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Sweet Valley Twins #74: Elizabeth the Hero

11
Feb 2019
Sweet Valley Twins #74: Elizabeth the Hero by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #74: Elizabeth the Hero by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Hero

Tagline: Elizabeth saves Denny’s life!

Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield and her friends are walking on the beach one stormy afternoon when they witness a terrible surfing accident. Denny Jacobson is drowning! Elizabeth dives into the water and saves him.

Now Elizabeth is a hero. Her picture is in the newspaper and Denny showers her with presents and attention. But Janet Howell, president of the Unicorns, is angry! She’s got a big crush on Denny and is determined to make Elizabeth’s life a misery.

Elizabeth decides that being a hero is awful. How can she possibly get Denny—and now Janet—to leave her alone? Finally she and Jessica cook up a brilliant plan to get rid of them both, but it might mean putting Elizabeth in danger!

Initial Thoughts:

So, Elizabeth is a hero in this one? She saves someone’s life, apparently. I thought she saved the lives of every New Girl that moves to Sweet Valley.

Also, one of my classmates at school had Denny as a surname, so I can’t take Denny seriously. It doesn’t help that he looks a bit like a young Hugh Grant on the cover. Actually, on second thoughts, could he be any more like a young Chandler from Friends?

Finally, the offscreen guy with the microphone is wearing a white suit. I’d say something cutting, but I had a cream suit in University. Although I only wore it for comedic purposes, so don’t judge me.

[Dove: I think Denny looks much older than Elizabeth. But you’re right about Chandler.]

Recap:

We start on the beach, where our pals in Team Boring are collecting shells for some shitty craft project. Last time Elizabeth went beachcombing, her sister found a cursed necklace. This time, Amy Sutton finds a seashell. And it’s not even chipped.

Well done, Amy. You found a shell. On the beach. You lank-haired spunkwaffle.

Apparently, despite never having mentioned this in the previous eighty books, Elizabeth loves the beach. Why? She can’t read it, or do it like homework. She particularly likes it when it’s wild and winsome, with a booming surf and howling wind, because secretly she’s Cathy from Wuthering Heights and she’s looking for some hot Heathcliff action with a dose of Hot Todding.

That Todd(y) is Hot Stuff!

Maria, Amy and the glorious Saint Elizabeth are planning a seashell collage for Mr Sweeny’s art class, which is one step up from making a macaroni picture, which is one step up from eating paste.

Elizabeth actually says this:

Elizabeth smiled. “You know me. Perfect in every way.” She laughed. “I just hope we can arrange these shells into some kind of design that will look as nice on paper as they do on the beach.”

Fucking hell, she’s lost the plot. Perfect in every way, and able to equal the beauty of nature by gluing shells to a piece of A fucking 4. [Dove: Pretty sure Americans don’t refer to paper as A4. We’ve lost half our readership.] [Raven: Half our readership? Don’t worry, she’ll come back.] Who does she thing she is? God?

The wind builds, and Maria spots some people surfing in the darkening sea. Amy recognises them as Denny Jacobson and his brother Sam. Apparently, Denny owns the only red wet suit in California. [Dove: Sam? Who the fuck is Sam? Did he exist in Heart Condition Pamela’s Very Special Episode?] [Wing: I zero percent believe they are the only two people surfing. Bullshit. Especially in stormy weather, there would be more daredevils out there.]

The girls ponder the sagacity of the Jacobsons’ surf party. The weather is atrocious, and Elizabeth’s recent life-saving course has taught her the best defence from danger is to Flee Like A Startled Rabbit.

Aside:

Frankly, that’s great advice.

In my university days, I once found myself in a dojo, halfway up a mountain in Japan, being taught the noble art of Karate as a form of self defence by an honest-to-god Sensei while a tropical thunderstorm howled outside.

True story. No, actual true story.

As a lifelong fan of the Karate Kid series, I expected to be taught honourable defensive stances, respect for my opponents, wax on wax off Miyagi-do unblockable crane kick powerhouse moves.

Turns out, it’s not like the movies.

The lasting lessons I took from the hour of intensive training?

  • Kick ‘em in the bollocks.
  • Gouge’ em in the eyes.
  • Chop ‘em in the throat.
  • Run like a Motherfucker.

Stay safe, kids.

End aside.

As the girls watch on, Denny gets into a predictable dose of real trouble. A wave knocks him, off his board, then his board clonks him on the head.

Watching in horror, Team Boring see Denny, face down in the sea, presumably dead from the head wound of dying from drowning. It goes without saying that Denny Does Not Get Eaten By The Eels At This Time. That would be a hell of a departure from the usual tone of this series. Sweet Valley Twins enters its Goth Phase. [Dove: Give it about 15 more books, and Jessica won’t be able to stop going on about how much she luuuurveesss her Doc Martens. However unlikely that may be.]

At the edge of the water, the three girls seem helpless. Then Elizabeth remembers she’s a Wakefield Twin, and therefore blessed, decisive and immortal. She kicks off her shoes and dives into the briny waters.

In a pleasingly well-realised scene, Liz swims to the unconscious Denny’s aid, and uses all her strength to drag him to shore. Once there, she administers mouth-to-mouth.

Elizabeth’s First Kiss?

After the perquisite “will-he-won’t-he” dying moments, Denny obviously splutters back to life. Unfortunately for the reader, he is NOT a Zombie. We have to wait until Steven the Zombie for that particular joy, I guess.

Maria, Amy, Sam, and the recovering Denny are elated. Elizabeth is knackered.

How exciting! An actual near-death experience in Sweet Valley!

We cut to the Wakefeld Compound, where a Unicorn Meeting is in full swing. The Unigibbons are debating which of their membership is most popular with the boys. Janet Howell in particular is stating her claim with gusto. She is especially popular with a certain Denny Jacobson, she claims. Wishful thinking, methinks.

Happily, Mandy Miller cuts through the nonsense.

“Let’s just agree that all the Unicorns are popular with boys and move on. We’re not getting anything accomplished here,” Mandy Miller said impatiently.

You tell ‘em, Mandy! You’ve got people to see, and hair to grow. You can’t just sit around talking bollocks with a bunch of twats.

Jessica looks at the Purple Gibbon Collective with pride. She then ponders her sister, and the nature of their twindom, as is her modus operandi during the foreplay of these books. Twins, hey? What are they like! So similar, yet so, so different. Still, always the best of friends. Something something left cheek.

We then learn about the Teen Health Fair, being held at the “downtown auditorium”. Lower-case name? Weak. One student from each school has been invited to give a speech, and for some reason Sweet Valley Middle School’s representative is not a Wakefield. It’s Janet Howell.

Naturally, this reflects very well on the Unicorns.

Aside:

Do you think the rest of the region’s schools have their own version of the Wakefield Twins? Like, do the, I dunno, “Henderson Triplets” really piss everyone off at Big Mesa, because they always have the adventures and best luck? I hope so.

