Tag Archives: teens in peril!

SVH #111: A Deadly Christmas

8 Aug

deadlychristmas

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks

Summary/Overview:

Jessica manages to rationalize away the fact that she recognizes the ring on Jeremy in the video of the kidnapper, and goes about her business of being in love with him.  They make plans to DO IT that coming Friday, and Jessica wonders what it will be like to DO IT.  Sue overhears Jessica telling Lila about it and asks Jeremy if he’s serious about just her or into Jess, too.  Jeremy assures her that it’s only Sue he’s got eyes for, but Sue realizes that that isn’t true.  She ends up telling Jessica the entire story, including how she was complicit in staging her own kidnapping, and Jessica cries and cries.  She thinks about how long it’s been since she felt like a normal teenager.

Meanwhile, Liz and Todd go back to the Project Nature cabin to do some sleuthing. They end up discovering the trapdoor to the attic and find evidence of someone being held there.  They also find batteries they think could be right for a tape recorder.  When Liz gets home, Jessica cries about how she was right and Jeremy is a creep.  She tells Liz the entire story.  Though Liz can’t believe that Dear Sweet Sue would ever do anything like that, they agree to try to reach Sam Diamond.  They don’t have her home number,  and instead of asking Ned for it, they go see the local police with the videotape of the kidnapping.  But Steven taped over it!  The detective tells them not to bother with the stupid prank any more.

Jessica cancels on Jeremy and tells him she’s sick.  Sue goes out with Jeremy instead.  But she realizes that Jeremy is a big liar when she finds a one-way ticket to Hawaii in his pocket and realizes he was planning on leaving town without her.  Stunned and hurt, she goes home, confides to Jessica and Liz, and the three hatch a plan to get Jeremy once and for all.  They enlist the help of Sam Diamond.

Jessica makes plans to meet Jeremy and tells him she wants to run away with him (with Sue’s money).  Jeremy agrees, picks her up, and takes her to a remote mountain cabin.  Unbeknownst to him, they’re being tailed by Sam, Liz, Sue, and Todd (?).  Jessica is wearing a wire.  The idea is that they’ll get Jeremy to confess and then arrest him?  This plan is dumb as shit.  At any rate, Jeremy takes Jessica to the cabin and the other car swerves off the road in the storm.  Jessica finds a piece of paper with a bank account number on it but Jeremy FREAKS OUT and comes at her.  Jessica trips, falls, hits the coffee table (this happens a lot) and gets knocked unconscious, just as the Christmas tree lights on fire or something.  Jeremy takes off, leaving Jessica to burn.

Luckily, the group of heroes arrives at the last second. Sue rushes in and saves Jessica, and Liz forgives her for everything else.  Jeremy gets apprehended by the police.  All is well.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • There’s a video club at Sweet Valley High
  • If it was Halloween a few days ago, why is the Mistletoe Madness dance like 10 days later?
  • Jessica and Lila go shopping for “teddies” at Unique Boutique
  • INFOMAX is the computer search system Liz uses to look people up.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘To belong to each other, body and soul,’ she whispered to herself, quoting Jeremy. What would it be like to be with him like that, to go all the way?” (35)
  • “Disillusioned, confused, only one thing seemed clear to Sue.  Jessica Wakefield wasn’t the only one who’d been living in a fantasy world.” (72)
  • “‘It’s Jeremy,’ Jessica cried. ‘Matt Thorn is Jeremy Randall!'” (127)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analsysis:

Probably the best part of this book is the use of the INFOMAX computer that lets Liz look up newspaper articles about people.  She thinks it’s weird that Jeremy Randall didn’t exist until six months ago but doesn’t really push that further.  Then, when they find out that he’s gone under different names before, they finally start piecing it together.  But what’s weird is that we never find out if Jeremy is his real name.  The way the sentences are structured makes it sound like his other names (Matt something, and something else I can’t be bothered to look up) are definitely fake names as well.  So, does he have a real name?

It’s like catfishing, kind of?  I’m not sure.  I just know that I’m so, so glad this mini-series is over.

