July 17, 2013

SVH Super Edition, Earthquake: The One With the Killer Fridge

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:44 pm by Jenn

I guess the guy on the bottom left is Ken? He looks doofy

I guess the guy on the bottom left is Ken? He looks doofy

Summary: This book has four plots, so I’ll split the recap into four parts:

Jessica and Steven: After their car accident at the end of Last Wish, Jess and Steven are fine, but the new Jeep joins the long list of totaled Wakefield vehicles. (RIP, buddy. You almost made it an entire book.) Jessica wants to go home to make sure Elizabeth’s okay, since her twin spidey sense is telling her something’s wrong. Steven, however, wants to keep going to the gas station where Billie’s stranded. They get into a big fight over it, and even though it would be reasonable for him to just drop her at home and go after Billie himself, and even though Steven practically says he’d rather go get Billie than worry about his own sister, they go downtown.

Once Billie has been retrieved (and she’s fine), she and Steven realize that Ned and Alice are also downtown. Jessica finally heads home while the elder Wakefields are rescued. But on her way, Jess runs into a guy named Bryan whose 12-year-old sister Alyssa is clinging to the edge of a big crevasse in the road. Jessica tries to help Bryan save her, but the girl can’t hold on long enough, and she falls into the pit and dies. That’s right, SVH killed off a 12-year-old. But wait, there’s more!

Elizabeth: At the house, which is massively damaged and about two seconds from collapsing, Elizabeth finds Enid unconscious in a big pool of water. There are downed power lines, and Liz realizes that Enid has been shocked. She tries to get Devon to help her rescue Enid, but he’s some combination of in shock and a huge jerk, so he just sits there and taunts that there’s nothing they can do and they’re all going to die. So for those of you compiling mental lists of which SVH characters to have around in an emergency, Devon should not be on that list.

Elizabeth, however, should. Even though she makes a detour into the swimming pool, and even though she has to face down a rattlesnake (no, seriously), and even though she can’t actually pick Enid up and carry her to safety, Elizabeth manages to get her away from the live wires. Unfortunately, she herself gets shocked in the process, so now she’s unconscious, too.

Todd and Lila: These two spend the whole book trapped in the bathroom, fighting like Xander and Cordelia in Buffy’s basement (I know I made that reference before, I think with Lila and Bruce, but it’s even more appropriate here). Lila first thinks there’s nothing to worry about, but then there’s a fire, which freaks her out because of the fire at her house. Todd proves to also be good in an emergency, though he can’t find a way out of the room. The two of them end up sitting together in the bathtub, kissing goodbye. Fortunately, firefighters arrive just seconds before they can be burned alive.

And the rest: Ronnie Edwards is dead. Try to hold back your tears. Almost everyone else is okay, despite some minor injuries. Winston and Ken take charge, and Winston winds up being the person to get the rescue squad to the house. Ken spends most of the book with Olivia, who’s badly injured, as well as trapped under a beam and the Wakefields’ refrigerator. By the time the rescue crew arrives, she’s died from internal injuries. And it’s actually pretty sad.

Thoughts: Devon doesn’t see the point in calling the fire department. When there’s a fire. And people are trapped in a house. Shut up, Devon. I’m so happy to almost be rid of you.

How is Jessica being immature and selfish by worrying about Elizabeth? You shut up, too, Steven.

I don’t really have anything else to say, so I’ll just tell Devon to shut up again. Shut up some more, Devon.

July 3, 2013

SVH Super Edition, Last Wish: All Shook Up

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:39 pm by Jenn

"Is it over?" indeed

“Is it over?” indeed

Summary: You guys, the twins are finally turning 17!!! Each wants to throw a surprise party for the other, so there’s a lot of secret planning and trying to figure out what the other girl would consider a fun party. Elizabeth rents out the Beach Disco (after having to promise the manager that she can get 100 people to come), and Jessica plans a classy beach party with a string quartet. She has no money, so she asks Steven for a loan (then gets Lila to give her an advance on that loan).

Lila and Amy get invitations to both parties and have to come up with a plan to keep people from choosing one party over the other, and to keep the twins from finding out about each other’s party. They enlist Enid and Maria Slater to help, and the girls come up with some grand scheme that they think is brilliant but really isn’t. Basically, they manufacture reasons for the parties to be canceled, then get the twins back to their own house, where there’s one monster party. Ned and Alice leave, but Steven and Billie stick around to chaperone.

