December 16, 2012
Summary: Donna and Kelly have breakfast at the Peach Pit, planning a “sorority meeting” at Andrea’s place since she’s on bed rest. They’re not sure if Brenda will make it. Brandon, Dylan, Suzanne, and Erica are also at the diner, talking about Kevin’s chemistry lab. Brenda arrives and announces that she got the lead in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She tells Kelly and Donna that she went to Roy’s house and he gave her a second chance.
Steve’s more upset about Laura not being cast than she is. She’s resigned herself to being the understudy. He thinks she deserves a straight answer from Roy. Laura says he won’t get one – clearly Brenda slept with Roy to get the part, and it’s not the first time he’s been swayed in such a manner. At home, Jesse nags Andrea about not sticking to her prescribed bed rest, reminding her that she just has to do it for a couple of months.
Brandon visits Chancellor Arnold, who tells him that some of his remarks about education in the country have been included in a keynote speech at the upcoming summit in Washington. Brandon’s been invited to Berkeley, and Chancellor Arnold wants to make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy like he did when he kept Clare out so late on her prom night. (He has no idea what actually happened. He also thinks Clare is awesome, so….)
Roy holds his first rehearsal, and Laura mopes through it. David and Donna take Rocky II to the beach, because they don’t have another storyline right now. Steve comes to ask Kelly why Laura might have been overlooked for the role of Maggie. He thinks Laura’s accusations about Roy and Brenda were accurate. Donna’s shocked by the possibility, but Kelly notes that Roy came on to her, so it could be true.
Kelly takes the discussion to Dylan, who thinks Steve’s “thinking with his zipper” and making false accusations. She replies that Roy could be thinking with his own zipper. Erica, Suzanne, and Kevin show up to announce that Kevin and Suzanne are engaged. Kelly makes a dig about how quickly their relationship has progressed. (Apparently they’ve only known each other for a few weeks.) Dylan asks why she’s so negative.
Steve goes by Laura’s dorm room and confirms that Brenda did go to Roy’s house, so it’s entirely possible that they slept together. Laura wishes she’d thought of it first. Clare surprises Brandon with her own ticket to Berkeley, claiming she wants to go tour the campus. Jim and Cindy are nice to her, and Jim doesn’t get why Brandon doesn’t like her. He says she’s a serial killer and hasn’t been able to convince Chancellor Arnold that she’s crazy. (Maybe because he hasn’t told him anything?) Laura leaves a message with Cindy telling Brenda that her rehearsal time has changed from 1 to 4.
Erica and Dylan visit Kevin’s lab for some sort of chemistry…thing. (I’m not a science person.) He’s come up with some sort of process to purify water. Dylan thinks the microorganism he’s developed can clean up the bay. Kevin tells him he can’t get funding since he’s not one of his company’s stars. At CU, Steve (still mopey) tells Brandon the rumor that Brenda slept with Roy to get the part. Brandon orders him to stop the rumor, but he can’t disagree that it might have happened.
The “sorority” meets at Andrea’s house, and everyone’s awkward because they think Brenda’s a whore. She denies the rumor and demands to know who started it. Since Kelly doesn’t seem to completely believe Brenda, Brenda storms out. She runs into Dylan on campus and he tells her he knows her well enough to be sure she didn’t sleep with Roy. Brenda thinks he might be her only true friend.
Brenda arrives just as rehearsal is ending and is told that Roy doesn’t want to speak to her. Eddie the stage manager warns that if this were a professional job, she would be fired for not showing up to rehearsal. He agrees to smooth things over with Roy this time if Brenda makes sure this never happens again. Brenda’s suspicious of Laura, who brags to Steve that Roy loved the ideas she brought to the table during rehearsal.
Brenda confronts both of them, but Steve tells her he never said anything that wasn’t true. He adds that he’s Brandon’s friend, not hers. “That’s a relief,” she replies. He tells her she can choke on the part. Brenda reminds Laura that she’s still the star and Laura still has nothing, except Steve, “which is kind of the same thing.” (Ouch.) Steve and Laura head to Laura’s room, where Steve fumes but Laura’s happy. She suggests that Steve kidnap or injure Brenda so Laura can get to shine in a few more rehearsals. He slowly realizes that she’s not kidding.