 

SVH #110: Death Threat

6 Aug

death threat

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 incredibly long days

Summary/Overview:

After Jeremy shows up to tell the twins that Sue is missing, they go and search for her at the Project Nature cabin.  But as the twins search, Jeremy goes up to an attic where Sue is hiding.  He’s kind of a dick to her, but it becomes clear that they’re staging her kidnapping as a way to extort the money she’s owed from her mother’s inheritance.  This makes absolutely no sense.  None, whatsoever.

The next day, the entire Wakefield family debriefs about Sue.  While talking, they get a ransom call asking for a half a million dollars–the exact amount of Sue’s inheritance.  They’re told not to go to the police, so Mr. Wakefield calls his friend Sam Diamond, who is a special detective or something to come help out.  The twins stay home from school, which makes all their friends wonder where they are and what’s going on.  SUBTLE.

Jeremy ties Sue up in the attic of the cabin because he gets pissed when she tries to warm herself by the fire.  He tells her to remember to call at 5pm to arrange the drop-off.  She wonders if her mother was right about Jeremy and feels sad. Meanwhile, Sam Diamond shows up at the Wakefield house and turns out to be a super hot lady.  Jessica and Liz debate feminism or something, which feels both misguided and out of place.  Liz tries,  once again, to tell Jessica that there’s something wrong with Jeremy.  Jessica won’t listen.

The kidnapper calls with a recorded voice (?) and tells the Wakefields because they involved a detective, the ransom has been raised by $100,000.  The drop will be made the following evening, and he wants the twins to do it.  After this, Lila calls and begs Jessica to tell her what’s happening.  Jessica tells her but covers the receiver with her hand so her voice is muffled.  The result is, as you’d guess, that Lila thinks the entire Wakefield family has been kidnapped.  She calls Todd, who immediately hatches a plan with her and Robby to save the day.  YOU ARE ALL THE WORST.

The night of the drop, Liz and Jess head off with Sam to drop off the money that Ned pulled from the bank.  Jessica films from across the street while Liz drops off the bag.  Sue is returned to the twins, and the kidnapper (who is Jeremy, by the way, who left as soon as the twins did, though he was tackled by Todd and Lila and Robby but WHO CARES) gets the money and runs.

Once back at the house, Mrs. Wakefield serves everyone cake.  It is so, so weird that they wouldn’t go to the police and have Sue inspected for signs of assault, etc.  Sue says she didn’t get a look at the kidnapper.  Mr. Wakefield reveals that the money was counterfeit and her fortune is safe.  Sam pops the recorded video into the VCR and asks for help identifying the kidnapper.  No one can recognize him, until Jessica realizes the kidnapper is wearing the ring on his pinky that she gave Jeremy just hours before.  DUN DUN DUN!

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Apparently Bruce won the costume contest at the Halloween party by dressing as a Porshe.  Oh…kay?
  • Sam “I’m totally a lady” Diamond wears a “winter-white” Chanel suit

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Ned, we’ve got to do something right away,’ urged Alice. ‘Sue is like a daughter to me.’ Jessica groaned inwardly at her mother’s words.  First Sue had tried to steal her fiance, and now she was stealing her mother” (35). WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?
  • “‘Detectives are always men,’ explained Jessica.” (79)
  • “She watched with distaste as Todd began slithering across the lawn like a snake, padding along on his hands and elbows.” (122)
  • “Mrs. Wakefield gasped.  ‘But that’s torture!’ she exclaimed, slicing another piece of cake and putting it on her plate.” (187)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis: 

Sigh.  I’ve been sitting with this book in my purse for like over a week.  That’s how much I didn’t want to read and recap it.  Once I got started, it flew by, but only because the plot is LITERALLY SO DUMB that it doesn’t require any actual attention.  In fact, the less thinking, the better.

Everyone is dumb.  But I still can’t get past how weird this entire plot is, and how quickly it has derailed from where it started.  Like, wouldn’t it just have been enough for Jeremy to be creeper who scams on underage girls and cheats on his fiance?  No?  We need to add a faked blood disease, a faked suicide, an inheritance with weird strings attached, and then a TERRIBLE ATTEMPT at FAKING A KIDNAPPING?  Really?  That’s what these books needed?

