Summary: Steven Wakefield can’t believe it: beautiful, popular Jill Hale wants to go out with him! He knows that his girlfriend, Cathy Connors, will be heartbroken, but a guy’s got to play the field. After all, he once had a killer crush on Jill, and going out with her would be a dream come true.
And it is… until Steven starts missing Cathy. Jill may be pretty, but she can’t recite basketball statistics or tell gross jokes the way Cathy can. So just in time for Valentine’s Day, Steven decides to mend Cathy’s broken heart—he’ll take her back.
Cathy does want him back, doesn’t she?
Oh great. Another Steven Wakefield book.
Given the demographic this series courts, I don’t know who books that centre on Steven are written for. Would any pre-teen girl, who’s a fan of a series centring on a set of female pre-teen twins, really give a rat’s ass to read a book that centred on their obnoxious brother? Or is it that now, after 100 books, they realise that they only need release something in order to get the completionists buying their product?
Oh, and didn’t Steven already deduce that Jill was a big dud, in the very book in which he got together with Cathy? Yawn.
Also, in this recap, I use the word “bellend” forty times (forty-one if you include this one: bellend).
[Dove: Yeah, I’m already out. I’m never forgiving the lawnmower debacle, so Steven can absolutely get fucked. If he dumps Cathy, good for Cathy. If he ends up with the vapid tit with shiny hair instead, even better. That’s two morons out of the dating pool. I can only hope they’re too stupid to eventually breed.]
[Wing: I can’t. I can’t do another Steven’s in love book. I cannot.]
Tagline: No one can be right all the time… [Dove: Uh… what fucking planet is this ghostie from? Saint Elizabeth Wakefield can.]
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield’s new advice column is the rage at Sweet Valley Middle School. Not only is “Dear Elizabeth” the most popular column in Sixers history, letters from troubled readers are pouring in by the hundreds!
At first, Elizabeth is thrilled by her success. But then she starts to worry. Her friends expect miracle cures for every problem… and she’s running out of answers. Soon her advice is causing problems instead of solving them! Now Elizabeth’s. the one who needs help. How can she get out of this mess?
I don’t have any initial thoughts. I don’t remember this one. It’s kind of mixed up with Elizabeth the Seventh Grader, and also literally every story where Elizabeth butts in on someone else’s life and starts meddling. [Raven: I too feel like we’ve read this story before… Odd.]
Summary: Something very strange is going on at Sweet Valley Middle School. It all started when the Mysterious Dr. Q hypnotized Jessica Wakefield and her classmates during a school assembly. They were so impressed by Dr. Q’s performance that they decided to try a little hypnotism of their own.
The hypnosis works like a charm. Jessica convinces Janet Howell and Amy Sutton that they’re twins, Lila Fowler that she was a duck in a past life. and Elizabeth Wakefield that she’s in love with the obnoxious Bruce Patman! Can Jessica snap her friends out of it… or will they be spellbound forever?
Oh god, I have zero interest in hypnosis stories, I’ve been sick (manic, mostly), and I’m already not excited about Sweet Valley at the moment. This bodes well.
(Note from the future: I am even less able to recap this than originally suspected, and this book is even worse than I worried. Be warned.)
[Dove: In no way am I belittling Wing’s health, but boy, this book is fucking awful, even when you’re in the best of health. Also, how many of these awful “ooooh psychic bollocks” books are going to be in the main series?]
Summary: Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield can’t believe their eyes. While on holiday at the Triple Z ranch, they meet two perfect guys—who happen to be thirteen-year-old twins! Elizabeth hits it off immediately with Nick Handel and his brother, Chris, is the boy of Jessica’s dreams. At first.
After one double date, the twins think that maybe they each picked the wrong twin. So, on their second double date, they pull a secret twin switch. Jessica pretends to be Elizabeth… and Elizabeth pretends to be Jessica. Now they are each with the right boy. Or are they?
To be honest, I’m still reeling from the Haunted Mansion shitshow. Boy, was that a holy calamafuck, amiright?
Twins. In love. With, it seems, other twins. Pretty sure I’ve seen the movie of this… definitely wasn’t for a preteen audience, mind.
I’m excited to be entering the non-Riccoli-Mansion parts of Sweet Valley again. Maybe we’ll get some Unicorns! That’d be nice. And here’s hoping there’s much less Steven, and absolutely zero instances of fucking lawnmower japery.
[Wing: The second I finished this book, I texted Dove and Raven because I knew Dove would have some choice words to say about the horse parts of this book. I can’t wait to read them.]
