Tag Archives: jessica saves the day

SVH Super Thriller #8: Murder in Paradise

28 Jan

murderinparadise

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

Alice Wakefield has randomly won an all-expense paid trip to a spa in a glamorous location.  Because Alice has no friends, she takes her daughters, as well as Lila and her mom, Grace, and Enid (her mom has to “work” and can’t make it). The spa, creatively named Paradise Spa, is full of beautiful people, with the exception of the spa’s owner, Tatiana Mueller.  While Alice has a feeling of deja vu when she meets Tatiana, she largely ignores her feelings of foreboding.

The ladies settle into life at the spa.  Jessica and Lila are horrified to find that there are no mirrors anywhere at the resort, and when they ask if they can have a mirror delivered to their room, Tatiana tells them no, because the spa focuses on inner beauty.  Except this is a beauty spa, so that makes no sense, but whatever.  It takes approximately five seconds before Jessica meets a golf instructor named Chris and falls in love with him.  She gets worried when he seems to be pretty into Liz, though.

And indeed he is, because he asks Liz to meet him for a rousing game of tennis.  She agrees, so long as he’ll bring a friend for her friend, Enid.  Enid has been feeling bad about how gorgeous Liz is and how she gets all the boys or whatever.  Tatiana has actually been feeding into Enid’s insecurities, but they are boring, so whatever.  Enid hits it off with Chris’s friend Alex, and the date goes well until Jessica shows up and acts all distracting.  Enid is miserable and consumed with jealousy, which is only compounded by the fact that Tatiana has started hypnotizing Enid and telling her that her mother never loved her.  WHAT?

Liz and Chris run off and make out.  Later, the group of teens is on a fun outing of frisbee golf, like teens are wont to do, and they stumble upon a super weird building in the woods without any windows.  The hotel staffers run away, and there’s clearly something weird going on.  Liz overhears Tatiana yelling at a waitress named Katya about letting guests into the woods, and when Katya ends up dead in the steam room later, Liz finds it mighty suspicious, despite Tatiana saying that Katya had a heart condition.  Liz does some more snooping and discovers that not only was Katya a runaway, but so are most of the spa’s staff.  They work at the spa for room and board and make no actual income.  Liz also thinks that they seem a tad brainwashed.

Then Alice goes missing, and Tatiana brushes it off, saying she probably just wanted some time alone.  The twins try to call home, but the phone’s dead.  Tatiana continues to act weird, and Jessica spies on her and sneaks into her office when she’s not there.  Once inside, she finds a yearbook from Sweet Valley University with Alice’s picture cut out.  DUN DUN DUN!  Eventually, Elizabeth manages to get her laptop plugged into a phone line, and after a little research, pulls up some weird stuff about the spa and plastic surgery.  While she does that, Jessica goes through Tatiana’s files and finds that all of the staff have undergone plastic surgery, and Enid is next!

The twins get an email from Ned, who tells the girls that they did know a Tatiana Mueller in college.  She was obsessed with Alice and everyone made fun of her because she was unattractive.  Liz goes to do some thinking by a waterfall and gets kidnapped by Chris, who is wearing a lab coat.  Once she’s kidnapped, Chris reveals to her that Tatiana wants to look like Alice and has trained another person to be the perfect plastic surgeon so this can be accomplished.  The plan is to kill Alice once the surgery is complete.

Right before Elizabeth dies, Lila, Jessica, and Enid come rushing in to save the day.  Enid’s brainwashing unravels as Chris spews his story, and she helps overpower Tatiana and her assistants.  The police arrive, and all is well.  Everyone goes home.  Even the surgically-altered runaways.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The shelter for runaways that Liz calls is called Manford House
  • There’s another plug for the search engine (?) INFOMAX in this book

Memorable Quotes:

  • “’I’ve gained four pounds since Hugh dumped me.’ Her green eyes glittered; a tear slid down her freckled cheek. ‘If I were prettier, if I looked more like you and Jessica, Hugh would have never gotten tired of me.’  Elizabeth continued to shake her head empathetically. Inside, though, she had to admit that there might be a tiny measure of truth to what Enid said.”