At home, Brandon tells Brenda that he heard the rumor and says he knows how she must be feeling. She’s upset that Kelly and Donna haven’t called after their fight the day before. She doesn’t get why her friends think she’s suddenly a slut when she’s only ever slept with Dylan and Stuart. Brandon doesn’t want to judge since his affair with Lucinda didn’t make him look great, but he doesn’t specifically say that he doesn’t believe the rumor.
Steve calls to summon Brandon to the campus quad to assure him, Kelly, and Donna that he knows Brenda didn’t sleep with Roy. He tells them that Laura asked him to “pull a Tonya Harding,” and her “driveway doesn’t go all the way to the street.” They all feel bad about the way they treated Brenda. Brenda herself is at Roy’s house to apologize for missing rehearsal and thank him for casting her. He says he didn’t have a choice since she was the best (and no, there was no sex).
Brandon finally tells Chancellor Arnold all about Clare’s wacky behavior, but he thinks she must have been under the influence of something, because his precious daughter would never act like that. He also doesn’t know why Clare would want Brandon to help her with her problems since she doesn’t have any problems. On the way out, Brandon tells Clare that her father knows everything, but she thinks it’ll backfire on him.
Roy confronts Laura in front of the whole cast, saying he knows what she did to Brenda, and she will no longer be the understudy. (Roy, don’t poke the crazy.) Laura tries to provoke Brenda, but Roy kicks her out of the auditorium. Steve follows her and tries to calm her down, but Laura blames him for her failure to get the part. He tells her that Brenda and Roy didn’t sleep together; she earned the part on her own. He thinks Laura needs some help. Laura says everyone in Beverly Hills is the same.
That night, Brenda meets with Kelly and Donna in the quad and they discuss Laura’s Tonya Hardinging. Donna assures Brenda that Steve is handling things, but Brenda doesn’t think she can rely on him right now. She confronts them for not believing her or following up with her after she stormed out of Andrea’s. Donna says she didn’t want her to feel like they were ganging up on her. Brenda admits that she overreacted and didn’t give her friends a chance to explain themselves.
At the Peach Pit, Kevin tells Dylan, Erica, and Suzanne that he quit his job. Dylan encourages him to try to get funding from another lab since his work is so important. Suzanne’s skeptical, but Kevin assures her that he knows what he’s doing. Steve tells Brandon he’s done with Laura, though his conscience won’t let him completely forget about her. He stops by her room and sees an envelope on her bed. He reads the letter inside and runs off. He encounters Brenda and tells her the letter was a suicide note – Laura’s going to kill herself in the auditorium.
The two of them rush to the theater and find Laura in her Maggie slip up in the control room. Steve tries to convince her that he cares about her. Brenda sends him to call security while she tries to talk Laura down. Laura starts making herself a noose. Brenda tells her there will be other plays, but Laura won’t get a chance to be in them if she hurts herself. Steve quietly climbs up to the control room and grabs Laura before she can jump and hang herself.
Later, as Laura’s taken away to get help, Steve tells Brenda that she probably would have died if Brenda hadn’t been there. Brenda can’t be mad at Laura anymore, just feel sorry for her. Steve hopes she can stop being angry at him, too, but Brenda isn’t ready for that.
Thoughts: How mad are the other auditioners that Roy cast a freshman as the lead?
I’m totally stealing Steve’s “driveway doesn’t go all the way to the street” thing.
Brenda’s spaghetti-strap maxi dress over a white T-shirt is so perfectly ’90s.
Here’s a crazy (heh) suggestion: How about getting in touch with Laura’s family when she first starts showing signs of instability, instead of just talking the situation to death? They’re all, “Yeah, she really needs help…just not from us, I guess.”
October 9, 2010
Summary: Patty Gilbert (who’s appeared in another book, but I don’t care enough to look up which one) is looking forward to her boyfriend Jim visiting from college for the weekend. Then her older sister Jana shows up unexpectedly and announces that a) she’s engaged and, since her fiancé is in the military and about to be send to Germany, b) they’re getting married in two weeks. So when Jim comes to town, Patty’s expected to spend all her time helping Jana plan the wedding. This leads to a big fight with Jim – who’s, frankly, kind of a jerk for expecting Patty to pick him over her sister – and they break up.
