Sweet Valley Twins #95: The Battle of the Cheerleaders by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #95: The Battle of the Cheerleaders by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Battle of the Cheerleaders

Tagline: Aaron Dallas? In a skirt?

Summary: War between the sexes…

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have joined the girls’ basketball team. They ask the boys’ team to come and root for them—it’s only fair, since the Boosters cheer at every one of the boys’ games. But the boys say no way—girls’ sports are stupid.

Outraged, the girls boycott the boys’ games. And once the Boosters stop cheering, the undefeated boys’ team starts losing… and keeps losing.

The superstitious boys are getting desperate. They need the girls in order to win. After the boys beg and beg, the girls finally agree to come back under one condition: they not only want the boys to come to their games, they want boy cheerleaders!

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t really have any beyond the fact that the last line of the last book was that the twins were like, “OMG! Why have I never played basketball before? It’s super awesome!” and my feeling was very much: They have.

In fact, Jessica’s hobby of choice was basketball in Steven’s Enemy… admittedly because of the wide array of cute boys that play it, but even so, she cared then. And I’m sure in the earlier books before we started tracking such things, she’s played on the school team. [Raven: Elizabeth also coached Ken Matthews to a standard that allowed him to win a spot on the team. With a tennis ball.] [Wing: #4, Choosing Sides, is where Elizabeth coached Ken after Steven, basketball genius (and apparently coaching genius, too) failed. In #20, Playing Hooky, Jessica’s the fucking star of the SVMS sixth grade girls basketball team. #47, Jessica’s New Look, has at least one of her dates with Aaron to watch the Lakers play. #82 is Steven’s Enemy, in case you want to go back and see yet another book where Jessica discovered her love of basketball. So yeah, I’m going to have a hard time giving this book a fair chance because I am so goddamn annoyed that (a) the twins are discovering basketball all over again, (b) they have to create a sixth grade girls basketball team, and (c) I’m pretty sure there’s a continuity error around the boys team, too.]

Also, Jessica’s been on a bunch of dates with Aaron to see the Lakers play – partly because Aaron was wowed by Jessica’s obvious knowledge and enjoyment of the game, rather than just “yay, date!”

So basically, I’m coming in to a completely new book with a chip on my shoulder thanks to the clumsiness of the previous Jamie, who may well not be this Jamie.

Also, it’s about sexism, so, y’know, I suspect I’ll be a mite tetchy throughout.

Note: Any spelling mistakes or random lines of characters should have been edited out. But if not, I have kittens. Kittens who think the tippy-tappy of my soft keyboard is the most magic thing ever and must be pounced on.

Recap:

Saturday, Wakefield compound. We open with Steven playing basketball in the driveway, killing time before he’s due to meet Joe Howell. He’s dreaming of making varsity, then getting a scholarship and being recruited by the NBA. After 15 years of playing and gaining sponsorships, he can retire to a gauche beach house and… I guess eat, since those are the only two hobbies he has. Spoilers: none of that happens. I think I’m glad about that. If anyone deserves not to live their dreams, it’s Steven. He has no soul.

While he’s practicing, he’s also working on his backup plan in case of injury or more talented up-and-comers, and… damn, that’s so practical I’m not even sure what to do with it. His backup plan is coaching, so he’s up for the assistant coach job for Sweet Valley Middle School basketball camp, which is running in the summer. [Raven: He also does the fucking annoying thing of just assuming that all this will happen, which annoys me to no end. Only bellends have zero internal self-doubt.]

As a side note, Steven can’t wait to have a harem of twelve year olds fawning all over him. I mean, he claims he wants them hanging on his every word, but given how many times he gets overly into the twinsfriends, I can’t help but add my own interpretation. [Wing: Well, at that point 12-year-old boys, who aren’t usually his targets.]

He sees his sisters through the window and beckons them to join him, reasoning that if he can coach the twins, he can coach anyone.

Over with the twins, Jessica has plans to hit the mall and check out the sale at Valley Fashions, while Elizabeth plans to hang with Amy and eat at Spuds ‘n’ Stuffin’. They both judge each other hard for their choices in life. And ignore their brother.

Eventually he comes into the house to fetch them. Since they have nothing better to do, they join him and end up having fun. They generally love ganging up on him, and are both naturally talented at this game they’ve never played before (I guess all those other books are alternate universes?) [Raven: If they are presented as rank amatuers, it galls me that they swish 3-pointers like it’s throwing pennies in the sea. Basketball is HARD.]

Also, apparently the swimming pool is now next to the front drive, because once the game is done, the banter kicks in and the twins firmly defend their position that they are natural athletes and could kick the collective ass of Steven and his friends, while he maintains that it was his coaching that led to their success. Jessica then pushes him into the pool.

Sure, the drive could extend all the way down the house and into the backyard, but the cover of the first book doesn’t imply that at all, so I’m just going to pretend that the Wakefields’ above-ground pool tip-toed into the front yard overnight and everyone’s freaked out but pretending it’s fine.

(This is how I imagine my Sims feel when they get home from work and what used to be a one-bedroom house is now a six bedroom mansion with a pool.)

Sunday afternoon, Sweet Valley Park. The Unicorns are lazing at the park, and apparently Lila and Jessica have been friends since second grade, which kind of flies in the face of Best Friends, but probably ties in with Sweet Valley Kids. [Wing: SO MANY CONTINUITY ERRORS. WHY, GHOSTIE, WHY?] They decide to soak up some sun a bit longer, then continue the meeting by Jessica’s pool.

Elizabeth rollerblades past with Maria, Amy and Julie – a full showing of Team Boring, instead of the top two. The Unicorns comment that they’re probably getting all sweaty and gross. Mandy says that sweat is actually good, it clears out your pores. Jessica then brings up how much fun she had, despite the sweat, beating Steven at basketball. Her friends are incredulous, since they know Steven has two defining features: eating and basketball.

They spot the boys from school playing Horse, which is not explained, so I have no clue what this means, other than it involves shooting baskets. [Raven: Horse is pretty common. As a kid, I used to play a version with my mates where you kicked a football (not a handegg) against smallish garage wall, spelling out a five-letter-word that could have been H-O-R-S-E but could equally have been P-E-N-I-S.] [Wing: Wait, just kick it against the wall? From different angles? What caused you to earn letters? In basketball, Dove, you make different shots set by the first person, and whoever misses gets a letter. Usually it devolves into silliness with the shots (e.g., eyes closed, underhand while facing away from the basket, etc.] [Raven: You got a letter if you missed the wall. Game was to kick your turn in such a way to make the next kicker’s turn difficult, as they had to kick it from wherever it landed.] They are not doing well, so Jessica challenges them to let her play too.

Bruce Patman and Rick Hunter “guffaw loudly” in response, but Aaron Dallas says why not. Bruce says because it’s boys only and what if Jessica falls over and starts crying? When has Jessica ever fallen over and cried? Team Boring skates over and throws their weight behind Jessica’s attempt to join. [Wing: I HATE YOU BRUCE PATMAN.]

Bruce realises he’s outvoted. He throws the ball had at Jessica, who catches it and throws it through the hoop. What follows probably makes sense if you understand the game, but various letters in the word “horse” are awarded as Jessica makes effortless basket after basket. [Raven: I quite like the game descriptions throughout the book, as they are deliberate and exacting.]

We pop into Bruce’s point of view, and it’s just as charming as we might imagine.

Bruce grit his teeth. Why did he have to listen to this? What was worse, more of Jessica’s airhead friends came over to watch, and soon there was a whole bevy of nosy females standing around and squealing like pigs every time Jessica made a basket.

