The Gangs of Sweet Valley, or #121 The High School Wars

I cannot tell a lie. I had to skim this one. I had to do this so I wouldn’t gouge my eyes out. Dreadful. Ok, remember all the gang stuff that started because someone insulted Ken? And Jessica fell madly and deeply in love like she’s never felt before and with the most gorgeous guy she’s ever seen? Yea, that happened. He’s the rival Palisades gang leader.

So really I’ll just say there’s lots of drama and Jess and Christian Gorman act like they are Romeo and Juliet.They’ve known each other a week, don’t even know anything about each other, and constantly talk about how they love each other. Let’s call it what it is, they are teenagers in lust. Oh, and Ken finds out when he catches them on a “real date”. That’s what the cover depicts. Ken is coming out of a restaurant, not a restroom. Jessica lies to the police about the brawl. And Todd gets arrested for beating the crap out of the Palisades guys. Liz blames the whole drama on herself.

Yeesh, so after the big warehouse dance brawl (which was really some skinny white guys throwing some punches at each other) Chrome Dome calls an assembly. He forbades anyone from wearing school colors or SVH paraphanelia. What if Liz wants to wear her “Oracle” press pass? Is that forbaden now? Wow, my father can relate. He taught at an inner-city school for 30 years where he watched gang fights going on in the hallways and he has had to confiscate razor blades from his students. I should totally tell him to read this, he could relate. The principal is putting together a task force of students to help assuage all the violence. Task force? Liz just had an orgasm. The task force is useless, duh. But it is like a halfway home for forgotten characters. Jade Wu and David Prentiss are on it, and off course, Jade is described as “exotic” and “almond-eyed”. Oh, and A.J. Morgan! He’s there too! He lives! It’s amazing when one of Jessica’s boyfriends gets out alive. I wonder why Jeffrey French is not there too.
Ken has a cell phone! They call Jessica from his car because she is afraid she drowned at the beach while surfing. “Drowned in Christian’s pool of love” is more like it.

Jessica and Christian spend much of their time on an infaltable mattress in the back of his van. Classy.

Todd lives at 1010 Country Club Drive, in case you were wondering. And lives in a mansion. Wtf, he’s rich now?

Yea so…these middle books in the trilogies blow. Just the same scene over and over again. But some good quotes:

“Jessica had kissed plenty of boys, and she’d been in love, seriously in love- but she’s never felt quite like this. It’s like we’ve always known each other somehow, and at the same time it’s so exciting , and brand-new, she thought, gazing deep into Christian’s soulful blue eyes. Like we’re meant to be together. He’s my destiny.” We’ve NEVER heard this before.

Todd calls Liz out on her shit and says “she’s …writing holier-than-thou editorials and campaigning for the Nobel Peach Prize.” Ha! Todd’s been reading this site.

We’re left with the cliffhanger, will the schools ever put their rivalry behind them? What will become of Christian and Jessica? I may never know because I don’t know if I can bear to read the next one in the series. Except that I do know what happens.

Grade: F

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41 thoughts on “The Gangs of Sweet Valley, or #121 The High School Wars

  1. Amber Tan says:

    “He forbades anyone from wearing school colors or SVH paraphanelia.”

    Weird…I didn’t realize that gang members are so highly regarded for their school spirit. Um, don’t they usually wear their gang’s colors?

    “Wow, my father can relate. He taught at an inner-city school for 30 years where he watched gang fights going on in the hallways and he has had to confiscate razor blades from his students. I should totally tell him to read this, he could relate. ”

    Wow! Your Dad sounds like a pretty awesome guy, ihatewheat.

  2. nichole says:

    I thought Todd’s family was rich when they moved back from Vermont. His Dad got some kind of promotion or invented something or whatever.

  3. megan says:

    yea, Todd’s dad got rich when he moved back. He must got one heck of a raise tho.

    What does Todd’s dad do anyway?

  4. BadKat says:

    Rival gangs, fights, love? Sounds like West Side Story to me! Did the gangs have special names, maybe the Condors or something?

    They should re-title this: “SVH West Coast Story.”
    Sorry guys, at least I can amuse myself 🙂

    Is it just me, or do the twins look nothing alike on the top of the cover? And that guy on the right getting arrested looks freakishly like my sister’s sleazy boyfriend.

  5. Stacy says:

    Todd’s dad was made the president of Varitronics. He’s gone in the one I’m plodding through now (yea!), but I’m pretty sure that’s the title when he gets back and they are super rich.