Maybe the last book of the series will see all the region’s schools send each of their “problem children” to a fake convention in an abandoned warehouse. The Sweet Valley Ice Cream Convention For Gifted Children. SVMS send the Wakefields, Big Mesa send the Hendersons, and so on.

Get ‘em all in. Lock the doors. Burn it down.

Fade to black.

End aside.

Janet’s responsibilities as the Sweet Valley Middle School Teen Health Fair Representative (hereafter known as SVMSTHFR) are twofold. Responsibility the First: give a speech (hers is You and Orthodontia, which is a nice callback to Lila’s Music Video). Responsibility the Second: select a plethora of “hostesses” to “wear special armbands, man the booths, and circulate throughout the auditorium, giving people directions and handing out leaflets.”

… Booth babes? Really?

Why “hostesses”…? Why no “hosts”…? Also, sexism for the hostesses, plus sexism for having them “man” the booths. Double Sexism For The Win!

Naturally, all the Unicorns want to be hostesses. The Teen Health Fair might get local television coverage. [Dove: This kind of thing always left me confused. For most of my tween years, I was convinced that every American on the planet simply lived to be a representative of literally everything going. Whereas every Brit I knew sank down in her chair and avoided eye-contact to ensure they weren’t put forward.]

Janet has made the whole thing into a contest, having prospective Unihostesses to run errands and complete her tasks. Jessica, for instance, has spent many hours researching orthodontia for Janet’s speech.

But even after all that work, Jessica was worried she wouldn’t be chosen. Mandy and Mary had really gone all out. They had constructed a giant papier mâché molar in Janet’s garage. It was hollow, so that somebody could get inside it and walk around the auditorium. Janet said she thought the tooth costume would raise people’s consciousness. But Jessica had a feeling Janet wouldn’t be caught dead walking around in the thing herself.

Please choose me as a hostess, Jessica pleaded silently. And please don’t ask me to be the tooth.

Pretty charming, to be fair. I foresee Jessica dressed as a tooth before this book is done.

[Wing: I don’t even know what to do with the tooth. The image of it is killing me and yet clearly it will be used in something ridiculous. I hope.]

Janet tells the throng that she is delaying her decision, ostensibly because it’s important, but in reality because she is enjoying the perks of being top of the tree. She also uses her platform to boast once more about her and Denny’s special bond.

The door goes!

It’s the Jacobsons, and a wet, exhausted Elizabeth. Oh, Steven, you pesky ejaculator!

Choked with emotion, the Jacobsons recount how Elizabeth legitimately saved their son’s life. Jessica, listening in with a handful of Unicorns, is astonished.

It sounded like something out of a movie. Elizabeth, her very own identical twin sister, had saved Denny Jacobson from drowning. Elizabeth was a hero!

Great. Not content with having Elizabeth as the town’s metaphorical saviour, she’s now their ACTUAL fucking saviour. I’m looking forward to her cameo in Baywatch. [Dove: I was really hoping the Daniels twins (or at least one of them) had been in Baywatch, but sadly this did not happen. It seems such obvious casting, and yet. On the subject of Baywatch, it really bugged me that nobody wanted Elizabeth to get checked over. According to Baywatch someone can have water in their lungs and later experience drowning sensations, even if they don’t appear to choke/lose consciousness at the time, and therefore it’s practice to send anyone involved in a situation like this to the hospital for a check up. Baywatch. I learned this from Baywatch.]

[Wing: I learned, again, that Dwayne Johnson is hot. That is the extent of my Baywatch knowledge. But this bit is cool.]

The Jacobsons are heading to the hospital to check on their recuperating son. The Elder Wakefields offer to accompany them. Elizabeth, Jessica and the Unicorns go too. But before they set off, Jessica notices that her sister is a little more shaken by the ordeal than she is perhaps admitting…

“You’re a hero, Elizabeth,” Mandy said softly, echoing Jessica’s thoughts. “A real hero.”

“No, I’m not,” Elizabeth managed. She was holding the blanket tightly around her shoulders and her teeth were chattering. Jessica noticed that Elizabeth’s face looked pale under the damp strands of hair that hung around her face. She reached over and squeezed Elizabeth’s hand, feeling incredibly proud of her sister.

Hmmm… interesting! Is Elizabeth in shock? Or could this book be about her burgeoning PSTD? Enquiring minds what to know!

Also… WET LIZ = BLONDE SAMARA.

Samara: Then and Now.

[Dove: I think you’ll find that the Samara Then photo is actually of the adult actress from the finale, rather than Daveigh Chase.]

[Wing: I think you’ll find that Daveigh Chase is really Lilo and no one else. NO ONE.]

At the hospital, Denny is being mobbed by every student from Sweet Valley Middle School. To his credit, he’s managing to hold court with some elan, despite his near-death experience. He singles Elizabeth out from the gaggle of well-wishers, and summons her to sit on the chair next to the bed. The chair that – GASP! – currently houses both Janet Howell and Lila Fowler!

After some weak protestations, she slithers over to Denny’s bedside. Janet has a scalpel, and isn’t moving from Denny’s side for some jumped-up swimmy cunt. She only refrains from slitting Liz’s throat because a lifetime of incarceration would reflect very badly on the Unicorns.

The roll-call of well-wishers is impressive…

[Wing: There are way too many people in that damn room.]

Maria and Amy had ridden to the hospital with Sam and Denny, and then stayed while the Jacobsons took Elizabeth home to change.

Elizabeth, Jessica, Janet, Mandy, and Mary had all ridden to the hospital with Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield in their van. It had been a very crowded ride, since Steven, the twins’ fourteen-year-old brother, and his girlfriend, Cathy Connors, had come back from the movies just as the van was leaving. As soon as they heard what had happened, they had wanted to come to the hospital too.

Sam had called Rick Hunter, Denny’s best friend, to tell him what happened. Rick had called Peter DeHaven, who had called a bunch of other people, and all of them had hurried over to the hospital to make sure Denny was OK.

So… how did Lila get there? She was at the Unicorn meeting at the Wakefield Compound. And she’s currently sat next to Janet near Denny’s bed. Did the ghostie just forget our favourite little rich girl? For shame!

Also, where did Ellen Riteman, Grace Oliver, Kimberley Haver and Tamara Chase (FUCK YOU TAMARA CHASE!) get to? They were also at the Wakefield Compound. Did they just fuck off home, with a jaunty skip and a “Denny Who?”…?

Denny, holding court, cracks a few funnies to generate guffaws. As he laughs along, PTSD Liz notices that his laughter is a little forced, and his eyes were too wide and bright. Poor Denny is also feeling the pinch of his own mortality.

[Wing: This bit and Elizabeth’s nightly freakout are my favourite parts of this book, because that delayed reaction and ongoing fear is perfect.]

