This Sweet Valley High list shows some new faces (in one book literally) of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. I’m not sure they’re more likeable, but they at least there is some dissension in the ranks when it comes to the lack of character development in Sweet Valley. I guess any change is good, right? You’ll have to read on and let me know what you think.
“The New Jessica”
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
Jessica Wakefield is sick of being an identical twin. Her parents make jokes about it and people at school keep mistaking her for her sister, Elizabeth. Jessica is determined to make sure no one mixes up her and her twin ever again and decides to create a new Jessica. She gets a complete makeover and dyes her hair black, and then starts to wear outrageous clothes from European fashion magazines. Immediately, everyone at Sweet Valley High is talking about the new, sophisticated Jessica Wakefield. There is one person who isn’t thrilled with Jessica’s transformation, however. Elizabeth feels as though she has lost her twin sister forever. Is the old Jessica really gone for good?
This is a book that makes me wonder how anyone can stand Jessica. From the beginning, Jessica is tired of looking like Elizabeth because people get the two of them mixed up (how dare they!). She dyes her hair black, wears dramatic makeup (think drag queen) and speaks with a British accent while using props like French fashion magazines. Anyone who isn’t European is beneath her, and she lets them know it. Elizabeth doesn’t like the new Jessica at all, mostly because she feels Jessica doesn’t want to be a twin anymore and it hurts her feelings. Elizabeth writes her feelings in her journal and then loses it. (The horror! Actually, that wasn’t sarcasm, I’ve done this before and it really is horrific.) Everyone seems enamored with the new Jessica (seriously, why?) and Jeffrey French, Elizabeth’s new boyfriend says he likes Jessica’s new look (mostly because he has mistaken her for Elizabeth before). But Elizabeth acts like a moron, and picks a fight with him, certain he has a thing for Jessica (and his remarks were barely complimentary, stupid Liz). Elizabeth tells Jessica and what does Jessica do? Talk some sense into Elizabeth? Commiserate on what a creep Jeffrey is if he does have a thing for her? Of course not, this is Jessica. She makes a play for him herself, mainly by shamelessly throwing herself at him. Jeffrey rejects her, because he only loves Elizabeth, but instead of telling Elizabeth this, Jessica wants to protect her ego and keeps the whole thing a secret.
So, again I ask – how can anyone like Jessica Wakefield the way she is written? I have some choice words, I’m holding back – I am trying to channel my inner Elizabeth. On the note of Elizabeth though, she acts like a complete boob in this book. I mean, whiny, insecure and clingy are the nice things to call her. I had the desire to shake her a few times, but alas she isn’t real in the sense that I can shake her. Anyway, Jessica tries to get a modeling job, confident her new look is her ticket since it is much more sophisticated but is turned down. Instead, the people in charge of a fashion show want Elizabeth to be their model (she was waiting for Jessica in the waiting room). Jessica decides to go back to her old look so she can take Elizabeth’s modeling job (this is forgivable, because Elizabeth really doesn’t care). Jeffrey and Liz make up and Elizabeth’s journal is returned by a friend, unread. Everyone is happy except for me. Elizabeth finally has a guy I can be on board with and yet being with a good guy makes her act like every bad teenage girl stereotype. Get it together Liz, you are supposed to be the good twin!
This is a fun book for anyone, but if you read it, do you mind sharing your thoughts on how anyone can stand Jessica after this book? I just don’t get it.
“Winter Carnival” (Super Edition)
Sweet Valley Scale: 4 out of 5 Twins
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Runner Up
Winter is here and everyone at Sweet Valley High is excited about the upcoming Winter Carnival, a special weekend at a ski resort with ice skating, skiing, sledding and a spectacular ball. But Elizabeth Wakefield has the midwinter blues and can’t seem to shake them. She is especially upset with her twin, Jessica, who is always avoiding chores and borrowing clothes without asking. Elizabeth is so sick and tired of Jessica’s inconsiderate attitude that sometimes she even wishes that she never had a sister. But when Jessica’s string of broken promises threatens to destroy Elizabeth’s relationship with Jeffrey French, it looks as though the Winter Carnival is going to be nothing less than a snowy disaster!
