Book Review: Sweet Valley High Super Edition #6 – Spring Fever

Book: Sweet Valley High Special Edition #6 – Spring Fever – published by Bantam Books, paperback edition, 233 pages.

Synopsis: The Wakefield twins never expected that spending spring break with their great-aunt and great-uncle in Walkersville, Kansas, would be so exciting. But Jessica and Elizabeth find out that small-town life can have its share of big adventures.

Their vacation gets off to a bad start when the local girls give them the cold shoulder. And Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman won’t let the twins out of their sight. But things pick up when the girls meet gorgeous identical twins, Alex and Brad Parker. Jessica thinks Alex may be the man of her dreams, but she can’t get away from her overprotective aunt and uncle to find out. Then, Elizabeth makes an unexpected discovery about the Parker twins that could mean big trouble….

Come along to the country with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, and catch Spring Fever!

My thoughts: This was one of my favourite “super edition” Sweet Valley High books when I was growing up, it always gave me such a nice summery feeling (apparently I liked summer as a kid? as an adult it’s one of my top 5 most hated things).

The basic premise of the book is that Jessica and Elizabeth take a vacation to visit their Great Aunt and Uncle who live in a small town in Kansas called Walkersville, oh and who of course are never again mentioned in the entire book series. The twins settle into sleepy town life and spend their days sleeping in, eating homemade pie, playing with kittens, and going for walks. I don’t know about you guys but that sounds like a pretty perfect holiday to me. The only downside to life in Walkersville is town meangirl Annie-Sue Sawyer, who decides that she hates the twins and starts making their life difficult. Jessica and Elizabeth can’t seem to figure out what she possibly could have against them. I have to say though, Jessica keeps wearing a fringed jacket that sounds pretty offensive so tbh I’m on team Annie-Sue in this situation.

A carnival comes to town, and the twins meet Alex – a handsome (ooh!) carnie (gross) who tends to the horses (cute). Jessica falls for him almost immediately (shock horror), and they are understandably excited to discover that Alex is also a twin! Jessica comes up with the bright idea that Elizabeth date Alex’s twin brother Brad, despite Elizabeth already having a boyfriend back in Sweet Valley. Poor old Jeffrey French. I was quite shocked that straight-n-narrow Liz went along with this, and even started to have feelings for Brad (of course her morals caught up with her and she put an end to it pretty quickly). Jessica sneaks out every night to meet up with sexy horse wrangler Alex at the carnival, which results in her sleeping in every day and eventually ends up giving Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman (lol) major anxiety. Clearly they’ve never lived with a teenager before.

Everything comes to a head when Jessica sneaks out one evening and Alex leaves her in charge of Midnight – the rough and ready horse he’s trying to sell. Nasty old Annie-Sue comes along and decides that she wants to ride Midnight, because her father is buying him for her. Perfectly reasonable, except for the fact that Midnight is SKITTISH AF and takes off with Annie-Sue on his back. Jessica saves the day, and Annie-Sue is grateful – revealing that she’s only been making Jessica’s life difficult and blackmailing her for her lush bejeweled 80’s headbands because she’s jealous. Didn’t see that coming!!! The girls make up and all is forgiven, although Jessica’s secret shame of sneaking out at night has finally been revealed to Shirl n Herm in all the drama. It’s nicely swept under the rug though, and in the end Jessica is permitted to go to the square dance with Alex.

In the meantime, Elizabeth has discovered that Alex does not have a twin and is actually a pretty awful human being who pretended to be two people in an attempt to date both twins at once. Of course Elizabeth chooses not to inform Jessica of this, and instead lets her to along to the dance with Alex despite him being a liar and a generally gross guy. Alls well that ends well though, and the story is wrapped up nicely with the girls getting a lovely send off from the town at the end of the square dance. Farewell Walkersville, it’s time to head back to Sweet Valley!

