Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #3 – Sweet Valley High Books 4-8

Are you ready to delve more into the lives of the beautiful Wakefield twins? The five books in this post either are hits or misses but at least they even out. A word of ‘spoiler’ caution: There are going to be a few spoilers in each review blurb. No real details, but this is a true old-school book series that is like a soap opera. Every book feeds into the next as one giant continuation. When I wrote this, I realized the back of the books usually only covered the first quarter of the book, enough to get readers in the 1980s interested enough to pick it up, but not a true summation of what all happened. So if a book is about two girls fighting over a boy, you will likely find out who wins and lands her man by the end of my blurb – but you won’t have the antics of the journey spoiled for you. 🙂 If you plan to read these books though and want zero spoilers, as much as it pains me to say this, you may want to skip any Sweet Valley blog I write. I don’t want anyone to be angry about plot spoilers (and I am one to get frustrated about such things when it comes to books on my reading list, so I get it). Otherwise, I hope you all enjoy the mayhem in the books on this list!

“Power Play”
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place

Robin Wilson has been following Jessica around for months, trying to be her friend. Now she wants to pledge Pi Beta Alpha, Sweet Valley High’s exclusive sorority. When Elizabeth nominates Robin for the sorority, Jessica is furious. Even though Robin is friendly and smart, she is also chubby and not ‘popular enough’. Jessica is determined to keep Robin out, but Elizabeth is just as determined to make Robin a sorority sister. It’s twin versus twin in the biggest power play of Sweet Valley High.

This book is so wrong that it is right! Jessica uses and discards Robin Wilson for months and when Robin wants to join her sorority she tries to do everything she can to keep her from getting in. This includes horrible dares she must perform and other impossible tasks (it is downright hazing) and yet Robin pulls through. The other sorority sisters like Robin and she has more than proved herself, but when it comes to the anonymous vote, it is Jessica who blackballs Robin (literally) preventing her from getting into the sorority. Robin is devastated and turns cold to Jessica (can you imagine?) who is perplexed as to how Robin can ignore her (she actually thinks Robin is the one with nerve – facepalm). Robin starts dieting, exercising and morphs into a confident, gorgeous young woman who all the boys want and is made co-captain of the cheerleaders. Of course, the sweetest revenge of all if when Robin becomes even more popular than Jessica, who actually tries to get Robin to join the sorority after all. Robin turns her down = major win!

As a feminist, the idea that you only matter and can overcome once you have become physically desirable is appalling. Luckily, I don’t wear my feminist hat when I read my guilty pleasure books (if I did I would become seriously conflicted with myself). This book is an early favorite. Jessica gets what is coming to her, Elizabeth faces off with her sister and there are the ridiculous antics of a sorority thrown into the mix. How could you go wrong?

“All Night Long”
Sweet Valley Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Fourth Place

Jessica Wakefield can handle almost any guy, but her latest love interest, Scott Daniels, is much older and much more experienced than anyone Jessica has dated before. Elizabeth is worried about her sister and worry turns into alarm when Jessica doesn’t return home after going to a college beach party. Why has Jessica stayed out all night? The consequences of Jessica’s latest fling spill over into Elizabeth’s personal life, when she has to cover for her sister, threatening her relationship with her boyfriend Todd. Is Jessica really as grown up as she thinks she is and when will Elizabeth finally have enough?

The entire ‘out all night’ storyline lasts for couple chapters and the rest of the book is about the mess Jessica creates by staying out all night. Basically, Jessica wants to go home, but Scott refuses to take her so instead of taking his keys when he passes out she huddles into a ball in the corner (seriously?) to fall asleep. The next morning Elizabeth has to pretend to be both herself and her twin so that her mother doesn’t realize Jessica never came home. Jessica calls Elizabeth and begs her to take a test for her at school, which of course Elizabeth agrees to do (again, seriously?) so she ends up taking the test twice. Todd finds out and gets mad that Elizabeth for covering for Jessica, saying that Jessica will just drag Elizabeth down with her. Elizabeth overreacts (for being the logical twin, she reacts like the best of the crazies would) and they fight and subsequently breakup (ah high school romance). Elizabeth is so miserable she can’t concentrate and fails the test she agreed to take for Jessica (even though she aced her own). Rather than thanking her sister for covering for her at school and with her parents, Jessica accuses Elizabeth of failing the test on purpose and treats her horribly. By the end, everyone makes up with each other and Elizabeth forgives her sister, who by the way, never apologized in the first place.

Sadly, this is not even the weakest link on this list (second weakest, but still). This is the first book in the series where Elizabeth’s boyfriend Todd, really begins to grate on my nerves. He is way too possessive and controlling and if I had dated a guy like that in high school (correction, when I dated guys like that in high school) he would be kicked to the curb so quickly he wouldn’t know what hit him. This book also is the first to show that Elizabeth is not just a pushover when it comes to her twin, but crazy overprotective, emphasis on the crazy. She knows she is being used and still lets herself get used (ugh). By this time, we already know Jessica is a sociopath so this book only reinforces that. Read this book if you miss high school drama or are reading the entire series in order, but honestly when I read it I kept thinking, ‘Why should I care? The author was able to make this into an entire book?’

“Dangerous Love”
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

There are few rules in the Wakefield household as strict as: no motorcycles. Ever since their cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident, the twins have been forbidden to go near them. So, Elizabeth knows there is trouble ahead when her boyfriend, Todd, on a shiny new Yamaha. Elizabeth can’t ride with Todd, but other girls can – and they do! The sight of all of her friends and even girls she doesn’t know riding with their arms around Todd is making Elizabeth incredibly jealous. Even though Todd tells her not to worry, she is afraid of losing him. Will Todd’s new bike drive them apart?

