Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweet Valley University #37: Breaking Away

This is one of the 400 books in the series where absolutely nothing happens. It seriously takes 200+ pages to tell a few days. Jess comes home after hearing rumors that Liz is leaving Sweet Valley, only to find her twin cooking a gourmet dinner. Trust me, she ain’t making shit on a hot plate. I speak from experience.

Jessica freaks out when she learns Liz is moving to Denver because she can’t understand why she wouldn’t talk to her about it. Didn’t she do the exact same thing when she wanted to go to Switzerland? Jessica storms off, but no one wants to hear her whines. They point out all the “shitty” stuff her twin does and Jess gets excited enough that she decides to throw her a party.

Tom mopes about Liz leaving, while Dana wants to throw a party of her own. She runs into Scott, who tells her that she needs to make sure she keeps Tom happy. Then Liz wanders around campus, running into dozens of people who think she’s making a great decision. Tom then shoves it in her face, telling her he never wants to see her again.

Then we have Denise, who’s still trying to pay off her credit card bills. She took out a loan and now ran through all that money and she still has bills due. She decides to take a job, catering Liz’s party in the hopes that it will lead to other jobs. Jessica turns all demanding, wanting the best including lobster and caviar.

Liz has a moment with Scott, where she realizes that she barely notices him. Then she forgets about it, telling herself that she’ll get to know him in time. Smart. Winston throws Liz a surprise party, which ends with Liz running off. Jessica accuses her of leaving because of Tom and crying because she still loves him, but she denies it. Jess then learns that Nick is considering leaving the force and enrolling in school, which makes her want to vomit. She fell in love with a cop, not a man! How could she possibly love someone who wasn’t exciting and dangerous?

Jessica then decides to ruin Liz’s chances at going away. She meets with one of the representatives in a slutty outfit and keeps talking about partying and dancing all the time. She even kisses him, but he takes it all in stride and says she will loosen up some of the people.

Tom gets his invite to Liz’s party and doesn’t want to go, but then Dana shows up. They agree to go together, but have a moment where she wants to make out on an old couch in the station. He won’t because he used to kiss Liz on the couch, but then decides that if Liz is leaving, he needs to make room in his life for new things. He once again makes out with Dana because he’s pissed at Liz.

Denise cooks her ass off before the party, but can’t find the lobster. It turns out that they left it in the car and now it’s ruined. Winston runs off to find a cheap alternative and returns with tofu. She says it won’t work, but then Bruce and Lila fall for it. Bruce keeps talking about it being the best lobster every and eats almost the whole thing. He hires her to cater a party for his parents the next night, but makes her promise to make the lobster ala Denise.

Jessica spends the whole night trying to figure out how to make Liz stay. She sees Tom wander outside and grabs Liz’s coat. She goes to see him and lets him think that she’s Liz. He kisses her and they end up going at it for a few minutes. Dana sees it and starts crying, then Scott sees it and runs to get Liz.

Liz sees them kissing and tries not to burst into tears. Dana throws a party for herself because she knows this will break them up for good. Liz then gives a goodbye speech, trying not to cry as she thanks her sister for her support. Liz runs home crying because she can’t believe her sister would do that to her. Really Liz? Did you forget about your sister nearly framing you for murder and then stealing your boyfriend? Yup, Jessica would never, ever kiss your guy. Lame.

Oh, but surprise, surprise Steven and Billie go to the party. I thought Billie was in Spain, studying the guitar? Did she come back just for this party? How come no one threw her a party when she left? Also, why did Steven get dropped from the books? When they come back for their sophomore year, he only pops up in one book!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Valley University #36: Have You Heard About Elizabeth?

Elizabeth and Scott were contacted by some lame news-magazine called NEWS2US that wants to feature them in an upcoming story. The article is supposedly about what happened at the country club, but you couldn’t tell it by the interview. Liz gets kind of flustered and Scott answers most of their questions. I love that she gets flustered because the photographer is asking her to move, while the reporter asks her questions.

When the article comes out, Liz is furious! The article makes her look like a joke and Scott a hero. It leaves out all mention of Tom, Jessica, Nick and everyone else who helped on the undercover operation. They refer to Scott as the real reporter and Liz as his girlfriend, following in his footsteps.

Liz confronts Scott and goes off on him, but he has an excuse. He tells her that the reporter was jealous of her. The reporter hit on him and he turned her down, so she made him the hero of the story. He says Liz is more talented and beautiful than the reporter and she totally falls for it. Why is she always referred to as smart?

Jessica has a minor problem that’s mentioned on 317 pages, but gets cleared up in five seconds. She missed a test because of the sting and tells her professor everything that happened. She makes up this huge, elaborate story that involves her making a criminal profile and then hacking into the FBI database. The professor decides that her creativity is enough to earn her an A on the test. Um, I hope this wasn’t a science test?