But he does refer to Elizabeth as Jessica’s “evil twin”, so that’s something. But he wonders what America is coming to a simple game of Horse is taken over by “pesky females”. I definitely see a red baseball cap in Bruce’s voting future.

[Wing: I H A T E Y O U B R U C E P A T M A N. (I may have blown my all caps too early in this recap when it comes to Bruce, so we’ll see what kind of weirdness I get up to.]

After 15 minutes, Elizabeth, Janet, Lila and Maria have all joined the game. Bruce has H-O-R-S, which I assume is good [Raven: Nope… the opposite. You take it in turns to have a shot, and if you miss a basket, you get a letter (starting with H, then O, etc). If you spell out HORSE, you’re out.], and the girls have between H and H-O. He bows out and leaves the girls playing. All the other boys have left too, but the girls – every one present – are having an awesome time.

It’s getting dark before they stop playing. They didn’t even notice the boys leaving, but they’ve had an awesome time. Lila comments it’s much more fun playing than when they have to in gym.

Belinda Layton comments that it would be awesome if they had a girls’ basketball team. Jessica says they should. [Wing: THEY ALREADY FUCKING HAVE A TEAM. And both Jessica and Elizabeth play on it. And Belinda joins, back when she was Billie and her brother hadn’t stolen her name yet, wtf. And when Jessica gets suspended before the championship game, Ken is furious that she will cost the team their win. Because — he’s — on — a — coed — team — with — her? What? And in fact thanks to Twin magic, Jessica leads the team to a championship win. SO. YOU KNOW. FUCK CONTINUITY, HUH GHOSTIE?!] Elizabeth adds it would be sexist if they were refused, since the boys’ team exists already. It’s nearly the end of the season, but who cares? And those of them that are Boosters already know all their routines, so they can just phone it in.

Uh… if it’s nearly the end of the season, how are you going to play? I assume that the season exists to whittle down the teams from EVERYONE to TWO TOP TEAMS and the final game of the season is between the plucky underdogs (possibly coached by Emilio Estevez) and the team that ALWAYS WINS (they probably have a threatening name “Ted Bundy Middle School” or maybe just “The Murderers”), and it’s a fight to the death over some kind of cup or banner or whatever. And then they play We Are the Champions by Queen.

So, if I’m right that the above is exactly how sportsball works, I don’t think you can mosey in at the one hour mark of the movie and be like, “Hey, can we play too? Yeah, I know like eight teams have been eliminated by now, but we didn’t exist at the beginning of the season, so, yeah, we’re just gonna slide in and pretend we didn’t just skip the queue.” [Raven: Hard agree. Although the knockout stages haven’t started yet, but many league games have happened already.] [Wing: I do agree that it’s way too late for them to start playing, but basket ball is still in regular season at this point in the story, so no one has been eliminated. That’ll happen soon.]

Monday afternoon, school. Coach Cassels says if they’d approached him at the start of the year, then it would be fine, but now it’s impossible. They’ll be starting regionals soon. Wait, what? So my Mighty Ducks paragraph above is regionals? So what have they been doing until now? Just playing as practice? For nearly the whole season? That seems badly organised.

“We know that,” Elizabeth broke in. “But there’s nothing in the rules that says we have to play a whole season to get to the regionals. If we get started now, we still have enough time. But we need a coach, and we need to practice.”

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND SPORTSBALL AND I AM NOT GOOGLING THIS SHIT. I don’t care enough. [Raven: Okay then… The League Season typically will see each team in the league play every other team at least once, maybe twice (once at their home ground and once at their opponent’s ground). Points are awarded for a win (say, three points for the winning team) and for a draw (say, one point for each team), with zero points for a loss. Once all the games have been played over a period of weeks and months, a number of teams with the most points get to enter the Knockout Stages (here, called the Regionals), qhich progress through quarter finals, semi finals, and the eventual finals. So here, the League Season has been going on for most of the year, and they are about to cut to the Knockout Stages. So the Girl’s Team are Definitely cutting the queue as they have no League Points. I suppose they could get a pass to the Knockout Stages if there are only three other female teams in the entire competition, so they NEED a fourth team to play in order to make up the numbers, but even so.] [Wing: That’s not entirely how it works for high school sports, but close enough. Each state runs their own system (and occasionally multiple systems with different rules) and often there aren’t points awarded just wins and losses tallied. Regular play tends to start in early to mid November with sectional playoffs beginning in late February or early March. The entire season, including playoffs, is usually done by the end of March. So they’re probably in early February at this point, far too close to create a new team (ESPECIALLY WHEN ONE ALREADY EXISTS OH MY GOD). Hockey also has regular season play and playoff play, including in the Mighty Ducks. Well, the first movie. The second one is a special situation and the third is about which team gets to be the team playing regular season games in the first place.]

The girls will have to find their own coach and play outside because the indoor courts are assigned to the current teams’ practice schedules. Also, they need to petition the local league to start their team, which is a formal letter giving the team name and the $45 registration fee, and it will get them slotted into the game schedule.

This seems like a lot of work. Team Boring can handle the letter, but nobody is interested in raising $45 (I guess we’re not asking Lila?). And yeah, there are a lot of books where the kids have to raise money. The Unicorns are the first to flag. They remember that sweat is kind of gross. And the uniforms aren’t the cutest.

And Jessica is the one to rally them. She points out that wouldn’t they rather be the team being cheered, instead of being a supporting act to the boys’ team. [Wing: I love that moment it hits them that have all been a supporting act for the boys and not the stars. Though that also kind of undercuts what happens later with how important the Boosters are.]

The Unicorns waver.

Jessica adds they could wear cuter uniforms.

The Unicorns cave.

Jessica, as always, could kick ass in PR.

Monday afternoon, Wakefield Compound. Steven daydreams of the admiration of a young boy when he should be filling out an application form for the assistant coach role. He’s stuck on the essay question part. He decides since the question was written by an adult, they want an answer about “teamwork and fair play and all that junk” (thank you, Mighty Ducks).

He aims for question two, but is interrupted by the twins. He tells them to fuck off, he’s working on his job application. Jessica thoughtfully says no, she has two crap TV shows to watch. Steven retaliates that they’re silly girls worrying about Malibu Barbie and he’s a dude with a future in a manly sport. Even though I love to hate Steven, I feel most of this is irritating big brother banter than the loathing that was present in Bruce’s POV. [Wing: I think it’s sibling irritation especially because they’re fighting over a specific part of the house, but I also think he’s sexist as hell.]

The twins quickly hit back with the news that they’re setting up an all-girl team to play the manly sport of basketball too. Steven says that it’s hard to play without smearing their mascara, and they both call him sexist.

They have to admit they don’t have a coach, but he should check them out – their ability, not just gawp at the tween girls, Steven. He says no. (But we all know he’ll be in the bushes with a lot of tissues.)

Tuesday afternoon, Gym. Julie and Elizabeth are covering the Sweet Valley Middle School/Big Mesa game for the Sixers. Julie comments the Boosters are whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Since Team Boring is working on a full roster at the moment and Amy is cheering with the Boosters, they’ve borrowed Sophia Rizzo to make up the numbers.

The Boosters even go so far as to spell out “Wolverines” which is, inexplicably, the name of the boys’ basketball team. That sounds like a lengthy and boring chant. [Raven: Same reason the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Lasers never got a great cheer squad, I suppose.] [Wing: And here is the boys basketball continuity error: THEY’RE CALLED THE FUCKING GLADIATORS. (Also, #goblue. It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine. Etc.) That being said, spelling out Wolverines is shorter than the cheer that spells out B E A G G R E S S I V E.] [Dove: Is anyone else freaked out that Wing is bringing the continuity? I made vague assumptions, but damn, this lady has receipts!] But not to Team Boring who are so into the game and the cheering they are breathless with excitement. Given that nobody has ever given a shit about the Boosters before, this is a rather sharp about-turn from Team Boring.

