January 30, 2013

SVH Super Thriller, “R” for Revenge: Three Cheers for the Crazy Lady

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 8:43 pm by Jenn

Jessica has a little Tori Spelling thing going on

Jessica has a little Tori Spelling thing going on

Summary: There’s a new rule at SVH stating that all clubs need faculty advisors, so the cheerleaders have to find someone they can manipulate into sitting there quietly while they do whatever they want at practices. By the way, Lila is temporary filling in for some cheerleader we don’t care about, so the level of superior feelings on the squad is higher than ever. (By the way, the other girls are Jessica, Heather, Amy, Jade, Annie, Maria Santelli, and Patty.) Also, Jessica and Heather still hate each other. Anyway, the new assistant librarian, Nancy Swanson, is nice and quiet and interested in cheerleading, so Elizabeth suggests her as the squad’s advisor.

Liz is doing her own cheerleading-related thing: She’s been asked to help research a magazine article on SVH’s 1976 cheer squad, which went to nationals. She’s picked both because of her stunning writing ability (I guess?) and because she was on the most recent nationals-worthy squad. The writer is a woman named Diane who was on the squad and I guess needs help calling up her old friends and asking what they’re doing now. The photographer is a guy named Brad, and since he’s young, hot, and shows the slightest bit of interest in Jessica, she’s all over him. He turns out to be a total player and is really annoying, and he keeps popping up and doing nothing interesting, so let’s ignore him.

Elizabeth’s research finds that there was a girl on the ’76 squad who left partway through the year because of some sort of condition. The other cheerleaders remember nothing about her, including her name. Liz and Diane also can’t get in touch with one of the cheerleaders, Loretta, so they go talk to her sister. They learn that Loretta got drunk and drowned not long after nationals. She’d been troubled because during senior year she was in a car accident that killed a classmate named George. I don’t know why Diane doesn’t know any of this, but whatever. Loretta’s sister mentions a girl coming to the house after the car accident and screaming at Loretta for killing her boyfriend.

The cheerleaders don’t notice, but Nancy is a little crazy. She confuses the girls with other people and keeps covering part of her face. Eventually it comes out that Nancy was the cheerleader who left the ’76 squad. She developed some sort of disfiguring facial thing, and the girls bullied her into leaving the squad. Loretta finished her off by threatening to steal George from her if she didn’t quit. Being involved with another cheerleading squad makes Nancy blur the lines between the past and the present, and she decides the SVH girls need to be punished for what the ’76 girls did.

Over the course of a weekend, the cheerleaders start to disappear. First the girls think Amy and Jade have gone to another town to pick up new uniforms. Then they think everyone’s having a sleepover at Maria’s. Finally Nancy goes by the Wakefields’ and kidnaps Jessica at gunpoint, finishing her collection. She ties them all up in a flooded basement and plays ’70s music really loudly because she can’t stand all the noise in her head.

Elizabeth’s research finally proves useful, and she figures out that Nancy was the unknown cheerleader. She goes to talk to her about the article but quickly realizes that something isn’t right. Nancy tosses her in the basement with the other girls, who are all trying to keep their heads above water. Heather’s sick, Amy’s having an allergic reaction to mold, and poor Jade keeps passing out and almost drowning. So it’s an actual scary, life-threatening situation.

Jessica gets herself untied, so there’s a plus in the cheerleaders’ side. The girls just need to get Nancy to open the door so they can let the water out, and they decide the best way to do that is to play along with her crazy. They start cheering and ask her to join them. She opens the door, the water goes whoosh, and the girls are free. Score one for girls being smart and taking care of themselves. Plus, the experience makes Jessica and Heather realize they don’t hate each other that much, so that rivalry’s over, at least for now.

Oh, I almost forgot: There’s also a Liz/Todd fight because he doesn’t like how much time she’s spending on the article. Todd is a jerk. The end.

Thoughts: Some students are upset that all activities need faculty advisors now, but isn’t that standard? I’m pretty sure all clubs at my school had to have advisors. A bunch of guys even had an advisor for their semi-fake snooker club. I’m pretty sure he just sat in the room while they…actually, I don’t know what they did. I doubt they played snooker.

Jessica says “cowabunga.” I’m pretty sure even Bart Simpson had stopped saying that by 1996.

“She’s the new library lady.” You mean librarian? Shut up, Todd.

