Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sweet Valley High #52: White Lies



John Pfeiffer is in this book, as the once again nice guy. I’m really starting to think that this whole “date rapist” thing was either all in Lila’s mind, or something the ghostwriter decided on at the last minute.

John is secretly in love with his next door neighbor, Jennifer Montgomery, which cracks me up because one of my best friends in high school was a Jennifer Montgomery after she got married. He confides in Liz that he loves her, but she’s hanging around Rick Andover. Liz thinks back to how Rick almost ruined her reputation. Um no, he didn’t, that would be your sister. Had she not told the cops she was you, Jessica’s reputation would have been ruined.

Jennifer is really sad and pathetic in this book and she takes the whole “stand by your man” thing a little too far. She completely disregards what everyone tells her about him because she knows that he’s good and sweet and would never do anything bad. Her parents don’t like him so they make plans to run away together. She tells John, which is a huge mistake.

John and Liz follow Rick, looking for a way to stop him. They see him break into the music store (where he met Jennifer) and rob it. Then Liz (fucking Liz) convinces John not to call the police, oh no because that would make sense, but to call the owner of the shop. He does and the owner calls the cops.

Jennifer convinces herself that Rick would never rob a store and that her dad must have set him up because he knew they were running away. Yup, that totally makes sense. She yells at him and tells him that she hates him. A few days later, he has a heart attack and she won’t even go see him in the hospital.

Liz pressures John and after like a week, he finally tells Jennifer the truth, that he was the one who called. She decides that she hates John and runs to the hospital. Liz butts her head in once again and buys flowers for John and gives them to Jennifer. Jennifer finally accepts John’s apology and realizes that she actually had feelings for him all along. Fucking sophomores…

The subplot is even worse. Jessica has AJ wrapped around her finger and gets him to change his plans constantly. He wants to go hiking and they end up at the Dairi Burger, he wants to go out for a romantic dinner and they end up with her friends, he made plans for them to have dinner with his uncle and she makes him go to Lila’s party because it’s more important. Doesn’t Lila have a party every three days?

Jess starts riding Liz about how she should do the same thing and convince Jeffery to do stuff he doesn’t want to do because that’s how relationships work. She also talks about how she and AJ are a much better couple. I really wish Jessica understood, just once, what a real relationship is…

Friday, August 20, 2010

Last Act (Christopher Pike)



Melanie Martin is a new girl who arrives at Careville High and makes absolutely no friends. On one of her first days, she manages to hit the car of Rindy, a popular but not well liked girl. Rindy is a rich kid, who once dated Clyde. Clyde was a huge football star until the two were in an accident and he ended up paralyzed.

Melanie wants friends and ends up helping Susan Trels cheat on a math quiz. The two start talking and Susan asks her to try out for the school play. She’s a popular actress and agreed to a starring role in a later play, if she has the chance to direct one first. She picked a play from the 1940s by Stan Russel, which she and her friends found in a used bookstore. The story involves two couples, with one girl loving her friend’s husband. A murder happens and the play revolves around finding the killer.

It turns out that Rindy is playing the dead girl, the hot guy Marc is playing her husband and Melanie is auditioning for the role of the killer. The whole play is a secret from the actors, but Susan lets it slip that Melanie dies. Melanie meets the whole group, including Jeramie who found the play and is constantly taking photos of everyone. She also meets Carl, who’s the technician for the play and doesn’t act like his sister Rindy at all.

The problem with this book is that it’s way too long and there are whole chapters devoted to one simple thing. It’s like it takes Pike 20 pages just to explain someone shopping for groceries. Basically Melanie starts crushing on Marc, who rarely dates anyone, but he does offer to drive her home from rehearsals. He takes her out for dinner and she invites him to the school dance. They go with Susan and Jeramie.

They leave the dance early and Jeramie wants to see the ducks at the local pond. It’s the same place Rindy and Clyde were going when they had their accident. Melanie starts thinking that he went out with Rindy and he won’t give her a straight answer. She’s also pissed when he drops her off before anyone else, with barely a kiss good-night.

We finally get to the opening night of the play, which is half a book later. Susan comes in with the blanks for the shooting scene, but runs into another girl and drops the bullets. There’s a scuffle as they gather up all the bullets and put them back in the box. Melanie then decides to use the ones she bought for the night, instead of Susan’s box. Rindy freaks out when Melanie raises the gun during the play and shouts. Melanie shoots and Rindy ends up dead.