There’s a lot of drama going on in Sweet Valley in the two weeks leading up to the party. Winston and Maria Santelli are fighting because he’s unable to keep his mouth shut about things she told him in confidence. (This is one of the reasons no one lets him in on the party-planning scheme.) Olivia and Ken are fighting because she did a nude painting of him and wants to enter it in an art show. He demands that she destroy it, but she wants to be free to express herself as an artist.

The Todd/Elizabeth/Devon triangle is still in play, but they’re all still awkward around each other because of what happened at prom. Todd even plans to ditch the party, then changes his mind. Devon gets Elizabeth a really boring present, in order to prove…you know what, I don’t even know what he’s trying to prove. My eyes glaze over whenever I read his name. And finally, Bruce has been bragging that he’s going to Harvard when he’s only on the waiting list. When he gets rejected, he tells everyone he’d rather go to SVU anyway (though his dad has to buy a building to get him in).

There’s a minor earthquake, and Prince Albert is acting crazy, but everyone plans to have a good time at the party (even the people who are fighting with each other). Things get off to a great start when the twins arrive, very happy with the way things have turned out. Then they get their birthday present from their parents – a new Jeep, to replace the one Todd destroyed – and they’re even happier.

The fighting couples make up, with Olivia showing Ken a revised version of the nude portrait that doesn’t show anything R-rated. He “allows” her to keep the original painting, and she promises never to display it. Billie leaves to get some ice, taking Steven’s car, but it breaks down, so Jessica and Steven take the new Jeep to go get her. Todd comes to the party, telling Elizabeth that he’s going to a basketball camp for the summer, and they agree to reassess things when he gets back.

Then all Hell breaks loose. There’s a huge earthquake that takes down various parts of the Wakefields’ house (including the chimney, and that would scare the heck out of me). Olivia, Ken, Annie, and Maria Santelli get trapped in the kitchen, and things don’t look good for Olivia. Winston can’t find his girlfriend. Todd and Lila are in the bathroom together (he was trying to kick her out of there when the earthquake hit). Jessica and Steven get into a major car accident. And it looks like when the next book starts, people are going to have to pick through a lot of wreckage to find out who’s survived.

Thoughts: Before they get the Jeep from their parents, the twins think they’ll have to pay for a new car themselves. But why? Did their insurance not cover Todd driving it off a cliff?

Ken’s mad about the painting because people will think Olivia’s seen him naked, and I guess by extension that they’ve had sex. I’m sorry, no teenage boy would be mad about that.

Lila: “It makes even more sense to let the servants straighten up. It makes them feel useful.” Jessica: “You’re a real humanitarian, Lila.” Lila: “Don’t ever say that! Not even in jest.” I think Lila grew up to be Jenna from 30 Rock.

Olivia, re: the nude painting: “I used my imagination.” Maria Slater: “With a hunk like Ken for a boyfriend, I’d use my imagination, too.” I love Maria.

Jessica sits on Steven’s lap. JESSICA, STAAAAAAHP.

June 19, 2013

SVH #143, Party Weekend!: Dance Like Nobody’s Watching. Because They’re Not. Because You’re In the Dark

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 8:33 pm by Jenn

No way are those girls size sixes. They're twos, at most

No way are those girls are size sixes. They’re twos, at most

Summary: Apparently the weekend after prom has been designated Monster School Competition Weekend. There’s a big fair with all the local high schools, and then the juniors have their own competition. This year’s is a talent show; each school can only have a certain number of students involved, and they have two days to put together an act. Olivia has been elected SVH’s team captain. Of course, the other juniors on SVH’s team are all characters we know: the twins, Lila, Maria Slater, Winston, Ken, and Devon. Ken, Olivia, and Devon will do the behind-the-scenes work while the others will do a stupid group dance.

Things get off to a bad start. Jessica meets Erica, the captain of El Carro’s team, who’s a horrible shrew to both Jess and Olivia. Ken meets her and doesn’t think she’s that bad, so Olivia’s ticked that he doesn’t hate the same person she hates. Olivia’s totally a mouse through the book, and she thinks she’s not an “A-lister” like the twins and the other people involved with the act. It’s pathetic and annoying, and I never thought Olivia was this bad before.

