August 30, 2010
Summary: The SVH students take part in two-week-long arts/vocational workshops, and Elizabeth, Enid, and Olivia wind up in a painting class. Olivia proves to be very talented, but she’s more interested in the teacher, Stuart, than in her work. She quickly grows obsessed with him, pretty much stalking him and taking advantage of his offers of extra help to spend more time with him. She also thinks he’s interested in her, and while he might like her as a person and appreciate her company, he’s definitely not obsessed like she is (because only a teenaged girl can be that kind of obsessed).
Stuart asks Olivia to help him pick out a picture frame and look at some earrings he’s designed, and she thinks they’re for her birthday. They’re not. They’re for his girlfriend. Of course. Pretty much everyone in school knows Olivia’s in love with Stuart, so I was expecting some humiliating public rejection, but instead, Olivia figures things out on her own and realizes she has to get over her giant crush. And then she has a surprise birthday party and gets a present from a guy who totally likes her. Yay, happy ending for Olivia! Remind me why I care.
In the B plot, Jessica’s in an electronics workshop, which she put down as her third choice partly because she wanted to expand her horizons (yes, really) and partly because there would be a lot of guys there. I guess it’s the female version of a guy taking home ec to meet girls. Lila’s been bragging that her father’s dating an actress, and Jessica thinks she’s lying, so she decides to make a lie detector for her workshop project. She gets Randy Mason, King of the Nerds, to do the work for her.
Lila overhears the news that Todd’s family is moving back to Sweet Valley, and she uses it to borrow a dress from Jessica so she can pass it off as the dress she was supposed to make for her workshop. Jessica debuts her lie detector and realizes that Lila was telling the truth about her father’s girlfriend after all. Hilariously, Lila puts the detector on Jessica and asks if she made it herself.
And then there’s a truly awesome ending: Jessica decides to try out the detector on Elizabeth (why? She’s as pure as the driven snow and would never, ever lie), but she can’t think of anything to ask. Lila, still gleeful about her knowledge that Todd is returning, which she hasn’t shared with anyone left, announces that Todd’s moving back to Sweet Valley and asks Elizabeth if she’s worried about how that will affect her relationship with Jeffrey. Instead of responding, Elizabeth calmly removes the detector and says she won’t be needing it.
Thoughts: A hot guy named Stuart? Does not compute.
You’d think Jessica would be happy to have a lab partner – she can just flirt and get him to do all the work. (Which is, you know, what she does.)
Olivia has always dreamed of having a big, empty studio apartment with very little furniture? So…she wants to live in my place?
Jeffrey’s writing a computer game after five hours of classes? I guess this was back when people didn’t know how to actually use computers.
Elizabeth threatens to tell on Jessica for a clothes-related incident. Way to be a 16-year-old there, Liz.
Olivia buys a purple silk jumpsuit she can’t imagine wearing in public. That’s because she shouldn’t.
August 28, 2010
Summary: One of Kristy’s Krushers, Jake Kuhn, disappears on his way home from a game. His mom worries that her ex-husband has grabbed him, since he was angry that she wouldn’t let Jake go on a trip with him to Europe. The BSC girls and some of their sitting charges think Jake might be stuck somewhere, so they go out looking for him. Kristy takes charge (of course) and organizes search parties. Other kids think Jake was kidnapped and do a little panicking (though not much, considering the situation).
On one of their jaunts to look in places Jake might be, Kristy, Bart, David Michael, and Matt and Haley Braddock visit a construction site and discover that Jake fell through the floor and has been trapped there. He’s fine, and Kristy is named a hero, even though Matt was the one who thought they should look there. And then at SMS’s Awards Night, she gets a mini umbrella and the title of Class Protector a plaque.
In the B plot, Mary Anne is flunking home ec, but she salvages her grade by inventing Jell-o Jigglers.
Thoughts: I loved this book when I was younger, even though it kind of freaked me out. This series has a way of slipping slightly traumatizing events into books. A missing dog? Okay. A missing child? Not really age-appropriate.
Mary Anne skips an emergency club meeting to work on a home-ec project. That girl clearly does not have her priorities in order.
Speaking of the whole home-ec subplot, doesn’t Mary Anne seem like the club member most likely to do well in that class?
Kristy isn’t sure how to help find Jake at first, since she doesn’t have walkie-talkies like the police do. Uh…what?
