I get by with a little help from my memes.

I guess at some point someone at Bantam books suddenly read one of their own SVH books and thought “we still publish these? Really?”  and realized how horrible they are. Someone thought- “we need a new image!”  So they brought some “young hip” consultants  to revamp the SVH books. So, just like Robin Wilson, within a month, we get new fancy new look covers and more schmaltz and intrigue. the new era of SVH- the one that led to the eighteen-book-long miniseries including police, jail, arrests, fighting, tv dating shows, high school gang rivalry, and of course, everyone’s favorite child-murderess. There’s really no way to capture the absurdness of this one, except for having an imaginary conversation with this book and scream at it and also incorporate some of my favorite memes.

Liz and Jess are getting ready to go out one night with their bestest, nicest, genital-less boyfriends when somehow they both come to the conclusion that they haven’t had a school dance in a while.

REALLY? REALLY? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Then they come up with the idea that it should be a JUNGLE prom. And…..that they should get the local non-profit, Environmental Alert, to sponsor it.

For sers, Capt. Picard. HOW WOULD THIS HELP A NON PROFIT ORG? THE MEASLEY TEN BUCKS A TICKET WOULD BARELY COVER THE PRINTER CARTRIDGE COSTS FOR THE OFFICE OF THIS ORG. I’ve worked in non-profits, I know unless you are going to write a check with six zeroes, nothing truly can make that big an impact. AND IF YOU WANT TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT, DON’T HAVE A DANCE! NO CREPE PAPER AND LEFTOVER FOOD THAT IS WASTEFUL! NO CONSUMERISM FROM BUYING ALL THE CLOTHES!

Later the gang is at a beach party and they CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW AWESOME THEIR SCHOOL IS. And here is the description of how happenin’ this party is.

DeeDee Gordon and Bill Chase, the drama club president and top surfer, respectively, were doing the twist. Amy Sutton, whose knockout legs looked longer than ever thanks to a hot pink lycra mini-skirt shimmied up to her boyfriend Barry Rork. Tall, well-built Ken Matthews grasped his petite girlfriend, Terri Adams, by the waist; she squealed with delight as he lifted her high over his head. April Dawson and Michael Harris were hopping around, clapping their hands and singing along to the music.

IS THIS REAL LIFE???? REALLY FUCKING CURRENT AND HIP WAY TO DESCRIBE A HIGH SCHOOL PARTY. PEOPLE CLAPPING? NOOOOO!!!!!!!! MY MIND!!!! IT IS BLOWN!!!!

Meanwhile, kids from Big Mesa come by and raid the party, wearing Big Mesa gear. And by raid, I mean, steal the boombox and knock over the table of chips and dip. Big whoop. No big deal. of course Bruce Patman has a roid rage and THREATENS TO WEAR HIS CLUB X JACKET AT THEM. Apparently, it’s an all-out war of the schools…just like twenty books later? Really? DOES ANY EDITOR EVER FUCKING READ THESE THINGS? In the midst of the raid, Bruce spots a beautiful girl who saves him from being trampled, and his boner gets a boner. Don’t even worry about that, because it’s not resolved until the last book of the series and he ends up dumping her to get an over-the-pants hand job from Liz. But whatever.

Even better: at some point, Big Mesa’s newspaper publishes as issue that INSULTS THE ORACLE. OH NO THEY DI’INT!

Oh then something something, Jessica does something to piss of Liz but then makes Liz feels bad for feeling bad for Jessica, and Elizabeth declares she will never fall prey to Jessica’s selfishness again, it’s time to put Liz first! That will last five minutes.

Then someone decides that there should be a prom king and prom queen, BECAUSE THAT WILL HELP THE ENVIRONMENT. And the group likes the idea so much, they will send the prom queen (not the king, mind you) on a trip to Brazil to represent the org and give speeches.

HOW IN THE FUCK DOES THAT HELP? ThE JET FUEL ALONE COULD POWER A WHOLE THIRD WORLD VILLAGE.

Obviously, Jessica is thinking about bikinis and men she could hypnotize with her crusty blond bangs, and Elizabeth is thinking about helping poor Brazilllians start a gossip column in their village. This heat things up, and both girls want to be prom queen. Jessica is mad at Liz because obviously, Jessica is destined to be prom queen and Liz should be aware of that. Um, Jessica,

Liz and Jess fight, and Jessica goes into turbo-sociopath mode. They actually have daily prom committee meetings – because the school decided they would sponsor this- because it is the Wakefields after all-and Jessica never shows up and expects Liz to do all the work. liz knows this, but her nipples get hard when she makes to-do lists, so she can’t resist. Then the twins start campaigning for prom queen against each other, like it’s the only thing that matters. And blah blah blah, fight, fight, boyfriend snuggle, silent treatment, etc. Then Jessica decides to not allow people from Big Mesa because of the rivalry to win her favors. And then does a half-assed attempt at sticking to the theme by giving out “save the rainforest” and if A WHOLE RAINFOREST WAS PROBABLY KILLED TO MAKE THESE BUTTONS.

Liz mopes around because she’s fighting with Jessica, and thinks she should maybe drop out of the prom queen campaign. Her friends convince her she’s still worthy, she keeps protesting and OF COURSE they have to tell her a thousand times that she’s fabulous. Enid does a power point presentation for Liz on why she’s such an awesome friend. Except that liz remains a sad Keanu.