Tagline: The final title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series
Summary:On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service.
Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have learned one thing from baby-sitting for the Riccoli family: dreams can come true… and so can nightmares. When the fire in Andrew Riccoli’s dream turned to real flames, the twins took action. They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares.
Before she killed them.
But now the creature has left the kids’ nightmares to terrorize them in real life. And waking nightmares are the scariest of them all.
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!
I can’t tell whether this is badly written or not, because nothing has happened so far and nothing’s going to happen now.
I hate this. This is the worst part of this series. I know there are books that have worse messages or themes, but the obnoxious length of this fucking series takes the piss. Nobody needs 100k+ words where NOTHING happens.
Also, I think it’s time for a short rant about where I’m at with this incredibly stupid mini-series.
1) Steven. He is an utter waste of space and I hope he dies. I think I mentioned, either in the recap or podcast of The Older Boy, that there would come a point where I was just done with Steven. This mini-series is it. There isn’t a single redeeming feature of his scenes. He’s so stupid I’m actually worried that Ned and Alice are wilfully neglecting a child that is limited in his comprehension of the universe. Or that they are ignoring that their fully functioning child is actually becoming a manchild because of their indulgence. I suspect the latter. He acts like an asshole, nobody cares. He shirks his job. Nobody cares. He actively destroys not only Wakefield property, but the property of others too. Nobody cares. The last book ended with him being arrested, and I’m just guessing at the outcome here, but I bet that nobody cares.
His attitude is one of pure arrogance and entitlement. He doesn’t want to apologise for terrifying five children as “a joke” because he doesn’t understand what he did wrong. If he’s laughing, what’s the problem? He thinks he’s entitled to Karen, the hot daughter of one of his lawn mowing clients, simply because he perceives himself as far more attractive and interesting than every other dude on the planet.
Really? This is how idiotic, immature, entitled, incel, rapists are created. A+ parenting, Wakefields.
2) The parents (Riccolis and Wakefields). So, Mrs Riccoli has to be in Florida. Mr Riccoli has vanished from the narrative, because none of the Jamies swapped notes (or a single Jamie is overwhelmed by a four-book deal). And the Wakefields are like, “Yep, I think it’s totally ok that my twelve year olds are responsible for five children, when I wouldn’t let them stay at their own home for a few days without a baby-sitter.”
3) The Baby-Sitters Club. Ok, so you see that your rival book series has a far more interesting hook than “stuff happens but TWINS”, and you rip it off and then you… do fuck all with it. There are five kids in this club, but what do we have? The twins baby-sitting and a their muppet brother riding a lawnmower into whatever doesn’t get out of his way. The baby-sitting is frankly irresponsible. I haven’t dived deep into BSC (but damn, do I love the Netflix show) but their baby-sitting adventures actually show that you must care for the kids, rather than just bitch about how much you get paid. Yes, Jessica is oddly good at looking after kids, but everyone else’s baby-sitting skills range from not bad to screamingly incompetent (Winston giving 8 month old babies soda, for example).
4) The “plot”. The plot treads water for four books. Nothing happens. We’re made to believe that the plot will move forward, but it doesn’t. Nightmares. Oooh. More nightmares. Oooh. Even more nightmares. For fuck’s sake, is this going to escalate or not, because I’m finding it hard to care that Jessica’s sweater got a rip in it after a dream. There’s something going on with Alice, what about that? Well, that’s doing a big fat tread water too. We’ve had eight billion flashbacks to show that Alice baby-sat at that house and Eva had nightmares/sleepwalked. Wow. Such scary. Many engaged.
5) Fluff. Basically, this should be a two-book series, and the b-plots should be removed entirely. While we’re deleting pointless shit, let’s get rid of the monster POV scenes at the beginning and end of each book. They’re boring, pointless and add literally nothing to the story. Bye.
I FUCKING HATE THIS BADLY-PLOTTED MESS OF A MINI-SERIES. tl;dr: I wish Team Grapplegate had been handed this series. They are capable of being funny and sassy.
[Raven: This. All of this. All of this and more.]
[Wing: Dove hit so many points, so I’ll just add that we should take a look at the summary. Specifically: They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares. The last book ended on a cliffhanger. What you do not do is spoil the resolution to that cliffhanger in the summary of the next book. Yes, even if it is clear to us that none of the main characters (or, hell, the supporting characters) will day. Yes, even if it is a flat-out lie like that. Look, I get it, the summary for this was probably written before the last book was finished, but come. the fuck. on. We cannot even get consistency in that?]
