Friday, November 5, 2010

Sweet Valley High Super Thriller: A Stranger in the House

For some reason, I really like this book and I remembered way too much about it!

The book opens with this buy John Marin, who’s stuck in prison. He cuts a bunch of photos of the twins from local newspapers and sticks them up in his cell. He talks about using Liz’s love of books and Jessica’s love of the spotlight against them both.

Then the books jump to the Wakefield house, where the twins are getting ready to start their 700th summer jobs. This time they’re working at the Marina Café and I’m summer, but I can’t see Jess voluntarily working as a waitress. Steve is home for the summer too (big surprise) and working at the law office.

Ned nearly chokes to death when he reads in the paper that John Marin was paroled. We get the backstory of how Marin killed a woman and her teenage daughter, after kidnapping them from Secca Lake. He threatened the twins when he was being lead out of the court.

This brings up two questions. First of all, how the hell do you get paroled after ten years, when you killed two people? Second, wouldn’t the court tell Ned that he was out? He did threaten the man and you have to think that he left behind at least one picture of the twin in his cell. Ned kind of warns the girls to be careful, but of course doesn’t tell them what’s going on.

The twins get to work and meet Mr. Jenkins, the café manager who can’t tell them apart. He thinks Jess being a total ass is actually Liz and Liz being super perfect is Jess. They learn that he’s hosting a tip contest, with the winner getting a gift certificate for food and shopping. I don’t get the tip contest either because it’s based solely on money. Every shift, they have to tell him how much they earned in tips. Shouldn’t it be based on the highest percentage or something?

Of course as soon as Marin gets out, he becomes obsessed with the twins. He sneaks into the house and leaves a half-eaten apple on the counter, then steals a Christmas card photo from the mantle. Ned finds a card from Marin, which has a “nice family” note on the back and their photo on the front. He calls the cops and they refuse to do anything because they have no proof. Um, k.

Todd stops by the café because he’s teaching windsurfing down the beach and Liz gets kind of annoyed. They head out for dinner and she thinks about how they’re trapped in a rut. Jessica is stuck with a customer and meets Marin, who introduces himself as Scott Maderlake. He tells her that he’s scouting locations for a TV series and she practically dry humps him in the restaurant.

This book kind of pisses me off because after dozens of books where Liz is ultra smug about her relationship with Todd, now she’s all annoyed by him. They see Roman Holiday and she goes on and on about how she’s just like Audrey Hepburn. Then when Todd does make an effort, she gets pissed at him.

They go to the Dairi Burger and she decides to get out of her rut by ordering an iced coffee with three sugars and half and half. This annoys me because you put your up fucking sugar and milk in your coffee, but she makes the waitress do it. Then she spots someone writing in the corner and of course it’s Marin, even though five seconds before he was with Jessica. Pretend you forgot that.

Jessica comes home late and Ned flips out. He tells her and Alice that there were a string of crimes in the neighborhood. He calls the police, who tell him that they can’t find Marin because he never met with his parole officer and gave a fake address. Ned hires PI James Battaglia to watch over the girls.

The whole book is just Marin breaking in, the cops doing nothing and everyone else being stupid. The girls see this weird guy in a whole sailor outfit, who’s actually working for the investigator. There’s also a weird guy following them, who Marin paid off. Liz finally meets Marin, who passes himself off as Ben and says he’s sailing around the world while he writes a book. She’s convinced that he’s her soul mate because he orders the same iced coffee as her and his boat’s name is Emily Dickenson. Seriously, even Enid thinks he might be her soul mate…and yet they haven’t said more than ten words to each other.

Jessica tells Lila all about her new guy. She says she won’t tell Liz because Liz will get upset at her dating someone new, while Ken is out of town. Ah, remember when she dated Ken? She’s guessing he’s around 20 and she knows Liz will freak out because of what happened with Jeremy Randall. Yeah, well when you date a guy who’s engaged to someone else…

Jess and Scott go around town and she tells him stories about everyone. Despite the fact that Enid is such a dork, she even includes the story of her plane crash. When she gets home, she realizes that her necklace is missing. Later Ned gets a note from Marin, with the necklace attached.

Liz runs into the weird guy in the storeroom, rushes outside and runs right into Ben. She goes for a walk with him and tells him all about how she feels like she’s stuck and he totally understands her! Not at all like that awful Todd! She’s totally in love!

Battaglia suggests that Ned tell everyone what’s going on and he refuses. He does send Steve to San Francisco for another job and convinces Alice to go out to town too. Then he sends a photo of Marin to the investigator, but doesn’t double check it. Of course Marin switches it out. Ned does ask the girls if they’ve seen anything suspicious, but they change the subject.

I’m tired of recapping this, so let’s just cover the highlights. Marin breaks into the house and moves Prince Albert’s collar. He gives Jessica an expensive new necklace and she dry humps him again. He breaks into the house and steals back the same necklace, so Ned has no proof that he was inside…except for all those fucking notes.

The cops arrest the creepy guy, thinking that it’s Marin because the photo matches. Um, ok? Marin takes dirty pics (kind of) of Alice’s legs and sends them to Ned. Scott takes Jessica to Miller’s Point, someone spies on them and Scott “chases” him off. Later it turns out that he killed Battaglia’s man.

Neither twin wins the contest (say what? Don’t they win everything?). Some guy jumps at them in the storage area and they have to go to the police station. They both identify the weird guy, but he’s been in custody, so he wasn’t the guy that attacked. On the way home, Liz tells Jess all about her new boyfriend.

Ned tries to call Battaglia and tell him what happened. When he doesn’t answer, he runs over to talk to him and finds him dead, with a note from Marin on his back. Liz goes for a moonlight cruise with Ben and Jessica lies for her, saying she’s with Todd. Todd then calls and the cops show up, so Jess has to tell them the truth.

They tell Jess what’s going on and show her a picture of Marin. She’s laughs because it’s Scott and then realizes that he’s a killer They go to the Beach Disco and get Jane, one of the other waitresses. Jane sees the pics and tells them that Marin is Ben. Oh-uh.

Liz is with Ben, when the Coast Guard shows up. He holds a knife to her throat, she stomps on his foot and when he lets go, she runs off. Unfortunately she whacks her head on the side of the boat and Jess has to jump in and save her.

Later the twins go home and the cops are changing the locks in the house. The cops leave, but one offers to sleep outside in his car and keep an eye on things. Marin pops up and reveals that he escaped and made it look like he died. He hits Ned in the head and goes upstairs with a knife to kill the twins. Suddenly he’s hit from behind by Ned, who sends him flying out the window. The cops handcuff Marin and promise that everything will be fine…

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