Summary: Steven Wakefield can’t believe it: beautiful, popular Jill Hale wants to go out with him! He knows that his girlfriend, Cathy Connors, will be heartbroken, but a guy’s got to play the field. After all, he once had a killer crush on Jill, and going out with her would be a dream come true.
And it is… until Steven starts missing Cathy. Jill may be pretty, but she can’t recite basketball statistics or tell gross jokes the way Cathy can. So just in time for Valentine’s Day, Steven decides to mend Cathy’s broken heart—he’ll take her back.
Cathy does want him back, doesn’t she?
Oh great. Another Steven Wakefield book.
Given the demographic this series courts, I don’t know who books that centre on Steven are written for. Would any pre-teen girl, who’s a fan of a series centring on a set of female pre-teen twins, really give a rat’s ass to read a book that centred on their obnoxious brother? Or is it that now, after 100 books, they realise that they only need release something in order to get the completionists buying their product?
Oh, and didn’t Steven already deduce that Jill was a big dud, in the very book in which he got together with Cathy? Yawn.
Also, in this recap, I use the word “bellend” forty times (forty-one if you include this one: bellend).
[Dove: Yeah, I’m already out. I’m never forgiving the lawnmower debacle, so Steven can absolutely get fucked. If he dumps Cathy, good for Cathy. If he ends up with the vapid tit with shiny hair instead, even better. That’s two morons out of the dating pool. I can only hope they’re too stupid to eventually breed.]
[Wing: I can’t. I can’t do another Steven’s in love book. I cannot.]
Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are delighted when their cousin Robin comes to Sweet Valley for a visit. They can’t wait for Robin to meet their friends—and maybe even find a date in time for the Girls-Ask-Boys Dance at Sweet Valley Middle School.
When Robin meets Todd Wilkins, she’s certain he’s the one for her. But she’s in for a big surprise: Todd already has a girlfriend—and her name is Elizabeth Wakefield! Will Robin have to fight her own cousin to win the boy of her dreams?
Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. I hate love triangles. I know, I know, this is not the series for that (at least when we get to SVH, I’ve heard), but god, I hate love triangles, I hate girls fighting over a boy, I hate the tagline and the summary.
I am not looking forward to this book.
[Dove: Well, I hate love triangles. I hate Robin. I pretty much hate Sweet Valley High’s format of using boy trouble as plots A, B and C in a single book. This is just going to be awesome isn’t it? … Or…?]
[Raven: Pretty much sick of love-centric stories in this series. They always devolve into everyone going “well, we’re not really boyfriend and girlfriend, even though we’ve been together for forty damn books. Look, I just wanna snog this hot newcomer, k?”]
Summary: The Unicorn Club is throwing the best Halloween party Sweet Valley Middle School has ever seen! Lila Fowler’s dad has lent the girls a rundown shack in the woods—a perfectly spooky place for the party.
But as the Unicorns are fixing the shack, strange and scary things happen: Ellen Riteman discovers a human skull, Jessica Wakefield gets lost in a cave full of bats, and a mysterious girl appears out of nowhere to relay ghostly warnings.
Then the twins hear that the shack was built over an ancient Native American burial ground. Could the shack really be haunted? Or are the Unicorns the victims of a terrifying Halloween trick?
Jesus fucking christ, that cover. That title. That summary. I know I went into The Unicorns Go Hawaiian expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised, but the haunted burial ground trope is even worse, and even if it turns out to be a terrifying Halloween trick (and, no lie, I expect it to be about 50/50 as to whether it is supernatural or mundane when it comes to the Super Chillers), the stereotypes are likely to be horrific and offensive.
From Schmieding’s piece (Schmieding is a Lakota writer):
All I know, from the point of view of one Lakota Native who enjoyed The Shining as much as you did but with one eyebrow raised, is that the only “ghost stories” I’ve ever heard from my own people are that of ancestors who carry wisdom, who aim to protect, who are considered sacred and powerful, and whose manifestations as malevolent only occur when they’re not talked about. When their story isn’t told. There’s a moral here that I hope you’re grasping. When someone tells you that their house is built on an Indian Burial Ground and it makes the hair stand up on your arms, ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of? Am I afraid of Indigenous people because of pop culture’s portrayal of them as unholy, spurned beasts of the underworld? Or am I afraid of my own willful ignorance of settler colonialism and modern Native issues? Am I afraid that Natives’ stories haven’t actually been told?” I’ll go ahead and assume that it’s a mix of all. But until Native filmmakers and television writers get a chance to scare the shit out of mainstream audiences with our own stories, we’re all stuck with supernatural microaggressions and embarrassingly coded displays of white guilt.
