July 19, 2016
Summary: We have finally reached the end of this ridiculous series, and we’re going out with a road trip. Sam’s cousin, the only family member he still talks to, is getting married in Boston, and even though he doesn’t want to see his family, Elizabeth and Neil encourage him to go. (Sigh, Neil. He’s barely in this book and I’m sad about it. I’ll miss you, buddy.) Jessica ends up inviting herself and her new boyfriend along. This will be the twins’ last hurrah before junior year, since Jessica will be moving out of the duplex and back into the dorms to be an RA. Yeah, no one does that. Once you’re out of the dorms, you only go back if you can’t pay rent anymore. Plus, no way is Jessica qualified to be an RA.
Anyway, road trip. But first, drama! Jessica sees Sam getting some random girl’s phone number. She already thinks he’s scum, and this doesn’t make him any more endearing. Jess then learns that Elizabeth was accepted into a study-abroad program in London, but since she hasn’t said anything about it, she must not be going – and Jess figures it’s because she doesn’t want to leave Sam. She’s right.
Jessica wanted a summer internship at an art museum, but a cute senior named Tyler nabbed it first. Jessica’s not too broken up since Tyler’s really interested in her, and she’d rather have the guy than the internship anyway. After they’ve gone on a couple of dates, he mentions that his sister is graduating high school in Illinois, but he can’t afford to fly home for the ceremony. Jessica realizes that Liz and Sam can take him on their way to Boston, so she gets them to agree to bring her and Tyler along on the road trip.
The kids take a detour to the San Diego Zoo, so I guess they’re not under a time crunch. Jessica gets mad when Sam checks out a waitress (right in front of Elizabeth, no less). Tyler thinks Jess needs to calm down, and though I agree with her that Sam is skeezy – and she doesn’t even know that he feels trapped in his relationship with Elizabeth and doesn’t even want to be with her – this is not the time to pick a fight. No one wants to share a long car ride with two people who won’t stop fighting.
Next stop: Grand Canyon. It’s big. The road trippers check into a B&B for the night, and Jessica catches Sam flirting with a desk clerk. Dude, what is up with this guy? At dinner, Sam makes Jess mad by asking why she and Tyler got a room together but are sleeping in separate beds. Elizabeth confides in Jessica that she’s ready to have sex with Sam, though he doesn’t want to rush anything. Jessica doesn’t get it. I don’t think Elizabeth does either. Sam is weirdly hesitant to “take” Elizabeth’s virginity, as if she’s not freely and eagerly offering it up. Guys, just have sex already. I’m tired of reading about this.
The kids spend some time in Santa Fe, where the tables turn and Sam catches Jessica flirting with another guy. Later, they fight about his own flirtations, and Elizabeth gets annoyed at her scummy boyfriend. Then, in Illinois, he flirts with ANOTHER woman, a waitress at some restaurant, and ends up making out with her. Why are so many women into Sam anyway? Jessica spots them and immediately tells Elizabeth, but Liz thinks she’s lying because she wants to break them up. She thinks Jess is mad that Liz is going to lose her virginity to a great guy when Jess lost hers to jerky Mike. Way harsh, Liz.
Elizabeth questions Sam, who tells her that Jessica lies. Tyler sides with him, since Sam lied to him, too, so now Jess looks really petty. Everyone goes off in separate directions, and Sam ends up making out with the waitress AGAIN. And Jessica sees them AGAIN. This time Jess grabs Liz and drags her to see her boyfriend cheating with her own eyes. Of course, by the time they get there, Sam is alone, writing something. Liz thinks he’s writing in a journal just like she does, because if there’s anything Sam has proven to be, it’s sensitive and introspective.
Jess decides she needs to show Liz how bad Sam is in a way Elizabeth can’t deny. She plans to dress up as Liz, seduce Sam, and get Elizabeth to see them together. Yeah, there’s no way this could go wrong. It’s not like Sam will explain to Liz that he thought Jess was her, and Jess will come off looking crazy. While Jess is plotting, Elizabeth buys a bunch of candles and condoms and plans to get all pretty before having sex with Sam.
Jessica puts her plan into motion, and though Sam thinks “Elizabeth” is acting weird, he doesn’t suspect that she’s not really Elizabeth. Liz catches them, but instead of thinking Sam’s the only one to blame, she hates Jessica as well. Sam takes advantage of the mess to tell Liz he knew who he was with and doesn’t want to be with Elizabeth. Dang, way to kick her while she’s down. Elizabeth takes the Jeep and heads off on her own, leaving the others behind. I guess Tyler’s now close enough to home to find a ride, but I can’t wait for Jessica to have to call her parents and explain why she’s stranded in Illinois. Maybe Lila can swing by with her father’s jet.
Elizabeth sees her London acceptance letter in the car and decides to go. I don’t know how she plans to pay for a plane ticket, or how she plans to get through customs without her passport (since I can’t imagine she brought it with her), or what she’s going to do until the semester starts. But at least Jess can probably retrieve the Jeep from long-term parking after Liz flies halfway across the world, hoping to never see her sister again. And that’s a wrap on SVU!
Thoughts: Sam: “Liz, I’m really, really, like, I don’t know what to say – honored that you feel like you can sleep with me.” ICK.
How can these people afford to eat breakfast out so often? They don’t have jobs! Wait, Jessica has one. How is Jessica the only one with a job??
“After all, what guy in his right mind wouldn’t want to sleep with Elizabeth Wakefield?” Ugh, now I have to go jump out a window.
“You look really cute in that baseball shirt. Kind of like a little girl in her father’s clothes.” Sam, it’s time to start thinking before you speak.
Along with Neil, I hope Nina gets to live happily ever after. Everyone else in this series is dead to me.
July 5, 2016
Summary: We’re one book from the end of the series and Sam and Elizabeth have finally worked things out. Elizabeth: “Yay, we’re dating!” Sam: “…I guess?” It’s like that episode of Scrubs where, after wanting Elliot back for months, J.D. finally gets together with her and then realizes he doesn’t want to be with her. Sam’s been pining after Elizabeth for a dozen books but now decides he doesn’t want a relationship. Commitment is bad! He’ll have to be nice to her now! She might make him (ugh) talk about his feelings and feel vulnerable.
Liz, however, is super-happy and even wants to make herself look prettier than usual by wearing makeup and stuff. Sam thinks she’s dressing and acting like Jessica. They go out for breakfast and talk about how he never told her about his family and their money. She seems to be over it. Really, she’s just thrilled that Sam is finally acting like a normal human being.
Sam manages to tear himself away from the love of his life, to her dismay. She goes to talk to Nina, who thinks Sam should be working overtime to make Liz happy after making her miserable all year. Thanks for your input, Nina! Elizabeth decides to make a fancy dinner for Sam, which includes spending almost $80 on stuff that a typical college student wouldn’t like. She also considers finally losing her virginity.
Sam, for his part, spends almost $40 on flowers for his new girlfriend. He’s not appropriately grateful to her for cooking him such a nice dinner, thinking they’re moving too fast. Dude, you’ve known each other almost a year and have just now finally stopped fighting. All you’ve done so far is eat a meal together. Chill. Sam protests all the fancy stuff, which hurts Liz’s feelings a little, since she worked so hard on something she herself enjoys. I get it – they’re different people! He likes casual stuff and she likes a little glamour! Men are from Mars and women are from Venus!
Elizabeth and Sam talk about his family again. He tells her how his older brother was a great guy until their parents molded him into someone more like them. Sam cut off his family so they can’t change him, too. But he’s still rich, since his grandfather left him money. Poor little rich boy. He says that Elizabeth has changed him, which Liz interprets as a good thing. The conversation turns to sex, and Sam says he’s willing to wait until Liz is ready. I’m sure it’s not just because it means they get to move slowly and he won’t freak out.
Guys, this is the last book Chloe appears in! Let’s celebrate! First, let’s mock her because she thinks she’s a loser for not having a boyfriend by the end of her freshman year. She also really wants cool friends, which…she’s in a sorority. Isn’t she surrounded by supposedly cool people? Really, Chloe is just socially awkward and can’t carry on a normal conversation for more than ten seconds, so no one wants to hang out with her. If she would stop trying so hard, she’d be fine. Alternately, if she would stop thinking Val and Martin are nerds, she’d actually enjoy their friendship more.
