About the Book
- Francine Pascal
Happy Friday the 13th, ladies and Brian! Is it just me, or was this the longest week evs? It should be illegal to have to go to work after a holiday. Or before a holiday. Or really, anytime. It should be illegal to have to put pants and shoes on and venture out of doors. Man! I’m so full of good ideas! Why don’t people ever listen to me? I’m starting a petition about this.
So, yeah, I decided I’d been away from Sweet Valley High for too long. I was starting to feel, you know, good about my self and my place in the world, and I’m pretty sure that the media and society don’t want that to happen. So thank god those perfect blonde bitches are around to make me feel shitty about myself!
Need a little refresher on Sweet Valley High, since it’s been a while? Are you all, “OH SHIZZ, whaaaa, you guys read sweet valley high?” Here, have a whole lot of posts! That’ll keep you busy for a while!
This week I decided to delve wildly out of order (Secret: it’s because I’ve run out of books! Anyone have a link to buy any of the later SVH books?) and review a Sweet Valley Super Thriller set: A Stranger In The House and A Killer On Board. Will John Marin be able to kill the twins? Is it wrong to root that he will succeed?
The Official Sweet Valley High Drinking Game:
Take 1 drink anytime:
• the words “blonde,” “sun-streaked,” “blue-green eyes” or “perfect figure” are mentioned in relation to the Wakefield twins’ looks
• anyone goes to the beach, or talks about going to the beach
• Liz and Jess get to drive the Fiat
• Jess mentions the number “37” (you guys, seriously, she does this a lot)
• they mention Steve, the eldest Wakefield child
• Bruce Patman shows up
• Jessica flakes on chores, Elizabeth talks to herself, or Todd or Enid are lame
• “Eyes and Ears,” the gossip column that Elizabeth writes for The Oracle, the student newspaper, is mentioned
• the fucking matching lavaliers are mentioned
The SVH Thrillers come with a super sweet inside cover as well! I couldn’t resist showing you the AWESOME ARTWORK.
Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #7: A Stranger In The House
in which Ned’s nemesis, John Marin, plots revenge and talks out loud to himself a lot.
Number of Drinks Taken: 131 (There were some modifications to the Drinking Game rules. We will discuss them in a minute. We will also discuss how the Organ Donor Registry just called me up and was like, “Heeeey, sooooo, remember how you said you’d be cool with giving us your organs after you die? Uh, turns out we need them to be in a non-blackened state. But hey, enjoy those years you have left!”)
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: page 2
Main Plot: Back before Ned Wakefield became a successful, upper-middle-class defense attorney representing grandparents with no damn parental rights in custody suits and telling his teenage daughters about cases involving their classmates, he was an assistant district attorney. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Ned Wakefield was one of the ADAs on Law and Order? When it came time for the Order part, we could just turn the show off and then vomit.
While Ned was an ADA, he won a trial against John Marin, who is a knife-wielding crazy man who enjoyed carving ladies up at Secca Lake. As Marin was being dragged off to jail, he made one of those typical “I’ll get you and your little dog too” threats to Ned. Why is it that no one yells out things that actually are important as they’re being dragged to jail? Like, “SHIT I THINK I LEFT THE OVEN ON COULD YOU GUYS GO CHECK?” That’s the kind of thing that I’d be yelling. Revenge is hard to do. Remembering to turn the oven off after you’ve made yourself some tasty pre-trial brownies is even harder. Damn it, now I want brownies.
Well, now it’s ten years later, and John Marin has been paroled, on acount of how he’s so hot. I mean, look at that hair! He could totally play Butthair’s brother on Pretty Little Liars! John Marin has not forgotten his plea for revenge, and so he starts stalking Ned. This mostly involves him breaking into the Wakefields’ pathetically secured home and talking out loud to himself while he leaves Ned little notes. John Marin talks to himself out loud A LOT, y’all. In fact, I decided early on to take a drink for every sentence that Marin said to himself out loud. This turned out to be an awful, horrible, terrible mistake. TWO BOTTLES of champagne and half a litre of vodka later, I’d finished this book and can’t remember whether Wednesday and Thursday happened. I think . . . they might have? There are still those little foil caps littering the counter of my kitchen, so, yes? Maybe? Bad. Bad, bad idea.
Anyhooskies, Marin decides to fixate on torturing Ned by threatening the lives of Jessica and Elizabeth, a trait that endears him to me quickly. Yes, for God’s sake, Marin, PLEASE knife those two to death! Now, if someone were threatening my child, you know what I’d do? Well, first I’d cut their balls off. But then I’d CALL THE COPS AND LOCK MY KID IN THE HOUSE. Ned, on the other hand, doesn’t tell his two daughters that someone’s after them, because he “doesn’t want them to worry” about anything. God, he is just terminally stupid, isn’t he? So Ned basically just dithers around and hires a PI, because apparently the Sweet Valley cops can’t find their dick in a handbasket.
