What’s wrong with this picture? Or #13 “Kidnapped”

28 Jun

Elizabeth tried out her #1 self defence weapon – her extraordinarily long arm

We begin with a chapter that is wrong it so many ways I have isolated only the top three:

1] Jessica is waiting for Liz to return from an evening of saving the world, so they can attend a glitzy party at the home of Sweet Valley’s newest millionaires, the Morrows. She is squeezing into a piece of blue silk that would probably ashame Betsy Martin, and her zipper gets stuck! Too many onion rings at the Dairi Burger, methinks!

Luckily, Steven is home from college AGAIN [seriously, Nalice is paying his fees for this??] so he comes to the rescue. And here, I quote one of the most twisted and incestuous pieces from Sweet Valley high to date:

Steven rubbed a towel through his dark hair…

‘So, can you help me please?’ Jessica asked again.

‘Sure’, Steven said, good-naturedly [I bet!] He walked up to his sister, who was now standing before the full-length mirror on the back of his closet door. He bent his six-foot-one body over her zipper. It took a little maneuvering, but he finally managed to zip up the dress without damaging the delicate fabric.

‘You had a thread caught in it’, he told her.

Steven inspected his sister carefully. Jessica had a knack for picking out clothes that made her look her best – although a burlap sack couldn’t conceal her perfectly proportioned figure. This dress was no exception. The iridescent material matched her brilliant, blue-green eyes, and the neckline of her sleeveless dress was about as low as anyone could get away with…

‘It looks a little, uh-’

‘Sexy?’ Jessica cut in ‘Alluring, perhaps?’

‘You’re putting it mildly, Jess. The way you look, you’ll be fighting off at least 90 per cent of the guys in Sweet Valley.


2. I didn’t think I’d recover from that, but next thing Jess is hitching a ride with Cara [apparently Liz hasn’t returned from helping Max Dellon with English homework. On a Friday night.] We get a glimpse into Jessica’s thought processes [yes, they exist] as she warns Cara to keep her mitts off eligible bachelor Nicholas Morrow:

The two girls had an unwritten rule that served them well: Thou Shalt Not Chase After the Same Boy As Your Best Friend.

Really Jessica? So I guess this excludes your little showdown with Lila over Jack-the-druggie; not to mention fighting with aforementioned bestie over lifeguards in the aptly titled “Boyfriend War”; oh and then I believe there was some dance teacher who you and Amy Sutton had your hooks into in #55, and Lucas the ski instructor and Jonathon-the-vampire and Jordan from Palisades….

FYI Cara has a fling in the mid-80’s with your brother who we just saw you flirting with. So maybe that rule isn’t serving you quite so well??

3. Oh and during this epic car ride, Cara admires Jessica for being “like the Royal Canadian Mountain Police. She always got her man.”

Cara, sweetie, despite what the ghostwriters tell you in the 180 or so books of this series, Jessica rarely gets her man: she loses Toddles, Devon Whitelaw and Nicholas Morrow to her sister. Also, the string of other guys she apparently leaves in her wake are generally on the dumping end of the equation – Ken Matthews, Roger Patman, Bill Chase….On the rare occasions where she does get the guy, the ghostwriters are sure to kill him off within 5 books [Sam, James, Christian, Nick Fox – it is seriously hard to believe she has avoided post traumatic stress disorder.]

We finally reach the Morrow mansion, and meet stunning Regina [new to the SVH junior class] and her handsome brother Nicholas who has some kind of computer job. My kind of guy! We soon learn that Regina is not ignoring Jessica, but is actually deaf! Because WHO COULD IGNORE A WAKEFIELD??? When Jessica asks for the booze, Regina lip-reads and tells her “it isn’t that sort of party”. Ooh burn! I give you exactly 27 books to change your innocent ways, Regina! Then Jess gets totally shut down by Nick when she offers Regina a pity vote into her sorority. HA!