Ken and Olivia’s relationship hits more rocks when Jessica “accidentally” spills grape juice on Erica, and Ken says Olivia should apologize. Wow, Ken’s annoying, too. Then he’s upset that Olivia won’t go to a dance celebrating the Monster School Competition Weekend. To be fair, they only have two days to get everything ready for the talent show, and Olivia’s making everyone’s costume, so Ken should probably shut up.

Jessica’s been having some tough times, too – the competition between the schools makes her think of Christian, whose death was the result of school rivalries. She also keeps thinking she sees him. The night of the dance, Jessica has a date with a guy named Josh, who goes to Palisades, Christian’s school. Josh brings a guy along when he picks up Jess, and he looks so much like Christian that it makes her faint. It turns out the guy is Christian’s never-before-mentioned brother, Jason, who was at boarding school when Christian died. Even after that drama, he’s barely mentioned again in the book.

Anyway, at the dance, a girl from El Carro tells Jessica that she should check out SVH’s practice room. Jessica thinks she’s being lured into a trap, so she ignores the girl. Then she changes her mind and finds the room destroyed. El Carro has vandalized a bunch of SVH’s stuff, including their props. The twins were using some stuff from their bedrooms as set dressing, and Liz had brought Christian’s surfboard along. Jessica’s devastated to see that it’s been ruined.

Jessica, Maria, and Lila decide to get revenge that night, but then Jessica has a dream (or possibly a hallucination) where Christian reminds her that vengeance can get out of hand and lead to violence. Jess tells Maria and Lila that the revenge plan is tabled, and they’re kind of hilariously ticked.

The SVH kids keep working on their act, and for some reason Jessica wants to make a grand entrance via rigging that will allow her to fly. I don’t know. The El Carro kids find out, and Erica schemes to cut the power during SVH’s act so Jessica will be stuck up high in the dark. Ken overhears and realizes that Olivia was right about Erica being a bitca. He tells Todd, who’s been randomly hanging around during the book.

Little does Ken know that Jessica isn’t going to do the entrance – Olivia is. Jessica gets sick at the last minute and convinces Olivia to take her place. Ken arrives just as the lights go out, and he manages to rescue his girlfriend. Now, of course, everything’s okay. A bunch of kids start fighting, so Jessica and Josh project a picture of Christian on a screen to remind them where violence can lead.

There’s some dumb stuff sprinkled in the story about the Liz/Devon/Todd triangle (Todd’s mad at Elizabeth, and kind of depressed all over the place), but it doesn’t go anywhere. Basically, Todd ends up feeling like an outcast because everyone else has bonded over the talent show and he didn’t participate. Also, Devon and Elizabeth got to spend time together, so he got the short straw there, too. Pretend you care.

Thoughts: I don’t get why this book is called Party Weekend! when there’s…no party.

Maybe schools in the area shouldn’t have big competitions anymore, considering all the violence that’s erupted due to school rivalries. Christian’s death wasn’t the only time the rivalries got out of hand; there was also the incident at Jungle Prom.

You know, I didn’t think about it with the last book, but why is Todd mad at Elizabeth? The twin switch didn’t involve lying to him. Shouldn’t he be happy about it, since it a) embarrassed Devon and b) allowed him to go to the prom with Liz?

Winston drives an orange VW Beetle. Of course he does.

Elizabeth: “Just don’t get carried away.” Jessica: “I’d love to see Erica and her team carried away – on stretchers!” Lame, Jess. You can do better.

After the SVH kids decide not to get revenge on El Carro, I don’t get why they don’t rat El Carro out for vandalism. Elizabeth admits later that she’d like to see them get disqualified, so…get them disqualified. I’m sure they want to compete and beat them, blah blah blah, but people who play that dirty shouldn’t be allowed to play anymore.

SVH didn’t even get to finish their performance, but the judges score the other schools anyway. Shenanigans! I call shenanigans!

March 27, 2013

SVH Super Edition, Mystery Date: Like “You’ve Got Mail,” Without the Charm or Cuteness

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:32 pm by Jenn

Aww, Olivia's cute

Aww, Olivia’s cute

Summary: This book is stupid and boring and painfully long, and I don’t want to have to think about it again after I publish this post.