Anyway, Chloe has glommed on to Nina, so she asks for some advice on attracting guys. Chloe thinks she needs to dress sexier so guys will want her. Nina actually says some smart stuff throughout the book, like how Chloe should only dress sexy if she wants to. Chloe doesn’t listen – she goes on a big shopping spree and starts wearing clothes that, trust me, college students aren’t wearing around campus, especially not when they should be studying for finals.
Finally, Chloe gets a guy’s attention, but the fact that he immediately seems like a jerk makes me think this won’t turn out the way Chloe wants. She goes out with the guy, James, but he clearly couldn’t care less about her as a person. She’s clueless enough to think he would still make a good date to an upcoming semiformal (which, fortunately, we don’t have to witness). They go to James’ apartment and make out a little, but James wants more. Chloe objects, and of course, James ignores her. Things are about to get really illegal when Chloe manages to make her escape.
She runs straight to Nina, who again says some really smart things: Chloe did nothing wrong, even by wearing sexy clothes, and they need to report James for almost assaulting her. Chloe says no, since he didn’t actually do anything to her. I wish Nina had pressed her a little here, since James shouldn’t get a pass just because his pants didn’t come off, and saying nothing might leave James free to go after another girl. But I guess that’s not the point the writer wants to make here.
Nina encourages Chloe to stop trying so hard and be herself. But Nina, Chloe’s horrible! If she’s herself, she’ll be even less popular than she already is! Chloe actually listens, though – she starts wearing the clothes she actually likes and stops trying to attract guys everywhere she goes. Then she goes to a party and immediately meets a guy. Of course! Also, Nina goes to a study group instead of the party and almost meets a guy. So at least we leave Nina in a good place.
Todd has finally realized that the dream life he wanted isn’t so dreamy after all. He wants a summer internship, but no one wants to hire a guy who dropped out of college. Also, he thinks he has some genius business plan that all sorts of companies will want to snap up, because he’s 19 and has no idea how the world works. He can’t believe that CEOs aren’t falling all over themselves to give him a corner office.
Todd starts having dreams about turning into a loser because he dropped out of school and spends the rest of his life working at Frankie’s. He’s not getting the independence he thought he would, and quitting school has closed him off to a lot of opportunities. So his solution is to go back to school. Well, that was easy. He quickly enrolls for the summer so he can try to get back on track by the fall. Yay, I guess.
Neil has been struggling to stay sane in the duplex, what with Elizabeth and Sam fighting all the time up until now. He decides to move out, and makes arrangements without telling anyone, even Jessica. She finds out when one of Neil’s new roommates calls to tell him the room in her house isn’t available anymore. Jess is furious, but Neil has already changed his mind about moving, since Sam and Liz have calmed down and things are better. Basically, this is a non-plot that just serves to give Neil something to do in his last appearance.
At least he has more to do than Jessica, who spends the whole book mad that Elizabeth wants to be with Sam after he’s been such a jerk to her. The sisters fight a lot, and Jess mopes over how they’re kind of growing apart. She spends way more time thinking about this than she does about her finals. Not that I’m surprised. Then Jess decides to try to get a summer internship at an art gallery, and she rents some movies, and she announces a big party at the duplex without telling her roommates. And then nothing else happens.
Thoughts: Nina has red pony-hair boots. Wh – I – what?
“Being with her was like listening to a song and needing to go out and buy the album right then.” I actually like that line, but the fact that it’s about Elizabeth makes me gag.
Apparently Elizabeth has a crush on Rupert Everett and Neil has one on Matt Dillon. It would make more sense the other way around.
June 21, 2016
Summary: Did you know that Sam and Elizabeth are fighting? In case you’ve forgotten, we get to read about more of their issues with each other. Liz talks things over with Nina and says that she thinks they can work things out, but Nina reminds her that Sam’s not exactly a catch, and Liz can do a lot better. Eventually things in the duplex get so bad that Elizabeth tells Sam to move out, though she quickly realizes that Jessica and Neil might be mad since they’ll have to cover his rent or find a replacement roommate. Then Nina changes her mind and basically tells Liz to be with Sam if that’s what she wants. You’re not helping, Nina.
Neil thinks things will calm down Liz and Sam them if they start dating other people. Yeah, as if that won’t lead to more problems, like jealousy. You’re not helping either, Neil. Elizabeth considers a writing contest that would give her a chance to spend a semester at the University of Boston, because why work things out with your potential next boyfriend when you can just move across the country and hope to never see him again? She tells Jessica and Neil that Sam’s supposed to move out, but they override her decision and tell Sam he can stay.
Nina tries a new tack: make Elizabeth realize she’s in love with Sam. Liz will only admit that she has “strong feelings” for him. Sam comes in and Elizabeth worries that he overheard her. Jessica tells her sister to chill out for a while and things with Sam will blow over. Then suddenly Sam decides to just apologize to Liz and make up with her. She sees that he’s wearing the hat she gave him, which is some sort of magical move that makes her suddenly forgive him, I guess. They kiss. I really don’t care.
Todd wants to read up on business strategies for his bar, so he buys a couple of books at SVU’s bookstore. Because campus bookstores are known for affordable reading material? He meets an SVU senior named Terese and lets her believe that he still attends SVU. Todd’s co-workers, Cathy and Ryan, call him on not being completely honest with Terese. They think he’s ashamed because he dropped out and works in a bar, and if she dumps him because of those things, she’s a snob.
On Todd and Terese’s first date, he pretends he’s still in school and in a frat. They hit it off because she has no idea that half the things he says are lies. When she wants to hang out again, he meets her on campus, making it look like he’s coming out of a class. They run into Nina, who mentions that Todd dropped out. He lies that he only considered it, and tells Terese that Nina likes to exaggerate. Later, Todd and Terese run into a former classmate of hers who dropped out and now works as a waitress. Terese is judgmental, so Todd thinks he’s right not to tell her he dropped out, too.
For their next date, Terese wants to pick Todd up at the frat house where she thinks he lives. She also wants to take him to the Hot Dog Festival people talk about for half the book. He thinks he’s talked her out of going to the frat house, but she shows up anyway and is told that he doesn’t live there. As he’s trying to come up with a lie she’ll buy, they run into a professor who mentions that Todd dropped out. Once the whole story comes out, Terese tells Todd that she doesn’t care why he dropped out or that he works in a bar, but she can’t trust him anymore, so they’re done. Cathy and Ryan remind him that there are other people out there to date. I assume Todd just ends up with Cathy?
In the plot that lets us know how pathetic Chloe is, she’s trying way too hard to get people to like her. She buys bagels for her sorority sisters and is upset that they’re not as grateful as she’d like them to be. She keeps joining their conversations, then pouting because no one invites her to hang out. Chloe also tries to avoid her nerdy sort-of boyfriend, Martin, so people won’t think she’s a nerd by association. Then she realizes she would have more fun with Martin than with her sorority sisters who don’t want to spend time with her anyway. She decides to give Martin a makeover so she’s no longer embarrassed to be seen with him in public.
Chloe chats with a couple of Theta sisters, trashing Martin by calling him a nerd. Then she makes him get a haircut and tries to buy him new clothes. He’s on to her and calls her on trying to change him. He also wonders why she wants to spend so much time with him after saying she just wants to be friends. Chloe actually has a crush on him but is in denial, and doesn’t want to date a nerd. She blows him off, then gets blown off by some Thetas. Looks good on ya, Chloe. Later, she tries to act like nothing happened and everything’s fine between her and Martin, who’s understandably cold to her.
Chloe talks to her BFF Val about Martin, but doesn’t bother to mention that she’s in love with him. Val asks if she can ask out Martin, since Chloe supposedly just wants to be friends with him. Chloe says yes, thinking Martin will turn Val down. She’s wrong, so ha, Chloe. She finally decides to be honest with Martin about her feelings, but she realizes he’s still mad and wants to move on. She runs into Nina and finally asks if she can tag along to the Hot Dog Festival instead of just waiting for an invitation from various people like she’s been doing the whole book. I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for Chloe because no one likes her and she’s too pathetic to make new friends or extend an invitation, but I can see why no one wants to hang out with her.
Thoughts: This book came with a Bowling for Soup poster and free cassette offer. Score!