Obviously the Wolverines win, because, y’know, Sweet Valley. And now the girls are salivating at the idea of getting to play sportsball themselves.

To be fair, I think it’s actually adorable when Team Boring and the Unicorns join up for any reason, and the fact it’s got a girl power message is nice. It’s just a shame they’ve all played sport before, or the Unicorns have been openly disdainful about sports. It kind of takes the shine off. Still, I guess at this point the Sweet Valley factory assumes that most people haven’t read the full series, and probably missed Boys Against Girls, since that came out years before this.

Unknown time/day, mysterious location. Team Unibore have joined up to brainstorm names for their team. Obviously, it doesn’t go well. Suggestions are:

  • The Unicorn All-Stars (Janet)
  • The Girl Wolverines (Belinda Layton, who apparently is so confused about gender and naming after the trauma with her parents, that’s all she can come up with.)
  • The Amazons (Amy) [Raven: This gets my vote, probably because there is an Amazon Blood Bowl team, and they are ace.]
  • The Batchelorettes (Ellen. Of course.)
  • The Warriors (Maria, who points out they don’t need a girly name just because they’re girls)
  • The Peaches (Lila, who immediately ignores Maria’s point)
  • SVMS Magic (Julie)
  • The Honeybees (Jessica, remembering the Muhammad Ali quote)

Everyone loves this (except Lila, who thinks it’s a “fuzzy, flying insect with a stinger on its rear”). Majority rules. [Wing: Lila’s not wrong.]

An hour later, everyone’s doing their own kind of practicing, running, shooting baskets, doing jumping jacks, etc., and Jessica has to call them in and say the need to be unified in what they do. It then starts to rain. There’s a discussion about whether or not they should give up – they don’t know what they’re doing, it’s raining and they’re still barely scraping together the $45 registration fee, and after that they have to buy uniforms. [Wing: ALSO, they would need a school sponsor, i.e., a coach, in order to be a sanctioned team. WTF.]

Talk then turns to Janet’s crush on Steven, who was in Gaynor’s (apparently the sporting goods store. I would have guessed it was called Sweet Valley Sports, but no). And that’s when Jessica realises that’s who they need. Steven may be a constantly-eating asshat, [Wing: I initially read that as a constantly-eating-ass hat, which was a very different descriptor.] but one of this two defining traits is basketball. Janet backs this suggestion, obviously, and the rest concede that anyone’s better than no-one.

Unknown time/day, Wakefield Compound. You know when I said that Steven’s comments about manly sports was banter? Maybe I was wrong.

“Yeah, like I care,” Steven scoffed. “There is no way I’m spending my afternoons trying to get a bunch of wimpy girls to play a decent game of basketball.”

He keeps going back to the well of “wimpy girls”. Earlier I assumed it was a refuge in audacity, when he emphasised his “manly career”, but now it’s just peevish sexism. And he says no.

Thursday afternoon, Sweet Valley High. Steven is waiting for the results of the application for the assistant coach position. As usual, he’s insufferably smug. He watches other dudes file in and out of the office, and when some look pleased, he assumes that the coach let them down easy, because the job is his. I hate Steven. It’s just like when he decided he was too good to work retail because… y’know, he just is. So naturally, it’s bloody delightful when the coach turns him down, saying his application was great, good answers, but no experience.

He asks how he can get experience if he can’t get a job. The coach shrugs and says yeah, that’s a problem, but he doesn’t have the answer. Steven then asks if he got some experience, would Coach Berger reconsider. Yes, is the answer, but the coach is dubious, since there’s only a couple of weeks before the summer camp (and yet, still another 50 or so books) and all the positions haven’t been filled. [Wing: HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL DOESN’T RUN THAT LATE IN THE YEAR, GHOSTIE! WE WOULD BE AT LEAST TWO MONTHS FROM SUMMER AT THIS POINT, IF NOT MORE.]

Saturday morning, Palisades Middle School locker room. The Honeybees are freaking out. Their first game has rolled around the day after their petition was approved and they feel woefully unprepared. They’ve only had two practices and they were both terrible. Elizabeth gives a pep talk, telling them to get out there and show everyone the Honeybees are here to stay.

Smashcut to halftime, where Elizabeth concedes that perhaps the Honeybees are not here to stay. They are being crushed by the Palisades Pantherettes.

This name annoys me. I once beta’d for someone in a sports movie fandom. It was a dude, obviously. He decided to divide the team by gender (daft, since there were only two girls on the team) and retain the name of the team (an animal) for the boys and add “ettes” on the end of the name for the girls’ team. I told him this was a daft idea. Not enough team members to warrant a split, no need for it at all, it didn’t aid his plot (which was romance), and – to give a woman’s point of view – I was ticked off that the girls’ team was called the [animal]ettes. Especially since the name of the team was actually a gender neutral name, and the male of that animal had its own name, so why didn’t the girls keep the team name and the boys get the male name? He then mansplained feminism to me, and told me that it was empowering for the girls to have a cute name. I resigned as his beta. He put up his fic, filled with spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes, and credited me both as his beta and with the idea of calling the girls’ team the [animal]ettes. I’m still fucking bitter. [Wing: Me too. Fuck out of here, dude. You are shit.]

But yeah, tl;dr: don’t add “ette” on the end of a word to make it girly. And if you must, I will fucking cut you if you say it’s my idea. [Raven: I was with you, and about to go all “why can’t they just be Panthers, sexist much, lol,” when I Googled Pantherette. Huh. Every day’s a school day.] [Wing: I can’t believe I’m surprised by experimental breeding when it comes to cats since I know what happens with dogs, but I am, and that’s some weird shit.]

The team discuss how they’re losing 24 to 2, and the Palisades side of the venue is packed with gleeful supporters, whereas their half is a desolate wasteland, despite getting a mention in the Sixers and posters being put up. [Raven: Not a single proud parent? I call bullshit.] Palisades have a coach and cheerleaders, as well as fans. The Bees have nothing. (They’re never just called the Bees, but I’m lazy, so I’m picking it up now.)

The Bees lose 38 to 6, and they’re tired and mortified.

“Well, it was only a game,” Elizabeth murmured.

“Yeah,” Lila said tiredly. “And the QE2 is only a boat.”

Lila stays fabulous in the face of defeat though.

The Pantherettes and their fans eventually leave, and all that is left is Steven doing a slow clap for them. He tells them that they stink. Elizabeth says how can he be so mean, they’re obviously upset. Steven adds of course they stink, it was their first game, they’ve only just become a team, and they have no coach. If they’d have been great it would have been improbable, even for a team in Sweet Valley that contains both Wakefield twins. He says that they’ve got potential though, and comments on the various plays who have skills in certain areas, but they’re disorganised, they need a plan. He would like to coach them.

Jessica immediately points out he said he’d rather die than help them. Steven says he’s changed his mind.

The Bees huddle up to discuss it. Lila says fuck him, he rejected us. Janet gets little hearts in her eyes as she thinks of all the time she can spend with super dreamy Steven Wakefield. Everyone else is a little more realistic, agreeing that they need the help and he’s the only one available.

Practice begins at 8:30am tomorrow morning. Lila is not happy with losing a Sunday lie-in for basketball. Steven says anyone who is late or misses practice is off the team. Janet gets swoony over Dom!Steven. He also demands that they all wear the same, they need to be a unit, not a bunch of individuals. [Raven: Individuality is overrated.] [Wing: I can’t believe I’m going to agree with Steven, but he’s right. It helps team unity.]