With all that in mind, here we go.
[Dove: My brain says that the Super Chillers went downhill after the covers changed, but in all honesty, maybe Christmas and Carnival Ghosts just set the bar and everything since has been hopelessly flailing at that bar ever since.
On another note, I don’t know if I’ve ever made it clear publicly, but god knows poor Wing has to patiently listen to me bitching about “the new covers” and “the geocities covers” like they’re the worst thing in the world. Every week. Every time we skype, I bring it up. So, in an attempt to put my money where my mouth is, I will be creating badge-style covers for the books from now on. Well, after this we have Amy’s Secret Sister, but after that we are officially switched over to the new covers. So, without further ado, here’s my first cover creation.
I’ve done much better covers after this – this was a bitch to render and I kind of screamed and gave up at some point. Elizabeth’s hair kept pushing through her face (don’t ask), and my computer kept falling over under the weight of the background. So, while it’s not the greatest cover, stick with me, I fully intend to get much better.]
[Wing: A billion times better than the actual cover for so many reasons.]
The sixth-grade newspaper at Sweet Valley Middle School has started running personal ads, and as far as Jessica Wakefield is concerned, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She and Aaron Dallas have nothing in common anymore. Jessica’s ready to find a new boyfriend in the pages of Sweet Valley Sixers.
Soon Jessica’s exchanging the most romantic letters with a mysterious admirer. Her new pen pal loves all the same things she does—even pineapple pizza! At last they decide to meet. It’s going to be the date of the decade. And is Jessica in for a surprise!
[Raven: Hello everyone! We’re back once again, with the ill behaviour. This week we have a recap (today) and a podcast (Friday), Next week, it’s our scheduled fallow week downtime, and them back on schedule for the following Monday and beyond. I hope you’ve missed us. We’ve missed you.]
Jessica’s Blind Date… interesting.
The cover is decent, although it would work just as well if the mystery chap substituted those flowers behind his back for a kitchen knife. [Dove: The Point Horror version of this would definitely have a knife.]
Jessica’s dress seems a little garish, but – spoilers – it’s a correct representation of the garment described in the relevant scene. Yay for accuracy!
[Wing: From the back, her date looks like he’s in his late teens. Has Jessica gone for an older boy again?]
The members of the Unicorn Club are donating themselves to charity! For a price, they’ll obey a classmate’s wishes for an entire day. But with the big Valentine’s Day dance coming up, Jessica Wakefield can’t resist turning the fund-raiser into a matchmaking plan.
Jessica knows that Mandy Miller has a huge crush on Peter Jeffries. She orders Mandy, as her servant for a day, to ask Peter to the dance.
But Peter turns Mandy down! And then Jessica ends up as Mandy’s servant for the day. Can Jessica repair her matchmaking fiasco before Mandy takes her revenge?
That’s some adorable purple going on there. Also, Mandy’s facial expression is a delight. Damn it, why is Peter (one of them at least) back? I find it nearly impossible to tell them all apart, which makes for boring reading.
[Dove: Don’t hate yourself over all the Peters, Wing. I can’t tell them apart either. I wonder why Mandy’s hair is suddenly black? It could be a wig, but I was sure they bought one that matched her original hair colour (brown) when she lost her hair to chemo?]
[Raven: “I find it nearly impossible to tell them all apart, which makes for boring reading.” … Way to go, Wing. You’ve just given the ghosties explicit justification for their repeated “the twins look identical, but are so very different” schtick.]
Tagline: Will Jessica risk losing her friends for the sake of some trees? [Wing: Are they as cute as a baby seal? Because Jessica will get her clothes dirty for that.]
