It is that time again… Just like Sunday’s Fear Street list, this list of Sweet Valley books does not quite live up to the previous list of Sweet Valley books, but that is just because last week’s list was absolutely fabulous. I know I am being repeatey, but this warning will always accompany a Sweet Valley book blog: because of the nature of this series, this blog does contain spoilers. While I don’t delve into too much detail, you will at least get the ‘what’ and depending on the book sometimes the ‘who’ and ‘why’. (I try my best to always leave out the ‘how’.) So, if you intend to read these books yourself, read this blog at your own risk. 😉
Sweet Valley Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Fifth Place
Elizabeth Wakefield is shocked when Nicholas Morrow asks her out. Nicholas is incredibly wealthy and extremely handsome. Even though Elizabeth would never cheat on her boyfriend, Todd Wilkins, Nicholas convinces her to go out with him, just once. To complicate matters, Elizabeth’s scheming sister, Jessica, has decided that Nicholas is the boy that she wants. Suddenly, he is the only thing on Jessica’s mind. Elizabeth is terrified to think what will happen if Todd or Jessica finds out about her date with Nicholas. But who can keep a secret from Jessica Wakefield?
This was a book where my eyes got tired, mostly from all the rolling they were doing. Nicholas is the catch of the town (and the new guy Jessica was throwing herself at in the previous book) and decides as soon as he sees Elizabeth that he is in love (which is funny because I was being literal in ‘as soon as he sees her’, not as soon as he talks to her and Elizabeth has an identical twin he has already met, but whatever). He keeps bugging her to go out with him and tells her that it isn’t fair that she won’t go out with him when she doesn’t even know him. This is why Elizabeth caves, because she has to be fair (there, the eyes are going again). The whole time Jessica won’t stop plotting how to land Nicholas and then Todd finds out about Elizabeth’s date with Nicholas and decides it is over between them. He tells Jessica who is furious until Elizabeth confesses and then just forgives her because she is no longer interested in Nicholas anyway (huh?). At the end, Nicholas tells Todd, Elizabeth only went out with him to be fair and because he pressured her, but she only has eyes for Todd. Todd is happy, they make up and he lets Elizabeth dance with Nicholas (okay eyes, seriously cut it out, I am getting dizzy).
The book is entertaining enough, but there is no high drama or schemes. This is another story where I was surprised they (the ghostwriters) stretched into an entire book. Also, Jessica convinces some nerd to hack into the school’s computer to change her grade and that backfires (who would have guessed?) but all in all this book was pretty tame and very high school.
Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Fourth Place
Steven Wakefield is devastated when his girlfriend, Tricia Martin, dies from a tragic illness. The only things that keep him going is the memory of their love and his promise to Tricia to look after her sister, Betsy, once she’s gone. Betsy Martin has the worst reputation in Sweet Valley, thanks to her drinking, drug dabbling and wild exploits with boys. But Betsy promises to change when Steven takes her into the Wakefield home. As Betsy makes good on her own promise to change, she begins to fall in love with Steven. Jessica makes a promise to herself – to get Betsy out of their house and out of Steven’s life forever! At any cost…
This story was much more dramatic than the first book on this list and I never wondered how it took up the page count that it did (hey, that’s progress). Tricia dies in the beginning, which is sad. True, she did not get much page time, but, when she did she always seemed like the sane person in a room full of loons; she was comforting. She asks Steven to promise to take care of Betsy right before she dies, and he does. Betsy is not even there, but busy boozing it up. She doesn’t arrive until Tricia has already passed. This book is pure melodrama and that works for this series. Like a few previous books, the drama is life drama rather than high school drama. Betsy is annoying because she is as defensive and arrogant as she is troubled. Steven keeps coming back to Sweet Valley to get her out of her latest jam, some instigated by Jessica’s attempts to be rid of her (hello, irony). In the end, she cleans up her act and is accepted into art school. She even is introduced to someone she likes and begins dating him. (Steven, you’re off the hook, my friend.)
If you’re a true fan you will want to read this book, if for any other reason than to say goodbye to Tricia ‘Sanity’ Martin.
“Rags To Riches”
Sweet Valley Scale: 5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
No one would have guessed that the poorest boy in Sweet Valley, Roger Barrett, was really one of the Patmans, the wealthiest family in town. When Roger’s mother dies, however, the secret of who his father was is revealed and overnight he becomes a millionaire. Jessica Wakefield immediately sets her sights on Roger and more importantly, his newfound wealth. Only one thing stands in her way, Roger’s longtime girlfriend, Olivia Davidson. But don’t worry, Jessica has a surefire way to take care of her…
Roger Barrett (the student janitor from “Racing Hearts” in Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #5 – Sweet Valley High Books 9-13) finds out that his father was Hank Patman’s deceased older brother (making him Bruce Patman’s cousin), after his mother has a heart attack and dies. What a way to cushion the blow. I have to say this since no one seems to care that Roger’s mother just died (not even Roger!), but um okay. Hank Patman’s wife is every bad rich lady stereotype and is horrible to Roger. She is even worse to Roger’s girlfriend, Olivia. Jessica’s plan to win Roger is to pretend to help Olivia ‘fit in’ with people of such fine breeding (ugh) when she is actually plotting against Olivia and setting her up to fall flat on her face. Basically, what Jessica does best. The Patmans have a party for Roger to meet all of his friends and Jessica kisses Mrs. Patman’s butt and also conspires with Bruce to help her, help Olivia out of their lives.
Meanwhile, something is going on with Regina Morrow. Elizabeth and Todd follow her and see her meet up with a strange and much older man. Lila Fowler sees her too, and spreads horrible gossip about Regina, because she can’t stand that there might be another beautiful and rich girl in Sweet Valley. When Lila discovers who the man is, she realizes she needs to act fast before she ends up having egg on her face, though unfortunately the options seem to be egg, more egg and the most egg ever. (Thankfully, she chooses the last option.)
