Tag Archives: doppelganger

SVH Magna Edition: Return of the Evil Twin

18 Feb

return twin

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3  weeks

Summary/Overview:

It’s Christmas time in Sweet Valley yet again, and the twins are excited about vacation.  Jessica and Elizabeth are working with some arbitrary inside twincharity group to raise funding for a new children’s wing at the Fowler Memorial Hospital, and they get the brilliant idea to host a New Year’s Eve party at the traveling carnival that will be in town over the holiday.  The owners of the carnival agree to donate all profits to the charity, which is super convenient to the plot.

To celebrate the start of the holiday, the entire gang throws a caroling party.  The group meets at Secca Lake for a bonfire before heading out to sing carols to the unsuspecting Sweet Valley citizens, but Jessica and Todd are both very late, and Elizabeth worries about them.  On his way to the lake, Todd’s car spins out after he sees something move across the road and he slams into a guardrail, fading into unconsciousness.  Jessica sees his car on the road as she approaches and jumps out, saving him just in time, as his car goes over the side of the cliff and blows up.  This is obviously big news, and Todd’s gratefulness for Jessica’s heroics lead him to start to have romantic feelings for her.  This is probably exacerbated by Liz’s completely irrational feelings of jealousy over Jessica saving her boyfriend’s life.  It doesn’t help that everyone wants to ask Jess about it, and the paper even runs their picture on the front page, calling Todd her boyfriend instead of Liz’s.

Things continue to go badly for Liz, who has started dreaming about Margo again, even though she’s totally dead, right?  Also, Todd and Jess are totally into telling their story about the harrowing experience near Secca Lake, and Liz and Ken both feel shunted aside.  Jessica and Liz argue a lot.  Jessica starts having nightmares about Margo.

Meanwhile, in Savannah, Georgia, a moody girl named Nora Chapelle has just lost her father.  Because her mother died years ago, this makes her an orphan.  This is especially true when her evil stepmother offers her $5o,ooo to disappear from her life.  She also lets the bomb drop that Nora had an identical twin sister who was so evil that they gave her up for adoption.  Nora takes off to New York to track her sister’s whereabouts and it isn’t long before she manages to trace Margo’s life from there to Ohio to Sweet Valley.  Despite providing the readers a solid recap of the first evil twin saga, this book also adds information about the ambulance carrying Margo’s body never reaching the hospital, and that it ended up in a river (Margo’s body wasn’t found).  Convinced it’s all the Wakefield twins’ fault, Nora hops a plane to L.A. to get revenge for her sister.  She books a room at the Sweet Valley Inn and starts spying on the Wakefields.

One night, she goes to visit the gravestone that a local teen shelter erected in Margo’s honor.  This makes no sense whatsoever, but neither does what comes next: Margo appears in the cemetary, and the girls realize that the other still exists.  Nora takes Margo back to her hotel room and cringes a lot because Margo is messy and Nora is pathologically clean.  Margo convinces Nora that the Wakefield twins’ lives are rightfully there, and it’s time to claim their dues.

Jessica and Liz make up, but then Margo and Nora mess with their heads one night at the most spectacularly attended screening of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Liz and Enid go, and Ken and Jessica go, but Nora, posing as Elizabeth, goes with Todd and makes out with him.  Liz and Enid see it and assume it’s Jessica, and Liz FREAKS OUT and screams at Jessica and Todd (separately, and later, instead of confronting them at the theater, which makes way more sense).  The twins stop speaking and go to the New Year’s Eve carnival at odds with one another yet again.

Meanwhile, Nora and Margo fight over who has to be Elizabeth once they take over for real. Margo tells Nora that she should be, since she’s so neat, but Nora also wants to be Jessica.  If this isn’t the most perfect encapsulation of the Liz/Jess dynamic, I don’t know what is.  At the carnival, Liz sulks and Jessica goes into the house of mirrors for a good spook.  After the carnival, Jessica goes home to sleep and Liz stays to clean up.  Nora realizes that Margo has left her to do her own spying and decides to go and kill Jessica before Margo can so that she can take over the twin’s life.  She sneaks into the Wakefield house, stabs the sleeping form of Jessica, and is nearly out the window when Liz walks in and sees it all happen.  Liz collapses onto Jessica and blacks out.  Nora takes off but is seen escaping by Alice and Ned on their way home from party.