Oooh, maybe he and Liz bond over their unhealthy reaction to nearly drowning, and go on a Bonnie and Clyde style killing spree!

Natural Born Wakefields. Denny and Elizabeth embrace the outcast life.

Nah.

The doctor comes in, and banters with the throng. Janet, bless her heart, tries her best to be relevant to the room, but is constantly shot down and interrupted by people wanting to discuss Elizabeth’s bravery. I do understand that, as the whole rescue was well handled, and it represents something actually fucking interesting happening in this town, but even so. Rude.

As Janet tries to tell everyone how she’s facilitating a lifesaving course, she’s interrupted (again) by a journalist from the Sweet Valley Tribune. The reporter asks about Elizabeth and the rescue, and of course, Denny is only happy to oblige. He tells the tale again, with a little exaggeration. This time, Elizabeth braved waves that were ten feet high. Why Denny wants to admit he was surfing in weather that’s wholly inappropriate, I have no idea.

[Wing: Normally I’d say bragging rights, but I think he’s just too damn besotted.]

The reporter laps it all up, scribbling notes aplenty. Janet tries to bogart the attention, but the reporter goes Full Skeeter and blanks the president of the Unicorns without so much as a by your leave.

Elizabeth does her best to correct the reporter on the facts, while Janet silently seethes. Denny has the audacity to declare that Elizabeth is his hero, which I guess should be surprising as it’s the title of the fucking book. The reporter takes a picture – actually, TWO pictures after Janet’s wayward hand insinuates itself into the frame.

Big smiles for the camera, everyone saying “hero” instead of “cheese”. Standard.

We cut to the following day, and Steven has a copy of the newspaper. Everyone in the Wakefield Compound reads the article with pride. Apart from Elizabeth, naturally, who believes the reporter has no integrity as she shamelessly exaggerated the fact to make a more engaging narrative.

There follows a small yet amusing series of family banter in which everyone pokes gentle fun at Liz’s newfound fame.

“Our lives will never be the same,” Steven said. “First come the reporters, then—”

“A miniseries on TV!” Jessica finished for him. “I get to play Elizabeth.”

Actually lolled there.

Liz tries to remain modest, but she does admit to herself that she feels a little proud of her actions. Fair.

In her bedroom later that afternoon, Elizabeth thinks back to the incident, and concludes that even though she was proud of what happened, she didn’t feel very heroic at all. It was scary, and at times she didn’t think she’d make it back alive. Of course, as she’s the wildly popular star of the Sweet Valley Twins series, we the readers know that there’ll never be any actual peril in the Sweet Valley Twins series. Shame. I’d love to see them retcon Liz losing a leg at age 12. [Dove: There are moments in this book when I don’t hate Liz. This is one of them. If she was just humble-bragging about her antics, I’d be back on the I Hate Liz boat, but she’s actually scared by what happened. And that eeks out a tiny piece of empathy from me.]

Cathy, Steven’s girlfriend, pops in to congratulate Elizabeth on her rescue, and also act as a prophet regarding everyone’s continued focus on her heroism. Especially Denny’s focus on Elizabeth as his saviour. Liz feels a little uncomfortable at the thought, but Cathy believes Denny’s gratitude won’t fade away quite as quickly as Liz assumes. [Wing: Cathy! I love you, Cathy! You’re too good for Steven and this series.]

Well, duh. That’s the whole point of the book.

Later, Liz catches Jessica on the telephone, waxing lyrical about the whole rescue to anyone who would listen (in this case, Aaron Dallas). The ten foot waves from the newspaper story were now fifteen foot waves, and Jessica laughs off her sister’s tepid protestations.

“Why are you exaggerating everything?”

“It makes a better story that way,” Jessica said with a grin.

“You mean a lie,” Elizabeth shot back.

Jessica crossed her arms over her chest. “If I’m going to be related to a hero, I want to be related to a big hero.”

Jessica and Elizabeth. (Baymax and Honey Lemon, by DeeeSkye on Deviantart. Excellent!)

Ned sticks his fucking oar in as usual, and the whole clan waffle on about how great Elizabeth’s rescue is. Elizabeth is getting fed up of it. You and me both, love.

Skipping to Monday morning, and Ned fucking Wakefield can GET IN THE FUCKING SEA.

“Who wants pancakes?” Mr. Wakefield asked as he poured large circles of batter into the skillet. “And how many?”

“Six for me,” Steven shouted, hurtling into the kitchen with his backpack. He dropped it on the counter and then sat down at the breakfast table.

“Jessica? Elizabeth?”

“Six,” Jessica said, taking the orange juice out of the refrigerator.

Jessica!

“OK. Four.”

What the actual FUCK, Ned? Steven can have six pancakes, but Jessica can’t? Really? [Dove: Yep. I was pissed off about this. Raven was so pissed off that he text me about it. While I was at work. While we both were.]  [Wing: I am also pissed by this, but also charmed by how Raven and Dove rage at each other when the books get bad.]

Get fucked, Ghostie. Casual fat shaming just thrown in there for zero reason. I’ve been quite enjoying this book so far (note: quite enjoying is not the same as enjoying), but this exchange really tanked the fun. Give your daughter her six fucking pancakes, Ned, you lawyering cleft.

Elizabeth asks for four pancakes too, then increases her request to five. Steven comes out with this beauty:

“We’re going to have to call a tow truck to haul you to school,” Steven said.

Sigh…

I nearly closed the book and wigged out right there.

Steven, eating his sixth pancake, calls his sister a heifer for requesting a fifth.

Awful. Just awful.

The doorbell rings. Steven dashes to answer it. He comes back with a smirk. Because the early morning caller is… Denny! The rescued asshat has brought flowers to demonstrate his gratitude, and vows to carry Elizabeth’s books to school every day.

Is that really a sign of gratitude? I mean, I know Elizabeth doesn’t want it to happen – Denny’s not her boyfriend, people would tease her about it, and so on, all great reasons – but even if Liz was fine with it, I don’t understand why doing this would be seen as a “thank you” gesture? Is it an American thing? [Dove: As a Brit who learns everything American from movies and willfully ignores Wing every time she tries to impart reality, isn’t that a “Hey, I’m trying to flirt with you” move?] [Wing: This absolutely could be read as flirting. Flowers once might be gratitude but this is excessive.]

I went to a single-sex school, so I guess this kind of stuff never came up for me. Weird.

Elizabeth tells Denny the rescue was nothing special, so Alice fucking Wakefield sticks her fucking clown shoes into the mix. Taking her daughter to one side, she explains that by calling the rescue “nothing,” Elizabeth was actually calling DENNY’S LIFE “nothing”, and that her precious older twin daughter needed to pull on her Big Girl Pants and take Denny’s gratitude with a bit of fucking good grace. Denny’s focus would be sure to fade in a few days, she posits.

