Tagline: No one can be right all the time… [Dove: Uh… what fucking planet is this ghostie from? Saint Elizabeth Wakefield can.]
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield’s new advice column is the rage at Sweet Valley Middle School. Not only is “Dear Elizabeth” the most popular column in Sixers history, letters from troubled readers are pouring in by the hundreds!
At first, Elizabeth is thrilled by her success. But then she starts to worry. Her friends expect miracle cures for every problem… and she’s running out of answers. Soon her advice is causing problems instead of solving them! Now Elizabeth’s. the one who needs help. How can she get out of this mess?
I don’t have any initial thoughts. I don’t remember this one. It’s kind of mixed up with Elizabeth the Seventh Grader, and also literally every story where Elizabeth butts in on someone else’s life and starts meddling. [Raven: I too feel like we’ve read this story before… Odd.]
Summary: Something very strange is going on at Sweet Valley Middle School. It all started when the Mysterious Dr. Q hypnotized Jessica Wakefield and her classmates during a school assembly. They were so impressed by Dr. Q’s performance that they decided to try a little hypnotism of their own.
The hypnosis works like a charm. Jessica convinces Janet Howell and Amy Sutton that they’re twins, Lila Fowler that she was a duck in a past life. and Elizabeth Wakefield that she’s in love with the obnoxious Bruce Patman! Can Jessica snap her friends out of it… or will they be spellbound forever?
Oh god, I have zero interest in hypnosis stories, I’ve been sick (manic, mostly), and I’m already not excited about Sweet Valley at the moment. This bodes well.
(Note from the future: I am even less able to recap this than originally suspected, and this book is even worse than I worried. Be warned.)
[Dove: In no way am I belittling Wing’s health, but boy, this book is fucking awful, even when you’re in the best of health. Also, how many of these awful “ooooh psychic bollocks” books are going to be in the main series?]
Tagline: The final title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series
Summary:On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service.
Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have learned one thing from baby-sitting for the Riccoli family: dreams can come true… and so can nightmares. When the fire in Andrew Riccoli’s dream turned to real flames, the twins took action. They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares.
Before she killed them.
But now the creature has left the kids’ nightmares to terrorize them in real life. And waking nightmares are the scariest of them all.
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!
I can’t tell whether this is badly written or not, because nothing has happened so far and nothing’s going to happen now.
I hate this. This is the worst part of this series. I know there are books that have worse messages or themes, but the obnoxious length of this fucking series takes the piss. Nobody needs 100k+ words where NOTHING happens.
Also, I think it’s time for a short rant about where I’m at with this incredibly stupid mini-series.
1) Steven. He is an utter waste of space and I hope he dies. I think I mentioned, either in the recap or podcast of The Older Boy, that there would come a point where I was just done with Steven. This mini-series is it. There isn’t a single redeeming feature of his scenes. He’s so stupid I’m actually worried that Ned and Alice are wilfully neglecting a child that is limited in his comprehension of the universe. Or that they are ignoring that their fully functioning child is actually becoming a manchild because of their indulgence. I suspect the latter. He acts like an asshole, nobody cares. He shirks his job. Nobody cares. He actively destroys not only Wakefield property, but the property of others too. Nobody cares. The last book ended with him being arrested, and I’m just guessing at the outcome here, but I bet that nobody cares.
His attitude is one of pure arrogance and entitlement. He doesn’t want to apologise for terrifying five children as “a joke” because he doesn’t understand what he did wrong. If he’s laughing, what’s the problem? He thinks he’s entitled to Karen, the hot daughter of one of his lawn mowing clients, simply because he perceives himself as far more attractive and interesting than every other dude on the planet.
Really? This is how idiotic, immature, entitled, incel, rapists are created. A+ parenting, Wakefields.
2) The parents (Riccolis and Wakefields). So, Mrs Riccoli has to be in Florida. Mr Riccoli has vanished from the narrative, because none of the Jamies swapped notes (or a single Jamie is overwhelmed by a four-book deal). And the Wakefields are like, “Yep, I think it’s totally ok that my twelve year olds are responsible for five children, when I wouldn’t let them stay at their own home for a few days without a baby-sitter.”