Elizabeth and Enid enter a contest to be on a televised trivia show and Jessica and Amy copy their entry form and enter themselves (without the other two knowing anything). Of course, they’re the ones who win, even though they could care less about trivia (but TV is TV right?). Elizabeth gets pissed. (Yes! Finally!) But she doesn’t say anything (facepalm). Then Jessica proceeds to do what she has done in every book: stick Elizabeth with her chores, take credit when they’re done, and borrow Elizabeth’s things without asking. So, Elizabeth finally does something we have all been waiting for – she calls Jessica out for it, and then is scolded by her parents because dinner conversation is supposed to be pleasant. I thought this was the 1980’s, not the 1950’s? Whatever. After this incident though Jessica promises to be better (more considerate, responsible, yes I know this isn’t going anywhere good) after Elizabeth confronts her.
Then Jessica messes up a phone message, resulting in a child Elizabeth was supposed to pick up, to be stranded. Nice, Jess. After that uh-oh, she is determined to make things right and gives Elizabeth another phone message in front of a group of their friends, including Jeffrey, Liz’s new guy. Of course, the phone message is from Elizabeth’s ex, Todd Wilkins, about plans she made with him since he is coming back into town – AGAIN! – and Jeffrey is upset because Elizabeth never told him and they were supposed to go to the first party of the Winter Carnival with him, which is a big deal to everyone in Sweet Valley. So, Elizabeth is once again pissed. Jessica tries to make it better by making Todd tell Elizabeth he wants to go to the banquet (their plans together) on his own. This would make things easier on her, if Jeffrey hadn’t left a note in her locker, saying she had to meet him at this canyon thirty minutes away at a certain time, or he would assume they were over. And of course, Jessica hasn’t returned the car as she promised for Elizabeth to meet Jeffrey. (She and Amy won the trivia show, don’t ask me how. I mean these are the two girls who, just a few chapters ago, were studying at the library and trying to figure out what the longest river in Africa is. I am so not kidding.) So now Elizabeth has no plans.
Jessica once again tries to make things right by leaving a note for Jeffrey ‘from Elizabeth’ but doesn’t have time to tell Elizabeth about it because Amy makes her late for the ski resort where the Winter Carnival is taking place (everyone is already there). So, Jessica quickly poses as Elizabeth to ‘explain things’ and someone sees Jessica and Jeffrey together and tells the real Elizabeth. Elizabeth is furious and goes back to Sweet Valley. When she gets home she hangs up on Jessica who calls, trying to explain everything and goes to bed.
When Elizabeth wakes up she finds out Jessica has been killed in a car accident, trying to get back to her. The next few weeks are a depressing blur and Elizabeth is all alone and blames herself for Jessica’s demise. At least until she wakes up and finds out it was all a terrible dream. Elizabeth is so happy to find her sister alive, she promises to be a doormat forever. Jeffrey meets Todd, and offers him a ride to the Winter Carnival. I would have liked to see some tension here, but whatever.
This is the first Super Edition that I really wanted to rate higher, but just couldn’t. It was good, but I didn’t find it that “super”. I mean Elizabeth finally stands up for herself in an assertive way and the moral of the story is to remain a doormat because you never know when standing up for yourself will kill your sister. (Now I want to shake the ghostwriter responsible for this book!) Jessica actually tries to be better in this book, which was a nice change, even if she is always a total disaster (nice to be consistent) and Todd comes back for his second Christmas since he moved away from Vermont and they’re all still juniors in high school. This brings up two points. First, time has no meaning in Sweet Valley and second is more of a question: Why keep bringing Todd back? I mean he is seriously ‘brought back’ every other book since he left. Allow me to miss him and since I never liked him much, I promise it will take more than a few books without him to pull this off. A fan must read every Super Edition in the series, but if you’re not so much a fan, as you are curious, try out “Malibu Summer” instead. (See my Sweet Valley High index page for the post.)
Let me just say that the books on this list had me worried for a little while. Insecurity and clinginess, not to mention just downright bizarre behavior doesn’t look good on Elizabeth. She had some of that going on in “Taking Sides” on the last Sweet Valley High post. So what, she gets a nice and steady guy and has to balance it all out by acting like a loon? I’m not sure, but I am happy to report that whatever it is, it was just a phase. (She gets better.) Until next time… 😉