The doctors can’t save Jessica, and it’s a few days later when they have a memorial service for Jessica at SVH.  Despite telling the detectives that she knows it was Margo, no one believes her.  When she’s standing in the auditorium, she suddenly realizes that Jessica is still alive and needs her help.  No one believes her about this, either.   She furiously works out the clues Jessica has sent her in dreams.  When the police come to question her again, she steals one of their guns and goes back to the school.

Nora is convinced she has to kill Margo so that she can take over the only remaining Wakefield twin’s life.  She becomes convinced that Margo’s hiding in the basement at SVH and goes there to kill her.  But it’s Jessica! Elizabeth arrives and points the gun at both girls, then makes a decision about which is which.  Nora spills the beans about how she’s not Margo, realizes that she killed her own sister and seems sad about it (even though she was prepared to do that again right here), and then cries.  The police come and arrest her, and all is well again.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Outfit alert: Jessica “borrows” Liz’s candy-striped sweater, white pants, and Christmas tree ornament earrings for the caroling party.
  • Liz and Ken go to see The Shining
  • According to Margo, she’s able to hold her breath for up to 3 minutes underwater

Memorable Quotes:

  • “I have a librarian friend–a former paramour of mine.” (75) [this just made me laugh because i’m a librarian]
  • “Elizabeth is such a prude, she makes me want to throw up.” (182)
  • “Do you know that in all this time Todd has never even managed to get Elizabeth out of her clothes? It’s positively sick!” (210)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There’s something deeply unsettling to this reader about the idea of a father giving away one of his daughters to an adoption agency/foster care because of clear psychotic tendencies.  The family clearly has money, and it is astounding to me that they wouldn’t even consider psychiatric help before throwing in the towel on a toddler.  I’m choosing to ignore the idea that the Wakefield twins have not one but two doppelgangers, though.  I just can’t handle it.

My favorite part of this book is when Elizabeth steals a gun from the police and faces literally no repercussions.

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SVH #100: The Evil Twin

13 Jun

the evil twin

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week or so

Summary/Overview:

It is Christmas AGAIN in Sweet Valley.

Jessica is sad because she’s still fighting with Elizabeth and is lonely.  She sulks through the special school assembly where Liz announces The Oracle’s plans to feature new columnists after the break, and then when she gets a special candy cane delivery during math class, she’s surprised to see the card signed “Happy Horrordays, Jessica.”

James blows Jessica off and she is sad.  Elizabeth yells at her and she is sad some more.  Then James breaks up with her over the phone even though he totally loves her and she feels even sadder.  When he calls her after Christmas and asks her to meet him at the old marina, she begs Liz and Todd for a ride, since Steven has taken the Jeep to drive Alice and Ned to the airport.  They get there in time to see James get pushed over the edge of the marina by someone.  Todd tackles who he thinks is the assailant, but it’s really Josh, who was trying to stop Margo.  Jessica faints.

Elizabeth gets a special candy cane and card, too.  Hers says something about “Decking the halls with bloody bodies.”  Todd throws the card away and tells her not to worry about it.  Elizabeth goes into her room and finds things mussed up and assumes it’s Jessica’s handiwork.  When Jessica tries to talk to Liz, she blows up at her about it.

Liz dreams about the night of the Jungle Prom and the punch she drank is featured prominently.  When she wakes up, she can’t figure out what about the dream was important.

Margo trolls the halls of Sweet Valley High, trying to gain as much information about Elizabeth as she can before she assumes her life.  She meets James at Kelly’s Bar, and he tells her he wants off the payroll.  She accuses him of falling in love with Jessica, then tells him she doesn’t need his services any more.  But then she threatens him with death if he so much as looks at Jessica again.

She sneaks into the Wakefield house as Liz and hugs Alice, who can’t help but feel weird about the encounter.  She snoops around Liz’s room, reads her diary, and is generally a creeper.  She goes out with Todd as Liz and goes to the mall with Lila as Jessica.  She continues to weave in and out of the house, pretending to be Liz when it’s convenient and causing inconsistencies in everyone’s stories.