“Now, Jessica, is that a nice thing to say?” Now, Alice, you haven’t tried to shape Jessica morally for 16 years, so why start now?

Hey, Jeffrey Finch still exists! Good for him.

Dear Elizabeth, if your boyfriend doesn’t support you when you’re doing something that’s really important, DUMP HIM. I mean, you’ve dumped him for less.

Watching an aerobics class, Brad tells Elizabeth, “You’d look really hot in one of those outfits.” Okay, first, don’t ever say that to the sister of the girl you’re dating. Second, EW.

Elizabeth: “I’d rather date a live crocodile, covered with army ants!” Jessica: “Kinky!” Congratulations, SVH, you made a sex joke.

Aw, Jade’s too short to keep her head above the water. I feel you, girl.

June 13, 2011

SVH #93, Stepsisters: The Sweet Valley Rainbow Coalition

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 11:05 pm by Jenn

One's black! One's white! One's wearing polka dots! One's wearing stripes! Yeah, okay, we get it

Summary: Annie Whitman’s mom tells her she’s getting remarried, which is a shock to Annie, since she didn’t even know her mom was dating someone. Her fiancé, Walter Thomas, is a famous photographer, and he and his daughter, Cheryl (who’s Annie’s age), are moving to Sweet Valley from New York to live with the Whitmans. Oh, and they’re black. Annie doesn’t care about that last part, but she’s worried about how other people in Sweet Valley will react.

The Whitmans and Thomases buy the house next to the Wakefields, and the twins are happy to have a friend as their neighbor. They also don’t care that the Thomases are black. Walter and Cheryl arrive in Sweet Valley and everything seems to go well with the newly formed family. Annie and Cheryl are a little too nice to each other; each girl gives the other the bedroom she really wanted. Annie also gets a little weird about Cheryl’s race, not telling anyone because she doesn’t want to make it a big deal, but wondering if people will think she was trying to hide it.

Annie decides to throw a party to welcome Cheryl to Sweet Valley and give her a chance to meet a bunch of people from SVH. She realizes that all her friends are white and invites some non-white students, even though she doesn’t know them that well. Cheryl kind of figures out that Annie’s not really friends with those students, and Annie thinks Cheryl feels embarrassed. She tries to get Cheryl really involved in life in Sweet Valley, but Cheryl’s having trouble adjusting to life outside of New York and doesn’t like all the same activities Annie does. She does, however, like Steven.

Since Annie’s in Pi Beta Alpha, she wants Cheryl to join, too, so she nominates her. Suzanne Hanlon is her usual snooty self and comments that Cheryl’s a lot different from the other PBA members. She also indicates to Annie that if she makes all the food for a pool party Suzanne’s throwing, she’ll vote for Cheryl. In the meantime, Cheryl talks to Elizabeth and Rosa Jameson about PBA and comes up with more and more reasons not to become a member. She agrees to go to the pool party, since Annie really wants her to, but she’s been talking to Tony, Annie’s ex, who she thinks wants her back, and says she’ll only go to the party if Annie invites Tony.

Cheryl announces at the party that she’s going to decline membership to PBA since she has too many other things she wants to do. Annie blasts her for quitting after Annie stuck her neck out, and Cheryl plays the race card, for some reason, saying white people always want black people to be grateful to them. Cheryl talks things over with Steven, who notes that people can get along without having a lot in common – after all, Jessica and Elizabeth are identical in looks only. And then, randomly, Annie’s mom gets appendicitis, and she and Cheryl rush to the hospital, but Annie’s mom is fine, and then Annie and Cheryl make up. Like I said, random.

Thoughts: Okay, there is way too much going on in this book: Annie’s mom is getting remarried, Cheryl and Walter are black, Tony wants to get back together with Annie, everyone moves into the new house, Cheryl and Steven are hanging out, Cheryl feels out of place in California, Annie wants her in PBA…. This is like five books in one.

However, this book also contains a page-long teaser about the Prom Thriller miniseries. So! Excited!

“A lot of the other models Mom knows are black. Why shouldn’t she have fallen in love with someone who happens to be black?” Um, what? That makes no sense. “She knows black people, so it’s not surprising that she’s marrying one of them”? I mean, I know a lot of women, but people would be pretty surprised if I married one.