I remember being obsessed with this cover when I was a kid. On re-reading it I’m mostly annoyed that although Jessica’s gingham dress matches the outfit she wears to the square dance, ELIZABETH’S DOES NOT. She’s supposed to be wearing a red and white checked shirt, but I guess that might have looked a bit too matchy matchy.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Sweet Valley High #83 – Steven’s Bride

Book: Sweet Valley High #83 – Steven’s Bride – published by Bantam Books, paperback edition, 154 pages.

Synopsis: When Cara Walker announces that she and her mother are moving to London, no one is more shocked than Steven Wakefield. After losing his first love, Tricia Martin, to leukemia, Steven can’t bear the thought of losing another girlfriend. Jessica Wakefield knows a way for Cara to stay in Sweet Valley – as her brother’s bride!

Steven thinks an elopement is the perfect solution, and at first Cara agrees. Then Cara begins to wonder if she’s ready to sacrifice her future to stay with Steven now. Does Cara have the courage to follow her heart – no matter what it’s telling her?

My thoughts: “This is one of the books from the series that I never got around to reading as a teenager, I think I stopped being interested in the high school stories at around the book 50-60 mark, and had moved on to Sweet Valley University. So it was exciting for me to pick up a book that I hadn’t actually read yet. New (old) Sweet Valley? Yes please!

This book was a pleasant surprise for me, because it’s one of the only Sweet Valley High books I’ve read where the characters make level-headed decisions, and actually think things over (even if it was after the fact for the most part). The basic premise is that Cara Walker’s mother gets a promotion that would see them both move to London. Both Cara and her boyfriend Steven Wakefield are upset at this news, because it means the end of their relationship. It’s amazing how much has changed since then. I mean, long distance relationships are hard but certainly not impossible in this wonderful age of technology that we live in.

Seeing Steven upset at the news, World’s Worst Friend Jessica Wakefield comes up with the brilliant idea that they get married, so Cara won’t have to leave. What could possibly go wrong? after impusively making this decision, they both spend two weeks feeling anxious about it. Because marriage is actually a Pretty Big Thing, as it turns out. I mean, when one of the reason’s you’re excited about getting married is because it means you can “stay up as late as you want”, it’s a concern. Anyway, World’s Worst Friend Jessica Wakefield tells everyone (except any adults of course) about the secret engagement, life goes on and Cara’s friends throw her a bridal shower. Included in the gifts are a VCR tape from WWF Jessica. What a gift. She also gets some sexy lingerie which makes her pretty nervous. Also Lila makes some snide comment about not being rich enough to buy Cara a TV and VCR for a present and I call shenanigans because she’s pretty damn rich.

Meanwhile, Cara’s father comes to visit (her parents are divorced) and announces his engagement to his auburn haired girlfriend that Cara has never heard of, Julie. Cara was convinced her parents who live in two different states and barely talk to each other were getting re-married (thus confirming she has no idea how an adult relationship works), so she’s pretty cut about the news. She also thought this would mean she’d get to stay in Sweet Valley but NO now she has to marry Steven and keep the damn lingerie.

Steven gets into law school but lies to everyone about it so they don’t pressure him to accept the offer. He instead bails on his life dream of becoming a lawyer and gets a job waitressing at Pedro’s. Jessica finds out and suddenly decides them getting married is a BAD idea, and does everything in her power to stop it, including telling Cara that Steven was accepted into law school.

Cara sits down with her mum (finally!) to discuss everything that’s going on. Cara’s mum is a #bossbitch and explains to Cara that although it’s difficult seeing her ex-husband re-marry, she’s feeling confident in her new life as a single woman and is proud of how she’s making good decisions for herself (you know you’re getting older when you can really relate to the adults in a story like this). Cara sort of listens to her advice, but goes off to get married anyway.

At the last minute, Jessica and Elizabeth spill the beans to Ned and Alice Wakefield who grab Cara’s mum and race to the chapel in Nevada where the couple are getting married. They are just in time to see Cara say “I do NOT!”. Steven throws a major hissy fit and storms out, refusing to talk to Cara. This right after he was ready to marry and spend his life with the poor girl which is a bit of a quick turnaround if you ask me.

