Monday, July 27, 2015

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Nowhere To Run

I know, I KNOW. I've been neglecting my Sweet Valley progress most terribly of late, but work and things kept getting in the way. Things like organising my brother's stag because I'm best woman at his upcoming wedding and gender roles can SUCK ITTT. Anyway, let's do this thing!

Sweet Valley High #25: Nowhere To Run

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are having lunch at school and giddy with excitement because their grandparents are coming to visit from Michigan and they haven't seen them in over a year. It's cute how enthusiastic Jessica is about it, but also seems a bit out of character for her to be that excited about grandparents, to be perfectly honest. While discussing their upcoming plans, Elizabeth "couldn't help overhearing" the conversation going on between Dana Larson and Droids drummer Emily Mayer at the next table. Girl please, I bet she almost slid right off her cafeteria chair trying to listen.

Emily's new stepmother Karen has just had a baby and things are super tense at home. Emily feels like Karen is trying to push her out so it'll just be Karen, Emily's dad and the new baby in the house, so she suddenly tells Dana all this, gets upset and runs off. Later that day, Elizabeth is proof reading her latest column for The Oracle in the office after school when sexy Mr Collins arrives.

"I'm glad you're here," Elizabeth told him. "I could use some help on the article I'm writing on the tenure system."

Yeah, because sixteen year old high school students totally give a fuck about the details of their teachers' employment contracts. Great article there, Liz.

Mr Collins tells Elizabeth that Emily Mayer wants to try out for the editorial staff on the school paper, and that he told her Liz might be able to help her, whereupon Liz reacts like Emily has shown up and pissed on her doorstep.

"Emily!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "But why does she want to work for The Oracle? She's a musician, not a journalist!"


Emily shows up, but looks like she's been crying. "Elizabeth caught her breath when she saw the girl. She looked awful." Well you'd better tell her how terrible she looks Liz, seeing as that's like your favourite thing to do. For once in her life, Liz manages to reel it in and instead asks her why she's thinking about joining the paper. Emily explains that it was her stepmother's idea and asks Liz if she can confide in her, despite the fact that they don't actually know each other that well.

"I've always admired you so much," she added wistfully.


Emily explains that her stepmother, Karen, has it in for her and is trying to convince Emily's dad to send her off to boarding school. She also hates Emily's drums and won't let her practice at home because of the baby (who is named Karrie by the way, which seems like criminally lazy naming on the ghostwriter's part) and thinks that writing is a much better pursuit than music, so Emily is just trying to do whatever Karen wants her to, so she won't have an excuse to kick her out.

However, Karen is a total wagon and keeps moving the goalposts, insisting on a curfew for Emily, which means she won't be able to practice with The Droids during the week, freaks out when Emily plays her drums even though it's within the agreed time slot and lands Emily with looking after Karrie on a night that Emily has plans, because she "doesn't trust" babysitters and knows that Emily can't risk saying no and kicking off a huge row.

Meanwhile, the twins are having a lovely time hanging out with their grandparents, who are of course, the most perfect old people ever. At a family dinner, their eyes twinkle no less than three times within two pages. It must be like trying to eat beside a discoball. While all this is going on, Alice Wakefield has started to feel like she doesn't spend enough time with the girls and gets all sad when she springs last minute plans on the twins but they're already doing something with the grandparents. She comes home early to make a surprise steak dinner for everyone, but the twins are going for Chinese with Grandma and Grandpa, and Alice and Ned couldn't possibly join them because Ned doesn't like Chinese food. Like, just stick the steak in the freezer and Ned can either get the Chicken Maryland or stay at home and make his own fucking dinner. Come on, Alice.

Anyway, Emily totally fancies The Droids bass player, Dan. He's been covering for her when she can't make it to band practice because of Karen's dumb curfew, although she's been keeping her troubles at home a secret from him as she doesn't think he'd be interested in her if he knew what a mess things were. Also, Emily has always told people in school that her mother died when Emily was young, but the truth is that she left without any explanation and fucked off to Chicago. Elizabeth is the only other person that knows this, because she's so amazing that she's easier to confide in than any of Emily's actual friends. This is explicitly stated, by the way.