“You actually have sororities in high school here? Sweet Valley sounds like something out of a 1950’s beach-party movie.” Cheryl sure caught on quickly.

February 12, 2011

SVH #77, Cheating to Win: Way to Break the Dumb-Jock Stereotype, Tony

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 4:43 pm by Jenn

I'll bite - what are we looking at?

Summary: Annie’s dating a guy named Tony who’s on the track team with Roger (Barrett) Patman. He’s so good that he’s been scouted and could even make the Olympics someday. After a knee injury, Tony worries that he won’t be back in shape by the time he needs to be, so he accepts some “magic vitamins” (yes, really) from a guy at his gym.

Roger is hosting a 13-year-old Mitch whose mom was a friend of his late mom’s; Mitch has been suspended from school for a month and his mom thinks he could use Roger’s influence to help turn him around. Mitch ends up with a big-boy crush on Action Jackson (tm Maeby), AKA Tony, who ironically tries to convince him to stop drinking while he himself takes steroids.

Annie discovers the steroids in Tony’s locker and takes one to her cousin, who’s a biochemistry grad student and tells her what they are. When confronted, Tony denies being on steroids, but his behavior says otherwise. Annie confides in Elizabeth (of course) and Roger, who encourage her to slip Tony some placebos. Apparently her biochemist cousin can make placebos, so maybe she should quit school and go into drug forgery or something.

None of this really matters, though, because Tony overhears a conversation between his drug supplier and another guy, and it finally clicks that he’s taking illegal drugs that are giving him an unfair advantage. He comes clean to his overbearing father and coach, taking himself out of the upcoming all-county meet. The coach admires his honesty and agrees to let him compete, though he’ll make Tony take drug tests (which will turn up lots of sugar, I expect). Tony wins the meet, also breaking the state record, because drugs are bad, but being honest is good.

The B-plot is actually kind of fun. Todd’s annoyed that he and Elizabeth are never alone together, though he should probably stop inviting people to join them just as often as she does. Elizabeth comes up with a scheme to have Annie and Enid “kidnap” him and bring him to a restaurant for a romantic dinner. Todd has the exact same idea, substituting Winston for Annie and Enid, but they execute their plans at the same time. Just as Annie and Enid kidnap Todd, Winston kidnaps Elizabeth, and all five end up at the restaurant. C’mon, that’s cute, right?

Thoughts: I guess I wasn’t the only person who noticed that Elizabeth is always inviting people to hang out with her and Todd without asking his permission.

I thought it was common sense that if a guy in a gym offers you unnamed pills, you should run away very fast. I guess Tony isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box.

Addendum a few pages later: Tony doesn’t really know what steroids are. I can feel my IQ dropping just reading about this guy.

So teenagers exchanging locker combinations is the equivalent of giving someone a key to your house?

Why would Winston kidnap Elizabeth after she’s already in his car? Good idea, bad execution. Amusing, though. Winston tells Elizabeth, “You’re not supposed to make a peep. I’ve seen this in movies. Just lie back in the seat and moan every once in a while.” And now we know what Winston would do if he got a Wakefield twin alone in his car.

December 31, 2009

SVH Super Edition #1, Perfect Summer: “She Felt About as Low as a Munchkin on a Submarine”

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:20 am by Jenn

No one is actually this happy in the book

Summary: Elizabeth, Jessica, Lila, Todd, Roger, Olivia, Bruce, Annie, Mr. Collins, Ms. Dalton, and a couple of extras named Barry Cooper and Charlie Markus spend a month biking up the California coast and manufacturing drama. A lot of boring stuff happens:

Elizabeth thinks that Todd is falling for a girl named Courtney who met up with the group in Hollywood and has been sent on the trip by her father so she’ll stay away from her boyfriend and his presumably fast-moving crowd. She gets jealous over pretty much nothing. Everyone thinks Elizabeth is too hard on Courtney since they think Courtney’s father is a neglectful alcoholic, but after battling a forest fire accidentally started by Courtney, Elizabeth discovers the truth, reveals it to everyone, and shows everyone Courtney’s true colors. Of course, she and Todd get back together, because they’re soul mates, or something.

Jessica falls for the improbably named Robbie October, who is your stereotypical bad boy. He hates authority and plays by his own rules. And then he screams like a girl when he comes in contact with a bear.

