Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sweet Valley University #4: Anything for Love

Jessica is still crazy in love with Mike McAllery at the beginning of this book. After a wild ride on his motorcycle, she tells him that she’ll love him forever and he tells her to prove it, by marrying him. Yeah, this will work out great…

Liz goes by the hospital to visit Nina, who was admitted after the attack on her and Bryan. She’s convinced that she can find out who’s behind the secret society and get some justice for her friends. Suddenly she’s best friends with Bryan and the book acts like we should know this, even though she’s never said two words to him before.

Then there’s Danny, who’s secretly in love with Isabella, but afraid to say anything because she’s obsessed with her roommate Tom. Tom loves Liz, but he won’t say anything because she’s still dating William White. What the hell is up with all these people? Everyone says they’re in love, but without knowing the other person, or even really having a conversation with them!

Williams starts putting weird thoughts in Liz’s head and even though she’s so “smart”, she doesn’t realize what he’s doing. Like he suggests that Tom has a reason for wanting to kill her story about the secret society and might be the ringleader behind it. But of course he’s handsome and rich so not only will one of the twins fall for him, but he’ll also be evil. Of course.

Jess and Mike get married in Las Vegas and even though he’s supposedly super rich, she doesn’t get a real wedding ring. He just takes off a turquoise and silver ring from his hand and puts it on hers. She’s so caught up in his life and the excitement that she never stops to think about real life. They run into Steven when they come home and he pitches a major league hissy fit about the two of them, which makes her run off crying.

Nina has to deal with her mom, who wants her to transfer from SVU. Everyone acts like it’s a huge deal and she’s overreacting, but can you blame her? Her daughter was put in the hospital because she’s black and one of the only minority students in the school. Plus Nina had the chance to go to Harvard and Princeton, but chose SVU, which is just insane. Her mom also hates Bryan because she thinks he seems like a “radical”.

There’s also a whole plot about how Todd and Mark are being ostracized by other students since the favor story broke. He doesn’t have any friends, so he suddenly remembers Winston and they start hanging out again. He feels bad though when he sees him with his “friend” Denise and realizes how much things have changed since school started…like 3 weeks ago.

Parents’ Weekend is coming up and Jess decides to move back in with Isabella so her parents won’t know anything is wrong. But Mike freaks out, starts yelling and they have a whole fight. He gets pissed off every 5-10 pages because she won’t tell anyone they got married, she cries and then they make up again.

Liz drops by the building to see Steven and runs into Mike, who acts like her best friend. She learns that they’re living together and runs to her brother. That sets Mike off again because he realizes that Jess hadn’t told her sister where she was living, let alone the marriage thing. Liz, Steven and Billie decide to try and help Jess keep her secret from their parents, but let her know they aren’t happy.

Other stuff: Tom starts dating Celine because of her connections, but lets Liz think that they’re a real couple and Celine rubs it in her face constantly. Winston confesses to Denise that he told his parents they were dating because his dad was worried that he was gay and she agrees to pose as his girlfriend for the weekend. Nina decides to stay at SVU and her mom bonds with Bryan because she knew his dad in college.

Jess keeps her parents’ visit a secret from Mike and sneaks out to meet them when he goes to work. Ned and Alice are so caught up in the campus that they barely notice when Jess runs off to meet him for lunch. They meet William and aren’t impressed at all, but love Tom and think he’s a good guy. There’s also a funny moment where Ned asks about Todd because, “I always liked him”. Sure thing dad.

Steven, Billie, Liz, Jess, Ned and Alice head off to dinner and drive past Mike on the street. Jess knows she’s screwed as soon as she sees him and rushes back after dinner. He turns into an even bigger asshole. He screams, starts throwing stuff around the room and tells her to get away from him. He actually tells her to lock herself in the bathroom before he hurts her.

Then he hits her hard enough that she falls on the ground and she runs into the bedroom. Not long after, Liz shows up and finds the front door standing open. Mike threw around a bunch of furniture, broke a bunch of stuff and then just left. She finds Jess in the bedroom crying and decides to take action.

Liz starts packing her sister’s stuff up and trying to get her out the door as soon as she can. Jess keeps saying she can’t go, but won’t say why. She finally admits that they aren’t just dating or living together and that the reason she can’t leave is because they’re married.