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I mean, what is there even to say?  The idea that Alice would bring her daughters, their friends, and their friend’s mothers (well, except Enid’s) to a spa for a week is sad enough.  Don’t you have any friends, Alice?  Isn’t it weird to bring the mom of one of your daughter’s friends whom you barely know?  Setting aside that, don’t you think it’s weird that you can’t remember the name Tatiana Mueller, which is fairly unusual?  Remember how she lived down the hall from you in college and was OBSESSED with you?

But then the rest of it is just silly.  Both Jessica and Elizabeth are supposed to have boyfriends at home (Ken and Todd, respectively) and within minutes of arriving at Paradise Spa, they’re macking on the same dude.  Like, what the hell?  A fling when you’re across the world is one thing, but you’re going to be home in a matter of days (provided you don’t die at the hands of a deranged, body-image-obsessed psychopath).  Cool your jets, ladies.

Then there’s the issue of Tatiana and her hare-brained scheme.  How did she really see this playing out?  She was going to kill the entire group and take over Alice’s life?  That seems unlikely.  So she just wanted to look like Alice and go on living her life?  Did she not think that people were going to start getting suspicious about how many people “disappeared” or actually died in her health spa?  Are there not regulations regarding those sorts of things?  Didn’t she have to put in purchase orders for her medical equipment?  DOES ANY OF THIS MAKE SENSE?

Also, Enid.  LOL.

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SVH #114: V for Victory

29 Aug

v for victory

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week?

Summary/Overview:

The SVH cheerleaders have won the state championships and are on their way to regionals, but Jessica and Heather are still bickering over every stupid thing imaginable.  Liz is, for some reason, still cheerleading, even though Jess let it slip that she and Ken used to to totally hook up.  When the cheerleaders mistake Liz for Jess and lift her up to celebrate her, Jessica runs off and cries and is super mad at Liz.

Liz tries to tell Jess that she and Ken are over and their feelings for one another are resolved, but Jessica is convinced she’s a boyfriend stealing bitch.  Todd is also not interested in hearing what Liz has to say and breaks up with her.  By the time the girls are on the bus (they decorated it) to Yosemite for nationals, Todd realizes he still loves Liz.  After he and Ken have a huge fight in the hall at Sweet Valley, they decide to road trip to Yosemite to win them back.  Great! Not at all boring!

There’s a cheerleading camp with cabins, because of course.  The SVH squad is rooming with a group from Alabama, so there’s lots of Southern twang stuff that’s totally hilarious.  THEN Heather’s old squad from when she lived in Reno shows up, and Heather gets kind of twitchy.  She finds a newspaper clipping about how she was kicked off her old squad, and there’s a special note from Marissa James, who is the captain of the Reno squad.  Heather messes up all the routines the next day, but WHY?!

Because the cheerleading camp is girls-only, the boys (Ken, Todd, and Winston, for some reason) can’t get in.  Instead of admitting defeat, they decide to dress up as girls.  This will end well.

Jessica calls Heather out on her crap, and Heather argues with her before telling her about how she cheated on a math test and got booted from the squad.  The girls tell the rest of the squad, who decide that Marissa is the worst person ever.  The next morning, the squad finds that they can’t leave their cabin because Marissa has locked the door from the outside (what?) and blocked all the windows.  When the girls don’t show up for the contest, the boys (dressed as girls) come and rescue them.  Everyone laughs about their terrible cross-dressing attempt.  Okay.  Jess and Liz make up because the sight of boys dressed as girls makes them laugh so hard they can’t stay mad at each other.

Before they’re set to perform, they decide to prank the dudes and call them up to do a routine.  They can just do that in the middle of a competition?  At any rate, the dudes suck, but they also start sliding all over the floor.  The girls realize the stage has been tampered with.  The Reno squad admits to sabotage and are disqualified.  The SVH cheerleaders perform and take second place.  Everyone makes up with everyone else. Thank FUCK this mini-series is over.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Despite the super sparkly uniforms on the cover (terrible artwork, though), I’m not sure the uniforms ever look like that.
  • Lila makes a reference to the Bobbsey twins, which was about the most exciting thing in this book.

Memorable Quotes:

  • Something’s up here, Elizabeth thought, her reporter’s nose sensing trouble.” (25)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Although it’s a common refrain on this blog lately, I carried this book around for like two weeks before finally getting down to it.  It’s weird, because I love the movie Bring it On, but reading about the SVH cheerleaders and their struggles to reach nationals is so completely boring I can’t even believe I finally made it through.  I don’t understand any of the characters or their motivations in this book.