Mary Anne panics over a test about Jell-O. Why would a home-ec teacher test students on how to make Jell-O? First of all, a six-year-old could do it, and second of all, memorizing the process isn’t going to get you ahead in life. It’s on every box anyway. Why don’t they teach the students how to roast a turkey or balance a checkbook or do a load of laundry – you know, stuff they’re going to have to do later in life?
I’m not really sure why Bart’s in this book. He kind of just hangs out. And almost kisses Kristy. Wow, way to keep your mind on the missing child, Bart.
Pete Black is expected to be named class clown? I didn’t think Alan Gray had much competition in that department.
August 25, 2010
Summary: Lila comes back from Europe with a Ouija board, which she and Jessica decide to use to play a little trick on Elizabeth. They make Elizabeth think it might actually be all supernatural-y, and then Lila places some hang-up phone calls to her to freak her out. They decide to wrap everything up by using the Ouija board to make Elizabeth think Bruce is dying, so she’ll have to feel compassion for someone she hates. Jessica doesn’t realize that Lila’s planned everything out to make Bruce and Elizabeth fall in love so she can have Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, the twins are STILL working at the newspaper, which means they’re two of the first people to hear when a paranoid schizophrenic man named Donald Redman escapes from an institution. Donald went to SVH, where he was picked on by everyone, and his institutionalization was the result of him kidnapping a classmate and trying to blow up his parents. Oh, and the woman whose kid Elizabeth has been sitting for knows him somehow. But Elizabeth is too busy trying to comfort Bruce to worry about it.
Donald calls the newspaper with a bomb threat at the movie theater, but the police take care of it. While this is going on, Jessica tells Bruce that Elizabeth is only hanging out with him because she thinks he’s dying. He decides to keep this ruse going by playing it up, and it’s awesome. Donald visits the house where Elizabeth is babysitting and thinks she looks like someone he used to know. Then Jeffrey shows up unexpectedly, so now Bruce and Elizabeth’s love-fest is interrupted. The three head to a concert together, but another bomb threat is called in, just after Elizabeth sees Donald at the stadium (she doesn’t know it’s Donald).
Jessica tells Lila to cool it with the hang-up calls, but Lila hasn’t been making them. Liz realizes that Donald is the guy who visited her sitting charge’s mom, Elsa – but what she doesn’t know is that Elsa is Donald’s sister. Donald thinks Elizabeth is Melanie, the girl he kidnapped back in high school, and he wants revenge since he thinks she’s wronged him somehow. Jessica and Lila try out the Ouija board again, and this time it tells them Elizabeth is in danger at the stadium. Just as Jessica realizes that Donald is going to go after Elizabeth, Elsa shows up to warn Liz, and she, Jessica, and Lila call the police and head to the stadium…
…Where Jeffrey catches Elizabeth comforting Bruce and wants to know what’s going on. Elizabeth finally figures out that Bruce isn’t really dying and runs off in tears, only to encounter Donald. He holds her, Jeffrey, and Bruce hostage, telling them he’s going to blow up the stadium and kill everyone. The three teens are smart enough to stall him, and then when Jeffrey attacks Donald, Bruce pulls a Sayid, grabbing the bomb and running off. Donald runs after him, and Liz and Jeffrey destroy the remote, but there’s an explosion anyway. Jessica thinks Elizabeth is dead, Elizabeth and Jeffrey think Bruce is dead, and they’re all wrong – Donald grabbed the bomb back from Bruce and blew himself up. I’m still calling that a win for Bruce.
Thoughts: This book is AWESOME. Definitely my favorite so far. Lila and Bruce are deliciously entertaining.
How freaking long is this summer? And how many more times will the twins be involved in ridiculous situations in just three months? These Super Thrillers are like 24.
Dear ghostwriter, a paranoid schizophrenic is not a psychopath. I mean, this one was, but the two are not usually related. The psychiatric community is blowing you a raspberry.
Am I the only person who remembers that Bruce once tried to rape Elizabeth? I’m starting to think so.
No way would Lila go see a movie called Terror in the Subway, Part 4. I doubt she’d see anything without subtitles.
When Elizabeth and Seth learn about the bomb at the movie theater, they head over there with a camera…but don’t call the police. Nice thinking, guys.