Fucking golf clap for Alice, folks. So much nonsense. Back up your daughter and tell Denny to strongly do one. [Dove: This could have been a decent parent moment. Letting Liz know that, yes we all know you’re a sponge, but if anyone but Jessica tries to force you to go along with something you don’t want to, it’s ok to say no.]

[Wing: I think she has a bit of a point RE calling it nothing, but she also shouldn’t tell Elizabeth to go along with something that makes her uncomfortable.]

Back in the kitchen, Elizabeth graciously accepts Denny’s offer of a chaperoning pack mule accompanying her to school. Denny grabs her backpack, and harries her out of the Compound without letting her finish her breakfast and brush her teeth.

Damn, son, Don’t be a bellend.

On the journey to school, Denny tells EVERYONE HE PASSES the whole damn story about how Elizabeth saved his life by pulling him from a tumultuous tsunami. The crossing guard gets it, a random old fella gets it, etc. They arrive at school just in time for the first bell… but run straight into Janet Howell.

Janet had been waiting for Denny. She had a present for him. A chocolate doughnut, on a paper doily.

“Thanks, Janet,” Denny said, taking the doughnut from her. “But I really ought to give this to Elizabeth.” He held the doughnut out to Elizabeth. “Please accept this as a very small token of my appreciation.”

Janet glared at Elizabeth, her face turning a scary shade of purple.

Fucking hell, Denny. Not cool. At this point, I wish you’d drowned.

To her credit, Elizabeth tries to turn the offering down, but Denny the colossal FUCK-MUPPET won’t take no for an answer. He pops his doughnut into Elizabeth’s backpack and wanders off. (Note: NOT A EUPHAMISM).

Seriously, dude. Read the fucking room.

Aside:

At this point, I actually wish I knew a bit more about Denny.

Because this Denny? This Denny is a waste of fucking skin.

If I knew anything else about him other than the headlines, I’d perhaps have a frame of reference on which to hang something. But as it is, as he’s presented in this book? I actually hate him.

[Dove: All I can offer is that his sister has a heart condition, and at the time we met Pamela, he was the specimen of able-bodied perfection. Perhaps that’s it? His sister could drop dead of a heart attack at any moment (or something), so his parents are on edge constantly, and he understands that his death would be more unexpected than hers, and he values Liz’s heroics. But that would mean that the ghostie had to read the previous books. So we’re just going with “grateful boy can’t read the room”.]

[Wing: Oh, damn, that’s actually an excellent bit of characterization there. So of course the ghostie couldn’t have done it, but at least Dove is here to make us happy.]

End aside.

After three periods, Elizabeth feels better. Which sounds a lot more menstrual than I intended.

Amy offers to write about the rescue for the Sixers, and again, Elizabeth plays the whole thing down. She suggests she only did what anyone would have done.

“I promise I won’t embarrass you by going on endlessly like Denny,” Amy [said]. “But don’t forget—Maria and I were there too. And we didn’t go plunging into the water. You did. Like it or not, you’re a hero,” she said with a smile.

Actual good point, Amy. You’ve now made your contribution to this book, get back in your fucking box. [Dove: She also found a shell earlier.]

After Mr Bowman congratulates her with a handshake, Denny pops up like a plastic pirate and offers to do anything that Liz desires. Anything, that is, apart from fucking off.

Mmm, pie.

[Wing: How dare you sully Meat Loaf with this series.]

Denny has a great idea… Elizabeth deserves recognition for her heroism. She needs a school assembly in her honour, and some sort of presentation.

“NO!” Elizabeth said, louder than she intended.

Denny turned around in surprise.

“Please, Denny. Don’t bother Mr. Clark. I don’t want an assembly in my honor,” Elizabeth insisted. “And I don’t want a medal. Really.”


“And I present this medal,” Mr. Clark said proudly, “to Elizabeth Wakefield for bravery, courage, and heroism in the face of danger.”

The crowded auditorium burst into enthusiastic applause.

Okay, so I know this is a comedy basic, but it’s a comedy basic for a reason. Works for me.

Denny leads the crowd into a standing ovation, and Elizabeth squirms with embarrassment. She now hopes he’s satisfied, as it’s getting to be too much.

He isn’t, of course. The medal is too small. Looking at the book’s cover, I can see his point.

Denny insists on accompanying Elizabeth to lunch. On the menu today? Goulash, which Elizabeth hates. Denny makes sure she gets a double portion by schmoozing the lunch crew (Gladys, Joe, and Frances! Love the detail).

Denny declares he will sit with Liz and force-feed her if necessary, before declaring the sea from which he was plucked by Liz was likely infested by sharks. He then goes and gets his own lunch, which gives Todd Wilkins the opportunity to come sit with his mutual crush.

“Hi, Elizabeth,” Todd said, pulling out a chair across from Elizabeth. “Is it OK if I—”

But before he could finish, Denny materialized again and took Todd’s chair. “Sorry to leave you for so long,” Denny said, giving Todd a warning look.

WHAT THE FUCK, Denny?! Seriously, did you swallow sea water and have it flood your brain? THIS IS NOT HOW YOU SHOW GRATITUDE, YOU PRICK.

Yeah, I know he’s infatuated. I know he’s crushing on Elizabeth. EVEN SO.

Todd fucks off in a lime-sucking huff. Elizabeth isn’t happy.

Cutting to the Unicorner, we discover our Unicorn friends all mocking Denny for his overblown reactions to Elizabeth’s rescue. Apparently, he’s circulating a petition to have the school create an Elizabeth Wakefield Day.

Janet is NOT PLEASED. And she blames Elizabeth herself.

Janet didn’t seem to think it was funny at all. “That does it,” she sputtered angrily. She turned toward Jessica. “I’ve had it with that publicity-grubbing sister of yours.”

Thankfully, most of the Unicorns side with Jessica on this, and think Janet is being unreasonable. Janet doubles down, and brings out one of the big guns…

“And it’s fine with you that your sister’s getting all the attention?”

“Sure,” Jessica said. “She deserves it.”

“Take a look over there,” Janet said in a nasty voice, pointing over Jessica’s shoulder.

All the girls turned to look. Jessica’s eyes flew open in surprise.

Aaron Dallas, Jessica’s sort-of boyfriend, was sitting next to Elizabeth, hanging on every word she said.

Jessica, hoist by her own petard! She’d sexed up the rescue dossier to Aaron, and here he was, asking Liz if she was afraid of the non-existent lightning!

Serves you right, Jess.

That night, Elizabeth has a nightmare. In it, she relives the exaggerated version of the rescue, complete with fifteen foot waves, thunder and lightning, and sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads.

She is so distressed, the nightmare pushes her out of bed. I’m sure that only happens in the movies.

“That does it,” she said out loud. She got up, straightened out her blankets, and crawled back into bed. “Denny can walk me to school tomorrow, but it’s the last time.”

Denny Jacobson was taking over her days, and now he was ruining her nights. She’d never stop having these dreams until he and everybody else quit talking about the rescue all the time.