3) The Baby-Sitters Club. Ok, so you see that your rival book series has a far more interesting hook than “stuff happens but TWINS”, and you rip it off and then you… do fuck all with it. There are five kids in this club, but what do we have? The twins baby-sitting and a their muppet brother riding a lawnmower into whatever doesn’t get out of his way. The baby-sitting is frankly irresponsible. I haven’t dived deep into BSC (but damn, do I love the Netflix show) but their baby-sitting adventures actually show that you must care for the kids, rather than just bitch about how much you get paid. Yes, Jessica is oddly good at looking after kids, but everyone else’s baby-sitting skills range from not bad to screamingly incompetent (Winston giving 8 month old babies soda, for example).
4) The “plot”. The plot treads water for four books. Nothing happens. We’re made to believe that the plot will move forward, but it doesn’t. Nightmares. Oooh. More nightmares. Oooh. Even more nightmares. For fuck’s sake, is this going to escalate or not, because I’m finding it hard to care that Jessica’s sweater got a rip in it after a dream. There’s something going on with Alice, what about that? Well, that’s doing a big fat tread water too. We’ve had eight billion flashbacks to show that Alice baby-sat at that house and Eva had nightmares/sleepwalked. Wow. Such scary. Many engaged.
5) Fluff. Basically, this should be a two-book series, and the b-plots should be removed entirely. While we’re deleting pointless shit, let’s get rid of the monster POV scenes at the beginning and end of each book. They’re boring, pointless and add literally nothing to the story. Bye.
I FUCKING HATE THIS BADLY-PLOTTED MESS OF A MINI-SERIES. tl;dr: I wish Team Grapplegate had been handed this series. They are capable of being funny and sassy.
[Raven: This. All of this. All of this and more.]
[Wing: Dove hit so many points, so I’ll just add that we should take a look at the summary. Specifically: They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares. The last book ended on a cliffhanger. What you do not do is spoil the resolution to that cliffhanger in the summary of the next book. Yes, even if it is clear to us that none of the main characters (or, hell, the supporting characters) will day. Yes, even if it is a flat-out lie like that. Look, I get it, the summary for this was probably written before the last book was finished, but come. the fuck. on. We cannot even get consistency in that?]
Title: The Beast Must Die [Wing: This is a goddamn lie.]
Summary: When Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield began babysitting for the Riccoli family, they soon learned of the kids’ bad dreams. And slowly, the terrifying truth becomes undeniable. The nightmares are real. Something evil is in the kids’ house and in their dreams—something that wants them dead. So when they can no longer stay awake, there’s only one thing left to do: the baby-sitters and the kids must enter the deadly world of their dreams…
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up! [Wing: The way I feel at this moment, never waking up sounds like a pretty good deal.]
Tagline: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new babysitting service.
The day I’m writing this, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. I am heartbroken and in mourning. I am sharp edged and angry and even more afraid for vulnerable people in my country (including myself). Ginsburg meant a lot to me for a variety of reasons, and to this country, to the fight for equality and personal rights.
Which is to say, I am in a terrible place to be recapping Sweet Valley, have little patience, and even less ability to be funny. So this’ll be a grand old time!
(Not recapping the recaps, but here is the first book and here is the second book. We’ve not had much fun with this mini-series so far, though I liked the last book more than Dove and Raven did. Also: 99th main series book! I’m pretty pleased to have that number, and I’d like to party like it’s 1999 again.)
[Dove: I hate this whole series. I can’t even think of something witty to say. The entire thing is treading water. By the end of this, we’ve had 120k words of nothing happening, except Steven tits about on a lawnmower, which we’re supposed to find hilarious. I want to thump whoever came up with this. It’s fucking stupid and the Jamie(s) in question should be embarrassed.]
[Raven: Another chapter of this terrible mini series. Roundly bang the sounding brasses, let joy be unconfined, it’s time to get SHITFACED.]
Tagline: The first title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series
Summary:On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service…
The Wakefield twins and their friends love baby-sitting for the Riccolis, until little Juliana Riccoli starts having horrible nightmares. One night she wakes up crying, saying a monster attacked her. The twins tell her that bad dreams aren’t real, but Elizabeth is secretly afraid. If the monster isn’t real, why does Juliana have deep scratches on her back?
Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!
Hey kids, do you love Baby-Sitters Club?
YEAH! (excited cheering from a bunch of tweens in the 80s/90s)
And do you love A Nightmare on Elm Street?
YEAH! (one or two kids back away nervously muttering that their mum wouldn’t approve)
And do you love it when boys are so utterly mentally incapacitated that it’s actually cruel to leave them alone without adult supervision?
… (kids look unenthusiastic. a tumbleweed blows past)
WELL, GREAT! THIS SERIES IS FOR YOU.
] [Dove: Damn you for using my favourite Meat Loaf song.]
[Wing: Nothing like opening with a Meat Loaf song to put Wing in a good mood.]
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!
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.
Summary: The news that rocks Elizabeth’s world… [Dove: Yes, Elizabeth. This is all about you.] [Raven: It’s always about Elizabeth.]
Elizabeth Wakefield has always thought that Brian Boyd, the class bully, was bad news. He’s mean and loud—nothing but trouble. As far as she’s concerned, Sweet Valley Middle School would be better off without him! Then she learns a terrible secret about Brian: he’s been taken away from his parents because they physically abuse him.
Elizabeth and her friends are horrified, and so are some Middle School parents when they see how scared and upset their kids are. When Brian is sent to a school closer to his new home, there’s a big sigh of relief.
Now Elizabeth has finally got her wish—the school is rid of Brian. So why does she still feel so rotten?
Why does Elizabeth feel so rotten? Because she’s intruding on someone else’s life again, I bet. I’m already angry at this book, and I haven’t read more than the summary and the tagline. I have no faith that ghostie will handle child abuse well at all, I have a feeling they are going to try to blame his Nazism on his abuse, and I’m primed to burn Sweet Valley to ash.
Summary: Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends from Sweet Valley Middle School are shipwrecked! After their ferry was hijacked on a school field trip, the twins saved the day by tying up the hijackers and seizing the helm. But the boat got caught in a storm, and now the twins and their classmates are stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Elizabeth and Jessica are determined to escape. But it won’t be easy. The hijackers have found their way to the island—and they’re out to kill!
I did not enjoy Deadly Voyage, the first half of this Nightmare at Sea sequence, as much as Raven and Dove, but I love stranded on an island stories, and I hope to like this one a lot better. Though that summary does give away the fact that Elizabeth survived the cliffhanger ending of the last book. Which is not actually a surprise, because we know SVH exists, but still shouldn’t be given away in the damn summary.
[Dove: Not just SVH, before then we’ve got the Unicorn Club, Team Sweet Valley (two books only) and Junior High. I mean, it’d be fucking awesome if they killed her off and stuck to it, that would show real balls, but it wasn’t likely.]
[Raven: You mean to say that Elizabeth Wakefield is in the SVH books too? SPOILERS!]
Tagline: Who’s afraid of Elizabeth Wakefield? [Dove: Somehow, everyone and no one.]
Summary: Everyone thinks of Elizabeth Wakefield as the nice twin. That’s why she loves her Halloween mask – it’s so scary that no one can believe Elizabeth is behind it.
But her appearance isn’t the only thing that changes when Elizabeth puts on the mask – little by little it makes Elizabeth act evil… only Elizabeth doesn’t know it. It’s up to her twin sister, Jessica, to destroy the mask… before Elizabeth does something she’ll regret forever.
OMG, we’re here. WE’RE HERE! WE’RE FINALLY AT EVIL ELIZABETH.
THE TITLE LITERALLY EXPLAINS WHO SHE REALLY IS!
I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile now, although I’m now coming at it from the point of view of someone who’s feeling less hateful to Elizabeth. I still think she’s beige fucking paint, and has no hope of a career as a fiction writer, but of late her parents have both put pressure on her to be a grownup, and treated her like a kid. Her boyfriend turned into a massive himbo over Valentine’s day, and a week or so later, he nearly dated her cousin – thanks to her identical twin ruining her life.
So… I do honestly wonder if this will impact how I feel about Elizabeth and this book overall.
But for now, have a cover. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I basically copied that very famous meme.