Sweet Valley High #6: Dangerous Love

Sweet Valley High #6: Dangerous Love by Francine Pascal

Title: Dangerous Love

Tagline: Are Elizabeth and Todd heading for disaster?

Summary: One of the strictest rules in the Wakefield house is “No motorcycles.” Ever since their cousin was killed in a crash, Elizabeth and Jessica have been forbidden to go near them.

So when Elizabeth’s boyfriend Todd drives up on a shiny new Yamaha, she knows there’s trouble ahead. She can’t ride Todd’s bike, but other girls can—and do. And the sight of those girls riding with their arms around Todd is making Elizabeth crazy with jealousy.

Todd tells her not to worry, but Elizabeth’s scared of losing him. Will Todd’s new bike drive them apart?

Initial Thoughts

Last book set up Todd getting a motorcycle that Elizabeth isn’t allowed to ride. I love motorcycles, my parents loved motorcycles and trikes, Ostrich loves motorcycles and trikes, we used to ride all the time, though life and my bike needing repairs killed that the past few years. I’ve had my motorcycle license for years.

Am I looking forward to Sweet Valley tackling motorcycles? Oh hell no.

[Raven: Here’s hoping this is actually a secret Super Chiller that’s a Sweet Valley riff on I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle.]


Elizabeth gets permission to drive the Spider convertible to school that day for a “special occasion.” She scrambles to think of one when Jessica questions her and finally settles on the Dairi Burger reopening. She needs to show up so she can get gossip for “Eyes and Ears,” her beloved gossip column, even though Elizabeth isn’t the one who loves gossip, that’s Jessica.


Jessica pokes and pokes and pokes at her until Elizabeth breaks down and admits that Todd finally bought his motorcycle and is riding it to school that day.

Jessica hates Todd. Why, you may ask? Because he called her on her false rape allegation? Because he encourages Elizabeth to not give in when Jess tries to walk all over her? Because he loves her sister and takes Elizabeth’s attention away from Jess?


The two had been at odds with each other ever since Todd had rejected Jessica for her sister.



[Dove: But that was weeks ago, and what’s a little false rape allegations between schoolmates?] [Raven: Like so many other things, I guess we have to hand-wave this away in order to avoid it tainting every single thing about the remainder of the series?]

We are thirty seconds into this book and I’ve gone boom. This bodes well.

The long and short of it is this: The Wakefields all think motorcycles are death machines and should be banned because their cousin, Rexy Wakefield (…R E X Y?! what the ever loving fuck is going on in the Wakefield family? [Raven: Lest we forget… Quakefield Wakefield.]), bought a motorcycle for his sixteenth birthday (…fucking Wakefields and their fucking money) and was immediately killed in a head-on collision with a station wagon. Alice and Ned made all three of them swear they’d never ride a motorcycle. It’s one of the few rules Jessica willingly follows.

After all, Rexy’s death was hardest on her, because she adored him almost as much as she does big brother Steven. [Raven: Rexy died three years before this book, making it very much around the time that Jessica actually thought the idea of Johnny Buck on a motorcycle to be the height of cool, and also the time that Steven owned a fucking moped. I suppose there mightn’t be any crossover, canonically, but I’m sure that’s not through the Ghostie’s good judgment.]

…say fucking what? I know we’ve actually had a tiny bit of good sibling interactions lately (though, was that only in Junior High? It might have been), but Jessica does not fucking adore Steven. Where the hell is that coming from? She barely acts like she cares for her sister, and Elizabeth is allegedly one of her best friends. [Dove: Don’t worry, the incest will kick in very shortly. The echoes of it in Twins didn’t come out of nowhere.]

Elizabeth hasn’t told Todd about Rexy or her promise never to ride a motorcycle, even though she knows she should have done so ages ago. She thinks if she were a different kind of person, she would have said something sooner and begged him not to buy it. She’s not that kind of person, though.

…is Elizabeth actually admitting she’s spineless?


She’s not that kind of person because she strongly believes she shouldn’t impose her own beliefs on someone else.


Elizabeth. Doesn’t believe in imposing her beliefs on someone else. ELIZABETH FUCKING WAKEFIELD. [Dove: Tell that to the Henkels, whom she forced to reuinte because genetics are more important than mental health and emotional wellbeing. Fuck you, ghostie. She loves it when everyone is doing exactly what she thinks they should be doing.]

The fuck is going on with this book? Ghostie, we’ve got bad blood.