“These are the facts, Sam: Buy your own groceries. Leave mine alone.” Those aren’t facts, Elizabeth. As a journalist, you should really know what the word “fact” means.
For college students, these people sure get up early, especially on the weekends.
I’m not 100% what the Hot Dog Festival is all about, but I think people just eat hot dogs for three days. I’m not sure that qualifies as a festival.
June 7, 2016
Summary: Sam has successfully stayed away from the duplex for a few days, still not wanting to face Elizabeth after their kiss. Elizabeth is desperate to talk to him, even falling asleep on his bed while waiting for him to come home. You’d think she’d take the hint, but no. Sam runs out of people to crash with and starts driving around town, looking for a hotel. There’s a big football game, so a ton of people are in town, and the only hotel with a vacancy is the super-fancy Sweet Valley Resort Hotel. Sam would rather not stay there, though…because his family owns it. We’ve known for a while that Sam is rich (but won’t spend his family’s money), and now we know how they got that way.
Out of options, Sam checks into the hotel, landing the owner’s suite. Due to some sort of tax issue, the hotel is actually in his name, so he’s technically the owner. And yet he lives in a duplex and shares a bathroom with three other people. Sam, what’s wrong with you? This is like Todd wanting to pay his own rent even though he has a bank account full of money from his parents. Boys, you are in college! College students are poor! Take advantage of…you know, not being poor!
Sam invites his friend Anna over, she of the plan to make Elizabeth jealous by making her think Sam had a one-night stand. Anna tells Sam that he’s clearly in love with Elizabeth and needs to let her know. Meanwhile, Liz is still obsessed with the fact that Sam’s been MIA, and is so distracted that she can’t have a normal phone conversation with Nina about her best friend’s problems.
Elizabeth goes looking for Sam, because SHE IS A STALKER, and happens to drive past his car outside the hotel. She goes in to ask if he’s there and learns that he spent the night in the owner’s suite because he’s…well, the owner. She goes up to see him, finds out that Anna spent the night, and flips out. Sam thinks his problems are solved – Elizabeth won’t want him anymore, so he doesn’t have to worry about things like expressing his feelings or becoming vulnerable while actually spending time with the woman he’s in love with. Anna thinks he’s nuts. Anna’s right. I would like to swap Elizabeth out for her, please, and finish out this series in peace. (Only three books left!)
So now Elizabeth is all mopey over Sam a) not telling anyone his family’s rich and b) hooking up with Anna again. She tries to vent to Nina, but that doesn’t work out, since Nina’s mad about Elizabeth not listening to her problems earlier. I really wish that Nina had enough of a backbone to cut ties with Liz and seek out friends who are there for her when she needs them and help her when she needs advice. Elizabeth doesn’t even care that much that she’s blowing off her supposed best friend.
Sam finally returns to the duplex, having decided he needs to be upfront with everyone, especially Elizabeth. Neil’s ticked that Sam lied to everyone, which…whatever, it’s not like he killed someone and covered it up. I mean, I think the whole thing’s dumb, but Neil seems like the kind of person who would be pretty forgiving in this kind of situation. Anyway, Sam tries to talk to Elizabeth, but after all those days of wishing he’d come home, she now wishes they’d never met.
Sam makes up with Anna by buying her flowers, then tries the same tactic with Liz. Liz happens to be off with Nina, making up with her instead of getting tossed in a Dumpster like she deserves. When Elizabeth gets home, she verbally tosses Sam in a Dumpster, making him change his mind about trying to make things work between them. I honestly don’t see what either of them sees in the other, and I couldn’t care less about this relationship.
The problems Nina’s been trying to discuss with Elizabeth have to do with Josh, the guy she’s recently started dating. She thinks he’s eager to have sex, and that her desire to take things slowly is turning him off. He’s really hot and cold with her, and eventually she decides to just go ahead and sleep with him, I guess so she doesn’t lose him. The next morning, Nina realizes she made a mistake, but she still likes Josh and wants to date him. She’s convinced herself that this is a solid relationship, or will at least become a solid relationship over time.
Clearly, Josh doesn’t agree. A friend of his, Dan, asks Nina out, confusing her since she thought everyone knew that she and Josh were a couple. Dan tells her that Josh okayed a date between them, claiming that they have an open relationship and are free to date other people. I’ve never felt sorrier for poor, naïve Nina. Nina talks things out with Elizabeth once they’re friends again, and Liz helps her see that she’s not at fault for the destruction of the relationship. I only wish we’d gotten a scene where Nina told Josh off, preferably in public, in front of someone he was trying to pick up.
The Jessica/Neil/possibly-gay-Jason triangle is still in play, with Jess and Neil both still insisting that he or she is the object of Jason’s affection. Neil’s upset with Jessica because he saw Jason first, but Jess claims she’s just trying to prove that Jason likes girls and doesn’t want to date Neil. Okay, but there are better ways of going about this. Both of them continue hanging out with Jason, and it’s not easy to tell which way Jason leans.
Jessica ultimately decides that she’s going to take herself out of the equation and let Neil have Jason, if that’s what Jason wants. This may be the most mature Jessica has ever done/ever will do. I’m actually shocked that she was worried enough about her friendship with Neil to let him win. But I’m also not shocked that things don’t turn out the way she’d planned: When she goes to see Jason to “break up” with him (keep in mind that they’re not officially dating), they end up kissing. And you’re probably not surprised to hear that Neil sees them.
For some friends, this could spell the end of the friendship, but Jessica’s still on her maturity kick, and Neil is already more of a grown-up than most people in this series, so they make up without much further drama. They’ve decided separately to bow out of the love triangle, valuing their friendship more than a guy neither is even sure likes one of them.
Jason asks them to meet him, and the three finally talk about the weird situation. Jason reveals that he’s struggling with his sexuality – he thinks he’s gay, and was basically seeing Jess to figure out if he likes girls at all. He’s realized that he does like guys, or at least he likes Neil, but because he’s just now figured that out about himself, he’s not ready to be in a relationship. So all around, these three handled things pretty well. Too bad they didn’t start getting smart until after things had blown up. Fortunately, Neil gets over it pretty quickly, realizing that he still has Jessica to pal around with. Poor guy. Make some new friends! There’s more to life than being a supporting character in the never-ending drama that is the Wakefield twins’ lives!
Thoughts: Josh’s version of sweet talk: “Oh, you smell so nice. Like a field of wildflowers! It’s making me dizzy. Your hand is so smooth and small. You feel so good to me.” Ugh.
“Nina had an important role to play, but everyone knew that Elizabeth was the star.” Hey, Nina figured out what Enid never did!
“‘So, you’re not attracted to me,'” Jessica stated bluntly, and immediately hated herself for trying to make this whole conversation about her.” Hold up. Are we still talking about Jessica Wakefield?
May 24, 2016
Summary: A girl named Leslie undergoes cosmetic surgery on her face so she can be the kind of hot sorority girl her ex-boyfriend Parker likes. I hope she’s healed up in time for the rest of the book!
Throughout the book we get flashbacks of Leslie’s life, starting with her childhood, when her father informed her mother that he was leaving her for another woman. They were driving in a rainstorm, and her mother grabbed the steering wheel and made them crash into a truck. Leslie survived but both of her parents were killed. It might be for the best, though, since they both sound like horrible people. I don’t want to revisit all of the flashbacks, so to sum up: Leslie’s family is awful and won’t let her live with them, so she grows up as an outcast. I’ll also sum up the Parker/Leslie relationship: They met when they were both students at Tulane. He broke things off when she started stalking him and getting jealous of other girls. He eventually got a restraining order against her, then transferred to SVU.
So now we can get to the actual plot. Jessica has started working at Yum-Yums, the café everyone’s been hanging out in over the past few books. Parker transferred to SVU not long ago and works with Jess. He also has a big crush on her, but she’s made it clear she’s not interested and would like him to stop flirting. He tells her he had a dream about Leslie being a huge bird and wanting to eat him. That would freak me out.
The Theta sisters decide to throw a brunch for their new members, and Jessica offers to get Yum-Yums to cater. One of those new sisters is Gia Allen, who’s actually Leslie. Along with her plastic surgery, she’s taken on a new name so she can follow Parker to California and try to become the kind of girl he seems to like. She’s Chloe’s new roommate at the sorority house. It’s fitting, since Chloe is now stalking Sam, and not even really subtle about it. He’s started running away when she shows up somewhere, just so he doesn’t have to talk to her.