So, Dan has arranged to call over to Emily's house after school so he can check out the new cymbals she ordered from LA and Karen will be out of the house at a doctor's appointment with Karrie, so what could POSSIBLY go wrong? Only Karen arriving home with the baby before Emily realised and immediately screaming at her for having a boy over without her permission and totally humiliating Emily by bringing her mother into it. She tells Emily that she's turning into her mother and that she won't have her baby growing up in a house with a tramp, and all in front of Dan. Karen! You fucking bitch! She then runs off upstairs crying, like she's the victim somehow and poor Emily is left there sobbing as Dan awkwardly leaves and it's all just HORRIBLE.

A distraught Emily then calls Elizabeth at home and tries to tell her what happened but breaks down crying.

"You sound terrible Emily, why don't you come over right away and we can talk about whatever it is that happened?"

Just couldn't help herself, could she. Emily decides to walk over to the Wakefields' house and honest to god, we get an ENTIRE page of Emily thinking about how great Elizabeth is, because when your life is falling apart, the transcendent Wakefield twins are the only thing to keep you going. Emily arrives at the house and ends up telling everyone at the dinner table all about what happened. She asks if she can stay with them "for a while", which is pretty awkward, considering that she and Liz are essentially casual acquaintances. Ned says that she can stay for the night, but only if she calls her father to let him know where she is. However, when she calls her dad he's clearly taken Karen's side and won't listen to anything Emily says, demanding that she come home or else he'll put her drums out on the street. Not cool, Dad.

The absolute hack of Emily here. I mean, she looks nice and all, but she's the drummer in Sweet Valley's hottest band who are practically Jem & The Holograms, not some square tennis player who probably wears their jumper knotted around their shoulders. COP ON, EMILY.

The next day at school, Dan tries to talk to Emily, but she's acting all cold and says she's quitting The Droids and selling her drums. She asks Liz to put an ad in the school paper for her drums, at which point Liz bombards her with questions about what happened when she got home, despite the fact that Emily just said she didn't want to talk about it. Elizabeth and Dan then decide that Emily giving up music is a terrible idea, as it means so much to her, so they come up with a plan where Dan will buy the drums for safe keeping. They also keep referring to her as a kid (Elizabeth: "You poor kid!" / Dan: "That crazy kid") which is weird and pretty patronising, considering they're all the same age.

At home, Karen continues to be mad at Emily for essentially no reason and when Dan calls to say that a friend of his will buy her drums, Emily is upset that he doesn't try to talk her out of it. Her father comes to talk to her that evening and when she tells him that she sold her drums he accuses her of being a martyr and says that he had hoped the three of them could come to a reasonable solution, which is a bit fucking rich, considering that he hasn't once listened to Emily's side of the story and appears oblivious to the fact that his awful wife is Lady Tremaine-ing the living fuck out of his daughter and is the one who has pushed her to this point.

For the next while, all Emily does is go to school and babysit Karrie. One evening, Karen gives Karrie a doll with beads for eyes because she's a fucking idiot, and the baby ends up swallowing one of the beads and starts to choke. Karen freaks out and starts shaking her and won't let go, so Emily ends up having to slap Karen to make her let go of the baby and then saves Karrie's life. Emily's dad arrives in to see the baby screaming crying, Karen being hysterical and Emily about to faint and immediately accuses Emily of trying to murder the baby or something. Karen doesn't bother her hole explaining the situation or even being the tiniest bit grateful, she just stands there crying, so Emily's dad, as usual, won't listen to Emily when she starts to explain and just tells her to get out, because he's a dickhead.

Emily ends up back over at the Wakefields' place, with her money from selling her drums and a plan to head for Chicago to try to find her mother. She calls the apartment where her mother had been living the last time they were in touch, four years previously, but it turns out that her mother remarried and moved to Mexico. Grandma Wakefield then comes in and tells Emily some conveniently relevant story about how Grandpa Wakefield had a son from a previous marriage when they got together and how difficult it was for her and this random uncle of the twins who is never mentioned again in the entirety of this series to get along at first, particularly after she had Ned.