But where is the good twin while all this is transpiring? She’s doing her candy striper thing at Fowler Memorial Hospital, which in NSW health means selling lollies and newspapers to patients, but apparently in Sweet Valley she basically has the role of a NUM. Volunteer, of course. I am now really upset that all the candy stripers at my hospital [we call them pink ladies here] are over 70. Also, I wish Wakefield was one of them so I could make her life miserable and stop her from patronizing all the patients.

Of course, there’s one more do-gooder act left for Liz before she can go over to Regina’s house to do some serious condescending! She has to go tutor Max Dellon, one of the Droids, who has been blackballed from the band until his grades pick up. It must be because he smokes. Tsk, tsk.

[Un?]fortunately, Liz never makes it as she is gagged, anaeshetised and kidnapped on her way into the Fiat.

Back at the party, I get my token scene for the book: gossip Caroline Pearce is checking me out. Apparently she’s had a crush on this “gangly boy” for ages, so Jess sends her my way. Gee thanks, Jessica! Now she’ll tell everyone about my lego collection and Star Trek addiction. Grr!

Todd gets worried and interrupts Jessica to find out what is delaying his gf. She ignores her Twin-stinct and tells him Liz is sitting for Mr Collins son. Nobody interrupts a Wakefield flirt-fest!

Liz finally wakes up [if magic jungle-prom rum can get her wasted, imagine what an anaesthetic can do!]. She wonders:

What’s going to become of me? Am I going to die? Am I? No such luck

Turns out she has been kidnapped by a creepy hospital orderly called Carl. Carl is 25. This destroyed it for me. He declares that he loves her [well, duh] and says that he wants to keep her here forever, and promises not to hurt her and then….HE UNDOES HER BRAID!!! I think this is the ghosties hinting at  some sort of sexual element to the attack, which even to me as a 9 year old seemed strangely lacking. Of course, this is Sweet Valley, so such topics are strictly taboo!

Back at the party, Toddles phones Mr Creepy Collins, who answers with“Liz? What makes you think she’s here?” Obvs she is tied up and gagged in some orderly’s lounge room, but still I detect a hint of defensiveness in his voice. Maybe he was just thinking about his star student when the phone rang?

Todd sees red and pushes Jess in the pool. My first account of a pool-push! The ladies at 1BRUCE1 will be so proud! Jess starts getting worried and actually feels guilty for putting a guy before her twin.

Back at 137 Calico Drive, Nalice realize Liz never came home and start to worry. Maybe they will start acting like parents and call the Morrows? Nah. According to Ned, that would be overreacting. They go upstairs.

Max Dellon, who has had no Liz-help with his essay, is angry! He hightails it to Fowler Hospital and finds Liz’s open car. Of course, the police appear at that moment [apparently Todd and Jess have mobilized the cops and disturbed Nalice] and arrest him.

Meanwhile, Liz finds it in her heart to be a patronizing bitch while she is bound and gagged in Carl’s lounge room: “Elizabeth shuddered with revulsion. She couldn’t imagine ever growing accustomed to this hovel.”

Morning has broken! Carl feeds her pancakes [it’s hard to eat when your hands are tied] and says, “I’ve seen you feeding people in the hospital like this.” I don’t know which is more creepy – a deranged orderly feeding someone pancakes or the thought of Liz doing the same thing at a patient’s bedside. Carl leaves her with some books and goes to work.

Meanwhile, in the cop car, Max is in trouble: “Officer Hadley had tried, convicted and sentenced him during the half mile ride. “You’ll like juvenile hall,” he sneers. “Living with your own element, sharing a cell with a no-good thief like you.” Now I don’t know much about the American legal system but seriously??I wish Fran-Pasc had cut Max some slack – seriously, is this punishment just because he smokes and is not a Wakefield? Even his father, who arrives to post bail, doesn’t believe him! Also, neither does Todd, and Max is on the end of a Todd-Punch!

Todd starts crying for his lost love. Now who will he share a salty-chocolate kiss with at Millers Point? The hunt is on.

Jessica starts being a brat and hiding in her room. Nicholas comes to help her despite the fact that he has NEVER MET ELIZABETH. They “stroll down the sun-streaked sidewalk”. Ah! Alliteration! This ghostwriter clearly passed his SATs.