Around the same time that a suave, good-looking psychopath has vowed revenge on Ned Wakefield, Jessica and Elizabeth separately meet a suave, good-looking stranger! How coincidental! And of course because this entire fucking book is predicated on NO ONE TELLING ANYONE ANYTHING, they don’t tell each other about their fancy new dates. You know who they also don’t tell? THEIR ACTUAL BOYFRIENDS. But we’ll get to that.
Jessica meets “Scott,” a location scout for a miniseries who is researching Sweet Valley, as they want to shoot in a quintessential, Californian coastal town. Well, then why not, say, LOS ANGELES? Also a quintessential Californian coastal locale. Jessica falls for Scott and they spend some time breaking into school while Jessica regales Scott with every fucking plotline from every fucking Sweet Valley book ever published. I normally like Jessica well enough but FUCK YOU JESSICA. WHY DO WE HAVE TO RELIVE THAT SHIZZ? She could have at least thrown us a bone and mentioned poor old dead Regina. Or maybe no one wants to make a miniseries about a girl who dies from trying cocaine JUST ONCE. Pity.
Oh, also, Jessica has a boyfriend right now. It’s Ken Matthews, who will latterly end up dating Stephen/Steven. But he’s off visiting his family in Omaha, or whatever, and likely experiencing with getting to second base with a hot ranch hand, so Jessica’s cool with dating someone else.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, is tired of living a nice, normal, safe life in the suburbs with her nice, if boring, boyfriend who, like, loves her and shit. Man, it must be so hard to be Elizabeth, you know? She’s just got to escape her perfectly nice life! Maybe she can sell herself into sex slavery or get a brain tumor or something so that she can finally feel like she’s really living! Anyway, Liz’s ennui makes her the perfect target for “Ben,” a young writer sailing around the coast. He likes romance and adventure! He knows who Emily Dickinson is! Why, that makes him JUST LIKE FULLY 40% OF THE PEOPLE LIZ COULD MEET WHILE WALKING DOWN THE STREET! How special! Elizabeth, because she is severely mentally challenged, decides that Ben is her soulmate because, and believe me when I say that I’m not injecting this statement with any sort of hyperbole, he orders an iced coffee made with half-and-half and three sugars. Yes. That is the basis for him being her soulmate. And I think that is totally logical! After all, what good is basic chemistry, endearing traits or a soul-deep connection? What really matters is that he orders his coffee like a goddamn thirteen year old girl. (No lie: that’s how I drink my coffee too. I basically only want coffee-flavored milk and sugar. But that doesn’t make me Liz Fucking Wakefield’s fucking soulmate!)
Even though Liz is sooooo perfect and would never, ever do anything wrong ever, she ignores her boyfriend and starts dating this guy instead. Man! This is like the FIFTH FUCKING TIME she has done this! Remind me again why Liz is so perfect? Because the OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE of her shititude is mounting.
I digress. Each twin dates John Marin and thinks he’s the spiffiest bee’s knees since that movie with Jerry Seinfield and Renee Zelwegger. Renee Zelwegger! What happened to her?! Did her face eat her body like the First Evil in Buffy?
So anyway, John Marin goes around talking out loud to himself a whole lot and menacing at the twins from long or middle distance. Eventually he FINALLY fucking steps up his game and takes Liz out on a moonlight sail and tries to murderate her. But, sadly, Ned and Jessica and the Coast Guard show up in time to rescue her. I wrote a poem to illustrate my disappointment that his murder plans were interrupted:
There once was a blogger named Erin
Who was disappointed in one John Marin
He promised to kill Liz
But couldn’t finish his biz
That’s what Er gets for carin’
After Liz’s imminent violent murder gets sadly interrupted, John Marin jumps from the yacht and makes a break for it. For some lame-ass reason that still doesn’t make sense to me, everyone assumes he was eaten by a shark? Jesus, these assholes could not be dumber if they fucking paid for the priviledge. Anyway, Ned’s all “wahey! My precious golden girls are safe!” But then John Marin shows up at the house!!! (Prince Albert, besides being the most embarassingly-named dog ever, is the world’s shittiest guard dog.) And he stands over the twins in a menacing manner! But then Ned pushes him through a window. Hooray! It’s all over! Except if any of these shitheads had ever bothered to watch Halloween, they’d know it’s SO NOT OVER PICK UP THE FUCKING KNIFE LAURIE WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID?!