Time to get ready for the prom- the twins, although not speaking to each other, bith picked dresses that match their personality. Jessica chooses a pink, low cut number (to represent her vagina) and Liz picks a froffy blue off the shoulder number (to represent the cold glare of judgement). So how did they look? Let’s find out….

My thoughts:

How does Jessica get her hair so….crusty? And SOMEONE GET HER A FLAT IRON…STAT! And Liz….I just don’t even…

Elizabeth decides to make a prom mini-year book for the prom. Documenting all the pics of them prepping the prom and to…remember the three hours they spent in their high school gym? These kids are the most self-fellating bunch of kids ever.

And thus we have the part where Jessica turns into SOCIOPATH-OTRON 5000 ™. She starts seething at Elizabeth for taking what is RIGHTFULLY HERS. Todd wins prom king and she thinks Liz is a shoe-in. She then sees her dancing with Sam, and luckily, some kid wondered in from a another, more realistic YA novel where they drink, and Liz spikes Liz’s drink with vodka. Liz and Sam get drunk after a few sips and they do the tango and the Charleston (YES THAT HAPPENS). Suddenly Big Mesa raids the gym and everyone runs out to their cars, and Liz and Sam jump in the jeep, and apparently have an alcohol blood level of .98, they crash the van and Jessica and Todd run after them, only to see the jeep turned over and Sam and Liz presumably dead.

WHERE ARE ANY ADULTS/SCHOOL OFFICALS DURING THIS DANCE? GOOD FUCKING LORD.

Meanwhiles, during this time, Lila is seeing a counselor at Project Youth named Nathan because of her traumatic experience with J-Rape Pfeiffer. Who is also a counselor at SVH. Is that ethical? Real-life therapists, please shed some light. What is NOT appropriate is that he calls her “Li” and sees her on the beach and approaches her and wants to hang out with her.

WHAT? One of the first things i did with my new therapist was decide what we would do if we ever saw each other in public (we would not acknowledge each other- that’s how I roll). Lila starts having feelings for Nathan, because of course she’s a damaged, silly woman who will stupidly show misguided affection for the first man that pays attention to her. During the Big Mesa raid, Lila freaks and NATHAN THINKS IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO PULL HER INTO AN EMPTY CLASSROOM SHUT THE DOOR AND ATTEMPT TO EMBRACE HER.

You know what happens in the next few books. The judicial system changes to fit Liz’s needs and Margo drowns children. Double fried-chicken skin butter bacon burgers all around at the Dairi Burger!

Oh, just murder them already!

WHEN SHADOW PUPPETS GO BAD

UUUUUUUGHHHHHHHHH you guys I thought I had closed the chapter on the original Super Thrillers. To my chagrin (what’s a chagrin?) there is STILL this one and I don’t get it, it’s still summer, but Liz is with Todd, and they are still interns at the Sweet Valley News, and somehow they are not aware that this Seth guy writes mystery novels in his spare time. What is going on? Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt about to come in and kick Jessica’s chair over (better yet, a kick in the face).

So, yea. There’s a recent murder in town. Jessica overhears phone calls. The police are inept. Parents are not consulted. Drugs are involved. Jessica meets a twenty something accountant who of course has no choice in life but to ask her out. But he’s an undercover cop. Because, of course he is. There’s drugs in Sweet Valley! Someone must stop this! Jessica gets held hostage by their boss at the newspaper and is almost murdered. Liz saves the day at the last minute. After the FOURTH time Jessica is almost murdered in the same summer (or is it?) she skips off ready to shop at the mall and to get a boner over the latest hunky janitor who was just hired, or something.

Good Lord. Please don’t make me spell out the plot further. As Murtaugh would say….

And in case you haven’t heard…the SWEET VALLEY TEN YEARS LATER website has launched, confirming the actual release of Sweet Valley Confidential. I will admit, I didn’t believe that it would actually happen! But it IS for real! Although ten years for SV is practically 25 years for us. They must be 4 levels of dreams under…I’m going to implant the idea in their brains that Liz should shut the hell up. (Can’t stop with the Inception references!)I have my thoughts on the first chapter at a later time. Thanks to the site for linking me. And not hating me for crapping all over the author they represent. And who would have thought Francie liked poker?

And some housekeeping- I’d like to update the links to the right. If I am missing yours or someone else’s YA blog, drop me an email.

Coming soon- my interview with Amanda Howells, former Sweet Valley University ghostwriter and a giveaway of her new book….

On the Run: The ending gives away the story, dumbass

It’s the clip-art magnifying glass of doom! Despite witnessing the murder of their houseguest’s girlfriend and then almost being butchered in a garage, the twins lives are pretty much back to the ho-hum of Sweet Valley. They are back interning at the Sweet Valley news for free, and Elizabeth is still believing that one day the editor will give her the assignment of her life, she’ll write it and win the Pulitzer Prize. Keep making coffee and making photocopies, loser.

Meanwhile, the news has a new intern named Darcy Kaymen, who is a redhead and immediately takes a dislike to Elizabeth, who she deems as pompous and boring. We love Darcy! The great thing is, Liz doesn’t try to win Darcy over and concert her to a Wakefield-worshipping zombie, she just kinds of sits and takes it. Awesome! Meanwhile, Darcy and Jessica become besties, because they both enjoy lipgloss and psychopathology.