Yeah, this is straight PTSD, isn’t it? I actually feel for her here.

And Denny is a MELON. [Dove: Again, I feel for her. Not only is she having PTSD from the near-drowning, but she’s constantly on edge in her day-to-day life thanks to Denny. She’s not getting a break from anything. Nobody is supporting her, and her useless parents haven’t done anything but tell her to shut up and be proud of herself. Nobody has said, “Gosh, that must have been frightening.” and let her talk.]

We cut to school, to find Elizabeth hiding behind a bank of lockers. Anything to escape the attentions of Denny Jacobson. Amy discovers her, and has a giggle over the situation.

Elizabeth checks that the coast is clear, and makes a run for it.

It doesn’t work. Denny spots her, and demands that he walk her home to show his gratitude.

Denny reached over and put his hand on the strap of her backpack.

But Elizabeth pulled it back. “Don’t you have anything better to do than follow me around?” she snapped, her patience finally giving out.

Denny’s face fell and his eyes widened in disbelief.

See, this is why Denny is a bellend. The whole gratitude thing is framed in how HE feels, how HE wants to do things. And Elizabeth just has to go along with it to keep the peace, to make sure HE feels good about the exchange. Seriously, this is borderline abuse.

I mean, if it wasn’t canon that Elizabeth has no spine, I’d be flipping tables. [Dove: I’m very concerned that Wing will explode and take out our servers.] [Wing: On the one hand, I expect no ghostie to actually know the canon, so it’s hard to use that to read this part. However, it is also ingrained in me that Elizabeth has no spine, so it’s hard to get worked up over her going along with whatever’s happening. On the third hand (I’m Stitch!), Raven’s not wrong that this is being written as an abusive relationship whether it’s meant to be or not.]

In a brief snap-cut to Janet and Jessica, we find that Janet still blames Elizabeth for leading Denny astray. And she demands that Jessica sorts it out. If Jessica can’t stop Elizabeth from apparently leading Denny astray, Jessica can kiss her dreams of being a Teen Health Fair hostess goodbye.

Back at the Wakefield Compound, Jessica confronts her bestalked sister, who reveals the next step in Denny’s infatuation. Denny is sitting outside the Compound… waiting.

“What’s he doing?” Jessica asked uneasily.

“He’s decided that walking me to school isn’t enough,” Elizabeth groaned. “So he’s waiting for me to come out and ask him to do something. I wonder if he’ll ever go home, or if he plans on sleeping out there. He’s got to get hungry at some point.”

THIS IS INAPPROPRIATE. [Dove: That’s stalking.] [Wing: Jesus christ, Wakefield parents DO SOMETHING. Denny’s parents may not know what he’s doing exactly, BUT YOU FUCKING DO.]

As the girls look on, Jessica has a Jessica moment, and comes up with a plan of attack. Attagirl, Jess. There’s the special schemer we all love so much.

As Jessica tells Elizabeth what to do, offscreen of course, we cut to Steven and Cathy having an argument about how self-absorbed Steven is. Apparently, he made eight shots at Basketball Practice, and won’t shut up about it, even though Cathy made ten shots herself.

Eventually, they have a tiff and Cathy storms off. Which leaves Steven in a prime position to head up the Sub Plot: the attempted wooing of Pam Martin.

Aside:

Spoiler – I REALLY REALLY HATE THIS SUB PLOT.

Unlike Dove, I actually quite like Steven. He’s a buffoon, but he serves a purpose.

However, in THIS book, I FUCKING DETEST HIM.

For some reason, he’s decided that he fancies a New Girl, Pam Martin. And, even though he has a girlfriend, he comes over all Ross Geller “we were on a break” and cack-handedly flirts with Pam in order to start up a relationship with her outside of Cathy’s knowledge.

The twins, who both like Cathy and were instrumental in their getting together, apparently don’t give a flying fuck about it, even though they know he’s doing it.

His best friend Joe (Janet’s older brother), who’s single, also flirts with Pam – much more successfully that Steven – yet Steven thinks Joe is cock-blocking him. Steven is entitled to Pam’s affection, see. FUCKING PRICK.

Eventually, once all Steven’s flirting and scheming gets him nowhere with Pam, he “realises” that Cathy is great after all, and rekindles his thing with her. With no consequences, or growth, or closure, or fucking ANYTHING. It’s fucking abhorrent. Yay Steven.

Maybe I’m being ungenerous. Maybe the fact that he’s fourteen, and that relationships between fourteen year olds are supposed to be transitory and flighty, is enough to explain this narrative. But frankly, I’s not buying it.

This whole sub plot seems off. I believe that Francine Pascal basically outlined this book for the ghostie without realising that Steven has a girlfriend. “Sub plot? Hmmm… Steven flirts badly with a new girl. Bosh, done. Next.” Then the ghostie had to realise that outline without affecting the status quo. [Dove: If the series was a bit less… well, crap on every level, this could actually be a book about the entitlement of guys, where it starts and how to spot the warning flags. Instead, it’s a “fun romp” that teaches everyone to just nod and smile until the situation resolves itself.] [Wing: Ugh, yes. CATHY YOU DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS SERIES.]

Either way, I refuse to give this steaming turd of a sub plot any air time. In my recap, I’ll outline the basics of the action to keep things rolling. But that’s it. No commentary, other than this rant at the outset.

This subplot ruined a perfectly adequate book for me. And soured me against Steven for what I expect will be many books to come.

Awful. Just awful.

End aside.

SUB PLOT: Steven tells Joe he wants to play the field with new girl Pam Martin. Joe tells him to talk to her. He does, but she no-sirs him. Joe talks to her with much more success. Eventually Pam recognises him as “the brother of the girl in the paper, that saved that boy from drowning.” Steven accuses Joe of getting in the way of him and Pam. Joe and Steven vow to both go after Pam at that Friday’s Pool Club.

We cut to Friday, with the twins cycling towards Pool Club. Jessica promises that her plan, as yet unrevealed, will cure Denny of his infatuation, and get Janet of Jessica’s back.

Elizabeth shows genre savviness and tells Jessica that her plans are largely terrible.

According to the plan, Danny meets them at the Pool Club. The Pool Club which is, apparently, packed to the rafters with prospective swimmers.

So, the Pool Club is a thing, is it? EIGHTY BOOKS DOWN, and I’ve never heard of it before. I know this is the way the series works, but it’s a bit weird. Here’s hoping they get really weird by the end of the series. “What do you mean, ‘I’ve never heard of Slap A Walrus Wednesday?!’ We do this every week!” *slaps walrus* [Dove: That’s why we have the tag That brand new tradition we’ve always had.]

There were a few people in the pool, but most of the kids were sitting around the tables on the grass, eating big plates of food. Big speakers were set up all around the patio, and loud rock and roll blasted out over the pool area.

Sounds fun.

Elizabeth orders two submarine sandwiches, an order which causes the server to pause.