Really Francine, really? We had to sit through 5 billion books where Jess is always in control of her dates, just to get to this. What, is Mike like the new Bruce Patman? It also annoys me that more stuff happens in a shorter period in these books than they ever did in Sweet Valley High. All of this crap has happened in four books and we’re not even to midterms yet!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet Valley University #3: What Your Parents Don’t Know…

Jessica Wakefield is a moron and this book (not to mention the other early books in the University series) only serve to emphasize this point. She moved in with Mike at the beginning of the last book and then runs out and spends a shitload of money decorating their apartment. She also spends a ton on new clothes, to “keep up” with him. Uh, isn’t he a mechanic who always wears jeans and tee-shirts?

She goes to the bank to make a withdraw from the account her parents setup and discovers that she only has 55 cents left. Good old Ned and Alice apparently deposited enough to get them through the whole semester and Jess spent everything in about 2 weeks. She changes clothes, goes back to the bank and makes a withdraw from Liz’s account because apparently you don’t need something as basic as a picture ID to use the college bank.

Liz of course is way too busy to deal with her sister. She and Tom are on the hunt for a new storyline and decide to do one on freshman frat hazing. Liz tries to convince Winston to spill the beans, but he won’t because he really wants to be a frat brother. She doesn’t get that at all because she turned down an invitation to join the Thetas and everyone should be like her.

Liz also has trouble because William White came forward and admitted to being the one who wrote the poem, even though it was Tom. They go out a few times, but she keeps thinking about Tom. Plus every time they get close, William turns up. Of course Celine gets all pissed off because she wants William so she acts like an even bigger bitch.

Oh yeah and Alex/Enid is very briefly mentioned, as is Todd. Alex shows up at Liz’s door towards the beginning and tells her that they shouldn’t talk anymore. She’s dating Mark Gathers who’s on the basketball team and she thinks Liz only did the team story because she was pissed about Todd dumping her. Todd turns up for exactly two pages to give Winston advice on pledging.

The funniest thing of all is how freaked out everyone gets about Winston and his “hazing” rituals. You’d think they were tarring and feathering him or something. He has to wear a brick around his neck for a few days, swallow live goldfish (it’s apparently 1954) and can’t talk to anyone outside the frat for two days. Everyone gets all concerned about him and talks behind his back.

Celine starts dating snobby Peter, who’s in charge of the frat and she lets it slip to Liz that Winston won’t make it. Apparently the frat picks one loser each year and make him go through the worst hazes and then don’t let him into the frat. Liz goes all psycho and does all this research and discovers that once every seven years, someone from that frat dies during hazing.

Look, they try to explain why this is, but all I could think about was that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think the frat has a giant snake monster in the basement. The whole seven year sacrifice thing really doesn’t make sense the way they explained it. But this is one of those seven year moments. She and Tom rush to the frat house when they learn that Winston has one more challenge.

Nina is now dating Bryan, a guy she meets when both become members of the Black Student Union. They both have parents who worry about their actions and she finds him incredibly hot. As Liz and Tom and running to the frat, Nina and Bryan are coming back from a date. A group of people dressed in black come out of the shadows, make some racist comments and proceed to beat the snot out of Bryan.

Dumbass Winston is drunk on whiskey and sent to the roof of the frat. If he can walk across the top, he’ll become a member. Tom runs upstairs to stop Winston from doing something stupid and Liz convinces him to walk towards the window. He slips, but Tom’s there to grab him and pull him inside. She wanders home, only to stumble across Nina and Bryan.

What about Jess? Jess blows off the Thetas to spend time with Mike and because he hates the snobby, rich girls (and he’s in love with…Jess?). Every time she tries to go to a meeting or hang out with them, he pitches a hissy fit and she stays home. She gets really pathetic and basically just sits around the apartment, waiting for him to come home from work.

She also has to get a job waiting tables to pay Liz back. Her and Mike have a big fight the night of her induction ceremony and he storms off. She goes to the cafĂ© and finds that she has to wait on a table of Thetas. As Alison (the VP) makes fun of her, she realizes that Mike was right and she’d rather be with him so she tells them she’s not joining.

She runs home, makes dinner for him and gets all purty. Then she just sits and waits…and waits. He doesn’t show up until midnight and finds her sleeping at the kitchen table where she cried herself to sleep. Mike immediately starts in, calling her a spoiled brat and a poor little rich girl. She starts crying, tells him she quit the sorority and suddenly everything’s fine because he loves her again.

Look, I know that these books were done for 12-16 year olds, but this is ridiculous. I was around 14 or 15 when they came out and I remember thinking that Mike was an asshole and that I never wanted a guy to treat me like that. I guess the writer is trying to set it up so that you believe he cares about her so much that he ridicules her to make her better. I don’t buy it. I want to climb into the book and slam him against the wall…