Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sweet Valley High #77: Cheating to Win






Annie has a brand new boyfriend in the form of Tony Estenban. He's a big deal track star with a number of scouts from colleges and Olympic teams watching him. Since they've only gone out a few times, they're still keeping things under wraps. Liz finds out about it when Roger invites her and Todd over for a special dinner. A friend of his mom's has this son Mitch who got in trouble at school. She begged Roger to keep an eye on him during his break from school, and the Patmans somehow agreed to this idea.

There's a big ass meet coming up soon, but there's also a kind of important meet even sooner. Annie shows up and roots for Tony, but he trips and hurts himself. They end up rushing him to the hospital to do a bunch of tests. The doctor determines that he's generally okay and explains that he'll need to sit out for a few weeks and rest his knee. He can do some exercises but not a whole lot.

While at the gym to use the whirlpool, Tony runs into the super shady and right out of an afterschool special Lou. Someone makes a joke about Lou's special vitamins and how they might help Tony. He's intrigued, but he explains that his doctors already have him some painkillers and other stuff. Lou tells him to come and see him if anything changes.

Things do change when Tony finds out he can start running again. He's so sluggish that everyone keeps passing him on the track. Though the coach thinks he's doing good, he thinks he sucks. He hits up Lou, who offers him his magic vitamins for a low low price of just $10. Tony gets the pills and only briefly wonders what they are.

Not long after taking the pills, Tony notices that he experiences less pain, can run faster, and is just generally a great athlete. Nothing can stand in his way...except for that pesky anger management issue that will arise later. He goes back to Lou and finds out that it was only an introductory price. The price is now $100, and Lou can't get any more for at least a week. Tony keeps showing up at the gym to see if they came in yet, which causes Lou to tell him to shut up or else.

Annie isn't too happy with Tony lately. He seems to have some serious anger issues that carried over from the track. He's yelled at Annie a few times and made her feel like crap a few more times. When getting something from his locker, she finds the bottle of pills. Since she has a cousin named Beth who is a science grad student, she steals one and has her test it.

Beth has some startling news for anyone who hasn't read the recap or even the title of the book. The pills are steroids. She warns Annie about all the risk factors and encourages her to gently talk things over with him. Tony explodes about how she invaded his privacy and how he must definitely isn't taking steroids before storming out of her apartment. Tony actually does know he's taking steroids. He overheard some guys at the gym talking and then heard about some other guys taking steroids and recognized the side effects.

Since no one can do absolutely anything without Elizabeth's approval, Annie confesses everything to her. They go to see Roger and come up with a plan. Beth, who apparently works at a one stop shop chemical laboratory, creates a placebo that looks just like the real thing. Tony takes those pills and thinks they're the real thing.

When he hears Lou warning another of his customers about being a snitch, he finally realizes that his magic vitamins are actually steroids. Tony tells his dad what happened and then goes to his coach. Even though he's broken 900 high school athlete regulations, they let him go. A blood test reveals that the drugs are no longer in his system, and they determine that he never really got any of the good affects anyway.

There are two B-plots, but only one relates to Tony. Mitch becomes Tony's biggest fan. While he barely listens to Roger, he hangs on every word Tony says. He even agrees to go miniature golfing and bowling because Tony says it's cool. Tony's aggressive side comes out at the bowling alley, and he kind of tears the younger kid apart. He eventually apologizes, and Mitch uses his savings to come back to Sweet Valley and cheer him on in the big meet.

The other plot is about Liz and Todd. Todd thinks that they're boring and complains that they never see each other alone anymore. No matter what they do or what plans they make, something always comes up. Todd gets really aloof to the point where he makes plans without her and stops calling her or even talking to her in school.

Liz asks Enid and Annie for help, and Annie gives her a book of romantic getaways. She picks out a fancy restaurant located in a castle on the coast, and they make plans to kidnap her. Todd asks Winston for help planning something similar, and Winston borrows the book from Liz. See where this is going?

Winston shows up at the Wakefield house and tells Liz that Todd was in an accident and needs her to come right away. In a completely mean side note, he actually tells her that Todd crashed a motorcycle. He takes her to the beach by the restaurant, and Enid and Annie show up a few minutes later with Todd in tow. They all get a kick out of things, and Liz and Todd agree to stop fighting...until next week.

*Ha! The restaurant actually looks down on Liz and Todd and comes close to asking if their parents are with them. It's nice to see someone realizing that teenagers should not be dining in four star romantic restaurants.

*I wondered if this was a lead up to the book where Todd suggests they take a break, but then I realized that book comes way later in the series.

*Jessica is hardly in this book except to press Annie for information on her new relationship. It's a little weird that Liz is the one she goes to for help. I guess they're better friends, but it seems like Annie and Jess would be closer.

*Is it weird that I read this book and hated Tony before it started? Given that he cheats on her and dumps her later, I don't really care what he does.

*Jessica also shows up long enough to bitch about her Miss Teen Sweet Valley commitments. Elizabeth acts all self righteous and uppity about how she hates beauty pageants.

*Tony's dad is one of those uber athletic competitive dads. He basically spends the whole book talking about how winning is more important than anything, and Tony even remembers him telling him to kill his opponents. In the end, his dad is super confused on why Tony would do anything to win.

*Could Lou be any more like an afterschool special or a movie of the week? The only thing missing is a few gym rats acting as his enforcers.

*I can't believe Winston said Todd was in a motorcycle accident! How could that not make Liz burst into tears and freak out? Then again, he doesn't have a problem kidnapping someone who was once shoved in the trunk of a car and kidnapped by another couple of psychos.

*Where is the follow up book where Annie feels bad because her cousin got fired for running tests for her without permission and using lab equipment to make fake pills?

*I'm an online writer, and I helped create content for a site all about natural and synthetic steroids. If Tony is already acting aggressive, gaining more energy, etc., then the drugs are in his system. It's BS the way the ghostwriter pushed it all off like it was all in his mind.

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