Chloe “introduces” Gia to Parker, who has no clue she’s really Leslie. Jessica’s happy to see them hitting it off, since Parker could stop flirting with her if he gets involved with Gia. Chloe finds a book of spells in Gia’s things and learns that Gia practices Wicca. Chloe thinks she can find a love spell that will make Sam fall for her. Chloe is seriously messed up and someone needs to sit her down and talk to her about appropriate behavior.
Gia goes shopping with Jessica and starts acting weird. She sticks Jess with a pin, then talks her into getting a brown dress, knowing Parker doesn’t like brown. Back at school, she uses her self-taught hacking skills to mess with Jessica’s records – she deletes her schedule, suspends her driver’s license, and freezes her credit cards and bank account. She figures that Jess will have to leave SVU, and Parker will be all Gia’s.
Chloe tries to do a love spell, but it doesn’t work. Imagine that! Gia convinces her that she should become a Wiccan so her magic will actually work. She does some BS ceremony on the beach and makes Chloe think she’s a witch now. Then Gia schemes to ruin Jessica’s reputation, putting hair dye in a bottle of shampoo Jess loaned someone to make it look like Jess wanted to ruin the other girl’s hair. She also eavesdrops when a sorority sister tells Jess she cheated on her boyfriend, then spreads the news so the sister things Jess spilled the beans. This on top of her frozen account ruins Jessica’s day. Unfortunately for Gia, Parker’s there to comfort her.
Gia steals a paper Jessica and Parker worked on together, and when Jess tries to explain things to their professor, he tells her she’s not even in the class. Jess has basically been completely erased from SVU’s records. Her day gets even worse when she’s pushed into traffic and almost gets hit by a bus. Meanwhile, Sam and Elizabeth are also almost killed when the brakes in his car fail. Sam blames Jessica, since she’s been borrowing his car all week and was supposed to replace the brake fluid.
At the duplex, Sam and Elizabeth tear into Jess, who, remember, was almost run over and is freaking out about all the weird stuff going on in her life. She insists that she replaced the brake fluid and isn’t to blame for Sam and Liz’s car crash. Chloe arrives and announces that everything’s her fault – she tried to do a spell, and something must have backfired. Everyone thinks she’s nuts.
Sam soon learns that Jess did, in fact, get more brake fluid, and the brake failure was due to them being cut. Elizabeth wonders if Chloe was right about a spell going wrong, so she starts reading up on Wicca. Meanwhile, Jess gets fired, so Gia takes her job at Yum-Yums, happy to get to spend time with Parker. Elizabeth winds up researching her, too, and learns that someone named Gia Allen died at Tulane last semester. So how is Gia now at SVU?
Jess finds a doll with a piece of twine around its neck in her bird feeder. She tells Parker, and he flips. When he was at Tulane, girls he went out with after Leslie also received dolls and twine. He figures out that Leslie must have followed him across the country. He immediately calls the police and lets them know that – ha ha, no, he doesn’t. What series do you think this is?
While Gia’s out, Sam and Elizabeth sneak into her room and find a picture of a girl they don’t know. Then there’s a dumb scene where Liz hides in the closet because Chloe’s coming, but Sam can’t hide fast enough, so he has to come up with a reason to get Chloe out of the room. But then Gia comes back and catches Liz in her room, so Liz says she wants to help reverse the spell that’s whammying Jessica. This gives Gia an idea.
Sam returns to the room after Gia and Elizabeth are gone, and realizes that the picture they found features Parker. Gia also has a bunch more pictures of him, as well as letters Leslie wrote Parker that he returned to her. Sam starts to put together that Gia is really Leslie. He meets up with Jessica, Parker, and Chloe so they can find Liz, who they figure is with Gia.
Chloe guesses that Gia took Elizabeth to the same beach where her Wiccan ceremony took place. She’s right, but they’re too late to stop Gia from trying to drown Elizabeth during another fake ceremony. Liz does manage to ask Gia about the picture, but Gia just babbles about Leslie and Gia being together and how they’re Parker’s soulmate. Sam gets to Liz and gives her CPR, saving her, then gets knocked out by Gia. When Parker, Jessica, and Chloe get to Gia, Parker finally figures out that she’s Leslie. She knows the police are coming and she’s not going to be able to be with Parker, so she tries to swim to freedom. Nice try, girlie. She ends up in police custody, and everyone else is fine. Gia was kind of a weak villain. No one even got hurt!
Thoughts: Gia looks at spells called Lucifer’s Touch, Bones of Anger, and Three Nights of Hell, which are all now on my short list of potential band names.
“If you’re hell-bent on killing yourself, then go ahead.” That Parker’s a real catch, isn’t he?
“Leslie’s very, very clever and very dangerous. Like a spider.” What?
May 10, 2016
Summary: Todd is living the glamorous life in Sweet Valley, doing such grown-up things as working part-time at a bar and paying rent. He thinks that since he’s an adult, he should stop taking his parents’ money and pay his own way. I guarantee he’ll regret that when he’s 25 and living on ramen. Note to Todd: You’re 19. It’s okay to let your parents pay for stuff while you get your degree. It’s even recommended. But no, Todd wants to be a big boy and navigate his own way in the world. Too bad he sucks at it and can barely make it to class on time. Even when he does make it to class, his grades aren’t very good. And on top of that, his car needs repairs.
After making a date with a classmate named Jodi, Todd gets a ride home from Elizabeth. He confides that he’s thinking of taking the rest of the semester off, and possibly the next one, so he can just work at the bar and enjoy being a grown-up. Elizabeth tells him he’s crazy. They get into a fight and he ends up walking home because he doesn’t want to have to listen to her anymore. I feel you, Todd.
Things start looking up for our boy when his boss offers him a promotion – he’ll become an assistant manager and make $10.50 an hour. Todd’s eyes are briefly replaced with dollar signs. He thinks $10.50 an hour is a huge amount. Doesn’t he drive a BMW? $10.50 should be nothing to him. Todd wants the promotion, but the drawback is that it’s a full-time position. He’ll have to bite the bullet and drop out for the semester. After some consideration, mostly about all the stuff he’ll be able to buy with his new riches, Todd accepts the job. He immediately realizes that a couple of his co-workers aren’t happy for him, but he doesn’t know why.
Todd drops his classes but doesn’t bother telling his parents (which is ridiculous, because THEY PAID HIS TUITION). When they find out, they’re furious. His father orders him to reenroll at SVU, and when Todd doesn’t, they close his bank account and take back his car. So Todd is finally doing what he’s been wanting – paying his own way. It’s just bad timing, since Todd will have to take the bus to meet Jodi for their date. But hey, he’s a rich man now, so he might as well wine and dine her.
After dinner, Todd takes Jodi by his bar to show her where he works. She hates it. She also hates that he’s no longer taking classes and is just a bartender. When she agreed to a date, she thought she was dating a student. Todd’s bummed, but when he runs into Sam later, and Sam talks up how awesome it is being single, Todd decides he’s better off.
Soon, Todd discovers that his new work responsibilities come with a lot of…well, responsibilities. He doesn’t get to just do the fun stuff anymore. He has to be in charge and make sure things are running smoothly. This is especially difficult when some of his co-workers are still cold to him. He finally learns that it’s because bartender named Cathy was hoping to be made assistant manager. She thinks she can handle the new tasks, and she would have liked the raise in pay. I was waiting for her to mention that Todd doesn’t need a higher-paying job since he has rich parents.
Todd suggests that he and Cathy split the job and work different shifts as assistant manager. They’ll work together one night a week to make sure they’re on the same page. It’s a good idea on paper, but in practice, it doesn’t go well. Cathy ends up ditching the promotion and going back to being just a bartender. And though Todd is getting a whole $10.50 an hour now, he realizes that it’s expensive to be a grown-up, especially without his nest egg to fall back on. He manages to get a little money selling back his textbooks, but it’s going to be a struggle.
He runs into Lila and Alex, who think he’s cool for dropping out, but clearly they don’t get what it’s like to have to work for a living and support yourself and do mature things like pay for utilities and car repairs. They just think he’s cool because he doesn’t have to worry about midterms. Fortunately, Todd’s attitude has started to change, as he realizes he should worry about getting a new car instead of the motorcycle he’s been wanting. Unfortunately, he’s still a friendless college dropout working in a bar, making his parents mad.
