Archive | March, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: The Verdict? Perfect! [Warning, Spoilers]

30 Mar

Unlike the sugar-coated, predictable, solved-in-sixty-pages plots of our bygone series, Sweet Valley Confidential is surprisingly… real. Told through a series of flashbacks – to high school, to SVU, and to the events that led to the war between the twins – each chapter provides just the right amount of tantalizing detail to keep you in complete suspense. It was absolutely unputdownable – to the point where I was pacing my living room like a maniac, screeching, “Lila had a boob job?!” “How the fuck did Liz find out?” and “Who has Steven been screwing all this time?”

And yet, it reflects just enough of the series we so lovingly snark, with the resurgence of original Sweet Valley personalities like Caroline Pearce, Ken Matthews and Jeffery French. It harks back to those defining events – the death of Regina Morrow, the demise of Enid-the-Drip – that even snarky old me remembered with a fond smile.

All the while, the book poked just the right amount of fun at the Sweet Valley franchise, with self-referential remarks such as

“Bruce Patman kissed her [Elizabeth] ! That had never happened before. At least, not while she was conscious anyway, but that’s another story.”

Yes, folks, a warm-wine-in paper-cup reference from fan favourite “Dear Sister”.

Although heavy on those age-old Sweet Valley-an themes of true love, sisterhood and commitment, the emotions ‘Confidential dealt with were surprisingly raw. For once, not everything fell into place for our twins, as even they had to cope with rejection, criticism and the realisation that they were  –  shock horror – not the perfect sized-six beings of the past.

Before I give you the story straight up, let me add this disclaimer: my recap can not do this epic work of chick lit the justice it deserves. Recapped in chronological fashion, it seems a little blah, but this suspense-filled book is anything but. Go and get yourselves a copy [or if you’re an Aussie* befriend your fellow Americans / have a super-awesome reader who will express mail you a copy].

Heavy spoilers below the cut!

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The one where Winston Egbert gets what he always wanted: Jessica’s Secret Diary Volume II

29 Mar

My original reaction to these “Secret Diary” editions was that Fran-Pasc was so stumped for new ideas that she had to rehash the events of sixty-odd Sweet Valley books. I probably wasn’t that far off the mark, because the next 77 titles just progress in their ridiculousness [Vampires! Werewolves! Crazy Freddy! French Royalty!]. However, this particular volume is a remarkably amusing read, not only because Jessica Wakefield KEEPS A FUCKING DIARY, but also because she snarks pretty much every Elizabeth-centric event that went down in books #40-#55.

Ten bucks says the ghost-writer in charge of this book secretly enjoyed mocking all the happy endings and Elizabeth heroism we were fed.

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For all you Team Jeffery Frenches: SVH #58 “Brokenhearted”

13 Mar
Oh Liz – you are so wonderful and perfect. If this wasn’t sweet valley/I had genitals I would totally have a boner right now.
How did I never notice that Jeffery was albino? I guess I was just blinded by my own perfect tan…

Scene I

Jeffery’s car

Liz: Oh, Jeffery, this was a wonderful date. I had such fun talking about all our friend’s problems and not having sex!

Jeffery: Gee, thanks Liz. Anytime. [Runs hand through his sandy blonde hair and drives away.]

Scene II Crowded SVH hallway

[Class has been cancelled on account of it being an average Monday.]

Lila: Guess what, Elizabeth? Todd is coming back to Sweet Valley! [Hmm, maybe now I’ll get my shot at Jeffery! On the other hand, apparently Todd is rich now and will be going to school at Lovett academy…]

Liz: Now my life is over! Todd is sure to fall in love with me again because I am a Wakefield! I will have to ask Jessica for some tips on infidelity. [We are identical twins, you know.]

Todd: Ho hum. Back to Sweet Valley. If only this was the TV version and I’d done something really bad ass to get kicked out of Vermont, like cheating at basketball.

Gee, I’d better not say anything to Elizabeth, because she’s a pain in the ass and I want nothing to do with her I might upset her! She has feelings, you know.


Scene 3

Todd: Hi Liz. By the way, I love you.

Liz: [bursts into tears].

Scenes 4- 137

Jessica: I should totally befriend Todd since he has hot rich friends at Lovett Academy.

Todd: That Courtney Kane chick from school is a babe. I wonder if she puts out? On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about having a Wakefield twin threesome for months. Now I have a BMW, Jessica will surely be up for it.

Liz: Todd…Jeffery…Who do I see myself dancing at the beach disco and not having sex with? Poor me!

Courtney Kane: Fuck those Wakefields are annoying. I wish an evil doppelganger would come to Sweet Valley and steal their lives. Also, I’m a slut. Because dyeing my hair mahogany and wearing slinky red dresses makes me one.

Jessica: OMG Todd’s friend Sheffield wants to join to peace corps! So I have to, like, be interested in peace and shit.

