Tag Archives: plagiarism

SVH #123: Elizabeth’s Rival

11 Mar


Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week


It’s summer vacation in Sweet Valley YET AGAIN, and Jessica and Elizabeth, along with Lila for some reason, are about to head off to Montana for a month long gig as junior counselors at a performing arts camp.  Liz is excited because one of her best friends from middle school, Maria Slater, is moving back to Sweet Valley and MIRACULOUSLY also joining the fun as a JC at the camp in Montana.  Jessica’s excited because she’s sure it’s her chance to finally become famous after being discovered.  She also makes a vow that it’s a summer with no boys, because she’s back to being sad about the death of Christian.  Lila hopes to only meet dudes, so the girls are at odds off the bat.

Things move along at a nice clip.  Within minutes of arriving, Liz has met Joey Mason, a super cute counselor who leads the acting workshops.  She’s attracted to him immediately.  Jessica starts to tire of Lila’s constant whining and wonders if she’ll manage to last the month listening to her complain.  When Maria shows up, Liz is overjoyed and then horrified when she realizes that Maria’s new best friend, Nicole Banes, is a total snot whom Elizabeth hates immediately.

Although Liz thinks that there must be something redeeming about Nicole since she’s Maria’s best friend, she plays like a total parody of a villain. She hides her own diary under Liz’s mattress and then accuses her of stealing it, then she steals the disk Liz has saved her script for the camp play on and passes it off as her own.  It seems that no one believes Liz, and it’s also clear that Joey is totally favoring Nicole over Liz.  It isn’t until Jessica accidentally sees evidence of Nicole taunting Liz about the play on camera (one of her campers is a little filmmaker) that she realizes what’s going on.  She shows it to the whole camp and Liz not only wins back Maria’s friendship but also the affection of Joey, who is now totally into Liz.  She tells him that she and Todd are in an open relationship, which backfires when Todd shows up at the camp.

Meanwhile, Lila falls for a guy named Bo, who comes off as a brave adventurer.  Lila tries to pretend she’s one, too, but is confused by how cowardly Bo actually seems to be.  Finally he comes clean to her: he’s actually the son of a millionaire.  They have tons in common! They kiss!

Jessica reluctantly falls for Paul, the older brother of one of her campers.  I AM SO BORED AND THERE ARE TWO MORE BOOKS IN THIS MINI-SERIES.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • According to this book, Robbie Goodman moved away to attend art school.  Did we know this? I literally can’t remember.
  • Jessica’s in charge of the dance classes, Liz is put on sailing duty, and Lila’s got arts and crafts covered.
  • Lila wears a periwinkle blue raw-silk romper with pearl buttons for her first day as a counselor, because of course she does.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Now that we’re both wet, come here and give me a hug!” The girls hugged for a long time, rocking side to side. (39)
  • Do I look like the kind of girl who would cheat on her boyfriend? she asked her reflection. No, she answered herself. (56) [Are you fucking kidding me?]

A (Totally Unqualified) Analysis:

I don’t know, haven’t we already done the camp thing to death already?  Lila and Jessica were counselors at Lila’s uncle’s resort that one time, and all of these people worked as JCs with overly-precocious kids in the far-superior Todd’s Story.  So yeah, I’m totally over the camp counselor thing they have going on.

What’s also distressing is that there isn’t even enough story here to sustain the 200-page book, let alone 2 more books.  It just doesn’t make any sense, and it isn’t fun.  UGH.

Also, what’s up with Nicole?  Why is she so terrible?  Why doesn’t she have any actual motivations?  How is it so completely out of the realm of possibility that anyone could hate Liz for an actual, legitimate reason?  I hate Liz and I like to think my reasons are wholly rational and air-tight.