So anyway, back in 1998, there was this thing called the “Internet.” And on the Internet (a series of tubes, many of which contained cats), you could log into these things called “chat rooms” and have conversations with people who lived all over the world. All you needed was a computer! And guess what? Olivia Davidson has a computer! So she logs into these chat rooms and talks to people about art and poetry and all that hippie stuff she’s into.

Guess who else has a computer? Ken Matthews! One day he decides to use it to find out a score from an El Carro High School football game. He logs into a chat room and asks if anyone there is from El Carro. Someone responds, and Ken thinks that person is from El Carro. But she’s not! It’s Olivia! And she thinks Ken goes to El Carro! But he doesn’t! They both go to Sweet Valley High! HOW AMAZING!

So Ken and Olivia start talking a lot in the chat room, and sometimes in private chat rooms, which is like instant messaging but not. Ken decides not to reveal that he’s a jock, and he lets Olivia teach him about poetry. At one point they basically have cybersex and it’s really uncomfortable. (For me. I don’t know if it was uncomfortable for them. I hope they used cyberprotection.) Then they decide to meet, but they’re each too dumb to realize who the other is, so they both think the other didn’t show up.

When they reconnect in a chat room, Olivia and Ken realize that they know each other, and that each has fallen in luuuuuuuuv with someone he/she never thought he/she would be interested in. Because, see, jocks and artists can’t comingle. And that’s where we get the other plot.

There’s a dance at SVH, and a fight about music leads to a brawl between the popular kids/jocks and the artsy kids/”burnouts”/nerds. It ends when a football player named Blubber sends druggie Justin Belson to the hospital. The lines are clearly drawn between the cliques, with only a few people (Elizabeth and Winston, really) floating among groups. The ghostwriter brings back a couple other previous characters – Keith the hippie and Nicky the rebel – to round out the outcasts.

The burnouts/nerds/hippies get revenge on Blubber by stealing a test he got a D on and posting it on a bulletin board. (A real bulletin board, not one of those bulletin boards you find on the Interwebs.) Because Blubber has a temper and is an easy target, the outcasts keep targeting him, picking on him at a football game until he beats up Nicky. Elizabeth thinks Blubber crossed the line, but Jessica and Todd side with the other jocks/popular kids. This leads to another almost-breakup between Todd and Liz, because we have to have one of those every other book.

Blubber ends up getting suspended from the football team because of his grades, and he is NOT happy about it. One night Jessica goes out with two football players, Danny and Bryce – and yes, she goes out with both of them at the same time, which, let’s not even get into that – and they decide to go by Blubber’s house to see how he is. He’s not great: They arrive just as an ambulance is taking him to the hospital, because Blubber tried to commit suicide.

It turns out Blubber was having a rough time because his parents are splitting up, but the school finally steps in and tries to stop all the madness with the cliques. Everyone calms down, and Olivia even comes up with an idea to fix things: a dance! I mean, of course. Everyone has to dress up in someone else’s clothes, because they’re taking the “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” thing way too literally. But it breaks the ice, and people start mingling, and everything’s good. Also, Olivia and Ken get together, in case you cared. I didn’t.

Thoughts: The book starts in SVH’s gym, so either they rebuilt it really quickly or we’re pretending Fight Fire With Fire ever happened.

In case you’ve been keeping track, Bruce and Pamela are back together.

“I still hate it when guys try to settle things by punching each other out.” Whatever, Jessica, you’re totally the type of girl who would find that hot.

Olivia’s outfit when she goes to meet Ken: “batik-print sarong pants in royal purple with a matching loose vest over a simple white tank top.” Sarong pants?

July 16, 2011

SVH #95, The Morning After: Here Comes the Crazy

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:36 pm by Jenn

I didn't realize Pamela's ex was an escapee from Grease

Summary: Despite the title, it’s been a few days since the ending of A Night to Remember. Sam’s dead, Elizabeth survived the crash, the twins aren’t speaking, and everyone’s depressed. Elizabeth also hasn’t spoken to Todd, as she’s embarrassed about how she acted with Sam at the prom. She doesn’t remember the events surrounding the crash and has no idea that Jessica spiked her drink. Jessica’s furious with Elizabeth for killing Sam, but she also feels bad about the alcohol and her role in the accident.