Josh Smith is still hot on Margo’s trail, trying to find her and also trying to figure out what she’s doing in Sweet Valley.  He investigates some local unsolved mysteries, including the death of the woman Margo ran over in order to take her job at the catering company and makes connections.

He finally finds the room she’s been renting and breaks in.  There, he finds her walls are covered with stuff about the Wakefield twins.  She’s also written “I am Elizabeth” in red lipstick.

At this point, it’s probably just easier to merge the story lines.  After James is murdered on the marina dock, Todd tackles Josh to the ground.  Margo escapes and calls the police.  Todd and the twins go down to make a statement to the police about what they say.  Josh tries to warn Todd that there’s a psycho on the loose, and despite the fact that Todd is creeped out, he doesn’t seem to put together the weird events of the past several days or weeks or whatever.

Both twins continue to have nightmares and wake up screaming.  Steven tries to comfort them.  Meanwhile, Margo intercepts a phone call from Alice about the disastrous trip they’re on.  It takes for fucking ever for Ned and Alice to realize they’ve been scammed, but then they can’t get a flight back to Sweet Valley because of inclement weather.

Meanwhile, Josh escapes from jail.  Despite the radio alerts that go out about him, he’s determined to get to Margo.  She’s putting her plan into full motion, making sure that Jessica offers “Liz” the right dress she can duplicate for Lila’s New Year’s Eve party.

Liz continues to have nightmares about the night of the Jungle Prom until she finally pieces together the fact that Jessica spiked her punch.  Feeling more betrayed than ever, she cries a bunch.

At the party, everyone looks great and is having a good time.  Margo manages to get Todd alone and makes out with him, but he realizes it isn’t Liz and finally the pieces come together for him.  But Margo knocks him unconscious and runs to find Liz.  She convinces Liz to meet her in the pool house.  When Liz gets there, Margo corners her with a knife.

But Jessica knows Liz  is in danger when she sees her head outside into the rain.  She struggles to get there in time, and then throws herself in front of Margo so she can’t hurt Elizabeth.  There’s a struggle, and then Josh comes in after tussling with Steven (who has rushed to the party because why not) and pushes Margo through a window.  Margo falls to a bloody death.  The twins are saved–and finally reunited.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Josh is staying at the Dunes Motel
  • When Margo applied for the catering job, she apparently used the name Margaret Wake. Weird.
  • Lila has a signature flavor of ice cream at Casey’s: Million Dollar Mocha.
  • Despite the fact that the Beckwiths no longer live on Calico Drive because Annie Whitman moved into their house, Alice tells the kids she left their hotel information with them.  JESUS GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Margo was demonic, but her madness had a method to it.” (31) [Blogger’s note: THIS IS NEWS TO ME]
  • “Was murderous violence Margo’s answer to everything? Was no crime too heinous?” (67)
  • “‘Having somebody murdered really puts a damper on things,’ Lila observed.” (215)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said?  The book is bonkers and BEYOND the realms of even the slightest possibilities.  I think the thing that bothers me most about this one is how dumb everyone is for so long.  The biggest problem here is that there are multiple times where someone mentions an outing or conversation to Jessica or Elizabeth that they have no recollection of, and yet somehow choose to conveniently ignore it.  If someone was like, “It was fun trying on dresses at the mall with you the other day,” and I had no memory of the event, I would be LEGITIMATELY WORRIED.

Whatever, at least this mini-series is over.

SVH #99: Beware the Baby-Sitter

11 Jun

bewarethebabysitter

 

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2-3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Jessica is still dating James, who continues to spy on her and report back to Margo, who is calling herself Mandy.  She and James spend nearly all their free time together, and she nearly confides her guilt over Sam’s death to him several times.  James starts to feel guilty about feeding Margo every detail about Jessica.  When Margo instructs him to give Jessica a scarf as a gift in hopes she’ll wear it to the costume party, he obliges.

The night of the party, Jessica and Elizabeth get ready in stony silence.  They see each other in full costume and realize that they both decided to go as Cinderella with their respective Prince Charmings.  Jessica’s dress is only a shade lighter than Elizabeth’s and she chose to wear some pearl earrings Sam gave her.  They go to the party separately.

