Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Taking Sides

Forget Batman V Superman, (because it's terrible) the big showdown this year (or in 1986, whatevs) is Elizabeth V Jessica! What could they possibly be squabbling over? Something ultimately pointless? Let's find out!

Sweet Valley High #31: Taking Sides


The Wakefield twins are sitting in the sunshine out on the lawn outside Sweet Valley High, with Lila Fowler and Enid Rollins, even though Jessica can't bear Enid and Elizabeth thinks Lila is a snobby wagon. In case anyone had forgotten, Jessica and Elizabeth are SPECTACULARLY beautiful, with their tumbling locks of spun-gold hair and sparkling, twinkling, glittering aquamarine eyes.

They had the kind of looks that make California girls famous around the world. 

And the kind of relatability that...nope, I got nothing.

There's a new dude in town, he's blonde and tall and handsome, his name is Jeffrey French and both Enid and Lila have the hots for his Oregon farm-boy ass. Jessica brings Lila across the lawn to introduce her to him and Enid is raging, even though she was getting all cosy with Lila's fancy cousin Christopher just two books ago, but he seems to have disappeared into the ether. Elizabeth is determined not to let Lila "walk all over poor Jeffrey" (hey, you don't know what he's into, Liz) and is going to do her damnedest to get him and Enid together.

Also, the twins have this annoying fifteen year old cousin called Jenny who's coming to stay with them for two weeks and she simply idolises Jessica. Unfortunately for Jenny, Jessica can't stand her.

Thick glasses, unkempt hair, at least ten pounds overweight, and dressed in the most unflattering fuschia sweats, Jenny was, as far as Jessica was concerned, a mess.

Oh Jessica. The most problematic of faves.

"I'm on a diet," Jenny announced cheerfully. "I've made up my mind, just looking at you two. I want to be thin, too!"

STAAHP.

Lila overheard Aaron Dallas mentioning that he and Jeffrey will be at Casey's ice cream parlour that evening, so she gets Jessica to come with her and they're crammed into a booth with Ken Matthews, Eddie Winters (Jessica's latest crush) and Jenny, who insisted on coming too and is currently horsing into a massive banana split, so Jessica is judging her internally, and generally being awful. Eddie and Ken seem to get along with her though, and ask her about the book she took along with her, like normal, sound lads. Jeffrey and Aaron show up and they all squash into the booth so Lila can coo and purr and murmur at Jeffrey and she decides then and there to throw a pool party for the following day as a ploy to get her hooks into him. On the way home, Jenny lets slip to Jessica that Elizabeth is scheming to get Enid and Jeffrey together, so Jessica tells Jenny not to mention the pool party to Elizabeth, pretending like Lila never invites Liz to stuff and it'd only hurt her feelings, which keeps Liz and Enid out of the way.

The pool party is a smash, there's a cabana and a grill filled with sizzling hamburgers but Lila is annoyed, because Jeffrey is being all friendly and chatty with everyone there and he's not paying enough attention to her. Jessica is also failing to command the attention of Eddie Winters, as he's busy playing water volleyball and giving piggybacks to Jenny, despite the fact that Jessica is wearing a tiny bikini and aiming her hotness right at him all afternoon. The next day, Jenny inadvertently mentions the party to Elizabeth, because pretty much her only purpose in this book is to mistakenly rat each twin out to the other. Elizabeth is furious and tells Enid that she should go to the volleyball match that's on the following night and she'll make sure that Jeffrey joins her there. Eddie drops over to the house and Jessica is delighted, until Jenny inserts herself between the two of them again and keeps talking to Eddie about books and foreign films and what have you and Jessica decides that he's just a really good guy because he's just being polite in putting up with Jenny.

The next day at school, Elizabeth is sitting in the Oracle office with editor Penny Ayala, talking about how it's PTA Food Drive Week and what a great initiative it is. Hang on, why is Jenny coming to stay for two weeks when she should surely be in school herself? What's she doing all day? I'm not sure the ghostwriter thought this through. But back to Liz and Penny.

"It's hard to believe there are people in our own town who don't have enough to eat!" "I know" Penny said soberly. 

That's because you don't know any poor people. Aside from Tricia Martin, and she's dead.