(One of the few Taylor Swift songs I like, mostly because of that goddamn amazing video. What the fuck even is that? Why don’t I have a cinematic universe about all these heroes and villains? Fucking hell, look at them.

And look, there are even motorcycles, so it’s slightly on topic.)

Jessica encourages her to tell Todd the truth, because it will be better in the long run and otherwise she might make Todd think he’s done something wrong, not that she doesn’t like the motorcycle. She shouldn’t let this go on and make Todd feel bad.

… yes, Jessica, I can see how worried you are about Todd’s feelings. Or anyone’s feelings, including your sister’s.

(Jessica’s dating Danny Stauffer now. Should … should I know who the fuck that is?

Also, this book follows directly on from the last book, and Jessica sure as fuck wasn’t dating him then. Did she start dating Danny in the last thirty seconds?)

[Dove: All that said, I enjoyed this scene because it was literally the first non-toxic interaction they’ve had. It feels like they can at least talk, even if they don’t love each other. Jessica is a bit callous, but for once her eyes aren’t “flashing dangerously” as she throws a screaming kiddie tantrum and kicks things. Nor is she making up wild lies or emotionally abusing Liz. They’re just talking about family rules and Liz’s boyfriend. It’s a scene that feels like a natural carry-on from the girls they were in Twins.]

[Raven: Yeah, and it was actually good advice too, I guess. Also, I saw Danny Stauffer (Stouffer!) as yet another seat on the Whirling Carousel of Jessica’s lovelife.]

Enid waits for Elizabeth outside school, glum as anything because her mother is making her send invitations to the giant sixteenth birthday party she’s throwing for her daughter. The horror. What terrible parenting.

Todd arrives with his new motorcycle: a Yamaha 750 Virago in shiny black.

Damn, that’s actually a great looking bike.

Despite her terror and hatred of motorcycles, Elizabeth’s all worked up over how sexy and self-assured Todd looks in his soft leather jacket and full-faced helmet.

He offers to take her for a quick ride before school starts [Dove: He bought her a hot pink helmet for her very own. Never mind that Liz never wears pink and prefers blue and beige. She’s a girl. She gets the girl colour.]. She lies again and runs away.

Fatal. Elizabeth cringed at the word. Ever since Rexy’s death, the words fatal and motorcycle were synonymous to her. Rationally, she knew that was silly—she saw lots of cyclists riding safely down the streets of Sweet Valley every day. Yet that emotional reaction was hard to shake. She couldn’t quite get it out of her mind that all people who rode motorcycles were flirting with death. But she knew she had to stop feeling that way. For Todd’s sake.

This? This is good characterization for Elizabeth. It fits the way we’re told she’s smart and logical and thinks things through. She knows it’s a ridiculous reaction and also knows that emotional reactions aren’t always logical. I kind of love this.

Later, Todd offers her another ride. She finally tells him the truth. He’s annoyed that she didn’t tell him sooner, but has no problem at all with her not wanting to ride the bike with him. She means too much, he would never choose the bike over her.

I don’t hate this either.

Besides, one thing that people unfamiliar with motorcycles don’t realize is that the overwhelming majority of accidents happen to people who don’t know how to ride or are improperly protected. I’m a good driver, Liz. And I’m always careful.

…nevermind, Todd’s an ass.

Your girlfriend, who you claim to love, just told you that her beloved cousin was killed in a motorcycle crash, and your response is to shortly after tell her that most people die because they don’t know what they’re doing and aren’t protected? When you know nothing about Rexy’s experience or gear?

Read the fucking room, asshole.

(I’m not sure this is correct, either. In my experience, and yes, I understand one person’s experience doesn’t mean things are always that way, but all I can speak from here is my own experience from riding for years both alone and in groups, the biggest danger is people in their fucking vehicles. They don’t look for bikes and trikes, they follow too close, they cut you off, they try to pass when there’s no passing because you’re much smaller than them, etc.

People fucking suck.)

[Dove: Also, it’s not just careless drivers, worry about reckless ones – we already know that both Bruce and Jessica drive like fools – Jessica nearly wrote off the Fiat in a reckless bump that happened before book 1, and Bruce wriggled out of a ticket for doing 80 in a 30mph zone. And I’m sure they’re only the tip of the iceberg in a wealthy entitled town like this one. Finally, Todd, way to victim-blame Rexy. God that name sucks.] [Raven: But Dove, I thought you LOVED Rexy…?]