Sub-Plot That in No Way Relates to the Main Plot: Jessica and Elizabeth get a summer job working at a little cafe at the marina. They’re both the world’s worst waitresses and seem to mock most of their customers and flat out ignore the others. They both want to win the tips contest that their creepy-ass boss runs every summer, but they’re bested by veteran waitress Jane. I can’t use words to explain how tediously boring I found this sub-plot to be because I can’t even get my brain to transmit enough power to the nerve endings in my fingers to type the words. I LACK THE PHYSICAL ABILITY TO DISCUSS HOW BORED I AM.
Improbable High School Moment: “Oh, hey girls! Guess what! There’s a handsome, magnetic, violent criminal who has sworn to kill you! But don’t worry! I’m not going to tell you about any of it! Nope, I’m just going to let you wing off to work every day and come home whenever the hell you want and then act like an insane asshole and question your every move but not tell anyone why I’m so upset because I don’t want to worry you, my precious little blossoms. Come to papa!”
Most Offensive Portion: I’m offended that I’m still awake to be writing this. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY ONE DRINKS. Can’t I take a nap now?
Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #8: A Killer On Board
in which John Marin finally gets close to killing the twins, mostly because no one in Sweet Valley know how to do their job
Number of Drinks Taken: 95 (Additional drinking game rules! Drink everytime John Marin commits a crime! Drink everytime someone is the worst employee ever!)
First Page On Which the Twins Are Described As “Blonde, Blue-eyed, All-American Good Looks” or equivalent: They aren’t! Awww, shit, you know what that means! This shizz is getting REAL now, bitches!
Main Plot: It’s been a week since John Marin was captured and put in jail to await trial on the counts of violating his parole, murdering some folks, and failing in his duties to give Elizabeth and Jessica a Chelsea Smile. Everyone in the Wakefield house (except poor Steven/Stephen, who no one cares about because he’s gay) is busy breathing huge sighs of relief that their perfect lives are in no way threatened any longer. Except that they’re all still kind of stressed, because Ned still imagines Marin behind every comically-oversized bush, Alice is (rightly) pissed that Ned shipped her off for a week and didn’t tell her that, you know, A VIOLENT KILLER HAD THREATENED THE LIVES OF HER CHILDREN, and Elizabeth has now become afraid of boats. Yeah, you heard me. Boats. Cause she was on a boat when John Marin tried to stabify her.
Now, look. Victim psychology is pretty complex. And when someone is the victim of a violent crime (or, you know, a victim of a crime involving standing on a cool sailboat while the Coast Guard yelled at your new boyfriend that he was under arrest, but whatever, not to downplay precious Liz’s precious fucking trauma), it’s only natural to assign feelings of angst or fear to situations or surroundings which were involved in the crime. Like how if a lady is raped by a group of men in polo shirts, then naturally she might be wary of any guy wearing a polo shirt for the rest of her life. But that doesn’t mean that every guy wearing a polo shirt is a rapist, of course. Some of them are just fans of Daniel Tosh.
But instead of becoming afraid of, oh, I don’t know, knives, handsome psychopaths or even her father who didn’t deign it necessary to tell his daughters that a violent murderer was stalking them, Liz decides to manifest her trauma by being afraid of boats. OF BOATS. That’s like being afraid of concrete because one time you were mugged on a sidewalk! “OH SHIZZ, NO, I CAN’T BE ON NO CONCRETE! UNPAVED ROADS ONLY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, YO!” Elizabeth Fuckface Wakefield is LEGITIMATELY THE WORST HUMAN EVER.
Meanwhile-and-also, everyone’s tiptoeing around poor fragile Liz, even though Jessica also almost got stabbed (in the storage room at the Marina cafe) AND actually was alone with John Marin DIRECTLY AFTER HE KILLED A PERSON, but of course no one cares about her feelings or emotions. FUCKING WAKEFIELDS I HATE YOU SO MUCH.
So anyway, Ned decides to take everyone (except Steven/Stephen) to Catalina Island for the week! So that they can stay at a fancy resort! So they take a little boat over to the island and check into their nice hotel. (You might wonder why this book is called A Killer On Board when they only spend two pages on a boat, but we’ll get to that.) Hooray for them!
Except! Meanwhile! John Marin is plotting his revenge! Again! His re-revenge! His RedouxRevenge. And instead of hiring The Real Amanda Clark to help him, he spends his time flirting with one of his prison guards. Because women are often prison guards for violent male offenders! This prison guard, who is named Leighann and is, in fact, the world’s dumbest human, believes herself to be in love with John Marin. Even though he’s in jail. And she’s only known him for a week. Sometimes, I just can’t even, folks. I just can’t even. Look, I like watching Prison Wives as much as the next person, but WHY MUST THIS BE MY (BOOK) REALITY?