Like, why did Heather think that she had to conceal the reason she got kicked off the squad to the point where she intentionally sabotaged her own team?  Why are Liz and Jess the worst?  Why is Todd so boring?  Why couldn’t the boys wait three days for the girls to return to Sweet Valley?  NO ONE CARES.

SVH #106/Super Thriller #6: Beware the Wolfman

2 Jul

bewarewolfmanEstimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

The twins are still not speaking because Jessica is pissed that everyone thinks her boyfriend Robert Pembroke is the werewolf on the loose.  Determined to clear his name, Jessica starts investigating the murders in earnest, going so far as to sneak into the murdered Dr. Neville’s house and snoop through his files.  She finds a file for a mysterious Annabelle S., who died some years ago.  She isn’t sure what to make of it.  At the same time, Liz enters the house and tries to search for files.  The two don’t cross paths, though.  Liz finds an address for Mildred Price, nanny to the Pembrokes.  Then the intruder/werewolf comes in looking for the same files.  Whatever, this is beyond the beyond.

Liz puts the necklace with the “A” on it in Jessica’s bag, thinking she needs it more than Liz does.  The next morning, Jessica wakes up late for work and leaves in a rush, forgetting her bag.  By the time she gets back to HIS to grab it, it’s clear someone has been in the room, searching it.

The nanny of the Pembrokes turns up dead.

The intruder/werewolf searches the twins’ room again, looking for the silver bullet but only finding the files they took (Robert’s and Annabelle’s).  He steals them back.  The twins finally start talking to each other again, trying to piece together the mystery they seem to think they’re embroiled in.

Lord Pembroke is attacked but survives and is in the hospital.  A visit tells Jessica that Robert Pembroke Sr. was in love with the woman named Annabelle, then that he has another son.  Whatever, I’m bored.  While this is going on, Liz decides to go visit Pembroke Green in the country and snoop around some more.  This time, she brings Tony from the paper to help her.  The two go to the Werewolf Room and discover hidden love letters between Annabelle and Lord Pembroke.

Meanwhile, Jessica enlists the help of Portia and her famous actor father to get back into the house to talk to Lady Pembroke.  She tells her she knows about the lord’s affair and Robert’s brother.  Lady Pembroke rants on about Annabelle and her demonic son, Lucas.  Finally, Jessica puts it all together, but by the time she rushes back into town, Liz has gone off with Luke to investigate Annabelle’s old home.

While Luke goes to find a fuse box, Liz snoops around the house in the dark.  She discovers the room of Annabelle’s son, and finds that whoever it is is a crazy person.  There are hundreds of newspaper clippings about the Pembrokes all over the walls, and then she finds a diary.  Then Luke shows up in the doorway wearing a werewolf mask and tells Liz she has to die.

LUCKILY Rene (who has been stalking Elizabeth to keep her safe), Robert (who has been disguised as a homeless man to keep Jessica safe), and Sergeant Bumpo all show up.  There’s a fumble with a gun and it goes off, killing Luke.  Jessica and Tony arrive just in time to witness the aftermath.  The twins are safe, and Luke is revealed to be a crazy person.

Then Lucy Friday and Tony get married a week later.  The end.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • At one point, Liz remembers she has a boyfriend named Todd back home. She misses him for a second and then thinks about how much she likes making out with Luke.  Weird.
  • Jessica eats a burger and fries from an “American-style fast food place” in London.  Um, McDonald’s, maybe?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Ann, not Annabelle. So much for that brilliant idea, Jessica thought, disappointed.” (104)
  • “‘Not that he isn’t weird,’ she said with her mouth full. ‘He’d make a pretty good werewolf because he knows so much about them. And he’s a loner, and serial killers are always loners.’ Still, it didn’t jive. ‘People who write poetry are too wimpy to be murderers,’ Jessica concluded.” (133)
  • “‘So much for Rene supposedly wanting so badly to be my friend,’ she grubnled to herself. ‘I can’t believe I actually wasted time feeling guilty because we weren’t seeing much of each other!” (155) YOU ARE A FUCKING SOCIOPATH, ELIZABETH.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis: 

…sigh.