Patty goes to the movies with some friends, on sort of a double date, and sees Jim with another girl. He sees her with the sort-of date and they both get jealous of each other. So now Patty’s free to spend all the time she wants with Jana, but Jana’s no fun to hang out with anymore, since all she talks about is the wedding. This leads to a big fight between her and Patty, in which Patty not only says she doesn’t feel like Jana’s her sister anymore (which makes her seem about 12 years old) but she’s not going to be Jana’s maid of honor (which makes her about eight). They also stop talking to each other and won’t even stay in the same room at the same time, so now they’re both eight.
Elizabeth meddles, shockingly enough, telling Patty that the girl Jim was with was actually his cousin. Wow, what an original, not-at-all-predictable twist! But it’s actually Jana and Patty who work things out themselves. Then Jana encourages Patty to send a letter she wrote to Jim to let him know how sorry she is. Patty doesn’t want to send it, but when Jana finds out that Jim has been ignoring her calls because he was out of town, she sends the letter, then gets her fiancé to pick Jim up for the wedding. Then there’s a wedding, and Patty fades back into the background of characters who occasionally show up but contribute nothing interesting to the series.
In the B plot, DeeDee Gordon has been selling painted T-shirts. Jessica helps her out with a booth at a craft fair, where she meets a guy named Vincent who wants to sell the shirts in his store. Jessica pretends she painted them, thinking he just wants to ask her out. He asks for more shirts, so she tries to paint some herself, but they suck and she gets busted. Jessica actually winds up doing the right thing, coming clean and telling Vincent how to get in touch with DeeDee so she can sell her shirts.
Thoughts: Elizabeth’s eyes “[light] up with pleasure” when she sees Jessica. Uh, ew.
Patty goes on a diet in anticipation of seeing Jim that weekend. Great, she’s one of those girls. (Also, she’s a dancer, so wouldn’t she eat pretty healthy in the first place?)
Jim sees his girlfriend for the first time in a month, his parents are out of the house, and he wants to…make out. Sweet Valley is where sex goes to die.
Patty’s maid of honor dress, as described by Jana: “It’s cornflower blue with tiny white flowers on it, and it has a scooped neckline and little puffed sleeves. She’ll look like a princess in it.” DEATH TO PUFFED SLEEVES.
June 24, 2010
Summary: Robin Wilson’s aunt has offered to pay for her college tuition, but only if she goes to Sarah Lawrence. And apparently she has to go NOW, even though she’s only a junior. Robin’s torn between her family obligations (to a witch, but that’s neither here nor there) and her desire to stay in Sweet Valley, especially since going to Sarah Lawrence would mean leaving George. Speaking of which, he’s ticked because he heard about Robin possibly leaving from Elizabeth, not Robin, though Robin thinks Annie Whitman told him, so she’s mad about that. For some reason, Elizabeth takes her sweet time telling Robin the truth, because she sucks.
There’s a whole lot of boring stuff in here, but eventually Robin does a diving competition, and her family shows up, thanks to George, and she decides that she wants to stay in Sweet Valley. Her coach tells her she could wind up getting a diving scholarship, and Robin acts like this is the first time she’s considered the possibility of a scholarship, even though a) it was mentioned earlier and b) if she has good enough grades to go to Sarah Lawrence, not to mention before she even finishes her senior year of high school, of course she can get a scholarship. Whatever, she’s staying, her aunt’s agreed to pay for her college no matter where she goes, and Robin and George are still together, if anyone cares. I assume no one does.
The B plot involves Jessica babysitting for the little sister of a hot music student named Alex and trying to get his attention. She tries playing the recorder, but she sucks at it, and the guy ends up being more interested in music anyway, so it’s a bust. For some reason, Elizabeth falls in love with the recorder, and she’s apparently a natural at it, but that’s no surprise, because we all know Elizabeth blows. Hi-yo!
Thoughts: Wait, Jessica wants Alex to look at her the way he looks at his five-year-old sister? Someone please explain love to this girl.
Alex tells Jessica to keep his sister, Allison, quiet, and she replies, “I think I know what you mean.” Good, because I’m not sure he could have used words that were any smaller.