August 22, 2010
Summary: Mallory and Jessi want to take horse-riding lessons, but Jessi’s parents won’t let her, so Mallory goes on her own. She winds up kind of hating it, especially after she falls off a horse. When she tells Jessi about the class and the friends she’s making (not really – Mallory is socially inept and can’t read people very well), Jessi gets jealous, thinking Mallory’s bragging. Then Mallory gets mad because Jessi doesn’t care that she’s miserable and a dorky loner. Eventually they figure out how to actually talk to each other, and Mallory decides she’s done with riding and will just be obsessed with horses in an indirect way from now on.
There are two B plots, for some reason. In one, the Pike kids organize a big neighborhood talent show. In the other, Nina Marshall, a four-year-old the girls sit for, is as obsessed with her blanket (creatively named Blankie) as Mallory is with horses. She’s even having trouble making friends at preschool because no one wants to be friends with the shy kid who takes a huge gray blanket with her everywhere she goes. Blankie falls apart in the dryer while Dawn’s sitting, but she comes up with the idea to put pieces of it in Nina’s pockets so she can take Blankie with her wherever she goes without anyone knowing. And for as much crap as I give Dawn, that was a really awesome idea.
Thoughts: I was never one of those girls who loved horses and anything to do with them. That’s probably part of the reason I always found this book boring.
Mallory makes a chart to show her parents she can fit riding lessons in her schedule. NERD.
Mallory wears a gold and brown kilt, a gold sweater, and penny loafers to a teenager’s birthday party. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who apparently has no idea how to stop being pathetic.
August 21, 2010
Summary: On the way home from a school trip to an island, the boat carrying a bunch of SVH students capsizes and they have to bail out into lifeboats. Jessica and Winston wind up together, and when their lifeboat goes under, they’re both…well, lost at sea, like the title says. They end up on a deserted island together and proceed to have a Gilligan’s Island/Lost/Survivor/that episode of The Simpsons based on Lord of the Flies experience.
Winston, who you’d think would be like Gilligan, is actually more like the Professor – he takes care of his and Jessica’s basic needs and makes sure she’s not just sitting around, tanning. She, in turn, treats him like crap and hopes to become famous once she’s back home. After a run-in with a bear (yes, really), which Jessica handles better than Winston, they bond a little and Jessica realizes that Winston isn’t such a goofball after all. Then they get rescued. By…Moe. Okay, no, by a guy in a helicopter. Oh, and they were only stranded for 24 hours. Whoopee. Back in Sweet Valley, Jessica takes credit for everything that Winston did to take care of them on the island. And he lets her. Oh, WINSTON.
Thoughts: Jessica’s chemistry teacher lets her get extra credit by going on a marine biology field trip. Or the ghost writer screwed up when she set up this book at the end of the last one and couldn’t think of a better solution.
Wait, Lois is overweight and her mother’s the school dietician? The ghostwriter understands irony?
Jessica’s teacher calls her intelligent. Clearly he hasn’t learned how to tell the twins apart.
Elizabeth comforts a guilty-feeling Lila by telling her Jessica’s probably stolen as many boys from Lila as Lila has from her. Ha, awesome.
Jeffrey ditches Elizabeth to go study while she’s waiting for news about Jessica. I know he doesn’t like Jess, but he could try a little harder to hide it. Also, Elizabeth goes to school the day after the boating excursion, despite not knowing whether Jessica’s alive or dead. I know she’s a good student, but COME ON.
If I’m ever stranded on an island, I want Winston with me. He finds food, he grabs the First Aid kit from the lifeboat, and he uses a Swiss army knife as a reflective signaling device. He would have kicked butt on Lost. Jessica, on the other hand, would have been the Shannon.
Roger and Olivia broke up? When? Did I miss something? (Well, obviously.)
August 18, 2010
Summary: Kristy runs for class president against Alan Gray, Pete Black, and Cokie’s main minion Grace Blume. The campaign wreaks havoc with Kristy’s already-busy schedule, but she feels like it’s her responsibility to lead the class because none of the other candidates is qualified. (I’ll give her Alan and Grace, but Pete doesn’t sound too bad.) After having to juggle too many things, including studying for a test (which she fails twice), Kristy realizes that she doesn’t have time to be president, so she gracefully bows out of the race.
In the B plot, Jamie Newton wants to ride a bike. It’s boring.
Thoughts: Karen declares herself chief leaf collector and David Michael executive president in charge of choosing colors. What are you on, Karen?
Stacey says absolutely nothing when the other girls trash Mary Poppins as the upcoming school play. Pay attention, ghostwriter! Also, they think Mary Poppins is babyish but have no problem doing Peter Pan not too much later in the series?