Melanie goes to jail, where she meets Captain Crosser. He tells her that Rindy was killed with a wad cutter that was inside her gun and has her fingerprints on it. Her mom pays bail to get her out of jail and is more concerned over her own reputation than her daughter. Her mom does arrange for a lawyer and kind of acts like she thinks Melanie killed the girl.

Melanie becomes obsessed with finding out who the killer is and questions everyone. She even goes to see Clyde and unknowingly tells him that Rindy was killed. She goes to see Jeramie who has a videotape of the play, but won’t let her see it. When he finally does, she discovers that he spliced the beginning of opening night, with the rehearsal, which means the tape doesn’t show the actual murder.

She heads to the used bookstore and finds another copy of the play. The shop keeper is a little surprised because it’s in such good condition and he can’t understand why the kids didn’t buy that one. He’s also surprised because it’s a photocopied script and photocopying wasn’t around back then. She also learns that Stan Russel never registered any works and there’s no record of him anywhere. She uses this to convince the captain that they need to do another performance of the play. This doesn’t really tell anyone anything, but Melanie thinks it does.

She has a dream that she’s playing Scrabble with Rindy, who shows her the tiles with Russel’s name on them. The captain then calls and wants her to meet him, which gives her enough time to meet Susan (who calls later) at the school and start tearing down the sets. Susan acts kind of strange, especially when Melanie says that she thinks Rindy planted the wad cutter and was planning her own suicide.

But then Susan confesses and Melanie realizes what Rindy was trying to tell her in the dream. Susan Trels and Stan Russel are the same people, same letters and everything. Susan wrote the play, as a way to mimic her own life, with her being the one in love with the guy. She loved Clyde, who looked at her like a little sister.

Before she can shoot her, Clyde shows up. He tells them that he was driving the car when he had his accident. Rindy convinced him to switch sides and let her take the blame, so her parents would take care of his medical bills. Susan acts like she’s going to shoot herself, but the cops show up.

The remaining group members head to the pond a few weeks later. Jeramie thought the play was a fake and suspected Susan, but couldn’t deal with the thought of losing his best friend, so he just acted crazy. Clyde goes with them, ready to head back to school. The book ends with Carl, Rindy’s brother asking for a photo of Melanie, to put with his picture of Rindy. Aw…or creepy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sweet Valley High #51: Against the Odds



Ronnie Edwards is back and I have no idea how he got his own book because no one really likes him. He shows up at the Dairi Burger, flashing around money and offering to buy everyone dinner. He keeps talking about his new car (a Mustang) and some guys ask to see it, but then jump him outside. Jeffery shows up, because it’s one of those books, and saves the day, which makes Ronnie think that they’re best friends.

It turns out that Ronnie’s been betting money, but he now owns a bunch to a bookie named Big Al. That doesn’t stop him from offering to loan Jess $1,000 to start her own jewelry design business. Yeah, I’ll get to that in a minute. Big Al decides that he’ll let Ronnie off the hook if he helps him fix the next big soccer game and he turns to his new best friend for help. That puts Jeffery in an awkward position because a scout from a big college is coming by, just to see him!

Jess has decided that she wants to design jewelry and takes a few samples to a shop called Treasure Island. The store owner isn’t that interested, until Lila and Amy show up and pretend to be interested. She tells Jessica that she’ll take all the samples she has ready. Jess asks Alice for a loan and gets $200.

Then she calls the supplier and he upsells her until she spends $900. She asks if they can work out a payment plan and he says no, unless she has a credit card. She asks Ronnie for the money and gets pissed when he doesn’t have it. Alice lets her use the credit card because Jess says it’s $500. She plans on selling enough jewelry to pay it off and ignores a call from her contact.

Jess stays up all night, coming up with 50 pieces of jewelry. She gets a call from the contact again, who tells her that the owner of the store wants to change their image and so she can’t take any of the jewelry. Jess runs over with the finished designs, but the woman still turns her down. Love it when someone tells the twins no and actually means it!

Jeffery decides to throw the match, but Liz butts her head in and finds out what happened. Actually she eavesdrops on some guy threatening Ronnie and the same guy finds her and ties her up. Someone they get free and call the cops. The cops arrive and arrest Big Al and they get to tell Jeffery what happened during a time-out.

Jeffery plays his best, the scout’s impressed and Sweet Valley wins the game, like there was any doubt. Ned flips out when the credit card bill comes in and tells Jess she needs to get a job to pay them back and she grudgingly agrees to work at Treasure Island until she pays off her bill. Of course they only make her pay the minimum amount each month, which is BS.

