When Jessica Wakefield wakes up in the middle of the night, her whole room is shaking. The next day at school, Jessica is a celebrity: she’s the only one who witnessed Sweet Valley’s own earthquake! [Wing: How is it even a little possible that no one else in the middle school woke up?]
When Jessica hears reports that another, bigger earthquake may hit, she quickly spreads the news. After all, Jessica is Sweet Valley’s earthquake expert! The more people she tells, the bigger and more dramatic the story becomes. Soon Jessica has everybody preparing for a real catastrophe!
As I’ve said previously, this is around the time when I stopped reading the books as they came out. I did read this one back in the day, but it was towards the end of the run, so it didn’t get a re-read back then. I remember that I enjoyed it then. I don’t know if that’s true now.
Also, this book becomes hilarious in hindsight (or maybe harsher), when you realise that the last two books of Sweet Valley High are called Earthquake and Aftershock, and do not have the happy-go-lucky vibe of this book.
Tagline: What if Elizabeth had never been born? [Dove: The series would merely be called “Sweet Valley Kid?”]
Summary: The strangest gift of all…
Elizabeth Wakefield is in terrible trouble. She was in charge of keeping all the money that Sweet Valley Middle School raised for a Christmas party. But Elizabeth secretly lent the money to a homeless family so that they would have a home over Christmas. [Raven: Of COURSE she did.] Now Elizabeth has been caught without the money and without an excuse. Everyone is furious with her.
Elizabeth decides to run away. She thinks Sweet Valley would be better off if she’d never been born. On her way out of town in a terrible storm, Elizabeth meets a mysterious girl who claims to be her guardian angel—and shows her just how important she is after all.
This book is based on one of my favourite films: It’s a Wonderful Life. If you’ve not seen it, track it down and give it a watch. It’s from 1946, and likely available via number of streaming services. It’s one of only two films to make me cry*. The first was Watership Down when I was six, the second was this when I was twenty-two. [Wing: God, Watership Down, not an okay heartbreak in that one.]
(*Then I hit mid-thirties, and they released Up. Downhill from there. Nowadays? Shit, I well up if I can’t find my fucking socks.)
[Dove: The cover. Why does Elizabeth have a bob? Their hair is always long on all the other covers.]
A Sweet Valley book, based on its central premise? I’ve an open mind. I’ve no beef with such chicanery. Cows aren’t sacred. I present the following video link as Exhibit A… a song about my favourite film, by my favourite band, which is legitimately one of my favourite things ever.
Seriously, if you can’t spare 2 hours 10 minutes for the film, spare three minutes for the video.
Tagline: Can Jessica and Elizabeth really read each other’s minds? [Raven: Nope!]
Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are so different, it’s sometimes hard to believe they are twins—until the day they discover that they can read each other’s minds! When their friends hear about the twins’ special talent, they convince them to be the star performers in the forthcoming school talent show.
But one morning the twins wake up to discover that their gift is gone. Now Jessica and Elizabeth must work out how to convince people that they are still psychic. Otherwise, they’ll be the laughing-stocks of the entire school!
From the above synopsis, I did not expect great things.
“Oooh! Mind reading! How exciting! SPECIAL TWIN POWERS! That’s so cool!” Meh. I’ve no truck with such mumbo-jumbo, which I’ll get into later in the recap. Either way, nothing here smacked me on the ass with the Excitement Kipper.
Also, this cover? All very Big Train Staring Contest.
[Dove: I wasn’t excited about the premise of this book. But honestly, that might be because the spine of the book is silver (like the Super Editions) but the cover is pink (like the regular series) and little things like that really piss me off (as evidenced by the anger I have towards the cover of Jessica’s Bad Idea). It’s not the book’s fault the outside is imperfect, but I have issues.]
Tagline: A mysterious death in a spooky old house… [Wing: I first read this as “in a spooky old lighthouse” and now I’ve made myself sad it isn’t true.]
Summary: A necklace, a movie, and a murder…
Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are thrilled when they land small parts in a movie being made in Sweet Valley. The film is based on the true story of the mysterious death of twelve-year-old Lillian Keller, and it’s being filmed at the creepy old Keller mansion.
One stormy afternoon, Jessica finds an old necklace on the beach near the mansion. She puts it on, and that very night she has a terrible nightmare about a girl falling to her death. She becomes convinced that someone—or something—is trying to tell her that the mystery of Lillian Keller’s death is far from solved. But can a necklace really hold the secret to a murder?