  6. Alicia E. says:

    I liked this trilogy when it came out, but then, I always liked Todd punching things. And there’s a TON of that in these books.

  7. Amber Tan says:

    “They should re-title this: “SVH West Coast Story.”

    Ack, BadKat! That’s triggering some bizarre mental imagery of all the SV characters dancing around singing. On noes! It’s a “SVH: The Musical!” moment — “When you’re a Phi Alpha Bet, you’re a Bet…from your first Pool Party to your last dying beau…”

    Make it stop! Make it stop! [curling
    into fetal ball under my desk]

    “do the twins look nothing alike on the top of the cover?”

    It’s not just you — the girls don’t look alike.

  8. Jen S says:

    The “twin” on the left has an ENORMOUS chin.

    Oh, man this sounds so lame it’s almost sublime. Gang warfare in Sweet Valley! Consisting of punching and school colors! I’m laughing til my eyes tear up.

  9. Suzanne Devlin says:

    Todd’s family moves back to Sweet Valley in “Brokenhearted,” the one where Liz leaves Jeffrey French to go back to Todd. In the next book, “In Love Again,” Liz has trouble adjusting to Todd’s new wealthy lifestyle and eventually he leaves his new school to come back to SVH. I need to get a life.

  10. Magenta Galaxy says:

    This miniseries was such a horrendous portrayal of gangs that it’s practically offensive. To gangs, that is. And Ken should be glad to be rid of skanky Jessica and her inflatable-van-mattress slut ways. It’s not like it’s the first time she cheated on him in a miniseries.

  11. Stacy says:

    Megan – Varitronics is how you get rich in SV! Or, according to Lila, “nouveau riche.”

    Please, don’t make me search for logic in the SVuniverse…I mean (GOB Bluth style) C’MON!!!

    • penny ayala says:

      In Todd’s defence, isn’t Lila technically nouveau riche? Pretty sure old George went from being a cleaner or something to a computer chip magnate, or whatever it is that he does.

  12. annaloren says:

    ‘varitronics’ makes me think that the todd’s pa invented some sort of machine for slurping the veins out of old women’s legs.

  13. Laura @ Hungry And Frozen says:

    Badkat – that was my first thought, too – they look nothing alike!! And why do they look like this here…but all round and pink faced on the slightly earlier miniseries like the Evil Twin series…and then earlier they look like pseudo Marilyn Monroe types? Could we not stick to one vision of what they look like?

    I love how the door on the cover says “Restaurant.” We probably can’t see the “Chez” in front of it.

    I thought Claudia Kishi was the only one allowed to have almond shaped eyes!

  14. Winnie Egbert says:

    What if Liz wants to wear her “Oracle” press pass? Is that forbaden now?
    {Winnie snorts into her morning coffee}

    Task force? Liz just had an orgasm.
    {Winnie starts to choke}

    The task force is useless, duh. But it is like a halfway home for forgotten characters.
    {tears… streaming down face…}

    A.J. Morgan! He’s there too! He lives! It’s amazing when one of Jessica’s boyfriends gets out alive.
    {Winnie’s colleagues start to look up, one wanders over to see what the commotion is as she’s heaving with laughter. How on earth is she going to explain this website? Winnie’s professional respectability is in serious jeopardy, but this post has been the highlight of the morning. Thanks, ihatewheat!}

  15. Fraser says:

    West Side Story, hmm.
    “Jess-i-ca—I just met a girl named Jess-i-ca!”

    And I Feel Pretty was just made for her (“And I pity—any girl/Who isn’t me/Tonight.”)

    But I can’t get Sweet Valley to scan to the lyrics of “I like to be in America.” It’s one syllable short.

    So I guess the musical won’t fly.

    But I can’t wait to hear you snark out on the thrilling final chapter of this epic trilogy. What does Tolkien have to offer compared to a Sweet Valley gang war?

  16. This site is hysterical! says:

    Having just discovered this site, I need to dig my books out of my mom’s attic & re-read them all!!

    I started reading these when I was in junior high–which was in the early 80’s! (I’m 36!) I loved them & even as I got older & realized how cheesy they were I couldn’t stop. But I think I was in the #120’s when I did. I don’t recall the gang wars, but I honestly have no idea where I left off.

    I look forward to reading more reviews!

  17. Amber Tan says:

    “But I can’t get Sweet Valley to scan to the lyrics of “I like to be in America.” It’s one syllable short. So I guess the musical won’t fly.”