In SVU plots involving people who actually still attend SVU, Elizabeth is trying to deal with her break-up. She runs into Finn, who’s a jerk to her, and ends up fleeing a coffee shop in tears. Sam sees her and lays into Finn. He buys Liz a journal and a Bugs Bunny pencil to cheer her up, and she realizes he’s not the total clod she thought he was. When Finn accuses Liz of sending Sam after him, she stands up to him, pretty much calling him a slut and saying he sleeps around because he feels inadequate. Go, Liz!
To thank him for his presents, Elizabeth gets Sam a baseball cap (apparently he collects them). At home, they’re awkward around each other, and she misses an opportunity to give him the hat. When she goes to his room later, she hears him talking to a girl and chickens out. Sam has been wrestling with his feelings for Liz, but he doesn’t want to date her because he knows he’ll end up letting her down.
Elizabeth tries to stalk Sam in his room, I guess to see if he has another girl over again. At the end of another awkward chat, she goes to kiss him on the cheek but accidentally kisses his lips instead. Suddenly Liz is in love with Sam and can’t stop thinking about him. She leaves his present in his room, but never hears back from him about it. That’s because Sam starts avoiding the duplex, thinking he won’t be able to control himself around Liz. Buddy, I don’t think she wants you to control yourself. They spend the rest of the book apart.
After all of her late-night partying, Nina’s realized that her grades are suffering. But she can’t resist spending time with her new guy Xavier. She wants to know if they’re a couple, but he tells her he doesn’t like labels. Pssst, Nina: That means he’s just fooling around with you until he finds someone hotter. Get out now. She tries to have an actual conversation with him, but he clearly isn’t interested. He just wants to make out and flirt.
Nina isn’t the only one Xavier’s making out with, and when she goes to visit him one day, she finds him with another girl. Later, he goes to see her and tries to get her to come out with him. Nina just closes the door in his face. Unfortunately, her backbone is only there temporarily, as she decides to go see him again and give him the chance to explain himself and apologize. Instead, she finds him with yet another girl.
Nina finally realizes that Xavier is the wrong guy for her. She’s much more suited to a guy named Josh, who she meets in the library. She decides it’s time to stop partying so much, get her grades back up, and go back to her old self. Nina and Josh go on a date and start getting closer, though she’s worried that he’ll turn out to be just like Xavier. I’d say she has a good chance of ending up happy, though, since Josh seems to be genuinely interested in her, and not just in making out.
There’s a teeny side plot with Jessica and Neil that doesn’t really go anywhere, and mostly happens off-screen, so to speak. They both met a guy named Jason, and Neil asked him to study together. He thinks it’s a date, but Jessica thinks Jason is straight and actually wants to study. In fact, she thinks Jason doesn’t know Neil is gay, and was really flirting with her. Neil points out that a) everyone at SVU knows he’s gay, thanks to his ultimately unsuccessful run for president, and b) Jason got Neil’s phone number, not Jessica’s, so he must not like her.
Neil hits it off with Jason, though he’s still not sure if Jason wants to be more than friends. Jessica tries to settle things by asking Jason out, wanting to prove he’s straight. Neil gets angry, since, straight or not, Jessica shouldn’t be moving in on a guy her best friend likes. Fair enough. Elizabeth suggests that the two of them actually ask Jason his preferences, but they don’t want to listen to her logic. Neil’s upset that Jessica has betrayed him. I’m upset that this plot is almost exactly like an episode of Will and Grace.
Thoughts: Elizabeth says “dammit.” I AM SCANDALIZED.
Xavier: “We’re communicating on a metaphysical plane where no words are truly needed.” Translating: “We’re just going to band until I get tired of you.” Seriously, Nina, get out of there now.
“If it were physically possible for a person’s head to burst free from his neck, Sam would have been decapitated by a wave of disgust.” Beautiful.
Neil, re: Jessica: “How, in the name of all that is good and holy, have you lived with that girl for nineteen years?” Elizabeth: “I have an incredibly high tolerance for shrieks and pouting.” Hee.
April 26, 2016
Summary: Sam is out at Todd’s bar, Frankie’s, when he spots Elizabeth’s boyfriend Finn with a woman who is definitely not Elizabeth. And let’s just say the woman can’t be mistaken for Finn’s sister or cousin or some other woman he’s not romantically involved with. Elizabeth actually has a date with Finn planned for later and has no idea that her man currently has another blonde draped all over him. Sam lets her know, but she doesn’t believe him, and not just because Finn would never go to Frankie’s, or any other townie bar. Apparently SVU students are very against mingling with non-SVU students.
On their date, Finn professes his undying affection for Elizabeth and asks to date exclusively. When she says yes, he decides it’s time for the sex to happen. Elizabeth has been thinking about this lot – though, for Elizabeth, even ten seconds of thinking about sex is a lot – and is edging closer to being ready to lose her virginity. She gets turned off, though, when Finn wants to get it on in his car in the parking lot. Fair enough. Finn invites her over to watch movies, though he can’t find any when they get to his place. SUSPICIOUS. They’re about to get horizontal when Elizabeth finds High Noon. Finn gets blocked by Gary Cooper.
Eventually Finn tries to undress Liz again, but she finally tells him she’s a virgin and wants to take things slowly. He assures her that they’ll move at her pace…as long as her pace leads them to the bedroom in the next five minutes. Elizabeth admits that she’s scared about her first time, which Finn says is very high school of her. What a compassionate, caring guy you’ve chosen here, Liz! She ends up running home, crying. Yeah, you’re not ready for this Liz.
On campus, Elizabeth sees Finn talking to another undergrad and thinks he’s getting her phone number. She realizes she doesn’t want to lose him to another girl. Yeah, that would be such a horrible loss. Finn thinks they should work through their sex anxiety by visualizing everything going well. Finn, if you want to picture your girlfriend naked, it’s not like she can stop you. They agree to finally do the deed on Saturday, after a party at the duplex.
Liz is still nervous but not backing out. She gets birth-control pills (a HUGE step for our girl), then wonders if they should also use a condom. Considering Finn’s popularity with the ladies, YES. She calls Finn to chat, but he’s busy with a supposed study group, which sounds suspiciously like just one woman. Poor, naïve Liz.
At the duplex party, Sam tries again to get Elizabeth to see that her boyfriend is a jerk. He brings up seeing Finn at Frankie’s, even getting Todd to confirm that he was there with another girl. Finn just calmly pleads innocent, and of course, Liz buys it. After spending some time at the party, they go to his place for their big night together. Only this time Elizabeth finally realizes for sure that she’s not ready.
Finn, of course, doesn’t react well. He calls Liz out for being a tease, and tells her she’s lucky he chose her since he can have any girl he wants. Then he calls up one of his other conquests and invites her over while Elizabeth is still standing right there. Liz tries to call Jessica to come get her, but she reaches Sam instead. He brings her home and manages to not say “I told you so” about what a jerk Finn turned out to be.
Sam, by the way, has spent the book being an idiot. He wants to show Elizabeth how much of a jerk he is so she’ll see how bad Finn is, too. I don’t get his logic. Anyway, he enlists an ex named Anna to pretend they’re hooking up just so he can toss her out the next morning and make Elizabeth think that guys are dogs, I guess. Since Elizabeth is dumb, it works. I don’t know how it’s going to make Liz want Sam, though.
In the last book, Chloe and her new friend Val were accepted as Theta pledges, and now they’re facing some hazing. A couple of Theta mean girls make the pledges do humiliating things like kiss sorority guys on command and give the sisters massages. In the cafeteria one day, Val is ordered to fat-shame her roommate, Deena. Val has started to grow tired of the Thetas’ shenanigans, and this is the last straw for her. She doesn’t want to be a part of a group that’s so mean to other people. She announces that she’s dropping out.
Chloe is given the task next, and she seriously considers doing it. After all, being a Theta is all she’s ever wanted (for the last two books). But she realizes that Val and Deena have become good friends of hers, and she’d rather spend time with them than with the Theta snobs. She ditches the task as well and quits the pledge process.