But oooooo, there’s national news about a well-known criminal case in New York. Frank DeLucca, a notorious mafia leader was arrested but people are afraid to testify against him. Ned has something to say about it: He “feared that DeLucca might be let off and horrible chain of underworld crime would continue.” Because they live in a 1930s film noir. And this guy’s conviction would make New York virtually crime free. Rumor has it that they found a witness but he was going into the witness protection program.

Meanwhile…there’s a new guy, Eric,  that works in the coffeeshop downstairs. He just moved to town and seems very mysterious. I WONDER HOW THAT IS RELATED TO THE SEEMINGLY PASSING MENTION OF SOMEONE GOING INTO THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM. Darcy gets hard on for him, but Liz gets a bigger hard on when she finds out that Eric likes sappy love poetry. This makes Darcy mad, so she hates Elizabeth more. Some other business comes up where Darcy thinks that Eric is really some guy who murdered a girl in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and that Liz is in trouble, but meanwhile some weird guys in suits are following the twins around but meanwhile, some kid starts choking in the coffeeshop and Eric’s father is revealed to be…dum dum dum….the doctor who testified! of COURSE they moved to Sweet Valley of all places.

Just when everyone has a big laugh about the mixup and about to head to Casey’s for a deep fried quadruple scoop of bacon and nutella ice cream, some of DeLucca’s guys come in and hold Eric’s family and Liz hostage! Liz somehow saves the day by teaching Eric and his father about the power of trust and they are saved, the bad guys are arrested, and the seedy crime underworld is virtually eradicated. Yay!

I couldn’t deny you the pleasure of hearing Eric’s poetry that caused Elizabeth’s high-wasted briefs in a knot.

No sparrows light here

the sheaves picked clean,

and summer gone

with nothing left to stave off cold

or hunger.

Maybe to love

is always to hurt deeply and not just

to hurt, but to destroy,

knowing this

awful farewell

has been in store for us.

Liz was ready to cheat on Jeffrey with this sap. The only thing stopping them from getting to third base was that Eric and his dad needed to leave Sweet Valley and go ON THE RUN again. See what they did there? Good thing that the nothing else crazy and murder-related happens during this summer….except when it does.

Another Todd and Liz breakup and death threat for the twins; it must be a Tuesday.

Silly me for assuming that these Super Star Editions would give some insight on the characters that the regular series didn’t have time to do because they spent too many pages talking about sea-green eyes and lavalieres. So, class, what have we learned from this book? Todd is boring and has Daddy issues and spends most of his time playing basketball and thinking about how sweet and kind Liz Wakefield is.

It’s summer again. Again. Liz and Todd are feeling the fizzle go out of their relationship, so they decide to sign up to be camp counselors for a two-week camp run by the parks department or something. Yea, nothing says romance like working like crazy for two weeks running around chasing kids and the only time spent together is in the company of children. And also, this rekindling thing? Are they on Yes Dear? What teenagers talk about their relationships like that?

So, because Sweet Valley is the #1 vacation destination for sociopaths to move to so they can enact revenge, Kevin Holmes turns up as one of the counselors in the camp. The back story is that when Todd was “living” in “Vermont”, he witnessed this guy Kevin mugging someone, and Todd being Todd, pinned the guy down until the police came. Then Kevin’s father tried to bribe him to not testify, but Todd being Todd, did his civic duty and went ahead and testified and Kevin got a jail sentence. Kevin vowed to get back at Todd.

Margo should take pointers from this guy. Kevin manipulates everyone into liking him and hating Todd, and threatens Elizabeth’s life if Todd reveals his identity. Meanwhile, Kevin also starts working at Todd’s fathers’ firm, and take an interest in the business, something Todd never does. So now Kevin has turned Todd’s dad against him too. This Kevin guy is a really good sociopath! Which is no wonder why Jessica spends no time rubbing up his non-existence Ken Doll genitals.

So after about eight chapters of Todd being emo and he and Liz squabbling, they decide to break up. Then something not exciting enough to go into detail happens in which another female counselor is mugged, and Kevin frames Todd for it. Todd threatens to turn Kevin in and while Todd is in jail briefly, Kevin lures Elizabeth into the woods and starts to strangler her but Todd gets out of jail and there just in time! Lovers reunited, justice served, and another 45 minutes of my life I will never get back.

By now I am pretty sure that the publishers over at Bantam took the first draft of anything anyone wrote and released it in the series.

Here’s an excerpt of Kevin talking trash about Todd:

Kevin lowered his voice. “There was an…incident with a girl. Nobody knows exactly what happened.” Kevin paused significantly. “But she had to jump out of the car to get away from him. She walked home.” Jessica’s mouth went dry. At that moment, she was relieved that her sister had broke up with Todd.

I’ll tell you what happened. This girl was trying to get some action from Todd and all he wanted to do was give her butterfly kisses and make metaphors about the colors of her eyes. So she bailed. And is Jessica most appalled by the girl having to walk home? And listen Missy, let us not forget when you tried to claim that Todd attacked you. She was probably pissed that someone stole her scheme.

Friends, if you’ve been keeping track, I’ve only a few more recaps to finish the first hundred. The end is nigh…

If Book Covers Could Talk: In Love Again

Courtesy of The Closet

Liz: Hi Todd!

Todd:  Hey Liz, you sure look pretty.

Liz: Thanks. Randy Mason made a time machine, and I traveled to the future to a place called Urban Outfitters, and got this dress.

Todd: Wow! Who are we posing for?

Liz: I don’t know, but keep smiling!