I love that two high school kids call the cops and tell them about an illegal betting ring, when they have absolutely no proof. Yet the cops show up at the soccer game and arrest Big Al. When Jess met Jeremy, Liz totally should have called the cops with a tip about statutory rape…

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sweet Valley High Supper Thriller: Deadly Summer



Jessica and Lila are now completely obsessed with a Ouija board. Jess tells Liz all about it, who naturally expresses doubt that it works. She won’t believe it unless she sees it for herself. I love how Liz is perfectly willing to accept look-alikes, vampires, kidnappers and the thousands of other weird things in Sweet Valley, but draws the line at Ouija boards. Oh and she believes in some kind of psychic connection with Jessica, but that’s it.

After making fun of the two at the Dairi Burger, Lila decides to get back at Liz. She knows that the big summer concert is getting delayed for a week and they can use that to their advantage. They get Liz to hold a séance with them and then make the board tell her about the concert. She refuses to believe them until she gets a call, saying that the concert was postponed.

Lila decides to keep things going and make Liz look foolish later. Jessica reads her private notes from Jeffery and uses the information during séances. She hides her diary and then makes the Ouija board tell her where it is. Lila decides to finally play her last cards and the two make Liz think that Bruce Patman is dying.

Considering how smart Liz is (supposedly), this storyline is ridiculous. Despite the fact that he looks fine, stays active and keeps playing like 700 sets of tennis every day, Liz becomes convinced that he’s dying. She starts spending all this time with him and seeing him everyday. Jess tells Bruce what’s going on, thinking that he’ll back off, but he thinks it’s funny and plays along. Right and in a few years, they’ll be best friends, as per Sweet Valley Confidential.

At the same time, a patient escapes from the Sweet Valley Mental Institution. Wait a minute, there’s an asylum in town? Why has this never been mentioned before and why is it never mentioned again? His name is Donald Redman and Liz has to research him for the paper. She discovers that he went to Sweet Valley High and was super smart, but was expelled several times. He became obsessed with his classmate Melanie and kidnapped her. Then he tried to kill his parents with a bomb and was locked up.

Despite working for the paper, which they act like takes up all their waking moments, Liz also has time to babysit for some new woman Elsa. She makes the mistake of telling Elsa that Redman escaped and the woman freaks out. Did I mentioned that he conveniently has a long forgotten sister who still lives in Sweet Valley? Liz sits for her again and some weird guy shows up. He says he’s an old college friend of hers, but acts all shifty.

Then Redman threatens the movie theater at the mall with a bomb. Liz conveniently gets the phone call and worries because Jess is there. Turns out it was a fake bomb. I love it that Jessica is worried about a possible bomb for all of three seconds and then spends the rest of the chapter hiding because she doesn’t want anyone from work to catch her playing hooky.

Bruce stops by to see Liz and they’re getting all close-close, when Jeffery shows up. He left camp early and didn’t even go home before he stopped by to see Liz. There’s some welcome back party at school with The Droids and the cheerleaders so they decide to go. Bruce kind of assumes that Liz will ride with him and gets a little miffed when she doesn’t.

Bruce and Jeffery kind of fight over who will buy her a drink so she storms off. She sees the principal running and then sees the guy from Elsa’s house. The principal tells everyone to get out because there’s a bomb. Liz runs back inside the school because she’s worried about the guys and never once thinks about her sister.

Liz sees a photo in the paper of Redman and realizes that he looks like Elsa’s friend. Um, if the police really want him captured, shouldn’t they have ran the photo a long time ago? She calls Elsa, who laughs it off and says she noticed it too. Then she hangs up and worries that Liz realized she was lying.

This all leads up to Liz getting ready for a date, when Bruce calls. He’s all depressed so she asks Lila and Jess to cover for her with Jeffery as she runs off. We finally learn that Lila wants Jeffery and is trying to cause problems for them. Yup, she loves him so much that when they actually do breakup, she never even thinks about him again, let alone look at him. Lila waits outside and tells Jeffery where Liz went.

Redman is in the school, building a huge bomb to bring down the school. Liz and Bruce sneak inside and he starts putting the moves on her, just as Jeffery pops up. Liz gets annoyed and asks him what he’s doing there. This whole book Liz has ran around with Bruce, not telling Jeffery why and just expecting him to do what she says. Bruce finally confesses that he isn’t sick and she feels kind of stupid. Before she can react, Redman shows up and takes them all hostage.

Jess feels all nervous so she makes Lila pull out the Ouija board. It spells out danger and they go racing off, running into Elsa on the way. She tells them that she’s Redman’s brother and that he thinks Liz is Melanie, the girl from high school. The cops meet them at the school, but no one really does anything. Elsa does talk to him, but he thinks she’s a copy of his sister.