The man pushed his white paper hat farther back on his head and gave Jessica and Elizabeth a curious look. “They’re pretty big, you know. Most people split one.”

At first I thought this was more fat shaming, but as it’s all part of Jessica’s plan it gets a hard pass.

Denny has joined them – obviously – and watches while Elizabeth eats her sandwich, AND Jessica’s sandwich.

“Don’t you think you should go easy if you’re planning to swim?” Denny asked Elizabeth uneasily. “You’re not really supposed to swim after you’ve eaten. And you’ve already eaten one huge sandwich.”

Elizabeth pooh-poohs this as an old wives’ tale through a mouthful of Hearty Italian, which I’m glad about, as that whole this has been debunked as nonsense long ago. It’s a lie put about by tired parents who can’t be arsed chaperoning their kids in the pool immediately after eating.

Jessica inner-monologues the plan:

  • Elizabeth eats a lot
  • Elizabeth swims
  • Elizabeth feigns a cramp
  • Denny rescues her
  • ?
  • Profit

Fifteen minutes after eating, and Jessica gives the nod. The lifeguard has popped off for a wee, and Denny is poolside, albeit lounging on a chair with a magazine over his face. The signal is given, and Elizabeth springs into action.

She swims to the deep end, and begins fake flailing.

“Help!” Elizabeth shouted, her voice just barely audible over the music. “Help!”

Jessica watched Denny eagerly, waiting for him to jump up and race to the rescue. But he didn’t move. He just lay there like a beached whale.

Of course it fails. Of course it does.

Denny, oblivious to Liz’s theatrics, ignores the whole thing. Liz hams it up more and more, with onlookers curious as to whether this was real or tomfoolery.

Eventually, a bystander cannonballs into the pool to stage a dramatic rescue.

It’s AMY!

So close…

The water made an explosive noise when Amy and Elizabeth broke the surface. Amy was determinedly towing her to the side of the pool.

Elizabeth hissed. “Cut it out.”

Amy gasped. “Elizabeth! Are you all right?”

Elizabeth took Amy’s arm from around her neck and glared at her. “Yes, I’m all right. Now, would you please go away?”

Amy is rightfully pissed off once Elizabeth clues her in on the plan. But she’s not as angry as the now-empty-of-wee lifeguard, who tears Elizabeth a new arsehole for being reckless and irreverent in the water. Even the manager gets in on the act, although in classic Wakefield Twin style, he shouts at Jessica instead.

Don’t worry, Jessica. Having an identical twin will come in very handy for alibi purposes when they finally excavate the Mercandy backyard.

While Jessica is being reamed by the manager (careful), and Elizabeth and Amy are chatting in the women’s locker room, Denny, the monumental bum-crumpet, decides to go for a swim…

Elizabeth looked over at the pool and saw Denny bobbing awkwardly. There was something strange about the way he was swimming—his movements were sort of jerky. And his face was contorted and white.

“Oh my gosh,” Elizabeth gasped. “He looks like he’s in trouble.”

Really? REALLY?!

This kid is a fucking liability.

Seriously, Elizabeth. Let the fucker drown. [Dove: That was my thought. And I’d wager a shiny penny that Wing thought it too.] [Wing: Here, have two shiny pennies.]

She doesn’t of course.

“Denny!” she screamed, running toward the pool and diving in headfirst.

That’s right, folks. Not only was Jessica’s plan a total bust, it actually led to Denny being rescued by Elizabeth… again.

SUB PLOT: Steven and Joe flirt with Pam at the Pool Club, and see Elizabeth saving Denny.

After his second saving, Denny is super special double diamond grateful. The lifeguard scolds him for swimming on a full stomach (BULLSHIT), and Janet scowls from the sidelines. Denny declares that Elizabeth is no longer his hero… she’s his guardian angel.

SUB PLOT: Joe tells Steven he’s sick of Janet making his home life a misery because of Elizabeth’s constant rescuing. Actually, I guess this is PLOT rather than SUB PLOT, so it’s fine. Apparently, if Janet is pissed off, the whole Howell Family must also be pissed off, because nothing improves a bad mood than spreading it around.

Joe shook his head and groaned. “Ever since this thing with Elizabeth and Denny started, Janet’s been a nightmare to live with. She’s jealous. And when Janet’s not happy, she makes everybody else in the family miserable—me especially. Things got really tense around my house last night. Would you believe I went out to the garage and hid inside a giant tooth?”

Haha! The tooth. Love it. [Dove: Genuine lol from me here.]

We cut to the Wakefield Compound that evening. The Wakefields are not happy. Why, I hear you ask? Because Denny Jacobson is serenading Elizabeth from outside her window.

Ned’s fuming, and demands his wife scare the boy away. Alice, showing exactly where Elizabeth inherits her lack of spine from, posits that Denny will fuck off home when it goes dark. Way to be proactive, you gin-addled harridan.

Steven, Liz and Jessica share banter and whinings about Denny’s continued stalky behaviour. Eventually, Steven hits on an idea… expanding on Jessica’s plan to make Denny feel heroic, he suggests that Denny is set up to save Elizabeth from a mugger.

The mugger? Joe Howell.

Aside:

I actually quite like Denny’s behaviour, now that he’s officially gone Full-On Ludicrous.

Some of the lyrics he’s caterwauling are entertaining…

“My hero is brave, my hero is true, and she’s a good swimmer tooooo.”

“My hero’s name is Lizzie. She’s really smart, not dizzy.”

Lovely stuff.

The sub plot still ruins this book, but there are some nice moments.

End aside.

Steven phones Joe and asks for his help with the plan. He’s in. Apparently, his sister Janet is being a FUCKING NIGHTMARE.

“Then Janet won’t have to be jealous of Elizabeth anymore,” Joe said excitedly. “Which means she’ll stop making my life miserable. You wouldn’t believe how nasty she’s been since Elizabeth pulled Denny out of the pool this afternoon. I told her to get a life, and she didn’t take it too well. Get this. She went through my book bag until she found a quiz that I flunked, and then she took it and showed it to my dad.”

“Wow!” Steven breathed. “That’s cruel.”

“My dad was already in a horrible mood because of that giant tooth that’s in our garage. It’s taking up so much room he can’t get his car in there and he’s had to park it on the street. He totally lost it.”

Proper lolled at another tooth callback.

SUB PLOT: Steven asks Joe to “mug” him too. Joe thinks it’s to impress Cathy, so agrees. It’s to impress Pam. After Joe “mugs” Elizabeth and Danny on Saturday, he’ll “mug” Steven straight after.

Saturday arrives, and Denny carries Elizabeth’s backpack from the Library. It’s full of heavy books on the Roman Empire. He apologises for cutting short his “concert” from the previous day. Apparently, after three hours of singing, the neighbours had called the police.

Hah!

