Tag Archives: a.j. morgan

SVH Magna Edition: Jessica’s Secret Diary, Vol. II

21 Aug

Jessica Secret Diary 2

 

Estimated Elapsed Time: N/A, because this covers books #42-56

Summary/Overview: 

Lila and Jessica are hanging out in Jessica’s room one day, totally minding their own business, when they overhear a fight between Liz and Todd nearby.  Todd and Liz break up (so, must be a day that ends in “y”) because he’s irate that she went to a movie with Jeffrey.

That night, Jessica gets home from a party and answers the phone to find Todd wondering if Liz and Jeffrey had gone to the party together.  Jessica tells him that they didn’t.  This is riveting stuff. He asks if he can come over and talk.  Jessica rushes to put on a sexy nightgown (what 16-year-old doesn’t own at least one of these?) and meets him at her bedroom window.  He tells her he wants to get back together with her.  What’s interesting (perhaps the only interesting thing to note here) is that Todd isn’t talking about that one time they hooked up after Sam’s death, nor is he talking about how they dated back at the start of the series, when Jessica falsely accused him of attempted rape.  He’s talking about…some other time, I guess?  Jessica is unsure if this is a good idea, and decides to consult the diaries she keeps that no one knows about.  Why not just use a Magic 8 Ball, bitch?

We are treated to an absolutely fascinating and not at all tedious rundown of some previous books, all from Jessica’s point of view:

While Sandra and Michael are thinking about eloping at 16 because their parents just don’t understand, Jessica plans a surprise party for Lila and gets a friendly letter from Todd in the mail, even though they are not friends, are often openly hostile about one another, and didn’t hang out before he moved away.  Jessica uses the letter as an excuse to tease Liz about Todd, which seems mean.

Enid might be grappling with generational issues in her family, but who cares? Jessica helps Liz make a documentary about Sweet Valley for an arbitrary contest and Jessica writes back to Todd for whatever reason.  Then, when Steven and Cara are sort of starting something up if only Steven can get over dead Tricia Martin, Jessica hears back from Todd.  This is seriously so boring.  Thank god for email, amirite?  Then Jessica reminds us that the Wakefields have a cousin who could basically be their sister, and she’s kind of effed up over some family drama.

We continue to be treated to recaps of books that really have nothing to do with Jessica and especially have nothing to do with her secret non-relationship with Todd.  Jessica reminds us about how smart Robin Wilson is (she got into Sarah Lawrence a whole year early despite that not being how it works at all).  Then Jessica gossips about Julie Porter and Bruce Patman, and while doing so, provides the readers with a bizarre alternate-history version of when she dated him.  She claims it was one date, but that’s not really how this reader remembers it.  It hardly matters, because who cares?  Jessica and Todd are still writing to each other, which is weird.

When Jessica falls for A.J., she writes to Todd for advice, which also makes no sense.  As she works to keep A.J. happy, she and Todd start to get a little bit more personal in their letters to each other.  The mere idea that Jessica would stick with a tedious activity like long-hand letter-writing for this long is completely unfathomable to me, but there you have it.  As her diary entries progress, Jessica continues to insist she’s into A.J. but gets all atwitter when she gets another letter from Todd.

The sequence of books chosen for this diary make no sense because they are extremely focused on other people’s problems, just like the second volume of Liz’s diary, but the book continues to plug on, as if the readers really want to rehash the stories of C and D-list characters (Ronnie’s gambling issues, totally-not-a-rapist-yet John Pfeifer and his jealousy over Jennifer Mitchell, Kristin Thompson and tennis).  Jessica recounts cheating on A.J. with some dude and subsequently breaking up with him.  Oh, and there’s also the basketball book with Shelley Novak.  BORING.  While Jessica recounts all of these people’s various melodramas, things with Todd start to escalate.  He asks if he can come visit her in secret, and actually buys a plane ticket and does just that.  The two make out at Secca Lake, which is supposed to be romantic (Jessica also thinks about Todd sneaking into her room and doing “intensely romantic things” with him, which is almost lukewarm in its attempt at steamy sex writing).  The two recognize that what they’re doing could really hurt Liz (I don’t know why that seems to matter considering what will happen in the future, but ok).

The final recap we’re treated to is the equally bizarre Lost at Sea, where Jessica gets stranded on a deserted island with Winston Egbert after their field trip boat capsizes or whatever.  Her big revelation here is that she briefly considered kissing Winston before they were rescued.  The hormones, they rage.

At the end of the book, Jessica comes to the realization that she and Todd aren’t meant to be.  She thinks he’s better suited to Liz, and that’s that. What a fucking waste of time.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Jessica’s sexy silk nightgown was a gift from her cousin Kelly, who totally still exists.