Again, life goes on and Cara is getting ready to leave for London. Steven is still in A Mood and refuses to talk to her. Elizabeth has taken her brother’s side and doesn’t attend Cara’s going away party, but Cara decides to meet up with Elizabeth to tell her why she made the smart and level-headed decision not to get married at age 16. Because although Elizabeth was against the wedding from the start, she is angry that this is how things played out. Elizabeth finally understands, and goes to tell Steven what Cara had to say. Of course Steven listens to Elizabeth rather than being a man and listening to Cara when she tried to explain things to him, and races off to the airport to farewell Cara. Alls well that ends well, and the pair part on good terms. PHEW.

I was surprised at how kind and considerate Cara’s friends were in this book, considering how they’re total mean girls. Jessica putting someone else’s needs before her own was also something new… maybe she’s settled down since meeting her steady boyfriend Sam? Who seems adorable btw. The two joke about Jessica dying suddenly which is a bit awkward because Sam dies suddenly at some point later in the series. Oh, and speaking of the twins and their boyfriends, Todd Handbrake Wilson is a total downer about the whole marriage and commitment thing which has made Mates For Life Elizabeth very nervous.

The cover of this book is extremely awkward, it looks like Cara is standing next to a mannequin. Also strange for me because Steven looks a lot like my friend’s husband, although a lot more mannequin-like.

Rating: 6/10

Book Review: Sweet Valley High #4 – Power Play

Book: Sweet Valley High #4 – Power Play – published by Bantam Books, paperback edition, 150 pages.

Synopsis: Robin Wilson wants to join Pi Beta Alpha, Sweet Valley High’s highly selective sorority. She may not be beautiful or popular, but she’s friendly and smart. So when Elizabeth nominates her for the sorority, Jessica is less than thrilled. She is determined to find a way to keep Robin from Pi Beta.

But Elizabeth is just as determined to make Robin a sorority sister, and the twins become locked in a struggle that develops into the biggest power play at Sweet Valley High.

Who will prevail? Which twin will triumph? What happens when sisters go head-to-head?

My thoughts: Let me preface this review by saying any negative things I say about Sweet Valley High are said with absolute love and affection for the book series as a whole. These books were a huge part of my childhood and teenage years, so they will always hold a special place in my heart – even if they’re terrible.

Power Play was a pretty damaging book for me to read as a teenager, but as a 31 year old it was just plain infuriating. The main storyline revolves around “chubby” / “fat and ugly” / “tubby” / “fatso” Robin Wilson, who is bullied and fat-shamed throughout the book until she loses weight and suddenly becomes beautiful and popular. JUST LIKE REAL LIFE, GUYS. *eyes roll out of head onto the floor and out the door*

Teen Sociopath Jessica Wakefield takes advantage of Robin and promises to help her pledge to Pi Beta Alpha – the hottest sorority at Sweet Valley High. Knowing her sister’s true form (Satan) but loving her anyway, Bleeding Heart Elizabeth Wakefield takes pity on Robin, and vows to help her get into the sorority. Of course nothing goes to plan and everything comes to a head with Robin being brutally humiliated at the school dance. After this public humiliation Robin “turns her life around” ie: eats lettuce leaves for lunch (literally) and runs laps of the school track until she loses weight and becomes thin and beautiful. Surprisingly enough, Jessica’s motivation for being extremely cruel to Robin is (for once) not a boy. This is pretty rare for a Sweet Valley High book, but it does highlight how much of a terrible person Jessica is. She is cruel purely for the sake of being cruel.

The side story in the book revolves everyone’s favourite Brunette Millionaire Lila Fowler, and her penchant for shoplifting. Of course there are little to no consequences (affluenza!), and once again Bleeding Heart Elizabeth Wakefield manages to save the day.

Sweet Valley High promoted some UNHEALTHY ideas, and this is probably one of the worst books in the series for that, however the cover of this book is FLAWLESS, and the twins look as stunning as ever.

Rating: 2/10