Once they arrive at the designated place, Elizabeth looks at her watch. Joe is due any second. Right on cue, he springs from the bushes, looking the part in shabby clothes and a ski mask.

The most confusing mugger

Elizabeth let out a little shriek, and Denny gasped in surprise as Joe stood right in front of them, blocking their path.

“Gimme yer jewelry and credit cards,” Joe growled.

“Oh no!” Elizabeth cried in a frightened voice.

“We don’t have jewelry and credit cards,” Denny argued. “We’re middle-school students.” [Wing: I can’t believe I laughed at this, but I did. Out loud.]

“Oh,” Joe said blankly. He shifted his weight to his other foot, clearly at a loss for words. “Then gimme yer lunch money!”

Again, another great exchange. Gimme yer jewelry and credit cards!

Unfortunately for Joe, the plan works too well. Denny slams the backpack of Roman Empire books into Joe’s stomach, winding him. The boys then square up in boxing stances, and begin actually fighting.

Fists fly left and right, and Elizabeth becomes concerned.

Elizabeth bit her knuckles. This was getting totally out of hand. Joe seemed to have completely forgotten it was just a pretend fight. He was really pummeling Denny.

Joe is winning the fight, so Elizabeth springs into action. She jumps onto Joe’s back, and twists his arm to breaking point. Joe cries in pain, shakes her off, and scarpers.

For those playing along at home, that’s three Denny Rescues at Elizabeth’s fair hand.

Denny’s eyes began to glow. Elizabeth felt her heart sink right down into her stomach.

This book is fucking Groundhog Day. Mr Nydick has fluffed himself and saw his shadow, and we have three more months of rescues. It’s Dennyception.

SUB PLOT: Steven waits with an impatient Pam at some random corner. Before Pam leaves in an irritated strop, Joe the “mugger” approaches, and runs straight past. Steven declares the passing jogger is dangerous, chases him, and tackles him to the ground. Joe tells Steven to fuck off and continues running. Pam tells Steven he’s weird.

Back at Joe’s house, the conspirators debrief. It is agreed that the whole thing was a debacle.. They all blame Steven for having the asinine idea in the first place.

Later, the three Wakefields bemoan their situation. Steven made a fool of himself in front of Pam (who the fuck cares, you obnoxious little shit?). Jessica is still in Janet’s bad books. And Elizabeth is still the focus of Denny’s attention. It’s time for Plan C. Which I suspect will be even more like Plan A that Plan B was.

Watch out for those Wakefields, they’re a doozy!

It’s suddenly Monday, and both Jessica and Elizabeth get ready to head to school super early… but Denny is already at his post outside the Compound.

They decide to take the detour (again), to dodge having Denny’s company for the journey. Elizabeth hopes that Denny has kept the mugger story to himself.

When they arrive at school, she discovers that DENNY HAS TOLD EVERYONE. Standard.

“Denny must have spent all of last night on the phone,” Elizabeth moaned. “This is just awful. I feel like a complete phony.”

“You’re not a complete phony,” Jessica argued. “Just a two-thirds phony. Don’t forget, you saved Denny’s life for real two times.”

Hah! Nice work, Jess!

Predictably, the SVMS student body have been told wildly inaccurate versions of the mugging, stories that verge from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some think a knife was involved. Some think a gun.

The boys in particular are interested in Elizabeth’s newfound heroism. Ken Matthews even suggests that Elizabeth Wakefield take the place of Janet Howell as the Sweet Valley Middle School representative at the upcoming Teen Health Fair, which to be fair is probably what the organisers wanted all along, with Elizabeth’s invite being lost in the post.

Elizabeth is not happy with how things are panning out. Janet still hates her, but it seems that the other girls of Sweet Valley Middle School are similarly cooling to her, as their respective beaus ply her with interesting questions about how to become absolute weapons. In fact, the only boy without an interest in Elizabeth is Todd Wilkins.

Poor Elizabeth!

Even Amy is a little pissed off.

“I don’t know why they’re acting like this,” Amy said later as she and Elizabeth hurried to their lockers between periods. “All I can tell you is that I’ve heard the story four times—and each time it was more dramatic.” She smiled bleakly. “According to Ken, you single-handedly fought off a bunch of terrorists carrying automatic weapons.”

Hah! How very Back to the Future.

The callous murder of Doc Brown reflected very badly on the Libyans.

[Wing: Jesus, the girls in this series are fucked up. GHOSTIES, WHY MUST YOU WRITE GIRL ON GIRL HATE? WHY?]

Amy departs with a good natured warning, leaving Janet Howell to approach and call Elizabeth a “Boyfriend stealer.”

Elizabeth does her best to convince Janet that she actually hates all the attention, and that Denny will cool to her once everyone moves onto the Next Big Thing. She even tells Janet that if she had been in Elizabeth’s shoes on the fateful days of rescue, she’d have done exactly the same things.

For a second, it actually works… until Bruce Patman wades in a fires up the animosity once more.

“I’ve seen Janet swim. She couldn’t rescue a beach ball from the water,” he said. “And if she ever saw a mugger—”

Janet is tweaked and angry once more. As Bruce tells the world that Elizabeth should be the Teen Health Fair representative, Janet vows to strike Elizabeth down.

“That does it,” Janet fumed as Bruce swaggered away. “I told Jessica that you were making the Unicorns look bad. And this proves it. You’re going to be sorry, Elizabeth Wakefield.”

We cut to an emergency after-school Unicrn meeting, where it becomes apparent that Janet is deadly serious. She suggests that the Unicorns have a public relations problem, and that problem’s name is Elizabeth.

With the rest of the Unicors behind her in support, Janet removes Jessica from the short-list of potential Teen Health Fair hostesses. She can attend in a non-Unicorn capacity, but she is forbidden to wear purple until further notice.

“Unless?” Jessica asked hopefully.

“Unless you find some way to stop this… Elizabethmania once and for all.”

Aside:

ELIZABETHMANIA!

I would watch the SHIT out of that wrestling PPV. The Showcase of the Insipids.

  • The Wakefield Twins as the Bellas. [Dove: Jessica to Liz: I WISH YOU DIED IN THE WOMB!]
  • Lila Fowler as Charlotte Flair.
  • Lois Waller as Kharma.
  • Ginny Lou Culpepper as Becky Lynch.
  • Ellen Riteman as Bailey.
  • Anna Wu as Asuka.

And the boys…

  • Todd Wilkins as John Cena. [Dove: THE CHUMP IS HERE.]
  • Dennis Cookman as Brock Lesnar.
  • Winston Egbert as John “Slo-Mo Jo-Mo” Morrison
  • Bruce Patman as Dolph Ziggler. [Dove: I’d have swapped Bruce and Winston, as Winston would be the crowd favourite. That said, Bruce seems the type to wear Ziggler’s ring gear. Only without Dolph’s cheerful irony.]
  • Tony Rizzo as Eddie Guererro.
  • Ken Matthews as Hornswoggle.