I still don’t understand why Sue and Jeremy didn’t stay apart for the 60 days needed for her to get her inheritance.  This makes no sense.  WHY.

 

 

SVH #105: A Date with a Werewolf

27 Jun

adatewithawerewolf

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

Turns out that it isn’t Jessica’s body in Jessica’s bed, but the body of Joy, another blonde girl who was spending the weekend at the manor.  Elizabeth is overcome with relief, because Jessica and Joy switched rooms midway through the night.  The entire house is up in arms about the murder, and after being interviewed by the local constable, everyone sort of goes about their business.  The next day, Liz and Luke head back to London while Jessica rides back with Robert later.  Liz and Luke talk about the murders and figure out a way to bring down the Pembroke paper cover-up.  Liz lets it slip that the missing princess–whom the paper is now offering a 1 million pound reward–is Lina.  Way to go, Liz.  That didn’t take long AT ALL.  Luke assures her he won’t tell, but does remind her that as long as the paper can use her as a cover-up, people will die.  Uh, okay.

Liz poses as Jessica to go interview Mrs. Pembroke and ends up offending her terribly.  Jessica finds out about the interview through Robert, and though she’s PISSED at Liz, she goes along with the story and tries to mend fences at dinner.  It doesn’t work, and she stays super mad at Liz, who continues to do things like pretend to be Jessica so she can solve these murders.  She also goes out with Rene, who tells her there are absolutely no such things as werewolves.  She believes him until she watches a horror movie with Luke and decides that there are totally such things as werewolves.

Liz poses as Jessica and goes back out to the Pembroke country estate to interview Robert Senior under the guise of his wife’s missing coat.  While she’s there, another person is murdered–this time it’s the (pretty, plump) cook, Maria.  Elizabeth snoops around the house and discovers a secret room in the library, filled with werewolf paraphernalia.  She also discovers that Lord Pembroke was in love with a woman named Annabelle years before.  While in the library, Robert Senior comes in with the police chief and they discuss the fact that Lord Pembroke is withholding evidence about the murders.  When the chief leaves, Lord Pembroke talks out loud about how he’s sure his son is innocent.  Then he warns Robert to go into hiding until the thing blows over.

Liz thinks Jessica is in danger, so she tries to get back to London.  Jessica has gone shopping to drown her sorrows about being abandoned by Robert in the middle of their day together, and on her way back to HIS, she gets attacked (?) by something in the subway.  Now she believes in werewolves, because the thing growled at her and seemed hairy.  She brings this news to Liz and Luke and Lucy and Tony, the newspaper people, and they discuss it for a really long time.  Jessica is resolute in her belief that it is not Robert.

Meanwhile, Lina (Princess Eliana) falls in love with David, a poor boy also staying at HIS.  The two hit it off, and then he puts two and two together when he sees a paper of the princess in the paper.  She runs away but then decides the way she can show him she really cares is by allowing him to turn her in and collect the reward.  That way, he can open a free clinic and go to medical school.  At a press conference at the newspaper, she makes a statement, coming out of hiding.  She and David are still totally in love.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Elizabeth’s nightgown is flannel and Jessica’s is pink satin.  Why are they both wearing nightgowns?
  • The book repeatedly refers to the Pembroke’s country cook as “plump, pretty” and it’s annoying.
  • We’re definitely being force-fed the detective stuff: Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie are mentioned

Memorable Quotes:

  •  “Face it, Lina,” she concluded, “coincidences like that only happen to people like Jessica and Elizabeth.  They obviously lead charmed lives–unlike normal, everyday blokes like you and me.” (9)
  • “Elizabeth wrote a line in her notebook: ‘Keep an eye on the elder Pembroke.'” (14)
  • “‘I don’t know why Elizabeth is such a wimp all of a sudden,’ Jessica continued, ‘but I don’t scare so easily. You poets are too weird. I’m just glad I’m dating a normal guy.'” (109)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

A couple of things: first of all, why on earth would everyone want to stay at Pembroke Manor after that horrible murder occurred?  Like, the constable just told people not to leave England.  They totally could have gone back to London–wouldn’t that be the natural response?  This is super weird to me, but not as weird as how nonchalant Jessica is about the entire thing.  At one point, she actually says that Joy would have wanted them to go on enjoying England.  Um, okay.  Crazy pants.