This was exhausting, and not in a good way.  I still don’t understand any of what happened.  Like, it makes no sense.  I literally have nothing to say about it.  Luke was the killer, there was nothing supernatural about the plot (except for how SUPERNATURALLY DUMB it is), and the twins survive another murderer on the loose.  Like, is this plot tired or is it tired?  Why do the books resort to this stuff?

I know that the Evil Twin plot with Margo was the start of a new direction for the series, but it still feels like such a colossally weird way to go.  The twins have always been this ideal to strive for.  Like, they aren’t supposed to be relatable because humans this perfect don’t exist, but their experiences in high school were supposed to largely stand in for high school experiences of the readers.  But this stuff?  I can’t get behind it.

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 #84: The Stolen Diary

23 Apr

stolendiary

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Todd tells Liz he’s afraid they’re getting too serious or maybe too comfortable with each other and thinks they should take a break.  Liz is stunned but agrees to it.  She’s in total denial about the fact that he’s clearly interested in another girl named Peggy Abbot, but when everyone starts talking about them and Liz sees them flirting out and about, she realizes it must be true.

So she proceeds to agonize about it for 100 pages.  She writes in her journal, ignores Enid’s problems, and is generally the saddest sack around.  When Kris Lynch, a senior at SVH, asks her to the dance, she turns him down and then reconsiders when she realizes it might be a way to attract Todd’s attention.  This will end well.

It’s clear that Kris is super into Liz, but she’s not interested in him at all.  She feels bad about how excited he was for the dance and agrees to a second date.  It isn’t long before people are referring to him as her boyfriend, even though they have never kissed.  Liz knows she needs to tell Kris she’s not interested, and she decides that the perfect place to do that is at Maria Santelli’s party.  Because nothing says “gentle letdown” like a crowded party, right?

Of course, it’s too noisy at the party, and when Liz tries to pull Kris into a quiet room to break it off, they run into Todd and Peggy, who look like they’re about to make out.  Liz runs out the room and ends up making out with Kris on a stairwell before pushing him away and asking to go home.  He goes totally  nuts on her in the car when she tells him she’s not interested.  After yelling and screaming at her, he pulls over when she asks, but then grabs at her as she gets out of the car.  This is scarily close to sexual assault, but that’s never mentioned.  Liz drops her bag in his car and struggles to put everything back.

The next day at school, Liz can’t find her journal but is distracted when Kris comes by with a white rose for her as a peace offering.  Then the rumors about what happened between them start up.  Kris is claiming they had a “wild night” at Miller’s Point.  Todd approaches Liz and tells her he was wrong, and they get back together.  But then Kris tells him he knows all about the kinds of fights Todd and Liz have had, and Todd blows off their reunion dinner.  Kris does the same thing to Enid, who then gets super pissed at Liz.

Jessica figures out that there’s no way Liz would have told Kris all this stuff about the people she loves, and when she confronts him about it, she isn’t even ruffled when he pulls out details about her.  It just fuels her desire to get to the bottom of whatever has happened.  So she figures out that he must have swiped Liz’s diary–and once again, she confronts him and blackmails him into telling the truth.  Then she makes Todd and Enid meet with Kris, who comes clean with them.  All is well in the world.

The B-Plot is Enid trying to decide if she wants to get back together with Hugh Grayson.  I guess things didn’t work out with Jeffrey?  There are a few missed connections, a case of jumping to conclusions, and finally a last-minute reconciliation.  I guess, good for them?  Whatever, I hate Enid.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Kris picks Liz up for the dance in a pink Cadillac
  • Kris normally drives a custom bright green Volkswagen Beetle
  • The twins are into green: Jess wears a bright green sundress, Liz wears a seafoam green dress

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica groaned dramatically. ‘I can’t believe we share the same genes,’ she said. ‘What I know about boys would fill a book, but what you know wouldn’t fill a postcard.'” (6)
  • “It was nice to know that she was pretty and popular, but it would be even nicer to know that the boy she thought was special felt the same way about her.” (55)
  • “‘It’s amazing, isn’t it?’ asked Jessica as Elizabeth disappeared back up the stairs. ‘You wouldn’t think someone like Elizabeth had anything to put in a journal. “Dear Diary, Today I went to school. I got another A. I wrote another articles for The Oracle. I went home and did my homework.”‘” (93)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There are a few things that really bothered me about this one, the first of which is how desperate Enid and Elizabeth both are.  A common theme in these books is that the girls are defined by their relationships with boys, and that’s really heavily played up here.  Enid keeps joking about joining a convent because she can’t make it work with Hugh, and I guess I don’t really understand how this is at all relative to other teens.  Girl, you are sixteen years old, and you are thirsty as hell.  Give it a rest.