Todd is filled with joy over what it’s like to ride, and I’ll give him that, because it is amazing. One of the best things I’ve ever done is learn to ride a motorcycle.

“Don’t you ever worry about falling off?”

“No, the bike practically stands up by itself. The only way anything can happen to me is if I’m careless. And I don’t plan to be.”

I mean, sort of? Bikes practically stand up by themselves when they’re in motion. There’s still a lot of balance involved, too.

(One of the reasons my dad started riding trikes instead of bikes is because he worried he wouldn’t be able to pick the bike up if he laid it down. That’s a fair concern, especially with the big bikes we have.)

Todd offers to talk to Alice and Ned, reassure them that he’ll be safe, ask if she can ride with him. She doesn’t want to, but she also doesn’t want to disappoint him, and she’s certain her parents won’t agree anyway, so she lets him.

And she’s right, they shut that shit right down.

Time for the grand Dairi Burger reopening!

Everything’s been redone in the wood-and-plants design that is popular in Sweet Valley restaurants. Alice, is this your doing? There’s a new game room, too, for the video games previously scattered everywhere. [Raven: Were there video games dotted around the Twins version of the Dairi Burger? I don’t recall that being mentioned before.]

She joins Robin Wilson (you know, former fatty whose story infuriated us) and boyfriend Allen Walters. Robin’s curious as to why she’s not riding with Todd, and Elizabeth continues to avoid telling the truth.

This is believable, to be fair. While she really did need to tell Todd the truth, I can see not wanting to get into my beloved cousin’s death even with the rest of my friends.

Dustup in the parking lot! Danny Stauffer (you know, Jessica’s new beau, and she’s in the car with him) drives too fast into the parking lot and rear ends a big purple van owned by Jerry “Crunch” McAllister. He’s a former high school football player who dropped out after he was sidelined with an injury and now spends far too much time drinking. [Dove: And, of course, Lila had a crush on him in the final Unicorn Club book. And it seemed weird then. Even weirder now he’s a drunk dropout.]

Danny and Crunch get into it, Bruce Patman takes bets on whether Crunch will hit him, Crunch throws Danny around a little, but just before Crunch can really light into him, Todd shows up and his motorcycle is the perfect distraction for Crunch. [Raven: The word Crunch has now lost all meaning for me.]

Mostly because Todd immediately lets him ride it.

What. the. fuck. are. you. doing?

This is a brutal bully who is almost always drinking, you don’t know if he can ride at all, you are completely in love with your new bike, AND YOU OFFER TO LET HIM DRIVE IT?!

You don’t deserve that goddamn bike, Todd.

It’s not until all this mess is done that Elizabeth realizes that Mandy Farmer, a beautiful girl who was working on a save the whales project with Todd, rode over with him.

Elizabeth gets real damn jealous real damn fast.

She knows it’s silly, she refuses to ride with him, she doesn’t even want to ride with him, and Mandy’s her friend anyway, but it does bother her.

I like this, too! Elizabeth’s doing a lot of heavy lifting with the parts of the story I like. Her emotions are believable, as are her reactions, and I feel for her! Even when I disagree with her, I understand her emotions.

God, why do I like Elizabeth so much this book? Did not see that coming. [Raven: Hell, I’m Team Elizabeth for the series, never mind the book. At this point.]

Despite her complicated feelings, she’s proud that Todd rode in “like a knight in shining armor” and gives him a sweet kiss as a prize, obviously much like a favor for a knight.

Crunch returns without wrecking the bike, amazingly, and offers to buy it from Todd if he ever decides to sell it. Is that — is that foreshadowing? It feels like foreshadowing, and if it is, I’ll be a tiny bit impressed that ghostie slipped it in.

That night, Jessica pokes at Elizabeth that Todd’s really feeling the need to keep his backseat warm, if you get what she means, wink wink nudge nudge.

Elizabeth tries to shut that down, but Jessica refuses to let her leave it to fester. Mostly because she thinks Elizabeth should dump Todd and date someone else.

Why, so you can accuse him of rape, too?

Fuck you, and fuck Pascal, and fuck Pascal’s letter at the beginning of the book, which I’ll get into later.

Jessica’s furious when she learns that Todd’s coming over to talk to Alice and Ned about allowing Elizabeth to ride the bike. She’s terrified for her sister and storms out of the house.

