October 27, 2015

SVU Thriller, Deadly Terror: The Return of William White, Part II: The Phantom of the Library

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:12 pm by Jenn

That is some awful, awful modeling

That is some awful, awful modeling

Summary: William is back and better than ever! I mean worse, worse than ever. He tells Elizabeth that he wants to make up for all the horrible things he did (you know, like murder), and would especially like to earn her forgiveness. Half of his face is heavily scarred, so just pretend he’s the Phantom of the Opera. And things turned out great for him! Elizabeth is understandably skeptical, and just trying to wrap her mind around the fact that a guy she thought was dead is still alive.

William goes to a much-needed therapy session, where his psychiatrist, Dr. Denby, tries to remind him that he put Elizabeth through a lot, so expecting her to forgive him immediately is pretty unrealistic. William thinks she hates him because he’s ugly now. He has some plan in mind but won’t tell Dr. Denby what it is.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth calls the police, who admit that they never told her William was alive because she was already traumatized. But he’s supposedly drugged up and under lock and key with Dr. Denby. If Elizabeth thinks she saw him, she’s just a nutty girl. Jessica thinks Elizabeth should give William a second chance, arguing that the cops would get involved if he were really a threat. Yes, those reliable Sweet Valley police officers. They’re almost as helpful as Jessica.

Tom notices that Elizabeth is acting strangely, but she doesn’t tell him about William. Besides, she has something much more important to worry about – she’s helping out with some archiving project in the library basement. There’s a lot of stuff in the book about this project, but none of it is important. It’s just a reason for Elizabeth to hang out in dark passageways, and for Tom to get mad that they’re not spending enough time together. (Tom spends the whole book upset with Elizabeth for not being like his Cyber Dream version of her. He’s unbearable.)

William tracks down Elizabeth again and gives her a white rose. The next day, Tom sends her flowers, having been advised by someone at the TV station that they might make Elizabeth calm down. Elizabeth prefers the wildflowers William sends, along with a note asking her to meet him in the library basement. Elizabeth goes back and forth on whether or not she should meet him, but ultimately doesn’t, thanks to a Jessica-related emergency (see below).

Tom sees William’s flowers and thinks Elizabeth’s cheating on him. He follows her and Jessica to the mall, where Liz catches him lurking and yells at him. Having been stood up, William goes back to Dr. Denby, who tells him to find a way to run into Elizabeth. William does, also running into Jessica for the first time (so at least now no one can say that Elizabeth has just imagined seeing William). Jess is all, “He was nice to me! You should go out with him!”

William throws pebbles at Elizabeth’s window that night and gets an invitation to her room. He tries to kiss her, but Elizabeth realizes how ridiculous this whole thing is and puts on the brakes. Tom is still being a creepy stalker and watches them through the window, sure that his suspicions are correct about Elizabeth being a cheating cheater. The two of them fight, and I really wish this were the end of their relationship for good.

Elizabeth finds a secret room behind a bookcase in the library basement (of course, right?) William tells Dr. Denby that he did something bad, but Dr. Denby thinks he can play dirty when he prize is his true love. I think Dr. Denby’s qualifications should be reviewed by the AMA. Elizabeth finally agrees to go on a date with William, who takes her to the library basement for a picnic. He’s been living down there and knows all the secret passageways because his grandfather designed the building, and he’s been hanging out there since he was a kid.

Elizabeth quickly notes that something smells gross, but she tries to ignore it so she can focus on getting back together with the guy who tried to kill her and her friends, I guess. But what William wasn’t counting on was Elizabeth’s inability to engage in any kind of intimacy beyond kissing. Elizabeth asks to move more slowly, and William has a tantrum, saying that Dr. Denby told him Elizabeth owes him, since everything bad that’s happened to him was her fault.

Elizabeth tries to go along with the crazy, saying that she’d like to meet Dr. Denby. William’s happy to oblige – in fact, she can meet him right now! He’s there in the basement! He’s the rotting corpse in the closet! Elizabeth decides to take a rain check on that meeting, but William won’t let her leave. And since it’s dark and Elizabeth isn’t familiar with the passageways, she can’t really get away from him. William chases her around, yelling that he’s going to scar her face, too, kill her, and then kill himself so they can be together forever. Fun times.

Elizabeth manages to find the bookcase that will get her out of the passageway and back to the basement, but as she’s running off, she trips over a gas pipe. Now she has to deal with a psychotic killer AND natural gas. William decides to use his lighter to try to find Elizabeth. Bad idea! As Tom arrives to talk to Elizabeth, the basement goes up. Elizabeth manages to get out without any injuries, and she and Tom are so happy to see each other that their fight is immediately over. William is considered dead in the explosion. No one bothers to follow up. Good police work, SVPD!

Jessica’s plot stems from a book I didn’t read, Jessica’s Secret Diary, Volume III. Long story short: Over the course of SVH books 83 through 94, Jessica met a young producer/director named Charles Sampson who wanted her to star in his movie, Checkered Houses. She helped Charles get the movie off the ground but didn’t act in it because Sam didn’t want her to. Also, Charles was totally in love with Jessica, despite the fact that he was in his 20s and she was 16, because there was no shortage of that in the SVH books.

So now Charles wants to take Jessica to the Independent Movie Awards, since his usual date can’t make it. Jess would never pass up this kind of opportunity, so she gets to work finding a spectacular dress (even though she doesn’t have much money). She goes shopping with Lila, who’s really annoying in this book, though she’s fed up with Jess, so I guess I can relate. Jessica wants a really expensive necklace to go with her dress, so Lila suggests that she convince the owner of the jewelry store to loan it to her and get free publicity in exchange.

Jessica doesn’t think she can make the deal on her own, so she asks Elizabeth to come with her. Somehow they talk the owner into letting an 18-year-old college student borrow a stunningly pricey necklace. Unsurprisingly, the necklace promptly disappears from the twins’ dorm room. Jess blames the fault clasp on the necklace’s box and enlists Elizabeth to help her search the quad for it. When that proves fruitless, Elizabeth decides to ask Tom to make a be-on-the-lookout announcement on WSVU. Tom has no intention of helping her with anything, which, fair enough. I mean, he’s a jerk, but you don’t break up with a guy and ask him for a favor the next day.

So the twins ask William for help, and he’s more than happy to look for the necklace. If he can’t find it, he’ll even loan them money to pay for it. Elizabeth’s like, “Well, he’s the only one of my friends who’s offered a loan.” Yeah, because all of your friends are college students and don’t have that kind of money. Also, why would they loan you money to replace something your sister was dumb enough to lose? Whatever, because William “finds” the necklace, saving the day. It’s never confirmed, but I’m 99.999% sure he stole the necklace in the first place. Anyway, Jessica goes to the awards, Checkered Houses wins best picture, and all is well.

Thoughts: Lila’s very anti-purple for someone who was once in a club devoted to that color.

Oh, so William’s crazy? What a twist! Were we actually supposed to think he was reformed?

“There’s no way anyone down in those tunnels could have survived that blast.” Then I guess you shouldn’t waste time making sure!

October 13, 2015

SVU Thriller Edition, Cyber Stalker: The Return of William White, Part 1: Lizception

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:32 pm by Jenn

The guy on the right who's probably William White looks like Milo Ventimiglia

The guy I’m guessing is William White looks like Milo Ventimiglia

Summary: Life at SVU is currently pretty normal – no undercover investigations, no kidnappings, not even any recent twin switches. We’re in that weird alternate universe where Elizabeth and Tom are together, and Nick doesn’t exist (or should I say didn’t – we’ll miss you, buddy). For Liz and Tom, things are too normal – there’s no longer a spark between them. They’ve become so boring that she thinks they’re going to break up. Yes! Finally! Be done with each other! Forever, this time!

But before anything happens there, Elizabeth notices a white tent going up on the quad, along with a banner depicting a white rose. She’s a little panicked because the white rose was William White’s calling card. (Remember William White? That was a long time ago, wasn’t it?) Jessica takes Liz to check out the tent, which houses something called the CyberDreams Virtual Reality Fair. No one knows what that actually means, but everyone on campus is excited to find out.

The twins, Tom, Bruce, and Lila go to the fair, where they learn that they can be hooked up to machines that give them super-awesome dreams. Basically, whatever they want the most will be presented to them as virtual reality. It’s kind of like The Matrix, but they’ll supposedly be able to guide what they experience through their subconscious desires. The only catch is that no one can dream more than twice. Three or more dreams can lead to sensory damage. Everyone wants to participate, so they pay the fee and enter the tent.

In Elizabeth’s first dream, there are books and top-secret documents everywhere. I would laugh about Elizabeth wanting to read more than anything in life, but let’s face it, that’s what I want, too, most days. Plus, the documents contain secrets like who really killed JFK and what the government is hiding at Area 51. Before Liz can start reading, she encounters William White. She’s very confused about why, of all people she could dream of – and remember, the dream is supposed to show her what she wants most in life – she dreams of a psychotic killer.

