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:
- Lila drives off in her Triumph to meet Grace and is almost hit by a motorcycle rider
- The motorcycle rider is Jakki on her way to pick up Nick
- Bruce passes Nick and Jakki on his way to the Box Tree Cafe to meet Pamela
- 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
- 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
- Steven almost runs over a girl who steps in front of his car
- The girl turns out to be Pamela headed in to meet Bruce
- 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
- 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.