Elizabeth thinks she and Todd are both right. Jessica’s anger and fear is understandable, but Todd’s right, too, it’s really just another means of transportation and people have car accidents all the time, but she doesn’t worry every time she sees a car.

She doesn’t understand how two of the people she loves most could both be right and still be on opposite sides, and worse, she doesn’t know where that leaves her.

Fuck, these are also believable thoughts and emotions.

Ghostie, I’ll give you this: you sometimes write Elizabeth’s emotions and thoughts surprisingly well.

Once Alice and Ned refuse to change the rules just because Todd asked, he reassures Elizabeth that nothing will change just because she can’t ride him his motorcycle.

This will, of course, prove untrue or we wouldn’t have much of a book.

Meanwhile, we got our b plot: Jessica asks Elizabeth to ask Enid to fix Jessica up with her cousin, Brian, who is a sophomore at UCLA and who will be at Enid’s birthday party.

Jessica lives in her own special world. Not only is she already dating Danny [Dove: You missed their breakup – when it became apparent that Jerry McAllister was going to flatten him, Jessica ran away because she doesn’t date losers – apparently that’s all it takes to end a relationship.], but she very, very recently had a horrible run-in with a college boy and a near rape, but she was horrible to Enid not all that long ago, telling secrets and lies all for the title of Homecoming Queen.

In a surprising bit of continuity, Elizabeth flat out calls her on that, though in a spineless way, because she might risk offending one or the other if she takes side. Which, on the one hand, yes, it would be kind of shitty for her to be forced to choose between her friend and her sister (who is also allegedly a friend), but on the other hand, Jessica is horrible to Elizabeth as well as the people she cares about, so why is Elizabeth so careful with Jessica’s feelings?]

Jessica knows how to spin a situation.

“I get it.” Jessica sniffled and turned that innocent look back on. “So I told an old boyfriend of hers about her less than perfect past. I admit it. But that was a long time ago. Is that one mistake supposed to follow me around and torture me for the rest of my life? I could understand how Enid might see it that way, but I hardly expected you to agree.”

“I don’t.” Elizabeth sighed wearily. Once again she felt herself getting sucked into another sticky situation courtesy of Jessica.

“Besides,” Jessica continued, “if Ronnie hadn’t dumped her because of what I told him, she wouldn’t have gotten back together with George. He’s the one she really wanted in the first place, right?”

“Right.” Elizabeth had to agree.

“So actually I ended up doing Enid a favor. She owes me one,” Jessica concluded.

Holy hell, Jessica, that’s quite a spin of a story. [Dove: This annoyed me. Liz flat-out said that she doesn’t agree with Enid holding a grudge over this. Fuck off, Liz. Your beloved twin is a life-wrecking bitch, and you need to acknowledge that. And if you’re too cowardly to do that, at least acknowledge that the victim of the life-wrecking has valid feelings and is allowed to be angry and hurt about it as long as they damned well need.]

Surprisingly, Elizabeth doesn’t buy this argument, either, though Jessica does manipulate her into doing what Jessica wants in the end. [Raven: While I do like Elizabeth in the series, I still can’t fathom why she justs crumples like a cheap suit whenever her sister asks her to do ANYTHING.]

Elizabeth talks around actually asking Enid to do it, Enid gives her and Todd their invitations, Todd drops this tiny bit of, I’m sure, completely unimportant information, that he’ll be at his grandfather’s birthday party earlier that day but will still be able to come to Enid’s party, Elizabeth makes out with Todd in order to mark her territory because she can’t stop picturing girls riding on him his motorcycle — and then he gives Enid a ride. Elizabeth is even jealous of her best friend.

Elizabeth gets some advice from Mr Collins, faculty advisor to the Oracle. (I’d say that he’s weirdly involved in the lives of some of his students, but I had teachers who were pretty close mentors in high school and undergrad, so I can’t really judge. This isn’t exactly a middle school Mr Nydick situation.)

Elizabeth decides she’d best talk to him before the white coats come and take her away. Fuck you, Elizabeth. Fuck. you.

Mr Collins reminds her that she doesn’t only want to date boys who love literature like she does, she doesn’t worry that Todd only wants to date girls who play basketball just because he plays basketball, etc.

She admits that she knows there’s nothing wrong with him giving the girls rides, but it still upsets her, and she hates feeling that way.

God, I do love a lot of Elizabeth’s emotions in this book. They’re believable and understandable, and she’s so goddamn self aware. I can’t believe how much I love this part of the book.