Jessica, ten minutes later: Sheffield is so boring! C’mon Li, lets hit Bibi’s.

Final Scene

Todd’s Pool Party

Winston: Man, this party is going off. And now, for my token class clown moment, I will stuff four whole pizzas in my mouth while tripping over my size-11 feet!

Courtney: Oh, hey Todd. [starts wildly making out with him in plain sight of Elizabeth.]

Todd: Huh?

Liz: [sobbing] It was Todd I wanted all along! Now I see! But having my cake and eating it too has been awesome. I think I will try it again 13 times this year.

Jeffery: Because I love Liz so much, I am going to physically drive her to Todd’s so they can do the Sweet Valley version of hooking up. Besides having no genitals, I also have no spine.

[Offstage] Whew! That chastity belt was starting to piss me off.

In the word “TEAM” there is no “I” [but apparently there are two Wakefields]…

7 Mar


Jessica Wakefield is the star gymnast representing Sweet Valley Middle School at the state championships. Surprised? Oh, you poor deluded soul. It doesn’t matter that Jessica has never attempted gymnastics/played a team sport/committed to anything longer than one book before. Why not, you ask? Because she is a Wakefield, of course! And Wakefields are awesome at life. And vaulting, apparently.

[On a side note, it’s little wonder that I cannot hack losing and have to be the best at absolutely everything I do. See what you’ve done to me, Francine? See?]

The school is competing at a local meet, and Jessica is kicking ass on the uneven parallel bars:

“It was a killer routine too-full of complicated hand changes and death-defying leaps from one bar to the other. She leaped to the high bar, swung, then came back in a blind back-straddle over the low bar. She’d never felt so strong. Then Jessica leaped to the high bar for her big move. She did a long hanging kip, then casted to a full handstand on top of the high bar and did a pirouette. The crowd went wild. All around the gym, people were jumping up and down, cheering for her. Her face glowing with excitement, Jessica turned around and waved to HER public. Finally the head judge stood up. “Nine point seven,” he announced.

Of course.

This is making me hate Jessica. It’s also making me want to dig out some of my old “Gymnasts” books. I always did have a crush on the coach, Patrick.

So Jessica has developed a fierce rivalry with Dawn Maven, star of the Weston team. I wonder if Dawn is also new to gymnastics? Or if she’s been working her ass off 35 hours a week since she was five like most people who are good at something. Also, where is Weston? What happened to the Secca Lake team? Or El Carro? Big Mesa? Palisades? Dawn is a mega-bitch, but I like her. She oils up the bar so Jessica falls off. Jessica mixes sugar in the chalk bowl so Dawn slips and busts her ankle.  Dawn has a Margo moment when she threatens to “fix her, and fix her good”. This goes on and on until Jessica somehow finds a sense of guilt, becomes Dawn’s personal rehab physician, and they agree to play fair at the upcoming California Games. How Jessica can remediate a sprained ankle in the space of a fortnight astounds me.

Donald Zwerdling, who is basically Winston Egbert on acid, [read: more annoying, more persistent, more clumsy, and just an all around nerdburger] provides something vaguely resembling amusement in the B-story. He missed out on a spot on the boy’s team, [thanks to their captain, Bruce Patman] so he has decided to carry the drinks for the girls and be their assistant. Genius! Betcha Bruce wishes he’d thought of that. Also, can we take a moment to stop and laugh at Bruce doing gymnastics? Bruce on the pommel horse….Bruce busting his tighty whities on the rings….Ha!

At the California games, for once Jessica doesn’t win. Amazing. Riding her bike home from Dawn’s the night before, she sprains her ankle, and scores a measly old 9.4 on the bars to Dawn’s 9.6 [you may remember the highest score all book is still Jessica’s 9.7, of course]. She even congratulates Dawn on the victory, which is very un-Jessica. Obvs the ghosties were under instruction to teach us all a lesson. But like so many of these lessons we learn in Sweet Valley [you need a boyfriend to be worth anything, fat people should be burned at the stake, you CAN cheat on your guy 15 times a year, you SHOULD ALWAYS listen to Elizabeth etc, etc..] I’m choosing to ignore it.

‘Cause winning is everything, bitches.

The best part of this book? There’s barely any Elizabeth [she’s off playing volleyball for the school]. The worst? Jessica not getting her come-uppance. At least not properly. Seriously, does any of the shit she pulls have any consequence beyond the same book?

Continuity note: Amy gets a 9.2 on her floor routine at the California Games. So she’s pretty much the best in the state. However, back in SVT#2, Amy is so bad at classical ballet that she scores the role of Coppelia the doll. I’m sorry, but someone who can barely point their foot and keep time in Madame Andre’s sixth grade dance class is probably not a state level rhythmic gymnast.



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