Three weeks after Sam’s death, the police come to the Wakefields’ house to question Elizabeth. (Way to do your job, cops.) Jessica’s worried at first that they found out she spiked the drinks, but they’re clueless. The cops press Elizabeth to tell them what happened before the crash, but she can’t remember any of it. She insists that she wasn’t drinking, despite how high her blood alcohol level was at the time of the accident. Without any answers and unsure whether Elizabeth is telling the truth, the police arrest her for involuntary manslaughter. Jessica says nothing about what she did.

Lila’s also depressed because of what happened with Nathan at the prom – or, more accurately, what she thinks happened with him. A meeting with him, Mr. Cooper, and her father makes her realize that the encounter was completely innocent, but that just makes her more depressed, since now she thinks something’s wrong with her. She keeps blowing off her friends and skipping school while her father tries to figure out what to do to get her back to her normal self. Finally George decides there’s only one person who can help her: her mother, Grace. He calls her and asks her to come back to Sweet Valley. When Lila finds out, she’s thrilled.

Bruce stakes out Big Mesa High to find out who the girl was who saved him the night of the prom. He learns that her name is Pamela Robertson, but she doesn’t seem to be very popular at her school. He takes her out and they discover that they have a ton in common with each other. Everything’s going great for Bruce until Amy tells him Pamela has a reputation as a slut. He decides he still wants to be with her, but when he takes her some flowers, he sees her getting out of a car and kissing a guy she appears to have spent the night with. Pamela insists that nothing happened and that she loves Bruce (after one day? Uh-huh), but he won’t listen.

Olivia and Nicholas have become friends. She’s offered $1,000 for one of her paintings; in exchange, she has to speak at a fundraiser. When she arrives for the fundraiser, she learns that a) there isn’t one, and b) the guy who wants to buy her painting is Harry, some rich 18-year-old she’s seen hanging around her art class. Olivia’s first response should be fear over a guy who lied to get her to come to his house, but she thinks he’s cute, so she’s going to get to know him better. She also agrees to help Nicholas find a girlfriend, most likely with the help of a TV dating show called Hunks.

Oh, and there’s a crazy chick named Margo who’s making her way across the country, lying about her name and killing children. Fun!

Thoughts: The cops wait three weeks to question Elizabeth? They didn’t arrest her at the scene, after finding out how drunk she was? To paraphrase Principal Snyder, “The police of [Sweet Valley] are deeply stupid.”

I wish they hadn’t skipped over Sam’s funeral, especially since Elizabeth went to it. They already cram enough into these books; they couldn’t spare a few pages for that?

“Artists don’t carry umbrellas.” Olivia, you make no sense. I guess artists don’t use logic either.

If Harry’s parents are so rich, why do they have wicker furniture?

May 14, 2011

SVH #89, Elizabeth Betrayed: Truth Be Told

Posted in books tagged , , , at 11:19 pm by Jenn

Wow, Olivia looks HORRIBLE

Summary: Penny is going to D.C. for a couple of weeks, and she elects Elizabeth to edit the Oracle while she’s gone. This makes Olivia jealous, though she soon distracts herself with the literary magazine she runs. Her boyfriend, Rod (where did he come from? He wasn’t the guy she was with in Olivia’s Story), is obsessed with Elizabeth and won’t stop talking about her. He also keeps telling Olivia that he doesn’t like Elizabeth as anything more than a friend, and for some reason Olivia believes him.

Elizabeth has to put in a ton of work on the Oracle because a bunch of the other writers are out with the flu. She ends up letting Rod write a feature article, even though he’s an artist, not a writer, and no one thinks it’s a good idea. Jessica is also helpful, writing a story about whether telling the truth is really the best idea (something she’s been thinking about lately after getting in trouble with Lila for not being completely honest about how her hair looks with purple highlights). Jessica and Rod’s stories are both hits, though Rod’s seems familiar to Elizabeth. Jessica decides that despite how great her article was, she’s only going to tell the truth from now on.

Thanks to all that work on the Oracle, Elizabeth falls behind on an English assignment about comparing a work of art to a poem. Rod offers to help her out, since he’s such an art genius, but his idea of help is taking Elizabeth to the Dairi Burger and being all flirty. Olivia spots them and gets mad, but later Elizabeth calms her down. Rod winds up being a big help with the assignment, and though Elizabeth’s final essay isn’t her best work and she didn’t have time to really interpret the topic in her own words, she turns it in. Except it turns out that the ideas are all from a famous art critic, and Mr. Collins knows it. He gives Elizabeth an F on the paper and suspends her from the Oracle. She won’t tell him that Rod gave her the ideas, so he gets off scot-free.