Elizabeth is determined to get on with her life, even if it means Todd is no longer in the picture.  She feels a bit of hope when Jessica offers her a ride home one day after school.  The two talk, a little.  Things look up for them until Liz discovers the letter Todd wrote her crumpled in a pile on Jessica’s floor. She screams at Jess and then promptly goes to make up with Todd.

Margo creates yet another persona for herself.  This time, she goes by the name Marla Field and applies to be a helper in a day care center.  Margo hates kids, so I don’t understand why she keeps putting herself in situations where she has to be around them, but whatever. She forges her reference letters and lies when the manager tells her she’s going to call them to confirm.  She gets hired on the spot, because everyone in this book is an idiot.  At any rate, she pumps the little kids for information about the Wakefields, and because the Wakefields are like, the most amazing family in the history of the world, these kids are full of trivia about them.  IT’S SO WEIRD.

Margo goes to the dance dressed as Jessica and creeps on Todd when Elizabeth leaves him to get punch.  He thinks she’s Jessica but dances with her anyway.  Then she pretends to be Jessica when she talks to Lila and some other people from SVH.  When she notices that Josh Smith has followed her all the way to Sweet Valley, she runs away.  He ends up tackling Jessica in the garden, and then realizes that there are two other girls who look exactly like Margo.

The next day, Margo decides it’s time to put the final part of her plan in motion.  She sends a letter to Ned Wakefield from a “law firm” up the coast interested in hiring him as a consultant.  The idea is she’ll get the Wakefield parents away for a couple days so she can kill one of the twins and take her place.  Um, okay.

Winston Egbert’s parents are out of town for a long weekend and he has lots of plans for the new found freedom.  But then a neighbor drops off her baby with some weird story about an emergency after a coup in another country, and she promises she’ll be back for Daisy the next day.  Of course, she doesn’t come back when she says she will, and Winston struggles with what to do with Daisy.  Maria helps him, and then she invites her friends over to help with the baby.  Amy and Winston bet each other that they can put a diaper on Daisy better than anyone.  Winston brings the baby to school in a duffel bag because he’s an idiot and hasn’t asked for help yet or called Child Protective Services.  He takes Daisy to the costume party and no one thinks this is weird.

Winston goes to the Little Darlings daycare center for some advice.  He talks to Margo, who goes off on a weird tangent about how babies sometimes get abandoned by bad parents, then offers to babysit for him.  She actually goes so far as to show up at his house and offers to take Daisy to child protective services.  He says no to that but agrees to let her babysit, despite the fact that he never told her his address and doesn’t know her name.

Margo proceeds to attempt to smother the baby before Elizabeth shows up.  When she sees Elizabeth, she flees.  The day after the party, Winston decides it’s time to surrender the baby and brings her to the daycare.  He leaves her with Margo, still not having gotten her name, and goes home to find Daisy’s parents waiting in the driveway. They rush back to the daycare center and rescue Daisy from certain death.  WHATEVER.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Costumes at Olivia’s party: Enid as Amelia Earhart, Amy as a nun (she lost the bet to Winston), Steven and Billie as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Olivia and Harry as Leonardo DaVinci and Mona Lisa, Robin Wilson as a mime, and Annie Whitman as a gypsy.
  • When James goes to meet Margo/Mandy at Kelly’s for a status report, the novel repeatedly refers to her as “Margo” even though James refers to her as “Mandy” and it is weird as hell.
  • Margo’s drink of choice is Wild Turkey

Memorable Quotes:

  • James realized his heart was pounding. This girl is beginning to seem more and more flipped out. He shook his head in disgust.” (25)
  • “Elizabeth decided that Jessica must be feeling guilty about having dated Todd a few times since the night of the accident.” (41)
  • “‘I admit it,’ Winston said. ‘I’m hysterial. I’m manic. I’m having hyper-conniption fits. My little red choo-choo has gone chugging around the bend. I’m a basket case. I’m–” (140)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Setting aside the fact that this entire plot is completely STUPID, can we talk about the fact that the inclusion of poor baby Daisy and poor Winston Egbert makes absolutely no sense? All this plot does is further convolute the narrative and give the characters of Sweet Valley further opportunities to prove how clueless, oblivious, and idiotic they are.  There is no way that a total stranger would leave her kid with a 16-year-old so she can fly to Central America to deliver birth certificate papers to her trapped husband during a governmental coup.  There just isn’t.  ON TOP OF THAT, the readers are supposed to believe that she thinks she can make this round-trip in a day.  She leaves Daisy with enough milk for like five minutes.  UGH.  That baby should be taken away, because this woman is THE LITERAL WORST.