As for the music, yes, Jessica, I’m sure within a week you’ll be playing Mozart on your $12 plastic recorder. That is, if you haven’t lost it in your disaster area of a room and/or moved on to a new boy-impressing activity like basketball or macaroni art.
I know this series goes on forever and they never actually graduate, but seeing as how they’re juniors, shouldn’t all of the characters in these books be thinking about college?
Lila uses an old Oriental rug as a beach towel. Yep, sounds about right.
There’s a restaurant called the Cote d’Or in my town, too! We finally have something in common with Sweet Valley!
Thank you, ghostwriter, for the two 137 references. I feel like I’m in on an inside joke.
Why do you need something to be good at other than writing, Elizabeth? Are you too good for writing now? What did it ever to do you? Let me tell you something – you could do a lot worse than writing. Writing doesn’t want you anyway! It never really loved you!
April 23, 2010
Summary: Some chick named Susan is pretty and popular and gets money and gifts from some mysterious person who everyone thinks is her famous mother. She lives with a woman named Helen who says she’ll tell Susan who her mother is when she turns 18. Anyone who has ever read a book knows immediately that Helen is Susan’s mother; the question is, why doesn’t she just tell her? Turns out it’s because she got pregnant out of wedlock (OH, THE HORROR!) and didn’t want Susan to suffer because of her mother’s decisions. I guess it’s better for her to think her real parents don’t love her than to know that her mother had sex before someone put a ring on it.
Oh, and Susan’s father is a famous movie director who’s in town casting for a movie. He keeps saying that he hasn’t sent money, and various people mention that Helen has to work a lot to make money to support herself and Susan, so what happened to the various gifts and stuff from the mysterious non-mother? Someone wasn’t paying attention when this book was being written and edited.
Before the truth about Susan’s parentage comes out, Lila spreads a rumor that her mother’s in a hospital for the criminally insane, so everyone turns on Susan, because I guess beauty doesn’t solve every problem after all. (Which means every lesson I’ve learned from this series has been a LIE. I feel so betrayed.) But the situation teaches Susan who her real friends are, and also that she likes Robin Wilson’s ex-boyfriend Allen.
The B plot involves Jessica and Elizabeth thinking that Alice is pregnant. At first it’s completely predictable that that’s where the story will go (in books, movies, and TV, women who don’t feel well always wind up either pregnant or dying), and then it’s completely predictable that, obviously, that’s not the situation at all. So pretty much every plot in this book was predictable, making it all a waste of paper.
Thoughts: This book could have been a whole lot better if the writer had just done a little more, you know, work. We could have been introduced to the famous director character earlier, or introduced any other character to the story as a red herring to be Susan’s mother, or…you know, who cares? It would have sucked no matter what.
This scene is actually pretty funny, and not just because it involves people making fun of Lila and the other rich snobs in town who are planning on going to a big ball:
“I know!” Winston declared, jumping to his feet. “We can start an annual poor people’s ball! Nobody with incomes of more than five hundred dollars a year allowed.”
“Speech! Speech!” called Dana, rapping on her desk.
Winston assumed an air of modesty, then stood up on his chair. “Thank you. Thank you, everybody. The first annual Poor People’s Cotillion will be held in this classroom every February thirtieth from now on. Potato sacks are acceptable dress. Black tie – that means wear shoes with black laces in them–”
“No fair! My sneakers have white laces,” Ken Matthews called out, leaning back in his seat and sticking his feet up in the air for inspection.
Winston solemnly regarded Ken’s sneakers and shook his head. “You don’t qualify. I’m most terribly, terribly sorry.”
“Oh, no!” wailed Ken, burying his face in his hands. “And all I ever wanted was to go the ball and dance with Winston Egbert.”
“Well[,] if that’s all you want, why didn’t you say so?” Winston jumped down, and while the whole class looked on and laughed, the two boys danced boisterously around the room.
Lila spreads the rumor about Susan, then thinks Susan’s boyfriend is a jerk for dumping Susan because of it. Lila makes my head hurt.