Jess then has a fight with Nick because her photo shoot is coming up. Nick, who was suddenly so supportive in the last book, now refuses to let her pose in a swimsuit. He changes his mind after she pouts for a little bit and throws a fit. He also reveals that he’s taking a leave of absence and taking college placement tests.

We’re then treated to a scene that shows the ghostwriters know nothing about modeling. Jessica spends SIX HOURS in makeup, including full body makeup. Even in the late 90s, they still had airbrushing for that. Plus you can get a full-body spray tan in like 10 minutes. She throws another hissy fit, but sits through the whole shoot.

The girls gather at the Theta House when the proofs come out and Jessica throws yet another fit. Suddenly she doesn’t want to be in the calendar and wants the photos destroyed. The same girl who constantly flaunts her body and will in the future, now doesn’t want anyone looking at her body.

Out of nowhere, she starts worrying about Nick. Apparently he hasn’t called her in days and she just now realizes this. Thinking that he was hurt in the line of duty or injured, she runs to his apartment. Yet three pages later, she starts getting bored with him because all he wants to do is study or talk about studying. She confesses to Liz that she’s worried they won’t work out.

Scott announces that he was accepted into an investigative journalism school in Denver and not long after, Liz is too. He’s ready to go, but she’s not sure she can leave behind Sweet Valley. Do schools like this really exist? I honestly don’t know. I know journalism schools do, but what about specific areas of journalism?

Tom reads the story and is so pissed that he calls a friend who interned at the magazine. The friend breaks a bunch of rules and calls back with information. Scott’s dad is not only on the newspaper board that owns the magazine, but also on a board that donated a bunch of money for a new program at the journalism school. He runs a huge story about it on the news, which I think is rude.

Liz keeps thinking about Tom and wondering if they’re destined to be together. She keeps making plans to see him, but then sees him with Dana. Yeah, he’s still with her and still sleeping with her, while thinking about Liz. She eventually runs into his dad who lets it slip that Tom now knows the truth about what happened between them.

Between that and the Scott story, she finally decides to confront Tom. They have a loud, screaming match and rip each other’s heads off. I love that this takes place in the cafeteria, with dozens of other people around. Plus Tom calls her a “witch” and I love it! They storm off in opposite directions: Liz to cry and Tom to probably fuck Dana.

The other story of the book is Denise. She’s tired of never having any money and watching all of the Thetas spend mad cash. At the school finance fair, she talks to a bank and gets a credit card. She spends tons of money right off the bat, buying a bunch of clothes, shoes and jewelry. She also buys some expensive clothes and a diver watch for Winston.

Denise takes Winston out for a night on the town and her card is declined because she’s over the limit. She goes to the bank and they setup a payment plan, but she can’t even afford the minimum payments every month.

Here’s what I don’t understand: I know that banks and credit cards prey on college students, but this is a little much. My first “college” card had a limit of $750 and the most I heard anyone else get was $1,000-1,500, but Denise apparently had way more than that. At one point she buys a fancy garnet necklace, silver earrings, a gold bracelet, a ring and Winston’s watch. Then she buys four pairs of shoes at Lila’s favorite store!

Anyway, Denise gets a letter from financial aid. It says that due to her bad credit score, she must start paying back the interest on her student loans. First of all, there’s no way they got a copy of her credit report that fast. Second, the financial aid department has nothing to do with your loans, other than pass them onto you. You would hear from the USFA or whatever it’s called. Third, your credit score has nothing to do with your student loans, unless you’re taking out private loans. Lastly, the deal is that you don’t pay back your loans at all, until six months after graduation or you drop out of school. Trust me, after college and grad school, I know these things.

While wandering around in a sad state, she sees a sign offering to help those with bad credit. It turns out to be one of those loan consolidation places, which are a rip-off. They give you one big loan to pay your bills and charge a higher interest rate, plus you have monthly payments. Somehow this sounds great in her mind.

Jessica is out with Nick, when they run into some girls from campus. The girls saw Tom and Liz’s fight and want all the details. Liz yelled at Tom that she might go to Denver with Scott and that’s all anyone wants to talk about. Jessica rushes home to get the details. The book ends with Liz finally making a decision and dropping her letter in the mailbox…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweet Valley University Thriller Edition: The Roommate

Let’s just call this one Single White Female: SVU. I think the ghostwriter watched that movie and still had it fresh in their mind because I swear entire scenes and quotes from the book, came right from the movie.

Isabelle and Danny are celebrating her birthday, when he gets her alone and pulls out a ring box. Seeing a diamond ring inside, she immediately tells him that she’ll marry him. Oopsie, he’s not proposing. He just wants her to have his family heirloom ring. This is really lame Danny, really lame. He literally gets all romantic with her, gives her a diamond ring and then doesn’t want to marry her.