Todd: Well, that won’t be hard, I am so glad my family moved back to Sweet Valley and now we are super rich! Too bad I go to Lovett Academy, the snooty prep school. The kids here have names like Campbell Rochester, hang out with celebs like Michael Jackson and take seminars on ancient Greece. Since we don’t go to the same school anymore, I rarely get to see you.

Liz:I know! It’s so hard!

Todd: THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!

Liz: Who said that? Jessica? Enid?

Todd: Oh never mind. We should spend every waking moment together after school, going to Secca lake, where you can give me a b-

Liz:…book to read that expresses how much I love you?

Todd: Sure…yea, I guess. That’s what I meant.

Liz: Oh Todd, but this is so hard! By being with each other, we are neglecting our other commitments! The Oracle will fall apart without me!

Todd: Well then…maybe we should break up.

Liz: Oh Todd, you really mean it? It’s just like when you were here!

Todd: I know, but this may be awkward, because Courtney, the girl whom I rejected for you, has decided to take her revenge out on us by convincing her radio-producer father tio sponsor a battle of the area schools to see which school is best. There will be a geography bee, really races, and rope climbing. Oh, and a trivia bowl. Because those things prove the best school. All the schools will agree to this, and the entire event will take place at Lovett Academy. All the schools will get a week off, of course and somehow coincidentally, we will end up doing the same event- rope climbing. Only you will be on the SVH team and I will be on the Lovett team. And the competing against each other will serve as a metaphor for our competing commitments and lifestyles that keep us apart. Only Courtney will loosen your rope, causing you to fall snd almost break your neck. This near-death experience (your 15th) will cause me to see how much I really do love you, and I will convince my parents to let me enroll back in Sweet Valley High, where I really belong.

Liz: But Todd, that seems so unlikely to happen!

Todd: I know, right? It’s so far-fetched!

Liz: I mean really, a geography bee? Of course it would be a spelling bee! Who do you think I am, an idiot?

Todd: No, of course not. Now shut up and let’s get to the Dairi Burger so I can hand feed you some french fries and lick the salt off your fingers.

Teen gambling is a serious issue, you guys.

I think by book 51 the SVH ghostwriters had covered most of the pressing issues facing teens in the 1980s, and it came down to teen gambling and teen pregnancy. Of course, no one dared to do anything that had to do with sex, so it was someone’s job to make a moral tale for all about the dangers of gambling.

It can be dangerous. Remember what happened to Brandon Walsh? He went overboard with gambling on basketball games and eventually….his rich friend bailed him out. Yea, it can be bad.

Ronnie Edwards, who no one likes because he was mean to Enid and is not a Todd or a Bruce, is having problems at home with his single father. You know what that means- a life of dysfunction. He’s been dabbling in gambling and his bookie, Big Al, has given him lots of loans, like a Mustang convertible to drive. He’s showing the car around to everyone and metaphorically swininging his dick around. No one cares. Some guys try to beat him up for his car and Jeffrey and his super strong soccer legs come to bail him out. Suddenly Jeffrey is Ronnie’s best friend. Or Ronnie thinks.

Big Al, the bookie, specializes in taking bets on high school sports. Is this normal in the bookie world? I don’t know. If you are a bookie, fill me in. Ronnie owes a lot of money to Big Al, and Big Al sends his henchmen Max to rough him up a bit. Jeffrey starts to feel bad for Ronnie and considers throwing the game. Then Liz comes sniffing around to judge Ronnie and Jeffrey becomes mildly annoyed with her. Isn’t Jeffrey always sort of mildly annoyed with Liz? That’s why we love him.

The big soccer game. Liz has a person-in-need-boner, so she keeps an eye on Ronnie during the game. She sees Max come in and lead him away. Liz follows them to an abandoned warehouse (Sweet Valley seems to have several set aside for gang fights and torture). When Liz goes to a pay phone to call the police Max kidnaps her and holds she and Max captive. Liz, for whom death threats are a typical Saturday activity, thinks fast and they are able to knock out Max, and escape back to the soccer game in time to tell Jeffrey that he doesn’t have to throw the game. The police come to arrest Big Al and everyone runs off to celebnrate by binge-eating at the Dairi Burger. Except for Elizabeth and Jeffrey, who need time to make out.

In a side story that someone started and then never really came up for an ending with, Jessica, starts designing jewelery. And she uses a lot of feathers and big pieces of metal. How Claudia Kishi of her. Everyone loves them so she decides to bring them to a boutique to sell, and the boutique owner asks for more. Liz charges $900 worth of materials on her mom’s credit card, but then, as you can guess because you are not an idiot, the boutique does not want them anymore. So, Jessica took a GAMBLE on buying the supplies thinking her stuff would sell, but GAMBLING does not pay off. See how that worked? Gamblers never win, people. That’s the lesson of the day. Alice gets tiffed and makes Jessica promise to pay her back every week until she pays off her debt. Yet, as we know in the next book, she’ll probably charge a slutty gold lame dress from Lisette’s because of some dance coming up.

Do I even have to tell you that this one was a total stinker? The only thing that saved it for me was this exchange between Jeffrey and Ronnie:

Ronnie ran over to his side like a sick puppy. “Hi Jeff!” he said. “How did it go?”

“It’s Jeffrey,” Jeffrey snapped. “No one calls me Jeff.”

You heard it hear first. Do NOT call him Jeff.

That and there were about a dozen mentions of students and classmates never mentioned before. I may need to update the roster.