But! Denise and Jessica learn about the hazing and reprimand the sisters behind it for being so cruel. They don’t want Theta participating in demeaning activities, and they hope the pledges don’t hold the hazing against the rest of the sisters. They’ve decided that anyone who dropped out of the pledging can be reinstated. Val doesn’t really care, but Chloe’s thrilled. After spending some more time with Val and Deena, she goes to the party at the duplex and hangs out with a semi-nerd named Martin. She judges him harshly at first, then decides to take pity on him because he’s not as bad as she thought. Martin, run away!
Todd spends the whole book working and becoming more and more of a townie, because it makes him feel grown-up. He’s determined not to live off of his parents’ money, though he doesn’t mention to them that he’s dropped a few classes and therefore doesn’t need as much for tuition as they’ve been paying. Todd is annoying so I really don’t care about him anymore.
Nina’s been going out more, and has a crush on Xavier, a singer with a band called Wired. He seems really into her, but then he doesn’t call her after he says he would, and he brushes her off the next time they see each other. Nina’s fooled herself into thinking they’re dating, despite the fact that they’ve talked, like, twice and he would rather flirt with groupies. At the duplex party, guys keep talking to Nina, who’s suddenly a hot commodity. She only has eyes for Xavier, though, and by the end of the book, they’re about to head to bed together. P.S. It’s Elizabeth’s bed. So at least that piece of furniture is going to see some action.
Thoughts: For a med student, Finn sure has a lot of free time to go on dates, and a lot of money to spend at expensive restaurants.
“‘Girls like that don’t have one-night stands. So a guy’s gotta put on a little show. It’s not like I’m the only one who does it. All guys do.’ Not all guys, she corrected mentally.” You know, Liz, it’s usually the guy who says “not all men.”
The ghostwriter needs to NEVER write another sex scene. I want a promise in writing.
The ghostwriter also needs to stop thinking that college students call each other “darling.”
March 29, 2016
Summary: Lila’s throwing an exclusive party on New Year’s Eve, having only invited a few dozen people. Making the cut: the twins, Denise, Alex, Chloe, Todd, Neil, Sam, and Nina, who I didn’t think Lila had ever even met. She’s barely in the book anyway. And I’m not sure how Chloe made the cut, but whatever. As Lila’s boyfriend, Bruce is also invited, of course, but he hasn’t yet made it back from his semester in France. An anonymous girl who wasn’t invited calls Lila to complain, warning that Lila will be sorry for not including her on the guest list.
Bruce calls Lila from Europe to tell her that his father has their private jet, and since Bruce would never in a million years fly commercial, he’s stuck until the jet is free again. He can’t just hire a private plane? Lila is furious that Bruce would rather sit around and wait than come home to her. She tells him they’re over. Jessica, of all people, tries to cheer Lila up by reminding her that she doesn’t need a guy to make her feel fulfilled. They’re going to have an awesome time at the party with or without Bruce. Chloe meets some grungy guys at the mall and invites them to the party. Chloe, NO. Lila tells the guys there’s no party, and for some reason doesn’t disinvite Chloe on the spot.
The party starts, but Lila’s sad because of what happened with Bruce. She distracts herself by dancing with Sam. Todd learns of the breakup and tries to convince Lila to give Bruce a second chance. Why does he even care? Chloe’s new friends from the mall crash the party, but Lila and Neil chase them off, threatening to call the cops. The guys warn that Lila will be sorry. After they leave, someone watches Lila from the bushes.
The partiers go back to partying, but suddenly the lights go out. The Fowlers’ house is apparently right near some woods, and far enough from the rest of civilization for it to be pitch black with the electricity out. Chloe’s on the deck and has to feel her way back into the house. As she’s getting there, someone grabs her and takes her into the woods. She figures the guys from the mall have come back to get revenge.
Inside the house, Todd heads off to check out the circuits. Lila gets another call from the girl who called before, making Lila think this is what the girl was planning when she warned that Lila would be sorry. Lila, Jessica, Elizabeth, Denise, and Alex light some candles, slowly realizing that a bunch of the partygoers have vanished. In fact, they’re being dragged through the woods by people they can’t see.
There are only a dozen or so people left at the party, and they can’t figure out how everyone else disappeared without anyone noticing. No one heard cars driving away, and it’s pretty unlikely that 25 just randomly decided to leave all at once without anyone seeing them go. They don’t think the guys from the mall could have kidnapped everyone, since some of the guests were big football players and would have fought back.
Lila gets two Theta pledges to go look for Todd, who never came back from checking the circuits. But since this is basically a horror movie, the pledges don’t come back either. The person watching from the bushes has himself a good laugh when he realizes how spooked Lila is by all the disappearances. The 13 remaining guests lock themselves in a room together, realizing that there are only girls left.
Alex and Denise talk Lila and the twins out of calling the police, because why do something logical? They don’t think the police will believe them without any evidence, like, if 13 girls tell the police that 27 other people disappeared, they’ll have to do something. I’ll just say that it turns out to be a good thing that the police never get involved, because someone would be in a ton of trouble. Lila suspects that her caller is responsible, and worries that the girl’s warnings about something happening at midnight mean more danger.
A few of the girls head back to the ballroom to get cigarettes, and another little group heads off to the bathroom. Only Lila, the twins, Alex, and Denise stay behind. Alex and Denise follow the other group the ballroom, since Denise hurt her ankle and needs ice. Jessica follows a minute later, wanting her sweater. This leaves Elizabeth and Lila alone, not wanting to accompany Jess in case someone comes back to the room they’re hiding in.
Jess checks to make sure the deck doors are locked, but while she’s there, someone comes inside and grabs her. Jess realizes that this person must have keys to the house. When she doesn’t return to Lila and Elizabeth, they go looking for her, then decide to call the police, finally. But now the phones don’t work, and Lila’s cell phone is missing. When she finds it, she gets another call from the girl, reminding her that something big is coming at midnight. Lila’s so spooked that she faints. Yeah, I bet.
Elizabeth hears someone in the house and ditches Lila to hide. Sorry, Lila! The person in the house knows Liz is there and is specifically looking for her. She gets grabbed, leaving only Lila in the house, like the only survivor in an Agatha Christie mystery. When Lila regains consciousness, she gets another call from the girl – but this time it’s a confession. The caller is Marnie, a girl from down the street who Lila has babysat for. She was mad about not getting to come to a glamorous party with college students, so she pranked Lila as revenge. Her mom caught her and made her come clean. Since there’s no way a 12-year-old could have orchestrated everything that happened at the party, the calls were a red herring.
The kidnapper comes back into the house, looking for the last woman standing. One of the rooms in the house has a secret room behind a bookshelf (of course), so Lila hides in there. I’m surprised the Fowlers don’t have a panic room, but the movie didn’t come out for a couple more years, so maybe they got one then. The kidnapper stumbles around in the dark for a whole (weird, since he had a flashlight earlier), then figures out where Lila is. He grabs her, blindfolds her, and takes her through the woods to the Patmans’ house, which is apparently right next door (since when?).
Lila realizes that the other partygoers are probably all at the mansion. The Patmans are out of town, so what better place to stash 40 people? She wonders if this is all a scheme to get revenge on the Fowlers and Patmans. But the truth is much, much more annoying. When Lila’s blindfold comes off, the partygoers all yell, “Surprise!” Then she realizes that her kidnapper is Bruce.
The whole twisted story is that Bruce wanted revenge on Lila for being mean to him on the phone. SO HE KIDNAPPED ALL HER FRIENDS AND MADE HER THINK SHE WAS GOING TO BE MURDERED. A totally fair response, right? Bruce enlisted some crew guys to help him “kidnap” the guests, many of whom were in on the game. And most of those people only agreed to participate because they were told that the twins were in on it and approved of the “joke.”
Instead of a New Year’s kiss, Lila gives Bruce a punch in the face. He deserves that and much more. The twins promise that they weren’t in on the plan (neither were Denise, Alex, or Todd). Sam and Neil were given the story that the twins were in on it, so they went along. Bruce tries to make up with Lila, who spends about 15 pages hating him before forgiving him. Lila, no! He’s messed up! That is not normal behavior! Let’s hope she’s just stringing him along while she comes up with a proportionate revenge plan of her own.