This book is pretty all right and is one that actually kept my attention (and unlike the last one I didn’t wonder how the author made this into an entire book). Elizabeth gets jealous once Todd has nearly every girl in their high school class (literally at least two dozen) riding with him on his bike. He keeps blowing Elizabeth off while girls, Elizabeth doesn’t care for or worse, her best friend, ride around town with Todd, holding onto him tightly. I can understand the jealously. Todd does something wonderful and decides to sell his bike without telling Elizabeth since it is creating a noticeable distance between them. After he negotiates the sale, he takes one last ride to Enid’s (Elizabeth’s best friend) sweet sixteen party and finds everyone has left and Elizabeth is alone. Jessica was supposed to pick up Elizabeth, but decides her twin will find some other ride and blows her off as usual. Stranded, Elizabeth decides to take Todd up on his offer to drive her to where the party has moved to, especially now that she knows the bike will soon be history. After all, one little ride couldn’t hurt, right…

“Dear Sister”
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place

Sweet Valley is stunned by tragic news. Elizabeth Wakefield is in a coma, on the edge of death, after a horrible motorcycle accident. Todd, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, is consumed by guilt since he was driving and escaped unharmed. Jessica Wakefield is even more shattered as she keeps vigil over Elizabeth’s body. When Elizabeth wakes up, she isn’t herself. She acts and talks a lot like Jessica, only even more so! Soon their classmates are coming to Jessica to ask her if she can control her sister. Since Sweet Valley can only handle one conniving, boy-crazy, selfish and scheming twin, Jessica is forced to bear Elizabeth’s role of responsible and selfless sister. When Elizabeth woke up, Jessica thought she would have her sister back, but now she realizes Elizabeth is more lost to her this way than when she was comatose at the hospital. How can Jessica truly get her sister back or will Elizabeth be lost forever?

The entire back of this book only covers the first twelve pages. Yes, Elizabeth wakes up from her coma at the end of the first chapter. Francine Pascal built an entire series around a pair of twins; she can’t exactly kill one of them off in the seventh book now, can she? This was a close runner-up for the top pick of this list. Elizabeth wakes up and from the start acts much more like Jessica than even Jessica used to. It’s funny; Elizabeth has always been an overachiever so of course when it is her turn to be the ‘bad twin’ she teaches Jessica a thing or two on how it’s done. I appreciated this, call it a karmic lesson, too bad it doesn’t stick past this book. The series never gets to see Elizabeth break out of her dependable shell and role reversal is fun and if you’re reading the books in order, oddly gratifying. Throw in a few pool parties, forbidden flirtations and an attempted date-rape that the author never really addresses or that comes up again (maybe it was an 80’s thing, but it took me much longer to overlook that) and you have yourself a must-read for any soap enthusiast and the most melodramatic chapter of Sweet Valley High yet!

“Heart Breaker”
Sweet Valley Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Fifth Place

Jessica Wakefield is making a big splash with Bill Chase, the hottest surfer in Sweet Valley. Jessica schemes to make Bill fall in love with her and as soon as he does, she ignores him. Shy and quiet DeeDee Gordon is in love with Bill, but if Bill even looks at her, Hurricane Jessica blows in, using her charm to reel Bill back into her arms, and making it clear that Bill is hers. Can Bill escape Jessica’s undertow and will DeeDee land the guy she genuinely cares for, or are they both in over their heads?

This is my last pick because like the book “All Night Long” I kept wondering A) why I should care and B) how did the author stretch so much ‘nothing’ into 134 pages. Seriously, I want to know! There is nothing new in this book, Jessica being crazy and manipulative, boyfriend trading, etc. The best part of this book was a subplot where a Hollywood agent was going to be watching the school play and Jessica is sure this is her moment to be discovered. Of course she isn’t, but what makes this so sweet, is what student is ‘discovered’ instead! Read it, if for any other reason, than to see who upstages Jessica without realizing it and then proceed to laugh your butt off.

Remember, I warned you about those spoilers and this essentially giving daytime soap operas a run for their money in the melodrama department. To be fair, I have never seen a daytime soap, but I think I’m safe saying this. Why? Let’s recap. In the first eight books of the series deal with boyfriend stealing, a twin posing as her identical twin without her knowledge, dark pasts that include drugs and a hit and run, two sociopaths dating each other to see who can control the other first, a nice girl getting blackballed resulting in her transforming her awkward self into a swan and getting everything as soon as she becomes beautiful enough, staying out all night long, older men, more twin switches, breakups and make-ups, a horrific (and ironic) motorcycle accident, drunk driving, a coma, waking up with amnesia, turning into the bad twin, attempted date rape and more man stealing, true love (as in the can’t eat, can’t sleep, the world is ending kind) and plenty of other manipulative scheming. In the first eight books! Nope, this is not a melodramatic soap opera at all…

At least now I know why I never needed to watch that kind of show. I got all the drama I ever could have wanted and then some reading these books. But you know what, like daytime soaps are for some people, these are totally addictive (and in my opinion better). While my Fear Street guilty pleasure puts the emphasis on the pleasure, Sweet Valley High puts the emphasis on the guilty. But who cares when guilty is so entertaining!


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3 Responses to Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #3 – Sweet Valley High Books 4-8

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