Jessica has the urge to annoy her brother, but is overwhelmed by the excitement of actually getting somewhere with the team, so ends up saying nothing. Which I find to be actually adorable. Occasionally, I do believe she’s human.

Sunday morning, stupid o’clock, outside somewhere. The slender people of Sweet Valley come to the unhappy realisation that slender ≠ fit. I can understand Elizabeth, Maria and Julie feeling the burn, but the Boosters and Belinda Layton (who plays every sport imaginable as well as a boy can) are also puffing exhaustedly through Steven’s drills.

Elizabeth is convinced her watch is broken. It feels like lunchtime, but it’s only 9:17am. I get you. I’ve been doing a workout every other day (when I get round to it). When I pause to catch my breath, my feeling is, “I must be nearly done, right?” and I’m never more than halfway through.

Steven keeps them practicing for at least an hour and a half and they all feel like death when they’re done. They all sprawl out on the park and feel exhausted.

Nearby, Jessica stretched her arms halfheartedly before letting them drop to the ground. “How are you getting home, Lila?” she asked, her words slurred.

“Don’t know,” Lila answered weakly. “I brought my bike. But now I might call our gardener to come get me in the wheelbarrow.”

Wow. Lila is so pooped that she’s ok with going home in a wheelbarrow. Even hypothetically. [Raven: Pretty sure she’s been in a wheelbarrow with the Gardener’s grandson. And I’m not talking about an actual wheelbarrow.]

Steven approaches and they worry that he’s going to make them do more. Instead he says he’s proud of them. They worked hard and didn’t quit. They’re probably working harder than the Palisades Pantherettes, and Steven says between their hard work and his coaching, they have a shot at regionals.

This Steven? I don’t hate him. It’s like all those books where he had no personality traits have finally paid off. He’s working them hard, but he’s also giving credit. [Raven: Yup. Turns out Steven can actually coach.] [Wing: I fucking love coach Steven, which has had a whiplash effect on me.] [Dove: This is just like Evil Elizabeth, where Steven’s nerdy love of astronomy was charming. Apparently, we enjoy characterisation. Who knew?]

Tuesday afternoon, outside somewhere. Another practice with Steven, who is making them run. They are plotting his death when they are shoved out of the way by the Wolverines running together with military precision, led by Bruce Patman. Amy and the twins greet their boyfriends, but not one of them responds. The girls make sarcastic comments about it, and Bruce tells them to hush, they’re doing important practicing.

The girls discuss how rude the boys are, and Steven points out that they’re dedicated and determined to win, and are the Bees a bunch of quitters. This gets to Jessica, who vows not to be shown up by the snobby Wolverines, and she rallies the team. [Wing: I fucking love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica, and I don’t know what to do with myself.]

Unknown day/time, outside somewhere. Another practice, and the girls are improving. Steven kept track of their stats and can see improvements. This I approve of. I do love a nice clean data set. Steven plans to show his work to Coach Berger, and good for him. This is some good coaching, we have starting data that shows improvement with each iteration. Nice.

Saturday afternoon, gym. Team Boring are watching the Wolverines play, and they’ve been on a winning streak. It’s apparently tense if you actually believe Weston Middle School can beat Sweet Valley. The Boosters cheer for Bruce as he takes a foul and yay win ♫ WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, MY FRI-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEND!

Elizabeth vows that next time, it’ll be the Bees doing the winning.

Saturday afternoon, Casey’s Place, Bruce Patman’s brain. Bruce POV, which is just weird. Belinda swoons over him and Bruce gloats that his genetics make him superior. Uh, dude, no. You’re like the most problematic dude in the fandom as it stands, let’s not go down the Brian the Nazi route, ‘k? [Wing: FUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUU BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE PATMAN.]

He revels in the knowledge that he’s the central hub of all things basketball, and knows that the other guys appreciate having him on the team, because he always come through when they fuck up. Just die, you asshat.

Jessica approaches and says it was a great game, and wow was the crowd on fire. She hopes they’ll be just as supportive on Tuesday for the Bees’ game against the Johnson Middle School Violets.

Bruce is aghast. Him? Go watch girls play basketball? Are you fucking kidding?! What’s the point? Girls are pointless. Sports and girls is a non-combination. [Wing: I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU, BRUCE PATMAN.]

Jessica points out that she beat him at Horse last week, and he claims he let her win. Bruce says he’s got better things to do than watch them play. Like literally anything. The girls storm out in frustration.

Looking after them, Bruce shook his head. Girls are always one step away from being hysterical, he thought.

That’s not hysterical. You’d know if an entire female basketball team got hysterical. It would be absolutely unbearably loud and impossible to live with. And possibly the common factor about girls always being “one step away” from a negative reaction is you, not the girls. [Raven: Bruce can just get fucked.]

Tuesday afternoon, gym. Game time. This time the Bees have a couple of people in the stands, but the Violets have fans, cheerleaders and parents. Uh… why aren’t your parents there, Bees? Pretty much all of you have hands-on parents that have the free time to watch sports. [Raven: YES. I know the plot demands it, but still.]

At half time, the score is 22-15 (to the Violets). The team is morose, but Steven pep talks them into giving it their all. They trot out with a renewed enthusiasm.

Tuesday afternoon, Casey’s Place. Smash cut to Amy confirming they lost by two points. The Bees come to the realisation that they do a lot for the boys’ team. They advertise it in the Sixers, they do player profiles, they watch, they cheer – they make up bespoke cheers – and what do the boys do? Fuck all. The boys are probably still at practice. Jessica leads the charge for revolution. [Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica.]

Tuesday afternoon, gym? Uh, did the Wolverines get to practice after the Bees played their game? Or do they have multiple spaces that are somehow all booked up so the Bees have to practice outside. *shrugs* I just don’t care.

The boys are not interested in going to the girls’ game. The Bees announce that if the boys don’t come to their games, the girls won’t go to theirs. No watching, no cheering, nothing. Tim Davis says that boys and girls basketball are completely different things. You can’t compare them, which Janet shuts down fast. [Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet.]

“Think about it,” Bruce said with mock patience. “It’d be like everyone going to see a boys’ knitting contest. There just isn’t a point.”

I recently learned that there is such a thing as a Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship, so actually, boys doing knitting sounds kind of fun.

The Bees draw the line. They’re not going to any more games. And perhaps they’ll miss the Boosters and all the hype they whip up.

Unknown day/time, gym. Bruce wonders why the Boosters aren’t cheering for him, but then remembers that they’re boycotting the game. He flubs a shot, and curses the absence of the Boosters.

At halftime, Coach Cassels gives them a dressing down about how rubbish they are. As they mosey out again, Bruce notices that stands are not quite as packed to the rafters as usual. The Sixers skipped their advertising this time. And there are no Boosters. Which the crowd has noticed. While the other team’s cheerleaders to an elaborate routine, the Sweet Valley crowd starts calling for the Boosters. Bruce thinks to himself that Jessica set that up to prove a point, no way would a crowd call for their own cheerleaders.

I’m so fucking out of my depth here. Wing? Explain America to me. Would this happen?

I mean, even if Jessica did set that up, good for her. The girl is a marketing genius. She could make fetch happen.

[Wing: I wouldn’t put it past Jessica to have set it up, but I can also see a crowd wanting the cheerleaders back, especially if the basketball team is losing. At least in this book, the Boosters seem to be incredibly successful at exciting the crowd and getting everyone on the same cheering page, and that’s very cool.]