Choose your own (mis)adventure: Two Boy Weekend

You’re a popular, blond teenager. Your boyfriend is going to be away for four days. Do you:

  • (A) Pine after him by listening to your favorite songs that remind you of him, and spend the time hanging out with your girlfriends- it’s fun to have some girl time anyway!
  • (B) throw a massive temper tantrum, try to convince said boyfriend to cancel his plans despite it being important to him, practically threaten suicide, and sit on the beach for hours crying and feeling sorry for yourself

Great! You chose (B). Now, while you sit on the beach contemplating how awful your life is, you see a cute guy on the beach. Do you:

  • (C) Be faithful to your boyfriend for two fucking seconds. Maybe just admire him.
  • (D) Decide that he is the best looking guy you have ever seen and declare yourself in love with him. Of course agree to go out with him because he is instantly in love with you.

Great! You chose (D) You guys spend the whole weekend together. He doesn’t share anything about himself, but spends hours listening to you babble on about yourself.  After that weekend, and after your boyfriend returns, this guy, Christopher calls you incessantly after you ask him not too. Finally, you agree to go out with him one more time, and he threatens to smash into a brick wall with you in the car unless you promise to go out with him. Do you:

  • (E) tell your parents and seek help immediately. Maybe even call the police?….
  • (F) Decide to go out with him anyway, because you don’t want your boyfriend finding out about him. After all, your boyfriend is getting an award at a dance at the country club, and that will make you and him king and queen of the party, so you don’t want to miss that opportunity and therefore will continue to let Christopher harass you and threaten you. After all, you got a new dress!

You’ve chosen (F). Great! It’s the day of the party. However, Christopher finds out about the party, since he’s been stalking you. He shows up to break the news to your boyfriend, and probably to physically harm you for not choosing to be with him. When he arrives, he sees your identical twin sister and thinks it’s you. He starts talking to her and trying ti win her over. Should your twin sister:

  • (G) avoid this psycho, reveal herself to be your twin, alert some security at the party…or get the fuck away from this guy, or
  • (H) pretend to be you and agree to take a walk in the deserted woods with Christopher, so he won’t ruin your chances of being queen of the country club dance.

Well you chose…(H). Way to go…I guess? Still thinking your sister is you, he ties her up and shoves her in the trunk of his car in hopes of kidnapping her. This brings up some major issues because this is not the first time your sister was kidnapped. Not long ago, she was held hostage and fed frozen pancakes. Finally, after about an hour of dancing in the spotlight, you begin to feel a TAD BIT worried about your sister. You find her boyfriend and go off to find her. Just your luck! You catch them just as Liz is being thrown in the trunk. Jeffrey punches him out and you free Liz from the ropes. Yay! Does Liz:

  • (I) freak out from the incident, go ballistic on you, screaming for the police and have a flashback to her earlier ordeal?
  • (J) Hop out of the car, smooth her sensible skirt and laugh the whole thing off.

Great, you chose…..give me a fucking break. You chose (J)? Really? Really? Well, ok. So Christopher gets hauled off by security. Turns out he’s an escaped mental patient who has done this to girls before. Tee hee! Silly you! You probably should have asked more about him and not talked so much about yourself. You all head back to the party. Your boyfriend, A.J., asks you where you’ve been. You:

  • (K) Explain that you were cheating on him and because of your selfish actions, almost got your sister raped and/or killed.
  • (L) Say that things just aren’t working out, maybe you need time apart, and end up parting amicably so that the break up is NO FAULT of yours and he actually apologizes to you.

of COURSE you chose (L). You’re Jessica Wakefield.

—-

Francine, stop trying to make rape-chic happen. Seriously, were we supposed to think Jessica was dumb? Or that this was funny? What is the lesson learned? That they should just expect it because they are Wakefields, it’s part of life, if this happens it will all work out? That if they just ignore the guy threatening them, they can work it out themselves? That girls are powerless about the men that threaten violence against them? There was no lesson learned….Jessica has NO consequences from cheating on her boyfriend, not telling anyone about the guy threatening her, almost getting Elizabeth killed. She learns nothing. Elizabeth, as usual, enables her by cleaning up her mess.

Meanwhile, Jessica may be an even bigger sociopath than this Christopher guy. I’ve GOTTA transcribe Jessica’s reaction to A.J. having the NERVE to go away for four days. And when her friends wouldn’t wallow in her self-pity with her.

Her friends’ laughter drifted to her, and Jessica felt a surge of loneliness and betrayal. They were acting as if nothing was different, she thought. They weren’t making the least effort to cheer her up, and they were all going to Ken Matthew’s party later and didn’t even care if she went or not. I could disappear off the face of the earth, and they’d never know the difference. Feeling completely rejected, she dove into an oncoming wave and swam a few quick strokes out. She cut through another wave and felt her hair drag out behind her. They’d be really sorry if I drowned, she added silently. Then they’d wish they’d been nicer to me when they had the chance.

I call your bluff, Jessica. Drown yourself.

Working Class: Only if they are hot, please

I can’t believe at only book #19 the ghostwriters went downhill so quickly. Also, I was kind of saving this one for a bit because I thought it would be one of the more fun ones. Why do I continue to have expectations?