Tom’s first dream is about how he wants to be a knight and save Princess Elizabeth. Gag. His dream is basically the world’s worst fairy tale. It ends when the real Elizabeth screams and passes out after her William dream. Tom takes her to her room, where she tries to make things romantic but stops when she looks into Tom’s eyes and sees William’s instead. Liz can’t shake her dream, and she keeps thinking someone is coming after her.

Liz and Tom go back to the fair and continue their dreams. In Elizabeth’s, William gives her a white rose and tells her he wants to make up for what happened between them before. Elizabeth is almost won over but fights him off just before she wakes up. Tom continues his previous dream, but it ends just before he finds Princess Elizabeth. Tom tries to get Elizabeth to tell him why she’s been freaking out so much lately, but she doesn’t want to tell him that she dreamed about William.

Apparently people can get around the two-dreams-only rule by signing a waiver and paying extra money (and apparently a lot of college students have that extra money just lying around). Liz and Tom both go in for third dreams, Elizabeth wanting the truth about William, and Tom wanting to hang out with Princess Elizabeth, since she has to be better than the real Liz right now. Dream Elizabeth has to run along a cliff to get away from William, and she almost falls off. Real Liz thinks she’ll die in reality if she dies in her dream. Spoiler: She doesn’t die. But William falls off the cliff, then disappears, so she’s not sure if he’s dead or not.

Tom finishes up his dream, but when he finally reaches Princess Elizabeth, she has no face. He confronts Jonah, who’s running the dream sessions (more on him later), and Jonah admits that the dreams don’t really pull from each person’s subconscious. They’re basically templates that the dream fills in with specific people and experiences. Tom chalks up the faceless princess to a technology fluke. Jonah mentions that the fair was funded and organized by a rich guy who seemed to be college-age.

Elizabeth is freaking out again after her dream, and Tom tries to go after her, but someone knocks him out. Elizabeth ends up on a hill overlooking the campus, and it looks like the tent has already been taken down, even though only a few minutes have passed. Then she sees the literal man of her dreams: the real William. Of course, he has a white rose. Elizabeth pricks her finger on a thorn to prove to herself that she’s not dreaming.

Like Tom and Liz, Lila and Bruce are verging on relationship troubles. Lila feels like Bruce doesn’t pay enough attention to her. They dream about each other at the fair, but in very different ways. Lila’s dream involves a super-expensive shopping spree that Bruce bankrolls. Her second one is about going to a big party and meeting a bunch of celebrities. Lila’s first two dreams are the only ones with happy endings, and show that her life is pretty much just what she wants subconsciously.

In Bruce’s dream, he’s James Bond and has to steal a microchip and take out some terrorists. (He feeds one to piranhas, which is pretty cool.) The terrorists have kidnapped Lila, and Bruce isn’t able to rescue her before his second dream is over. He asks for a third, but decides he doesn’t want to pay the $150 fee. Is Bruce sick? Someone take his temperature. Bruce decides to bring his dream persona into his real life, which for some reason involves driving his car on the beach. Lila isn’t impressed.

Lila and Bruce then get mugged, and Bruce decides to use his dream spy moves on the muggers. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t actually possess those moves. Lila begs Bruce not to go in for a third dream, but they both end up back at the fair. Lila should have stopped after her second dream, because her third involves Bruce treating her like a hooker. Bruce’s third lets him find the kidnapped Lila, but he accidentally blows her up. Oops! The real Bruce and Lila decide that their real lives are more important than their dream lives, and they’re happy together.

Jessica starts out the book deciding she’s a feminist now and she doesn’t need a man. This lasts all of five minutes, before she meets and immediately falls in love with Jonah. In her first dream, Jess is a PI and Jonah is her client. She has to save him from some sort of dangerous situation, but I’m not really clear on the details. Jessica’s second dream is a continuation of the first, with generic action-movie stuff, and Jess protecting Jonah.

Jessica decides she wants Jonah for real, so she does some flirting. However, he turns out to be a lot more awkward than his dream persona. When Jess comes back the next day to give it another shot, she learns that Alison has also been dreaming about Jonah. Jess does a third session, but Alison’s in this one, along with a second Jonah. Jess and Alison fight over the guys, though…if there are two…why not just each take one and…? Oh, whatever.

The two Jonahs become one, and he basically proposes a threeway. The girls aren’t pleased. Real Jonah admits that he inserted himself in their dreams so he could get to know them better. So Jonah practiced inception before anyone had ever heard of inception. (And I imagine that’s what William did, too.) All this accomplished, though, was giving Jessica and Alison something new to fight about.

Thoughts: “She could no longer look at the bruised sky. It was too much of an omen, foretelling the death of their love.” What a drama queen. It’s just a storm, Elizabeth.

In case you’re wondering, Jessica’s type is “both suave and scraggly at the same time.” Or that’s her type this week, I guess.

“This is one of the safest campuses in the whole country.” Since when??

Dream Lila says “my stars and garters.” Wow.

Dream Lila also says “Private Dancer” is her song. Lila, sweetie, you know what that song is about, right?

January 28, 2014

SVU Thriller, He’s Watching You: We All Wear Masks

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:17 pm by Jenn

I don't remember a scene where William projects his face onto a wall

I don’t remember a scene where William projects his face onto a wall

Summary: Despite the fact that William revealed his name to Elizabeth in his last stalker note, she hasn’t put 2 and 2 together yet. Not that she would worry if she had, since she believes William is tucked away in an institution, not out and about following her and plotting the deaths of all her friends. He still has an employee, Andrea, under his thumb, and keeps borrowing her car to run errands. Evil errands.

Todd is also out and about, running into a supposed former Big Mesa student, Henry, who thought Todd was a good basketball player in high school. They get coffee together and talk about sports. Todd has to go back to campus for class, so Henry offers to loan him his car. Todd doesn’t find this TOTALLY WEIRD. He borrows the car, but something’s wrong with the steering wheel and he crashes it. When the police show up, they tell him the car was reported stolen and arrest him.

Elizabeth and Alex see the whole thing and go to the police station with Todd. Noah worries that this means Alex still likes Todd (remember, they hooked up a bunch of times), and that Alex isn’t interested in guys who aren’t surrounded by drama. See, girls, guys get insecure, too! Todd’s behavior after the crash doesn’t help him out; he’s angry and even makes his lawyer wonder if he has mental problems. Elizabeth wonders, too, and even thinks that Todd’s the one who’s been leaving her notes. It turns out that Henry was actually William! He loaned Todd the car he keeps borrowing from Andrea, and he rigged it to crash. I’m not really sure why, though.

While Liz is at the police station, Tom and Jessica hang out at a park, and Tom ends up playing some football. He admits that he misses it. Back on campus, a guy named Bob calls Tom, saying he knows he’s a reporter and wants him to do a story about sports at SVU. More specifically, he wants Tom to find out how the other football players feel about James being kicked off the team for raping Maia. He suggests that Tom rejoin the team so he can report undercover. Tom decides this is a great, NOT AT ALL WEIRD idea. Elizabeth is mad that Tom made the decision without consulting her, like he needs to get her permission or something. I’m surprised he doesn’t tell her about going undercover.

The SVU mascot is something called Braino, and the guy who usually plays him has to have surgery, so he’ll be out of commission for a little while. Denise encourages Winston to try out to be his replacement. This is all contrivance for the second half of the book.

William leaves Elizabeth more mutilated dolls, which she still thinks are from Todd. I don’t know why he would get released from the police department and then bring her dolls, but whatever. Todd’s been suspended and has to move off campus. He has no idea what dolls Liz is talking about. More dolls show up later, and Elizabeth tells Jessica that she thinks Todd is messing with her. Jess is the first to suggest that it might be William.

The twins call his institution but are told that he can’t come to the phone. Their strange logic makes them think that that means he’s there. I don’t know. It’s really because Andrea is still keeping William’s little escapes secret, and has been keeping his messages from Celine from him.

Speaking of Celine, she’s still trying to help William, even though she can tell he’s getting creepier and creepier. He asks her to get rid of the wheelchair he was using while he worked at the library. She’s not sure she wants to keep helping him, so he uses a Barbie to threaten her. Celine goes to the institution to see William, and Andrea sees them kissing. When she confronts him later, he kills her. Then he steals a car, drives it into the gorge around the institution (I knew it was a bad idea to have one of those!), and fakes his death.

A guy named Tim calls Danny to suggest that he get a bunch of Tom’s friends together to go to the football team’s big game against State. I’m not sure why none of Tom’s friends thought of this, since the game is a pretty big deal. Nice friends, huh?