Mr Collins feels similarly!

“I didn’t say everything was rosy. All I meant was that it’s normal to have feelings of envy, jealousy, or even hatred. Every sensitive person I know has those feelings. And everyone’s got to find out how to handle them. Believe me, Liz, you’re not alone. Everyone has to deal with similar emotions at some time or other.”

He recommends she talk to Todd, which is, somehow, the same good advice Jessica gave her. Elizabeth, have you learned nothing in this book? NOTHING? When your sister is giving the good advice, that’s saying something.

At lunch Elizabeth finally asks Enid to fix Brian up with Jessica at her birthday party. Enid, of course, shuts that shit right down. Jessica hurt her deeply, she still hasn’t forgiven her, and she doesn’t want to bring that on her cousin.

Especially since Jessica constantly makes her feel like a nuisance who hangs out with Elizabeth.


“But, Enid,” Elizabeth persisted, “you haven’t even thought about Ronnie for months. And you and George are very happy now.”


I know you admit that you understand why not, but what the fuck. You are making the exact same argument that Jessica did, and it was a shit argument back then.

Enid also feels that way. It’s not the point, Jessica never apologized, and if Jessica’s not going to take the guys she dates seriously, she doesn’t need to play around with Enid’s cousin, either.

Fucking A, Enid. I love you. I’ll fandom for you. [Dove: I was so proud of Enid here. I was convinced she’d cave immediately in the face of her bestie asking a favour. Good for you, stand your ground. Also, since she is Brian’s “favourite cousin”, one would assume he wouldn’t want anything to do with the scheming harpy that ruined Enid’s life for a cheap plastic tiara. Spoilers: No.]

Elizabeth finally admits that she’s jealous of all the girls riding Todd(‘s motorcycle).

Todd swore he wouldn’t let the motorcycle come between them, and he was right. Elizabeth’s the one letting it come between them, and she knows it. She’s so damn self aware when it comes to this part!

Guy Chesney, keyboardist for The Droids’, hits on Elizabeth after school and gives her a ride to the Dairi Burger. They talk about the band for awhile, then he stop questioning her about why she’s not riding with Todd. [Raven: This scene creeped me out. Fucking Chesney, thinking he’s the one and fucking only.]

Todd sees her with Guy, and he gets jealous of her riding with other guys. She is amused as fuck because it makes her realize how silly she’s being with her own jealousy. They actually fucking talk, which Elizabeth seems to never remember is a good thing, including about how she didn’t want to come across as demanding.

Later, Enid changes her mind about not setting up Brian and Jessica. She talked to George who convinced her that it was wrong to keep punishing her. She should keep the past in the past, and by refusing her, it was a dumb, spiteful thing to do because she knows Brian will have a good time with Jessica.

What the fuck. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

First of all, why the fuck do you think he’d have a good time with her? WHY? She’s terrible, she treats people like shit, including her own twin sister/bff, and YOU KNOW THIS. You’ve seen it in action. You’ve felt it in action.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? [Dove: RIGHT??? Why would he have a good time with such an awful person? I wouldn’t set my favourite cousin up with the person who tried to ruin my life. And screw Jessica’s wants and hopes. Boo hoo. She’ll have to go with her backup date. Fuck this stupid development.] [Raven: Jessica Wakefield always gets her man, folks. Yawn.]

Look, choosing to forgive or not forgive is a personal thing, and I can see why George would believe in leaving the past behind, changing and moving on, but here’s the thing: JESSICA HASN’T FUCKING CHANGED. NOT A SINGLE FUCKING BIT. NOT EVEN A LITTLE.

Fuck I hate this. Why? WHY GHOSTIE WHY? Why the fuck would you turn everything around? Elizabeth was very smart about her emotions! Enid was very smart about her emotions, was true to how she felt!


Elizabeth then makes Enid feel better about her mother and this party. She’s starting to feel like the party means more to her mother than Enid herself does. Elizabeth reminds her that her mother was pretty worried about her back during the drug days and is likely thrilled that she made it to sixteen.

I can’t think of the right word for what I want to say here. This is — I don’t know. Maybe Dove will put her finger on it. Maybe we’ll have to leave this floating here because I fail at putting thoughts together sometimes.