Any more suggestions?

[Dove: Please can someone write this? Raven?]

End aside.

Jessica, faced with actual expulsion from the Purple Palace, decides that Elizabeth is, in fact, to blame for the whole affair.

SUB PLOT: Steven overhears Pam bad-mouthing him to her friend. Again, she questions how such an idiot can be related to Elizabeth “Wakefiend” Wakefield. Angrily, Steven blames Liz for the fact that he is a twat.

At dinner that evening, the Elder Wakefields continue praising Liz for her original beach rescue. Her siblings, however, are not joining in. In fact, they have faces like thunder. They both offer bitchy comments in response, buy Ned shuts that shit down good.

“A lot of nice things have been said about your sister recently and the message that’s coming through loud and clear is that you’re both jealous of her.”

“Dad,” Elizabeth began to protest. Whatever else he had to say on the subject would probably just make things worse.

“Please don’t interrupt me, Elizabeth,” Mr. Wakefield said. “Petty jealousy like this makes you look childish,” he said, turning his attention back to Jessica and Steven. “Grow up. That’s an order.”

Fucking hell, Ned. Actual parenting? Misguided parenting, but parenting nonetheless.

Jessica and Steven continue badmouthing Elizabeth as the three of them head to their rooms. Elizabeth starts thinking perhaps she’d better cultivate a real friendship with Denny, as soon he’ll be the only person left talking to her.

Eventually, Steven spits one barbed comment too many, and Elizabeth flips.

That does it!” Elizabeth exploded. She slammed the front door shut. “I’ve had it with you guys! I’ve had it with Denny and Janet and everybody else, too! You think I like what’s been happening to me? I hate this! I wish like anything that Janet had been on the beach that day instead of me! I wish she could have saved Denny and that she was Denny’s hero!”

AT LAST! You go, girl! It’s taken you what, ten chapters and over one hundred pages, but at last, we get to the crux of things.

This pithy outburst leads Steven and Jessica to the idea that will save the situation.

“Don’t you see?” Steven said breathlessly. “We’ve been going about this thing all wrong. We’ve been trying to make a hero out of Denny.”

Elizabeth nodded. “So? What’s wrong with that?”

Steven exchanged a knowing smile with Joe and Jessica. “The person we need to make a hero out of is Janet,” Jessica said, unable to suppress a giggle.

The three of them decamp to their rooms to plan out the vinegar strokes of the book. After roping in a gaggle of bit-parts and nearly-men, Thunderbirds are Go!

First, Maria Slater uses her acting skills to get Janet into position. She suggests some professional makeup product that would make Janet’s complexion pop while she gives her Teen Health Fair speech, and informs her that there’s one packet left at the Plaza Pharmacy. Janet takes the bait and heads over.

Next, Amy and Elizabeth track down an inexplicably nowhere-to-be-found Denny, and drag him to the intersection by Plaza Pharmacy.

After some in-shop shenanegans, Janet exits the store an heads to the intersection, just as Denny crosses. Right on cue.

Then? The plan unfolds!

“Look out! We can’t stop!” somebody shouted.

There was a skidding, roaring sound. When Jessica and Janet turned their heads, they saw Janet’s giant molar costume skidding down the steep incline of Pine Street on two pairs of roller skates.

“Omigod! It’s my tooth!” Janet screamed. “And it’s out of control!”

Hahaha! I actually love the tooth in this book. It’s legit the best thing in it. [Dove: Who’d have thought a tooth would be a shoo-in for best supporting character?]

As the tooth, “driven” by Joe and Sam, caroms down the road, EVERYONE screams at Janet to dive in and save Denny. But Janet is rooted to the spot.

Thankfully, it’s Maria to rescue… to the plan’s rescue, not Denny’s rescue. She hurls herself into Janet, who stumbles into Denny just in time.

Janet smashed into Denny.

“Yeow!” Denny shouted in surprise as the force of Janet’s body sent him flying, knocking him out of the way just as the giant tooth went speeding by, narrowly missing Denny and moving so fast it was practically a blur.

To be honest, this whole plan is really fucking dangerous. That tooth is a fucking killing machine. I do enjoy the fact that it reminds me of the denouement to Back to the Future, though. Without the time travelling aspect, of course.

The tooth crashes into a bush, in which Steven has been keeping watch for his part of the plan. Sam, Joe and Steven collapse in a toothy heap, laughing all the while.

As for the plan? It works a charm. Janet and Denny are finally mutually smitten. Denny has a new hero, and it reflects well on the Unicorns.

SUB PLOT: Pam and Cathy approach Steven and the Tooth Crew. Pam is unimpressed. Cathy laughs along with Steven. Steven realises he really likes Cathy after all. And that’s the end of that shitshow.

The final chapter sees Janet give her speech on Orthodontia, with Jessica as a graceful hostess alongside Mandy and Mary. In the tooth? Lila, Tamara and Grace.

Finally, the twins discuss the possibility of Sweet Valley having an earthquake. Random. It does lead to another of Dove’s favourite ridiculous answers-itself questions…

Could there be an earthquake in Sweet Valley? Find out in Sweet Valley Twins No. 75, Jessica and the Earthquake.

Hmm. Pretty sure that’s a “yes”.

Final Thoughts:

I disliked this book, primarily because the Sub Plot was terrible.

There were some funny lines, and the callbacks to the Tooth costume made me laugh a lot. The original rescue was dramatic, and I also enjoyed the intricacies of the final plan working out, inspired as it so obviously is by the first Back to the Future movie in which Marty has to get his father George to rescue his mum from Biff. But even without the clusterfuck of a sub plot, the book felt repetitive. With the sub plot? A definite duffer. And then there’s the pancake fat shaming.

I won’t forgive Steven in a hurry.

[Dove: Overall “meh” from me. If I’d been recapping, I might have been more spiteful than Raven, but merely reading let me enjoy the tooth shenaningans, feel for Liz (for once), and hate Steven (business as usual). The Wakefield parents were fucking useless as normal, Jessica’s schemes were fun, and every time the tooth rocked up, it made me chuckle. But Denny’s smothering of Elizabeth was actually uncomfortable – whether because of the subject or just because I’m unused to caring about how she feels – and Steven’s sub-plot was obnoxious at best.]

[Wing: CATHY YOU’RE TOO GOOD FOR ALL OF THIS. I liked Elizabeth a lot in this book, except for her going along with Jessica’s plans, but that’s pretty standard for her. I thought her ongoing delayed reaction and her admitting that she was terrified when she did the thing were fantastic, and the Giant Tooth was ridiculous in the very best way.

EARTHQUAKE BOOK. I’m excited. Though we have a special edition before it.]

Looking back at things I've enjoyed, and smashing them to pieces with the Snark-Hammer. Lover of games of every stripe and hue. NOT A REAL BIRD.

 Category: Sweet Valley Twins

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