Liz still thinks Todd is leaving the dolls, since William is “dead” and Todd is still hanging around. “Dead” William is actually back at the library, drinking champagne with Celine to celebrate his freedom. Except the champagne is just a way for William to poison Celine and get rid of anyone who can rat him out. Later, Todd spots William (who he thinks is “Henry”) at the bar where he’s working and living, and chases him but can’t catch him. When he gets to his apartment, he finds Celine’s comatose body. When the police show up, Todd bolts.

William goes to the hospital to pay Celine a visit (and finish her off). He disguises himself to look a little like Todd so if anyone sees him, they’ll think that’s who he is. He almost finishes Celine off, but he gets spotted and has to run. His plan works, however, and everyone thinks Todd was at the hospital to kill Celine. Elizabeth and Alex disagree about whether he’s capable of something like that. Noah goes to the institution to talk to William’s doctor, Dr. Hemphill, but that’s just another contrivance.

Anyway, football! The twins, Danny, Isabella, Alex, Noah, Denise, Winston, Nina, Bryan, and Maia are all going to go to the game together and surprise Tom. But Winston and Denise will be going as Braino and…Braino’s assistant, I guess – Winston gets the role. Later, he sort-of-jokingly-but-kind-of-seriously proposes to Denise, who only gets the sort-of-jokingly part of it. Whatever, Winston, you’re too young.

Football fever spreads across campus, and everyone buys Braino masks. This works out well for William, who can move around undetected. He alters his plan a little, deciding to spare Jessica. Todd also tries to move around undetected, trying to find out who’s leaving Elizabeth the dolls. He’s not much help.

On game day, Tom confirms that this story he’s doing for Bob is totally legit and he’ll get paid and everything. You keep telling yourself that, Tom. Everyone else prepares to take a van to the game, except Winston, who has to drive the Brainomobile. While he’s getting that car ready, William knocks him out. Jessica shows up to give him something and gets knocked out, too. Later, Winston delivers the van to the others, but it’s clearly William pretending he has a sore throat. Darn those Braino masks, concealing everyone’s features! He tells the others that Jessica’s not going to the game.

The only problem with this plan is that now William has to be Braino. He screws up his act with Denise, who thinks “Winston”‘s mad that he has to work with a partner. Dude, he told you he loved you and proposed! What’s your damage?

Then there’s football, but before things can get too boring, Tom gets a concussion and has to leave the game. While Danny and Noah are chatting with him in the locker room, they realize that Bob, Tim, and Dr. Hemphill all have the same last name. They decide that Elizabeth is in danger, so they tell “Winston” to take her back to campus in the Brainomoble while they head back in the van. Oops! They’ve done exactly what William wanted them to do.

In the car with “Winston,” Elizabeth slowly realizes that something is off. When she tells him he’s acting crazy, he flips out, because there’s nothing a crazy person likes less than being called crazy. The others load up the van and find someone in the luggage compartment: Winston. Poor guy was stuck there the whole day. Unfortunately, the group still thinks Todd is the one they’re trying to protect Liz from. Meanwhile, back at SVU, Jessica is freed from the closet where William stashed her, but she doesn’t see her savior. My money’s still on Mike.

Back on the road, which happens to be winding and treacherous and on a cliff, of course. William reveals himself to Elizabeth and commits the ultimate villain sin: telling her his plans. He was going to kill everyone, frame Todd, and flee the country with Liz. Elizabeth thinks fast, pulling William’s mask down so he can’t see, then grabbing the steering wheel and crashing the car. They drive into the side of a cliff, where William is killed. Allegedly. (Hey, I know two of the books in this series have his name in their titles. I’m not as dumb as Liz.)

But the drama isn’t over! Todd was suspicious the whole time, so he went to the game and followed the Brainomobile when William and Elizabeth left. The people in the van catch up with Liz and Todd, but it soon becomes clear that William tampered with their brakes. Then they see Todd and think Elizabeth is in danger. Todd and Liz try to direct the van to a road away from the cliff, but Danny (driving the van) thinks Todd kidnapped Elizabeth. Liz tells Todd to take his hands off the steering wheel so everyone can see that he’s not holding her at gunpoint. That Liz, always thinking.

In case you were worried that this book would end with a dozen fiery deaths, it doesn’t. Elizabeth gets Danny to realize that he needs to let Todd pass so they can follow him. Despite his reservations, Danny does so. But then there’s more drama! They’re going up a hill, and they’ll start rolling backwards and off the cliff! I…don’t understand. It would have made more sense if they almost drove off the cliff, and everyone had to get out of the van before it fell.

No time for logic – we need more drama! Everyone’s getting out of the van when Danny suddenly has an attack of the chickens. Tom can’t get him to budge, so he punches him in the face, knocks him out, pulls him out, and ends up knocking himself out. I’ve lost count of how many people lose consciousness in this book. A while later, Elizabeth wraps things up with some exposition that doesn’t really matter. And then she finds out that William left his whole estate to her. Which doesn’t matter, since we know he’s not really dead, but that’s for another day.

Thoughts: For Christmas, Ned and Alice gave Elizabeth gold silk pants and a matching jacket. Do they hate her?

William has convinced Andrea that he’s a political prisoner and the country’s trying to keep him from exposing terrorists in the government. Well, yeah. I mean, who wouldn’t fall for that?

Everyone rides to the game in a purple van. Was it Crunch’s?

I have to quote melody_powers from 1bruce1 re: William and Barbies:

Okay, time out. I want you all to do something with me. Close your eyes and visualize a busy Toys ‘R’ Us. Something by Hannah Montana is playing over the sound system, little kids are running around and screaming, and there are people with plastic nametags selling loud electronic toys to frazzled parents.

Now, standing in a long line at a cash register is William White, looking kind of crazy but holding it together because he’s in public. His arms are overloaded with hot pink Barbie doll boxes, stacked so high they almost reach the top of his head.

Seriously, imagine it. Hannah Montana. Screaming kids. William White. Barbies.

Awesome.

January 14, 2014

SVU #11, Take Back the Night: Lila + Bruce 4EVA!!!!!!1!1

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:31 pm by Jenn

Doesn't Jessica look like Charisma Carpenter?

Doesn’t Jessica look like Charisma Carpenter?

Summary: It’s the morning after James attacked Jessica, and Elizabeth wants her sister to report the assault. Jess just wants to move on. James calls her and asks to meet with her, so she heads off to yell at him for his behavior. Elizabeth tells Maia about the assault, and Maia feels guilty for not turning James in when he raped her, since it might have prevented him from hurting anyone else. However, when Liz asks her to talk to Jessica, Maia refuses.

Jess meets with James, who of course doesn’t think he did anything wrong. I mean, she was dressed like a whore, so obviously he was going to try to nail her. If she didn’t want to sleep with him, she should have said something. When Jess and Elizabeth meet up back at their dorm room, Liz tells her that James raped Maia. Then she goes over to see Steven and Billie, planning to tell them about Jessica’s assault. Uh, mind your own business, Liz.

But no, Elizabeth’s business will not be minded! She goes to Sigma House and confronts James, because the best place to have a private conversation with a rapist is in a house full of people who hate you. Liz thinks James is sending her notes, since she stopped him from raping Jessica (and also messed up his car). She calls him out, but he just wants an apology for his wrecked car.

Jessica learns that a Theta named Mariela has a date with James, and tries to convince her to call it off. Mariela thinks she’s just jealous. While talking things over with Tom, Elizabeth comes up with the idea to organize a Take Back the Night rally to get people talking about date rape. Maia thinks it’s a good idea but doesn’t want to attend. Jessica’s leaning towards going, and makes up her mind when Isabella convinces her to use the opportunity to brand James a rapist.

So while they’re at the rally, Jessica gets herself on WSVU and says that she was assaulted. Though she doesn’t name James specifically, she gives enough details that anyone would know who she’s talking about. Maia realizes that James also attacked Jess. Back at her dorm room, Jessica gets another anonymous note (the nice one, not the weird ones Liz has been getting) and a whistle she can keep with her for protection.

Alison and Mariela aren’t as supportive of Jessica’s actions as other people are. They taunt her for being jealous, for trying to humiliate Mariela, and for putting a dent in James’ reputation. Alison also says that everyone’s seen James and Jessica being lovey-dovey together, so no one’s going to believe that he raped her. It’s going to be his word against hers, and he’s a star athlete while she’s a freshman who just got out of a marriage to a loser.

Jessica proceeds with filing charges anyway, which leads to the Sigmas harassing her. James tries to talk to her again, this time coming to her room, but fortunately, this time she won’t give in. Maia tells Elizabeth that she wants to help, but I’m not sure what she plans to do, since she doesn’t want to testify to help Jessica’s case. She also still won’t talk to Jessica about her own assault. She plans to leave SVU if James is found not guilty.