Despite my little lighthouse wish when reading the tagline, I am excited as hell to recap this one. I’m hoping for Jessica the Sleuth, fun murder mysteries, and creepiness galore. Also, now that I’ve finished the book, that cover is kind of ridiculous; (a) that’s not storm clothing even on the beach and (b) they looked like that when Becka hired them?
(Also: Happy New Year! I wrote this at the end of 2018 and it posts at the beginning of 2019, which delights me to no end. Here’s to another year of these ridiculous books. Spoiler: For once, this is a great thing.)
[Dove: Is it just me or does Jessica have zombie face on the cover? “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”]
Tagline: Guilty until proven innocent? [Wing: So Ned is the lawyer involved in this, I see.]
Is there a thief at Sweet Valley Middle School? Things have started disappearing, and the whole school is searching for the culprit. But everyone is shocked when some of the stolen goods turn up in Jessica Wakefield’s locker!
Jessica insists that she’s been framed, but the only one who believes her is her twin sister. Elizabeth. When Jessica and Elizabeth team up to find the real thief, they can hardly believe what they find out!
I kind of hate stories about people being falsely accused, so I can’t see this going well for me.
[Dove: I remember getting into a conversation with someone on Twitter (I think it was@_sunshinebooks) about how tiny Jessica looks in comparison to the rest of the girls on the cover. There’s something not quite right about the proportions there. Also, who is the girl in the peach dress? Is that Veronica?
Also, when I first read this, Watchmans (handheld TVs) hadn’t hit the UK, mostly, I think, because they were completely expensive and rarely worked. I misread the branding and spent the entire book wondering why Lila was so braggy about a Walkman, which pretty much everyone I knew owned.]
Tagline: The Valentine’s Day dance isn’t what anyone was expecting…
Summary: Mixed-up romance…
As Valentine’s Day approaches, everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School is pairing up for the first dance of the year. Elizabeth Wakefield has been asked by sweet and serious Todd Wilkins, and her twin sister, Jessica, is going with wild and funny Aaron Dallas. The twins and all their friends are sure it’s going to be the most romantic night out ever.
But when they get to the dance, everyone seems to go a little crazy. Jessica abandons Aaron to dance song after song with Bruce Patman. And devious Veronica Brooks goes after Todd, leaving Elizabeth with no one to dance with—except Aaron! Romance is in the air all right, but will these mixed-up couples ever get straightened out again?
Now THIS is what Twin Magic is all about! Clandestine sexual misdirection. A Valentine’s Day dance, boyfriends and girlfriends and relationship woes. Wonderful.
The cover? A bunch of girls. Presumably all the Unicorns. Fair enough. The composition is a bit weird, it’s pretty lopsided.
Nothing else to say about it, really.
[Raven: Hello! As you can see, this recap is a day late. That’s all on me. Apologies! However, yesterday (Monday) was my birthday, so I’m going to claim Birthday Boy Privileges. Bosh. Done.]
[Dove: I actually love the cover of this. I’m slightly envious of the American covers, which show the entire picture with a banner across with the title – although I prefer the UK layout overall. I like it when the picture clearly references something that happens in the book, and this is a picture of the photo Ned took of all the girls before their first date. Adorable. Everyone looks so pretty. Except for Janet. Janet always looks terrible. And why isn’t Ellen on the front cover. I’m guessing the cover goes (back to front, left to right): Janet, (Belinda or Mandy, maybe?), Lila; Mary, (Belinda or Mandy?), Amy; Elizabeth, Jessica. Commenters, feel free to correct me. I’m really confused about the two brunettes in the middle, they don’t actually look like anyone we’ve seen before on the covers. Amy’s hair is way darker than usual too.]
[Wing: Surprisingly cute cover. Haven’t at least some of them already had first dates? Also, busy week, haven’t had a chance to comment until Wednesday, 21 November, but here I go.]
Lila Fowler has always been filthy rich. So when she overhears her father say he’s lost a fortune, she panics. Can she face the world without money? Her friends begin to suspect that something is wrong when Lila starts walking to school, bringing a packed lunch with her, and even turning down trips to the mall. But Lila’s afraid to tell them what has happened. Without money, she doesn’t feel special any more.