While all this is going on, Elizabeth called Emily's dad to let him know where his daughter is (Jessica calls her a rat for doing so - ha!) and he turns up at the house with Karen and Karrie in tow. Karen apologises for being a horrible cunt to Emily and begs her forgiveness, explaining that she was jealous of Emily because she and her dad were so close. Emily immediately rushes over and hugs her and the baby and all the Mayers end up in a group hug, although her dad didn't actually apologise for being a tool and accusing her of trying to hurt her sister, but everyone's happy now so I guess that's all just FINE.

Meanwhile, Alice's weird jealousy of all the time the twins are spending with their grandparents is resolved when Ned tells the twins that their mother feels left out lately, so they ask her to help them plan a going away party for Grandma and Grandpa and that fixes everything in that completely pointless subplot that went absolutely nowhere. The Mayers are invited to the party too and Elizabeth surprises Emily by having The Droids set up in the dining room with her drums and the band then plays a set because these people are all fucking ridiculous. Afterwards, Emily figures out that Dan was the one who bought her drums and she tells him he's wonderful.

The look she gave him said it all. She had a feeling the two of them were going to make some pretty special music together.

Read: boning.

Notable outfit:
There was a CRIMINAL lack out outfits in this one. Literally nothing! A blue scarf is about all we got out of it and I for one am DISAPPOINTED. Do better, ghostwriter.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 153
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2
(TWO? How are we supposed to remember that the twins are blonde with only TWO references?)
Amount of times Karrie is referred to as "little Karrie", in case we forgot she was a baby: 19

Friday, July 03, 2015

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Special Christmas

First of all, I apologise for this, but...


It's quite strange to be writing about Christmas in the middle of a heatwave, but here we are. It's Super Edition time, which means taking yet another confusing jump out of the usual Sweet Valley timeline. This particular book technically comes between Say Goodbye and Memories, despite the fact that Todd has been in Vermont for an unspecified amount of time in this one, but he was still visiting Sweet Valley (after only just moving) at the very beginning of Memories, so Special Christmas seems to slot in a little better after that one. I think. I don't even know anymore, continuity is for squares, let's just get to it!

(Also, please like my Facebook page. Because I'm not above begging.)

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Special Christmas

It's almost Christmas in Sweet Valley and everyone is giddy and excited. Elizabeth is looking forward to seeing Todd, who's back to visit from Vermont on Friday, and Jessica is eyeing up a German exchange student called Hans who seems to have materialised out of nowhere and is convinced that he's her Secret Santa (the entire school does Secret Santa and the students all buy each other a series of little presents up until the Christmas dance (OF COURSE), where everyone is revealed). However, Lila Fowler is trying to wreck Jessica's Christmas buzz, by deciding that she wants to be Miss Christmastime this year, a title that Jessica has decided is hers after being runner-up last time. RUNNER UP?! The fuck is this?! Who could possibly have beaten Jessica Wakefield to a crown? In the very first book, she is literally described as "the most adorable, most dazzling sixteen-year-old girl imaginable". 

Anyway, the twins are in great form when they get home after school, because they're now on holidays and Steven is home and everything is awesome. That is, until Steven breaks the news that Suzanne Devlin is coming to stay with them for two weeks during the holidays and now CHRISTMAS IS RUINED.

Quick reminder, Suzanne Devlin is the daughter of one of Ned Wakefield's friends who came to stay in Sweet Valley a while back. She was hotter than every other girl in town, stole Elizabeth's lavaliere and falsely accused Mr. Collins of trying to assault her, almost costing him his job. And in Sweet Valley, all three of those crimes are equally grave.

Apparently Suzanne's father rang Ned and Alice and told them that Suzanne had "been through a great deal recently" and wanted to come out to see them all to make up for being so horrible the last time she was there and this is happening whether the twins and Steven want it to or not.