P.S. Chloe wasn’t part of the mass “kidnapping” – she was actually kidnapped by the guys from the mall. They took her to a treehouse and then ditched her. If she were anyone else, I would feel bad for her, but she’s really annoying in this book, so I just have to laugh.
Thoughts: Jessica mentions that all of her and Lila’s friends are “guyless and happy,” so I guess Denise and Winston broke up.
Jess thinks the partygoers’ disappearances are like something out of The X-Files, and that Elizabeth is like Scully. Okay, but Jessica is no Mulder.
“Eyewitnesses to the kidnapping – none! So that rules out any proof that the guess were kidnapped.” So Elizabeth’s logic is if no one saw a crime take place, the crime didn’t happen? That might be the dumbest thing she’s ever said.
Lila: “I’m not budging from my decision not to budge, and that’s final!” Hee.
“If there was one thing Jessica knew she could do, it was use her smarts.” Me: “…”
March 15, 2016
Summary: Neil is our star in this book. Yay, Neil! He and Jessica go out to a club, where girls keep hitting on him. Then a guy named Dave hits on him, but Neil doesn’t want to get involved with anyone; something happened at Stanford to turn him off of dating for a while. Jessica has decided to run for pledge chairwoman at Theta, and Neil is a little jealous that she has an activity she’s so excited about. At Stanford, he was in student government, fencing, and debate, but at SVU, he hasn’t found a club yet.
So Neil goes to the Student Center to sign up for something, only to learn that SVU has no debate team or fencing club. The budget has been cut so much that only the frats and money-making teams like football and basketball have survived. Neil then runs into a guy named Chip who’s running for SVU president. Chip is a frat guy and only really cares about getting more funding for Greek life. A girl Neil complains to suggests that he run for president as well. He latches on to the idea, deciding to ask Jessica to be his campaign manager, since she’ll be great at getting his name and message out to the other students.
Jessica’s happy to be in charge of something, and I have to say, she makes a great campaign manager. Neil starts campaigning right away, telling the students that he wants to make SVU more democratic. They should be able to choose activities to be offered, rather than having to pick from the few available. Who can say no to that idea?
A guy named Chris approaches Neil, happy that a gay student is running for president. Record scratch! Neil is barely out and is shocked that someone has caught him on gaydar. Chris is with the GSG, the Gay Students Group, who wants to offer Neil their support and endorsement. Neil fears that he’ll end up getting outed, and that his sexuality will overshadow his platform. But the damage is done, and soon everyone on campus has heard the rumor that Neil is gay. This brings the bigots and homophobes out of the woodwork.
During a chaotic night at the duplex, Jessica gets a call from Chris letting her know that the GSG wants to endorse Neil. Jess hasn’t yet talked to Neil about this, so she doesn’t know that he’s not happy about being the GSG’s new mascot. When she tells him, he argues that his sexuality and personal life should be kept separate from his campaign. Jess doesn’t see the harm in being known as a “gay candidate” – after all, Neil is gay, so he’s automatically a gay candidate. Of course, Jessica’s straight, so she doesn’t get why Neil might not want to out himself. The two of them fight, and Jess quits the campaign.
Neil turns down the GSG’s endorsement, which Chris isn’t happy about. Neil figures out that Chris wants to take advantage of having a GSG ally in student government; he doesn’t care about Neil’s platform at all. Chris refuses to withdraw the endorsement – the GSG will support Neil without his consent, and everyone at SVU will learn that Neil is gay.
Anti-Neil flyers start circulating, calling him “queer” and urging people not to vote for him. The Thetas are horrified and vow to help bolster Neil’s reputation. Jess talks to her buddy Alejandro, who encourages her to make up with Neil and return to his campaign before it becomes a total disaster. Before she can, someone from the school’s paper tries to ask her about a statement made by the GSG about how Neil is in the closet because he’s ashamed. Jess is smart enough not to give a comment. Neil is also questioned, and he proves to be very media-savvy – he won’t comment on his personal life, and he won’t distract from his platform.
The twins confer with Steven, wondering if they can sue the GSG. Steven teaches them about a little thing called the First Amendment. The twins decide to write an article for the paper about Neil’s campaign, trying to do a little damage control. Meanwhile, the GSG circulates flyers telling people to prove they’re not homophobes by voting for Neil.
Jessica and Neil make up, but she still doesn’t get the big deal about letting himself be outed. After all, there’s nothing wrong with being gay, so why shouldn’t people know? Neil finally tells her what scared him back into the closet: He fell for a closeted professor at Stanford, and they snuck around behind the guy’s wife’s back. Eventually the professor came clean, and his wife made him quit and move away in exchange for keeping his secret. So Neil lost his first love, then came out to his parents, who disowned him. Jess feels horrible and now gets why Neil is so private.
The two friends work on Neil’s campaign at the Red Lion, but Neil’s now pretty well-known, and the bigots are still angry. A guy yells at him, but Lila, in one of her most awesome moves to date, stands up to him and announces that the Thetas are endorsing Neil. Neil then heads to a dinner with the two other candidates, who turn out to be friendly and supportive. They clearly couldn’t care less that Neil is gay, and they think he’s tough for trying to overcome everything that’s being said about him. They’re also happy that he’s inadvertently getting people interested in student government. Neil realizes that even though the other two are just assuming he’s gay without confirmation, he doesn’t actually care.
Dave pops up again, admitting that he told Chris that Neil is gay, which drew the GSG to Neil in the first place. Neil forgives him, since Dave didn’t mean to start the whole Neil/Chris mess. The candidates have their first debate, and Neil does okay, but not better than his cheerleader opponent. Then someone in the audience starts yelling for him to comment on the rumors that he’s gay. Neil ends up announcing that, yes, he’s gay, but that’s not the important part of his campaign. He gets support from the audience, and later, a date with Dave. Awww!
Over in not-so-happy plots, Dana’s lonely now that Todd is working long hours. She cheers up a little when she hangs out at the bar where he works, which makes her think she can make the rest of her life better. No such luck: She embarrasses herself in music class and runs out. That, combined with the reality that it’ll be hard to become a professional musician, and her lack of free time to spend with Todd, make Dana decide to drop out of SVU.
Todd thinks this is a terrible idea. He points out that they won’t have more time to spend together, since he’s still working and going to school. Plus, her parents will probably cut her off for dropping out, so she’ll need to get a job to help with the rent. Dana then talks to Tom, who’s a little more supportive. He suggests that she give cello lessons, which Dana thinks is a brilliant idea. But her first is a disaster, as she’s basically a glorified babysitter, and her charge is a monster. Todd thinks this is funny. Todd spends a lot of this book sleeping on the couch.
Dana tries to cheer herself up by cooking a special dinner for Todd, but she didn’t confirm that he would be home for dinner. He gets called to work, and Dana throws a fit when he won’t stay home with her instead. She gets suspicious when she learns that the guy Todd was supposed to be covering for is at work, too. She calls Tom to complain, and he invites her to a frat party, where they both get really drunk…and end up in his bed. When she confesses to Todd, telling him she was so drunk that she thought she was with him, he kicks her out of their apartment. With no money and nowhere else to go, Dana heads home to her parents.
Chloe is desperate to become popular, and she thinks landing Jessica as a BFF and Sam as her boyfriend are the keys. No one actually knows Sam, who doesn’t even go to SVU, so I’m not sure about the logic here, but that’s really the least of Chloe’s problems. The biggest is that Sam and new duplex resident Nina are warring, and Nina doesn’t appreciate that Chloe’s always at the house. What’s interesting is that Chloe doesn’t completely hate Nina – she admires her for being assertive and confident.
Things with Sam go nowhere, as he’s content to just hang out at the duplex and listen to music with Chloe rather than doing anything romantic. After he tells Nina that Chloe isn’t his girlfriend, Chloe runs off to feel sorry for herself. She hears her dorm-mates talking about joining Theta, and how Chloe will never be allowed in (not that Chloe actually wants in).
Chloe watches a talk show about ways to make a man fall for you. It’s the most ridiculous, feminist-movement-setting-back crap, and I cringe at the thought of girls watching it and thinking it’s the way to go. Chloe’s too dumb to resist, so she does things like agreeing with everything Sam says, pretending she likes everything he likes, etc. It doesn’t go anywhere, since Sam doesn’t realize that Chloe likes him as anything more than a friend.