Olivia’s life starts looking up, since Mr. Collins asks her to fill in for Penny until she gets back, and she and Rod are really clicking. After the local paper publishes one of her poems, which Elizabeth urged her to submit, Olivia realizes that Elizabeth is awesome but doesn’t know how to resolve everything. Jessica, still on her honesty kick (and ticking people off left and right), helps Olivia realize what’s really been going on with Rod and his feelings for Elizabeth. Olivia rereads Rod’s feature article and realizes that he plagiarized a bunch of people. Penny and Olivia show Mr. Collins the article and tell him the whole Elizabeth thing is Rod’s fault. Rod gets dumped and criticized, while everything works out for Elizabeth.

As for Jessica, Lila comes up with a plan to let everyone get revenge on her: a day where everyone tells Jessica the complete, brutal truth just as she’s been doing. Though Jessica appears to learn her lesson, she can’t argue with her honest policy when Elizabeth thanks her for telling Olivia the truth about the Rod stuff. Oh, and Jessica’s honesty has broken up John Pfeifer and his girlfriend, opening the door for Lila to date John. I’m sure Lila will be completely grateful about that.

Thoughts: Umm, as if Lila would dye her hair purple.

Jessica considers buying pink overalls. Even more as if.

Ned buys a glass sculpture of meerkats. WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK?

Jessica: “We had a little argument in history today.” Amy: “You argued about history? How can you argue about history? It’s been over for years.” Hee.

“A dagger of unhappiness stabbed Elizabeth’s heart.” Melodramatic much, ghostwriter?

Rod thinks silver star earrings are unusual. Shut up, Rod.

Mr. Collins never read the issue of the Oracle that came out while he was out sick. What a crappy advisor.

Everyone makes a big deal about how weird it is that Rod wrote a great article when he’s not a good English student. But Jessica isn’t a good student either, and she’s written two articles everyone loved. Okay, I have to stop looking for logic in SVH books.

March 1, 2011

SVH Super Star, Olivia’s Story: Don’t Sell Out to the Man, Man

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:46 pm by Jenn

Of all of Olivia's outfits, this is the least objectionable

Summary: Olivia’s all artsy now. Just go with it. Her cousin Emily visits to check out some colleges in California, and she’s Olivia’s exact opposite – conservative, organized, and kind of dull (not that Olivia’s a thrill a minute or anything). Inspired by James, a guy in her art class, Olivia decides to embrace her artistic nature, mostly by dressing weird and trying not to care what other people thing. Her mom is a little uncomfortable and thinks Olivia needs to be more practical – you know, more like Emily.

Olivia starts hanging out with James a lot, and gets to see how a starving artist lives. Because James refuses to sell out, man! You gotta be an artist and not worry about where your next meal’s coming from! Getting a job is for losers! Also, James doesn’t want to date Olivia because he’s too focused on his art. If this weren’t Sweet Valley, that would totally be a line so he could have sex with her without any kind of commitment.

Emily meets James and thinks it’s weird that he doesn’t care even a little about his future. Olivia finally realizes that it’s weird, too, and decides she needs to be more practical. She gets a job at Simpson’s, the department store where her mom works, and meets Robert, the son of the owner. (There’s a minor plot here where Jessica and Elizabeth also get jobs there – it’s Christmas and they need the money – and Jessica wants to meet Robert but he’s not interested in her.) He’s the Emily to James’ Olivia, conservative and focused on his future and all that. Robert seems like the much better pick, but of course we’re supposed to think that Olivia and James should be together. Even though he kind of treats her like crap.

Emily runs into James and tries to connect with him, but since he has such a one-track mind, it doesn’t really work. And yet Emily starts falling in love with him. Go figure. She decides she needs to be more Olivia-like, so she borrows some of Olivia’s clothes to try to make a different impression on James. He’s still not interested, and it probably doesn’t help that she doesn’t get his abstract art. Robert invites Olivia to a big, fancy party, and she wants to look conservative, but she starts going overboard, changing her whole image. She starts borrowing Emily’s clothes and even cuts off her hair.