"Look," Mr. Wakefield said, "we feel terrible about imposing Suzanne on you three. But I'm afraid there isn't much we can do about it. Suzanne is intent on coming out here."

Oh, well if she's intent, then what can you do? It's not like you can just say "No, sorry, that doesn't suit, what with it being Christmas and all and really, staying for two weeks is pushing things fucking slightly, don't you think?"

In the meantime, Elizabeth has gotten anxious over her reunion with Todd, as she's not sure that they'll still have the old spark between them and feels like their relationship has become more of a friendship since he moved away. On Saturday morning, Jessica appears in the kitchen, dressed in a fugly homemade Christmas elf costume.

She was wearing kelly-green tights and green slippers with curled-up toes and bells jangling from their tips. She had made a strange little suit out of a green plastic garbage bag, cutting leg holes in the bottom and arm holes in the sides and stapling the whole thing up at the shoulders. Something - probably newspaper, from the look of it - was being used as stuffing to make her look round. Underneath the sack she wore a red long-sleeved T-shirt. There was green paint on her face.

Frankly, I'm disappointed that Jessica wasn't a pioneer of the sexy elf costume movement.

She explains that Cara Walker was supposed to be volunteering as one of Santa's elves at the mall but is sick and needs Jess to fill in for her. However, the interviews for Miss Christmastime are later that same day, but Cara assured Jessica that she'd be done elfing in plenty of time.

Unfortunately for Jessica, this was all a sneaky Lila Fowler scheme (which Cara was tricked into) to keep Jessica busy all day so she couldn't make it to the Miss Christmastime tryouts. ALL TEE ALL SHADE. At the end of her day at the mall, Jessica ends up telling Santa all about missing her chance to be Miss Christmastime and to be on the special parade float (oh yeah, there's a Christmas parade too, because why the fuck not), so he kindly offers her a spot on his one, where she'd be an elf again. Jessica accepts and immediately beings to formulate a revenge plan, which is pretty much her default status, regardless of whether revenge is actually warranted or not.

When she gets home, Jessica reveals her dastardly scheme to Elizabeth, which will involve her taking Lila's crown and dress (because Lila won, obvs) from the changing room in the civic centre on the morning of the parade and replacing them with her terrible elf costume, so Lila will have to be an elf on Santa's float, or risk revealing the dick move she pulled, and Jessica will get to be Miss Christmastime by straight-up stealing the title.

Suzanne Devlin arrives in Sweet Valley, and the twins and Steven have decided to make life difficult for her, so she'll pack up and go join her parents, who are in Saint Moritz for Christmas. This dastardly plan so far involves Jessica pretending to forget that Suzanne was coming and "short-sheeting" her bed, whatever that means. I looked it up and Google's answer was "make (a bed) as an apple-pie bed" / "give an apple-pie bed to (someone)" so that was really fucking helpful. I think it's something to do with folding the sheet so the person's legs can't get to the end of the bed or something. It doesn't appear to have anything to do with apple tarts. Americans, man.

Anyway, after the first evening, Steven has decided he's going to stop giving Suzanne a hard time, as she seems like a nice person this time around and Elizabeth is starting to have doubts about being mean to her too. Jessica isn't buying it for a second though, and reminds them of how well Suzanne had everyone fooled the last time she was in town. Todd calls Liz that night and she fills him in on Sweet Valley's newest arrival. After the phonecall, we discover that Todd actually bumped into Suzanne recently, while he was on a school ski trip.

His new friend Jerry tried to chat Suzanne up and they all went for dinner together. Todd expected Suzanne to ruin the trip, after being such a gowl previously, but she appeared to be a completely different girl this time, and actually fun to be around.

She smelled good, he found himself noticing. Not like the perfume she used to wear. No, now she smelled like soap and pine needles and fresh air...

Perfume is for skanks.

They had a talk and Suzanne apologised for her behaviour and explained that she was angry at her parents but took it out on everyone else and they have a moment where they almost kiss but don't and Todd realises that he totally fancies her now that she's all sound and smelling like a Yankee Candle. Naturally, he doesn't tell Liz any of this.

