December 23, 2014

SVU #29, One Last Kiss: That’s One Less Love Triangle to Deal With

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 pm by Jenn

I still don't believe that's Todd. He doesn't look the way I've always pictured him

I still don’t believe that’s Todd. He doesn’t look the way I’ve always pictured him

Summary: Things n Sweet Valley have been too happy for too long, so it’s time for someone to die. As Todd and Elizabeth learned in the previous book, Gin-Yung has an inoperable brain tumor and not much time to live. She’s now in the hospital, dying a particularly unpretty death. I’m actually surprised the series doesn’t soften things a bit. But no, Gin-Yung must suffer. And Elizabeth must suffer, too, because somehow, this poor girl’s death is about her.

So anyway, Todd wants to be with Gin-Yung during her final days, since she wants him there. This means he and Elizabeth have to spend time apart. Poor, poor Liz. It’s so hard being beautiful and healthy and having so many guys want you. Like, Gin-Yung will be dead in a matter of days, and then Todd is all yours. Chill. Gin-Yung’s sister Kim gets Todd to promise that he’ll hang around so Gin-Yung can get what she wants. Kim is kind of annoying, but then again, at one point Todd thinks about how he doesn’t have time to sit at his ex’s deathbed, so maybe they’re both jerks.

There are a bunch of scenes of Todd and Gin-Yung spending time together as her health declines. He starts regretting that they can’t still be together. But there will be no miraculous recovery for Gin-Yung. After sharing a final kiss with Todd, who promises he’ll always love her, she dies. ‘Bye, Gin-Yung! I thought you were cool!

Elizabeth has been avoiding the SVU TV studio so she doesn’t have to deal with Tom, but she realizes that she shouldn’t have to give up something she likes because of a stupid boy. As soon as she returns to the studio, she meets another stupid boy. Scott Sinclair is interning for the station, since he wants to switch from print to TV journalism. I’m not completely sure he actually goes to SVU, though. Or maybe he’s going back to school? I don’t know. Anyway, he and Liz immediately hit it off, and he encourages her to give up TV journalism and go back to print. I guarantee that not one reader cares about this.

While all this is going on, Jessica is being a flipping idiot. She thinks her relationship with Nick is boring and that they need to do something exciting. By the way, her ideas of exciting activities aren’t actually exciting. Girl just wants to go to the beach. Jess seems to think that dating a cop should be a lot more interesting than it is. When Nick has to leave an evening with her to go on a stakeout, Jessica tries to invite herself along. Nick manages to leave without her, but then she takes a message from one of his fellow cops asking him to bring a hub cap to the stakeout. Jessica thinks it has to do with their investigation, so she takes the hub cap to Nick, all, “Yay, I’m going to be a hero!”

At the stakeout, which is at a chop shop, Nick and the other cops face off with the criminals. One of the criminals is about to shoot Nick without Nick realizing it. Jessica tries to Frisbee the hub cap at the guy, and though she fails, she at least distracts him enough for Nick to overtake him. Then there’s a shootout, and Nick is cornered again, this time with Jessica beaning the criminal with a wrench to save her boyfriend.

Now Jessica thinks she’d be an awesome cop. Never mind that the hub cap had nothing to do with the case and was just something Nick had picked up as a favor for a co-worker. Jessica wants to team up with Nick and become an awesome crime-fighting duo. Nick realizes that he’s never going to be able to work as a cop and date Jessica at the same time. Because she’s bananas. But you knew that.

Having learned in the last book that Elizabeth was telling the truth about Tom’s father hitting on her, Tom goes to confront the creepster. His father is pretty much unapologetic about the whole thing, so Tom decides to cut him off. He also realizes that he’s still madly in love with Elizabeth, even though he’s been dating Dana.

After a talk with Danny, Tom decides to write Elizabeth a letter telling her he knows that she was right about his father the whole time, and how sorry he is that he screwed things up. Elizabeth goes off with Scott, so she doesn’t see the letter at the station before Dana does. She’s realized that Tom still loves Elizabeth, and she’s determined to keep her man. (I don’t know what the appeal is.) Later, Tom returns to the station, and since the letter’s gone, he thinks Elizabeth read it. He’s all hopeful until he sees Liz comforting Todd over Gin-Yung’s death and realizes she doesn’t want him back. Yeah, move on, Tom. I hate this love triangle.

Thoughts: Todd hits the denial stage of grief early: “Maybe she’s just exhausted from her trip – a bad case of jet lag or something.” Yes, Todd. Neurologists often confuse fatigue and brain tumors. I’ve heard that jet lag often manifests itself on MRIs, too.

“I don’t want Gin-Yung to die. But if Gin-Yung lives, I can never be with Elizabeth again.” Todd sure has his priorities in order.

I thought Dana was okay before – now suddenly she’s a jerk? Where did that come from?

Jessica should have been arrested for interfering with police business and endangering people’s lives. I wish people could also be arrested for being complete morons.

Apparently Alice likes to say, re: traveling, “If you accidentally leave something behind, it means that you never wanted to go.” That’s stupid. What if you just have a bad memory? Shut up, Alice.

December 9, 2014

SVU #28, Elizabeth’s Heartbreak: Yes, Gin-Yung’s Terminal Illness Is All About Liz

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 8:16 pm by Jenn

Elizabeth, wait, like, a week and you'll have him all to yourself

Elizabeth, wait, like, a week and you’ll have him all to yourself

Summary: Elizabeth and Todd are back together, yay! Liz + Todd 4-EVA!!!!!1!1 (Ugh, I feel dirty.) They’re super-happy and stuff. Little do they know that Gin-Yung has returned from London and wants to see Todd. However, she doesn’t call him or go see him. Elizabeth thinks she sees Gin-Yung on campus, but since she’s supposed to still be in London, Elizabeth just tells herself it’s someone else. Gin-Yung spends most of the book getting bugged by her sister Kim to tell Todd what’s really going on. The ghostwriter really piles on the “what’s wrong with Gin-Yung?” mystery for the reader.

Todd, Elizabeth, Tom, and Tom’s new girlfriend Dana all end up at a recital together. They make civil, mature conversation and agree to have coffee together sometime. Ha ha, not on your life. Tom throws his new relationship in Elizabeth’s face, and she ends up in tears. She decides to focus on Todd and forget about both Tom and Gin-Yung. That’s not so easy, though, as Gin-Yung soon visits Todd and tells him she’s done with London. Now Todd has to decide if he wants to stick it out with Gin-Yung or ditch her for Elizabeth.

Todd tells Liz that Gin-Yung is back and he’s not sure who he wants to be with. Clearly he loves Liz more, but he feels bad about dumping Gin-Yung. Later, Jessica runs into Gin-Yung and tells her that Todd and Elizabeth were doing great, but Todd might leave his one true love for a girl he feels he’s obligated to stay with. Gin-Yung decides to let Todd off the hook so he can be happy. She tells him she fell in love with a guy she met in England, so Todd is free to see anyone he wants. Todd’s like, “Well, that was easy and in no way suspicious!”

But Todd and Elizabeth’s happiness is short-lived. Todd goes to Gin-Yung’s place to return some of her things, and he can immediately see that something’s wrong. She’s sick, and while he’s there she passes out and starts convulsing. He rushes her to the hospital, where Gin-Yung’s family reveals to him and Elizabeth that Gin-Yung has an inoperable brain tumor. She came back from London to say goodbye to her family before she dies.