Jeffery attacks Redman, Bruce helps, gets the bomb and runs off with it. Liz finds the detonator, but keeps dropping it. They finally turn off the bomb, but hear the explosion. She cries a little because Bruce is dead. Then they see him and he says that Redman ran after him and grabbed the bomb before it exploded.

Liz and Jessica make up and she tells her twin about the Ouija board. Liz isn’t really feeling it and Jess says that she thinks it was her subconscious because somehow she knew that Liz was in trouble. Yup, call it another Tuesday night in Sweet Valley.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Immortal (Christopher Pike)



This was one of my favorite Christopher Pike books when I was younger. The whole ground glass in the hamburger thing really freaked me out and I was always eyeing the person who made my hamburgers suspiciously. Then I read some article in college about how ground glass actually can’t kill you because your body just digests it and pushes it out. It kind of made me a little pissed off at Pike…

Josie and Helen are best friends, but in that high school way, where they actually don’t really like each other. Helen’s family is kind of poor, but that didn’t stop them from sending her to Greece the summer before. Now they’re going back, thanks to Josie’s dad. He’s a screenwriter and traveling with his stuckup, prissy girlfriend Silk.

The book flashes back to two women and I bet you know where this is going. Sryope and Phthia were two women living during ancient times. Phthia was obsessed with a guy who Sryope secretly loved. She made him indebted to her and then got bored and ran off with other guys. Sryope challenged her to a story telling contest, to get him free. She knew that Phthia was actually the daughter of a fury and told a story about a fury impregnating a woman. Phthia ran off in shame and Sryope won.

On the flight, Helen thinks about this guy Ralph who she used to date. He went after Josie next, which caused problems between the two of them and then skipped town. Josie then remembers how she almost died the summer before and even though she constantly brings it up, she gets pissed when anyone else mentions it.

The first thing Helen wants to do is rent some mopeds and look for Tom, a British guy she met the summer before. They get their scooter things and take off. They head to the beach, where Tom worked before and try to spot him. Conveniently Josie almost dies again by drowning and conveniently Tom rescues her. Conveniently he is now obsessed with her and wants to date her.

Tom grabs his friend Pascal and the four go out. It’s all very lame because Helen wants Tom, who wants Josie, who wants Tom and Pascal is some weird French guy who speaks little English, but seems interested in Helen. Josie basically decides to say fuck it and not leave because she really, really wants this guy…who she just met. Helen starts drinking way too much and throws up on Tom, who decides it’s time to leave. Josie does kiss Tom though, while he’s carrying her drunk friend. Nice.

Josie starts dreaming about goddesses and ancient Greece, which intensifies after they visit Delos. The ancient ruins seem to speak to her and Helen says that she noticed the same thing last summer. Apparently she tried to commit suicide and says that they can only notice the change when they come close to death.

In response, Josie sneaks out to see Tom when Helen is asleep. Josie and Tom make plans to get the group together later. She then spends a few pages, trying to convince Helen to go for it with Pascal. I know Josie is supposed to be the heroine of the book, but this is all fairly horrible friend behavior. She knows that her friend has a thing for him and yet sneaks around constantly, to spend time with him.

First of all, you’re on VACATION. You will never see this guy again, so who really cares if you get him instead of her? Second, he’s from England! Are you planning on moving across the world for some guy you spent six days with? Maybe Pike was auditioning for a spot as a chick lit writer with this book…

The four go off together, but Tom slips that he saw Josie earlier. Helen freaks out and tells Josie that Ralph died after leaving town, makes her feel like a shitty friend and then storms off. Instead of feeling bad for even a minute, Josie goes for a romantic boat ride with Tom. They hit a storm, the boat capsizes and she barely makes it to Delphos.

She has another ancient Greece dream and then finds and old relic and takes it. I think that’s called theft. She heads home and learns that everyone spent the night looking for her. Tom made it back to shore and alerted the authorities. Helen and Pascal are now best buddies or fuck buddies or whatever.

Josie grabs Tom and they venture off to a nude beach. They get close, but Tom won’t put the moves on her, saying that it’s not safe because they don’t have condoms. He finds her relic, but she won’t let him near it, saying that that there’s something wrong with it.

They all head out for a BBQ, which Silk and Helen planned. Josie eats a little and plans on having another HAMBURGER, but gives it to Tom instead. Thanks for the death sentence lady! She takes a nap and wakes up in pain. She gets to Tom’s, where Pascal tells her that he’s also sick. She passes out and has another dream.