But furthermore, what doesn’t make sense is that Winston would leave the baby not once but twice with Margo, despite the fact that he finds her creepy and unsettling (this is mentioned several times).  If you’re going to go to the trouble to surrender the baby to CPS, why not just go to CPS? Oh, because we need more drama and suspense in this novel?  Oh, okay.  DUMB.

Finally, what does Margo have to possibly gain by killing the baby at this point?  I know she got the job under a fake name and wearing a wig, but the center is in Sweet Valley.  Like, can you control your homicidal tendencies even a little bit?  You want to stay in this town.  You will get caught if you keep this shit up.  Jesus.

SVH #95: The Morning After

30 May

the morning after

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

With the start of these new mini-series books, the narration tends to jump between people more than in previous books.  Therefore, my recaps are going to look a little different.

Liz is having recurring nightmares about a girl who looks exactly like her and Jessica trying to kill her.  This girl has dark hair.  She’s also completely miserable about having killed Sam.  Totally alienated at school, the only person who will talk to her is Enid.  She can’t figure out why Todd is avoiding her, and she can’t figure out what happened the night of the dance.  She’s not sure if she was drunk at the prom, which is weird, because wouldn’t the police test her blood alcohol level?

It’s a couple of weeks before the police show up at the Wakefield house and interrogate Elizabeth in front of her whole family.  Jessica sits idly by while they ask Elizabeth about the alcohol she drank at the dance, and then they tell Elizabeth that she’s under arrest for involuntary manslaughter.  They lead her out but then tell Ned he can drive her to the police station.  These police are the worst.

Jessica is devastated following the loss of Sam.  She refuses to speak to Elizabeth and cries a lot.  Instead of going to the memorial service Sam’s dirtbike friends are throwing, she goes to the cemetery where she cries a lot and blames herself for the accident.  Meanwhile, Todd starts hanging around her, because he’s clearly worried about her.  She continues to be withdrawn around her friends.

Bruce can’t stop thinking about the girl who helped him the night of the Big Mesa/Sweet Valley rumble.  Her name is Pamela Robertson, and she goes to Big Mesa.  He finds out that she plays tennis there, so he stalks her practices until he can talk to her.  Despite a bunch of people dropping hints that Pamela is known as a slut, he’s super interested in her and asks her out.  At the end of the first date, they both admit that they’re falling in love.  When Bruce gets ready to see her again, Roger tells him that he’s heard some not great things about Pamela.  He brushes this off until Amy confirms the rumors at lunch one day.  As a result, he’s a total dick to Pamela on their next date, but then feels bad about it and goes over to her house the next morning to apologize.  But when he gets there, he sees that she’s getting out of a car and kisses another boy! He’s furious.

Lila is still dealing with serious post-traumatic shock from when John Pfeifer tried to rape her.  In the aftermath of accusing Nathan the counselor of the same thing, she has a meeting with Principal Cooper, Nathan, and her father.  It’s there she comes to the realization that Nathan didn’t try to hurt her, and she apologizes and cries a bunch.  Her father’s unsure how to deal with her, and after realizing how screwed up she is, he tells her he’s sending for her mother, Grace, in Paris.  Lila breaks down in tears, thanking him.

Olivia is still taking classes at that art school where she met James in her super special book.  James isn’t in the picture any more, having accepted a scholarship to paint in Paris, but Olivia is still at it, thinking about how lonely she is.  But she’s also a super talented artist, because one of her paintings was in a student art show and now there’s a buyer interested in it.  This buy is contingent on Olivia giving a speech at some art conference.  She tells all this to Nicholas Morrow over coffee, and then they both lament the state of their love lives.  The two decide to set each other up on dates.  Olivia gets the brilliant idea to submit Nicholas as a possible contestant on a new show called Hunks.

When Olivia shows up to give the art speech, though, she finds herself at a random mansion where a boy from her art class is waiting for her.  He tells her he made the whole thing up, and instead of running for the hills from this crazy person who clearly wants to murder her and wear her like a dress, Olivia is intrigued by this Harry Minton person.