Over in Theta world, Alison informs the sisters that a singer named Bobby Hornet (if that’s not his real name, it’s a horrible stage name) is putting together a charity swimsuit calendar. Nothing says “let’s raise money for the homeless” like a thong bikini. Bobby’s coming to town and wants a Theta in the calendar. Alison, of course, volunteers as tribute, then learns that a bunch of other girls would love the opportunity, including Jessica, also of course. The girls are told that they can go to a music store the next day to meet Bobby, and he can choose who should be in the calendar.

Jessica’s only hesitation about being in the calendar is that Nick might not like it. Jessica, hon? He doesn’t have to like it. You do you. Anyway, he thinks it’s an awesome idea, because he’s more interested in seeing his girlfriend in a bikini than he is in worrying that other men will see his girlfriend in a bikini.

Jessica goes to the music store in a trench coat, goes up a flight of stairs, drops the coat, and makes a grand entrance in just a red string bikini. Suddenly Bobby’s all, “Alison who?” Someone puts on the “Hallelujah Chorus.” That’s so dumb. Anyway, Bobby tells Jessica the calendar shoot is hers, then asks her to dinner to solidify the agreement. Jessica worries a tiny bit about going out with a guy who’s not Nick, but there’s no way she’s going to jeopardize her spot in the calendar.

On their date, the couple is followed by paparazzi, and Jessica freaks out about being seen with a guy who’s not her boyfriend. Amazingly enough, Nick drives by the restaurant and sees Jessica just as she’s trying to leave Bobby, who’s kind of creepy. Jessica goes to the police station to apologize to Nick, telling him that she thought she had to go out with Bobby to get in the calendar, but if Nick wants, she’ll drop the whole thing. He forgives her, because Jessica is just that charming.

Jessica gets the spot in the calendar despite her disastrous date with Bobby. He tells her that his brother is one of Nick’s co-workers, and that Nick came to visit him. We don’t find out what Nick said, but I’m guessing it was along the lines of, “After this photo shoot, don’t come within 100 feet of my girlfriend ever again.” And then Alison winds up getting a date with Bobby, so I guess she’s okay with not being in the calendar.

Tom has been dating Dana but keeps thinking about Elizabeth. Basically, he slowly becomes obsessed with Dana, first as a distraction from Elizabeth, then because he actually likes her. His father, George, wonders what happened to Elizabeth, but Tom wants to banish all mentions of her and tells George to stop asking about her. Tom spends the whole book trying not to think about Elizabeth, but at the end, he finds a bunch of pictures that George has had taken of Elizabeth. Finally, Tom gets that Elizabeth’s accusations about George might not have been lies after all. Ruh-roh for George….

Thoughts: “And would [Nick] even allow her to pose with sexy Bobby Hornet in the first place?” Excuse me? “Allow”? Not to mention that Jessica has never asked permission to do anything in her life.

In the last book we had a Dash; in this one we have a Dub. People in Sweet Valley have weird names.

Winston to Todd: “You’re depressed because you have two girls in love with you?” Also, his wallet’s too small for his 50s and his diamond shoes are too tight.

Gin-Yung wears a “one-piece pantsuit.” What would that even look like?

November 26, 2014

SVU #27, Elizabeth and Todd Forever: Everyone Knows You’re Going to Wind Up Together, So Just Do It Already

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:10 pm by Jenn

No way would Elizabeth ever show that much skin

No way would Elizabeth ever show that much skin

Summary: At the end of The Trial of Jessica Wakefield, Todd and Elizabeth kissed, but they haven’t talked about it. They run into each other at some hipster grocery store that I’m sure college students can totally afford, and they chat a little, but Elizabeth doesn’t want to discuss Tom or the fact that they’re pretty much over. They wind up dancing in the parking lot, which is supposed to be romantic but sounds pretty dumb. Todd clearly wants Elizabeth back, and since he and Gin-Yung agreed to see other people while she’s in London for the semester, he doesn’t feel weird about pursuing his ex.

Pretty much the whole book is Todd and Elizabeth hanging out, Todd trying to figure out where they stand, and Elizabeth moping because she and Tom are through. Todd is amazingly patient while Elizabeth cycles between “Todd and I are totally meant for each other” and “maybe I should give Tom another chance.” I don’t think I would have been able to put up with it. Ultimately, she decides to get back together with Todd.

Throughout the book, we check in on Gin-Yung, who’s not having much fun in London. She misses home, she thinks Todd has lost interest in her, and she’s tired all the time. At the end of the book, Gin-Yung comes home early, having received some sort of bad news, and blacks out at the airport.

Jessica is still with Nick, who is hesitant to take her home to meet his parents. She’s furious, thinking that he doesn’t think she’s good enough for his family, but it’s really because his mother is insane. Okay, maybe not insane. Difficult. Annoying. An uber-WASP. Like, imagine Lucille Bluth cranked up to 15. That’s Rhoda Fox. Lila thinks Jessica should be grateful since she once dated a guy whose mother liked her so much that she wanted Lila to marry her son when they’d only been on a few dates. But Jessica can’t stand the idea of someone not loving her.

On her way to meet the Foxes, Jessica gets in a fender-bender with a Lexus. The Lexus driver, also an uber-WASP, is stopped at the end of an off-ramp, which is so stupid I don’t even know where to begin. She screams at Jessica for hitting her, when clearly she’s an idiot for stopping her car there. After a few pages of yelling, the two drivers exchange insurance information. When Jessica gets to the Foxes’ house, she recognizes his mother’s car – she’s the crazy woman from the fender-bender.

Jessica decides there’s no way she can have a civil dinner with that lunatic, so she pretends to be sick and cancels over the phone. Mrs. Fox thinks Jessica’s a ditz for skipping dinner. Jess tries to smooth things over by sending a gift that even a nine-year-old would find saccharine. Lila gives her a horrible idea: Call Mrs. Fox to talk about the accident, use a fake name, win her over, and already have Mrs. Fox on her side when it’s time to meet. This doesn’t work because there is no winning over Mrs. Fox.

Jess cancels the rescheduled dinner, making Mrs. Fox hate her even more. She thinks Nick should date the girl from the fender-bender, because I guess she wants her son to be with a woman who has a temper. I don’t know. Eventually, Jessica has to meet Mrs. Fox face to face, but Jessica’s “spunk” makes Mrs. Fox give her a thumbs up. I really, really don’t get this. Why was this a plot?

Tom spends the book partying and pretending he’s better off without Elizabeth. He spends a lot of time with his father and his younger brother and sister. He’s also a huge jerk to Liz, which makes me so mad that she considers getting back together with him. Really the only important part of his plotline is that he falls for Dana, his sister’s cello teacher, so it looks like he and Elizabeth are really done. Good – he’s a jerk. Good luck, Dana.

Thoughts: “Maybe I should have gone after him…maybe I should have punched him.” That’s our Todd!

Elizabeth has a lingerie drawer? What’s in it, longjohns and flannel nightgowns?

There’s a guy at SVU named Dack. Dack? What kind of name is that?