Title: The Beast Must Die [Wing: This is a goddamn lie.]
Summary: When Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield began babysitting for the Riccoli family, they soon learned of the kids’ bad dreams. And slowly, the terrifying truth becomes undeniable. The nightmares are real. Something evil is in the kids’ house and in their dreams—something that wants them dead. So when they can no longer stay awake, there’s only one thing left to do: the baby-sitters and the kids must enter the deadly world of their dreams…
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up! [Wing: The way I feel at this moment, never waking up sounds like a pretty good deal.]
Tagline: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new babysitting service.
The day I’m writing this, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. I am heartbroken and in mourning. I am sharp edged and angry and even more afraid for vulnerable people in my country (including myself). Ginsburg meant a lot to me for a variety of reasons, and to this country, to the fight for equality and personal rights.
Which is to say, I am in a terrible place to be recapping Sweet Valley, have little patience, and even less ability to be funny. So this’ll be a grand old time!
(Not recapping the recaps, but here is the first book and here is the second book. We’ve not had much fun with this mini-series so far, though I liked the last book more than Dove and Raven did. Also: 99th main series book! I’m pretty pleased to have that number, and I’d like to party like it’s 1999 again.)
[Dove: I hate this whole series. I can’t even think of something witty to say. The entire thing is treading water. By the end of this, we’ve had 120k words of nothing happening, except Steven tits about on a lawnmower, which we’re supposed to find hilarious. I want to thump whoever came up with this. It’s fucking stupid and the Jamie(s) in question should be embarrassed.]
[Raven: Another chapter of this terrible mini series. Roundly bang the sounding brasses, let joy be unconfined, it’s time to get SHITFACED.]
Tagline: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new babysitting service…
Summary: Little by little, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield’s dream job of baby-sitting for the Riccoli kids is turning into a nightmare. Andrew Riccoli dreams that someone tried to set fire to his room—and then wakes up in a cloud of smoke. Then Gretchen Riccoli dreams she’s falling—and wakes up at the bottom of the mansion’s dark, winding staircase. The twins are getting scared… too scared to close their eyes in the Riccoli mansion.
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!
The first book in this series is hardly a zinger. For a spooky book with an action-packed premise, not a lot happened.
Here’s hoping the second swings a little harder for the fences.
[Dove: This is where I really lost my patience with this mini-series. The b-plot is my personal bugbear and I will never forgive or forget. I hate this mini-series.]
[Wing: I did not have high expectations. I was partially correct.]
Tagline: The first title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series
Summary:On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service…
The Wakefield twins and their friends love baby-sitting for the Riccolis, until little Juliana Riccoli starts having horrible nightmares. One night she wakes up crying, saying a monster attacked her. The twins tell her that bad dreams aren’t real, but Elizabeth is secretly afraid. If the monster isn’t real, why does Juliana have deep scratches on her back?
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!
Hey kids, do you love Baby-Sitters Club?
YEAH! (excited cheering from a bunch of tweens in the 80s/90s)
And do you love A Nightmare on Elm Street?
YEAH! (one or two kids back away nervously muttering that their mum wouldn’t approve)
And do you love it when boys are so utterly mentally incapacitated that it’s actually cruel to leave them alone without adult supervision?
… (kids look unenthusiastic. a tumbleweed blows past)
WELL, GREAT! THIS SERIES IS FOR YOU.
] [Dove: Damn you for using my favourite Meat Loaf song.]
[Wing: Nothing like opening with a Meat Loaf song to put Wing in a good mood.]
Summary: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are witnesses to an armed robbery! Though the crook was disguised as a clown, all the evidence points to Joe Carrey as the culprit. Elizabeth can’t believe it! Joe is the ice cream scooper at Casey’s, and he’s one of the nicest people she’s ever met.
Then Elizabeth investigates more deeply and finds a clue that just doesn’t fit. It’s enough to convince her that Joe Carrey is innocent. But can Elizabeth convince the jury?
Criminals and intrigue and trials and shit.
Looks like there’s been a robbery at a store committed by a clown, not to be confused with a Robbery at the Mall committed by a chicken. Excellent work there, plot manatees!
I’ve enjoyed a fair few of the Plucky Girl Detectives books, so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.
[Dove: At this point, I am so over the Plucky Girl Detectives books. I think no crime gets solved in Sweet Valley without Elizabeth being involved.] [Wing: Wasn’t the very first Plucky Girl Detective story driven by Jessica?]