John fakes a stomachahe, which makes Leighann ignore protocol and unlock his door to rush to his side (shitty employee move #1). He disarms her (crime #1), assaults her (crime #2) and makes Leighann call her supervisor into the cell as well (shitty employee move #2). Marin kills the supervisor, kidnaps Leighann and escapes from jail. (Crimes #3, 4, and 5. I could probably find a few lesser misdemeanors to throw in there as well.) Marin drives Leighann out to the desert and slashes her tires and leaves her there (Crimes #6 and 7 – auto theft and reckless endangerment). We never hear about Leighann again, so I have no idea if she lives or died. Her poor employee skills have been of a great service! Thanks, Leighann!
Then John carjacks another car (Crime #8) and makes his way to Ned Wakefield’s office. One of the lawyers working the weekend on a case lets Marin into Ned’s office (Shitty Employee Move #3) and also doesn’t bat an eye when Marin checks Wakefield’s voicemail (shitty employee move #4, and probably some sort of violation of order of protection on Marin’s part, so Crime #9). He finds out that the Wakefields-sans-Steven/Stephen are all in Catalina, and because even John Marin doesn’t care about Steven/Stephen, he hightails it to the island to stalk the girls.
So now everyone’s in the same place! Debbie, a hotel employee who the book spends an INORDINATE amount of time introducing us to, only for her to show up in two fucking scenes, tells John Marin what hotel room Ned is staying in (Shitty Employee Move #5) and also manages to book Marin into a suite reserved for VIP guests (Shitty Employee Move #6). Another employee named Lisa tells Marin that the twins are out horseback riding (Shitty Employee Move #7), which, indeed, they are.
The girls are out horseback riding with one of the hotel’s instructors, a charming young asshole named Brad, and a bunch of kids. At one point, Liz gallops ahead, despite Jessica warning her that they’re supposed to stay in the group, because she just has to be freeeee. I just want you to remember this little plot point, because in a second we’ll come back to it.
Brad, meanwhile, keeps flirting with Jessica (Shitty Employee Move #8), despite the fact that he’s married and then when Jessica finds out that he’s married, she wants to leave the group and go riding with just Liz for a while. Liz objects, because it’s against the rules, even though TWO MINUTES BEFORE THAT, she was galloping her trail-riding horse in the woods, all “fuck this horse’s shoes! Let’s pick up ALL the rocks and sharp sticks!” and then she whines that Jessica is so irresponsible all the time and AAARRRRGH. I just really hate her, y’all. I really, really, really fucking hate her.
So Jessica wants to leave the trail ride and because Brad is embarassed about having been caught out as an old married dude, he lets them (Shitty Employee Move #9) and they quickly get lost, which of course Elizabeth blames on Jessica, even though Elizabeth considers herself an expert horseman. Haaaaaaaaaaate her.
Meanwhile! Also! John Marin has showed up to the stables and bribed Joe the Stable Boy (affianced to the aforementioned Debbie) with a hundred dollars in order to take out a horse. Joe lets him (Shitty Employee Move #10) and pockets the money, thinking about how he can finally buy Debbie some sort of slinky prom dress that I swear they mention EIGHTY FUCKING TIMES in this book.
Brad, sans twins, encounters John Marin on the trail and, because Marin is frustrated that the old nag Joe gave him won’t gallop, GIVES MARIN HIS HORSE INSTEAD. (Shitty Employee Move #11, game set match, how does this hotel continue to operate?) And now John Marin is off to kill some twins!
And he finds them! And then we spend the next FIFTY PAGES going over, in tedious detail, the twins’ attempted escape from Marin. On horseback. At one point, Jessica’s horse (named Black Beauty, natch) nearly pitches her over a cliff, so she has to get on Elizabeth’s horse instead and somehow Elizabeth, because se is a goddamn horse savant, manages to get her horse to jump safely down a 30-foot cliff. And they escape from Marin! Because John Marin is the most incompetent murderer EVER. Man, he makes Sideshow Bob’s brother Cecil look smart, and that guy was BESTED BY RAKES.
Also meanwhile! Ned Wakefield has by now figured out that Marin is on the island so he also bribes Joe the Stable Guy to take out a horse (Shitty Employee Move #12) and then . . . finds Liz and Jess. It’s precisely that thrilling. He basically wanders around in the rain for about two pages and then sees a shadowy figure and then it’s his daughters and they all go back to the stable together. That’s it. That’s how long it took.