Memorable Quotes:

  • Observation of the day: Mr. Collins is a god. (49) BARF.
  • I have a special feeling for Todd, I thought, fingering the cardboard cover of the notebook, and I always will.  But it’s nothing like the feeling he shares with Elizabeth. (326)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I fundamentally understand the rationale behind these books (everyone loves a good secret diary, people love the voyeurism, the regular rabid readers of SVH would have gobbled these up just because they were new, etc), but I don’t understand why they did them the way they did.  Instead of picking what seems like an almost arbitrary sequence of books, why didn’t they choose to jump around in the series and pick the ones where the twins had a lot of romantic drama happening? It would have been way more interesting to read if the focus of these diary entries wasn’t so unbalanced.

As it stands, it reads like a weird first-person recap of stories that weren’t very interesting the first time around and now seem awkwardly shoved into a story they don’t belong to. I don’t get it, and I don’t enjoy reading it.  I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would.

Advertisements

SVH #54: Two-Boy Weekend

17 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

A.J. Morgan’s grandparents are having a 50th anniversary celebration, so his family is flying down on Wednesday night and coming back Sunday afternoon.  Jessica is despondent at the idea of an entire weekend without A.J., and she essentially mopes and sulks about it before he leaves.  The only thing that keeps her from falling apart completely is  that he’s won a Samaritan essay contest that allows him to be the King of the Citizen’s Ball, making Jessica the de facto Queen.  Once he’s gone, she does some more moping.  Apparently she can’t do anything without A.J., which means missing Ken Matthews’s party.

At the beach on Friday, Jessica complains some more about how depressed she is.  Her friends are fed up with her oh-woe-is-me attitude and go to the Dairi Burger.  Jessica stays at the beach by herself, where she meets surfer cutie Christopher, who promptly asks her out.  Even though Jessica feels guilt over seeing another boy while A.J. is away, it doesn’t stop her from going out with him.

The two have a romantic dinner that night and then spend the entire next day together at the aquarium/planetarium.  They have a lovely time.  On Sunday morning, she meets Christopher at the beach and tells him she can’t see him anymore because she has a boyfriend.  Christopher is understanding, and Jessica thinks she’s dodged a bullet.

But she hasn’t.  When she meets up with A.J., she’s a total freak, acting spacey and cagey and totally guilty.  When Christopher starts calling her, begging to be friends, she doesn’t know what to do.  She pleads with him to stop, but he won’t give up.   He continues to call and stalk her.  When he shows up to look at the car that A.J. has for sale, he pretends not to know Jessica.  A.J. has to take a call right when Christopher wants to take a test drive, so Jessica is forced to go along.  Christopher drives recklessly and aims right at the side of a building until Jessica agrees to go out with him again.

Even after confiding in Elizabeth about what’s been happening, Jessica refuses to tell A.J. because she wants to be the queen of the Citizen’s Day Ball.  Elizabeth thinks this is a mistake, but doesn’t say anything.  The night of the ball, Jessica calls Christopher and pretends she’s sick.  He seems to buy it, so she goes off to the dance.  Of course, Christopher shows up, mistakes Elizabeth for Jessica, and kidnaps her.  He stuffs her into the trunk of his car and takes off.

Jessica feels like something is wrong and gets Jeffrey to help her look for them.  She runs in front of Christopher’s car.  He seems to think that she managed to get out of the trunk (I don’t get this part either) and stops the car.  Jeffrey fights with him while Jess unties Elizabeth.  They are saved!

Back at the ball, A.J. finishes reading his essay.  Jessica confesses to him that she isn’t ready to date just one boy, and the two break up.  A.J. still wants her to be his queen, though, and the two share a dance.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica felt like a heroine in a tragic, dramatic love story.  She lifted her chin and turned away.  It was all over.” (47)
  • “Both girls had telephones in their rooms because they got so many calls.” (72)
  • “Flirtatious boys exasperated her.” (91)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • A.J. is selling his car for $500.
  • Elizabeth’s little sister is named Kim Novak.  Isn’t…isn’t that the name of a famous actress?
  • When Elizabeth takes Kim to the bookstore, she recommends Johnny Tremain.  It’s official: Elizabeth Wakefield is the WORST.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Isn’t there an unspoken code in Sweet Valley regarding cheating?  Like, if your significant other isn’t in the same zip code as you, all’s fair?  Hasn’t that been how it’s worked in virtually every other book?  When the twins go on vacation, they cheat on their beaus.  When their boyfriends are away for the summer, they cheat on them.  We have book after book of solid evidence backing this theory up, so you can imagine how confused I was when the ghostwriter tried to play up Jessica’s guilt regarding cheating on A.J. in this book.

I’m sorry, what?

A.J. is gone for four days.  In those four days, Jessica meets a new boy, goes on several dates with him, and ends up being pretty infatuated with him, at least until he lets his freak flag fly.  This isn’t so surprising, really, given her past behavior, but what is strange is how guilty the ghostwriter makes her feel, as if this is new for Jessica.  Talk about serious character decay.

Also, can we talk for a second about how totally bland Christopher is, as far as psychopaths go?  He has no personality, and the best he can do is pull a knife on Liz and stuff her in the trunk of his convertible?  Really?  Not your best work, Sweet Valley.