Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SWEET VALLEY UNIVERSITY #22: ELIZABETH’S SUMMER LOVE



Will that Elizabeth never learn?

The gang is still at Sweet Valley Shore for the summer, along with our new cast of characters: Wendy, Ben, Ryan and Paul. Jessica is still out to get Ryan all to herself, completely disregarding the fact that she saw him kissing her sister. Wendy is pissed at Winston for making Pedro Paloma take her out on a date and Ben is still mooning over Jess. Ah and Liz is still obsessed with Ryan and Nina is still unsure about Paul, both of whom still have boyfriends.

Jess is back to her conniving ways, lying to Nina about being sick so the other girl will take her shift. She heads off to town where she gets a slinky new dress because she plans on seducing Ryan and stops by to get her nails done. Ben pops in to see her, they start flirting and he puts his heart out on the table. They goof around, only to get caught by Nina who is pissed that Jess lied again. Of course Jess gets pissed at Ben because she blames him for getting her caught.

She stops at a fortune teller’s store and the lady tells her that she’s in love, but she’ll hurt him in the end. Jess laughs it off because she’s invincible.

Meanwhile Winston is distraught because he didn’t make the lifeguard squad and spends all his time laying around the house in his pajamas, watching television and whining. Wendy tells him about an opening at Harry’s, a local hamburger place and he runs off to apply. He gets the job, but learns that he’ll be wearing a hamburger suit on the boardwalk. He and the local guy get into a mock fight and when people start betting on them, they decide to use it to their advantage and boast a bigger staged fight the next day.

Nina finds Paul outside their house acting shifty and discovers that Pedro (the dog) is sick so they rush him to the hospital. Then they learn that he ate poisoned hot dogs (how do you do that by the way?). Wendy is upset and when someone calls about Pedro, she freaks out until she learns it’s the singer Pedro and slams down the phone.

Everyone flips out that night because they all gang up on Jess. Apparently Ben told her a week ago (seriously) to watch over the dog and when he got hurt, it was all her fault. She ends up screaming at Ben and saying that she hates him. I can actually kind of relate because he gets everyone wound up, to the point where they’re about to start throwing rocks at her and it isn’t even her dog! Then he tells her that he loves her and walks off alone.

Liz (remember her?) can’t figure out why Ryan is avoiding her, even though he points out that she has a boyfriend. Jess decides to invite Tom to the beach as a “surprise” when Isabel and Danny come into town. She decides to surprise Ryan at the lifeguard stand, but he and Liz are at it again. They save a drowning boy and rush with him to the hospital (a lot of hospitals in this book) where the captain shows up and yells at Ryan for not putting out warning signs.

Jess shows up with Ben, who found her in the sand. Apparently she got bonked on the head by one of those signs and starts yelling, which gets Ryan in even more trouble. Sigh…Ryan decides to take Liz out the next night, which pisses Jess off even more. Then we have Wendy who sees a boy drowning and rushes out, only to find Pedro in the water who professes his “like” for her.

The next day everyone gets ready for the big beach party/dance/whatever. Liz spends hours in the bathroom and rushes into the living room when she hears Ryan at the door. But surprise Liz! Tom’s here, remember your boyfriend from college? She gets pissed off, especially when Jess plays as Ryan’s date and they head off together.

Jess gets ticked at the dance because Ryan runs off with the captain and even Isabel thinks it’s a dick-y move because he just runs off without a word. Wendy spends the night with Pedro, who professes his affection for her. And Liz spends the whole night pretending Tom is Ryan and then feeling bad about it.

The next day Tom tells Liz it was Jess’s idea for the surprise visit and she gets super pissed. Then Pedro announces that he’s leaving town for a concert tour and Wendy gets upset. Winston battles it out on the boardwalk, loses and then learns that it was a setup from the beginning. Jess ends the night by running off with Isabel, Danny and Tom and quitting the squad.

She changes her mind and arrives home in the middle of the night, waking everyone up. She apologizes for what she said to everyone and Wendy starts feeling bad because she never really blamed the twin for what happened to the dog. She tells Liz that she’s giving up the fight with Ryan and apologizes to Ben. Man, this is a whole new side to Jess! Ben comes to her room, tells her he loves her and they spend the night together. Hm, lots of people getting lucky at Sweet Valley Shore.

Liz confronts Ryan the next morning with her feelings and tells him that nothing is the same with Tom and never will be. It’s funny how like four books later she gets pissed off when Tom cheats on her because she’d never, ever do that to him. They start kissing and just as they’re getting into it, someone starts drowning. Ryan can’t find his glasses because Liz took them off and threw them, which lets him get pissed at her for saving the boy when he could have done it. The book ends with him telling her to fuck off and her bursting into tears. Poor Liz, or whatever.