Dawn wants to do A Raisin in the Sun. Dawn, honey, there are three black kids in your school. Not gonna happen. She probably only wants to do it because it has a fruit in the title anyway.
Janine: “I believe you would be glad to know that a pizza delivery has just been effected.” Janine for president – of the U.S.
Kristy calls Pete a nerd. How dare she!
Speaking of Pete, his slogan is, “Vote for Pete, for SMS’s sake!” Dude, not “for Pete’s sake”? It’s right there!
August 15, 2010
Summary: Shelley Novak is tall! And she plays basketball! Amazing! She also doesn’t like having her picture taken, because she thinks she’s a freak. She’s not a freak, she’s just annoying. A guy named Jim wants to enter her photo in a contest (which Jeffrey is also entering), but Shelley refuses to let him. He does anyway, so of course Shelley gets mad. Jim retracts the photo, but then the magical Mr. Collins convinces Shelley to chill out, so she reenters the photo, which wins. Then there are some stupid communication issues, but they get resolved, and I’m sure we’ll never hear about these people again.
In the B plot, a bunch of people at SVH take ballroom lessons, and Jessica and Amy both “fall in love” with the teacher. They bet an entire outfit from Lisette’s that the teacher will dance with one of them at some dance, but the guy shows up with a date and clearly only thinks of them as silly teenage girls. Oh, and Jessica and Amy show up in the same dress.
Thoughts: Is Jeffrey seriously more excited about possibly getting his picture in the paper than he is about winning a video camera? Shut up, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey wants to use said camera to make movies of Elizabeth. I’d say ew, but we all know he wasn’t in any way thinking like that.
“You can’t fall in love and go on big luxurious cruises and be totally romantic unless you know how to waltz. I mean, really.” What’s it like to be Amy, I wonder?
Amy says Shelley looks like a beanpole. Five bucks says Amy doesn’t even know what a beanpole is.
August 14, 2010
Summary: The eighth-graders at SMS do that project that always shows up in books and on TV shows but rarely in real life, where they pair off and parent eggs for a few weeks. Mary Anne is “married” to Logan, who proves to be an annoying, overprotective parent to their egg, Sammie. The project comes at a good time, as Mary Anne and Dawn are currently obsessed with babies (it doesn’t help that Mary Anne’s been sitting for six-month-old twins) and want their parents to have one. The project shows them that a) teenage parenting is really, really hard; and b) babies take a lot of work. It also shows us that Mary Anne reaaaaaaally needs to not take things so seriously, because it’s a freaking egg.
Thoughts: I’ve never understood the + sign or the number 2 in the title. Is this a Prince song? A crazy-dead-on prediction that one day people would text like this?
Mary Anne and I have the same philosophy about something, at least: Berries are only a dessert if they’re on top of cheesecake.
Somewhere in the past 12 books Shawna Riverson must have suffered a head injury, because now she’s a complete moron. Once again I have to compare a character in this series to Brittany from Glee.
The ghostwriter thinks a two-bedroom apartment in Connecticut costs $2,000 a month, and that’s in 1992. I live in an area with some of the highest property values in the country, and you can get a two-bedroom here for around $1,500, so I don’t know what the ghostwriter was smoking. But there’s also a two-bedroom in Stoneybrook for $800 a month. Trust me, it’s actually a crack den.
Of course Mary Anne puts a baby in a sailor suit. (A real baby, not her egg, though that would be pretty awesome.) Mary Anne is the reason baby sailor suits were created.
Kristy’s worried that her egg isn’t socializing. So throw him in a carton and let him make some friends.
Stacey and Austin Bentley’s egg lives in a mixing bowl. Now, that’s just cruel. Does it sleep in a frying pan?
Dawn doesn’t like her egg’s name, Skip, and says it sounds like the name of a cartoon chicken with sneakers and a beanie. That would be an awesome cartoon character!
There are two really funny chapters in this book: One involves Stacey sitting for a little girl with an egg phobia and a boy with the same name as her egg, and one involves Dawn and Mallory sitting for the Pike kids. The kids decide to do their own version of the egg project, adopting a carton from the Pikes’ fridge, but as they’re decorating them, Vanessa accidentally kills hers. She gets hilariously hysterical (“my baby!”), and when the girls remind her that it was an egg, not a real baby, not to mention an egg she’d only known for a few minutes, she says, “I had grown attached.”