Margo: Is a new character, a foster girl living in Long Island who decides to listen to the voice in her head and embark on a westward journey.  In order to do so, she kills her five-year-old foster sister by pouring kerosene all over the kitchen and then telling her to use a metal knife to get her toast out of the toaster.  She leaves after watching the house burn with Nina inside it.  Then she decides to call herself Michelle and buys a one-way ticket to Cleveland.  She gets a job as a babysitter for a family with a little boy named Georgie.  She starts stealing from Georgie’s mother, and the voice tells her she has to go to California.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • According to this book, Margo’s been in 10 different foster homes by the age of 16.
  • Bruce repeatedly refers to Pamela Robertson as “Cinderella,” and it is never not creepy.
  • The English classes are reading Moby Dick.
  • Pamela’s favorite old movie is Philadelphia Story

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica suddenly looked up. ‘Can’t you people talk about anything important?’ she cried.” (40)
  • “‘Well, for one thing,’ she explained, ‘Elizabeth Wakefield, of all people, was acting possessed.'” (70)
  • “What I know about teenage boys would curl your hair, lady, Margo bragged silently.” (162)
  • “‘I don’t think it’s wise for my daughter to answer questions like this without an attorney present,’ Ned Wakefield said.” (200)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There are so many things about this book that make absolutely no sense.  But two things stood out to me about this one: the handling of Lila’s accusations about Nathan and the handling of the investigation into Sam’s death.

Firstly, let’s focus on the Lila situation, which is really sad.  If there’s something to appreciate about how truly dumb this book and the series as a whole is, is that this story gets some consistency.  Lila is really, really screwed up because of what happened to her.  She’s still dealing with it, and it’s actually not that out of the realm of possibility that she’d misinterpret what Nathan was trying to do that night.

But instead of dealing with this in a way that makes any sense (remember, the police were involved at the end of the last book), Chrome Dome Cooper calls a meeting with Lila, her father, and Nathan.  There are no police, and Cooper acts as a mediator, asking for Lila’s story while Nathan is in the room.  In what reality does a victim of sexual assault have to give testimony for the first time with the accused in the room?  It’s so fucked.  It makes no sense.  But they wrap this up quickly so we can get to the ridiculous Elizabeth story.

Which brings me to the second issue here.  Elizabeth states in the middle of the book that she can’t imagine she was drunk, which makes no sense, because she would have been treated for injuries in the hospital after the car crash and then interviewed by police.  There is NO FREAKING WAY that the police would wait weeks to question her about the accident.  So when they show up at the house and ask about her blood alcohol level, which they apparently DID test at the scene, she’s like, “I don’t know how I got drunk!”

None of this makes any sense.  It just doesn’t.  It’s this bizarre plot hole that shouldn’t be there because the book is contradicting itself over the course of like, 50 pages.  After they question her, one of the cops says that they’ve been trying to handle this investigation delicately because she’s a good student and her dad is a prominent lawyer in the community.  I’m sure that will be of great comfort to DEAD SAM WOODRUFF’S PARENTS.  Jesus Christ.

What will happen in the next book?  Will Elizabeth end up in jail forever?  I WISH.

SVH #64: The Ghost of Tricia Martin

21 Feb

ghost of tricia martin

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Steven and Liz run into a girl at the mall who is a DEAD RINGER for Steven’s dead girlfriend, Tricia Martin.  Steven immediately becomes obsessed and asks the girl, Andrea, out.  Even though he is dating Cara Walker seriously, he can’t stop thinking about Andrea/Tricia, and the two start to spend a lot of time together.  Steven takes her to all the places he and Tricia used to go, and he gets upset when she orders the “wrong” kind of ice cream and wears her hair up, because Tricia would never do that.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth wrings her hands about Steven’s behavior, because she’s kind of worried about how into Andrea he is and how brutally he’s kicked Cara to the curb without actually breaking up with her.  He just keeps blowing her off, thinking he can get this whole Andrea/Tricia thing out of his system and not hurt Cara in the process, which is actually one of the least crazy things he thinks in this book.

