic SV characters like Ken, Olivia, Bill, and Nicholas are getting buried in the slew of new characters we’ve seen over the past 20 or so books.

New area near Sweet Valley: Marpa Heights

Jessica makes all kinds of comments about the alone time she’s been spending with Sam lately and starts to tell Liz about a new freckle she found on his body. These books are starting to get randy again!

Lila is very cynical about love lately and that’s why she looks down on Cheryl and Steven so much. She thinks anyone in a couple sucks and is doomed to fail for any number of reasons. We’re told this is because she is still suffering from her near-rape at the hands of crazy what’s-his-face and that Jessica is getting bored hearing Lila talk about her counseling all the time. Fuck off Jessica, not everyone can bounce back from an assault the way you could back in the day.

Here are Steven’s college buds in this book. We have his roommate Bob Rose, who was also his roommate in Jealous Lies. Bob was the one who tried to convince Steven to drop out of college for nine months to become a crew member on a cruise ship. I guess Bob also decided not to go. Of course, when one year of your life actually equals 10 years and counting, what’s nine months on a ship? Then there’s their friend Frazer McConnell, who dated Jessica between books 76 and 77 after her whole beauty pageant stint. Sounds like Frazer is now dating this girl named Hillary because “Frazer and Hillary” is always said together just like that. Steve’s friend Eve is also in this book. She has been around for a while; he took her to a dance instead of Cara after they broke up briefly in book 36. Lastly we have Eve’s roommate, Beth Greenberg.

The night before the wedding, Liz and Jessica talk about their future weddings while they ice the cake. If you’ve read Sweet Valley Confidential, this scene is rich. Liz says she would like to marry Todd and her bridesmaids will be Olivia, Penny and of course Enid. Jessica would be the maid of honor, of course. Liz thinks Todd would have Aaron, Winston, Ken and Steven as his ushers. Liz would wear her mom’s wedding dress and the bridesmaids would be in “cornflower blue.” Jessica then says she would wear a white mini dress to her own wedding and that she probably wouldn’t get married for another 10 years.

Where is Prince Albert the dog?

In the back of the book … I think it’s worth noting that there is nothing at the end of this story leading up to the next book like usual. No setup or anything, which makes me think they had something else planned (probably something with Bruce and Andrea) and just dropped it in favor of the new SVH direction. So our “promo” for the next book goes like this: “After the next Sweet Valley High prom, life will never be the same … Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield have been planning a jungle-theme prom for weeks, but what should be a night of romance and fun turns into a tragic nightmare. Experience love, death, loyalty, and betrayal in one horrifying tale, starting with Sweet Valley High’s newest Magna Edition, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER. Following this chilling seven-book mini-series:” (and then they list out books 95 through 99) “and the final terrifying conclusion in Sweet Valley High #100…”. I just want to know what kids thought when they read this and saw the title “#99, BEWARE THE BABY-SITTER” staring back at them. Well, we’re not too far away, folks. I’ve never read ANY of these funky ass “new” books although I know the gist of some of them, and I suspect I am in for a treat. I hope so, anyway. Bring me some crazy plotlines!

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