Liz, too, is guilty of this, thinking only of how to get Todd back and how lost she feels without him.  She uses Kris throughout the book in order to make Todd jealous or get his attention, and even though she tries to explain herself the night of Maria’s party, it’s not completely surprising that Kris doesn’t handle it well.  I mean, Liz has been using him, and he’s right about that part, at least.

The part that is surprising is how much Kris FREAKS OUT about it.  They’ve had two dates, and he seems to think they are destined for marriage.  He gets a little rough with her, too, which I didn’t like.  There’s no mention of this again, and I fear that normalizes it.  Then, when he spreads all the rumors about Liz, his crazy gets amped up.  But when Jessica confronts him about it, he’s painted as sympathetic again.  These characters are not complicated enough for this sort of thing to work.  Kris is either a sociopath or he’s not.  He can’t be both.  Ugh.

Super Thriller #1: Double Jeopardy

16 Oct

Estimated Time Elapsed: 5 weeks (summer vacation)

Summary/Overview:

The twins are summer interns at the Sweet Valley News. Their main duties are copying and getting coffee, but Liz hopes that by the end of the summer her boss Mr. Robb will let her do a story.  Jessica isn’t really focused on the news aspect of it until she decides that ace reporter Seth Miller is worth her attention, and then she starts fabricating stories trying to get his attention.  It does get his attention, but mostly because he’s pissed at her for making shit up and getting him into trouble.

Steven’s friend Adam Maitland is staying with the Wakefields for the summer because he’s poor but has an internship in Sweet Valley.  Jessica decides that Adam is the perfect distraction for Liz while Jeffrey’s gone (and will keep her from getting interested in the gorgeous Seth), so she really pushes Liz to hang out with him.  She also fabricates a letter from Adam to Liz that confesses his love for her.  In it, he vows to break up with his secret fiancee Laurie.  Liz finds it and worries, then tries to pretend like the letter never existed.

When Jessica works late one night at the newspaper, she witnesses a man loading a body into the trunk of a car in the parking garage.  This man gets a glimpse of Jessica before she races away in the Fiat.  Jessica goes home to an empty house and promptly freaks out, so she calls Seth, and after begging and crying for a while, she finally convinces him that she saw something.  He comes over and the two of them go back to the garage, but the white Trans Am that Jessica saw is gone.

Back at the Wakefield house, Ma and Pa Wakefield are extremely reluctant to believe Jessica’s story until the police call and say that they found the body of Laurie in the trunk of Adam Maitland’s car.  Everyone is shocked, but then they believe Jessica.  Adam is going to be tried for the murder of his fiancee unless they can find evidence that says otherwise, or whatever.

Liz is uncomfortable because she thinks the letter he wrote to her is motive, so she gives it to the police.  Jessica has to go to the station and confess about faking the note, but she doesn’t want Liz to know about that.  Seth Miller and Jessica work hard to get Adam to help them with the case, because apparently he’s given up on his life.  We’re supposed to care, but I don’t.  Adam finally tells them that Tom Winslow, the guy who Laurie’s grandfather wanted her to marry, was kind of crazy.  Maybe he killed Laurie?

Jessica and Liz have been forbidden from driving the Fiat until the police catch the guy in the white Trans Am.  The girls are told to always stick together, especially on the way to the newspaper office party.  But of course the police call and need Jessica to meet with them immediately, so Liz has to go alone.  She can’t get Steven’s car to start and the wait for a taxi is too long, so she takes the Fiat.  This will end well.

The newspaper office party is in full swing and Liz isn’t there yet.  Jessica gets introduced to a blond young man…who happens to be Tom Winslow.  She freaks but then tries to stall him from going into the parking garage where Liz could arrive at any moment.  Steven shows up at the party (seriously, these guys will let anyone in) and demands to know why the Fiat is gone.  Jessica puts two and two together and tells Steve and Seth to get the police.