Elizabeth, Steven, and Billie help Jessica get ready for her hearing by asking questions they think she might be asked. They’re all ridiculous questions that no real lawyer would allow to be asked, but the hearing will be in front of a panel of administrators and students, not a real court. Jessica runs into Mike, who wishes her luck (because somehow everyone knows about the charges, though probably not Ned and Alice). Later, Jessica and Elizabeth find a nail in one of their Jeep tires. But then a tow truck arrives and the driver says someone called to let him know they’d broken down. The caller also paid the bill. Weird. I think Mike’s behind all of this.

Anyway, Maia comes to see Jessica just before the hearing, to wish her luck. Jessica reveals that she knows James raped Maia. At the hearing, Jessica testifies about her assault, but no one thinks there’s enough evidence that James intended to hurt her. Jessica wants to tell them that James has raped in the past, but she doesn’t want to bring Maia into it. Even with Elizabeth’s testimony, no one’s convinced that Jessica interpreted the situation correctly. The twins are even accused of creating a publicity stunt for SVU.

When James testifies, he paints himself as completely innocent (of course) and Liz is crazy. He just wanted to have sex with Jessica, but her wacky sister showed up and read the situation wrong. James is cleared, and Jessica is advised to get counseling. But then! Maia shows up, begs to be allowed to testify, and announces that James raped her. For some reason, this destroys him; he didn’t realize he’d hurt her. James isn’t really a bad guy, everyone! He just thinks “no” means “yes”! So that plot’s over.

Lila and Bruce are still stranded, and it turns out that they didn’t really have to be. You know how the first rule of being stranded somewhere is to take inventory of your belongings? (Okay, maybe it’s not the first rule, but it should be.) Yeah, Bruce didn’t do that. They’ve had a map all along and didn’t know it. So now they can get to a ranger station ten miles away. Except they get lost, probably because two rich kids from southern California probably have no idea how to read a map.

Fortunately, Jessica has finally realized that Lila never made it back to school. She calls Mrs. Fowler and reports that Lila’s MIA, so now people are actually looking for Lila and Bruce. The Thetas make arrangements to go looking for them, but they wait too long and never actually go. Instead, there’s just a deus ex machina moment involving a helicopter, and all of a sudden they’re rescued.

Once she’s back in Sweet Valley, Lila can’t stop thinking about Bruce. For various reasons, they don’t see each other while they’re hospitalized, and when Bruce is released without seeing Lila, she worries that they’re not going to pursue a relationship like she wants. But don’t worry, Lila! He just went out to get you flowers! He does want to be with you! It’s just as it always should have been.

I’m still not sure what William’s end game is, but he’s moved from stalking Liz to trying to gaslight her. He steals Elizabeth’s keys and has Celine move her car to make her think she’s crazy, and leave a sonnet behind, I guess to confuse her. Liz keeps seeing William at the library, and he even loans her a book of sonnets. Elizabeth gets a creepy feeling about him but has no concept of following her intuition and avoiding him.

Celine keeps trying to get William to spend time with her so she can make him forget about Liz, but he’s too obsessed to fall for that. Celine and William finally get sick of each other, so William decides to leave Liz notes by himself. After she wakes up from a nightmare in which William is the guy from the library, she finds his latest note, which includes his name. Finally, this is going somewhere!

Time to wrap up Alex’s attempt at having an interesting plot. She’s still talking to T Squared about all her problems while mooning over (and being a klutz around) Noah. She spills some soda around him and calls it fizz, which Noah thinks is awesome. In fact, she’s awesome enough to study with. Wow, way to go, Alex. When she talks to T Squared later, she calls soda “fizz” again, because this is what passes for plot development. Long story short, T Squared is Noah, and he suspects that Enid is Alex.

Alex and Noah go on a date, but she can’t stop thinking about T Squared. She calls him and tells him she wants to meet, which is against the rules of the hotline where he works. It’s also against the rules for the peer counselors to look at the caller ID and find out who they’re talking to, but T Squared/Noah can’t help himself, and he uses it to confirm that he’s been talking to Alex.

If Noah were smart, he would just tell Alex who he is, but noooooo, he has to keep acting like Noah and T Squared are two different people. Then he sees Alex talking to Todd and wonders if they’re together. Finally, Noah calls to ask her out again, and reveals that he’s T Squared. Happy endings for these two boring people.

But dull as Alex’s plot is, it’s not as dull as Isabella and Danny’s. It’s their three-month anniversary, and Danny’s determined to show his girlfriend that he’s romantic. At the same time, Isabella wants to show that she’s not just a posh princess. She decides that they’ll go camping. But that same night, Danny arranges a romantic dinner, and they don’t get each other’s messages about where to meet. Eventually Danny goes to Isabella’s room to wait for her, and he falls asleep there while she camps out alone. Ha ha! How very funny! I wish they had more to do, because I like these characters.

Thoughts: “I keep telling you – the only way to get letters is to write them.” Elizabeth, stop taling like my dad.

Liz tells Steven and Billie about Jessica’s assault without asking her first. Not cool, dude.

At the hearing, the dean asks Jessica, “Are you aware that your accusation could have a profound effect on Mr. Montgomery’s reputation?” And that’s when I threw the book across the room.

Bruce tells the Sigmas not to get revenge on Jessica, threatening anyone who does. That made me say, “Awww.” Even though it’s ironic considering his past crimes.

December 30, 2013

SVU #10, No Means No: Elizabeth is More Awesome Than We Were Led to Believe

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:27 pm by Jenn

Jessica has hot dog legs

Jessica has hot dog legs

Summary: Jessica is nothing if not persistent, as she’s still determined to pledge Theta, even though Alison almost got her arrested. She’s also still trying to get with James the football player, who is slowly becoming creepier and creepier. Now that the charges against her have been dropped and she’s dating someone respectable, Jess thinks she can get in good with Alison. She’s wrong, because Alison is a mean girl. She goes to the Theta house for a party, and when Alison announces that she’s not allowed to repledge, since she didn’t technically complete the challenge to steal the book, Jess outs her for calling the police on her. The Thetas agree to vote on whether Jess can repledge.

Alex overhears Alison and Peter congratulating themselves for calling security on Jessica, which is all the proof anyone needs that Jessica was set up. When the vote is held, half the Theta sisters want Jessica out. Alex to the rescue! She arrives just in time to reveal that Alison set Jessica up. Even though Jessica’s never done anything to help her, and even though she herself is barely still a Theta, Alex leads the charge to allow Jessica to repledge.

Since the Thetas don’t want two sisters who can’t get along, Magda (the president) announces that Jessica gets to decide whether or not Alison can stay in the sorority. Jessica is thrilled to have this kind of power, and I kind of can’t blame her. Of course she wants Alison out, but Isabella and Denise point out that it’s punishment enough just making her wait for the verdict. Eventually Jessica decides that Alison can stay in the sorority, but she has to wait tables in Jessica’s place one night. Not nearly a fair punishment, in my opinion, but whatever.

Back to James. Someone warns Jessica that he turns into a different person when he’s been drinking, but our Jess was never one for noticing red flags. James asks her to dinner at the Mountain Lodge Inn, which is a few miles from SVU, up a winding mountain road. At dinner, he drinks a lot, and Jessica gets more and more turned off.

Through the book, Elizabeth has been working on a class project with a girl named Maia, but they’re not working well together. Elizabeth thinks they should write about how SVU needs a policy on consensual sex. (I’m not sure how such a policy would work – don’t you just tell everyone, “Don’t rape people”? Or would they have to sign a pledge not to rape people?) For a writer, Elizabeth isn’t very observant, as Maia keeps making comments about how she hates athletes and is clearly uncomfortable with the topic of rape, but Liz doesn’t catch on. Not even when Maia sees James, gets spooked, and runs off.

Eventually Maia confides in Elizabeth that she was raped. Elizabeth urges her to talk to someone, but Maia’s worried that she’ll be blamed. Maia even holds off for a while on telling Elizabeth who the rapist is, but when she does, it’s at the worst possible time: It was James, and he’s out with Jessica. They’re even at the same restaurant where he ate with Maia before he raped her. He pulled off at a lookout on their way home and assaulted her.

While Elizabeth tries to get in touch with Tom to drive her to the Mountain Lodge Inn (he knows the roads better than she does, and she thinks it would be safer), Jessica keeps refusing drinks from James. By the way, William is still doing that thing where he sneaks out of the institution, stalks Elizabeth, and – remember, she’s completely unobservant – doesn’t get caught. So he knows she’s looking for Tom, but he doesn’t know why. She takes off, and someone comes to the library to ask if anyone left him a message. He gets the news that Elizabeth wants to meet him at the Mountain Lodge Inn. He says he’s Tom, but William knows he’s not.