To try to keep his mind off of how obsessed he is, he also decides to take up hang gliding after seeing a magazine about it in Elizabeth’s bedroom.  Even though everyone around him is like, “That sounds dangerous, dude,” he’s determined, goes hang gliding, and promptly crashes into a cliff or something.  He doesn’t die, though.  He ends up in some sort of weird not-coma where he calls out Tricia’s name in front of Cara and then calls out Cara’s name once she’s run from the room, crying.

When he wakes up, he feels awful about both girls, I guess.  Andrea comes to the hospital in another dude’s car and breaks up with him because she’s not insane and realizes that he only likes her because she looks like his dead girlfriend.  Then Cara comes to the hospital and forgives Steven because she’s totally spineless and can’t be her own person for even a second.  All is well.

The B-Plot focuses on Jessica getting involved with a dude named Keith.  Keith is really, really into the environment, and Jessica pretends to be so she can hang out with him, but then she’s disappointed when all he ever wants to do is talk about recycling and trash burning and stuff.

There’s also a set-up for the next book, which involves Ned and Alice in marital strife.  They’ve been fighting a lot, and Ned seems professionally unsatisfied.  Whatever.  Too bored to care.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Steve is home for “a few weeks” to work on “an independent study project” for school.  Doesn’t he have other classes?  What kind of clown school is this?
  • There’s a revival movie theater in Sweet Valley that plays all sorts of independent fare.
  • Keith suggests he and Jessica get a bite to eat at the Whole Earth Cafe, where they serve “natural vegetable juices and mineral water.”

Quotes:

  • “‘Steve, no offense,’ she began quietly, ‘but you’ve called me Tricia three times.'” (14)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This is the creepiest, most disturbing book I think I’ve read in the series thus far.  In a stronger writer’s hands, this could be the plot of a thriller/suspense novel: a man becomes obsessed with a girl who resembles one he lost, and tries to mold her to meet his memories of a dead woman.  This is seriously the most disturbed I’ve been while reading one of these Sweet Valley books, and I can’t stop thinking about how fucked up this one is.

First of all, if Steven really became that obsessed with a girl who bears a passing resemblance to his dead girlfriend, that means that Steven needs serious, intensive therapy.  The fact that no one see this or suggests it tells me that everyone in his life is in some serious denial.  A couple of times, Steven blows up at Liz and is like, “So you think I’m crazy?” and she’s like, “No!” when she should really be like, “YES, YOU FUCKING PSYCHO.”

What Steven does with Andrea is creepy and totally inappropriate.  Getting upset when she orders a vanilla cone instead of a chocolate one?  Actually pulling the barrette out of her hair so she looks more like Tricia?  How are these actions okay?  How are they the actions of a person with a firm grip on reality?

Setting aside the fact that Sweet Valley seems to be a mecca for doppelgangers, his immediate attempts to make Andrea into Tricia and pick up his romance with her is problematic at best.  Doesn’t he have any friends?  Why is no one saying, “Dude, maybe you should be single for a while and see a therapist to sort through your grief?”  And don’t get me started on the treatment of Cara in this one.  Dropping her like a hot potato and picking her back up when Andrea splits?  Fucked. Up.

Also, while reading this I couldn’t help but notice the bizarre fetishism of Tricia’s death.  The way Steven thinks about Tricia’s body as she grew weaker is really fucking creepy.  But what else can you expect from someone who is ACTUALLY INSANE.

SVH Super Thriller #4: Deadly Summer

30 Jan

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks?

Summary/Overview:
We’re back on summer vacation, and the twins are still working for the Sweet Valley News.  There’s a brief, disappointing recap of the previous three books in the thriller series, and the twins reflect on what a summer it’s been.  There’s some talk about going back to school, and my mind breaks trying to figure out if they’re going back for junior year part deux or senior year.

Jessica and Lila have been playing around with a Oujia board.  Liz thinks it’s dumb, and she tells them so.  After insulting her twin and Lila, the girls decide to play a trick on Liz using the Oujia board.  Jessica snoops in her stuff to find some private stuff from Jeffrey and they get Liz to use the board with them. Liz is unnerved, but Lila and Jessica then get the board to tell her that Bruce Patman is dying from a mysterious disease.  Liz buys it and starts spending all her time with him. Bruce goes along with it, hoping to hook up with her.  Lila is pleased, thinking it will piss Jeffrey off and give her an in with him.