SVH #89: Elizabeth Betrayed

9 May


Estimated Elapsed Time:  3 weeks


Penny Ayala gets picked to be a Washington correspondent for some arbitrary contest and needs someone to take over her editor duties on The Oracle in her absence.  She chooses Elizabeth, because reasons.  Everyone is stoked for Elizabeth, except for Olivia Davidson, who feels like she does a lot of work for the paper as well as her visual arts magazine Visions.  Further adding salt to the wound is her boyfriend Rod Sullivan’s CREEPY AS HELL obsession with everything Elizabeth Wakefield.  He brings her up constantly and keeps talking about her “special talent.”  It is seriously, seriously weird.

But then Elizabeth mentions that she has some poems to contribute to Olivia’s Earth-focused issue of Visions, and Olivia decides she’s happy for Elizabeth after all.  The two over a shared love of poetry and swap poems with each other.  Both are in total admiration of the other’s poetic abilities.  It’s a regular old lovefest.  If I were Enid, I would be super, super nervous.

At any rate, Liz struggles to run the paper as half the school is out with a flu that’s going around.  She ends up enlisting the help of Rod, who offers to write a piece for the paper.  Olivia is stunned that he’d want to write anything, because apparently he’s a pretty terrible writer, but whatever.  He writes a piece.  So does Jessica.  The paper goes out as scheduled.

Elizabeth is really struggling with an essay for Mr. Collins’s class about art, so she asks Rod to help her one day after school.  He comes onto her pretty strongly, but Elizabeth brushes it off and just feels vaguely uncomfortable.  She uses Rod’s ideas in her paper but doesn’t have time to write a second draft.  She’s ASTONISHED when she gets it back and Mr. Collins has failed her–and accused her of plagiarism.  It looks like all that stuff that Rod had told her was actually the work of a famous art critic.

When she confronts Rod about it, though, he’s super nonchalant.  He takes no responsibility for not citing the critic in his own ideas and basically is like, “too bad, lady.”  She’s distraught, especially because Mr. Collins kicks her (temporarily) off the staff of The Oracle.  She cries in her room a lot.

Jessica finally confronts Olivia about what  douchebag Rod is, and Olivia realizes she has to do something.  He’s not talking, so she digs up the article he wrote for the paper and realizes he lifted entire sections of famous people (like Jefferson) for his article.  She brings the evidence to Mr. Collins, who calls a meeting with Rod and Elizabeth.

Rod is completely unable to take the blame for any of it, but whatever.  It hardly matters.  Mr. Collins and Elizabeth have a heartfelt about plagiarism, and she’s reinstated on the school paper.  She and Olivia make up.

The B-Plot involves Jessica deciding that total brutal honesty is the only way to live life.  She tells everyone exactly what she thinks, which obviously pisses off a lot of people.  Lila decides to give her a taste of her own medicine and has everyone tell Jessica the absolute truth one day, including reminding her of every dumb thing she’s ever said or done.  I guess it works?

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Lila straightens her hair and adds plum-colored streaks to it.  It sounds awesome, but everyone hates it.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield buy a set of crystal glasses with a matching pitcher for Ned’s (?) parents.
  • Enid and Liz joke about being Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy because they are 100 years old

Memorable Quotes:

  • “She was paying so little attention to everything for the last day or so that she probably wouldn’t have noticed if her classes were completely empty. ‘Of course I’ve noticed,’ she fibbed. ‘I’m a journalist. I don’t miss anything.'” (20)
  • “That hairdo makes Lila look like a Transylvanian,” she admitted. “A very expensively dressed Transylvanian.” (33) WHAT?!
  • “His eyes met hers. ‘Thank you will do just fine for now,’ he said softly. ‘Especially if I get another hug when I turn in my piece.'” (53)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

You know what the weirdest part of reading this book was?  How weird Rod is throughout it, and no one ever really calls him on it.  It’s not even clear if Olivia and Rod break up at the end of this one (unless I missed it somewhere?), which seems like a gross oversight.  I mean, he was CLEARLY HITTING ON LIZ, and everyone seems okay with this?  She does tell him “We need to talk,” but it doesn’t feel very resolute in my mind.