Also, the Wolverines lose. In the locker room they discuss what’s changed since the last game. Todd hesitantly points out that the cheerleaders are missing. Bruce internally refers to Todd as a “henpecked wimp” which is pretty accurate, and isn’t impressed with the idea that they lost because “some bouncy airheads forgot to show up”. Aaron points out that they didn’t forget, they actively no-showed. Bruce storms out.

Boys. Always one step away from hysteria, am I right? [Raven: Zing!]

Unknown day/time, lawn by the outdoor basketball court. The Bees are practicing in the rain, because they’re badasses. The practice and workout is gruelling, but they hope to beat the Big Mesa Bear Cubs on Wednesday. I’m sure they will. Big Mesa is full of skanks with fake hair. Jessica adds that she hopes they start winning and the boys start losing. Steven says that absolutely will happen if they keep working. [Wing: Big Mesa Bear Cubs is killing me as a team name. I can’t even bring myself to research whether Big Mesa has had a different mascot before, I love it so much.]

Wednesday afternoon, gym. The Bees think they’re ready to win. They’ve worked hard. And Elizabeth adds that she has basically used the Sixers as Honeybee propaganda, nothing else got in – uh, that sounds balanced, after all the wank where Elizabeth couldn’t write a balanced article. The Bees decide today is the day they win.

The game is described, but I’m completely out of my element, so I’ll skip it, but it ends with a win – Elizabeth gets the winning point(s) – I literally have no clue how this game works (and even less interest in finding out), except it’s kind of like netball but not. The team goes wild with joy, as do the twenty or so people in the Sweet Valley side of the stands. [Raven: One fun basketball fact for you, Dove… the hoops/nets were originally peach baskets, and the game was halted every time someone scored so the janitor could get his ladder and retrieve the ball. Then someone suggested they cut a hole in the bottom of the baskets.] [Wing: I’m not really a basketball fan (Wing loves: all levels of hockey, college football, women’s gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics, and figure skating, and is starting to follow women’s soccer) but as far as I can tell, this book does a decent job of describing the game, at least for readers who maybe aren’t super familiar with it. THAT DOESN’T MAKE UP FOR ALL THE CONTINUITY ERRORS, THOUGH.]

Wednesday afternoon, Casey’s Place. The Bees head to Casey’s for celebratory shakes/sundaes. Side note: I’m now allergic to ice cream and I miss it deeply. Ostrich came home with ice cream for Wing yesterday. He was delighted to find out that I was jealous of their ability to enjoy ice cream. Ostrich is an asshole. (He also is the dude who doused me in sunscreen on my last holiday and kept me from burning, so, y’know, he’s also not.) [Wing: He’s totally an asshole, he just also does great things sometimes. I was having a shit week last week, and on Thursday (my last day at work for the week), he drive about 40 minutes out of his way with 2 extra stops in order to surprise me by leaving my favourite donuts on my desk. (And weirdly, it was the first time I had ever accidentally left my office unlocked, though he would have been able to have someone let him in even if I hadn’t.) He also went and had a huge fight with the pharmacy after I had surgery recently (oh, yeah, I had surgery recently, everything’s fine) because they were not helping him get the exact things he needed for me, because he refused to deviate from the hospital’s list of ways to take care of me after the surgery. So, basically, he’s both an asshole and disgustingly sweet.] [Dove: Dude, that’s kind of our type.]

The Bees do the thing that boys often do in the books, and relive the game. There is much high-fiving. And Jessica comments it would be even better if they had their own cheerleaders.

Cue the arrival of Winston, Grace and Kimberley (the non-Bee Boosters) with Mary (a non-Bee Unicorn), who offer to cheerlead for them. Also, I have a ten week old kitten asleep on my wrists right this second, so typing is really hard.

The Bees are delighted with this outcome, but Bruce cuts in from the next booth, saying that cheerleaders are pointless.

Jessica points out that the Wolverines lost the minute they didn’t have cheerleaders.

“Why should I?” Jessica asked coolly. “It’s already been proven. Fact: Without the Boosters, the Wolverines lost. Lost. Got creamed. Got wiped out. Ate their dust. Got licked, beaten, cried uncle.” She stood up, her hands on her hips.

Bruce looked at her darkly.

“Yes,” Elizabeth chimed in. “After all, you guys were defeated, overwhelmed, crushed, steamrollered, bulldozed, clobbered, whomped, subdued, skunked, conquered, vanquished, brought to your knees. Let’s see—” She paused meditatively. “Am I forgetting something?”

Absolutely delightful. [Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth.]

Bruce says she’s forgetting who she’s talking to, then calls her “little girl”. Uh, yeah, good point, Bruce. You are a seventh grader with literally no friends your own age, so you pathetically cling to everyone in the year below. [Wing: FUCK THE FUCK OUT OF HERE YOU FUCKING JACKASS OF A FUCKING SPOILED FUCKING RICH BOY I HOPE YOU FUCKING DROWN.]

Sadly, nobody points that out, but the Bees are magnificently unfrightened of Bruce’s threats. It’s kind of awesome. I wish all books were this nice when it comes to supporting each other.

Thursday afternoon, gym. Part of Team Boring (Elizabeth and Julie) are in the bleachers watching the Wolverines vs the Johnson Middle School Jaguars (said: jag-u-ah if you’re from England; jag-wahr if you’re from the USA) for the sake of objective Sixers reporting. However, they note that there are fewer people than usual on the Sweet Valley bleachers. In theory, this game should be a piece of cake. The girls’ team at Johnson Middle School is much feistier than the boys.

Naturally this leads to the Wolverines getting crushed, with Bruce Patman faceplanting in the final seconds of the game, giving the Jaguars time to score again. [Wing: Shame he didn’t faceplant INTO HELL.]

Because Sweet Valley is a kind and sweet place, the team gets booed by their own fans, who demand to know what happened to the Boosters. I’m alarmed that so many people go to middle school sport to watch twelve year old girls in short shirts shake their pom-poms.

Elizabeth and Julie see Coach Cassels yell at the team, and note that perhaps the boys need the Boosters after all.

Thursday evening, the den in the Patman mansion. Bruce has called a meeting, although it was basically a pool party/BBQ. But now everyone’s tired and fed, Bruce is able to lay into them about how feeble they are. Ken suggests they practice more. Todd, absolute twat that he is, suggests they resurface the court. Aaron says that what they lack are the Boosters and the support of the Bees. Todd corrects his grammar at one point, and Bruce refers to Todd as Ms. Wilkins. Apparently grammar is feminine. The rest of the team sides with Aaron, so Bruce finds himself cornered. He tries to get Aaron to be the one to approach the girls, but Aaron stands firm and says they all should do it.

Friday lunchtime, the Unicorner. The Unicorns are looking forward to having a lie-in until seven am tomorrow! But they are feeling like iron women and that they could take on the world, so that’s a definite plus of the workouts.

The boys approach and the talking is left to Aaron and Todd, who haltingly state that they rather miss the Boosters. The girls eat pointedly and make dismissive comments.

“We figured that if you guys wanted to come back to our games, well, that would be OK with us,” Bruce said reluctantly.

Jessica’s eyes widened. He had to be kidding. “OK with you?” she repeated, staring at him. “Gee, that’s big of you, Bruce. I’ll tell you what—if we ever get the urge to come to one of your games again, we’ll be sure to let you know.”

“That’s not what we meant,” Aaron said quickly. “What we meant was…” He took a deep breath. “We, uh, would really appreciate it if you guys could come to our game tonight and cheer for us.”