What this book could have been:

  • Lila and Jessica both have an interest in the same guy.
  • The guy seems mysterious and too good to be true.
  • Lila and Jessica both try antics that result in hijinks to compete for the guy
  • They both realize the guy is not worth it and decide to remain friends (frenemies)
  • OR the guy realizes the girls are mean-spirited and dumps them both, both teaching them a lesson

What we get is:

  • Jack is a LOWLY construction worker that Lila meets, and everyone is all judgmental and disgusted by that. However, Lila’s digging it and declares him her new man. Everyone is convinced that Jack is really hiding some secret identity, like he’s the prince of some tiny nation, because no one can REALLY be just a construction worker. Ugh, the working class!
  • Jessica proves her insane sociopath personality and hits on Jack at Lila’s party while Lila is not looking and gives Jack her phone number. Really Jess? You are a disgusting, mentally ill manipulator.
  • Jack begins to date both the women, but only Jessica knows. Jack convinces Jessica that he went out with Lila because he felt bad for her. After one, date, Jack and Jessica are walking on the beach and Jessica declares she is in love. From what? He smells her hair and he talks about how hot she is. Furthermore, Jack, who is older and has his own apartment, doesn’t even try to tap that ass. yea right.
  • After one weekend together, Jack tells Lila he wants to marry her. Because…why? All we see is them making lovey talk over lunch. Francine, can you please show the normal steps of attraction? Even with teenagers?
  • Coincidentally, Nicholas Morrow sees Jack out with Jessica and recognizes him as someone he used to go to prep school with in Connecticut. What are the odds? Also, Francine, did you know that there are other states on the east coast besides Connecticut? Nicholas remembers that Jack had an evil side and held a girl at knifepoint at school and was kicked out. Also he had violent mood swings that made him like “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.” In other words, he was probably bipolar. But god forbid these books are medically correct.
  • Nicholas uses this an excuse to go impress Liz by being the hero and saving Jessica. Nicholas, Liz, and Nicholas’ unimportant friend go to Jack’s apartment to save Jessica. Well, good! They are just in time! Jessica, determined to find Jack’s real identity, rifles around in his bathroom and finds a shoebox of pills and marijuana. Oooooo nooo, teh drugs! If having a shoebox full of pills and a pinch of skunk is a crime, than put me away forever. When Jessica confronts Jack, he holds her at knife point. Good judgment on guys, Jess! Well, this wouldn’t have happened if Jack worked at, say,  his father’s company, but he was a construction worker, for god’s sake.
  • The Scooby squad bursts in and saves Jessica at the last minute! Boy was that lucky! They all laugh about Jessica’s shenanigans with boys and then go out for a triple bacon cheesburgers at the Dairi Burger. You know, normal reactions when your life is threatned by the man you thought you loved. Deb Morgan would agree.
  • There is never a g-damn SHOWDOWN between Lila and Jessica, so wtf? Liz calls Lila to find out Jack’s address, Liz tells her that Jess has been seeing Jack and now Jack is probably trying to kill Jessica, Lila responds with “thank Jess for saving me the trouble!”. Ok.
  • Oh? And the subplot? Penny Ayala has mono (what? I thought guys didn’t want to kiss her? ZING!) so Liz of course is taking over as editor and she’s a fucking martyr about it. Turns out there’s a fantastic photographer at SVH who leaves their photos under the Oracle door. Liz wants to find out who it is, and it turns out that it’s Tina Ayala, Penny’s sister, who doesn’t want Penny to know its her because Penny never takes her seriously. Liz, always happy to tell families what to do, and convinces Tina to tell Penny. Well, this happens “offscreen” and all is well. Way to build up tension and suspense, ghostwriters. NOT.

Wow, what. an. absolute. stinker. The plot made no sense, had no purposeful plot turns and devices, and none of the conflicts were ever resolved thoroughly. Why was Jack even manipulating the two girls/ just because he was crazy and on drugs? Well, the one thing we got was a great cover, loving Lila’s pearls and general hotness, where Jess looks like an anorexic soccer mom.

Jack has got some game! Here’s how we wooed the ladies:

The ocean wind blew softly as they strolled down to the water’s edge. “It’s so vast, so wild,” Jack reflected as he stared out at the seemingly boundless sea. “It makes you feel like nothing more than one of these tiny grains of sand. Know what I mean?”

and here’s the deal sealer:

“I think I’ll name a star after you.” He and Jessica looked upward. Every star in the sky sparkled like a cut diamond. “That one,” Jack proclaimed, reaching his finger out to point towards the star. “Because it shines more brightly than all the rest.” Jessica followed his outstretched arm with her eyes. “But, Jack, that’s the North Star!” “Not to me, it’s not. Not any longer.” Jack carewssed Jessica’s cheek with his fingertips. “From now on that star is called Jessica, and every time I look at it, I’ll tink of this wonderful evening.”

Wow, it was great seeing my lunch again.

White Teen’s Burden

I take back everything I’ve ever said about others being the worst SVH ever. This one is beyond infuriatingly awful. Let me also say right up front the the strong upchuck reaction I had from this book are from my own personal thoughts on racism. So I’m totally using “I” statements here. I can imagine many will disagree, but let’s me respectful, eh? I’m taking about with each other. Feel free to belittle, insult, and rip all the characters to shreds. Photobucket The really really sad thing here is that some ghostwriter perhaps really thought they were doing a good thing. That in one book, they would nip the moral problem of racism in the bud. Some editor probably told Francine that she needed to address the race issue again, she argued that she already had an interracial romance and a Mexican Festivals, and some compromise was reached where they would release a book that would solve racism.