This book is all about the lifestyles of the Sweet Valley’s rich and fabulous. Think Gossip Girl, but in the 80’s and in California, without the good clothes, technology or class. (Yes, there are times in this book that made the characters of Gossip Girl seem classy. I know…) You have three wealthy families in the mix and a whole bunch of commoners (middle class). The best part ever is what happens to Lila and Mrs. Patman by the end of the book. Sometimes being a rich bitch doesn’t pay apparently. Seriously, you need to check out this book. You’ll zoom through the pages.
Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place
Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls in school. That changes after she invents an out-of-town boyfriend, named Adam, who is handsome and athletic. Everyone is talking about the love letters he keeps sending Caroline. Caroline has fooled everyone, but what began as a bid for friends and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline’s life. Caroline’s new friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she has been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret much longer? What will happen when her lies catch up to her?
I want to care about Caroline Pearce because according to this book she is a redhead. But this book just made me want to set out and prove she is nothing more than a bottle redhead. Caroline invents a boyfriend because nobody likes her. Why? Well, in this book she finds out (through some mail mix-up) that Alice Wakefield is considering a job offer in San Francisco. So, instead of asking Elizabeth or Jessica about it, she tells a large group of their friends that they are moving. When Elizabeth and Jessica overhear her, they are pissed – this is the first they have heard about it! And this is what Caroline Pearce does, all of the time. No wonder nobody likes her, I certainly wouldn’t. I never got the whole gossip thing in high school. If I didn’t hear it from the source, I didn’t even stop to consider it. (Perhaps that is because being on the receiving end is no fun at all.)
This brings us to the other plot in this book though. Could the Wakefields really leave Sweet Valley? (Gasps!) I loved the argument when the twins confronted their parents that ended with everyone throwing their napkins and storming away (well except for Elizabeth, who folds her napkin neatly before going upstairs). The twins hatch a plan to remind their parents of how wonderful Sweet Valley is and they are flooded with tourist brochures to Sweet Valley (cute). In the end, Elizabeth finds out the truth, ‘befriends’ Caroline and tells her that won’t expose her secret. That is up to Caroline and then something happens at the party (where Caroline has to bring her “date” or be made a fool of) that surprises everyone! You’ll have to read the book to find out what!
“Head Over Heels”
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place
Handsome Bruce Patman and beautiful Regina Morrow are in love and no one at Sweet Valley High can believe it. While they are both incredibly wealthy, Regina is shy and one of the nicest girls in school and Bruce is a real snob, who has only ever cared about himself. Jessica Wakefield figures their romance can’t last and makes a bet with Lila Fowler that Bruce and Regina will break up within two weeks. This is a bet Jessica can’t afford to lose and if she has her way, Regina and Bruce won’t be happy for long.
This was almost first place; I mean it was so close. The crazy escapades of the wealthy and wealth-seeking in “Rags To Riches” demoted this book to second place, but it is still not a bad place to be. Regina Morrow is wonderful. She is beautiful, rich, smart and is almost completely deaf since birth, so she knows what it is like to face challenges. Bruce is a douchebag. He is the guy who played Jessica so badly in the third book of the series (Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #1) you were rooting for her to get even with him, and he was one who tried to date rape Elizabeth in the seventh book (Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #3), after she had just come out of her coma and was taking a page out of Jessica’s playbook of crazy. But this is TRUE love!
This book was fun and heavy on the melodrama. There is a centennial carnival coming up and Bruce is running for the position of student committee president. Regina’s parents are thrilled when they find out there is a cure for Regina’s deafness (I wish!) but she has to move to Switzerland for these mysterious and vague treatments. Regina doesn’t say anything to Bruce because she doesn’t want to put him on the spot and doesn’t want to ruin their newfound romance (again, I did say true love). Jessica is determined to break them up so that Lila will write a term paper for her (if she loses, she has to write her own and Lila’s – gasp). Her plan is simple: convince Regina that Bruce is only using her for her social status to make him the obvious choice for the student committee presidency. I still can’t fathom why Regina listened to Jessica, but of course she does and breaks it off with Bruce. Bruce is heartbroken and carries on like a lost puppy dog. Regina decides to go to Switzerland after all, for her miracle ear treatments. Bruce goes to Elizabeth and confides in her, and she tells him about Regina’s Switzerland plans. Determined not to stand in the way of her cure, Bruce doesn’t clear up their misunderstanding. (Being admirable looks good on him, if only I didn’t have to remember his past transgressions.) Instead, he gives Elizabeth a note to plant in Regina’s suitcase that tells her everything and that he loves her, and will be waiting for her. Of course, she won’t read it until she has already left.
This book also included a mother-daughter fashion show and Todd (Elizabeth’s boyfriend) acting like an utter boob. Jessica flirts with some boy, but doesn’t tell him her name. He runs into Elizabeth and Todd and it is a case of mistaken identity. Todd acts like a jealous creep and gets all possessive – if he were my man, this would have been a good time to give him the boot. What struck me about this is that it does not dawn on Elizabeth or Todd that the mystery boy actually meant Jessica. I mean you have an identical twin, and you two have switched places many a time. But let’s think the boy is a liar or psycho or Elizabeth might be coming down with another case of amnesia before you look at the twin angle. Utter facepalm moment. But aren’t these facepalm moments one of the reasons to read these books in the first place? And you have to read this book, because it is completely fabulous in all of the wrong ways. 😉
And there you have it. Make sure to check out the next Sweet Valley list, which is another strong list (like last week’s) and also features Sweet Valley High’s very first Super Edition. And that book lives up to that special status. Have a Sweet Valley Day! 🙂