And Olivia is such a doormat throughout the entire book!  What is that?

SVH #27: Lovestruck

27 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks


Ken Matthews has a problem.  He’s failing English–hardcore, and if he doesn’t pull his grade up, he won’t be able to play in the big football game against Palisades High School as part of Sweet Valley’s Centennial celebration.  Mr. Collins makes a deal with Ken: if he does well on his short story assignment, his grade should be a passing one, and he can play.  All Ken has to do is write a short story and he’ll be a golden god again.

But it’s really hard for Ken to concentrate on the English assignment, because he’s totally in love with Suzanne Hanlon, a rich, snobby girl who’s into artsy things and can’t understand why Ken likes to spend all his time wearing shoulder pads and running around on a football field.  She dominates much of his time, dragging him to classical music concerts and weird Swedish films, and Ken procrastinates more and more on his English assignment.  Even asking Elizabeth Wakefield for help doesn’t do him much good, though she tries to illustrate the writing process by lending him one of her short stories, complete with notes and an outline and everything.  Oh, Liz, this will end badly.

The assignment is due and Ken has nothing to show for it, so he panics and turns in Liz’s story as his own.  The problem is, the story is so good that Olivia Davidson wants to publish it in the school paper as part of the special edition for the centennial celebration.  The second Liz reads the copy she knows what Ken has done, and she confronts him.  He apologizes profusely and promises to set things right but is derailed by Suzanne, who’s so excited that he’s showing promise as a cultured person and not a neanderthal.  Ken goes home and writes a short story that mimics his own life and has Liz switch out the story before the paper goes to press.

After the school goes crazy with the scandal, Ken meets with Mr. Collins, Chrome Dome Cooper, and Coach Schultz.  They agree to let Ken play because his story was very good and because he learned a valuable lesson.  Ken plays in the big game, wins it for Sweet Valley, and sees how stupidly blind he was about Suzanne, who wants to direct his life and can’t accept him for who he really is.

The B-Plot involves Jessica trying to organize the Centennial student picnic, which is to take place after the big football game.  She enlists the help of Lila, who scampers off to New York at the last minute, leaving Jessica with all the planning.  She’s overwhelmed and forgets to confirm with the caterer, which means that on the day of the picnic, there’s no food.  She solves the crisis by putting together hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (no one has a peanut allergy in Sweet Valley, I guess), and the entire operation is a rousing success.  In fact, the food switch means that she saved a ton of money, allowing the committee to donate more to the charity of the week.  Hooray!

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Mrs. Wakefield dropped a towel on one of the lawn chairs and turned to the twins. ‘So, what’s on the agenda for this afternoon?  More daring rescues?  Foiling an assassination plot?  Or are you two just going to try something simple, like taking over a small country?'” (9)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Mrs. Wakefield apparently has a daily swim in the family pool.
  • Suzanne’s family owns 2 Rolls Royces.
  • Suzanne likes Mozart and Ken likes the Rolling Stones.  This is the real reason that they aren’t compatible.
  • Elizabeth agrees to man the kissing booth at the picnic.  My 2010 mindset and raging hypochondria cannot comprehend her willingness to do this.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There’s not a lot to say about this one, really.  In terms of plots, it’s not terribly offensive.  I mean, Ken steals Elizabeth’s story and tries to pass it off as his own, but he feels like a total shit about it the entire time, and he ends up writing a story of his own and coming clean without having to be blackmailed or anything (I realize that there was a certain amount of pressure on him since it was going to be published, but you know what I mean).  He also figures out that Suzanne is a total buzzkill and drops that shit before I wanted to tear my hair out.  She’s pretty boring and completely bossy, but I kind of figure that her personality flaws are a result of her environment more than a deep-seated drive to be evil.

It’s also nice that this book offers quite the reprieve from the twins.  The B-Plot is hardly touched upon at all, and because of this, the entire book seems to fly by.  It doesn’t just have to do with the fact that I skimmed over any page that dealt with sports of any kind, right?