For once in her life, Jessica doesn’t opt for a twin switch when it might actually work. She could have made Mrs. Fox believe that Elizabeth was the one who hit her car.

Jessica almost jumps out of a car going 60 miles an hour. She’s beyond drama queenery now.

May 6, 2014

SVU #17, Deadly Attraction: Running Away Is the Solution to Every Problem

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 8:26 pm by Jenn

That bathing suit is hideous. Jessica is supposed to be the fashionable twin

That bathing suit is hideous. Isn’t Jessica supposed to be the fashionable twin?

Summary: It’s not long after Elizabeth was blackmailed with photos of Jessica and Louis kissing, and she quickly tells Jessica that she’s been busted by the administration. Jess has more important things to worry about, since, you know, Chloe tried to kill her. Louis rushes over to check on Jessica, and she confronts him for not telling her he’s married. He tells his whole sob story about how, as soon as he figured out Chloe was a psycho, he ditched her, but she followed him and won him back over. Instead of calling the police like a normal person, he’s just been running from her every time she does something crazy and tracks him down.

This time is no different, as Louis has decided that the only way to keep Jessica safe is for him to leave town. Jessica decides to go with him, even though that means she might never see her family again. As she’s packing, Elizabeth goes out to their Jeep and Chloe grabs her, thinking she’s Jessica. She tells Liz to tell Jessica to stay away from Louis or she’s dead.

Jessica and Louis hit the road, but after a couple days, Chloe tracks them down. They get away. Then they’re on the run again. It’s boring and goes on for a while until Louis locks Jessica in the house where they’re staying and goes outside to confront Chloe. He bluffs that he wants to get back together with her and would be glad to leave with her tonight (since that’ll get her away from Jessica). But Chloe’s smarter than Louis and has actually lured him into a trap. She wanted him out of the house so she could turn on the gas.

Louis rescues Jessica just before the house explodes and takes her to the hospital. He finally tells the police what’s been going on, but they think Chloe was killed in the explosion. They’re at least 99 percent sure. Considering the number of times people have come back from the “dead” on soaps, I’d be like, “I don’t care if you’re 2,000 percent sure – show me a body.” But the police won’t listen to Louis and don’t think he and Jessica are in any more danger.

But yep, Chloe shows up with a nice and tries to kill Jessica, who’s still unconscious. As Louis is pulling her away, Chloe accidentally stabs him instead. She panics and runs away. There are so many smart things Louis could do (including simply letting someone know Chloe was there, getting himself checked over by a doctor, or calling the police back), Louis patches himself up and follows Chloe. He’s decided he’s going to die, and he’ll just kill Chloe, too. I don’t know why he thinks he’s doomed, since he’s IN A HOSPITAL and all, but whatever, this plot needs to be over. So Louis gets Chloe in his car and Thelma and Louises both of them. Better luck next time, Jess.

Now that Mark is back at SVU, Santos wants him to help keep Todd and Elizabeth in line. But they don’t need much keeping in line, since Elizabeth has decided to drop the investigation, thanks to the blackmail photos. Then Liz randomly decides to resume things, and asks to spend the night in Todd’s room since Chloe’s lurking around. The next day, they discover that Santos had someone break into the twins’ room and steal Liz’s computer and files with all the investigation stuff on it.

So now Elizabeth and Todd have to go on the run. They manage to crash at Lila and Bruce’s apartment for the night (more on that later), making Bruce and Lila think they’re back together and looking for a sex pad. Gin-Yung spots them pretending they’re dating again and gets mad. She calls Tom, who’s still in Vegas, being really boring and getting ready for some wrestling match.

Elizabeth goes to the TV station to get some investigation stuff Santos couldn’t get to, but one of Santos’ henchmen spots her and tries to grab her. Gin-Yung swoops in and saves the day with a getaway car. She blasts Elizabeth for stealing Todd, but Liz assures her that there’s nothing going on between them. She also invites her to help her and Todd, even though Todd previously didn’t want Gin-Yung involved in something potentially dangerous.

While Elizabeth goes to see Daryl again, Todd and Gin-Yung figure out that Santos is laundering gambling money through his construction company, which is supposed to be doing work on SVU’s campus. Elizabeth decides it’s time to go to the authorities with this information; Daryl has agreed to come forward, so they have enough evidence to bust everyone. Gin-Yung also introduces Craig, the wrestler who will be competing in Vegas, to Daryl so he can get an advance warning about what’s about to go down. Meanwhile, in Vegas, more henchmen (there sure are a lot of them) warn Tom to make Liz back off or Daryl’s brothers and sister will get hurt.

Just before Tom does his big interview with Craig, the story breaks. Liz calls Tom to let him know that Daryl is making a statement; once he does, Santos won’t be able to threaten anyone. Tom doesn’t get a chance to warn her that Daryl’s siblings are in danger. But it doesn’t matter anyway, because Daryl changes his mind and says that Elizabeth and Todd’s accusations are false. So the threats reached Daryl after all, and he backed down to protect his siblings. Todd tells Tom to spread the word to Craig so he knows what kind of danger he could be facing.

Tom does so, but Craig decides to do the right thing anyway, announcing on live TV that he was offered money to throw his big match. He was blackmailed with the threat of a positive steroid test a year ago, which could hurt his father’s senatorial campaign. It looks like the jig is up, but Santos tries a Hail Mary pass (I figured a sports-related storyline could use some sports references) and kidnaps Elizabeth, Todd, and Gin-Yung, locking them in a basement. They manage to grab them in a roomful of people, by the way. Still not the most ridiculous thing about this book.

Elizabeth and Todd spend their time in the basement arguing, which delights Gin-Yung, since it means they really don’t want to get back together. Priorities, Gin-Yung. Worry about your love life later (if you survive). Santos arrives with Mark and some henchmen, offering the investigators money to retract heir story. The investigators won’t take his bribe, so Santos threatens to kill Daryl’s siblings. Fortunately, Mark, who everyone thought was working for Santos, has actually turned on him and helps the investigators take out the henchmen. Yay for Mark being a good guy!

Lila and Bruce are making do with their hovel, but their money situation is just getting worse. Lila’s credit card is declined and Bruce has been totally cut off from his trust fund. Bruce eats dinner at the frat house and hangs out there for a while, making Lila mad since she’s supposed to know where he is all the time and they’re supposed to do everything together and he didn’t bring her any food (okay, that last one might be a fair gripe). So now they’re broke, hungry, have no hot water (their landlady sucks), and are mad at each other.

What does any regular college student do when he needs a meal but has no money? He goes home. Bruce suggests that he and Lila go to her place for dinner, which works out well. Then she says they should spend the night at their respective families’ houses, which would be a lot more pleasant than enduring another night in their horrible apartment. Both are secretly relieved to be away from each other because all that closeness is driving them nuts.

The night apart turns into multiple nights, with both delaying the return to the apartment because they’re enjoying the luxuries of home (and being away from each other) so much. Finally they decide that they shouldn’t live together. You think? They’re still dating, though.

Remember how Winston and Denise joined ROTC? Did you think that might be an interesting turn of events? Ha ha ha ha ha no. Denise excels while Winston hates every minute of it. He also keeps accusing Denise of having a crush on their drill instructor. The drill instructor is up for promotion and has to have all his recruits perform perfectly in an upcoming inspection. Winston’s a threat to that, so he assigns Denise to get him up to where he needs to be. This means Denise gets to yell at Winston and say she’s following orders.