[Dove: To be honest, I’m glad Liz spelled that out for me, because I was feeling like it was a living vicariously through her young daughter thing, which, naturally, alarmed me, and sort of explained why Enid might have gone through her rebelleous phase. Actually, I was relieved that the actions were more wholesome, and actually wholesome, not informed wholesome.]

Jessica’s shitty about breaking a date with Danny to go out with Brian and then far too excited to hear that Bruce has been asking about her again. WTF, Jessica. WTF.

Enid’s party is fun but for one thing: Todd’s late. Very late. Extremely late. [Raven: OHEMGEE TODD’S DRIVEN HIS BIKE OFF A CLIFF!]

Jessica and Brian hit it off, Enid manages to have fun no matter how annoyed she’s been, the party heads to the Caravan, Sweet Valley’s newest rock club, after midnight, all is well.

(NEWEST ROCK CLUB? Where underage teens can party? How many fucking clubs like that does Sweet Valley have? How many could they possibly need?)

Even Mr Collins is having fun at the party.

…er. Okay. This is a little weird of him, to be honest.

Todd calls to let Elizabeth know his grandfather’s party is running long, and she tries to convince herself that she should enjoy the party and not let her worrying get to her. Except then he doesn’t show up, and doesn’t show, and doesn’t show up. When he still hasn’t shown up near midnight, she’s worried at first but then deeply annoyed at him for not breaking the date in advance and instead he stood her up. How dare he? It doesn’t make sense after all they’re going through, but all she can figure is that he’s avoiding her.

Really. REALLY. R E A L L Y.

You’ve talked on and on and on about how much motorcycles are murder vehicles, how you expect Todd to die at any second, and now that he’s actually late, at night, when people would have been out on the roads after drinking, you’re not worried?

Ghostie, this doesn’t make any goddamn sense!

Even though Jessica promised to give Elizabeth a ride to the club, she takes off with Brian and forgets about her sister. Shocking. Todd finally shows up late with a surprise, and Elizabeth worries that he’s finally chosen the motorcycle over her.



Though, okay, again believable emotions. I can’t hate Elizabeth’s emotional storyline in this book.

Of course he’s not breaking up with her, though. Nope, he’s selling his bike to Crunch. That’s what took so long, Crunch insisted on celebrating with beer, though Todd drank sodas all that time.

…I can’t imagine this will be important in the near future.

Elizabeth decides that one ride with Todd won’t kill her. Hmm, I can’t imagine this has anything to do with the above, either.

Todd tries to talk her out of it, she insists [Dove: Despite the fact he sold the second helmet, so she’ll be riding without one.] [Raven: I thought he just left it at home, because he wasn’t giving girls rides anymore?], and Elizabeth actually starts to enjoy herself, feels like she conquered her fears, she’ll insist that Todd keep the bike, she’ll insist her parents rethink their rule, there’s nothing wrong with a motorcycle when it’s being handled by someone as competent as Todd, nothing will stop them, nothing will —

And skip over to Jessica who is making out with Brian and finally remembers that they were supposed to pick up Elizabeth. Brian tries to talk her out going, promises her that Elizabeth is fine, but Jessica can’t shake her bad feeling, her twinsense, and she thinks there’s something more going on than just Elizabeth being stuck at the country club.

On their way back, they run into a bad accident. There’s a purple van parked on the side of the road with no damage to it at all, but then Jessica spots Todd’s bike. She’s terrified that Todd is injured or even dead. How will she possibly be able to tell Elizabeth?

[Dove: She even hugs him in relief when she sees him limping away, grateful that she wouldn’t have to explain his death to Liz, which I thought was an oddly thoughtful moment from Jessica. Provided you ignore their history, it was actually quite sweet that her reaction was, “Oh good, you’re alive. Liz will be so happy!”]

Except that Elizabeth is right fucking there, twisted and motionless on the road.

Crunch is the one who was driving the van. Drunk, of course, after all those beers to celebrate buying the motorcycle. Jessica attacks him, threatens to make him pay for it, calls him a monster, all of which are valid responses! [Dove: This is how you use her violent temper. Where it matters. Not because some boy smiled at a girl who wasn’t her.]

Once the cops pull her away, she returns to her sister’s side and yells at her that she has to keep fighting, she’s going to be just fine, she has to listen to her sister. It’d be more heartbreaking if Jessica ever fucking acted like she cared for her sister. This feels very performative so she gets attention, but sure. [Raven: No, I actually believed this from Jessica. The stakes have been appropriately raised, so her reaction is allowed to be dramatic too.]

