January 2, 2010

SVH #22, Too Much in Love: Girls With Low Self-Esteem

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:28 pm by Jenn

What's with the fleece? I thought the weather in Sweet Valley was perfect

Summary: DeeDee Gordon has become really clingy, and her boyfriend, Bill Chase, is sick of it, as is the reader after about 30 pages of it. DeeDee has daddy issues (say that five times fast) and thinks her father left her mother because her mother showed that she was independent. DeeDee wants Bill to believe she needs him, but she goes too far and annoys him. Elizabeth hatches a plan (of course) to put DeeDee in charge of a talent show so she can remind herself what she’s capable of. Shockingly enough, it works. There’s also something in there about Bill going to see a movie with Dana Larson and not telling DeeDee, but it doesn’t go anywhere.

In the B plot, Ned and Alice are out of town, so of course Jessica throws a party, and of course it gets out of hand. One of Alice’s design plans is destroyed, but DeeDee saves the day there, too. And in the teeny, tiny C plot, Todd is acting weird but won’t tell Elizabeth why until the end of the story: He’s moving to Vermont. (Noooo! Todd’s the only normal one in the series!)

Thoughts: There’s not too much to this book. It’s predictable and boring. Can someone pull a gun or something, to spice things up?

Jessica’s so happy to have freedom when her parents go out of town that she…decides to do laundry. Well, for her, I guess that would be a form of rebellion.

Alice warns the twins not to let anything happen to her floor plan, since she doesn’t have another copy. Clunkiest foreshadowing ever.

Please tell me someone gets the reference in the post title.

November 2, 2009

SVH #8, Heart Breaker: Why Does the Crazy Girl Always Attract All the Guys?

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:53 pm by Jenn


The artist could at least try to make these two look 16

Summary: Jessica has sunken her claws into Bill the surfer, even though she doesn’t actually like him – she wants revenge for a time when he rejected her. They’re spending a lot of time together, since they’re starring opposite each other in the school play, and Jessica has Bill wrapped around her finger. Basically, when she says, “Jump,” he says, “How high? For how long? Can I get you anything while I’m up here?” Bill is also teaching shy DeeDee Gordon how to surf, and because he’s doing so much with Jessica, he has no idea that DeeDee’s in love with him. Jessica can see it, but DeeDee isn’t beautiful and popular, so obviously she’s collateral damage in Jessica’s revenge-seeking plan.

Bill saves DeeDee from drowning and realizes he’s fallen in love with her, so he dumps Jessica (at a party, in front of everyone, so way to go, Bill!), which means she’ll probably go for an even sicker revenge plot in the future. In the end, Bill is happy, DeeDee is happy, and Jessica is alone. So sad.

There are three B plots, only one of which is actually kind of interesting. In the first, Elizabeth is jealous of Todd’s ex-girlfriend, Patsy, who’s just moved to town and who he’s spending a lot of time with. It’s a typical I-think-my-boyfriend-is-in-love-with-someone-else-but-I’m-too-chicken-to-say-anything plot, and Elizabeth comes away from it looking as dumb as Jessica. In the second B plot, which is pretty brief, Jessica thinks DeeDee’s father, a Hollywood agent, is going to peg her as the next big thing in Hollywood. She’s wrong, and Bill gets that honor, so Jessica loses again. Awesome. In the third, semi-interesting B plot, Roger Barrett is in love with Lila but she thinks he’s a loser. Elizabeth discovers that Roger is secretly working as a janitor (read: he’s POOR) and agrees not to tell anyone.

Thoughts: Bill might be my new favorite character. He rejects Jessica twice and doesn’t seem to care that he could suffer her wrath. She’s the bratty child who wants her way and he’s the parent who’s putting his foot down and not letting her get away with murder. Supernanny fans, we could all learn a lot from Bill Chase. And even if he turns out to be a serial killer or something in the future, he’s already put up with enough from having to hang out with Jessica, so I think we can cut him some slack.

I know where the Roger stuff is going, and I have a feeling Lila’s going to be getting her own comeuppance. Funny how, at least in the Sweet Valley Twins series, Lila was always considered the spoiled brat and the quintessential mean girl, but from my reading, Jessica’s the one who’s nastier. Not that Lila doesn’t deserve being put in her place herself.

The teens at SVH are putting on Splendor in the Grass. Is that really an appropriate play for high-schoolers? I mean, we weren’t even allowed to do Grease in high school. Maybe Sweet Valley is a lot more liberal than I thought.

I have to ask, what’s up with Jessica and the number 137? In the first eight books of the series, she’s used it about 137 times. Maybe I should start keeping track of how many times it pops up.

October 31, 2009

SVH #7, Dear Sister: We Always Have One Good Kid and One Lousy Kid

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 5:49 pm by Jenn


I guess Jessica carries that picture around so she doesn't forget what Elizabeth looks like

Summary: Picking up where Dangerous Love left off, Elizabeth is in a coma. And then she wakes up, and the book ends. No, just kidding. Elizabeth does wake up, but everyone quickly realizes that there’s something different about her – basically, she’s turned into Jessica. She starts caring about her appearance, cheating on schoolwork, flirting with every guy in school, and shirking responsibilities, to the point where Jessica has to pick up her slack. Basically, Elizabeth is now Jessica and Jessica is now Elizabeth.

