I am so excited to share this Super Thriller with the world. It was the FIRST Sweet Valley book that I EVER read. Seriously. To think that this book started it all (for me)… 😉
“On The Run” (Super Thriller)
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
After a chilling encounter with murder, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are ready for a calm summer in Sweet Valley – until Eric Hankman appears. Like Elizabeth, Eric is a quiet and sensitive writer, and the two of them become fast friends. But Jessica is not convinced that Eric is as perfect as he seems. Her suspicions are aroused when her new friend, Darcy Kaymen, thinks that she recognizes Eric as a boy from her hometown who has as mysterious past. Jessica knows that Elizabeth won’t believe a word of Darcy’s story without any evidence, but by the time Jessica has the proof she needs, it may be too late to save her sister.
It’s summer in Sweet Valley again, or really it is later that same summer that the first Super Thriller “Double Jeopardy” took place. Even if three books were supposed to take place between these two Super Thrillers and occurred during the school year… Anyway, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are still interns at The Sweet Valley News. The big thing going on in this book is a mobster ‘s (Frank DeLucca) trial back in New York. I understand national news, but Liz seems to be taking the trial to heart more than she should. No one wants to testify so DeLucca could go free but she believes the fate of humanity and all of its goodness depends on someone coming forward, and then someone does (a Dr. Ryan) and she is terrified for his and his family’s safety. Liz, dear, get a grip.
For once Jessica has little to say about anything. After her witnessing a murder a few weeks ago, she doesn’t want anything to do with crime or anything that isn’t directly related to her (I for one, was shocked). She also lost interest in her obsession in the last thriller (Seth Miller) just because and there isn’t a new crush to replace him (and the shock just keeps on coming). Jessica is mostly preoccupied in this book by a new intern at The News, named Darcy, who just moved to Sweet Valley from Ohio, and they become besties quickly. But Darcy is a bitch. She takes an instant dislike to Elizabeth and constantly sets her up to look like a twit. And Elizabeth is just trying to kill her with kindness when she should really spike her food with a laxative or something.
Bright spot: There is a new boy named Eric Hankman who works in the coffee shop in the same building the newspaper is in, and Elizabeth meets him while trying to save face after another Darcy incident. Eric is handsome, sweet and a fellow writer. He and his father just moved to Sweet Valley from Ohio. Eric and Elizabeth instantly click and it is fireworks. But the more time Elizabeth spends with him, the more she realizes that Eric is hiding something. Every time Elizabeth tries to find out something about Eric and his past he is evasive, changes the subject and a dark shadow crosses his face. The mention of the past makes him seem angry and bitter, so Elizabeth tries to discover who he is through his writing (a romantic sentiment, but also a clear warning sign if you ask me).
Darcy is also interested in Eric, but he only has eyes for Elizabeth. Once Darcy is snubbed (Eric says he already has plans when he is invited to a baseball game with Darcy), Darcy becomes convinced that something is wrong with him. Darcy calls her friend Sue in Ohio to find out if she or anyone she knows knows Eric. At first Sue comes up empty, but then makes a potentially terrible connection. Four days before Eric moved to Sweet Valley a girl their age was brutally slain and the suspect is a boy she dated who is on the run. And he looks just like Eric!
Elizabeth hangs out with Eric in secret, at his request and because Elizabeth doesn’t want Jessica to know, both because of Darcy’s wrath and because of her boyfriend Jeffrey French who is away working at a summer camp. Elizabeth has the good sense to know that if Jessica finds out, her friendship with Eric won’t be a secret for long. But she lacks the sense that sneaking around is never a good thing, and that she feels something much stronger than simple friendship for Eric, and he returns these romantic sentiments. She is in denial for an annoyingly long time on this matter.
Eric and Elizabeth go to a movie and Elizabeth thinks that someone is following them and even though it seems like a false alarm, Eric seems on edge the rest of the night. Mr. Wakefield invites Eric and Eric’s father over for a barbecue, because he met Eric’s father and is helping him out with some contracts and they’re new in town. Being kind to outsiders is the Sweet Valley way after all. The Wakefields’ neighbors, the Beckwiths, also attend the barbecue and Mr. Beckwith is certain he has met or see Eric’s father (Mr. Hankman) before and his persistence makes Mr. Hankman and Eric incredibly uncomfortable. They leave soon after.
Jessica is now just as convinced as Darcy that Eric is the Ohio killer and wants to go to the police, but Darcy talks her down, saying they need evidence. Then she tells Jessica to go to Eric’s house and get his notebook so they can study it and hopefully find something useful. Not once does Jessica say, “Why don’t you do it?” and Darcy continues to make Jessica do all the heavy lifting, while calling all the shots herself. Jess, snap out of it and (verbally) smack a bitch up!
Jessica poses as Elizabeth and tells Eric she wants to read his poetry, but after she gets Eric’s notebook and heads back to Darcy’s a black Mercedes follows her and a young man in a suit quickly attacks her, steals the notebook, and thinking Jessica is Elizabeth, warns her away from Eric “if she knows what is good for her.” None of this makes sense to Jessica, but she is incredibly shaken and sure that her sister, despite her protests, is involved with Eric, and therefore in terrible trouble. Jessica tries to find Elizabeth to warn her away from Eric, but her twin is MIA with her best friend, Enid Rollins, up in the mountains. Later that day, Eric sees Jessica and Darcy at the Dairi Burger, and sits with them, only to quickly get up and leave. Why? He found out Elizabeth already has a boyfriend and is pissed. (Elizabeth, my dear, it was nice knowing you.)