Sexy ol' Roger Collins pops in and asks if one of them would mind staying on for Jeffrey French, as he's a photographer, and going to help the paper out with the supplement they're putting together for the food drive but he needs to be shown around the office. Elizabeth says she'll stay and Penny asks if she's sure.

Elizabeth laughed, making little shooing motions with her hands. "Go on, both of you!" she said lightly.

I 100% read that as "little shooting motions" the first time around and had a truly wonderful image in my head of Elizabeth doing finger guns, going "pew pew pew!" at Penny and Mr. Collins. So disappointed. Anyway, Jeffrey comes along and Elizabeth finds the way he looks at her "unnerving", but in a good way I guess? They actually get along really well and chat for ages and it's half five before Elizabeth remembers that she's supposed to be trying to set him up with Enid, so she starts going on about how wonderful Enid is and how Jeffrey should get to know her, although he's pretty obviously into Elizabeth. She tells him that she was supposed to go to the volleyball game with Enid that night and he should take her place, because she promised her mother that she'd hang out with Jenny for the evening. Jeffrey sort of noncommittally says it's a good idea and then asks if Liz wants to get a Coke with him at Casey's, but she fobs him off and can't figure why he seems disappointed. HE'S INTO YOU, DUMMY. "The kind of looks that make California girls famous around the world", remember?

Elizabeth sorta looks like she's staring right past Jessica on this cover, like her eyeline doesn't quite match up with Jessica's. No wonder Jess looks so pissed off. That and the fact that she's been been caught in a boring ass polo shirt.

However, later that night, Enid rings Liz all upset because Jeffrey never showed up and Liz finds out from Jenny (of course) that Jeffrey was at the Beach Disco with her, Jessica, Lila, Eddie, Roger and Olivia and that Lila was dancing with Jeffrey all night. Also, Jessica and Jenny are meeting Eddie on Friday night, and while Jessica is doing some leg lifts in her room (while listening to her Walkman, obvs), Jenny suggests that they go to the Plaza to see Wuthering Heights and goes on about how cute Eddie is, oblivious to Jessica's annoyance at the whole situation.

Back in school, Jeffrey comes over all chatty to Elizabeth, who's pissed off with him for going to the Beach Disco instead of the volleyball game like he never actually said he would. He explains that Lila asked him to come to the disco, and told him that Jessica was taking Jenny there to show her around, so he assumed that meant Liz would be there too. Liz is bewildered, nay FLUMMOXED by this and in the meantime, Enid is flailing around trying to think of a way to get Jeffrey to notice her, because Lila is campaigning hard and already bought him a new camera and tripod, which he won't accept. There's a charity auction coming up at school as part of the food drive, where the students bid with cans of food, so Enid cooks up a plan to get Elizabeth to convince Jeffrey to offer a date with him as an auction item and then Enid will make sure to be the highest bidder. Elizabeth agrees to the plan and gets Jeffrey on board, but feels like a dope because she reckons he thinks she's doing all this as a roundabout way to go out with him herself.

The day of the auction, Enid asks if Jessica and Lila can help to pack the food cans to be taken to City Hall when the auction is over, and Lila's like "You mean actually putting them in boxes?", because bitch please, as if Lila has ever packed in her fabulous life. They quickly make up excuses why they can't help out, which keeps them out of the way for the auction and it's actually pretty impressively sneaky of Enid. When Jeffrey's date night comes up, Caroline Pearce and some other bird called Stacie are bidding back and forth until they get to twenty five cans, when Enid steps in and bids seventy five. Way to play it cool, E.

But whatever about that, the other items up for auction are the best part of this bit. Well, two of the other items. Namely, "a voucher for a homemade dinner cooked by none other than Mr. Collins", because that man genuinely doesn't know the meaning of the word APPROPRIATE and "a candid snapshot of Bruce Patman in a bathing suit" HOLY FUCK WHAAAT. Unfortunately we don't find out who won the bidding on either of those, so we'll never know who spent a cosy underage evening with sexy Roger Collins or who publicly bought Bruce Patman wank material.