Eventually Elizabeth (who’s dumped Todd) makes dates with both Bruce Patman and Bill Chase for the same night. She keeps the date with Bruce, and when Bill comes by the house for Elizabeth, Jessica takes the opportunity to get back at him for rejecting her by pretending to be Elizabeth so she can go out with him. Only in Jessica’s world does going out with a guy equate revenge. Elizabeth gets drunk and goes to Bruce’s father’s boathouse, and just before they’re about to have sex, she hits her head and suddenly reverts to her normal self. Of course! And then Bruce tries to rape her, because he’s so classy. She gets away and threatens to tell everyone what a coward he is, because it’s always a good idea to threaten someone who’s trying to rape you. Anyway, Elizabeth is back to Elizabeth, and Jessica is back to Jessica – she’s made Bill fall in love with her.

The B plot is hardly worth mentioning, but it involves a pair of 12-year-old twins staying with the Wakefields for a few weeks.

Thoughts: It’s a good thing Jessica turns into Elizabeth while her twin is turning into her, because I wouldn’t be able to handle two Jessicas. I don’t think anyone could. This does show that Jessica has some ability to be responsible, she just finds it boring.

Lila throws a “pick-up party,” a concept I’ve never heard of. (Of course, I was a nerdy, prudish high-schooler who usually went to parties where we watched horror movies and played extremely chaste games of Spin the Bottle, which is how Spin the Bottle usually is when there are 12 girls and only four guys. Though some of my friends did get busted for playing strip poker on a school trip.) All the guests come without dates, and everyone is free to pick up a new boy- or girlfriend. It’s also a chance for unhappy people to dump current boy-/girlfriends. Maybe this was the ’80s teenage version of a key party?

I’d like to state for the record that SVH’s basketball team is the Gladiators. I guess it’s hard to match anything really strong and intimidating with “Sweet Valley.”

Also for the record, Elizabeth’s neurosurgeon is named John Edwards, and he keeps touching Jessica. Was the ghostwriter psychic?

October 29, 2009

SVH #5, All Night Long: “Strangling Was Too Good for Jessica, She Decided”

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 12:59 pm by Jenn


That is one glorious mustache, am I right?

Summary: Jessica falls for Scott Daniels, a college guy with a mesmerizing mustache and no redeeming qualities. She goes to the beach with him (telling her parents she’s going somewhere with Cara Walker), and after he spends some time drinking and smoking pot with his friends, they go off alone together. Scott proceeds to basically attempt to rape Jessica, who whines so much that she scares him off. However, Jessica’s stuck with a bunch of drunk/high fools, so she can’t get home in time to take a test at school that will allow her to be a “tourist guide.” Elizabeth, still suffering from a raging case of doormat syndrome, agrees to cover for Jessica, which requires pretending to be her. Unsurprisingly, it works and Jessica suffers no consequences for her actions, AGAIN. Except poison oak. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

The beyond-pointless B plot has to do with a surfing competition that involves Bill Chase. Yawn.

Thoughts: Seriously, Elizabeth has absolutely no spine. I don’t get why she cares whether or not Jessica gets busted for lying to their parents. Elizabeth constantly disagrees with what Jessica does, but she never does anything remotely close to making sure Jessica will change. Classic enabler. I think Jessica’s whining has special brain-melting powers. Actually, people just do whatever she wants so she’ll shut up already.

Jessica’s stupidity is at code orange in this book. Her dumbest move isn’t even riding in a car with a possibly under-21-year-old while he drinks a beer. No, her dumbest move is thinking. When Scott pressures her to have sex, she blames Elizabeth for not talking her out of going out with him. Then she tries to get Scott to back off by saying she’ll tell her parents he tried to rape her if he doesn’t take her home. That works about as well as you’d expect. Scott starts to leave Jessica at the boathouse of bubbling desires, but she tells him not to go because she has no way of getting home without him. And he basically holds her hostage by not giving her a ride home. So…good taste in men, there, Jess.

Elizabeth’s stupidity is slightly less prevalent, but she still has her moments. She wants to pretend to be Jessica and take the “tourist-guide” test (seriously, ghostwriter: “tour guide”), and when Todd tries to talk her out of it, she accuses him of being jealous. Say what? And speaking of jealousy and people’s apparent unfamiliarity with it, when Elizabeth passes her test and “Jessica” fails, Jessica accuses Elizabeth of flunking on purpose beacuse she’s jealous of Jessica and Scott. Yes, Jessica, Elizabeth is insanely jealous of Tom Selleck’s younger, skeezier brother. We all are.

Like I said, the surfing competition really serves no purpose, except it gives Todd something to do. We also find out that Bill bought Todd’s surfboard (a gift from his parents – nice one, Todd), which provided Todd with the money to buy a motorcycle, something that will show up again in the next book. That must be either an especially expensive surfboard (purchased by an insanely rich high schooler) or a really cheap motorcycle (also purchased by a high schooler). Either way, that sale makes no sense to me.