I have a feeling there were egg-salad sandwiches in the SMS cafeteria the day after this project ended.
August 12, 2010
First off, sorry for the little break I took there – it wasn’t planned or desired, but, you know…life and stuff. It shouldn’t happen again.
Second of all, this book is MESSED UP.
Summary: A.J. goes out of town for the weekend, and Jessica decides to go out with a guy named Christopher who she meets on the beach. When Sunday rolls around and A.J.’s due back, Jessica tells Christopher they can’t see each other anymore, but Christopher’s…well, crazy, and won’t leave her alone. Think Fatal Attraction, minus an androgynous child and the aforementioned bunny. Christopher calls Jessica multiple times, stalks her, and even pretends he wants to buy A.J.’s car so he can have an excuse to hang around.
Jessica keeps telling Christopher it’s over, but, like I said, dude crazy, and he won’t take no for an answer. He also stalks Elizabeth, thinking she’s Jessica, so Jess has to tell Liz what’s going on. Elizabeth tells Jessica that, of course, she needs to tell A.J. what happened, but Jessica wants to be A.J.’s queen at some ball where he’s possibly going to be crowned king for winning an essay contest. And of course, shiny things trump the truth every time.
Christopher blackmails Jessica into going out with him the night of the ball, but she gets out of it by playing sick and heads over with A.J. instead. Except Christopher shows up and kidnaps Elizabeth at knife point, thinking she’s Jessica. And Elizabeth plays along so Jessica can get her freaking crown. Why does Liz always have to pay for Jessica’s screw-ups, and why does she keep perpetuating them anyway? Jessica, with an assist from Jeffrey, saves Elizabeth, who tells her to go in and get her crown, like, way to encourage her, Liz. But Jessica (rather maturely, amazingly) realizes that she wouldn’t have cheated on A.J. if their relationship were all that great, and since she can’t commit to one guy, she and A.J. should break up. Aww, but he was so normal!
Thoughts: The title makes no sense. A.J.’s gone, so Jessica doesn’t have two guys. The book should be called Different-Boy Weekend. Or Crazy-Boy Weekend. Or Even-That-Idiot-Amy-Sutton-Thinks-This-is-a-Bad-Idea Weekend.
Please tell me I’m not the only one creeped out by Christopher saying to Jessica, “I bet there isn’t much you don’t know how to do.”
Elizabeth thinks “why are you avoiding me?” is a pickup line. That makes no sense to me, but neither does Liz, so…in a way, it does make sense.
Am I supposed to be surprised that Jessica would rather be the queen of something or another than tell A.J. she cheated on him?
The Wakefields eat steak? But I was led to believe that all Californians were vegetarians! Dawn Schafer lied to me!
August 4, 2010
Summary: Mallory starts sitting for a family with three little girls and a ghost cat. Except the cat isn’t really a ghost. But the little girls are! Just kidding. That would have actually been interesting. It’s basically a rip-off of Mallory and the Mystery Diary, except there’s no painting, and instead the cat’s real owner comes and gets it. The “mystery” part is so half-hearted, I don’t plan on expending any more energy thinking about it, since the ghostwriter (har har) didn’t put any effort into it either.
The B plot involves Mallory’s great-uncle Joe coming to stay with the family. He acts strangely, and it turns out he has Alzheimer’s. I find the B plot ten times scarier than the A plot.
Thoughts: Mallory’s favorite vegetable is artichokes, in case anyone was wondering.
If Mallory’s allowed to watch all of her brothers and sisters by herself, why do the Pikes always hire two sitters?
Katie, who’s two-and-a-half, talks and acts exactly like the supposedly delayed Emily Michelle (also two-and-a-half). Ann and ghostwriters, you have officially been discredited.
Margo can spell “uncle” but not “welcome” or “Joe.” Claudia, however, can spell “Joe” but not “uncle.” Both of these sound equally unlikely. And why would Margo spell Joe as “Jow” instead of “Jo”? See, no effort put into this book at all.
Does Dawn really believe a) there’s such a thing as an ectoplasm meter and b) a magazine would sell her a real one for six bucks? I find that scarier than any ghost.
Rasputin is an awesome name for a cat, what with the nine lives and all. And I do kind of love that the ghostwriter names the cat Rasputin and doesn’t explain to the readers, who wouldn’t get the reference, where the name comes from. Or maybe that’s just yet another sign of her lack of effort toward this book.