At any rate, Tom enters the garage at the same time that Liz is finding a parking space.  He recognizes the car and thinks Liz is Jessica, and he tries to attack her.  She lays on the horn, Jessica comes running, and Tom is confused about there being two of them but then tries to kill them both anyway.  Jessica pulls the fire alarm, the police and guards show up, whatever I don’t even care.  They’ve caught the real killer!

Memorable Quotes:

  • “That’s okay, Liz.  It’s different for you–you want to be a features writer, not an investigative reporter.  You’re not interested in the sleuthing side of things.” (27)
  • “Nothing like this has ever happened in Sweet Valley.  I’ve been with this department for 25 years, and we’ve never had a murder here before.” (88) [ORLY Officer?  Justin Belson might have something to say about that.]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Liz has a Do No Disturb sign on her door.  Loser.
  • Seth Miller is 22 and apparently graduated from high school at 16, then went on to get his Master’s in journalism, and writes mystery novels in his spare time under the pen name Lester Ames.
  • Lila went to finishing camp when she was younger and likes to watch soap operas on a Watchman.  I didn’t even know this thing existed until I googled it.  Holy shit! Why didn’t I have one as a kid?
  • Los Vistas is a town about 10 miles from Sweet Valley.  Allegedly.
  • Tom Winslow is the third jerkface to drive a Trans Am.  I AM SENSING A PATTERN, PEOPLE.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This book was 215 pages of crap.  There was no real motivation for the murder.  Wouldn’t Tom have wanted to go after Adam and not Laurie, the woman he loved?  What kind of crack police force can’t find a white Trans Am that’s being driven all over town?  Why does this book exist?

One can only assume that the SVH Powers That Be came up with the idea of a super thriller (which is similar to a super edition, except with 50% more murder) because of the success of mystery novels like Nancy Drew.  The problem with this one is that there is no real mystery.  From the first mention of Tom Winslow, the reader knows it was him.  Isn’t the big reveal supposed to happen at the very end?  Isn’t that kind of…the point?

Also, what kind of parents would allow their sixteen year old to go out with a twenty-two year old?  Really?

SVH Super Edition: Spring Fever

4 Oct

[Blogger’s Note: This book was one of my favorites when I was younger, and when I started collecting the books a few years ago, it was one of the first ones I reread.  I was so excited about it that I took it to class with me.  I was reading it during a break, trying to hide it from view, when the guy that I was crushing on walked up to me and asked what I was reading.  I was totally trapped, and I had to show it to him.  Mortified, I tried to quickly explain that it was ironic.  He laughed, but it was still really embarrassing.  SEE WHAT I ENDURE FOR YOU, SWEET VALLEY?]

Estimated Time Elapsed: Roughly 2 weeks (an 11-day trip to Walkersville, Kansas)

Summary/Overview:

Jessica and Elizabeth are traveling all the way to Walkersville, Kansas to stay with their great-aunt and uncle Herman and Shirley Walker for their spring break.  By my count, this is something like their third spring break in their junior year alone.  The twins are super excited to spend time in a real life small-town, because apparently Sweet Valley is a busting metropolis.  Alice Wakefield spends some time reflecting about the time she spent there as a young girl, and then she worries over the kinds of clothes that Jessica is bringing, because they’re a little risque for a town like Walkersville.

Once the twins arrive, they gush over how wonderful the town is.  Everything is quaint and perfect; there’s a main street and a five-and-dime (owned by their great-uncle) with a REAL SODA FOUNTAIN INSIDE.  Holy moley!  Everything about the town seems perfect with the one exception of Annie Sue Sawyer, a local girl who gives the twins a pretty cold reception.  Jessica is indignant about this, which is weird, because she’s the queen of icy greetings.  Apparently Annie Sue hasn’t taken kindly to two beautiful blondes from California showing up and potentially moving in on her boyfriend.  Despite their attempts to kill her with kindness, Annie Sue stays mean, setting them up for a bunch of embarrassing things, including a day of hijinx on her family’s farm.