The other thing is that the book makes it so clear that there is not an actual werewolf roaming the streets, it’s not even funny.  Jessica gets chased by something, falls down and doesn’t look up to see what is standing over her?  Seriously?  UGH.  THIS MINI-SERIES NEEDS TO END.

SVH #104: Love and Death in London

25 Jun

loveanddeathinlondon

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

The twins are on summer vacation AGAIN and are heading to London to intern at a newspaper there.  You know, because it went so well for them the last time.  Upon arriving at their hostel, a place for international students that all the same seems to house quite a few Brits, the twins meet spunky Emily, an Australian, and their roommates, quiet Lina Smith and snobby Portia.  When they go to tea, they realize that Rene Glize is staying there (small world?), and he totally hits on Elizabeth.

The first day on the job at the newspaper, the girls are assigned to the society beat and are super disappointed that they don’t get to cover the exciting news, like the murder of a prominent doctor that has just occurred.  On the way to a story about a missing dog, the twins sneak onto the crime scene of the murder and see the dead body, whose throat has been ripped out.  Then they go cover the story about Poo-Poo, the missing dog, and laugh about the clumsy detective, Sergeant Bumpo, in charge of the case.  When they get back to the newspaper, Liz works on the write-up of Poo-Poo and talks to quiet, cute Luke Shepherd, who then takes her out to a pub for a sandwich and some googly-eyes.

Meanwhile, Jessica goes back out to cover a story about a missing fur coat at Lady Pembroke’s mansion.  While there, she meets Robert, the super handsome son of the estate.  They have tea, he asks her out.  She’s already in love.

The twins are startled to discover that the murder of the doctor, which should be front-page news, is buried in the back of the paper.  Then, when they discuss who the mysterious men standing over the body were, Jessica realizes that one of them was Lord Pembroke, Robert’s father.  When they find out that the Pembrokes own the London Journal, Liz is suspicious.

The girls decide to sneak out and go dancing with other tenants at the HIS.  Lina, Liz, Jess, and a bunch of other people sneak out after curfew and go dancing at Mondo, a club.  When they spot Princess Gloria, sister to missing Princess Eliana, Lina looks deathly pale and says she needs to leave.  Liz and Lina walk home and get lost on the way.  They encounter the mangled body of Poo-Poo.  It’s throat has been ripped out.

The next day at the paper, Lucy, the writer of the buried piece on the doctor, quits in a rage, accusing the paper of a cover-up.  Jessica and Elizabeth continue to work the Bumpo beat.  Liz and Luke go sightseeing, and she loses track of time and stands up Rene, whom she had accepted a date with.  He’s pissed about it.  Jessica continues to date Robert Pembroke, Jr.

Liz and Luke continue to investigate the murders and discover that there are many. They bring the information to Lucy, who confirms their suspicions: there’s a serial killer on the loose, and someone is downplaying it.  Luke is convinced it’s the work of werewolves.  He’s straight crazy, but Liz doesn’t see that.

The twins are invited to Portia’s play opening, and they’re amazed to see that she’s an incredible actress.  In fact, she’s so good that they realize she was in character the entire time she’s known them.  After the show, they have a heart-t0-heart with her where she tells them that she auditioned under a fake name so she wouldn’t be accused of nepotism (her father is a famous actor) and that she had to stay in character for her art.  Liz also discovers that Lina is the missing princess, Eliana, but promises not to say anything to anyone.

