March 8, 2011

SVH #82, Kidnapped by the Cult!: Drinking the Kool-Aid

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 11:46 pm by Jenn

I don’t even know where to begin with these people

Summary: Jessica’s pouty because she’s still in trouble from Rosa’s Lie and because Sam isn’t paying her enough attention. At the mall, she meets a guy who tells her he knows where she can get some unconditional love. It’s from a group of people called the Good Friends, led by a guy named Adam Marvel. They’re really a bunch of runaways who live with a creepy cult leader, but Jessica’s the highly suggestible type (Jessica: “Yes, I am the highly suggestible type”), and she wants to hang out with a bunch of people who pay attention to her.

Soon Jessica’s drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid and spending all her free time with the Good Friends. She starts dressing like a prudish librarian, studying like Elizabeth, and even cleaning voluntarily. Think Stepford. Part of it’s because Adam’s a hunk, but it’s also because the Good Friends make her feel like a better person. They spend time at the mall, collecting money for charity, and Jessica only finds it a little strange when Adam spends some of the money on stuff for the Good Friends. She’s totally a cult leader’s pet, too. Everyone in the house is all friendly to everyone else, except a girl named Susan.

Todd spots someone who looks suspiciously like Jessica collecting money at the mall, which gets Elizabeth’s brain whirring. Sam keeps checking in on Jessica, who’s been telling various lies about where she’s been. She gets mad at him, accusing him of not trusting her, and Sam tells Elizabeth about it. She hears about the Good Friends from Ned, and when she mentions them to Jessica, Jess gets all defensive and weird. Elizabeth thinks Jessica might know more about the Good Friends than she’s let on. Her suspicions are confirmed when Sam follows Jessica to the Good Friends’ house and reports back to her and Todd that Jessica is totally in a cult. Elizabeth confronts Jess, who says she’ll ditch the Good Friends if anyone finds proof that they’re up to something bad.

Elizabeth decides to speed things along by having Sam take Jessica out so she can infiltrate the Good Friends. The only things she accomplishes are confirming that Adam is squicky and having Susan try to get her to leave. Oh, and she learns that a Good Friend named Brian disappeared at the mall. It turns out his parents kidnapped him back from the cult and are going to deprogram him so he can testify against Adam and his fraudulent ways. Elizabeth confronts Jessica again, and Jess lies that she’ll stay away from the Good Friends. Instead, she tells Adam she’ll get Brian’s parents’ address so they can get him back.

When Jessica hands over the address, Adam tells her that the Good Friends are going to pack up and leave town. They want Jessica to come with them. Susan has suddenly left the group, claiming that her mother’s sick. Elizabeth, Sam, and Todd figure out that Jessica’s gone back to the Good Friends’ house and head over, calling the police. Elizabeth tries to convince Jessica that she can’t leave town, but it doesn’t work until they find Susan being held captive, and Jessica realizes the Good Friends aren’t exactly…well, good. And that’s all the deprogramming Jessica needs. Oh, and P.S.: Susan was a reporter. They just throw that in there for no apparent reason.

In the B-plot, Todd and Elizabeth join a bowling club (…I don’t know), and the president, Justin, has a crush on Elizabeth. He won’t shut up about how pretty he thinks she is. Elizabeth keeps telling him she has a boyfriend, but she also seems to have a crush on Justin, so she’s not entirely convincing. The plot doesn’t really wrap up; Todd and Elizabeth just reaffirm that they want to be together, but it’s not clear if Elizabeth still has feelings for Justin.

Thoughts: Jessica would be the most likely Sweet Valley denizen to join a cult. She believes everything people tell her.

Thanks to her problems with math and keeping them from her parents, Jess is grounded for a month, is only allowed to go to school and cheerleading practice, and can only talk on the phone for ten minutes at a time. I’m equally impressed that Ned and Alice came up with actual punishments and are actually enforcing them.

The cult member Jessica meets first tells her, “Sarcasm doesn’t solve anything.” Yay, I get to quote Giles! “It’s sort of an end in itself.”

Trivia: Jessica doesn’t like popcorn.

Enid remarks that Jessica is dressed like a social worker. When Enid mocks your clothes, you know something’s wrong.

Elizabeth finally got a backbone! She actually tells Justin flat out that he needs to stop hitting on her and that she’s not going to ditch Todd for him. Oh, but then she goes to brunch with him. Two steps forward, three steps back.

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