January 24, 2010
Summary: Ken Matthews is dating this really annoying, pretentious, snobby girl named Suzanne Hanlon (not to be confused with Suzanne Devlin – someone get the ghostwriter a book of baby names). She’s all into artsy movies and stuff that Ken couldn’t care less about. She also thinks sports are dumb, so it makes complete sense that she would hook up with the school’s star quarterback. Shut up, Suzanne.
Ken’s on the verge of failing English, and when Elizabeth offers to help him (of course), he takes one of her short stories and turns it in as his own so he can pass the course. When she finds out, she tries to help him figure out what to do, but amazingly enough, he actually solves the problem on his own by pulling the story before it can be published in the Oracle and replacing it with a confessional story of his own. Suzanne’s embarrassed by his actions, because it’s all about her (she and Jessica would get along really well, I think), but even when she apologizes, Ken doesn’t take her back. All she wants to do is “grown-up” stuff that Ken isn’t into. I have no idea why he was attracted to her in the first place.
The stupid B plot is about Sweet Valley’s centennial celebration, which has been discussed in the past few books and which finally occurs, which means we get to stop talking about it now, right? Jessica is somehow in charge of a picnic, and she screws everything up, of course. That seemed inevitable. Just like Ken, she solves the problem on her own, mostly, so maybe Elizabeth will finally get the hint that she’s not actually needed anymore.
Thoughts: When Ken considers turning in one of Elizabeth’s stories as his own, he tries to talk himself out of it by noting that Elizabeth would be mad. Yeah, better to worry bout Elizabeth’s feelings than about plagiarism.
Who’s the idiot who put Jessica in charge of the picnic? That person deserves peanut butter and jelly for trusting her with anything. That’s how Jessica handles her problem, by the way – she didn’t confirm the food order, so she makes sandwiches and buys chips for everone. Bruce spins the situation to make her look good by telling everyone that she did it to cut down on the food budget. When did Bruce get so nice? Especially to Jessica. This can’t last, can it?
November 27, 2009
Summary: Again starting just minutes after the last book ends, Nicholas meets Elizabeth and immediately falls for her, having no idea that Jessica’s already fallen for him. Nicholas asks Elizabeth out on a date, which she accepts without telling Todd or Jessica. They go to a restaurant an hour outside Sweet Valley, but Todd turns up and spots Elizabeth. Elizabeth decides to pretend to be Jessica, and it works – until Todd goes to the Wakefields’ to see her and finds out that Jessica’s there. This is why Elizabeth should leave the lying to her sister. Todd gets understandably upset with Elizabeth, but Nicholas smoothes things over by telling him that Elizabeth still loves him. And they all lived happily ever blah.
In the B plot, Jessica seduces a nerd named Randy Mason so he’ll teach her about computers and she’ll have something to talk about with Nicholas. Thanks to an article in the Oracle, Jessica learns about the brand-new-in-the-’80s idea of hacking and convinces Randy to hack into the school’s new computer (yes, singular) to change her math grade. They get caught but not punished. Of course.
Thoughts: Elizabeth shows her dark side in this book. She keeps Nicholas’ infatuation with her from Jessica and Todd, lies to Todd’s face, and goes out with a guy who’s not her boyfriend. As if that all weren’t bad enough, why would she lead on a guy who’s obviously in love with her – he’s even told her this – when she knows their relationship (or lack thereof) isn’t going to go anywhere?
Actually, Nicholas shouldn’t have a relationship with anyone. He’s creepy. He tells Elizabeth he’s in love with her after spending just a few hours with her, hours he spent following her around like a puppy dog. Then he pesters her for a date despite her multiple refusals. He literally won’t take “no” for an answer. That kind of guy is bad news.
Elizabeth herself isn’t much of a catch. She tells Enid about her date with Nicholas, admitting, “I don’t want to [go out with him]. But Nicholas absolutely insisted.” Girl, he can insist until he’s blue in the face; that doesn’t mean you have to go! I really hope no one’s using Elizabeth as any kind of role model.
In other Elizabeth news, when she finds out about Jessica’s hacking experience, she drags her to school to make her confess to the principal. Then when he threatens Jessica and Randy with suspension, making Jessica cry (not like that ever happens), Elizabeth also starts to cry and begs for mercy for her twin. Someone please return this girl’s backbone.