The next morning, Liz comes downstairs and sees Suzanne slipping a bottle of pills back into the pocket of her dressing gown. She's also noticeably lost some weight, so the twins are suspicious as to what's going on with her. (I say suspicious, but Jessica pretty much immediately runs around telling everyone that Suzanne is a drug addict. Jessica gonna Jessica.) Suzanne tries to properly apologise to Elizabeth about being terrible before, but they're interrupted by Jessica, who gets a delivery of daises to the house from her Secret Santa. She's convinced it's sexy German Hans, as she's already gotten a little jewellery box that plays Für Elise when opened and that's "European", so it stands to reason. (However, we already know that Hans is actually Lila Fowler's Secret Santa, because he had to ask Liz who Lila was when he drew her name.)

Todd is back and shows up at the house, but when he comes in and Suzanne sees him, she starts trembling and drops the vase with Jessica's daisies in it, smashing the lot and runs off crying. Jesus, try to be cool Suzy. Todd gets a chance to talk to Suzanne alone and they agree not to tell Liz about their meeting while skiing, but Jessica overhears their conversation and deduces that Todd and Suzanne are in love and that Suzanne is up to her old tricks, trying to steal Liz's boyfriend. Jessica kicks things up a gear with her plan to drive Suzanne away, so she enlists Aaron Dallas and Winston Egbert to be Suzanne's Secret Santas but for doing mean things instead of leaving her nice presents.

You will always know Elizabeth by her barettes and jumpers. I wonder what's in the box? More barettes, probably. Jessica looks like she's just been given a dig in the shoulder.

Liz and Todd have barely had any time alone since he got back, because he's just so goddamn popular, and they end up going to the Beach Disco, where Ken Matthews has organised a welcome home party. The Droids are playing and have even written a song especially for Todd and Elizabeth, called I'll Wait For You, because everyone's lives revolve around the Wakefields and their respective relationship statuses.

The next morning, it turns out that Aaron and Winston have sent Suzanne an anonymous ransom note that spells out SUZY DEVLIN GO HOME and Elizabeth is first on the scene.

"Suzanne, what is it? You look awful!" Elizabeth blurted out.

This bitch has a great knack for telling people who are visibly upset just how terrible they look. Suzanne ends up telling Elizabeth all about how lonely she was in New York and that her parents were never really around. She almost lets slip some manner of secret, saying "But when I found out -" before stopping herself. She's also been having dizzy spells and the twins overheard her saying she was having problems with her vision. INTRIGUE. Elizabeth forgives her and reckons that she should stay and encourages her to try to make it up to the others.

Meanwhile, Jessica has been working on a plan and gets Aaron Dallas to invite Suzanne to a pre-party at his cousin's house before the big Christmas dance (which is happening at Bruce Patman's Patmansion, despite it being a school event). He's then supposed to call her on that evening and tell her he's having car trouble and ask her to meet him at his cousin's place, but instead he'll give her the address of a creepy old haunted house on the outskirts of Sweet Valley and she'll be left there all alone and sad. It's pretty mean.

Elizabeth and Todd have been arguing and things don't seem to be the same between them anymore. Liz meets up with Enid for a bit of Christmas shopping and feels better after hanging out with her.

As always, Elizabeth felt immensely cheered, sitting across the table from her dearest friend. "One look at you, and my problems don't seem so insurmountable," Elizabeth told her warmly. 

Real nice, Liz.

It's time to put up the Christmas tree and everyone is having a nice time, but Suzanne is suddenly overcome by another dizzy spell and collapses. She's brought up to bed to lie down and the twins demand to know what's going on, while Ned and Alice nod meaningfully at each other. They finally get it out of their parents that Suzanne has issues with muscle control, which are aggravated by stress, but Ned and Alice explain that they promised Suzanne they'd keep it a secret for her, so they won't say any more than that. Elizabeth is all concerned for Suzanne now, but Jessica thinks she's faking it and just looking for attention.