The twins and Luke head off to Robert Pembroke’s family’s estate in the country for the weekend.  While there, a butler mentions that a bunch of sheep have been murdered.  Liz doesn’t trust Robert or his family, but whatever. The first night, Liz has a nightmare about the full moon and wakes in a straight panic.  She runs to Jessica’s room and finds her dead body on the bed.  CLIFFHANGER.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Pop culture mentions: An American Werewolf in London, Lois Lane
  • Portia has a role in a play called A Common Man.
  • Robert went to Eaton

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Remember what a blast we had interning for the Sweet Valley News? And that was just our local paper, ten minutes from home.'” (2)
  • “Jessica shook her head. ‘Still…two new suitors in twenty-four hours, Liz?’ she teased. ‘I’d say that’s moving pretty fast for somebody who’s not looking for romance. Poor, poor Todd!'” (67)
  • “She’d told Todd just about everything that had happened to her since she’d arrived in London except for the episodes involving Rene and Luke. I just kind of…left them out. Is that as bad as lying? she wondered.” (122)
  • “‘It does in my opinion,’ Jessica insisted. ‘You’re barking up the wrong tree, Liz. If you want to find some crooks and killers, start looking in the lower classes.'” (140)
  • How come some people have so much, and other so little? she wondered.” (176) [YOU’RE IN ENGLAND FOR THE SUMMER, LIZ]

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Funny story: growing up, my library had only the first two books in this series and I didn’t know how to ILL.  I never actually read the conclusion to the mini-series, so while I have some suspicions about what is happening, I’m not actually sure if we have a legit werewolf on our hands or someone who is just really into horror movies.  I guess time will tell, right?

At any rate, I remember the first time I read this, I got to the last page and was like, “WAIT, WHAT?!” because Jessica can’t be dead, right?  Of course not.  But even so, it’s a pretty ballsy move on the book’s part.

So, Elizabeth is the worst, right?  Self-righteous, totally hypocritical, and bizarrely crazy when it comes to her own actions.  She’s away from Todd for like a second before she’s macking on some other dude and manages to justify it.  She might as well have said, “What happens in London stays in London! YOLO!” or something, because that’s how we’re supposed to interpret and accept her BLATANT CHEATING ON HER LONG-TERM BOYFRIEND.

Also, fuck the twins thinking that they would arrive in London for their unpaid internships and be put on the biggest murder case around.  Seriously?

SVH #102: Almost Married

20 Jun

almost married

Estimated Elapsed Time: 1 week

Summary/Overview:

Elizabeth is still obsessing over her mother’s suspected affair with Hank Patman. She lets Jessica in on the secret, and Jessica’s response is to go and ask Alice about it, but Liz tells her not to. We wouldn’t want to wrap this plot point up too fast, now would we?

At any rate, Alice goes out of town with Hank again, and Ned is away for a legal conference, so the twins are on their own.  Because Todd’s parents are also away, he decides this is the perfect time for them to practice living together.  He says they’ll be able to be together all the time, but he will sleep on the couch or in Steven’s room, because these teens are actually neutered.  In order to get Jessica on board, they agree to do her chores and cook for her during the week Todd is there.

When Elizabeth and Todd get home, she rushes off immediately to meet with Bruce Patman without telling Todd anything.  Jessica gets home and “accidentally” spills the beans about what Liz thinks is happening with Alice and Hank, and Todd is irritated.  Meanwhile, Liz and Bruce dig through the Patman mansion attic for clues and find a gushy love letter and Alice’s engagement and wedding rings.  They also share A Moment.

Upon returning to her house, she finds that Todd is sort of annoyed, but they make up quickly and Todd tells her that they’re partners and generally sounds way, way older than 16.  This entire plot is so weird.  While Elizabeth and Todd act like they are 40, Bruce plays tennis with Pamela but is distracted with thoughts of Elizabeth, even as Pamela tells him about Project Youth facing budget cuts.

Todd and Elizabeth continue to spend time together, but nothing is really going the way they plan. When they have a date at the Videomat, a new laundromat that also rents DVDs and sells espresso, Elizabeth drinks six cups of espresso and won’t stop yammering.  Todd overfills the washing machine and ends up with suds everywhere.  The two oversleep the next day and nearly miss putting the recycling out.  To make matters worse, Elizabeth keeps zipping off with Bruce, which pisses Todd off.  Jessica keeps giving him a hard time about how much Liz and Bruce are hanging out, which only further infuriates him.