A carnival comes to town, and the twins FREAK OUT about going.  Even though they want to go alone, their aunt and uncle are aghast at such an idea and insist on going with them.  Jessica is mortified but makes up for it by wearing her white jumpsuit with rhinestones on it.  The carnival itself isn’t much to write home about, but it isn’t long before Jessica and Liz meet Alex Parker, the guy in charge of horses at the carnival.  It turns out that Alex has an identical twin named Brad who is just like Elizabeth.  Jessica makes plans to meet Alex after the carnival closes up that night, but these plans are vetoed by Herman and Shirley, who go apoplectic at the idea of Jessica going out with a carny after ten o’clock.  So Jess fakes being sleepy and sneaks out to see him.

The twins alternate seeing Brad and Alex, but Elizabeth starts to get worried about her feelings for Brad and her feelings for Jeffrey.  She also wonders why Alex and Brad are never in the same place in the same time.  But Jessica has fallen head over heels for Alex and is continuing her late night rendezvous with him, causing her aunt and uncle to worry about her health.  What normal sixteen year old girl goes to bed at nine every night? [Blogger’s note: Um, this one did.] Elizabeth and Jessica assure them that’s she’s catching up on lost sleep from how busy she is in her real life.

Of course, Annie Sue sees Jessica and Alex together and concocts a weak blackmail scheme.  She gets a bunch of Jessica’s clothes and accessories in exchange for not spilling the beans about Jessica’s new love.  Elizabeth figures out that Alex and Brad are the same person due to a hand injury that ends up on both of them, but Alex begs Liz not to tell Jessica because he’s really fallen for her.  She agrees, but she’s pissed about it.

On the second to last night in Walkersville, Jessica is put in charge of watching Midnight, Alex’s most wild horse.  Annie Sue’s dad is buying it for her, and so she decides that it’s time to ride Midnight.  The horse gets spooked and takes off, and Jessica jumps on another horse and saves a now-hysterical Annie Sue.  She thanks Jessica and renounces every mean thing she’s ever said to her.  She throws a party to celebrate the awesomeness of the Wakefield twins.  Herman and Shirley meet Alex and reluctantly agree to allow Jessica to go with him to the barn dance the following night.  The twins have a rip-roaring good time, and they’ll never forget all the wonderful folks they met in Kansas.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “I read a great book about a girl who fell in love with a Ferris wheel operator.  It was incredibly romantic.” (44)
  • “‘Well, it’s just that we have an unspoken rule in town about the carnival,’ Mrs. Walker continued. ‘The boys who work the carnival are known as carnies in local slang.  Generally they come from very different backgrounds than any of the boys in town.  They’re not necessarily rough or anything, but they’re certainly not the kind of boys either of you two would be interested in.  I’m sure you know what I mean,’ she concluded…” (47)
  • “‘You’re a good kid, you know that?’ Alex said huskily.” (231) [Blogger’s note: And you’re a total creep-ass, Alex.]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • While the twins are in Kansas, Lila’s going to Rome with her father.
  • Cara Walker is referred to as Cora Walker in this book.
  • Annie Sue has a younger sister whom the twins meet at her family farm, but at the end of the book, Annie Sue blames her bad behavior on being an only child and not knowing how to share.  What the hell?

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Well I mean, where do we begin?  After rereading this book, I can’t figure out why I loved it so much all those years ago.  This book sucks.  It SUCKS, you guys.  Uncle Herman and Aunt Shirley are like, caricatures of caricatures.  When they find out that Jessica wants to go out after dark to meet a boy, Shirley literally clutches at her heart and asks Herman to bring her “her pills.”  Other bloggers have also pointed this out, but it bears repeating.  Who says things like that?

I remember being totally enamored with the whole Alex-Brad thing when I was young, which makes me cringe now.  The idea that this guy would invent a twin brother so that he could date both girls and figure out which one he liked better is so awful that the feminist in me is like, screaming at my 8-year-old self.  He’s a total creeper, and there’s no other way of looking at it.  At the end of the book, after Elizabeth plays with him a bit at the dance, we’re supposed to forgive him and root for him and Jessica, but I don’t see it that way.  So he decided he likes Jess more?  Good job, asshole.  You’re still a total dick.

Finally, everyone in the town of Walkersville is a complete cliche of what Midwestern life is supposed to be like.  I mean, I guess it’s supposed to be a cliche.  I live in the Midwest and I’ve never in my life met a girl named Annie Sue.  I’ve never attended a barn dance, and I’ve never mistaken rhinestones for real diamonds.  But all of those things happen in this book.  Which is, you know, lame.