Summary:Jessica goes green…
Soccer fever has hit Sweet Valley Middle School! Everyone is excited about the forthcoming season, including identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. But Jessica’s happiness quickly fades when she learns that the school plans to tear down some beautiful old trees to make room for a bigger soccer field. Jessica risks her popularity, and possibly the soccer team’s chance at a big championship, by starting an environmental crusade to save the trees. But can she hold her ground against all her new enemies—including the boy she likes?
I remember enjoying this as a tween. This isn’t my original copy – someone borrowed it and I never got it back, so there’s a big ugly CEX sticker on one of the better cover pictures. Look! You can pretend that someone’s going to burn Jessica as a witch!
I suppose we’ll find out if this is going to be as good as I remember (Poor Lila!) or utterly rubbish (The Bully).
Tagline: Guilty until proven innocent? [Wing: So Ned is the lawyer involved in this, I see.]
Is there a thief at Sweet Valley Middle School? Things have started disappearing, and the whole school is searching for the culprit. But everyone is shocked when some of the stolen goods turn up in Jessica Wakefield’s locker!
Jessica insists that she’s been framed, but the only one who believes her is her twin sister. Elizabeth. When Jessica and Elizabeth team up to find the real thief, they can hardly believe what they find out!
I kind of hate stories about people being falsely accused, so I can’t see this going well for me.
[Dove: I remember getting into a conversation with someone on Twitter (I think it was@_sunshinebooks) about how tiny Jessica looks in comparison to the rest of the girls on the cover. There’s something not quite right about the proportions there. Also, who is the girl in the peach dress? Is that Veronica?
Also, when I first read this, Watchmans (handheld TVs) hadn’t hit the UK, mostly, I think, because they were completely expensive and rarely worked. I misread the branding and spent the entire book wondering why Lila was so braggy about a Walkman, which pretty much everyone I knew owned.]
Tagline: Patty Gilbert doesn’t need friends — or does she?
Summary: Scared and alone…
Patty Gilbert has dreamed of being a ballerina since she was a little girl Following her dream has meant making sacrifices, and one thing Patty has never had time for is friends. But when she beats her biggest rival, Kerry Glenn, for the lead role in Swan Lake, Patty is sure it has all been worth it.
Then Patty learns that she has scoliosis, which means she’ll have to wear a back brace for several years. Patty feels as if all her dreams have been shattered, and the worst part is she has nowhere to turn for support. Kerry has always acted friendly—and she’s the only person who really seems to understand how Patty feels about ballet. But can Patty trust Kerry with her secret?
Since Patty’s friends are probably going to be one or both the Wakefields, no, no she does not need friends. Though that summary makes me think that we might get very little Wakefields. Do I dare get my hopes up? Since we’re back to a regular series book after a special edition that I pretty much loved — I’m going to guess no, no I should not get my hopes up.
[Dove: Oh, it’s a retelling of Deenie by Judy Blume. Anyone who tries to tell a story that Judy Blume did already (I see you Jessica’s Secret – even if you are written by #BestJamie) won’t get it done as well as she did.]
Jessica Wakefield is sick and tired of spoiled Lila Fowler’s constant boasting. So when she reads about the Model Family competition being sponsored by Teenager Magazine, she’s tempted to enter just to put Lila in her place. The first prize is a fabulous, all-expenses-paid trip to Paris. To compete, all Jessica has to do is write an essay describing her perfect family.
But the family Jessica ends up writing about is nothing like her real family. Still, it’s just a joke, until her twin, Elizabeth, posts the essay by mistake. Now it’s good-bye France and hello trouble—unless Jessica can convince the Wakefields to pretend to be something they’re not!
Tagline: How far will Jessica go to win a trip to Paris? [Wing: Considering she buries people in the Mercandy backyard on a whim, I’m sure there’s no limit to how far she’ll go.]
Two things: One, why are you posting your sister’s essay? WHY? WHY ARE YOU MEDDLING AGAIN? I DON’T FOR A SECOND BELIEVE IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.
Two, I cannot spell “mademoiselle” right on the first try to save my life. Fingers crossed that I won’t have to write it again in this recap, because The Carnival Ghostnearly killed me.