After dinner, James and Jessica head back down the mountain. This is after Jessica realizes that he’s not doing too well, and tries to call Elizabeth to pick her up. They pull off at a lookout as Elizabeth heads up the mountain, unknowingly followed by William. At the lookout, James tries to rape Jessica, who manages to fight him off. Then things get awesome: Elizabeth spots their car, grabs a wrench from her glove compartment, and smashes James’ window. Then she grabs him by his tie and uses it to pin him to the side of the car while Jessica gets in the twins’ Jeep.

When the twins get back to campus, Elizabeth tries to convince Jessica that the assault wasn’t her fault. However, she decides not to tell her that she knows James has already raped at least one person. She sensed someone else on the mountain with them (mystery library message retriever, not William), but doesn’t know who he was. Then someone leaves Jessica’s purse (which she’d left at the restaurant) outside their door; inside it is a card for a taxi service.

Lila and Bruce? Still stranded in the mountains, with wolves gathering. Also, no food or water. And it’s cold. Basically, the opposite of the ideal situation. Lila shows some awesomeness by fighting off a wolf with a flare gun, and she and Bruce are getting closer to their inevitable future romp in the sack, so there’s that. Also, he’s turned on by looking at her legs. Who knew Bruce was a leg man? Lila claims to know survival skills because she tagged along on a trip with her father and some executives to the Bolivian jungle. (Which I call bull on – I’ve been there, and no way could she last 30 minutes.)

The survivalists hear a helicopter, but when Lila tries to signal it with the flare gun, she discovers that Bruce didn’t reload it, despite having claimed to. They fight. Aww, it’s like they’re married already. Lila refuses to use her Bolivian jungle skills to snare food, claiming that she doesn’t want to kill anyone, so Bruce says he’ll use his mad fishing skills from the times he went fishing in Nova Scotia. Both of them are lying about their abilities, but Bruce’s lies almost get him killed – he tries to fish in some rapids, trips, falls in the water, and almost drowns. Lila has to save him.

Bruce and Lila would probably kill each other for food if he didn’t have a fever. Lila realizes that without medical attention, food, or water, he’s pretty much toast, so she sets aside their rivalry to take care of him. She later decides to try to go for help, but she’s not in great shape herself, and she ends up having a weird daydream about her dead husband and Bruce. Then Bruce shows up, desperate for her to stay with him, so she calls off her trip to find help.

But then things start looking up. Lila finds some stuff on the plane that she can use for a fire and to hold water. She also finds a stream with fish in it, so that takes care of their lack of food and water. The Lila/Bruce part of this book ends with Lila fishing naked, then lying down with Bruce to keep him warm with her body heat. Someday they’ll tell their children this story. No, wait – someday they’ll tell their servants to tell the children this story.

In other news, Elizabeth is still a virgin. She and Tom keep approaching the edge of having sex, but she’s spooked by the thought of getting pregnant or catching an STD, so she keeps putting the brakes on. Tom is annoyed because he claims she sends him mixed signals. They discuss this a couple different times, but Liz pretty much wins the debate with the point that the victim sometimes gets blamed, which isn’t fair.

Alex has turned into a party girl, drinking to the point of passing out all the time and sometimes waking up in bed with someone else (often Todd). She decides to try to get clean. There’s this guy she likes, Noah, and she makes a clumsy fool of herself in front of him, which embarrasses her enough to make her want to drink again.

Alex has no friends, so she calls a campus hotline to talk to a peer counselor. The guy she talks to calls himself T Squared, since he’s on line 22 (22 = twenty-two = two Ts = T Squared). She tells him her name is Enid, since she feels more like that version of herself than like super-hot, sophisticated Alex. T Squared is super-nice and helpful, and they really hit it off. Anyone who doesn’t get right away that T Squared is Noah, you are too young for this book and should stick to Dr. Seuss. Also, Alex decides to ditch Todd, since he’s still a partying mess.

After embarrassing herself in front of Noah again, Alex starts feeling really sorry for herself. She feels like she did in high school when she got rid of her pot and pills and went into withdrawal. Then she realizes that that’s exactly what’s happening now – she’s clumsy and awkward because she’s quitting alcohol cold turkey. Alex calls T Squared to share her revelation and confide that she has a crush on a guy who thinks she’s a dork. He tells her to tell the guy how she feels. But since he clearly has to be Noah, we know she’s technically already told him how she feels.

Thoughts: “I’m the last one to give out fashion advice, but you’ve been wearing a lot of this big and baggy stuff lately. Have you gained ten pounds that nobody knows about?” Wow. Screw you, Elizabeth. Especially since you recently gained at least the freshman 15.

“Sometimes you say no when you mean yes.” Screw you, too, Tom.

There’s a typo calling T Squared “T Square,” which cracks me up.

“It was one thing to get a little tipsy at a fraternity party – but getting drunk in a restaurant seemed utterly gross.” That’s like Cher saying it’s only okay to smoke pot at parties.

Maia thinks she led James on by wearing a backless dress. I don’t…I…just…no words.

Jessica gets in James’ car after he’s been drinking because she’s afraid her reputation would take a hit if she asked someone at the restaurant to arrange a ride for her. Yes, that would definitely be more horrible than you dying in a fiery car crash.

December 17, 2013

SVU #9, Sorority Scandal: I’m Cold and There Are Wolves After Me

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:28 pm by Jenn

They're clearly not even trying to illustrate a real scene from the book

They’re clearly not even trying to illustrate a real scene from the book

Summary: Elizabeth gets a C on a paper (the horror!) and goes to talk to her professor, George Martin (yes, another George) about it. He’s all, “I was just kidding!” and invites her to work on a project with him, since she likes Lord Byron so much. Elizabeth fails to see the massive red flags he’s practically waving in her face, because he’s hot.

Jessica is still determined to become a Theta, even though VP Alison hates her and the girls all seem snobby (minus Isabella and Denise). She gets another chance, but it requires a dare: She has to steal Professor Martin’s beloved first-edition Byron. When Jessica sneaks into his office to get the book, she’s caught by campus security. If you think this plot sounds like Steve’s storyline in “Emily,” you are correct. It’s almost exactly the same story.

Anyway, Professor Martin is furious that someone wanted to take his precious book, so he plans to press charges against Jess. Elizabeth tries to talk him out of it, but it turns out that Professor Martin doesn’t know the identity or even the name of the would-be thief. Meanwhile, Alison makes all the Thetas shun Jessica, since her arrest is making them look bad. Yet Jessica won’t rat her out because SHE STILL WANTS TO BE A THETA. Sigh.

Liz learns from Professor Martin that security learned of Jessica’s thievery from an anonymous phone call. Clearly, Alison made the call, but it takes a few dozen more pages for anyone to figure that out, and even then, Elizabeth only realizes it because Isabella comes out and tells her. But to be fair, Liz is a little distracted by the fact that Professor Martin is getting too touchy-feely for her liking. She decides to go after Alison, even though Jessica isn’t on board. I guess she’d rather go to jail than be unpopular. She’d also rather bring down Professor Martin than Alison.

Armed with the information from Elizabeth that Professor Martin is a handsy creep, Jessica dresses up as Liz and visits Professor Martin, acting like she wants to date him. He’s all, “Yes, I would love to date you, if by ‘date’ you mean attack you right here and have my way with you.” But Jessica’s smarter than we usually give her credit for – she’s brought a tape recorder with her and has recorded him being creepy and inappropriate. If he doesn’t drop the charges against her, she’ll play the tape for the whole college.

Meanwhile, Liz goes to campus security to get proof that Alison made the phone call telling them about the robbery. It did indeed come from the Theta house, but it was also reporting a bigger crime, so campus security would be sure to come in with full force. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, it’s all a moot point, because Jessica’s blackmail of Professor Martin worked, and the charges have been dropped. She’s keeping the tape, though, because she’s smart. Jess’ next move: revenge on Alison.

In other plots, both interesting and not: On the way back to SVU in Bruce’s plane, Lila and Bruce crash in the mountains. No one knew they were flying together, Bruce is an idiot who didn’t file a flight plan, and everyone thinks Bruce was going on vacation anyway, so no one’s looking for them or has any idea that they crashed. This is all just a plot device to get them closer so they can inevitably fall in love (and what took the writers so long?). There’s an avalanche, wolves, and various other dangerous things. Eventually the two get separated, and they don’t have many supplies, so it’s possible the next book will start with both of them dying of hypothermia.

Elizabeth is being watched by a man in a wheelchair who works in the SVU library. Except we know that he’s William White, who manages to keep escaping and returning to the institution he was sent to after he tried to kill Liz. Celine likes that he’s trying to drive Elizabeth crazy, so she helps him out, doing tasks like leaving Liz a white rose tied in a scarf William took from her. Later, Nina sees a noose in the library; apparently William’s obsessed with hangings.

Bryan has turned into a huge jerk – he’s planning a big march against racism, but shoots down Nina’s idea to allow any interested person to march, not just those in the Black Student Union. I’m pretty sure Bryan just doesn’t like white people. Nina and Bryan spend the whole book fighting, and eventually Nina wins. Well, if you consider dating an annoying guy “winning.”