On Friday night, Jessica is being driven up the wall by Jenny on their night out with Eddie and feeling like he's ignoring her and just talking about dumb mystery novels and dumb classical music with her dumb cousin. They end up at Dairi Burger, where Jessica just sits quietly "sipping angrily at her Diet Coke" while the other two chat, (I don't know how exactly you can sip angrily, but if anyone can do it, it's Jessica Wakefield) until she sees Enid and Jeffrey out together and discovers the whole auction plan. WHO CARES, ask about the Bruce photo and the sex-dinner! PRIORITIES, JESSICA. Anyway, Enid and Jeffrey's date is going reasonably well, in that he's polite and attentive, but they're not clicking and Enid accepts that there's nothing there between them.

On Sunday there's a big beach party as the final event for the Food Drive week, although I'm not sure how a bunch of fancy teenagers hanging out at the beach trying to fuck each other helps the poor of Sweet Valley, but what do I know. Enid tries to tell Elizabeth that it's not going to happen between her and Jeffrey and they should drop it, but for some reason Liz insists that she doesn't give up and arranges for Jeffrey to take a bunch of photos of Enid for a profile about her, as she's head of the student committee for the food drive. These kids, they're all on committees and president or chairman of this and that, just chill with the bureaucracy would ye. Anyway, Elizabeth drags Jeffrey away from the dancefloor and a fuming Lila Fowler and it's really awkward when she lumps him and Enid together and runs off. Jessica then confronts Elizabeth about her scheming against her and Lila and they have it out over all the shenanigans each of them pulled. Then Enid gives out to Elizabeth for trying to force her and Jeffrey together and then Jeffrey gives out to her too for playing games with him and trying to decide who he should go out with, so everyone is mad at poor, beautiful Liz.

While she's crying all alone further down the beach, Jessica comes over and patches things up, and also makes Elizabeth realise that she totally fancies Jeffrey. She also reveals that Eddie is currently slow dancing with Jenny and he's a lost cause. Jenny is fifteen and Eddie is a senior, so that makes him around seventeen, yeah? Hm. HMM. Elizabeth and Jessica rejoin the party and Jenny tells them that Eddie is coming to Dallas to visit her after she goes home. Jenny is eating a hot dog and Elizabeth makes a comment about how being in love is meant to make you lose your appetite, but Jenny says they're just friends.

"Love is too stupid," she added licking a bit of mustard off her hand.

I am HIGHLY suspicious of this seventeen year old dude arranging to go all the way to Texas see a clearly very immature fifteen year old girl that he's "just friends" with. I'M WATCHING YOU, EDDIE WINTERS.

Anyway, Elizabeth then finds Enid and apologises to her and they make up, and then she goes and does the same with Jeffrey, only their conversation ends with a heap of smooching on the dancefloor and Elizabeth Wakefield is now OFF THE MARKET, DUDES.

Notable outfit: 
This one is notable because it sounds fucking awesome.

Elizabeth couldn't believe the way Lila was acting. First of all, she was dressed inappropriately for a picnic on the beach. Her one-piece, white jumpsuit would have been more suitable on a Hollywood set. And those gold-spangled high heels were just too much.

SHUT UP LIZ, SHE OBVIOUSLY LOOKS AMAZING.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 134
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3

Amount of times people blush: 17
Amount of times Jenny's weight is brought up: 7 (Not gonna lie, it's pretty bleak.)

6 comments :

  1. Lol I love your review on SVH

    In this day and age Mr Collins would be on the sex offenders list

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  2. OMG. I just totally had a childhood flashback seeing this book. I totally remember this one. It was one of my faves as a preteen. Hahaha.

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  3. Mmmm Mr Collins in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, wearing an apron.
    Nothing BUT an apron.

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    Replies
    1. You know it! One that says "Kiss the Chef", probably.

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  4. I have to say, the cover art made me think that the two girls would be facing off... of course, the last time these two fought over a boy, someone got accused pf rape, so it's probably for the best they didn't. The more I think about it, these two are basically if Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics, of they were twins who looked like Betty and were terrible. Jessica is the man-crazy Veronica who uses her sexuality as a weapon and starts drama out of boredom, and Liz is the journalist Betty-sue whose good at everything except picking a non a-hole boyfriend (only instead of being likable and sympathetic, she's a judgemental bitch).

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  5. I'm curious about the gold spangled high heels. I've only ever heard that word in the American anthem.

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