MEANWHILE, Liz has started receiving weird phone calls that coincide with the escape of a patient from a nearby insane asylum.  This guy, named Donald Redman, kidnapped a cheerleader in his youth (her name was Melanie) and went crazy when she got her jock friends to bully him.  He thinks Liz looks like Melanie and has begun stalking him.  His sister happens to be a lady that Elizabeth babysits for.  I am trying to care.  Redman calls in bomb threats and generally causes panic in Sweet Valley.

The night of  the “Be True to Your School” night, the Droids play and Liz and Jeffrey fight about Bruce.  The next day, Bruce calls Liz threatening suicide and she runs off to meet him.  When Jeffrey finds them embracing at the tennis courts, he goes ape shit.  Bruce smirks and Liz realizes that it’s all been an elaborate ruse and runs into the nearby tunnels to hide.

You know what’s coming, right?  She runs into Redman who holds her hostage, manages to capture Jeffrey and Bruce, too, and threatens to blow them up.  Bruce takes away his bomb and Redman follows him.  The bomb goes off, and Liz and Jeffrey think Bruce is dead.  He’s not.  He saved the day, kind of.  Everyone goes to the Dairi Burger.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Lila got the Oujia board on a trip to London, where it is “all the rage.”
  • The Droids play a song called “A-Plus.”  Gross.
  • Elsa, the sister of Donald Redman, claims he has a persecution complex, which is, believe it or not, an actual complex
  • Tropic Flame is the name of the nail polish Lila wears
  • Redman uses Dynamite to make his bombs.  Why not C-4?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Can you die of leprosy?’ Lila asked with a malicious giggle. ‘I mean, if he’s got to go, he might as well have something really interesting.'” (61)
  • “It wasn’t something they could talk about, and Elizabeth knew they would never be able to describe what had really happened to them, deep inside.  The horrific experience had left an indelible mark on their souls.” (198)

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I guess I just don’t understand why this book exists.  It’s not interesting in any way, shape or form.  The Oujia board plays way too prominent a role in a book that is way too short on plot.  Redman doesn’t come into play until well into the story, and by then it’s hard to care about what’s happening.

Also, Elizabeth is a first-class BITCH in this book.  She insults Jessica and Lila at the beginning of the story and continues to look down at them as they play around with the Oujia board.  Meanwhile, she falls hook, line, and sinker for Bruce’s fake illness and rationalizes away her weird, clingy behavior as doing him a favor in his last days.  If anyone has a complex here, it’s her.

Next up?  Liz decides between Jeffrey and Todd, who’s moving back into town.

SVH Super Thriller #3: No Place to Hide

4 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 4 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

You know what, you guys?  I tried to recap this one and couldn’t do it.  The story is so convoluted and terrible that I kept getting tripped up by the intricacies of the plot.  The truth of the matter is that I read this book a long time ago and can barely remember what happened.  I never got around to writing the recap when I finished because I was busy and because I hated this book so much.  I need the twins and their summer internship at the Sweet Valley News to be over.

Basicallly: the twins are still working as interns at the paper.  There’s a big mayoral race coming up, and the two candidates are Kincaid and Robinson.  Kincaid seems to be the shadier of the two.  Nicholas Morrow meets a mysterious girl named Barbara and falls in love with her.  She lives with her controlling uncle, who is named John.  It turns out that he is Kincaid’s brother.  There’s this stupid plot about them being in an artists’ colony back in the day and Kincaid falling in love with the same woman, who chose another man.  Kincaid pushed her over a cliff in a jealous rage and then went into business with his brother John?  When Kincaid decided to run for mayor, John didn’t want him to and devised a ridiculous plot to make him think he was seeing the ghost of the woman he loved (who was the spitting image of Barbara).  There’s some peril, attempted murder, and lots of suspense.  It’s pretty much the worst mystery ever.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “He had been a private businessman for years and had made a great deal of money.  His business was described as import/export, but it wasn’t exactly clear what that entailed.” (4) [Blogger’s note: Worst info-dump ever?]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Sweet Valley News holds its summer picnic in Ronoma County, which is 40 miles southeast of Sweet Valley

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Nope.  I’ve got nothing.  Sorry for the lamest post ever.  The next one will be better, I swear.