Billie’s parents come for a visit, and she and Steven try to hide the fact that they live together. Except we know that they’ve been living together since the SVH books, which took place two years before the SVU books, so how have they managed to keep their living arrangements a secret for so long?

Anyway, Steven goes to stay with Mike while Billie’s parents are in town. Then there’s some wackiness about Steven being really bad at hiding where he really lives. But it’s all a waste of time because Billie’s parents had already figured it out and were just letting them make fools of themselves for no reason. Ha…ha?

And finally, the time-filler plot: Winston breaks his arm rollerblading with Denise, and his injury gets him a lot of attention from the girls in his dorm. Denise gets jealous, even though she’s been inviting the girls to dote on him. Basically it’s supposed to be payback for when Denise used Bruce to make Winston jealous, but the plot just makes Denise look like a shrew.

Thoughts: Elizabeth wrote a 15-page paper in two hours. That’s actually really impressive.

Lila and Bruce are stranded for hours before they think to try using the plane’s radio. That’s impressive for completely different reasons.

Mentions of wolves always make me think of this (hence the post title). I know, I’m a huge dork.

Billie wants to be a tax attorney. I got bored just writing that.

Things that are so, so wrong with the Elizabeth/Professor Martin groping plot: 1) She’s embarrassed by it. She has absolutely no reason to be embarrassed. HE should be embarrassed that he can’t keep his hands to himself, especially around his students. 2) Jessica asks if Elizabeth is going to tell Tom, as if she needs to keep it a secret. 3) When Elizabeth does tell Tom, she first asks him not to get mad. He SHOULD get mad – at Professor Martin. 4) “Will I look like a baby if I report him? I don’t even know if it’s against the school rules to do what he did.” She – I just – ELIZABETH. No one is allowed to touch you without your permission. YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS STUFF.

November 5, 2013

SVU #7, Good-bye to Love: The One Where Everyone’s Obsessed With Elizabeth

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

Ick

Ick

Summary: Stand down, Celine Boudreaux – you’re not needed anymore. The original fabulous queen, Lila Fowler, is back. She’s still in Europe with her husband, Count Tisiano Di Mondicci, and though she’s bored because he has to travel a lot for work, and she misses Sweet Valley, she’s happy. It doesn’t last. While at the beach, Tisiano is killed in a Jet Ski explosion. You read that right. Boom goes the Jet Ski. The count is dead, long live the count. Lila heads back to Sweet Valley.

Once there, she reunites with her friends and starts hanging out at SVU, planning to audit some classes and then enroll the next semester. Jess takes her to hang out with the Thetas, since she wants back in with them, even though Alison hates her. For a while it looks like the group might accept her, but Alison is basically Regina George, so that obviously isn’t going to happen. It’s okay, though, because Lila knows all about Alison, including that the girl has a bit of a shoplifting problem. If Alison causes more trouble, Lila has no problem sharing Alison’s secrets. I missed you, Lila.

Bruce is also back in the mix now, having been barely mentioned in the first few books of the series. He and Lila get back to their little rivalry (though he does acknowledge how difficult it is to lose someone you love, since he lost Regina), mainly over Bruce’s insistence that women can’t fly planes as well as men can. Lila won’t back down, telling him all about the planes she’s flown and all the stuff she can do. She wants to go flying with Bruce, but then she has a nightmare about Tisiano and a plane crash. Methinks Lila has PTSD.

Jessica was so distracted by all the goings-on with Mike that she kind of forgot to study. Now that she doesn’t have him around to keep her from her schoolwork, she’s throwing herself into it, trying to salvage her grades. She also vows not to get hung up on any other boys. You would not be surprised to learn that she doesn’t keep that vow for even half a book.

Elizabeth has to recite a poem for one of her classes, and she does it so well (because she’s tapping into her feelings for Tom) that her professor asks her to recite another poem at some public reading. Elizabeth agrees, but later she realizes that it’s the same night as a big date she has with Tom. She asks Jessica to read in her place, promising to buy her two dresses. You’d think Jessica would jump at the chance to perform and be the center of attention.

Anyway, Jessica does the reading, posing as Elizabeth, and catches the eye of a guy named James who she’d briefly met before. He knows she’s not Liz because Liz doesn’t make his heart go pitter-patter like Jessica does. Jess is hesitant to get involved with another guy, especially while she’s technically still married to Mike, but James seems nice and is sympathetic to her situation, so she decides it’s okay to ease back into dating. Then at the end of the book, she finds out the annulment has been approved, so she’s free to see James.

Steven has been ordered to help Mike with his physical therapy, which makes no sense, not least because Steven was found not guilty, which means there’s no punishment whatsoever. But whatever, this means Steven has to keep hanging out with Mike, which means they keep fighting. Billie’s mad about the whole situation, which I don’t get, because it’s not like Steven wants to hang out with Mike. But she’s mad enough to move out.

So now Mike has contributed to Steven’s relationship issues like Steven contributed to Mike’s relationship issues, which makes them even, right? And now they can kiss and make up? Ha ha, yeah, right. They keep fighting, even after Billie moves back in (which is weird, because nothing changed, so why is she all of a sudden okay with Steven again?). One night Steven’s at Mike’s apartment and starts feeling woozy. He’s half-unconscious by the time he realizes that the gas is on, and that Mike is the only person around who can save him from a fiery, Tisiano-like death.

Todd has turned into an alcoholic stalker. He’s desperate to get Elizabeth back and keeps bugging her to talk to him about a follow-up on her athletics exposé. But Liz is busy being disgustingly schmoopy with Tom. They spend tons of time together and can’t keep their hands off each other. Did I mention they’ve only been dating for a week? It’s really annoying. They almost have sex, but their friends interrupt, so thanks, friends. I didn’t want to have to read that scene.

Elizabeth has also been getting a bunch of semi-threatening, all-creepy notes that say things like “YOU ARE MINE” and “WE’LL BE TOGETHER SOON.” First she thinks they’re from Tom, because semi- that isn’t threatening is sort of romantic, but Tom tells her he only sent one note. Then she thinks they’re from Todd, since he’s gone crazy. It seems pretty clear that they’re something William would send, but since he’s not around, it’s hard to figure that out.

The Sigmas are still allowed on campus, but Celine and Peter have been punished (not very harshly, I have to say) for their role in Elizabeth’s kidnapping. Celine has to live off campus and work in the cafeteria, so I take back what I said about them not getting punished enough, because for Celine, that’s pretty bad. She’s furious with Elizabeth for causing all of her problems, which is ridiculous, but that’s Celine for you.

She wants revenge, so she enlists the help of a couple of guys she’s recently befriended. Guy #1 is a biology student studying fruit flies. Celine convinces him to release the fruit flies in Elizabeth’s room, because I guess he’d rather possibly score with Celine than succeed in academia. This doesn’t work because Elizabeth is so in love with Tom that even a bunch of fruit flies in her room can’t bother her.

Guy #2 is a saxophone player, and Celine gets him to serenade Elizabeth at 6 in the morning. She also tells him that Liz is in love with him. Tom and Elizabeth go to a jazz concert where the sax player is performing, and when he spots them in the audience, he dedicates his next number to Elizabeth. Todd is there, drunk, and thinks it’s hilarious. (It actually is pretty funny.)

Bruce has just come into his trust fund, and he’s like a kid in a candy store with his cool $10 million. He wants to buy a plane. Quick, someone start a meme like the one with the cat that thinks about buying a boat! Anyway, Bruce and Denise (as in Winston’s girlfriend) are doing a class project together, and Winston gets jealous of all the time they’re spending together.

Denise keeps telling him to stop it because there’s nothing going on between them past friendship, and also, Winston is really annoying. At one point he actually goes to Sigma house to retrieve Denise, like she needs a chaperone. She uses some other guy to make Winston jealous, which, let’s be honest, he deserved. Then she assures him that she only wants him, though I’m not sure why, since he’s so needy and jealous. But I do appreciate Denise basically telling him, “Look, Crazypants, I’ll be friends with whoever I want and you’ll just have to deal with it.”

William’s punishment for Elizabeth’s kidnapping and attempted murder is commitment to a psych facility. He befriends an employee and she helps him escape. There’s some other stuff in there, but it basically just serves to reinforce what we already know about William being crazy.

Alex is still a jerk, and pretty much obsessed with how Elizabeth ruined her life by publishing her exposé. She and Todd have been spending time together, drinking and moping and wishing Elizabeth hadn’t changed. After he gets directly rejected by Liz, Todd ends up at Alex’s, and they get drunk and start making out.

Speaking of jerks…Bryan Nelson, man. He gets on Nina’s case about skipping a BSU meeting to study, saying that she’s not committed to the group’s cause. He almost literally tells her that she needs to dump her white friends (mostly meaning Elizabeth) and only hang out with African-Americans. I would love for Denise to give Nina a lesson on how to properly use your backbone.