Robert gets permission from his father for Olivia to sell some of her still-life paintings in the store. She doesn’t like that kind of art and would rather do impressionist paintings, but she knows the still-lifes will make money. Olivia goes to James’ place to give him his Christmas gift, a paperweight, and he tells her it’s meaningless and she’s selling out. Uh, okay, but at least she’ll have money to buy food, you moron. Olivia’s mom tells her she’s gone too far with the image makeover, then shows her some of her own art, explaining that she gave up on it when she got a job and started a family.

Emily tries one last time to get James’ attention, but he’s clearly not interested. At the same time, Olivia goes to Robert’s house and gives him one of her paintings. He gives her a planner, which is at least better than a paperweight, but still boring. Olivia and Emily see each other in the borrowed clothes and realize that they’re going about things the wrong way. Olivia gives James one of her abstract paintings, and he shows her two portraits he painted of her on a brick wall. (Merry Christmas, here’s some street art that will probably be painted over tomorrow!) One portrait is Conservative Olivia and one is Artsy Olivia. She decides she needs to be Artsy Olivia all the time. But James probably still won’t date her.

Thoughts: This book is so frustrating, and not just because it’s boring and James is the most stereotypically artsy character ever. It’s because there’s no middle ground here between being artsy and being responsible and corporate. You don’t have to give up art when you get a job and start a family! You don’t have to have a career in the arts to be considered a true artist! SHUT UP, JAMES.

Olivia’s parents couldn’t have let her convert the garage into a studio “about a year earlier.” She only started painting in book #57.

Elizabeth thinks Jessica is wasting her “charm” being nice to a receptionist at a job interview. So she’s complaining about Jessica being nice? And actually, if she wasn’t nice to the receptionist, it could come back to haunt her after the interview, so Jessica’s actually being smart here.

Olivia’s embarrassed that Emily doesn’t know the difference between Monet and Manet. Olivia, the only person who knows the difference between Monet and Manet is Tess Ocean.

Why would a painter need a paperweight? James should sell it for food.

And now, a roundup of Olivia’s ridiculous fashion decisions:

  • a record as a ponytail holder. First of all, I don’t think that’s possible. Second, Claudia Kishi is SO jealous.
  • a black leotard, leggings, a pink and yellow chiffon skirt, a blue checked vest, and black sandals. I…have no words.
  • a batik jumper. No one over the age of six should wear a jumper.
  • blue gauze overalls over a red tank top. I just hope they’re not made of actual gauze.
  • a sarong and a tie-dyed coat. I would actually wear a tie-dyed coat, but I’m weird like that. And I would never in a million years wear it with a sarong.
  • a long-sleeved dark green dress with an off-white lace collar and cuffs. I didn’t realize she was five years old, but after the jumper, it makes sense.

And one from her aunt: She wears a silk polka-dot bowtie. So clearly the poor fashion sense runs in the family.

August 30, 2010

SVH #57, Teacher Crush: Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:53 pm by Jenn

This ensemble is Claudia Kishi-approved

Summary: The SVH students take part in two-week-long arts/vocational workshops, and Elizabeth, Enid, and Olivia wind up in a painting class. Olivia proves to be very talented, but she’s more interested in the teacher, Stuart, than in her work. She quickly grows obsessed with him, pretty much stalking him and taking advantage of his offers of extra help to spend more time with him. She also thinks he’s interested in her, and while he might like her as a person and appreciate her company, he’s definitely not obsessed like she is (because only a teenaged girl can be that kind of obsessed).

Stuart asks Olivia to help him pick out a picture frame and look at some earrings he’s designed, and she thinks they’re for her birthday. They’re not. They’re for his girlfriend. Of course. Pretty much everyone in school knows Olivia’s in love with Stuart, so I was expecting some humiliating public rejection, but instead, Olivia figures things out on her own and realizes she has to get over her giant crush. And then she has a surprise birthday party and gets a present from a guy who totally likes her. Yay, happy ending for Olivia! Remind me why I care.

In the B plot, Jessica’s in an electronics workshop, which she put down as her third choice partly because she wanted to expand her horizons (yes, really) and partly because there would be a lot of guys there. I guess it’s the female version of a guy taking home ec to meet girls. Lila’s been bragging that her father’s dating an actress, and Jessica thinks she’s lying, so she decides to make a lie detector for her workshop project. She gets Randy Mason, King of the Nerds, to do the work for her.