Ned and Alice lose their shit at Todd at the hospital. Which is believable and understandable from their point of view! Annoying as fuck as a reader, though, because I know that Todd tried to stop her and she insisted, she decided to break their rules, she wanted to convince them to change the rules anyway.

Actually, even if their anger and terror are understandable and believable from their point of view, Elizabeth is still the one who chose to break the rules at the end! She got on the bike! I know they don’t want to believe she would ever break a rule (she’s not Jessica, after all), and they won’t want to blame their daughter who might die, but still.

Todd waits in a different waiting room after the blowup. Mr Collins, Enid, George, and several more of Elizabeth’s friends show up to check on her, though they go home once they have an update and offer support to the Wakefields.

Mr Collins talks to Todd for a bit, Todd tells him the truth and breaks down a little over Elizabeth being hurt so badly, Mr Collins supports him about how he didn’t force her to go with him and if he had left her, she would have been alone at the club — and then Steven interrupts to tell Mr Collins that Elizabeth’s taken a turn for the worse and the doctors don’t think she’s going to make it.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUH. [Raven: Such a weird cliffhanger.]

Todd manages to get some sleep on an empty sofa and in the morning, he rushes down to get an update from Ned and Alice, no matter how much they hate him now. Elizabeth’s not doing much better, unfortunately, though they’ve determined there’s no brain damage.

Err, I thought you couldn’t fully determine brain damage until they were awake. Am I wrong?

Enter Steven! Who shouts at Todd, because the last he knew, they hated Todd now.

But no! Jessica defends him. She’s to blame, she left Elizabeth behind, and also she heard that Todd chose to sell his bike rather than constantly spend time away from Elizabeth. Plus Mr Collins told Ned and Alice the truth.

They forgive Todd. Todd tells them that forgiveness means nothing to Liz and, unspoken, that therefore it’s fucking pointless.

Or maybe that’s just my commentary.

Jessica and Todd visit Elizabeth together, bond over Liz, do a little mental thing that Mr Collins told Todd about, and they put some energy out into the universe hoping to save her.

We end the book with Elizabeth still in a coma. Will she live or will she die?

(Spoiler: Pretty sure she lives because this series goes on for a long, long, long time.)

Final Thoughts

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, because I expected to rage when I started it, but I didn’t hate this. Dare I say it, but I actually enjoyed parts of it. Mostly Elizabeth struggling with her emotions, being very self-aware, and working through her fears when it comes to Todd, both fears for his death and fear of losing him emotionally.

To balance that, there’s the shit with Jessica and Enid, Jessica and Todd, Jessica and Elizabeth, Jessica is — okay, you get my point. Surely Jessica is going to become slightly more nuanced and entertaining. Surely.

Todd’s obnoxious sometimes, Enid first has a spine (yay!) and doesn’t have a spine (boo!), there are details wrong, but — fuck. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.

I thought I’d hate this book that is horrified by motorcycles, but it really lands on drunk driving is terrible, dangerous, and harms innocent people. Which is all true!

Again, spoilers: There’s no way Elizabeth’s going to die.

I kind of wish I had more worry about it, though.

[Dove: I actually liked this book. Ok, well, maybe not like because I’m carrying baggage from the books that I’ve absolutely loathed so far. But this will get rated as Good because it’s actually a huge step up from the toxicity and boredom that the previous books have been. Also, it was written by a ghostie who manages to weave all the sub-plots together, rather than doing the big plot in the first four chapters and then dragging out the rest of the book with boring pointless shit. This is a big step up. And yeah, of course Liz isn’t going to die.]

[Raven: I liked this one. If I’m honest, I felt a little like Joey from Friends eating Rachel’s trifle at Thanksgiving. A lot of the ingredients in this book did not work well together, such as Enid’s weird about-face over Jessica, the off-piste timing of the Rexy thing, yet more inappropriate sexual oddness (this time from that ass-face Chesney), but overall, what’s not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Beef, GOOD. And the end? Genuine tension, a great soap opera tune-in-next-week potboiler finale.

Here’s my worry. We read many two-parters in the Twins series that set us up with fine initial stories, only to botch the fucking landing in Part Two and destroy all goodwill garnered from Part One. I’m talking Shipwreck / Desert Island, people! So if the next book starts with Elizabeth skipping out of the hospital in Chapter One with a “my, what an adventure” mindset, completely unharmed, I’m going to flip a fucking table.]