So once all the Wakefields (sans Gay Steven/Stephen) are reunited, they decide to . . . leave. They decide to leave the island because John Marin is on it. Now, keep in mind, this isn’t the same sort of deserted island that Jessica and Winston found themselves on during spring break. This is Catalina Island. With hotels. And police departments. So instead of staying in their hotel room with police escorts until Marin is caught, the Wakefields decide to set out from Catalina in the dark of night while a giant storm is raging overhead because being in the same land vicinity as John Marin offends their delicate blonde sensibilities. JESUS HERBERT CHRIST. HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVER HAD A COMPETENT IDEA IN THEIR TINY PEA SIZED BRAINS? How do they tie their shoes in the morning? Who wipes the drool from their chin? Who is currently filing court motions to take them off of life support because CLEARLY THE WAKEFIELDS ARE IN PERSISTANT VEGETATIVE STATES. AND THAT STATE IS CALLED “BEING ALIVE.”
I hate these people so much. Someone should mercy kill them for my own good. It’s written in my will – I don’t want to live if peole are going to be this stupid. Just pull the plug!
Ugh, ugh, anyway. Let’s just power through the rest, shall we. Joe the Stable Boy happens to know someone who rents houseboats – his fiancee Debbie’s mom! There’s that Debbie again! Always popping up when she’s least wanted! So he coerces his future Mother In Law to rent the Wakefields a houseboat, EVEN THOUGH IT’S GOING ALL PERFECT STORM ON THAT SHIZZ. So she does. (Shitty Employee Move #13 and Shitty Future Son In Law Move #1, Joe.) And the Wakefields booze cruise their way off Catalina Island, finally thinking they’re safe. On a boat. In a storm. On the ocean. In the dark. With no idea where the person who is stalking their family might be.
And where he be? He be smashing Debbie’s mom’s head in (Crime #10), stealing her boat (Crime #11) and evading arrest by the police (Crime #12). He doctors his little motorboat to take on water, then pretends to be the Coast Guard when Alice calls in and tells her to stay off the line (which of course she does because the only person dumber than Ned Wakefield was the idiot stupid enough to marry him). Then Ned sees the sinking boat and ROWS OVER TO IT IN THE LIFE RAFT in case someone is hurt and needs help. Guys, I just cannot even. I JUST CANNOT EVEN.
So obvs Marin sticks Ned on the sinking motorboat and steals his dinghy (Crime #13) and then climbs onboard to threaten Alice and the twins with his knife (Crime #14). Then he rapidly decides to change M.O.s and burn le femme Wakefield alive (Crime #14), because . . . murderers so often do that? Especially people known for enjoying carving blonde ladies up with a knife? They’re cool with “heh, fuck this whole intimate revenge plan. I’m lazy so I’ll just burn ’em.” Guys, this sort of shoddy criminal work wouldn’t even fly on CSI and that show is full of people who stick their fingers into pools of viscuous liquid and then STICK THEIR FINGER IN THEIR MOUTH to test as to whethe it’s blood or not.
Anyway, Ned shows up in time, the houseboat burns down, the Wakefields escape, the end. John Marin dies, I guess, but since I never saw his body being consumed by fire and then his ashes poured into a bottle of bleach, I’m assuming he’s either still alive or will shortly be cloned. The end, the end, let’s all have a nap.
Sub-Plot Not in Least Bit Related to Main Plot: There really was no sub-plot. IT WAS ALL PLOT. I guess maybe we could count Elizabeth’s utter twatboxery as a sub-plot, but I consider it more a raison d’etre.
Improbable High School Moment: HELLO WERE YOU JUST READING ANYTHING I WROTE? It’s all improbable! It’s improbable that I still have a liver!
Most Offensive Portion: Look, be a criminal, but be a smart criminal. Be a victim, but be a smart victim. I often say that people aren’t allowed to be more than any one of the following: stupid, hateful or mean. I don’t mind you being stupid as long as you’re nice and you do your best to help people. I don’t mind you being a total asshole so long as you have a working brain between your ears. BUT YOU CAN’T BE A MEAN STUPID ASSHOLE. It throws off the laws of physics! It puts the earth’s alignment out of whack! The existance of the Wakefields is going to cause a Tsunami in Peru; just you wait and see! Flap harder, butterflies in the rainforest! You have a lot of major catastrophes to prevent!
Well, that’s it for this go-round of Sweet Valley High. I’m going to try to be more committed to SVH and V C Andrews in the future, since I know y’all don’t love me for my sparkling personality, and aim to review one or the other every month from now on. Just remember that my impending liver necrosis is your fault. Y’all best be buying me some black market organs pretty damn quick! Happy weekend!