Isabelle then bonds with Jessica, talking about how she doesn’t have a whole lot of money. Her parents paid for a two-bedroom apartment off-campus and now won’t/can’t help her with any other bills. They go to some beauty school for free haircuts. Jess wimps out, but Izzy goes through it, only to end up with a short hairstyle that she doesn’t exactly love. To cap it all off, she wrecks her car and has to come up with the money to pay the repair bill.

She decides that the best bet is to get a roommate. Since her parents paid the rent, everything her roomie pays is pure profit. A total group of losers comes parading through her door, until in walks Lisa. Lisa is shy and quiet, but she helps her repair her coffee maker and says she’s good with things like that. Isabelle offers her a room on the spot. Yeah, just like in Single White Female.

We also have Jessica dating a new hot piece of ass. Josh just transferred from UCLA and he’s super cute. She’s suddenly worried about losing him to another girl, so she won’t introduce him to any of her friends. She does take him out with Tom and Liz, but gets moderately bored when he expresses an interest in the campus news station because, you know, it’s not about her.

Lisa seems like a fairly okay roommate, except that she’s all hush-hush about her past. Izzy knows people who went to her school, but Lisa doesn’t know them. She also can’t answer simple questions about New York. Isabelle picks up a wood box of hers and Lisa freaks out, yelling at her not to touch it. Isabelle starts talking about her concerns with Lisa, but it’s all lame stuff. She’s concerned because her roommate wanted to keep a nasty basement rat as a pet, she’s too quiet and she doesn’t do anything.

Isabelle decides to take her new roommate shopping, to get her some new clothes. She notices that with the right makeup and clothing, her roommate actually looks *gasp* good. Of course, this symbolizes the end for their friendship.

Danny comes over to the apartment and brings Izzy yet another gift. Maybe he wants to not propose again? Oh no, wait it’s just a kitten. A cute little black and white kitten that Lisa wants to name Rosie. The kicker is that he brings it over, right before they go out on a date. Isabelle asks Lisa to watch the cat for the night. Me, I’d be making Danny take me to a late night pet store to stock up on food and then we’d spend all night playing with my new kitty.

Lisa makes Izzy lunch and deletes a message from Danny, which makes her upset because he blew her off when they made plans. He gets mad too, thinking that she blew him off. They meet up with Jessica and Lisa shows her true colors, by going off on a waitress for not paying attention to her, but they all think it’s acceptable. Then Josh shows up and Jessica turns green. Turns out that they were high schools sweethearts.

I’m already tired of reviewing this book so let’s just get on with it. Lisa keeps lying to everyone, to get them away from Isabelle and no one picks up on it. She tells Danny that Izzy is spending time with Josh, tells Jess that Josh wants Izzy and tells Izzy that people are talking smack behind her back. She even gets her hair cut like Isabelle and sneaks over to Danny’s dorm in the middle of the night. They kiss a little and he thinks that she’s Isabelle.

Jess takes Lisa under her wing, showing her around the sorority and turning to her for help and support. Lisa keeps hiding notes and messages from Danny, so the perfect couple think the other one hates them. Lisa finally tells Danny the mother of all lies, that Isabelle is cheating on him with Josh. Izzy goes to see him and he blows her off. She tries telling him about how weird Lisa is, but he says that she’s a nice girl and Izzy has problems.

Isabelle basically ends up all alone. Lisa finds out from Josh that he made plans to spend a weekend in Malibu with Jess, but can’t go. He wants to drop off a letter for her and she agrees to take it, but then dumps it. She tells him to talk to Isabelle in the café because she’s feeling down. Then she runs to get Jess and drags her to the café. They see the two holding hands and she flips out, vowing to not talk to either of them again. She does go to the Theta house and work with Alison Quinn, to get Isabelle kicked out of the house.

Isabelle goes home and decides to go through Lisa’s secret box. She finds all this information about Helen, who’s actually Lisa and her sister Rosie, who died when they were kids. She hears Lisa come in and runs off, but the other girl realizes she was going through her things. She goes back to Danny, but he still won’t listen to her. She goes to the Theta house and gets turned away by Alison, so she has to sleep on a dorm couch.

Danny meets up with Lisa and *finally* realizes that she’s looking an awful lot like Isabelle. Lisa puts the moves on him pretty hardcore and he pushes her off. He tells her he’s not ready for a relationship and isn’t giving up on Isabelle. Really, kind of seems like you are. Lisa keeps pushing the issue, finally bringing up the night they made out. He acts all shocked that it wasn’t his girlfriend. Seriously, if you can’t even realize that you’re not kissing your girlfriend, then there’s something wrong. When she storms home, she comes across Rosie, who always liked Isabelle better…

Isabelle goes back to the apartment, planning on stealing the box and making someone listen. Instead she finds Rosie, dead outside their apartment. She goes up anyway and of course Lisa clubs her over the head and ties her up. Jessica runs into Josh, who tells her the truth. Of course she believes it when it comes from a guy. He also tells her that he never liked or trusted Lisa and she realizes that something must be off, if a guy she’s known for three days thinks it.