In this dream, Sryope is brought before some tribunal where she’s asked about her life. It turns out that she’s a muse and has been helping humans for years, including Josie’s dad. The lawyers show footage of Sryope doing nasty things to Josie and her family. She’s the one who caused Josie’s heart problems and made Helen try to commit suicide. She also forced Phthia into Helen.

Sryope was sentenced to life as a mortal and sent to Josie. She knows that Phthia’s dad took her form and did all those evil things, pretending that he was her. She wakes up and sees Helen, who confesses to putting ground glass in the burgers. Josie writes a last letter, helping her dad with his latest story idea and tells Tom the truth.

Tom goes with her Delos and they find Helen with Pascal. She’s about to shoot Pascal, when Josie distracts her, gets the gun and kills her. She then finds the relic that she had before and realizes that it holds her blood. She passes the statue to Tom and lets him drink her blood, which keeps him alive. Satisfied that he’ll live forever, she dies in his arms.

This one was a lot better in my mind. Maybe the whole ground glass cheat had ruined it for me…

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Valley High #64: The Ghost of Tricia Martin



Steven Wakefield is an ass and Cara Walker is a moron and this book reinforces both.

Steven met this girl Andrea, who looks just like his dead girlfriend Tricia. I fear that Mr. Walker got around town, considering how many girls pop up, looking just like his daughter. He doesn’t tell Cara that they have a date planned because he thinks that he needs to go out with her just once. He’ll see how different she is from Tricia and get over her right away.

Their first date isn’t exactly one for the record books. He keeps calling her Tricia and when she calls him on it, he tells her about the other girl. Personally if a guy went out with me because I looked like his dead girlfriend and then proceeded to call me by her name, I’d be out the door right away. She ends up liking him and agrees to call him, though she says she’ll call the next day and he wants to talk to her right away.

Steven doesn’t let his obsession take over completely (yet) and remembers he has a girlfriend. He calls Cara and thinks about how gossipy and young she sounds over the phone. He plans a surprise date of a hike and then gets pissed because she wears a dress and sandals and can’t keep up with him. He keeps comparing her to Andrea and putting the other girl up on a pedestal.

He keeps planning dates with Andrea that mimic his dates with Tricia. He takes her to the aquarium and gets upset when she wants a vanilla cone, instead of a chocolate cone because Tricia liked chocolate. He also keeps pulling down her hair because Tricia wore it down and Andrea wore it down. Eventually he decides to take up hang gliding because it’s something different and will take his mind off his girl troubles. Cara thinks it sounds dangerous, but Andrea admires him for doing it.

Liz has to get in the middle of things because it is a Sweet Valley High book. She sees Cara getting disappointed and feeling bad about the situation, but no one wants to tell her the truth. She pushes Steve to tell her about Andrea and he blows her off.

Jess has a different way of handling Cara: she takes her shopping with Lila. They wander into the Unique Boutique and see Andrea. Cara overhears her talking to Steve on the phone, about a date and runs home. She calls him and confronts him about it. He kind of makes her feel like shit and accusing her of spying on him. They break up over the phone.

Steve feels bad and decides to go hang gliding to get his mind off things. He crashes and ends up unconscious at the hospital. Jessica calls Cara, who arrives just in time to hear him call out for Andrea. He asks for her after she runs away and Jessica runs to tell her.

When he wakes up, he calls Andrea and asks her to visit him. Jessica lets it slip that she saw Andrea out with another guy, but he blows it off, thinking that it was a friend or relative. While he’s getting dressed, he sees her kissing a guy outside.

He pretty much goes off on Andrea, but she isn’t having it. She tells him that they only went out five times and didn’t promise each other anything. Look, five dates with someone is a big deal, especially if you go out in a row and talk to each other every night. She tells him that she likes the guy and that he likes her for her, not because she looks like someone.

Cara comes to the hospital because Jess calls her. She tells Steve that she loves him and their relationship was special, but she can’t compete with a memory. He starts to ask her for another chance, trails off and she demands to hear what he had to say. He realizes that he does love her and they get back together. Whatevs. I used to like you Cara.

The other story involves Ned and Alice fighting all the time and over everything. She thinks Steven hang gliding is dangerous and Ned thinks it’s a good idea, even offering him a loan to cover it. At the end of the book, when they come home from the hospital, Alice offers to make him steak. Ned wants her to go to the store and get him something different and they fight in front of the kids. Gee, I wonder where this is going?