Jessica turned around again. She looked into Aaron’s brown eyes, the eyes that could always make her melt.

“No,” she said clearly.

The boys are flummoxed. They have grudgingly admitted that they might vaguely somewhat maybe possibly require the presence of the Boosters. Maybe. Jessica asks if they have changed their minds about showing up to the Bees’ games. Bruce is dismissive, but Aaron says he’d like that, he’s been meaning to go. Janet and Jessica stare them down until each boy says he’ll be at their next game.

[Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth.]

In return, they will consider showing up to the Wolverines vs the Palisades Panthers tonight. They’ll let them know by the end of the school day, they need to confer with the rest of the Bees.

Damn, ladies. Good for you. I love it when the Unicorns use their powers for good instead of evil. Or even a fun kind of evil. When it’s just for bullying, that’s boring. [Raven: I’m enjoying the Unicorn / Boring alliance, even if it’s reserved for Boys vs Girls schtick.]

Friday evening, gym. The Boosters are cheering themselves silly and the Wolverines are smashing it against the Panthers. This leads to an epic win for the Wolverines. Aaron briefly stops by to thank Jessica for cheering, but cuts off her response so he can gloat to Todd about how awesome his play was.

Jessica pointedly reminds Bruce that she’ll see them all on Sunday. Bruce feigns ignorance, which probably comes easy to him. After a bit of prodding, he gives the answer of “Sure”, which is my response when I’m asked to do something utterly pointless and I have no intention of doing it, and the only reason I’m not listing all the ways that’s a stupid thing to do is politeness. (“No problem” means I’ll do it, this is a good plan, and I’ll work hard.)

Janet comments that they’ve already forgotten who just cheered them through the game. Lila and Jessica mutter darkly that the boys had better show up.

I’m guessing they don’t.

Sunday afternoon, gym. The Honeybees vs The Weston Lady Bulldogs. Again, stupid team name. Surely you don’t actually have to gender team names? Please tell me you don’t have to put something in there that flags it as “this is a girly team. The girly girls will be wearing pink and giggling a lot”. [Wing: I was trying to remember if my high school used Lady [Name] for their teams, and when I went looking I found out THEY STILL FUCKING DO FUCKING HELL.]

This is the first regional game, and the Bees are doing pretty well, but the Bulldogs are ahead. Steven reassures them that they’re holding their own and the Bulldogs have much more experience.

The four Boosters are cheering away for them, while the Wolverines – who actually did show up, just 20 minutes late – are sulking on the bleachers, wearing sunglasses and baseball caps because they are embarrassed as fuck to be around so many girls.

What, even Aaron and Todd? Aaron who claims to have been supportive? And Todd who has the personality of beige paint? Apparently yes. They bow down to the Patman rule. [Raven: Ludicrous. Does no one go to any of the girls’ sporting events? Poor Belinda.] [Wing: Girls’ sporting events are often underfunded and underattended. And FUCK YOU BRUCE PATMAN YOU FUCKING FUCK.]

The boys are just talking amongst themselves and making no effort to watch the game or support the Bees. Jerry McAllister is even reading a magazine. Which is interesting. I didn’t know he could read. [Raven: Easy, Draco.]

Steven pulls them back to the game. Watch the Bulldogs. Think of your own actions. Ignore the Wolverines.

Elizabeth glued her eyes on the court, determined to concentrate on the game.

But I’ll deal with the Wolverines later, she swore silently. Boy, will I deal with them.

The Mercandy backyard is going to be fucking full this weekend, isn’t it? Both twins — probably the whole team of Bees — burying bodies.

[Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth and murderous!Bees.]

The game is tight, and I’m sorry, I just can’t recount sports. Jessica gets a foul in the final seconds. The Bulldog players try to psyche her out, but one of her shots goes in.

FIRST REGIONAL WIN TO THE BEES! IN YOUR FUCKING FACES, WOLVERINES!

(Shit. Am I getting into this? I think I fucking am, you know.)

Winning!
Winning!

[Wing: I AM SO INTO THIS BOOK I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND IT. I have to force my mind past the fucking continuity errors when it comes to the girls basketball team, BUT OTHERWISE I LOVE THE HELL OUT OF THIS BOOK IT IS SO FUCKING ENTERTAINING AND THE GIRLS ARE WONDERFUL AND I’M FUCKING CHEERING MY HEART OUT FOR THEM AND UGH, THIS BOOK.]

Everyone is proud of her, they’ve made it to the championship. Wait, that’s all it took? [Wing: It shouldn’t be, but whatever, Sweet Valley time applies this way, too, I guess.] Ah fuck it, who cares? I don’t get sport. Steven has coached them all to share the win, no matter who gets that important point, so she says that the Bees worked hard and it was a team effort. It’s not in the text, but I think a tiny shard of ice in her heart just melted.

She looks up to the bleachers, but the Wolverines have gone. Julie tells them they snuck out before even finding out who won. They left a card inviting them to a party, sorry “Victory Ball” at 7pm at the Patman mansion.

Lila says they can get fucked, but Jessica gets that murderous glint in her eye. The Bees are going. And it’s going to be a very exciting time.

MURDER BALL! AM I RIGHT?

[Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth and murderous!Bees.]

Sunday evening, Victory Ball, Patman mansion. Bruce is a convivial host, seemingly oblivious to the fact an entire basketball team is plotting his demise. On the wall is a banner reading “CONGRATULATIONS, WOLVERINES!” which the Bees find a bit previous, since they haven’t won the season yet. Janet says their next game is Wednesday. Jessica says yes, but the Bees won’t be there to see them lose.

“This punch isn’t bad,” Lila said, taking a sip.

“Lila! How can you like the punch served by traitors?” Jessica demanded indignantly.

Lila shrugged. “Sorry. But Party Mongers are the best caterers in town. I love their punch.”

Lila is fabulous as ever. But I find it hard to believe she can compliment a Patman, even on the catering company and behind their back.

The boys cluster, reliving each glorious moment of their totally awesome and not-supported-by-the-girls win. The Bees approach and completely take over the conversation with their own retellings of a fabulous win, and spit out the boys wouldn’t know because they fucking left the game.

Bruce says he had to leave to get ready for the party. Janet says he came home and watched TV while his housekeeper did that. Burn.

Bruce is fed up. They showed up to the game. They invited them to the party. They even half-heartedly added the team name to the cake. The Wolverines part of the cake is beautiful. The addition of the Bees is obviously hastily done. And…

THEY CALLED THEM THE BUMBLEBEES.

Somebody fetch Jessica a knife and a shovel. The Mercandy backyard is calling to us all.

Jessica felt her face heat up as she glared at Bruce. “It’s Honeybees, you dolt!” she yelled at Bruce. “Honeybees! You don’t even know the name of our team!”

“It’s close enough,” Bruce said defensively, sighing deeply.

“No it’s not!” Janet cried. “And you can just kiss your championship game good-bye, because the Boosters aren’t setting foot in the gym again! Ever!”

[Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth and murderous!Bees.]

Battle lines are drawn. The boys are indifferent. They don’t need silly girls to lift them up. Fuck it. They can go it alone. Besides, they’d rather suffer the humiliation of losing than the humiliation of attending a silly girly game.

This infuriates Jessica to the point of PG violence. She grabs up a handful of cake and throws it in Bruce’s face. [Raven: Food Fight!] [Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth and murderous!Bees and violent!Jessica.]

He was wiping the icing off of his face. “Women!” he muttered. “Who needs ‘em?”

You do, Buster, she thought angrily. Just wait and see.