Thoughts: Why would a count have to sell computer parts?

Trivia: Lila’s middle name is Catherine.

Lila describes Tisiano as “Alec Baldwin, Jason Priestley, and Christian Slater all rolled in one.” That’s a combination I’d rather not picture.

Why is Jessica living with Elizabeth again instead of Isabella?

At first I thought Tom and Elizabeth were a little bit cute together, but then they wouldn’t shut up about their one-week anniversary.

William’s psych facility is surrounded by a gorge to keep patients from leaving the property, but what’s to stop them from killing themselves by jumping into it?

“I’m not into fun anymore.” Let’s be honest, Alex, you’ve never been into fun.

October 22, 2013

SVU #6, The Love of Her Life: Too Late, Todd

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:20 pm by Jenn

I guess this is Elizabeth and Tom? Tom looks dorky

I guess this is Elizabeth and Tom? Tom looks dorky

Summary: We pick up a few pages before the end of A Married Woman, with Mike coming to Steven and Billie’s apartment looking for Jessica. There’s yelling, there’s the fight over the gun, there’s a shot going off, and then we learn that Steven’s okay but Mike was shot. Fast-forward, and Steve’s arrested while Mike’s taken to the hospital. He’s so bad off that Billie thinks he might be dead. Jessica’s in shock and goes home while Billie starts trying to get Steven a lawyer. (By the way, Ned and Alice are out of town and, as of the end of the book, have no idea what’s happening in Sweet Valley.)

Steven is sent to jail, which is dumb because he hasn’t been arraigned yet, so wouldn’t he be in lockup? Not hanging out in general population with actual murderers? Steven isn’t sure exactly what happened with the gun or who pulled the trigger, but he’s pretty sure he’s going to prison. Elizabeth learns of his arrest from the news and rushes to the police station. Steven will have a bail hearing the next day and will be charged with attempted murder.

Elizabeth encourages Jessica to go see Mike in the hospital, since her presence could help him recover. Except Mike’s in the hospital because he was planning to shoot Jessica, so I think Liz should shut her trap. Anyway, Jessica’s still in shock so she just goes back home. Mike’s mom also bugs her to go to the hospital, so Jess lies to get her to shut up.

Steven gets out on bail, and Jessica finally snaps out of her shock a little, realizing how happy she is that her brother wasn’t hurt. When Mike’s mom calls her again, telling her that Mike is asking for her, she decides to go to the hospital. And then it gets worse: Mike’s paralyzed and might never walk again. (Except this is Sweet Valley, so of course he will.) Now Jessica feels horrible and decides that their wedding vows are more important than her freaking safety and the ability to live her day-to-day life without a guy TRYING TO SHOOT HER, so she won’t be leaving Mike after all.

Amazingly, Mike thinks this is actually the wrong choice. He and Jess have both realized that she was too young to get married. He tells her he’ll get an annulment, and that when Steven is arraigned, he’ll tell the judge that the shooting was his fault. But somewhere between Mike saying this and the arraignment arriving, he changes his mind and almost lets Steven go to jail. But apparently he has a conscience, and when Jessica yells at him, he admits that he accidentally shot himself. So Steven is free, and Jessica is getting an annulment.

Over in the secret society story, we revisit Elizabeth discovering that William is the leader. She’s currently with William at his place, and instead of playing it cool and pretending nothing’s happened, she lets him know that she knows, then takes off. Tom runs into her and she confirms his suspicions about William.

William goes looking for Elizabeth but instead finds Celine, who has moved on from Tom and is now with Peter. William tells her that Elizabeth is on to them, and since Celine knows about the secret society, she’s at risk. Then Celine and William hook up. When Liz gets home, she confirms that she knows about William’s role as the leader of the society. This whole thing is dumb because William just…lets her talk. Like, she’s about to bust you, moron. Stop her!

But no, William doesn’t stop her, and Elizabeth proceeds to get more information on the society out of Tom. Apparently it’s called the Fraternal Order of the Gallows, and he was inducted as a freshman by guys in ski masks. They wind up back at Liz’s dorm, where William attempts to intimidate them, but they tell him they’re going ahead with their story for the TV station. William is STILL too dumb to try to stop them. Instead, he waits a few hours, then kidnaps Elizabeth, with help from Celine and Peter.

Even with an attempt to at least be a competent villain, William is still lame: Elizabeth and Tom pretaped their story, so kidnapping Liz won’t stop it from airing. When it goes live, William flips out. Celine starts to realize that the guy really is crazy, and that they’ve gone too far. While the secret society members gather and plan to throw her in a pit (which apparently will look like suicide? Somehow?), Celine sneaks off and calls Tom. He calls the police and they all rush to rescue Liz. Also rushing to rescue Liz is Todd, who’s decided that he wants to get back together with her. More on that in a minute.

Back to Liz’s almost-murder: Tom fights William, who ends up in the pit, hanging on to the edge with one hand. Tom contemplates dropping him (dude, the police are right there!), but instead pulls him out so William will have to go to prison and think about what he’s done. Or spend the rest of his life plotting revenge. Whichever.

Once Elizabeth is safe, Tom heads off to talk to the police, and Liz runs into Todd. He declares his love and asks her to get back together, but he’s too late. She only has eyes for Tom now. She tells Todd that they agreed to move on and try dating other people, which is exactly what she’s going to do. Todd doesn’t take this well and vows to get her back. It’s kind of scary. Like, even William doesn’t say stuff like that.

Tom comes to see Elizabeth, and after some hugging and chaste kissing, she realizes that he wrote the poem she thought William had written her. Then Tom finally tells her what he’s been wanting to let her know about his life: His freshman year, his family (parents, brother, and sister) was driving out to see him play football when they were killed in a car accident. The second Tom heard, he quit the team. But now his life has meaning again because of Elizabeth, or something stupid and flowery like that.

In other, much more boring stories: Todd and Mark (Alex’s boyfriend) are suspended from the basketball team for a semester because of the department’s illegal recruitment methods. Todd doesn’t think this is so bad, but Mark can’t handle it and decides to quit school and try for an NBA career. Alex still blames Elizabeth for the whole debacle.

Winston and Denise are making out a lot, because Winston’s from Sweet Valley and that’s all he knows how to do with a girlfriend. Everyone thinks they should have sex. Denise doesn’t want to. Winston remains a virgin. Not virgins: Bryan and Nina, who are Doing It.

Thoughts: Elizabeth and Celine hate each other, and Nina’s mentioned not liking her roommate, so why don’t Liz and Nina move in together?

Danny, I like you, so pleas stop telling Winston to try to bang Denise.

When Steven gets out of jail, he’s all, “Colors are brighter! Food tastes better!” He was there one night. Shut up, Steven.

The police arrest the secret society members and then leave Elizabeth to find her own way home. Yeah, leave the girl who was just kidnapped to walk home in the dark. And wouldn’t they need her to go to the police station and make a statement?

Speaking of statements, I’m not sure the police ever took Jessica’s or Billie’s about Mike’s shooting. If they had, there would be three witnesses saying that Steven acted in self-defense/defense of Jessica. This freaking series….

October 9, 2013

SVU #5, A Married Woman: They Both Reached for the Gun

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:33 pm by Jenn

Llama face!

Llama face!

Summary: Elizabeth is distressed now that she knows a) Jessica’s married to Mike and b) Mike is about five seconds away from beating the crap out of her twin. Mike’s still angry that Jessica hasn’t told anyone about their marriage, so Jessica agrees to host a dinner party for Elizabeth and Steven. However, Liz is the only person she tells about it. Steven is still doing that thing where all he talks about is Mike, Mike, Mike, and I don’t know how Billie can stand to talk to him, let alone share an apartment with him.

Mike finds out that Jess didn’t invite Steven to dinner – and Steven says he wouldn’t go anyway – so Jessica’s still in trouble. Tom agrees to go to Jessica’s dinner party with Elizabeth, because for some reason, Tom thinks Mike is a good guy. Also, free food! The guys bond over guy stuff, as well as hating William. Just when things between Jessica and Mike seem to be looking up, he runs into Steven and they get into a huge fight. Mike mentions that he and Jessica are married; this is the first Steven’s heard of this, and he’s furious. Jessica literally runs away, spending the night in Isabella’s room. (Poor Isabella barely gets anything to do in this book, though she and Danny are now dating, so good for her.)

Isabella tries to talk Jessica into staying away from Mike, but Jessica has no willpower, so she goes back home. While organizing some drawers, she discovers that Mike has a gun, and that’s the last straw for her. She can put up with a guy who throws tantrums, trashes the apartment, and might hit her, but she’s not going to live with someone who has both a temper and a weapon. Jess is packing to leave him when he comes home and catches her. She tells him she’s done with their marriage, but he’s not going to hear that.