I have to say, computer hacking is exactly something that would intrigue Jessica. She gets to manipulate data to her benefit. I’m surprised she didn’t invent it.
October 16, 2009
Summary: Jessica is totally in love with Bruce Patman, the most perfect, handsome, wonderful guy in school. Only he’s not perfect or wonderful, and in fact is about 75% of the way to becoming an abusive boyfriend. Jessica starts changing herself to be the kind of girl he wants, and while we all would like to see Jessica change, this isn’t the way it should happen. Eventually everyone finds out that Bruce is seeing someone else, so Jessica dumps pizza and soda on him and then he falls into a fountain, making this the second of three books that ends with someone falling or being pushed into a body of water.
In the B plot(s), the school’s most popular band, Valley of Death, is supposedly being scouted for a record deal, except they’re not. The drummer, Emily Mayer, is having trouble in chemistry class, which means Jessica is having trouble as well since she cheats off of Emily. Emily cheats on a test but her conscience gets the better of her and she confesses to the teacher. Jessica cheats off of Emily and ignores her conscience (assuming she has one), so not only does she not get punished, she doesn’t learn anything. Shocker.
There’s also a new girl in school, Robin Wilson, who wants to hang out with Jessica, for some reason, but Jessica doesn’t like her because she’s overweight and probably doesn’t have a million-dollar trust fund. Also the class geek Wilson Egbert keeps appearing because he’s in love with Jessica but she won’t give him the time of day, and even tries to set him up with Robin to get them both off her back
Thoughts: So yes, once again, Jessica doesn’t get punished for her actions. She does lose her dream guy, but she comes out ahead in so many other ways that it almost doesn’t matter, especially since she gets the last laugh. Is it possible that when they were in the womb, Elizabeth somehow absorbed all of Jessica’s conscience, leaving Jessica with none and Elizabeth with an overdeveloped one? It would certainly explain a lot.
Oh, and why is there no fire in this book? The title implies fire! Stupid false advertising.
October 12, 2009
Summary: Jessica really wants to be Homecoming queen, because that sort of thing actually matters to vapid popular girls with no personalities or interests. She’s shocked – SHOCKED! – when Elizabeth’s best friend, Enid Rollins, is nominated for queen, and even more shocked – MORE SHOCKED! – to learn that Enid stands a chance of winning.
Enid herself couldn’t care less about the competition since her old friend George is coming to town, and she’s afraid her boyfriend Ronnie will find out the secret they’ve been keeping for two years – one night they got drunk and high on E, went for a drive, and struck and paralyzed a kid. Jessica learns this juicy tidbit thanks to a round of snooping on Elizabeth’s computer and proceeds to send the information Ronnie’s way. Ronnie dumps Enid, who blames Elizabeth, because Elizabeth is obviously evil and would completely stab her best friend in the back for no apparent reason. IN BIZARRO WORLD.
So Enid thinks that Elizabeth betrayed her, and Jessica, being Jessica, backs up this idea so she doesn’t get found out. Because, you know, evil. Jessica also covers her tracks by telling Elizabeth that she’s taking Ronnie to the Homecoming dance because she wants to get him and Enid back together. Jessica really wants to be with Bruce Patman, who doesn’t seem to care at all about her, which means he at least has one more shred of common sense than Jessica. Of course, Elizabeth figures everything out and gets revenge on Jessica by getting the class dork, Winston, elected Homecoming king so he has to dance with Jessica.
The B plot is that rumors are circling about Ms. Dalton, the French teacher who’s dating Lila’s father, hooking up with a student, Ken Matthews. It turns out Lila started the rumor to break up her father’s relationship, but the plot doesn’t really go anywhere.
Thoughts: Yeah, so Jessica broke up a relationship, lied to everyone about her role in the stunt, and tried to make herself look like the good guy, all so she could win Homecoming queen. And all Elizabeth does in return is make her dance with a dorky guy. Are you kidding me, Elizabeth? I know she’s your sister and all, but that’s all you’re going to do to her? Jessica’s never going to get her come-uppance, is she? This is going to be a very disappointing series. Someone should keep a list of all of Jessica’s transgressions and come up with a fitting punishment. I volunteer!