Eric stands Elizabeth up that night because he is fuming, but Elizabeth has no idea he knows about Jeffrey and is hurt when he is a no-show. She decides to go for a drive and notices a blue sedan following her. She freaks out, as she should, and after trying (unsuccessfully) to lose the Sedan, she pulls over (why???) and the Sedan pulls up beside her. The man in the car shows Elizabeth his FBI creds and questions her about Eric. Elizabeth, more confused than ever, goes back to Enid’s house and tries to figure out how she feels about Eric and Jeffrey, what to do, and why the FBI would be interested in Eric.
That Monday, after a long day out on an assignment, Elizabeth goes to the coffee shop, intent on telling Eric about Jeffrey and seeing what they should do, and also finding out why the FBI would be following him. When Elizabeth approaches Eric, he is still pissed about finding out about Jeffrey on his own and refuses to talk to Elizabeth and then when he agrees to, he grabs her “roughly” and takes out into the back alley. Why? I mean I know he is supposed to be all suspicious, but even if he was the killer from Ohio, there were witnesses in the coffee shop, a mother and her young son. It makes no sense. It makes less sense since (spoiler alert) Eric is not a murderer. Why would he grab her and why would he take her into an alley? I am talking to you, Mr./Mrs. Ghostwriter and I am waiting for an answer…
Jessica and Darcy see Eric grab Liz and scream and chase them, but Eric ducks into a side alley and puts his hand over Elizabeth’s mouth (again, why?) so they have some privacy. But then they hear screaming from the coffee shop and race back in time to see the little boy choking on a bite of his sandwich. Mr. Beckwith was in the shop as a customer (in theory – contrived much) and Mr. Hankman (Eric’s father) was just passing by (ultimate contrived facepalm) when he heard the commotion and came upon the child. Mr. Hankman performs an emergency tracheotomy and after he saves the boy, Mr. Beckworth starts shouting that now he knows where he remembers Mr. Hankman from. Mr. Hankman is really Dr. Ryan, the man whose brave testimony put Frank DeLucca behind bars for life! Mr. Hankman/Dr. Ryan and Eric quickly leave, and Elizabeth follows them.
Back at the Ryans’ house, Elizabeth tries to convince Dr. Ryan that even though people know who they are now, they don’t need to leave because no one in Sweet Valley would hurt them. Then she goes on about how Sweet Valley is different from the rest of the world, and oh so wonderful, and I think I just threw up a little. Suddenly a bunch of guys show up with guns and order Elizabeth and Eric (whose real name is Michael by the way) to go upstairs while they ‘talk’ to Dr. Ryan. I don’t get this either. Dr. Ryan already testified. Frank Delucca has already been sentenced to life. Why don’t they just shoot him? I mean who cares what he knows if the damage is already done – right?
Elizabeth notices that the Ryans have a Good Neighbors alarm system and presses the panic button, which is a silent alarm that goes off in six neighbors’ houses. A neighbor calls for the password and Dr. Ryan plays it cool by pretending it is a wrong number. I didn’t get this either, because I would think playing the call off as a wrong number would be a giveaway. If it were me, I would pretend to have a short and polite conversation with the person, but not answer anything they said, and call them by the wrong name. If Jim calls, “Oh, hello Nicole. No, I won’t be able to pick up the boys today. I’m sorry, but I promise to take your next turn.” And scene… or something like that.
A mob of neighbors barge in and overtake the bad guys, even though there are three of them with guns and all of the neighbors are unarmed. Outnumbered or not, why didn’t the baddies open fire? Then the police arrive and there is a lot of cheesy dialogue about the good in this world, and how Sweet Valley is wonderful etc. etc. It is time for Elizabeth and Eric to say goodbye for good. Part of the whole witness protection thing. It is melodramatic and corny and about twelve different Celine Dion ballads were playing in my head during this scene (including, but not limited to “My Heart Will Go On” and “Because You Loved Me” – enough said). Eric gives Elizabeth his notebook of love poems he wrote about her, to remember him by.
The moral of this story: Listen to Liz when she says you should always believe in people. (Yes, another vomit-worthy moment.)
So, I am totally “Team Jeffrey” but I really liked the whole Elizabeth/Eric romance so I wish they could bring him back in a much later series. I mean I am pretty sure Elizabeth doesn’t end up with Jeffrey in the end, because he is solid and it is a healthy relationship. At least her relationship with Eric seemed passionate and potentially neurotic. I think a lot of people might be down on Elizabeth for ‘falling for’ Eric while she is also in love with Jeffrey, but it wasn’t like she planned it. I know what it is like to be in love with two different people at the same time. It kind of sucks. And it sucks even more when those two guys have a much longer history with each other, than with you (and you had no idea), and are ex-best friends who hate each other’s guts. But that is a story (not to be shared) for another time.
I hope you enjoyed my virgin Sweet Valley High experience. I certainly did. You always remember your first time… 😉