    Don’t despair, Fraser! How about “I like to go to Sweet Valley High…cheerleaders are models…my boyfriends die…there’s a big dance ev’ry Friday night…spoiled rich kids…ev’ry damn one white!”

    Eh. Maybe ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ would be a better parody choice: http://www.westsidestory.com/site/level2/lyrics/krupke.html

    “What does Tolkien have to offer compared to a Sweet Valley gang war?”

    Tagline-worthy, Fraser! 🙂

  18. Sophie says:

    I get super annoyed with these batches of covers, where the twins at the top don’t look alike at all. One looks like the Cynthia/Brittany Daniels girl and the other one…what is she? Adopted? Switched at birth? Didn’t the cover jacket editor tell the artist that it is simply not good enough?

    Seriously.

  19. Alicia says:

    I just want you to know that the lyrics to the new version of West Side Story: Sweet Valley edition made me snort water up my nose.

    AWESOME! It’s pretty much my dream musical.

  20. Fraser says:

    Amber you’re right–with “Sweet Valley High” it scans perfectly. And great lyrics.

    As for Tolkien, I can’t help thinking Liz might love to be the ring-bearer. Who else could nobly endure such a monumental burden? But I don’t know the books well enough to cast the rest of LOTR.

  21. Amber Tan says:

    Hee! We aim to please, Fraser & Alicia. Now we just need a choreographer. Is Sparky Palastri available? We’ll need Spirit Fingers! 🙂

    “As for Tolkien, I can’t help thinking Liz might love to be the ring-bearer. Who else could nobly endure such a monumental burden?”

    Absolutely, Fraser! The only problem is St. Liz is too self-centered to be the Ring-bearer. Frodo’s great strength lay in his ability to resist the power of the Ring. He could carry the Ring but abstain from wearing it which attracted the Eye of the Sauron and his Ring Wraiths. Liz would probably wear the damn thing all the time just to dig up dirt for her Oracle column. She’d doom Middle Earth for the sake of finding out who’s dating who in the SVH scene.

    Winston Egbert would be a more likely choice for Frodo. Bruce Patman could be Boromir. He can behave decently but is easily corrupted, especially when his dates pass out or his pride is at stake. Enid Rollins can be Gimli. She’s a stout little trooper with occasional flashes of humor but relegated to sidekick status.

    The rest of the Fellowship’s characters seem too noble for plausible casting of the SV gang since most of the nice SV characters mysteriously vanish or die. However, Emily from the Droids could be Eowyn, Shield-Maiden and Princess of Rohan. She’s probably pretty strong from lugging her drum kit to all those dances. Regina Morrow (pre-cocaine OD) could be Ariel the Elf Princess; she always seemed a little more mature than the others. Lynn Henry could be Treebeard due to her height.

    But there would be plenty of Orks-and-Goblins-and-Trolls-Oh-My! Carl the Orderly could pass as Gollum (i.e. creepy dude pursues his Precious to the bitter end). And the Phi Betas could be Saruman’s fighting Uru-kai. Bad-ass Orks got nothin’ on those bitches. Seriously.

    And instead of fighting battles, they could have cheer offs with the SVH squad doing their “rapper” routine. 😉

  22. JP says:

    ^ I disagree – it’s Sam who needs to be innately good and able to resist the Ring. Frodo is tempted and almost gives in.

    LOTR, Sweet Valley and musical theatre are pretty much my favourite things in the world. Give someone a lightsaber and I’d in orgasm.

  23. Amber Tan says:

    True, JP. Sam is “good” but he’s tested on the same level as his master. Sam does resists temptation and physically carries both Frodo and the Ring across Mordor and up the side of Mount doom but he never actually *wears* the Ring. IMO this is probably why Sam’s strength (i.e. unconditional love of Frodo) remains undiminished.

    FWIW, I’ve always interpreted Sam as a disciple/ apostle to Frodo who is the appointed savor of Middle Earth. As the inventions of a Christian theologian, it seemed an obvious relationship between the two characters.

    “Give someone a lightsaber and I’d in orgasm.”

    Now you’re talking, JP! Light sabers uber alles! 🙂

  24. Karla Keffer says:

    So really I’ll just say there’s lots of drama and Jess and Christian Gorman act like they are Romeo and Juliet.

    Has anyone else ever noticed how often someone compares Elizatodd (or whoever) to Romeo and Juliet and someone else always responds “Yeah, and look what happened to them”?

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