Jess knocks Mike out with a lamp, then flees to Steven and Billie’s apartment. Mike tracks her down and arrives all Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire (substitute yelling of “Stella!” with yelling of “Jessica!”). He has the gun, and he tries to use it to intimidate Jessica into coming with him. Steven jumps in, the guys fight over the gun, and it goes off, but it’s not clear who was shot.

The secret society is still a secret, or at least its leaders are. Elizabeth thinks Mike’s in charge, but she has no evidence. William keeps her on that idea, and she’s too dumb to be suspicious of him. Tom tries to convince Elizabeth that Mike isn’t the head of the secret society, and somehow she starts to think that Tom is the head. She’s done some research on him, since she’s curious about his background, but there’s not much there, other than that he used to be a star athlete and isn’t anymore. William, of course, pushes Elizabeth to keep suspecting Tom.

On the other side of this, Tom is suspicious of William. It’s clear that Tom was once part of the secret society – he has a broken star, the society’s symbol – but it’s not clear how much he knows about the other members or the leaders until he makes a confession to Elizabeth about his former involvement. Apparently all the members keep their faces covered when they meet, so no one knows who else is a member. The only current known member is Peter.

William helps organize a charity ball benefiting inner-city kids, and Bryan decides to stage a kind of protest by bringing some actual inner-city kids to it. This is a Big Deal. Tom was supposed to take Celine to the ball, but he backs out since it’s not worth spending that much time with her to try to get information on Peter. Smart man. Elizabeth is William’s date, and once he’s done doing his thing as co-organizer, he invites her over to his place. Is Elizabeth about to swipe her V card??

Tom is using his big, juicy chess club brain to try to figure out who’s in the secret society. He realizes that he hasn’t gotten a threatening message in a while. He’s suspicious of William, and figures out that if William’s a leader, he wouldn’t need to threaten Elizabeth because he already has her believing that he’s not involved.

Tom runs over to the ball to warn Liz, but she’s already left with a guy who’s possibly in charge of a racist, violent secret society. Don’t you hate when that happens? Over at William’s, Elizabeth is looking through his books when she finds a bookmark shaped like a broken star. Suddenly someone else’s chess club brain kicks into action.

In Boring Storyline Land: Winston is obsessed with Denise but isn’t sure if she likes him. I mean likes him likes him. He finally gets up the courage to ask her to the ball, but before he can, she asks him. Win, I think she likes you likes you.

Todd, Mark (Alex’s boyfriend), and the rest of the SVU athletes are facing the consequences of Elizabeth and Tom’s exposé on illegal recruitment. Mark and Alex are fighting a lot, and Alex blames Elizabeth, still thinking that Liz broke the story to get back at Todd for dumping her. Todd is also having a hard time relationship-wise – his girlfriend Lauren is mad at Liz for the story and doesn’t get why Todd isn’t. It’s because Todd is smart enough to know that the story wasn’t personal. Shut up, everyone in this plot who isn’t Todd.

Thoughts: “How many times had she gotten [Elizabeth] out of a jam?” Jessica seems to have herself confused with her twin. I know they’re identical, but I was pretty sure Jess could tell them apart.

William’s most likely the head of a racist secret society, but he helped organize a benefit for inner-city kids. He knows not all of those kids are white, right?

“Are you accusing Mike of unnatural sexual practices? Do you think he dresses in a wet suit and makes Jessica message [sic] him with rubber ducks or something?” Billie, will you be my friend?

September 25, 2013

SVU #4, Anything for Love: Marry the Man Today, Trouble Though He May Be

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:07 pm by Jenn

This never happened. I don't think Jessica's even met Nina

This never happened. I don’t think Jessica’s even met Nina

Summary: Jessica and Mike have been living together for about a month, and she’s still under the impression that he’s Prince Charming and not at all five seconds away from smacking her the first time she talks back. He wants her to prove her love for him (always a red flag) by marrying him. Of course, Jessica says yes, because for Jess (to paraphrase Taylor Swift), when you’re 18 and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.

So the two lovebirds go off to Vegas and get hitched in a chapel full of cats. Awesome. When they get back from their honeymoon (camping – blergh), Steven yells at Jessica some more. She doesn’t tell him they got married, which ticks Mike off. Jess tries to tell her Theta non-friends (and Isabella), but they all hate her now.

Also, there’s a bigger problem: Parents’ weekend is coming up, and Ned and Alice are still in the dark about Jessica’s living arrangements, not to mention her secret marriage. She doesn’t want to tell them and keeps coming up with excuses. Isabella says she can pretend to move back in over the weekend so her parents don’t know she’s living with Mike. This sets Mike off – he thinks Jessica’s embarrassed by him.

It doesn’t help that when they run into Elizabeth and William, Jess doesn’t say anything about the marriage to her own twin sister. Mike’s a jerk, but he has a point here. Though he’s becoming more and more like the Hulk, so it’s not like Jessica’s wrong to want to keep her association with him quiet. Mike also hates William, and the feeling is mutal. Liz finds out that Jess and Mike are living together, and she’s pretty ticked that Jess and Steven didn’t tell her.

Parents’ weekend arrives, and Jessica has to juggle spending time with Ned and Alice while also attending to Mike’s every need. (He thinks her parents aren’t coming to visit.) When they all go to the apartment complex where everyone who isn’t in a dorm lives, they pass right by Mike. When Jess gets home that night, Mike is furious. He shoves her against a wall, then tells her to lock herself in the bathroom before he hurts her any worse. Elizabeth drops by later and finds the apartment trashed. She tells Jessica they’re leaving, but Jess says no, finally revealing that she and Mike are married.

Nina and Bryan are in the hospital after their assault; she’s okay but he’s in bad shape. Nina’s mom has convinced her to transfer out of SVU so she doesn’t have to deal with the racism and hate crimes. Elizabeth is sad, because Nina’s her only friend. (Her former best friend, Alex, spends the entire book grumbling over how Liz ruined the athletes’ lives with her story about illegal recruitment. Shut up, Alex. Just because you and your boyfriend are fighting doesn’t mean Liz plotted to break you up.)

Elizabeth wants to expose SVU’s secret society, which is most likely behind Nina and Bryan’s attacks. Tom’s against it, though, partly because he’s been getting threatening notes warning him to drop the investigation. The notes all include a broken star. Tom’s inner monologue lets us know that he knows exactly who’s behind the secret society. Liz decides she’ll just investigate by herself. It takes her, like, four years to figure out that the Sigmas aren’t behind the attacks; the secret society is.

Elizabeth talks to William about the investigation, and he tries to make her think Tom’s involved. Meanwhile, Celine finds Elizabeth’s notes on the attacks and tells Peter that she’s investigating. Tom lets Liz know that the secret society isn’t going to put up with her investigation without a fight, and in fact might get violent. Of course, Elizabeth isn’t going to back down. Unfortunately, her stubbornness gets Tom attacked.

Tom realizes that the best way to keep Elizabeth away from the investigation is to bring in someone she hates: Celine. He tells Liz she’ll be helping out. Celine thinks this means Tom likes her, and Peter thinks this means Celine’s two-timing him. Nina tells Liz that she recognized the voice of one of her attackers. They stalk Peter a little and determine that his voice is the one Nina remembers. Elizabeth is still going to investigate, and just let Tom think she’s not. She puts together some things Tom said with what they already know about the society, and starts to think Mike is the leader.

As Bryan starts to recover, he tries to talk Nina into staying at SVU. She eventually decides to stay, possibly partly because her mother wants her to leave so badly, and Nina doesn’t want to give her what she wants. Whatever, because Nina’s mom meets Bryan and ends up liking him. This was a waste of time.

Danny has become friends with Isabella, and he knows about her crush on Tom and wants to help them get together. He tells her that he and Tom will “run into” her at a pizza place, but Tom skips out, leaving Danny and Isabella to hang out together. Later, they pull the “running into” bit again, but Tom sees through it and leaves because he doesn’t want to deal with dating drama. Isabella and Danny are clearly going to end up together, and I’m all for it.

In other plots: Winston has no friends now that he’s not pledging the Sigmas, but Denise doesn’t care. They keep spending time together and boring me. Winston confesses that he told his parents he was dating Denise, so when they come for the weekend, they’ll think she’s his girlfriend. She agrees to go along with it. Alex and Todd are starting to miss Elizabeth, because who wouldn’t want to be friends with her?

Thoughts: Isabella’s favorite pizza is avocado, red onion, and black beans. How did she discover that she liked that combination? Was marijuana involved?

Mike calls Steven an “uptight android.” I’m so confused, in a the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend type of way.

Jessica’s first hint that Mike’s a bad guy should have been that he likes reggae.

I like Denise. And I really like the idea of Winston dating a girl who’s three times tougher than he is.

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