Some of you may say “but at least it was addressed, and may have got some people who read this thinking about it”. I argue that this makes it worse. This book includes some of my major pet peeves about how white people deal with racism. Look, as a white person, I am FAR from perfect in this arena. I do not claim to have the answers, but I know what this book shows ain’t the answers either.”But they are only teenagers!” you night say. Yea, well, for teenagers that solve crimes, and generally in other instances act like they think they’re 30, I’d expect more. And if the author(s) were seriously really trying to send a message about overcoming racism, they did a piss poor job.

Enough of my soap box (sorry I got all Liz on you) let’s get into it.

Pet Peeve #1: White people think that racism doesn’t exist if they don’t directly seeing it play out in their own lives.

We know trouble is brewing because Liz decides to do a survey for the Oracle on what people would change about Sweet Valley High….Liz is all stoked to write about how people would prefer  “more soft drink machines in the cafeteria and shorter classes”  but is all taken aback that some people at SVH think the school has issues. Liz gets all pissy when Penny suggests that the school get rid of Pi Beta Alpha. I hope that Lois Walker knows about this survey and that she goes to town with it. Also, shut up Liz.

Pet Peeve #2 White people pat themselves on the back when they have a friend of a different race.

Neil Fremount (who used to dry hump Jessica at the drive-in, and is now dating Penny Ayala) has a bff Andy Jenkins. Andy is really good at science, and is just like a regular guy! Neil loves talking to him! And it doesn’t even bother him that Andy is black! isn’t Neil so progressive? He has a black friend! He can’t be racist! And, Andy is just a “regular” guy, and is just like all the other white people!

Meanwhile, Neil’s dad works for Andy Jenkins’ Dad at some power plant or something. Mr. Freemount insinuates that Mr. Jenkins got the job because he’s black. Mr. F also works with Mr. Cashman, who is lucky enough to have that outstanding Charlie Cashman as a son. Mr. C is totally spouting off to everyone, and Charlie also gets these ideas from his dad and decides to give Andy a hard time because their dads are having a work feud.

Pet Peeve #3 White people get annoyed when people of color won’t accept their help.

Neil is pissed that Charlie’s crowd is giving Andy a hard time, and what makes him even madder is that Andy doesn’t want to do anything about it. Andy’s locker gets defaced and his tires slashed and wants to just ignore it.

“Listen,” Neil began hesitantly. “Try not to let it get yo you.” He groped for the right words but couldn’t find them. “Think-think of how Martin Luther King Jr would react to a situation like this.”

Yes, yes, Andy does give him shit for saying that, and explains how when something like this has happened before, a teacher told Andy just to ignore it. Neil, however, is pissed that Andy is pissed at him for trying to help. This makes Neil so pissed off!  He is trying to help out his black friend, don’t you see? He’s such a good guy! And Andy is making it so hard for him to be the progressive white guy! And it is just so hard for him! And we have to hear how hard it is for him for several chapters! You know who’s perspective I’d like to hear on this? Andy’s. But he is really just a contrived plot device so the school can learn about racism. We don’t have opne single chapter or paragraph told from Andy’s point of view. He’s not a character, he’s a plot device.

One day in the parking lot of the movie theater, Charlie and his gang  jump Andy and beat the crap out of him. Neil comes out and tries to stop them, but Charlie offers to let Neil have a swing at Andy. Neil looks at him and suddenly realizes how AWFUL Andy has been to him, and how Andy won’t take his sage white advice all the time, and decides he needs to take his advice out on Andy, and TAKES A SWING. Neil is all shocked at himself and calls the police after Charlie and his gang flee the scene.

So now Neil is the big hero, and the halls of SVH are buzzing because the school just had their first hate crime! Yay! Where’s the cheerleaders and the band? maybe Winston can do some stand-up to commemorate the occasion. Neil goes on for a while and lets people think he saved Andy, but is ALL TORN UP INSIDE about his secret. Yea, because NEIL is the true victim here, folks. Finally he goes over to Andy’s to tell him what he did (apparently Andy was beaten unconscious and didn’t know it was Neil that hit him) and Andy apologizes to him for being distant to him and not taking his advice and Andy tells Neil that HE’S THE RACIST FOR NOT LISTENING TO HIS WHITE FRIEND. And Neil still doesn’t tell him about what he did. God, this is sooooo hard for NEIL!

The twins get their airtime by having a serious discussion about inequity and privilege.  Liz is all torn up because she keeps getting answers to her “what would you change about SVH” survey and not every answer coming back is “Nothing! SVH is perfect! Except that we should have more dances!” and tries to engage Jessica in a powerful dialogue about privilege and system of oppression in America.

“So in other words, people who are good-looking and rich get extra, is that what you’re saying?” Elizabeth demanded hotly. “I know it’s not fair” Jessica said. “But hey, I don’t make the rules.” Elizabeth stood up, threw the pillow on the bed, and began to pace. “Then I want to talk to the person who made the rules,” she said fiercely. “We need some new ones.”

Ah, Jess, our very own Social Darwinist. And watch out entire system and history of oppression, Liz Wakefield wants to talk to you.