Lila overhears the news that Todd’s family is moving back to Sweet Valley, and she uses it to borrow a dress from Jessica so she can pass it off as the dress she was supposed to make for her workshop. Jessica debuts her lie detector and realizes that Lila was telling the truth about her father’s girlfriend after all. Hilariously, Lila puts the detector on Jessica and asks if she made it herself.

And then there’s a truly awesome ending: Jessica decides to try out the detector on Elizabeth (why? She’s as pure as the driven snow and would never, ever lie), but she can’t think of anything to ask. Lila, still gleeful about her knowledge that Todd is returning, which she hasn’t shared with anyone left, announces that Todd’s moving back to Sweet Valley and asks Elizabeth if she’s worried about how that will affect her relationship with Jeffrey. Instead of responding, Elizabeth calmly removes the detector and says she won’t be needing it.

Thoughts: A hot guy named Stuart? Does not compute.

You’d think Jessica would be happy to have a lab partner – she can just flirt and get him to do all the work. (Which is, you know, what she does.)

Olivia has always dreamed of having a big, empty studio apartment with very little furniture? So…she wants to live in my place?

Jeffrey’s writing a computer game after five hours of classes? I guess this was back when people didn’t know how to actually use computers.

Elizabeth threatens to tell on Jessica for a clothes-related incident. Way to be a 16-year-old there, Liz.

Olivia buys a purple silk jumpsuit she can’t imagine wearing in public. That’s because she shouldn’t.

July 3, 2010

SVH #48, Slam Book Fever: A Fever for Which More Cowbell is Not an Appropriate Prescription

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:24 pm by Jenn

Amy has dead eyes. Smize, Amy!

Summary: Amy brings a fad to SVH called slam books – people keep lists of categories like best couple and biggest flirt, so they can see what their friends think of their classmates. Basically, it’s a way for people to anonymously hurt each other’s feelings. Jessica’s the first casualty when everyone names her the biggest flirt, so she decides to tone things down, especially since she’s interested in the new guy, A.J. Morgan, and doesn’t want him to think she’s vapid and silly.

Jeffrey’s been spending a lot of time with Olivia (who, by the way, recently broke up with Roger), helping her out with a new literary magazine, and when people start writing them down in the slam books as the best future couple, Elizabeth tries not to get jealous. That only works until Cara tells her she saw Olivia and Jeffrey getting a little closer than they should be. Elizabeth decides to get some revenge by flirting with A.J., not knowing that Jessica’s already fallen for him. Lila takes it upon herself to try to act as a go-between for Elizabeth and Jeffrey, but Elizabeth has already given up on the relationship.

Lila starts hanging out a lot with Jeffrey while Elizabeth hangs out with A.J., and no one’s exactly happy. Jessica and Olivia figure out that Lila’s not really working on fixing Jeffrey and Elizabeth’s relationship, but is instead trying to get him for herself, and they realize that she was probably the first person to write down Olivia and Jeffrey as the best future couple in order to cause trouble, break up Jeffrey and Elizabeth, and steal him. They share this info with Elizabeth, who makes up with Jeffrey, and the girls get some really lame revenge on Lila by calling her the class sneak in their slam books. Fortunately for Jessica, Elizabeth’s flirting with A.J. has actually worked out in her favor – he doesn’t like flirty girls, and instead wants to be with someone who’s kind of shy…like Jessica. Poor, naive A.J.

Thoughts: Elizabeth thinks Jeffrey’s in love with Olivia, and she decides to just let Olivia have him. Great, another doormat in Sweet Valley. She also doesn’t think she can just ask Jeffrey what was going on when Cara saw him with Olivia. Like Elizabeth’s ever been at a loss for words before.

Elizabeth also doesn’t think A.J.’s her type, but so far he seems pretty much like Todd 2.0.

Liz’s idea of flirting: “Come and buy me a hot dog. I’m absolutely starving.” Now we know why she doesn’t flirt very often.

I love how there’s a page in the back of the book encouraging readers to start their own slam books, even after they’ve just read a book about how much trouble they can cause. The series wants to turn us all into mean girls, it seems.

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.

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