Winston is so annoying in this book that Denise agrees to go to a ball at the Officer’s Club with the drill instructor. There, she realizes that he’s a jerk and only cares about his inspection, not the recruits. At the inspection, Denise purposely performs poorly to embarrass the guy, which would probably get her kicked out of ROTC if she wasn’t already planning to quit. I don’t get the point of this plot, so I’m glad it’s over.

Thoughts: Elizabeth is all judgmental of Louis for sleeping with a student, like, you just got blackmailed by the dean. If we’re grading on a curve, Louis is a prince among the rest of the SVU staff.

“Alex was working out in a yellow unitard.” Oh, ALEX.

“Gin-Yung was possessive and territorial.” No, she’s not. You’re projecting, Tom.

Why didn’t Louis just kill Chloe? He didn’t have to kill himself. I choose to believe he preferred death over having to put up with Jessica.

April 22, 2014

SVU #16, The Other Woman: Jessica Wakefield’s 568th Poor Relationship Choice

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:19 pm by Jenn

Um...where exactly are you looking, Louis?

Um…where exactly are you looking, Louis?

Summary: Jessica and her new honey, Professor Louis Miles, have no willpower, so they make out in his car, despite his protests that he shouldn’t be dating a student. Jessica gets very “he is my one true love and if I cannot be with him, I shall surely perish.” Some of the Thetas develop crushes on Louis, which just makes Jessica feel worse. Then Jess sees Louis with another woman and feels even worse.

Louis tracks Jessica down on the beach and they…well, it’s not said explicitly, but I’m pretty sure they have sex. Then he swears her to secrecy and makes her leave. Nice guy. He thinks his mystery woman is approaching. Jessica mopes around her dorm room for a while, waiting for Louis to call. Angsty, lovesick Jess is easily the most annoying version of that girl. Liz thinks she’s in love, but Jessica denies it. That’s the kind of relationship every girl dreams of – the one you can’t even tell your sister about.

Louis tells Jessica straight out that they can’t be together. She thinks it’s because he’s a professor, but he’s trying to keep her away from his mystery woman (whose name we learn at one point is Chloe). Jessica gets more and more ticked at him, and blows up at him after a class about chivalry. Later, she goes to his house for more possible sex (the book is really vague about it), and these two are starting to remind me of Liv and Fitz from Scandal, with all their “we can’t be together! But let’s just sleep together one last time!”

On her way to her dorm, Jessica realizes that a car is following her. She tries to flee, but the car just speeds up and chases her. Louis gets a call from Chloe, who brags that she’s chasing Jess and is going to kill her. She does try, running Jessica off the road, but Jess is fine. Chloe approaches and warns her to stay away from Louis…who’s her husband. Yep, Jessica’s sleeping with a married man. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. (I’m only surprised this is the first married man she’s dated.)

Elizabeth and Todd’s investigation into the possible SVU sports scandal is heating up. They question Daryl, a former basketball player, about why he left the team, wondering if it was because of drugs. Daryl takes them to his house to show them that he’s the only adult taking care of his brothers and sister. His sister also has physical problems and therefore big doctor bills. Daryl dropped out because he didn’t have time to practice, and because he needs to make sure his brothers stay out of trouble. Elizabeth still wonders if Daryl fixed games because he needed money.

Todd doesn’t want Gin-Yung involved in the investigation, since it’s already proven to be dangerous, but Elizabeth convinces him to bring her on board since she knows so much about sports and SVU’s sports program. Todd and Liz meet with Santos (the guy Todd was supposed to meet with in the last book when he was attacked), and he agrees to let Todd rejoin the basketball team – if he and Elizabeth stop snooping around and calling former players. Todd says no.

Mark is back in the picture, so Todd suggests that they and Elizabeth talk again. Mark continues to deny that he accepted any money or bribes while he was at SVU. Todd won’t let up, and Mark gets so mad about his accusations that he punches him. Ha! Now you know what it’s like, Todd.

Liz and Todd go back to Daryl’s, and this time he tells them that he’s still getting money from the school, even though he no longer plays for them. Basically, he was paid off to leave the team. Next, Elizabeth and Todd talk to a former SVU student who now goes to art school. He’s happy not to play basketball anymore – and in fact, SVU financed his transfer. Todd realizes that a bunch of students were paid not to fix or throw games but to leave the team altogether.

Meanwhile, Mark asks Santos to let him rejoin the team. Santos easily agrees, not least because Mark is mad at Todd and Elizabeth for snooping. Until Mark can transfer back to SVU, he’ll be an assistant in the athletics department, and get paid to keep an eye on other students. After he leaves, Santos enlists someone else to follow Elizabeth. But apparently he doesn’t know she’s a twin, because he just tells his minion to keep an eye on a freshman girl named Wakefield who drives a red Jeep. This leads to a nice fake-out when Jess is being followed by Chloe but we’re led to believe it’s Santos’ minion.

Elizabeth is summoned to see Dr. Beal, the head of the administration, who tells her to back off of Santos or he’ll have Jessica expelled. He accuses Jessica of helping Winston cheat, since she was the one who let him into Stark and Louis’ office. He also has another card up his sleeve: pictures of Jessica and Louis making out in his car. If Elizabeth doesn’t drop her investigation, everyone will find out about Jess and Louis. While she’s leaving, Liz runs into Mark and learns that he’s working at SVU. Mark sees the photos, and Beal warns him not to make any trouble.

Lila and Bruce move into their new beach house together and quickly start decorating. But then the landlady tells them that Bruce’s check bounced. It turns out that, though Bruce has a trust fund, he’s only allowed a certain portion of it every month. His uncle holds the purse strings and doesn’t like that he’s moved in with Lila. Bruce asks for more money, but his uncle refuses. Lila doesn’t have access to her money either, since it’s all in Italy, and can’t get more from her father. For the first time in their lives, Bruce Patman and Lila Fowler are broke.

This means they can’t stay at the beach house, so they have to scramble to find a place to sleep. Lila, to her credit, tries to be optimistic; it might be romantic for them to have to suffer and struggle together. The lovebirds get a little apartment together, but right from the start, things are bad. Lila almost blows the place up because she doesn’t know the difference between a gas oven and an electric oven. They barely have money for food. The roof starts falling apart, and since it’s been raining, everything gets wet. The hot water goes out. They lose phone service because the last tenant has an outstanding bill. And the landlady’s out of town, so she won’t deal with the repairs she should be financing.

But Lila remains optimistic and even enjoys herself, despite the crumminess of her living arrangements. (Seriously, if it were me, I’d be on the phone with my landlady demanding that everything get fixed, and I wouldn’t hang up until it was.) I’m mostly surprised that Bruce and Lila are both willing to slum it for more than two hours.

Winston feels guilty about stealing the physics test, but not guilty enough to not cheat. After all, if he fails the class, his parents will make him leave SVU, which means he won’t be able to date Denise anymore. (His parents would make him leave school for a bad grade in one class? Huh?) Winston aces the test, but his professor knows he couldn’t have gotten so smart overnight, so he’s immediately accused of cheating.