Lila is mad because Ms. Dalton is dating her father again, and when she finds out from some kids from another school that Ms. Dalton isn’t who she claims to be, she uses it to get what she wants.

Roger and Bruce are apparently at odds because they’re still not comfortable being relatives, but there’s so little of that storyline that it’s barely there.

Annie and Ricky have broken up, even though they were find in Runaway, and she’s now interested in Charlie. However, she’s worried that her past (she’s a loose girl, don’tcha know) will stand in their way. It doesn’t.

Ms. Dalton is revealed to really be Beth Curtis, and she fled her last home after her Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-like husband hit her and then committed suicide. Lila’s father apparently knows about her past, but it’s unclear if he’s holding it over her head.

Mr. Collins is totally still in love with Ms. Dalton, and they seem to be back together by the end of the book.

Thoughts: You’d think that in 250 pages, 100 more pages than the regular books in the series, something interesting would happen. You’d be wrong.

I just can’t see Lila and Jessica willingly going on a four-week-long bike trip that requires camping out. I’m surprised Lila doesn’t bring a servant along with her.

The 12 cyclists stay at Courtney’s father’s mansion – but they have to sleep in tents. Huh?

Also, Jessica and Lila hate Courtney because she calls them goody-goodies. But there are so many other reasons to hate her, girls!

I love how Sweet Valley is supposed to be some magical place: “Annie told her all about the town of Sweet Valley, and Courtney appeared to be properly captivated.” So…not captivated at all, you’re saying?

Jessica and Robbie are threatened by a bear, and Roger’s suggestion is that they call the police. What does he expect the cops to do, throw donuts for the bear to run after?

I think the ghostwriter has a crush on Mr. Collins. She keeps calling him handsome.

The Munchkin quote I used in the title is possibly the greatest thing I’ve read all year. Or at least in this series. It’ll be hard to top that one.

November 14, 2009

SVH #10, Wrong Kind of Girl: Jessica Wakefield is Not Worth Dying Over

Posted in books tagged , , at 6:42 pm by Jenn

WKOG

Brittany Murphy hates her new haircut

Summary: Annie Whitman wants to join the SVH cheerleading squad, but Jessica thinks she’s a slut and doesn’t want her reputation to spread to the other cheerleaders. She engages in some psychological warfare to get the other cheerleaders to vote against letting her on the squad, even though she’s clearly the best candidate. And then, amazingly, Jessica proves herself to be an evil genius: she threatens to quit the squad if Annie joins.

Not only does Annie not make the squad, which crushes her dreams (because teenaged girls are nothing if not shallow), but her crush, Ricky Capaldo, the manager of the squad, tells her exactly why – it’s because of the rumors that have been circulating about her enjoyment of the opposite sex. So Annie reacts exactly the way any reasonable teenaged girl would: she takes a bunch of pills. Ricky saves her life, and Jessica, actually feeling guilty, tells the comatose Annie that she’s on the squad after all. Which, of course, makes her wake up.

The brief B plot is clearly just setting up for a future storyline: Ned’s friend, who’s an ambassador, is sending his teenaged daughter to Sweet Valley for two weeks, and the Wakefields are going to send one of the twins to New York City in the lamest student-exchange program ever. Also, there’s a brief mention of Steven’s girlfriend Tricia’s father being arrested for DWI, but then no one talks about it again.

Thoughts: I wonder if Jessica will finally realize that being mean to people – especially people who’ve done nothing wrong – can have serious consequences. Or that rumors are bad. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, I don’t really expect Jessica to learn anything. This isn’t an after-school special.

Annie’s mom is a crazy piece of work. She’s a drinker, it seems, and repeatedly calls Annie “kitten,” commenting on her and Elizabeth’s beauty. She also dates a creep who randomly disappears by the end of the book. Annie reveals that her mom was 16 when she got pregnant, but somewhere in there she was a model. A model classy enough to smoke in a hospital. Clearly, she’s a winner.

By the way, what kind of crappy cheerleading squad only has five members? There are eight by the end of the book, but even that’s pretty pathetic, especially considering the number of sports teams SVH has. They appear to actually have some talent, though, so maybe that makes up for it.

Also, maybe Annie should get some therapy, or something? With her suicide attempt on top of her obvious daddy issues and probable feelings of abandonment by her teenaged parents, she could be pretty entertaining in the future.