The night of the big Christmas party arrives and while getting ready, Suzanne tries to call her doctor back in New York, as he sent her new medication but there were no side effects or precautions with the pills, but he's not in the office, so she leaves him a message. She takes her new pills anyway, and joins the twins, Steven and Todd downstairs for a glass of champagne. Then the planned call from Aaron Dallas comes, so Suzanne reluctantly agrees to meet him at the address he gives her. She's anxious about driving, but Jessica assures her she'll be fine and tells her to take their car. Ned and Alice have been over to see their neighbours and come home just before Suzanne's doctor calls, trying to reach her. It turns out that the new meds are super strong and Ned comes running out in a panic, because Suzanne had some champagne before leaving.

"She's on very strong medication, and a glass of wine could completely knock her out - maybe even kill her!"

Now come on. I highly doubt that any meds could cause a glass of champagne to ACTUALLY KILL YOU. But anyway. Jessica tearfully confesses her whole scheme to everyone and they take off in the car in pursuit of Suzanne.

While making her way to the address she was given, Suzanne couldn't focus on the road and ended up passing out, flipping the car on the road. Two cops on the road see the whole thing happening:

"Jesus!" the police officer in the squad car said to the officer next to him.

Mr. Policeman! LANGUAGE!

On the way to find Suzanne, everyone is furious with Jessica for pulling such a nasty trick (this isn't even the first time that Jessica's carry-on has almost killed someone), and Ned reveals that Suzanne actually has MS but didn't want anyone to know, as she wanted people to forgive her on her own merit and not out of pity.

They end up finding out that Suzanne has been taken to hospital and Jessica notices that Todd has the same look on his face as he did when Elizabeth was in a coma after their motorbike accident. She realises that he's in love with Suzanne and it wasn't a ploy on Suzanne's part at all.

Todd ends up telling Liz all about meeting Suzanne in Vermont and how nothing happened between them but that he's been feeling confused since. Elizabeth can tell that he's got feelings for Suzanne, and it turns out that she's going to be ok after all, so they all head off to the Patman's house for the party and to talk things out. Elizabeth tells Todd that she was thinking of telling him that they weren't right for each other anymore, but she still cares about him. So they remain close friends and have a friendly break-up, so Todd can be with Suzanne now. Also, Jessica discovers that her Secret Santa has been Winston Egbert all along is disgusted to find that Hans was Lila's.

The next day though, Jessica's other, non-potentially-fatal revenge plan goes off without a hitch, and she's resplendent as Miss Christmastime on the parade float, in Lila's dress and crown, while Lila is dressed like a Brussels sprout on Santa's one.

Later on, all the Wakefields go back to the hospital to see Suzanne, who's looking much better. They all make up and forgive each other and everything is cool between everyone. Then one of Suzanne's doctors comes into the room to talk about the most recent tests they've done, and explains that she actually only had a virus and not MS at all. She was suffering from a complication from mononucleosis all along and all these fancy doctors have just been treating her for a disease she never actually had. Slow clap for the doctors of the Sweet Valley High series. They greet sixteen year old girls by telling them how hot they are, prescribe "being a cheerleader" to pull a someone out of a coma and now this. Med school must only take two years in the Sweet Valley universe. Great job guys. Heroes, one and all.

Notable outfit:
We did much better on the fun outfit front this time out. We had Suzanne in "a denim skirt and red silk shirt", just throw on a pair of cowboy boots and she's away in a hack. There were also Jessica and Elizabeth's foxy outfits for the Christmas dance:

Elizabeth looked terrific in a shimmery, peach-coloured dress with spaghetti straps. And she herself was wearing her new blouse with a pair of black satin pants.

Mmm, flammable.

But Notable Outfit this time around goes to Suzanne, in a dress borrowed from Liz for the party:

The blue velvet dress she had borrowed from Elizabeth had a high neck, edged in cream-coloured lace.
A simple strand of pearls at her throat completed the look.

Elizabeth's Victorian ghost realness strikes again and I LOVE IT.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 233
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5
Amount of times Jessica references the number 137: 2