Winston won’t come clean, only saying that he went to Stark’s office to get the study guide, and that Jessica let him in because she was there to see Louis. Stark calls in Winston’s parents, warning that this could lead to expulsion. Winston breaks the news to Denise, who has zero sympathy for her boyfriend. She tells him to be a man and deal with the consequences. Those consequences involve being placed on academic probation, which, frankly, is better than Winston deserves. Mr. Egbert agrees, announcing that Winston will be joining ROTC to learn how to develop character and be a man.

Instead of the Mulan-like music montage I was hoping for, we get a scene of Winston showing up for his first day in ROTC and discovering that Denise has also enlisted. I look forward to Winston failing miserably at even the smallest tasks while Denise gets to be a star.

There’s some stuff about Tom while he’s hanging out with other student journalists in Vegas, but unless he hooks up with one named Christine, I don’t care. At one point he calls Gin-Yung to find out if Elizabeth and Todd are hanging out. Gin-Yung promises that it’s all platonic, and Tom hopes she’ll let him know if that changes. I hope that Tom stays in Vegas forever because he bugs me.

And now I have that Mulan song stuck in my head.

Thoughts: Elizabeth: “[Tom’s] not Superman, and we’re not Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.” But wouldn’t it be fun if you were?

“I’d give my life for you.” Jessica, you’ve known him for five days. Tone it down.

“He’d never liked Elizabeth much. He thought she was uptight, sanctimonious, and humorless. The type who was always sneering at people who weren’t like her.” I’m not really a Mark fan, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so…

“I’m so glad I didn’t die. Not now that I’ve found Louis.” Because life is only worth living if you’re in a relationship. If Jessica were single, SHE MIGHT AS WELL JUST KILL HERSELF.

April 8, 2014

SVU #15, Behind Closed Doors: Jessica Hooking Up With a Professor Was Completely Inevitable

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:25 pm by Jenn

Twin on the left is doing an impersonation of me in math class

Twin on the left is doing an impersonation of me in math class

Summary: Jessica is placed in a medieval history course, and she’s not happy about it. She tries to get her schedule changed, but the registrar is immune to her charms and won’t help her out. Jessica is, by the way, in a very “down with love” place. She and Randy have broken up (after all that stalking – er, I mean, admiring from afar), and she’s decided that since she hasn’t had any good luck with love so far in her life, she never will.

One Friday night, while everyone else is at a party, Jessica goes to the bookstore to get books for her new class. She runs into a guy named Louis who really likes medieval history, and he sparks her interest in it. He also sparks her interest in him, and they have coffee together. Little does Jess know that Louis isn’t a fellow student – he’s her medieval history professor. Plot twist!

No longer down with love, Jessica starts spending time with Louis outside of class (all in the guise of doing schoolwork, of course). They run into each other on the beach and build a sandcastle together. Then Louis spots some woman and panics, as he’d apparently come to Sweet Valley to get away from her. Jessica thinks he’s panicking because she’s been flirting and showing interest in him. She writes a mostly mature note apologizing for getting so personal.

After their next class, Louis asks Jessica to meet him in his office, even giving her a key. He tells her that they need to remember that he’s the professor and she’s his student; they can’t have a personal relationship. Jessica runs out dramatically, Louis follows her, and there’s kissing. Way to hold that line, Louis.

Todd learns that he’s not going to be allowed back on the basketball team, and he’s ticked (understandably so, since he’s being punished for the department’s screw-ups with illegal recruitment – he didn’t do anything wrong). When Elizabeth hears about this, she decides to make Todd her pet project and get him back on the team. She wants to do a story on the situation for WSVU. Tom pulls rank, telling her to let it go. Someone’s jealous of someone else wanting to spend time with her ex…

Tom’s about to go out of town for two weeks, and he assigns Elizabeth to work on a story he was supposed to do about alumni donations. While she’s researching, she learns that the athletics department has gotten a ton of donations over the past few years, but the money hasn’t been used for anything. In fact, the dean told Tom that there haven’t been any donations.

Elizabeth discusses the disconnect with Todd, who confirms that no money has been spent by the athletic department. So Liz talks to a coach, who says there haven’t been donations in years. When she tries to talk to another coach, the first one kicks her out and warns the second that if he ever speaks to her again, he’s fired. Elizabeth finds a list of donors and supposed details of how their donations were used. She thinks the money’s going straight into recruits’ pockets.

Todd reminds Elizabeth about Mark, Alex’s boyfriend who was also busted for taking illegal recruitment offers. Mark didn’t take any money and doesn’t know anything about other athletes accepting payment. At this point, Todd is the only person Liz has really talked to about the situation, since Tom doesn’t want to hear about anything involving Todd. Tom’s a big jerk in this book.

Next Liz decides to focus on getting Todd back on the basketball team. She meets with a faculty member who tells her that Todd can plead his case before the alumni association. Todd’s happy to hear that, but tells Gin-Yung not to come to the meeting. He tells her that the association will see him more favorably if she’s not there. He actually doesn’t want her to have to hear about the whole recruitment scandal. Poor Gin-Yung is very patient in this book. Also, unlike Tom, she has no problem with Todd spending time with Elizabeth, and seems to genuinely like Liz.

Anyway, the day of the meeting, Todd is ambushed by a couple of guys in black. They beat him up and tell him to warn Liz not to keep digging around the athletics department. Todd misses the meeting and asks Elizabeth (who finds him bleeding) not to tell Gin-Yung about the attack in case getting her involved could put her in danger. But Gin-Yung’s no dummy, and when she asks Elizabeth for the truth, Liz tells her. Gin-Yung, who knows a ton about sports, thinks there’s a scandal involving point-shaving and gambling. Elizabeth and Todd pursue that angle by talking to a player who was kicked off the team for poor performance, though his skills seem to be intact.

Bruce decides to move off campus and asks Lila to live with him. There’s a weird scene where a real estate agent shows them a horrible apartment that no one would ever want to rent, let alone two supremely rich college students. They end up getting a beach house. The only problem is that Bruce’s decorating tastes are horrible. At least someone in this book is happy.

Remember how college is sometimes about academics? That’s what Winston’s here for. He’s been spending so much time with Denise that his physics grade is slipping. His dad is very strict when it comes to school, and Winston’s worried that if he fails, his father won’t pay his tuition. But Winston has very little willpower, especially when it comes to Denise, so he has trouble making himself skip socializing to study. Then when he does study, he falls asleep and misses a study group.

Winston asks his professor for help, but the professor isn’t very sympathetic. He wants Winston to study in order to learn, not just to pass tests. Winston decides to ask Denise to keep her distance until his big physics test; otherwise, he’ll have to drop out and go to community college, which means even less time for them to spend together.

Winston makes some headway in studying but again asks his professor for help. The professor says he’ll give Winston a study guide just this one time. Turns out the professor is kind of a jerk – the study guide is just a note telling him to read his textbook. But while Winston’s getting the guide from the professor’s office (the professor isn’t there), he spots a copy of the test. The devil and angel on Winston’s shoulders have a brief discussion, and the devil wins. Winston’s a cheater! Winston’s a cheater!

Thoughts: Jessica: “There’s no way I’m sitting through some boring class, listening to a dorky professor lecture about stuff that happened hundreds of years ago.” Then you shouldn’t have gone to college. That’s what 50 percent of it is.