Wednesday, unknown time, gym. The Wolverines are being flattened by the Big Mesa Grizzlies. [Raven: With the Big Mesa girls’ team called the Big Mesa Bear Cubs… sigh] [Wing: Yeah, I take back finding it adorable. I had hoped the high school team was the Grizzlies or something and the middle school teams were the Bear Cubs (and that combo still makes me laugh), but this can fuck off into the sea.] The stands are only half full, there are no Boosters, and there’s no crowd energy for them to feed off. Coach is calling the boys “son”, which is his way of conveying fury.

Bruce is taken off. Todd is fouled and injured. At halftime they discuss the situation, and Todd again corrects someone’s grammar, which causes Bruce to fantasise about punching him. Aaron is the one to point out that the Boosters could turn things around. Bruce says fine, if the rest of the team wants the Boosters so bad, go get ‘em. They point out that Bruce is the one the Boosters hate, and he’s the one that needs to apologise. Cornered, he grudgingly agrees to go get them.

Bruce finds the Bees training outside and is taken aback by the military precision with which they are running. He wonders if they might actually be… good? Then he shakes it off. Girls are smaller, weaker and deserve to be paid less. [Wing: BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURN BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURN.]

He steps into the path and Steven calls for them to take five.

Bruce realises that his team can’t win without the Boosters. So he copies a movie. He drops to his knees and says he’s sorry, while trying to sound sincere and look like a lost abandoned puppy in the rain.

The Bees are completely unmoved, which is fucking delightful, because in any other book, they’d be cooing excitedly and whispering about how he’s “sooooo cute”. Even Ellen gets to ask him what’s his point.

Bruce swallowed hard. “Inside… today’s game isn’t going well,” he admitted. “It’s the championship game.”

Janet tucked her T-shirt in neatly. “I wonder what’s on TV tonight?” she said, looking at her teammates.

Bruce gritted his teeth. They weren’t going to make this easy on him. “I was wondering…”

Tamara started whistling tunelessly, as if she were just killing time.

Beautiful. Ladies, you are killing it.

[Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth and murderous!Bees and violent!Jessica.]

He begs, he even says that he’s begging them to cheer for the Wolverines. He tries to invoke a bit of school pride, and decides against whimpering for effect.

No is the answer.

When it becomes clear to him the Bees have him over a barrel (don’t tell Ostrich I used that phrase), they huddle up to discuss their demands. Bruce gulps when he sees how pleased they look when they approach him again.

(I don’t know why we’re being coy, it’s fucking spoiled by the fucking tagline. A+ Bantam.) [Raven: So weak.]

Smash cut to inside the gym. The non-Boosters are in the stands, and the Boosters are taking position, reasoning that everyone will be so glad to see them, they won’t care that they’re not in uniform. I think they’re vastly underestimating the motivations of the people who watch these games, based on how often spectators call for the tweens in tiny skirts instead of the game. [Wing: If we accept the premise that the Boosters are great cheerleaders, I think you are undervaluing what cheerleaders bring to a game.] [Dove: Absolutely not. I’ve seen Bring It On. I get that cheering is badass and hardcore. My point is that Sweet Valley is full of Mr Nydick-style creeps. I’m insulting the motivation of the watchers, not the cheerleaders.]

The cheering and support leads to the Wolverines winning the championship (they do not get my Mighty Ducks gif), and the Bees grin wickedly as they think of what conditions they demanded of Bruce.

Coach Cassels congratulates Bruce, who initially takes credit, but on seeing Jessica glare, quickly says they couldn’t have done it without the Boosters. Then he invites everyone to a celebration party at his house, which is thankfully off screen.

Sunday afternoon, gym. It’s the championship game for the Bees (against the JFK Queens). They finally have uniforms, which came from the Unicorn treasury, plus a generous donation from Lila’s father (called it, though I’m shocked the Unicorns chipped in too).

Steven bursts into the locker room with a blindfold over his eyes. I’m fairly certain there are peep holes in it [Raven: And fiddle holes in his trouser pockets]. The Bees scramble for modesty and tell him to get the fuck out. He may be a good coach, but he’s also not welcome when underage girls are getting changed.

He indicates the blindfold, and the Bees are far more trusting than me.

He gives them the standard underdog pep talk. Have you seen Mighty Ducks? Yeah, watch the scene before the final game against the Hawks. I guarantee Emilio Estevez is more appealing than Steven Wakefield. [Raven: This is a most amusing counterpoint: Hooo-Rah!]

Over with the boys, everyone is furious with Bruce. They will be humiliated. I don’t know why they aren’t just backing out now they have what they want and there’s no way of takey-backsies at this point. But still no reveal, despite the spoiler in the fucking tagline.

The Bees take to the court and appreciate that they have a full house of cheering fans. And then they further appreciate the cheerleaders. The boys. In skirts. (They’re called the Drones.) [Wing: I am fucking delighted by them being called the Drones. FITTING ON SO MANY LEVELS.]

Maria cocked her head thoughtfully. “You know, the scary thing is that some of them actually look kind of cute in skirts. I never noticed what great legs Ken has.”

You do you, Maria.

The Drones’ cheers are lacklustre, but it’ll do for now.

When the Queens call for a time out, Jessica approaches the Drones to critique their cheering.

“Now, guys,” Jessica instructed. “You need to put your hands together. You need to shake those pom-poms. You need to get those feet in the air in really big kicks. And”—she leaned over into Bruce’s face—“you need to look like you’re enjoying it.”

I’m pretty sure the boys don’t like it, but the crowd does. The Bees start to take the lead, and when she gets a moment, Jessica glares at them to make sure the Drones are cheering their best cheers.

At some point, the Drones actually get into it and make up an original cheer.

“Elizabeth, Elizabeth, she’s the one
She makes B-ball lots of fun!
Janet, Janet, take your shot.
Show those Queens that you are hot!”

Jessica makes the winning shot, and now it’s time for the Mighty Ducks gif again. Steven crows that his sister made that shot. Bruce seems to be enjoying cheerleading, and the boys seemed to like the game.

Winning!
Winning!

Steven has an internal gloat that makes me first pleased, but then uncomfortable. He starts with his plans for next season, then goes on to this:

He had taken a bunch of limp-wristed, out of shape wimps, and turned them into lean, mean, dunking machines. Every one of them could run two miles without getting out of breath. Every one of them could do twenty push-ups, and not the girly kind, either—real push-ups. Why, he remembered back when they had first begun training, they had been complaining about breaking their nails.

His musings are interrupted by Coach Berger offering him the job he wanted. Steven is delighted. Then asks if there are any girls he can coach.

RUN AWAY!

Sunday afternoon, Casey’s Place. The twins are excited for next season, and Jessica wonders if they should have tryouts for the Drones! And of course, we have the lead-in to the next book. Joe Carrey is their favourite waiter (this is true, it was abruptly brought up out of nowhere in the previous book), and he looks like something is bothering him.

Ooooh.

Fuck me that’s a weak lead-in, isn’t it? Oh look, a random character that even Dove doesn’t know a thing about is somewhat preoccupied. OMG! REALLY? I MUST READ THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT THIS FUCKING SECOND.

Final Thoughts:

So, yeah. I think I actually enjoyed that. I will admit, I’d have enjoyed it more if it was a sport I was a little less disinterested in, but… well, I’m not a sport person. Horses is the closest I get [Raven: But not Horse.]

But that was so much fun. Teamwork makes the dream work and all that. Steven was the least obnoxious he’s been since Evil Elizabeth.

I will say, the tagline is fucking stupid. Why spoil the ending? I know these books aren’t rocket science and most people have an idea of where a story is going, but damn the book was coy about the Bees’ demands of the Wolverines when it was explicitly stated on the cover.