Back at the hovel, Liz reminisces about pillow fights. And then, this gem: As that memory faded, Elizabeth called up a new one, this time about Todd. And after that, yet another one. Wow Todd, you are so interesting she hasn’t seen you for one day and that’s the best remembering she can do. Ha!

The search party –  i.e. Max, Todd and Jess, not a crime squad – is at the hospital when Carl turns up for work. He sees Jess and is all “Elizabeth – how did you escape? I thought I had tied you up in my house at [insert address] so well!” Max summons the police, who are there in record time with handcuffs [there is apparently no crime in SV]. But where oh where has Todd gone? Jess finds him upstairs, talking to a young, female intern. HA!

And now to rescue the good twin:

As soon as the game was up, Carl confessed everything and told the police where they could find Elizabeth.

Nice one, Carl! How convenient you should tell us where your victim is – just when I thought we could turn this into a miniseries…..How would this be for a final paragraph?

“Will Elizabeth Wakefield remain undiscovered and gradually become emaciated and malnourished and starve to death in a hovel? Find out in SVH#14, “Robin Wilson’s Jealousy” “

Anyway, all is well, Liz is found, the twins have ANOTHER pillow fight.

Oh and Liz asks Jess how they found her to which she replies: “An old twin’s secret.” Uh Jessica – it’s no secret. You guys are identical – you know, size six figures and sun streaked hair and all that?. Obviously you haven’t read enough of these books.

Back on Calico drive, Alice sees Toddles caressing Liz’s face and worries about the intensity behind it and the seriousness of their relationship. Seriously, Alice. Just come out and say what’s bothering you. No? SEX. S.E.X. There, I said it for you.

Nicholas pops over to do some meddling of his own and meet the kidnapee. He has literally just said hello before Elizabeth sees the look in his eyes that says “You’re the One I want.” Clearly being kidnapped has left her with far too many tickets on herself. Ether that, or she just hasn’t watched grease for a very long time.

Also, if I send in the tear off slip for the promotion on the back cover, will I still get my five books for $2.50? [And I thought ebay was cheap!]

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a question from this absolute gem of a book, from the scene which sticks in my mind and creeps me out more than any other: What is your favorite inappropriate Steven moment in Sweet Valley??

6 Responses to “What’s wrong with this picture? Or #13 “Kidnapped””

  1. elle June 28, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    Um…steven dating Cara Walker?
    Great recap!

  2. winstonegbert June 30, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Agreed – I think almost eloping with Ms Walker was up there with the highlights of Steven-inappropriateness, elle!

    • Carl January 27, 2011 at 5:57 am #

      I actually just re-read this one (clearly, I’m using my time wisely) and was also struck by the weirdness of Cara comparing Jessica to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I’m just not finding much evidence in these texts to suggest that those gals would have any clue who the RCMP are. Or that Canada exists. Could it be…a Canadian ghostwriter?!

      Also, I loved the part where Liz was tied up and recalling memories to keep her mind sharp. Ghostwriter says something about how this skill had always helped her as a writer. Yes…the skill of having memories certainly DOES help you write. Good lord.

  3. Emma July 17, 2019 at 12:31 pm #

    As I was reading I realised I watched the SVH episode of this book not long ago, although instead of Max being blamed for the kidnapping it was Winston! And Toxic Todd also had a meltdown about Winston spending too much time with Liz.


  1. The one where Trusty Boyfriend Todd triumphs over Bruce Patman… Almost Married « WHAT WINSTON SAW - September 15, 2010

    […] On a side note – Bruce’s current girlfriend is Pamela Robertson. Alice Wakefield’s maiden name is Robertson…I’m sensing some serious incest, [comparable to Steven’s usual inappropriateness with his sisters in previous books] […]

  2. The One Where Nicholas Morrow proves he’s still got it: SVH #26 “HOSTAGE” « WHAT WINSTON SAW - January 14, 2012

    […] between those two has been obvious before, when Nick falls in lurve with Lizzie at first sight in Kidnapped, not to mention something that borders on cheating in the aptly titled “Deceptions”.  Nicholas […]

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