Pet Peeve #4 White people claim to know what discrimination and hate is like because of (what they think) are similar instances. AND Pet Peeve #5 Teachers/facilitators use trite and insulting exercises to simulate discrimination (see also: making people walk around with a blindfold all day so they can understand the plight of blind people)

After Andy’s beating, Jessica does get a bit pissed about inequities. So she decides to START A PETITION! Yea, that will show ’em. Meanwhile, in her sociology class (they take sociology in high school? as if that’s the most messed up thing in this book) and Mr. Jacobi tries to teach them a lesson about discrimination by dividing them into Light-Eyes and Dark-Eyes. And the Dark-Eyes get to treat the Light-Eyes like crap and there is nothing they can do about it. Oooooo, burn! Jessica gets all upset.

This is what is feels like, she told herself. This is what is feels like to be discriminated against.

Wow! In a 30 minute period Jessica is transformed and feels the entire plight of people of color! Thanks trivial exercise.  I also want to mention that people are talking about discrimination, but Andy’s situation is beyond discrimination. He was flat-out almost KILLED.

Oh yea, so what’s going on with Andy? He’s back at school and up for a prestigious science award/scholarship. The school has an assembly for it, and everyone rushes to be the first into the auditorium to show their un-racism. When Andy accepts the award there is thunderous applause and a standing ovation. I think it is great to support him and he had been through a lot, but before the “incident” did anyone even know who he is or give a shit that he was good at science?

See Pet Peeve #2

Elizabeth falls all over herself and makes a big show of inviting Andy and his girlfriend over to sit with the gang at lunch.Because, you know, she likes black people! And she can’t be racist, because she hangs out with black students in the cafeteria! Except that she never talked to Andy before this incident!

Elizabeth felt a surge of warmth when she looked at her friends. They all wanted to reassure Andy that they liked him. And it wasn’t just because of his race. That would be reverse discrimination, which was just as bad. They all genuinely liked him because he was a likable guy, and he seemed to recognize their friendship for what it was.

Sure, Liz. Inviting someone to eat with you because you want to get to know them better is JUST AS BAD as beating them in the parking lot. Also, Liz stop patting yourself on the back for being so accepting.

Charlie Cashman and his gang taunt Andy as he is walking across the football field and Neil sees this and stands up for him. Andy thanks him but tells him it doesn’t mean they are even, and walks away. The only redeeming thing about this book is that Andy doesn’t automatically forgive him. But he does, however, walk off alone. So Andy still feels isolated and alone in in uber white Sweet Valley, loses his only friend, but Neil makes up with his girlfriend and gets his friends back SO ALL IS WELL!  He does some serious soul searching and groveling, and finally Penny forgives him, and things seem to be back on track for him. For NEIL.  Thank god. What about Andy? Oh, there wasn’t enough time on the book to do his epilogue because the pages were needed for the contrived lead-up to the next book.

Pet Peeve #5 when someone tries to shove resources down your throat.

This one applies to me! No, seriously, as you all know, I love pop culture, and one of the reasons I love it is because it reflects the dynamics of society. I find it interesting to dissect pop culture in terms of its depiction of the the non-white, non-hetero, non-rich, non-able-bodied. I wouldn’t say I ENJOY it, because I wish I didn’t have to point out how it represents some fucked up stuff. Anyway, some great blogs I read and recommend are Stuff White People Do, not to be confused with the blog Stuff White People Like, which although is a humor site, is still a social commentary. And, one of my very favorites, Racialicious: the intersection of race and pop culture.

And special thanks to my friend John for making the book cover graphic above.

White Lies: If Book Covers Could Talk

Jennifer: Sigh.

John: Sigh.

Jennifer: Sigh….Wait, why are YOU upset? I’m the one who should be. I was going to run away with Rick Andover but SOMEBODY caught him stealing from a music store and he was put away. OBVS it was my father because he didn’t want me to see him anymore.

John: Well, it was actually me. See, I secretly love you and reported him so that you wouldn’t ruin your life with a shame on society  like Rick Andover.

Jennifer: WHAT? HOW DARE YOU-

John: Shhhhhhhhh, son’t get too mad. We shouldn’t break this pose. Let’s milk this cover as long as we can. You’ll never be heard of again after this book and the next time I appear, I’ll be a rapist.

Jennifer. True. Sigh. You lean real well.

John: Thanks, you- well, I am not sure what is so great about you. You aren’t depicted with any sort of personality. But you ARE blond.

Jennifer: Not true! I play the piano! And I make out with Rick Andover real well!

John: Speaking of, so what happens to him in this book?

Jennifer: No one cares. Because at the end you swoop in and rescue me so it’s a happy ending and tying up lose ends of the plot is irrelevant.

John: Yea, even though you thought it was your father that turned in Rick and then your father had a heart attack and you refused to see him in the hospital on his death bed.

Jennifer; Yea, I am a bit of a drama queen. See! There’s another facet of my personality!

John: Well, if it hadn’t been for Liz, I never would have cleared up everything.

Jennifer: Ugh, I was wondering how she would weasel her way into this plot.

John: Well, she kept showing up mysteriously at my locker and squeezing my scrotum until I would open up to her and tell me my problems.And then she actually showed up at the hospital and faked a card from me to you so we would make up. I think the hospital made her her an honorary surgeon for fixing the love lives of some self-absorbed teenagers.

Jennifer: And I supposed Jessica somehow got some plot in this one too?

John: Yea, something about how she is manipulating her boyfriend A.J. into doing whatever she wants him to and disregarding any of his feelings. You know, a typical weekday.

Jennifer: So what is a White Lie, anyway?

John: Well, we are very white, and lies were told. Maybe it is a play on words? I don’t know.

Jennifer: Well, don’t look at me, you are the Oracle reporter. You read gooder than I do.