Jessica rushes over to the apartment, but by now Lisa is gone. Isabelle is inside and finds the remote control, turning up the volume as loud as possible. Jess hears it, breaks in and is working on untying her, when Lisa shows up. She locks Jess in a closet, something we’d all like to do, and then gets distracted enough that Isabelle makes a break for it.

Danny starts wandering across campus and sees a woman looking for her niece Helen. When he sees a picture, he realizes Izzy was telling the truth and runs to help her. Isabelle jumps on the elevator, which is broken and takes her down to the basement. Lisa shows up, Danny shows up and she clubs him over the head with a pipe.

The two girls start fighting as the elevator goes back up. Lisa tells her that she basically killed her twin. She knew her sister fell down a mine shaft, but left her there without telling anyone. She gets distracted, thinking her sister is calling her from the elevator shaft. They get out of the elevator, but Lisa goes back and falls down, dying.

Danny and Jessica apologize for being asses and everyone makes up. Danny decides now is the perfect time to propose, but Isabelle kind of laughs it off, thinking that it will happen someday. I think it’s very fitting that she later gets amnesia and forgets all about him!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sweet Valley University #34: Spy Girl

It’s Sweet Valley, which means that rules and legalities mean nothing. That’s the only way I can explain why Nick is allowed to take Jessica on an undercover operation. Seriously, can you imagine what would happen if she was accidentally shot or something on this job?

Anyway, she runs over to Isabel’s and asks for help. She says that Nick always looks sleazy when he goes undercover and she wants to look sleazy too. She borrows a pair of pleather pants and lets Izzy use fake black hair dye on her hair. She heads off to their meeting spot for a truly lame scene. Nick thinks Jessica is some chick he busted and Jessica thinks Nick is some loser she knew in high school because he’s dressed like a geek. Hardy-har-har.

Nick tells Jessica that they’re going undercover at Verona Springs Country Club, where Lila is a member. She confesses that she told Lila she was going with him on an assignment and he freaks out, but of course forgives her. She goes shopping with Izzy again and buys a bunch of vintage clothes, plucks her eyebrows, dyes her hair and passes herself off as Perdita de la Mer or something stupid like that.

It’s seriously the most ridiculous thing. First of all, they have Jess walking around in six inch stilettos, which would probably cripple her and aren’t authentic to the 1940s. Then, no one, not a single person recognizes her because she has a different hair color and wears sunglasses. Are you telling me that Lila wouldn’t recognize her. To make matters worse, somehow, no one recognizes Nick. Nick, who basically parts his hair differently and that’s it.

Jessica makes herself the center of attention and everyone loves her. All the lame club people want to be just like her and make fools of themselves. They believe all the stories she makes up about Argentina and want to be her best friend.

Liz and Scott are investigating at the club, but their story is pretty lame too. Get the feeling this is a bad book? She keeps running into Tom and they fight or run away from each other. Then she finds a letter to some guy named Manoel, which says his voting location changed, but he was an illegal immigrant.

Liz actually sits with “Perdita” and doesn’t realize it’s Jessica until they look into each other’s eyes. Then she chases her twin all across the club, until she realizes that Nick is working on a case that’s also her story.

We also get a little thing about Bruce. He’s still pissed about Paul kicking his ass during the tennis match and Paul suggests they play a few games for money. Bruce wins, they up the amount and then Paul wipes the floor with him. It turns out that it was all Bunny’s idea, for Bruce dumping her earlier in the year. Bruce calls the cops and pretends that Paul stole from him.

Tom runs into Paul, who locked his keys in his car, in the parking lot. He offers to help him get them out with a coat hanger, but the cops show up. Bruce pops out, the cops realize what actually happened and suggest that Paul file a lawsuit for slander against him. Tom decides to help Paul, who suddenly grabs the coat hanger and expertly jimmies the lock before driving off, which makes him realize something weird is going on.

Liz runs into Tom outside and they start getting close, sharing what they know about the story they’re both working on. They almost kiss, but then Scott shows up and makes a few rude comments. The book ends with Tom storming off, vowing to beat Liz to the story.

Okay, so Tom is supposed to be our “hero” in these books, but he’s a real asshole. I know that Dana is a bad person because she stole his note to Liz, but she totally doesn’t deserve the shit he puts her through. He spends the whole book using her, blowing her off when he doesn’t need her and calling her when he does. Then if he sees Liz in the area, he drops Dana like a hot potato. Considering that in the later books we find out that they had sex (a lot), he really comes off like an asshole. Even Liz deserves better!