Finally, with a little help from Melissa McCormick and Elizabeth Wakefield, Lila learns that there really are more important things than money. But will her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club agree? How will they react to a poor Lila Fowler?
This is the best Sweet Valley book ever. Don’t worry, I have a caveat – The Carnival Ghost is a Super Chiller, this is a main series. Two completely different categories. Both are the best in each. I’m not sure which one is better overall, because I like them for massively different reasons.
Either way, this is THE recap I have most looked forward to. I always knew I’d give Wing The Carnival Ghost, because I knew she’d like it. This one I’d have fought to the death for, so it’s kind of cool that it landed on me naturally.
I will be quoting 90% of this book. If you haven’t read it, you should. I love it.
[Wing: Updated 17 October 2018 with my comments. Sorry, dear readers, I have been slammed with work and am behind on everything else.]
Tagline:Is Jessica turning her back on popularity?
Summary: Jessica Wakefield is humiliated when she finds out she’s been accepted into a special program called SOAR!, for gifted math and science students. Along with her twin sister, Elizabeth, Jessica must go to special science classes every day with some of the biggest nerds at Sweet Valley Middle School.
Then a strange thing happens Jessica discovers that she actually likes SOAR! But Jessica’s friends in the Unicorn Club aren’t happy about her new interests. They tell Jessica she must choose: SOAR! or the Unicorns!
I hate it when the word ‘Nerd’ is weaponised.
Let’s look at the cover. FUCKING HELL, IT’S RICK MORANIS!
Four nerdy boys gathered around Jessica in a sinister, vaguely inappropriate way. I’ve seen videos like this on the internet.
And that ginger kid, what the actual fuck?! BEGONE YOU SOULLESS DEMON!
[Dove: I love this book. I’ve been looking forward to it for quite awhile now. Not as much as Poor Lila! but that book is pure magic.]
Tagline: Just how welcome is Giovanna in Sweet Valley? [Dove: Well, given how well they usually take outsiders, I reckon it will go: 1) excited and welcoming; 2) cool and snooty as soon as she doesn’t bow down and worship the perfection of Sweet Valley; and then 3) EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.]
Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her twin sister, Elizabeth, are looking forward to having an exchange student named Giovanna come and live with them for three weeks, Jessica can’t wait to show the Italian country girl all the great things about Sweet Valley. But when the Wakefields finally meet Giovanna, Jessica is in for a shock. Giovanna is gorgeous and sophisticated—and Sweet Valley bores her to death!
When Giovanna arrives at Sweet Valley Middle School, she’s rude to Jessica’s friends in the Unicorn Club, she talks constantly about how great Italy is, and she flirts with the cutest boys in school. As far as Jessica is concerned, Giovanna has worn out her welcome. How will she ever get through the next three weeks?
I hate this book. I don’t want to read it. There’s a reason I never bothered to buy it back in the day. I borrowed it from a friend and decided I didn’t need a copy. It was one of the last ones I bought when I was filling in the gaps in my collection.
I utterly loathe this book. The only reason I didn’t swap with someone is because: 1) Raven knows better than to swap with me after he got burned by The Class Trip; and 2) despite my deep desire to not recap this, I thought Wing would like The Ghost in the Bell Tower (and I thought she’d probably burn our servers to the ground on this one), also; 3) I was pretty sure that Wing wouldn’t swap with me unless I made a very good case for it. My co-recappers are (rightly) very suspicious when I try to swap.
Note from the future: When I rage at Giovanna’s attitude, I am aware that the rage should be (and is) directed at the current Jamie Suzanne’s lack of knowledge about Italy and apparent xenophobia. But for shorthand, I rage at Giovanna.
Note from even further into the future: I completely forgot the Rizzo family is Italian. It’s ok, so did the author. You’d have thought Giovanna might have approved of them, especially with Mrs Rizzo speaking Italian as her first language, but yeah, no, that never happens. Giovanna never even meets Sophia.
Apology to any Italian readers: Hi. I’m really sorry that this Jamie Suzanne is being so offensive about your country with pretty much every sentence Giovanna utters.
[Wing: Why are we doing yet another foreign exchange student story? Why are we doing yet another New Girl story? Why are we doing — huh, I guess the next question is why are we doing the recapping at all, but I have an answer for that one.]