Winston’s physics professor is Dr. Stark. I hope their final project is building an arc reactor. (There it is, folks. The nerdiest thing I’ve ever written.)

Nina has a Lenny Kravitz poster in her room. For once, the ghostwriter picked a celebrity a college student would actually find attractive.

March 11, 2014

SVH #14, Shipboard Wedding: Sink or Swim

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:18 pm by Jenn

Yo, guys on the left, you're about to fall into the pool

Yo, guys on the left, you’re about to fall into the pool

Summary: We’re still on this freaking cruise. It’s never going to end, is it?

So anyway, everyone’s mad at everyone else because of all the kissing of other people’s fiancées and the fighting over whether or not people should know about that kissing. As a refresher, Todd and Elizabeth are kind of back together, Tom keeps making out with Nicole (who’s engaged to Jason), Isabella and Danny are fighting, Leonardo is obsessed with Alex, Noah and Gin-Yung are hanging out, Nina keeps spending time with Rich (even though he’s a pretentious and boring egomaniac and she kind of hates him), Lila wants to break up with Bruce, Bryan is a wimp, and Jessica can’t find her mystery savior. Oh, and Winston and Denise are missing.

Jessica’s search for that mystery savior has landed her in jail. She was caught breaking into people’s rooms so she could find the savior’s button, and after Jason’s wedding ring was reported missing, she was accused of stealing it. (Danny still has it. Danny should probably say something.) There’s a great scene where Jessica tries to appeal to the captain and her other jailers, telling them she was breaking and entering for love, and they pretend to humor her and then laugh in her face. Then some guy shows up pretending to be a lawyer and gets Jessica released, but he doesn’t stick around long enough for her to find out who he is.

Everyone else is at a dance (well, of course) and jealous of the new pairings. Tom is especially mad because Elizabeth went back to Todd two seconds after they split up, but dude, you’re the one who kissed someone else. I mean, be mad all you want, but if you can’t keep your lips to yourself, you don’t get a say in what Liz does.

The steward who turned Jess in for thievery in the first place is after her again, but the mystery “lawyer” trips him and Jessica’s able to hide in a movie theater. Meanwhile, the police arrive and try to arrest Elizabeth for stealing the ring. Of course, they’re not going to fall for the old “it wasn’t me, it was my identical twin!” story. Isabella finds Danny (who’s hiding like a six-year-old afraid of getting in trouble for eating cookies before dinner) and demands that he tell the truth.

So Danny finally comes clean about the “stolen” ring, which puts both twins in the clear. But Jason’s mad that Danny lied to try to stop the wedding, so he fires Danny as his best man…and enlists Tom to take his place. Poor, dumb, naïve Jason has no idea what’s been going on between Tom and Nicole. Oh, and the wedding’s tomorrow, and everyone on the ship is invited.

Jessica’s still hiding in the movie theater through all this, and Nina and Danny wind up there, too. They start talking, and when Nina kisses Danny on the cheek (just as a friend), Jessica misinterprets this as romance. Now she thinks Danny’s a two-timer, and she isn’t sure if she should tell Isabella. Ironically (I guess), in the first book, Isabella insisted that if Danny ever cheated on her, she wouldn’t want to know.

That night, Alex and Isabella wind up in the twins’ room and all four girls cry over their relationship woes. They see Nina and Rich together and think they’re happy, when Nina’s really just faking it. Also not happy: Tom, who’s been kicked out of his and Danny’s room. Todd finds him, they fight, and just when things are about to get sort of interesting, they…stop. And they decide to work together to get Tom and Elizabeth back on track. It involves Todd pushing Tom overboard so Elizabeth will save him. There’s no way this could go wrong!

Everyone goes to the wedding, with Alex throwing Gin-Yung shade for hanging out with Noah, and Danny hiding in the back (Danny hides a lot in this book). Everything goes fine until “if anyone knows why these two shouldn’t be married.” This is when Danny decides it’s finally time to say something to Jason about his fiancée kissing another guy. Jessica shoots him down, accusing him of two-timing Isabella with Nina. Isabella’s madder at Jessica than with Danny.

While Jason’s confronting Danny, Nicole gets super-dramatic and tries to flee in a lifeboat. She winds up in the water, so Danny jumps in so save her. Jason punches Tom, who also goes in the water, but he wanted to be there anyway so Elizabeth would save him, so he just goes with it. But Danny tries to save Tom as well, so Tom has to get rid of him. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to realize (or care?) that Tom’s in the water, so Todd tosses her in after him. Brilliant plan, guys. It doesn’t work, since Tom clearly isn’t drowning, and Elizabeth still doesn’t want to be with him.

Noah’s like, “Well, everyone is has gone insane, so I might as well, too,” and he knocks out Leonardo. Bruce approaches and Noah tells him that Leonardo fell. Alex joins them and the guys stick to their story. And speaking of insane, Jessica decides to recreate her first meeting with her mystery savior by…jumping in the water and pretending she’s drowning again. I’m pretty sure this is certifiable psychopath behavior. Gin-Yung gets a little revenge on Todd by pushing him in the water.

At this point almost everyone’s in or has been in the ocean except Isabella, who agrees to make up with Danny as long as he doesn’t get her dress wet. Jessica doesn’t have any luck fake drowning, but she does finally meet her mystery savior. It’s Randy Mason, Sweet Valley Middle School’s resident nerd. Jessica doesn’t care that he used to be a nerd, or, apparently, that he’s been STALKING HER ALL WEEK. Seriously, this guy is creepy.

Leonardo has decreed that he’s taking Lila back to Italy so she can properly mourn Tisiano. He’s taking Alex there, too, so she can become a model. Bruce isn’t going to let Lila go without a fight, possibly a physical one. Lila, however, is resigned to her fate, especially when she realizes that if the situation were reversed – if she’d died and Tisiano were moving on this quickly, say, with someone like Jessica – she’d be jealous. After all the wedding madness and ocean wackiness, Lila decides she can’t be without Bruce, so they’re back together. And I guess Leonardo regains consciousness with some brain damage, because now he’s okay with them being together, and he’s fine with Alex leaving him and getting back together with Noah. I don’t know.

Bryan is still hanging out with Jean, learning to swim and trying to figure out how to get back to the boat so he can reunite with Nina. He dreams about water-skiing back to the ship, and decides to make that dream come true. Because that’s totally reasonable for someone who only learned to swim two days ago. Bryan takes some skiing lessons (this all happens over less than a day, by the way) and gets a guy to take him on his boat out toward the ship. He shows up while everyone else is falling/getting pushed in the water, but he falls in as well, so Nina has to save him. This is so dumb.

Winston and Denise spend the entire book floating around on a sinking boat, thinking they’re going to die. They wash up on an island and decide to become the new Swiss Family Robinson or something. (I hope there are monkey butlers and chewy, chewy cocoa beans.) Then they’re suddenly both knocked out. It turns out they’re not on a deserted island – they’re on the same island as a resort, and they were knocked out by golf balls. But the good news is they can go home with everyone else. And they didn’t embarrass themselves by falling overboard.

Thoughts: These books would be a lot shorter if they didn’t spend so much time recapping previous books.