So Chloe pulls out the big guns, putting on some lingerie and a trenchcoat to give Sam a little peep show. She goes to his room and opens her coat to greet him. Only he doesn’t open the door – Elizabeth does. The idea of Elizabeth getting flashed by another girl makes me giggle, because how would she process that? I don’t think she would have any idea what to do in that situation. Sam doesn’t realize anything has happened, but Chloe is fully embarrassed.
In other news, Elizabeth thinks she keeps seeing Finn around town with another woman, even though he’s supposed to be out of town. This doesn’t go anywhere. Also, Neil tries to stop Nina and Sam’s fighting, cracking down on the twins a little in the process. Seems to me he would make a very good president.
Thoughts: Giving cello lessons shouldn’t be such an out-of-left-field idea for Dana. After all, when she entered the series, she was giving lessons to Tom’s little sister.
“How do you have time to make your bed every morning?” Jessica knows it takes, like, ten seconds, right?
Jess has a lot of compassion and sympathy for Neil, so clearly we’re dealing with an alternate universe here.
“If someone sees the garbage is full, that person has to take it out.” Nice try, Neil. Everyone will just claim they didn’t notice it was full.
March 1, 2016
Summary: I guess Jessica has the A-plot here. She has a major crush on her art history TA, Tristan, who’s 22 (which means, for once, Jessica’s crush on an older guy isn’t completely inappropriate). Meanwhile, Jess’ friend Alejandro has a crush on her. Love triangle! Well, not really. Jess has no clue that Alejandro likes her, partly because she’s too obsessed with Tristan to notice anyone else. She wants to ask him out, but she’s worried because he’s older and a TA. This is the same person who dated her married professor during her freshman year, right? Alejandro is sad that Jess likes someone else, but still nice enough to suggest that she ask Tristan to tutor her so they can spend time together.
Tristan agrees to the tutoring, though he most likely means it as a euphemism, or at least a jumping-off point for something else. Jessica actually studies so she won’t be totally dumb when she talks to Tristan about art. She’s decided to declare art history as her major, by the way. I don’t know what she plans to do with that degree. Shouldn’t she go into fashion merchandising or something like that? Tristan decides that Jess is really good at analyzing art, though her observations seem pretty basic to me. But I majored in English, so what do I know?
Though the tutoring session goes well, Tristan doesn’t make a move to initiate anything beyond a tutor/tutee relationship. Jessica complains to Alejandro, who points out that he’s probably not allowed to, being Jessica’s TA. Jessica decides that it’s not against the rules for her to ask Tristan out, so she comes up with an excuse to talk to him, then starts kissing him. Well, that was quick.
The new couple goes to an art gallery for their first date, and Tristan shows off a painting he has displayed there. Jessica wants to go to a club, but Tristan thinks they should keep their relationship discreet. Jess finds this romantic, of course. After some sneaking around, Jessica talks to Alejandro again about her clandestine relationship. Her professor overhears and tells her that Tristan is under scrutiny for sexual harassment – he’s pursued six other girls. SIX. Jess, get out of this relationship right now!
Jessica’s professor says that Tristan would threaten to fail the girls if they didn’t date him. As #7, Jess would be a valuable witness at his upcoming hearing. She argues that she was the one who initiated the relationship, and Tristan has never mentioned grades or anything that would give her the idea that there’s a power imbalance there. Her professor points out that, if they were to break up, Tristan could get revenge by failing Jess, and the professor would never know why.
Jess quickly questions Tristan, who claims he dated the six girls but never threatened them. Still, though, he’s going to quit his TA job and leave town. Before the hearing? What a coincidence! So Jess is suddenly single again. And it’s only, like, two weeks into the semester!
Elizabeth is having trouble adjusting to having Sam in the house. He’s really inconsiderate of his housemates, blasting his music, eating everyone else’s food, and taking over the living room. His beer-can collection is still there. Elizabeth cuts her hand on the cans, so Neil takes her to the hospital to get stitches. There, Liz meets med student Finn Robinson and is immediately smitten. Before she leaves, he asks for her phone number so he can check up on her later. Totally normal med-student behavior!
Finn is as smitten as Liz, and as soon as he calls to “check up on her,” he asks her to dinner. He’s from New Orleans, so they go to a Cajun restaurant. Elizabeth thinks this is sophisticated and adult. They run into someone named Stephanie who Finn apparently broke up with not long ago. She’s upset that he’s brought his new girlfriend to the restaurant they liked to go to together. Elizabeth doesn’t think there’s anything weird going on, but if I were her and my new guy had a crazy ex, I might think twice about this new relationship.
Sam is totally jealous of Elizabeth’s new crush but is trying to hide it. Chloe provides a welcome distraction when she starts hanging around the duplex. It starts when her roommate busts her on her fake relationship with Tom. He calls to leave Chloe a message saying he doesn’t want to go on any more dates…and he calls her Cody. Ouch. Chloe zeroes in on Jessica as a potential new friend – she uses Lila as an in, asks for Jessica’s art history notes, and lies that she’s dying to become a Theta. Jess takes the bait and lets Chloe follow her home like a puppy.
As soon as Sam meets Chloe, they hit it off. Liz and Chloe, not so much. She doesn’t like Chloe being around so much and eating the housemates’ food (though Chloe also brings over food, so just eat that, Liz). Even when Jessica’s not around, Chloe starts dropping by to hang out with Sam. She has her sights on him as her new boyfriend, so she can get over the humiliation of the Tom situation. Seems like she could do a lot better.
Todd and Dana have the annoying C-plot. Turns out living on your own in college and having to pay for everything yourself when you don’t have money isn’t as fun as you’d think! And on top of that, Dana’s struggling in her music classes for the first time. She’s being shown up by a freshman! The horror! Everyone knows freshmen are supposed to be failures at everything. So Dana’s classes are rough, money’s tight at home, they keep eating macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford anything else, and Todd won’t cancel the cable so they can save money. Todd must have his ESPN!
But Todd is also smarter than we give him credit for, as he realizes that money can pay for goods and services like his precious sports network and food that doesn’t come in a box. He gets a job at a bar so he can provide for his woman. No, seriously, he feels it’s his responsibility to provide for Dana, like it’s the 1950s and she can’t get a job of her own to help out with the bills. Never mind that Todd’s family is rich, so he could just spend his savings. He doesn’t want to rely on his parents for money. Todd, sweetie, in about five years, you’re going to be wishing you’d taken your parents’ money when you had the chance.
Todd really likes his new job, but Dana isn’t happy about it. He works late hours (no kidding – it’s a bar) and sometimes goes out with his new co-workers after. Dana wants Todd home with her so she can whine about how badly her life is going. Remember that Dana has no friends. This book proves why. The freshman from her music class tried to be nice to her, but Dana was rude, so she’s burning bridges she hasn’t even built yet.
Dana starts thinking of dropping out of school, since the cello was her one true love and now they’re breaking up, or whatever. Todd says she just needs to find a new one true love. After all, he found something he enjoys doing, and now he’s happier. Dana’s like, “Nah, better to just quit altogether.” I hope she at least gets a job. Once Dana’s made up her mind to drop out, she’s suddenly happy, and she goes to Todd’s bar for a visit. She sees him goofing off with a hot bartender and gets jealous. Todd would probably be smart to try to hook up with the bartender. She can’t be as annoying as Dana is.
Nina’s plot in this book is so weak that it’s not even a D-plot. It’s an H-plot. She hates her roommate, who has moved on from trashing the room to trying to perform magic or voodoo or something on her ex-boyfriend’s karma. Nina tries to get a new room, but there’s nothing available. Finally, Elizabeth realizes that there’s room for Nina in the basement of the duplex. I say banish Sam to the basement so the normal people can use the rest of the house, and Liz doesn’t have to see Chloe all the time. Whatever, this should have happened two books ago.
Thoughts: How can Dana and Todd’s utility provider charge for the next month? You can’t charge for something that hasn’t been used yet. Sounds like a scam to me.
Dana complains that no one helps her get her cello out of her car. Hey, princess, if you want to play a big instrument, you’re responsible for it. Either take up the flute or shut up. (I seriously have no patience left for this girl.)
“Not that Chloe’s flaky – she’s just young.” She’s only a year younger than you, Jess. Tone down the condescension.