And while we’re on the topic, the title sucks too. If you open something called Battle of the Cheerleaders, you kind of expect Bring It On. I know Boys Against Girls was already taken, but surely there was another title a bit closer to the mark?

[Raven: I enjoyed this, but it was flawed. As Dove said, the title and the spoilerific tagline is a bushel of weaksauce. The fact that the Honeybees can just leap into the Regionals picture after two losses and a win is baffling. Bruce is a massive twat, which I guess is his MO. The fact that there was absolutely no adult involvement in the entire book aside from Coach Cassels was bizarre, and Steven’s (and Bruce’s) sexism was unwelcome.

But the games descriptions were nice, and the sass level was high. I loved the merging of Unicorn and Boring (Unibore?), and I’m a sucker for a fun plucky underdog story, even if Jessica and Elizabeth seemed to score all the important points… throw Belinda a fucking bone, you asshats.

Also, what’s the betting that we never hear of the Honeybees again?]

[Wing: I fucking loved this book, once I forced myself to ignore the continuity errors around the girls’ team and the lack of logic when it comes to how school sports seasons work. The sexism from everyone involved with it made sense, the girls were fucking amazing, I want them to team up like this forever, they were funny and smart and badass, and I could get behind this sort of series. And: Wing: I love coach!Steven and team captain!Jessica and revolutionary!Jessica and revolutionary!Janet and sarcastic thesaurus!Elizabeth and murderous!Bees and violent!Jessica. HONEYBEES FOREVER!]

I am Dove. I am: Team Jessica (Sweet Valley); Team Bad Guy (Point Horror);  Team Geiger (Making Out); Team Nina/Lucas (Making Out); and I am the voice of a claymation cow named Daisy, and I was in an advert for Fairy Liquid in the 80s.

8 thoughts on “Sweet Valley Twins #95: Battle of the Cheerleaders

  1. “But if not, I have kittens. Kittens who think the tippy-tappy of my soft keyboard is the most magic thing ever and must be pounced on.”
    Pictures please!

    “Over with the twins, Jessica has plans to hit the mall and check out the sale at Valley Fashions, while Elizabeth plans to hang with Amy and eat at Spuds ‘n’ Stuffin’. They both judge each other hard for their choices in life.”
    I hate siding with Elizabeth for anything, but I will choose eating potatoes over shopping every day of the week.

    “Jessica then pushes him into the pool.”
    #PoolPush
    Okay but there’s NO WAY a wealthy-ish family in CA would have an above ground pool. I can’t believe the denizens of Sweet Valley haven’t formed a mob to force them to upgrade. Also, how does one pool push on an above ground pool? And Jessica is frequently mentioned lap-swimming. *let it go, let it go*

    “(This is how I imagine my Sims feel when they get home from work and what used to be a one-bedroom house is now a six bedroom mansion with a pool.)”
    HAHA

    Lack of sportball knowledge #1: They are legally allowed to have a team (thanks Title IX!) but they cannot join midseason. Schedules have been made. Those are awful to make. They were hammered into stone along with the 10 Commandments. You can forfeit (cancel) games, but you can’t add once the season has started.

    “Wing: And here is the boys basketball continuity error: THEY’RE CALLED THE FUCKING GLADIATORS.”
    Good note Wing, this is the high school mascot. I wasn’t sure if they had named the middle school’s.

    “The Girl Wolverines (Belinda Layton, who apparently is so confused about gender and naming after the trauma with her parents, that’s all she can come up with.)”
    I was rolling on the floor for this one. This is one of my biggest sports pet peeves: To add anything to the mascot is to suggest that the women’s teams are Other. NO LADY [mascots]!

    “Please tell me you don’t have to put something in there that flags it as “this is a girly team. The girly girls will be wearing pink and giggling a lot”.”
    A club team the year below me used to warm up in hot pink shirts. They were infamous. They also had multiple state titles, so the color was strategy.

    “against the JFK Queens”
    This is the exception. This is how you theme teams while giving them equal value.

    “The Boosters cheer for Bruce as he takes a foul and yay win”
    Lack of sportball knowledge #2 &#4: Bruce takes free throws while the CLOCK RUNS OUT. The writer also uses ‘foul shot’ exclusively. That’s not wrong, but the *much* commonly used phrase is ‘free throw.’ This happens again later with Jessica. The clock restarts AFTER the second free throw. If there’s a second one. I’m not up to date on youth basketball, they might have a 1 and 1 (make the first to earn the second.)

    “Elizabeth gets the winning point(s)”
    Lack of sportball knowledge #3: Elizabeth’s shot beats the buzzer. Basketball is a timed sport but the clock counts when the shot is taken, NOT when it goes through the hoop. Basketball =/= hockey.

    “oh, yeah, I had surgery recently, everything’s fine”
    YAY

    I liked this book a lot, the dialogue and characterizations were fun, but the basketball aggravated me. I think the author has seen and enjoyed basketball, but never learned any rules. It is a close approximation – ooh to use a horror term, it’s a revenant. Looks about the same, but isn’t quite right (Am I’m using it correctly?) Yes, I am watching the NBA while I read this 🙂

    1. Okay but there’s NO WAY a wealthy-ish family in CA would have an above ground pool.

      I swear somewhere JC of Oh God Why?! Nostalgia had a complete meltdown about the above-ground/in-ground discontinuity of the Wakefield pool. I think the fact that it was forever going back and forth between the two was our main bone of contention. It never occurred to me that there would be a money implication. I never assumed an above-ground pool would be one of those that look like oversized paddling pools, more the industrial-sized rectangular beasts with the upraised concrete/tiled walls.

      Ah! Found it. Although I’m sure she went off in our comments section too. We all rage about this.

      (Added bonus? I love linking to JC, just so she gets freaked out by the pingbacks on her site.)

      1. I’ve only ever seen one above ground pool and I’m from inland CA (aka where it gets hot. The coast rarely gets above 90/32.) It was an ugly thing – not a permanent structure – and my friend’s family was very paycheck to paycheck. Pools are generally a neutral in real estate; they can be pricey to maintain and you’re liability regardless if someone has permission to be in your yard.

        I will go and leave comments there 🙂

      2. Dove, I did not receive a ping back notice for this! Bad WordPress! Bad!

        And I think the reason it seems to go back and forth between in-ground and above-ground pools is that in the very first SVH book, they’ve just gotten an in-ground pool. Since SVH existed first in the real world, I think sometimes the SVT writers get confused. Wakefields must have pool! But Wakefields don’t get pool for four years! What do now? Above-ground pool! But then they just have no goddamn idea how above-ground pools function, or they forget they don’t have the in-ground yet in-book universe. In Sweet Valley Kids, there are illustrations of the pool with a wooden deck built around it. My thought is, anyone getting pushed into that from the ground now has a broken spine! (Also, there was that bit in the book you linked to about a shallow and a deep end, which is a whole other very confused rant re: above-ground-how-the-hell-does-that-work.)

        1. Good catch, I didn’t remember the pool being new in SVH. Were above ground pools more common ‘back then’? I have a Canadian friend who’s forever trying to talk her parents into an above ground, but it’s more practical for them because snow.

          1. Maybe? I’m in Kansas, and I’ve known a few people with above-ground pools. They’re cheaper and acceptable for renters. In-ground pools are only an option for homeowners with a large budget to tear a hole in their property, so the above-grounds made more sense for a lot of people.

            Even so, I feel like it was way more common to just go to a public pool.

            1. You hush your mouth! I don’t think Sweet Valley has a public pool. That’s for the poors! There’s probably one over by the Morrises and Martins.

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