Danny describes dating Isabella as “like falling forty floors into a pool of Jell-O with your arms around the person you love most in the world.” Danny, please don’t ever become a writer.

“Jessica instantly loved the bridesmaid dresses, which had a tropical theme. The girls wore brightly colored green, aqua, and pink silk sarong skirts that reached their ankles. Their silk tops were cropped and shoved each girl’s tanned midriff.” I don’t care where you’re getting married – no one’s midriff should be visible.

Nicole’s wedding dress has “tiny seed pearls sewn over every square inch.” That sounds awful.

I’m sure the ship’s captain appreciated everyone jumping in the water. How much do you think that guy hates doing college cruises?

February 25, 2014

SVU #13, SS Heartbreak: All the Usual Relationship Drama, Just On a Boat This Time

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:51 pm by Jenn

I guess that's Todd without the shirt? Put a shirt on, Todd

I guess that’s Todd without the shirt? Put a shirt on, Todd

Summary: In the aftermath of Tom and Nicole’s kiss, Isabella wants to keep Jason from finding out. Danny, however, is Mr. Ethics and thinks his best friend should know that his fiancée kissed another guy. He also wonders if Isabella would have been able to keep from kissing Tom if she’d been in Nicole’s position. (Remember, Isabella used to have a crush on Tom.) I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but whatever, Danny’s in a bad mood.

Jessica overhears them talking about the kiss and how Elizabeth saw it, so she heads back to their room. Tom is already there, wanting to explain things to Elizabeth. She wonders if Liz would have kissed Todd if they’d been in Tom and Nicole’s positions. There’s an awful lot of “what if”ing going on. Elizabeth only wishes she could kiss Todd right now and make Tom jealous. All in good time, my dear. Jess wants everyone to shut up about the kiss so Jason and Nicole can get married. That’s our Jessica – she doesn’t care if the bride and groom are happy, as long as they have a wedding.

Danny and Isabella try to spark up some romance between Jason and Nicole, though Isabella doesn’t think Danny’s romantic enough to be able to inspire it in others. Jason’s still into spending more time with his friends than his fiancée anyway. Danny decides that the best course of action is to convince Jason to end the engagement, but without it looking like Danny’s trying to influence the decision. His ideas are all stupid, and even though Jason isn’t that bright, he’s at least bright enough not to listen to Danny.

Meanwhile, Liz is unable to handle being single for five seconds, so when she runs into Todd and Gin-Yung, she immediately latches on to her ex. Poor Gin-Yung. Todd and Liz spend the day together when the ship stops at an island called Juma. Tom hangs out with Nicole, and when Liz sees them, Todd can tell that she’s not over Tom. He’s also still interested in Gin-Yung, so he knows he and Elizabeth shouldn’t try to get things started again.

But then Nicole asks Tom to kiss her again, so she can know if there’s really anything there, and also because Elizabeth is being mean to him, so he deserves something nice. Liz sees them smooching and kisses Todd in retaliation. Gin-Yung sees that, and runs off. She encounters Noah, who’s lost Alex to Leonardo, and the two of them decide to hang out. So at this point, half the couples who came on the cruise together are with someone else.

Isabella and Danny argue about the second Tom/Nicole kiss – literally everyone knows about the two kisses except Jason. Isabella still doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Danny wants to tell Jason, who happens to show up just as they’re talking about him. He thinks Nicole is acting weird because she has cold feet about the wedding. So what better solution than to speed things up and get married tonight? Danny panics and tells him that the ring is gone. Why, it must have been stolen!

Jessica is desperate to find the mystery man who saved her when she fell overboard, but she’s going about it in a very weird way. She still has his button, so she pulls a kind of Cinderella by breaking into people’s rooms and trying to find the shirt it goes with. So okay, it’s a Cinderella if Prince Charming were a criminal.

A steward catches her in the middle of a search and offers to keep quiet for a bribe, but Jessica’s too dumb to understand that she can just pay him off. During a dance that night (because of course there’s a dance), the ship’s captain finds Jessica and demands Jason’s ring. He knows from the steward that Jess has been breaking into people’s rooms, and since the ring was reported stolen, Jessica must have taken it. Oops!

Remember how the last book ended with a cliffhanger, with someone arriving in a helicopter and Lila thinking it was Tisiano? It wasn’t. It was his brother, Leonardo. He thinks Lila’s being disrespectful to Tisiano’s memory by going on a cruise so soon after his death. (Fair enough.) Lila decides he’s right and she needs to end things with Bruce. They start spending time apart, but then there’s some weirdness with a glass fish they both want to buy. He buys it and gives it to her, saying it’s like a pre-engagement present, but she tells him she can’t be with him.

In case you care about Alex (doubtful), she and Noah are starting to realize that they might not be as compatible as they thought. She’s still very concerned about being seen as her high school self, and he’s concerned that she’s a narcissist. While they’re on the outs, Alex meets Leonardo and they hit it off. He’s a real smooth talker. He happens to have a modeling agency, and he thinks she could do well in Milan. Um…what? Suddenly Alex has a new life goal.

Hateful Bryan is stuck on an island, but the good news is it’s the same place where Denise and Winston are stuck. They decide that they can take a boat to Juma, then wait for the cruise ship to make a stop there. But Bryan is a wimp and won’t get in a small boat. Juma has an airport, so Winston and Denise agree to take a boat there, then…send a helicopter for Bryan? Because that’s reasonable? Anyway, while they’re on their way to Juma, Bryan gets pickpocketed. He’s stuck in a foreign country with no money. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Bryan meets a guy named Jean who works as a fisherman while preparing to apply to college in Miami. Jean agrees to help Bryan learn to swim if Bryan will help him fish and write his college application essay. In addition, Bryan gets a place to stay and free food. Unfortunately, he may have to stay there forever, because Winston and Denise are on the wrong island. There’s no airport, and the ship isn’t going to be making a stop there. Denise and Winston eventually take another boat to the right island, but the engine dies. Then Winston drops his paddle in the water. Winston, you had one job.

Rich is still into Nina, who realizes that he’s a horrible bore. She’d rather be with Bryan. Let that sink in. She’d rather be with Bryan.

Thoughts: “The only adults in sight were gorgeously weathered Captain Avedon and his uniformed crew.” First of all, “gorgeously weathered”? Second of all, college students are adults. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

“She dreamed of the day when Tom would pick up his morning paper and see that she’d won the Nobel Prize – on that day he’d finally understand the magnitude of his mistake. ‘Elizabeth,’ he would whisper as Nicole or her successor looked on through a mist of tears.” I assume she would be getting this Nobel Prize in the field of drama queenery?

“Do you know it’s impossible to say ‘toy boat’ five times fast without getting tongue-tied? Go ahead, try it.” Guys, Winston is my dad.

The ship shows the movie A Night to Remember, which is about the Titanic. Holy crap!

The ship also has a mini-golf course, but wouldn’t that be difficult? Wouldn’t your ball roll all over the place if the water were choppy?

A snorkeling guide has the motto “We’ll teach you how to snorkel even if you’re a New York’l.” I’m embarrassed that I laughed at that.

February 11, 2014

SVU #112, College Cruise: Ship of Fools

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:09 pm by Jenn

Look at the pecs on Jessica's mystery admirer!