Elizabeth’s Summer Love was insane. I read some paragraphs over and over again because I was so confused. Plus I barely remembered the book and I read it like yesterday. Anyway…

Lessons Learned:

The guy you hate is always the guy you really love.

You can cheat on your boyfriend numerous times and then have everyone feel bad for you when he does the same thing…or sleeps with someone else when you’re broken up.

Wearing a hot dog suit is a good career move.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NIGHTMARE HALL #16: TRUTH OR DIE



Parrie is your average, i.e. boring, college student who’s upset that her parents forced her to attend school at Salem University instead of the state school where all of her friends went. Why is she so upset you might ask? Because she was the quiet girl who went with the flow and did nothing except laugh, smile or frown when expected. Nice friend…

When Truth or Die opens, she’s getting ready for an upscale tea party downstairs, held by a former student of the school who requires all female freshmen attend and dress up. Of course she feels completely out of place and awkward, up until she accidentally runs into a group of girls chilling next to the tea table.

The girls don’t know each other, but quickly become friends and Carol suggests that they play a game of truth or dare. Lin switches the salt and sugar containers and everyone gets a big chuckle out of it. That night they decide to meet in Carol’s room and keep the game going. Parrie can’t help noticing how much she and Mallory are alike, right down to how they dress. Both wear pastel colored sweaters with matching socks, rolled up jeans and loafers. I know this is set in the 90s, but in 1996 I would have died if someone saw me in that outfit!

The little group, which includes Jean and Grace, decide to keep the truth or dare game going. The dares are fairly tame: one girl has to sing all day, another eats garlic at all meals, someone wears a formal dress all day, another one asks out a guy and Parrie has to steal underwear from a male dorm. Of course on her dare, she meets a hunky guy named Bryan who not only thinks she’s cool, but asks her out on a date.

The group decides that the best way to up the ante is to change the game. They buy a fancy lock box, write down their darkest secrets on slips of paper and puts them in the box. Then they lock the box, put the key in an envelope, close the envelope and everyone writes their name over the seal. If anyone backs out on a dare, the box is open and the secret read. Somehow this all makes sense in their minds.

The dares quickly escalate, or at least that’s what we’re supposed to think, but everything still feels fairly lame. One girl has to let the air out of the tires on a professor’s car, one has to walk home in the dark and Parrie has to spend the night in Nightmare Hall. Aha! We finally get a reference!

Parrie gets worried about Grace who has the tire dare because she doesn’t hear from her and enlists Jean’s help. They discover Grace locked in the professor’s garage, with the car running. That will teach her to mess with someone’s prized classic car. Of course they save her and run home.

Then Parrie heads to Nightmare Hall and everything is fine and dandy. Apparently a storm broke part of the roof so the students were moved and she’s there alone. A ghost turns up, but she realizes that it’s Jean and ends up scaring her. Then a “real” ghost turns up and both girls run for the hills. Jean ends up in the hospital and they meet at Carol’s room, who doesn’t seem too concerned about her friend.

They agree to play one more round, but Parrie is highly uncomfortable. Then Lin pulls out her dare and all it says is “I dare you to tell the truth”. She takes a deep breath and launches into the story. She tells the girls about the camp she went to as a kid and how she was one of the cool kids. Her group of friends formed a secret club and picked on another kid who wasn’t very coordinated or good at sports (at least she wasn’t chubby).

The lame girl wanted to join their club and they told her she’d have to do an initiation project first. They joked about making her dive off the huge platform at the lake, but knew they couldn’t because none of them could handle it. Another girl wandered into the room and didn’t say anything to them, but apparently ran and told the lame girl of the dare. Lame girl climbs up to the platform, jumps, hits her head and drowns while the other girl runs off. Lin was ostracized for her part because everyone blamed her and her family made them move to another town.

Then suddenly Mallory jumps up and starts screaming and grabs Parrie. Turns out that she’s the “other” girl and still blames them for killing Jennifer, aka lame girl. They start fighting and Mallory is just about to put the smack down, when Bryan comes out of nowhere and saves the day.

Truth or Die then jumps to the next day when Jean, Lin and Grace come to Parrie’s room and tell her the whole story. They were the little group of friends at camp, only then they were Jillian, Jeannette, Sarah Grace and Carolyn. They stayed friends after camp and promised to be friends for each other in college. On the first day they spotted Mallory and decided to teach her a lesson and hopefully discover what really happened back then. The book ends with Parrie deciding that she isn’t sure she wants the other girls around, but that she’d like to get to know Grace better.

Wowza. This was way past my days of reading Nightmare Hall and Point Thrillers so I didn’t read it until I found a copy at the flea market. It was actually a little lame, especially compared to some of the other Nightmare Hall books and of course Hoh books in general. I still have a few more to review, but I’ll try and space them out with Sweet Valley and Fear Street books.