Harder Better Faster Stronger

Let’s not beat around the bush on this one. Tony Esteban is a fucking idiot. And rarely ever heard from again. And possibly a token non white person, although it was kind of ambiguous.

Tony is the star athlete of the track team (wasn’t that Roger? Never mind.) And his father has high hopes and lives vicariously through Tony because Papa Estaban had a promising football career but then his wife got sick so he had to give it up. Seriously, what a fucking wench. Isn’t that the plot of every book having to do with an athlete?

Tony hurts his knee during a big match and is paranoid that he won’t do well for an upcoming meet where an Olympic coach is looking for recruits. Tony works out at the local gym and hangs out with a gym rat named Lou who gives him “magic vitamins” to make him do better. The fact that Lou likes to hang around with teenage boys at the gym is the first of many red flags.

Tony is dating Annie Whitman. Apparently he doesn’t mind that she’s a dirty whore and dated over two guys in her life. Annie gets concerned about these “magic vitamins”. Tony is in denial that they are steroids. And seriously, the amount of times “magic vitamins” is printed in this book makes me want to scream. So, Annie has a cousin who is some biology lab mad scientist creates fake placebo pills that she replaces the “magic vitamins’ with to prove to Tony that they are just having a placebo affect. And the writers just shot themselves in the foot with that one because earlier in the book they mentioned that Tony was becoming all aggressive and irritated without him knowing why, so how is that placebo affect?

Meanwhile, Roger has a family friend, a kid named Mitch who is sent to stay with the Patmans because he was misbehaving at home and was caught drinking (and apparently, the Patman estate is liquor free and reeks of high morals). He ends up idolizing Tony and it makes Tony realize that he can’t take steroids because he’s a role model! Or something. And yea, he does the right thing and turns himself into the coach and all this shit and everyone forgives him and Liz takes credit for turning his life around. And Tony’s Dad suddenly is all good and tells Tony that sometimes parents learn lessons from their children and of course isn’t mad. And Annie and Tony smooch and make up.

and OH MY GOD the subplot. Todd is getting annoyed because he and Liz never get any time to themselves so they can spend time not having sex, because they are SO POPULAR that they can never get away from their friends. Life is hard. SO unbeknownst to each other, they both hatch the same plan to kidnap each other to go to a fancy inn for dinner. And Todd has Winston grab Liz, blindfold hwer and force her into his car. Yea, great fucking idea Todd, especially since LIZ WAS ACTUALLY ONCE KIDNAPPED. Way to be sensitive about it. However, Liz doesn’t even seem to make the connection or mention the other kidnapping thus proving that these suck so bad that even the ghostwriters don’t read the ones they don’t write. Surely that came up in an editorial meeting, but someone gave the go ahead because they were too lazy to think of something else.

25 thoughts on “Harder Better Faster Stronger

  1. penny ayala says:

    Pretty sure I remember Tony Esteban in “racing hearts” talking about Annie being such a slut that he’d have to get in line to ask her to the Bart dance

  2. Rio says:

    Annie’s staring up at him like “Uh, I don’t let anyone grind up on me THERE anymore, pal.”

    This entire book read like an after-school special, perhaps more so than any of the others.

  3. Janelle says:

    I read this one awhile ago and I, too, found the whole kidnapping thing to be absolutely ridiculous! Who would pretend kidnap someone who had really been kidnapped?!?! Oh Todd and Liz…

  4. Jen S. says:

    Whew, who knew it was so easy to get someone off drugs? If only Liz had known she never would have let Regina’s magic camera talk her into busting that drug ring! You know, the one that sold DRUGS??

  5. Karmyn says:

    What about the male pattern baldness or genital shrinkage? Oh right, nobody is Sweet Valley actually has something as nasty as genitals.

  6. Roger Patman says:

    Is that chest hair I see on Tony? Or do I need glasses?
    I didn’t have the pleasure of reading this classic, but did Todd at least instruct Winston to have some frozen pancakes, a blue cardigan, and 3 books from the hospital book store in the car as a ‘gift?’

    • 88keys says:

      No, you’re not the only one. And I know the SVH covers aren’t supposed to be, well, art, but these don’t look like real people at all. It’s almost like a cartoon.

  7. Magpie says:

    So, is Tony on steroids or not? I’m so confused.

    Even if Liz hadn’t been kidnapped for real before, that’s still a pretty stupid thing to do to someone. Yeah… because being blindfolded, bundled into a car, and driven God knows where is every girl’s idea of a dream date?!

  8. ihatewheat says:

    Yes, they were steroids. Annie’s nerd cousin tested them in her bio lab. Tony showed signs of the steroids, but then at the end his doctor told them because he only took them 2 weeks, it didn’t really have an affect on him. It of course didn’t mention any dick shrinkage.

  9. Magpie says:

    Ah, thanks ihatewheat – the whole placebo effect thing confused me, but by now I should know better than to expect accurate science from an SVH book!

  10. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Ah, steroids. Just as every YA lit series based around 13 year olds had to have a “looking after eggs pretending they’re children”, so high school based YA lit had to have a steroids plot. Sounds pretty dire, that said, not as dire as that subplot. Ew.

  11. sunstreakedblonde says:

    Ironically, I just read this one before I saw the recap here. Fabulous recap as always, IHW.

    The sad thing is they just did a plot like this on that ABC Family gymnastics train wreck, “Make It or Break It.” But alas and alack, the poor drug-taking girl didn’t have Liz Wakefield to intervene and save her, so now she’s in the hospital with a career-ending injury.

  12. RollingStone says:

    Annie’s clothes are pretty conservative for a dirty whore – she even has her blouse buttoned right up to the top. On her last cover, she was wearing a tank top. Maybe Liz magically reformed her.

  13. JasDramaQueen says:

    Heeheehee…did anyone here read this and immediately think of

    I’m so excited….I’m so SCARED!’ (Jessi Spannow, SBTB)

    For years, I thought she was on steroids. I only realise they were caffeine pills (wtf?!) about 8 years later.

    They later depicted steroids being abused by Tiffany on California Dreams. 7 stone blonde getting aggresive with 13 stone italian biker boy Jake.

    Apologies if I was the only one to watch this kind of shit. Our summer holidays were long!

  14. Bart_Templeton says:

    Congrats. You’ve managed to make this sound like possibly the most unappealing book in the SVH canon.

    Oh, and Lodds’s (or Tiz’s, if you prefer) kidnapping “we need more We Time” scheme is one more reason why they are 47-year olds, and why any 2009 movie (aherm, Diablo C.) populated with bright young starlets cannot possibly capture the middle-aged essence of this couple and the whole SVH ethos.

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