Look at the pecs on Jessica’s mystery admirer!

Summary: In He’s Watching You, Elizabeth learned that William had left all of his money to her. At the beginning of College Cruise, she’s decided not to accept it. The money comes from a psychopath who almost killed her, and she doesn’t feel right taking it. Fair enough. Also, Elizabeth has been thinking a lot about ethical issues lately. Danny’s taking a class about ethics and has gotten everyone into playing a game called Scruples, where you talk about ethical dilemmas. (These people are so boring.) Basically, it establishes that Danny is super-ethical, but the rest of the group is a little looser with what’s wrong and what’s right.

Anyway, spring break is approaching, but no one has any solidified plans yet. Some of the couples want to spend it together, and in Noah’s case, he’s worried that Alex will go home to Sweet Valley and hook up with some hunk who was in love with her in high school. Little does Noah know that no one like that exists. Nina wants to spend the break with Bryan, but he’s in manifesto-writing mode for the BSU. (Spoiler alert: Bryan is super-annoying in this book, and I kept hoping he would get eaten by a shark. Second spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)

Danny learns that his high school best friend, Jason, is getting married…really soon…to someone Danny’s never even met. Clearly Danny and Jason are really close. The wedding will be on a cruise ship, the SS Homecoming Queen, on a trip only for college students. I bet the crew on that cruise hates every minute of it. Danny’s invited to be Jason’s best man, but Danny doesn’t have the money for the cruise. This is why destination weddings are a bad idea for 19-year-olds.

Elizabeth accepts the money from William’s will after all, but makes a bunch of charitable donations, which is nice of her. Then she gets the idea to share the rest with her friends in some big, splashy way. She and Bruce both end up at a travel agency; he wants to take Lila on a trip to get her mind off of her dead husband. Elizabeth sees an ad for the cruise on the SS Homecoming Queen, which seems like a great idea to her. She invites all her friends over – Jessica, Tom, Danny, Isabella, Alex, Noah, Winston, Denise, Nina, Bryan, and Todd – and tells them she’s paying for them all to go on the cruise over spring break. Everyone’s in (though Bryan will have to miss some BSU thing).

Arrangements are quickly made, and Elizabeth puts together rooming assignments. But things at the travel agency get screwed up and she’s summoned at the last minute to redo them. She has a class so she sends Tom instead. He’s thinking that the cruise might be the right time for him and Elizabeth to finally get intimate, so he puts them in a room together.

Everyone heads to Miami to get on the ship for the Caribbean. Elizabeth discovers her rooming assignment and she’s not happy. She reasonably tells Tom that when she’s ready to have sex, she’ll let him know. To his credit, he shuts up and redoes the assignments. But he does start to realize that Elizabeth makes a lot of decisions for them. This becomes a theme in the book.

The group finally meets Danny’s friend Jason and his fiancée Nicole. It turns out that Tom already knows Nicole – they went out the summer between high school and college. She met Jason and ditched Tom without any explanation. The two of them decide not to tell anyone that they know each other, since they’ve already acted like they just met, and it’s too late to come clean. Why did they pretend not to know each other at all? This is dumb. It’s all a setup for Elizabeth and Tom to have problems.

See, Jessica’s feeling down because her marriage failed and her last boyfriend turned out to be a rapist. So Elizabeth feels like she needs to spend a lot of time with her, which means no alone time for her and Tom. So Tom ends up spending time with Nicole instead. Jason’s off with all his buddies, not paying attention to what Nicole’s doing.

Tom and Nicole almost kiss, but get interrupted. Then Tom and Elizabeth make up. But later, they have another fight, and Tom calls Elizabeth a control freak. He tells her no one’s having fun and it’s her fault. He ends up alone with Nicole again, and this time they do kiss. But who’s watching? Elizabeth and Danny. Dun dun DUN!

Jessica’s mystery admirer is still on the canvas – in fact, he’s followed the group on the cruise. She should definitely find this creepy, but since he’s sending her flowers and stuff, she doesn’t. She manages to fall overboard (that’s our Jess) and is rescued by an unknown man, who she figures is her admirer. All she has to go on is a button she pulled from his coat.

Bryan’s vacation doesn’t get off to a good start. Winston accidentally bumps him into the water and he has to be rescued (Bryan can’t swim). The ship’s doctor, Rich, flirts with Nina while tending to Bryan. Winston worries that Bryan will get revenge, but Denise says he won’t get violent since Nina won’t let him. (Heh.) Later, Winston accidentally hits Bryan in the head with a shuffleboard disk. Then he throws up on Bryan. I laugh and laugh because Bryan won’t stop complaining about how cruises are for upper-class people, and how everything is about race, and how he doesn’t want to and doesn’t know how to do any of the activities Nina wants to do. DUMP HIM, NINA. DO IT NOW.

It comes to a boiling point when Bryan sits on Winston’s hat, which is decorated with old, rusty fishhooks. When he goes looking for Rich, he finds him flirting with Nina again. Bryan decides he’s done with the cruise and is going home. Yay! We all win! I only wish Danny had said something to him about all his “black men don’t do __” stuff. In fact, sometimes I forget that Danny’s black because he doesn’t remind us every two pages. I mean, he stops a pickpocketer in St. Lucia and doesn’t say, “You don’t have to call me a hero. Black men don’t like labels like ‘hero,'” or, “This is all indicative of your culture and your class warfare and racism and 25 other hot-button words I use to make myself look oppressed.”

Todd is having a rough time. He’s thinking about leaving school since he has no friends and can’t play basketball until next year. Also, Elizabeth is with another guy, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with Todd’s decision. He’s been emotional lately, and going on a cruise as a single guy surrounded by couples and people hooking up doesn’t help.

But things are about to start looking up for our violent friend. There are a number of SVU students on the ship, and one of them, a girl named Gin-Yung Suh, recognizes him from the basketball team. She’s a sportswriter for SVU’s paper and has been following Todd’s career (or lack of one, since his suspension). The two of them immediately click. No more mopey Todd!

Even though they’re barely mentioned in the middle section of the book, Bruce and Lila are also on the cruise. They’re being all sweet and couply with each other, though Lila’s still struggling to move past her grief over Tisiano. Just as she realizes that she and Bruce are more compatible than she and Tisiano were, a helicopter arrives on the ship (…wait, what?) and out pops Tisiano. Wait, WHAT?

In doofus news, Winston and Denise miss the boat back to the ship and are stranded in St. Lucia. Womp-womp.

Thoughts: Hearing Noah describe Alex as “colorful” is weird.

“Sometimes Bryan went days without complimenting her. And she was a very good-looking girl.” I think the ghostwriter has confused Nina with Jessica. I don’t see Nina as the type to demand postive comments about her appearance.

Bryan: “Exercise is an elitist preoccupation.” Well, then enjoy being 400 pounds.

Woman at the travel agency to Tom: “Do you know how to use a mouse?” HA. I think pretty much everyone knew how to use a mouse by 1995.

“You must have studied swimming for many years.” How, exactly, does one study swimming?

Gin-Yung is into sports because her grandfather learned English by reading the sports pages, then read them to her when she was growing up. I love that.

Winston eats four lobsters in one sitting. NOT POSSIBLE.