After school one day, Liz misses a ride home with Todd and goes with Bruce.  The two go up to the attic at the Wakefield house to dig around and decide to visit their parents’ college to keep digging for information.  Todd comes home to find them hanging out and begrudgingly ends up making dinner for all of them, plus Lila and Jessica.  Later, Bruce and Jessica are watching TV and Bruce sees the hotel room number for Alice, realizes that it’s the same room number as his father’s, and freaks out.

Liz and Bruce head up to the local university to investigate their parents’ shared past.  They share several Moments together, and on the way home they stop to help a stalled vehicle and realize it’s Todd.  That night, a bunch of them sneak off to the Beach Disco, and Liz spends a great deal of time dancing with Bruce.  She’s attracted to him and is clearly enjoying the rush it gives her, but she pretends to feel conflicted about it.

The twins and Todd decide to throw a pool party at their house, and Todd loses his shit when Elizabeth invites Bruce along to help run errands.  He sulks inside as they get everything ready on the patio.  Elizabeth and Bruce flirt, Todd acts like a creepy, jealous loser.

Bruce and Pamela end up breaking up at the party, because she’s the only person in this book who isn’t an idiot.  Then Bruce corners Liz in the kitchen, cries, and they end up making out.  OF COURSE Todd walks in, they fight, and he storms off.  But as he’s driving away, he has a change of heart and returns to the party.

He arrives just in the nick of time, too, because Liz is so upset that she does a bad dive off the diving board and belly flops into the pool so hard she blacks out and nearly drowns.  Todd saves her and they make up, with Liz realizing he’s the one she truly loves.

Mrs. Wakefield surprises everyone by showing up early and acting super pissed off about the fact that the girls have thrown a party with no alcohol or drugs.  She then tells Liz that the Beckwiths (JESUS CHRIST THESE PEOPLE MOVED AWAY AGES AGO) called her to let her know that Todd’s car had been parked in the driveway all week (this is basic sneaking around 101, idiots). She yells at Liz, but then Liz goes ballistic on her, telling her she and Bruce know everything about the affair.  Alice sits them all down and tells the tragic story of her and Hank.  Liz and Bruce decide that now that they know Hank and Alice aren’t having an affair, they’ll work on getting Hank and Marie Patman back together.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Fun Fact: When I was a kid, my mom wouldn’t let me read this one based on the title alone. Oh, mom.
  • The ghost writer spells Barry’s last name as “Rourke” in this one, but it has always been “Rork,” hasn’t it?
  • Jamie Peters has a song called “Lawless Love”

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘People say it’s a man’s world,’ Mr. Wakefield commented…’but let me tell you, girls, sometimes it’s not so easy being male…for example, having to wear a suit and tie on a scorcher like this. Talk about oppression!'” (6-7). Die in a fire, Ned.
  • “‘OK, not twenty-four hours,’ Todd amended with a grin. ‘I’ll sleep on the couch or in Steven’s room, of course.'” (17)
  • “Jessica hurried to defend Elizabeth’s honor. ‘Of course they’re not sleeping together. This is Elizabeth we’re talking about! She’s relegated Todd to the downstairs couch–they’re the king and queen of self-control, believe me.'” (124)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

There’s really only one thing that bothers me about this book a lot.

That is how completely weird and improbable the entire plot is with regard to Todd “moving in” with Elizabeth for a week and not expecting to have sex or at least fool around hardcore.  I’ve written before about how weird it is that every teen seems to lack a sex drive (I’m not counting incidences of sexual assault as those are about violence) completely.  Despite the fact that the teenagers in these books kiss a lot, no one ever has sex, and when they think someone else has, they FREAK OUT ABOUT IT (see: Pamela Robertson’s weird, inaccurate reputation).

So for Todd to move in and sleep on the couch rings false in many ways.  The teens in these novels aren’t at all religious.  There is no overarching idea that Christianity or God is governing their lives.  Their decisions to “wait” seem to have more to do with the intended audience age of the readers.  So then why even write a story like this one?

Todd wants to move in to practice living together, but they only engage in the hardest aspects of living together: doing chores, squabbling, etc.  There’s no benefit to this arrangement, and OH YEAH THEY ARE SIXTEEN AND WOULD BE WAY MORE INTERESTED IN THE PHYSICALITY.  So I call bullshit.

 

 

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.