I was kind of “meh” with this book. I love a book that focuses on Elizabeth Wakefield’s boyfriend Jeffrey French (Team Jeffrey!) but it was hard for me to get into a dilemma that didn’t seem like a dilemma at all. Spoiler alert: The moral of this story is to be true to yourself… no that’s not it, play your hardest… nope not that either, be all that you can be… um not so much… I got it! Steer clear of sleaze ball bookies. Yep, that’s the one! 😛
“Against The Odds”
Sweet Valley Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Twins
Ronnie Edwards is having the time of his life… By betting on high school sports, he has made more money than he knows what to do with. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been keeping up with payments to his bookie, Big Al, and he owes about $2,000. When Big Al tries to collect, Ronnie is out of cash. So Big Al offers him another way out: if Ronnie can fix the state championship soccer game, all of Ronnie’s debt will be forgiven. Ronnie turns to the only friend he has – Elizabeth Wakefield’s boyfriend and star soccer player for Sweet Valley High, Jeffrey French. A college scout is coming to see the game and if Jeffrey doesn’t play his best, he’ll jeopardize his future. But if he doesn’t help Ronnie out by not playing his best, his friend may not have a future.
Ronnie Edwards has been rolling in the dough recently. He’s wearing designer clothes, is driving a Mustang and showing off how much money he has by trying to buy people’s friendship. And he needs to, because no one really likes him. Anyway, the soccer team wins some big important game, which means they will play Big Mesa for the state championship. And the guy who scored the winning goal: none other than Elizabeth Wakefield’s hunk of burning love, Jeffrey French.
Everyone goes to celebrate at the Dairi Burger and Ronnie offers to buy everyone’s food, but Jeffrey turns him down. He keeps waving around this huge wad of cash, like “here it is, lookey,” so of course some degenerate takes notice. His name is Bruno, so you know this is going to be bad. Bruno asks to see Ronnie’s car, and once outside he tells Ronnie that he wants to show him his own car first. He parks in the back so people won’t mess with it. Oh Ronnie, this is survival of the fittest at work. Back inside the Dairi Burger, Elizabeth sees Bruno’s friends rush outside after a few minutes and she thinks Ronnie must be in trouble, so she tells Jeffrey who goes outside to check it out. He sees Ronnie surrounded and yet just talking tough scares the other ruffians away. I didn’t get this since the bad guys still outnumbered them, Ronnie was useless and let’s face it – they had stubble and leather jackets so you know they must be bad ass. But whatever.
After that, Ronnie follows Jeffrey like a lost puppy dog – he finally has a friend! On Monday, just a few days after the Dairi Burger incident, Ronnie is in a jam and asks Jeffrey if he can borrow some cash. Jeffrey knows that Ronnie has been betting on sporting events and tries to convince him it’s trouble, but Ronnie seems scared and promises to pay him back on Saturday, so Jeffrey gives him what he has ($25) as long as Ronnie promises to think about giving up gambling for good. Ronnie goes to his fraternity brothers because what else are fraternity brothers good for if they don’t have your back, but he is just mocked by most of them (including the super rich Bruce Patman) and the others who feel for him, just don’t have the money. He calls his bookie Big Al (great name by the way) and at first Big Al tries to intimidate Ronnie, before he tells him there is one way he can make all of his debt disappear for good, but he won’t like it.
Ronnie talks to Jeffrey the next day, and tells him that since Big Mesa’s star player is benched because of an injury, Sweet Valley is the obvious winner for the state championship, and he doesn’t want Jeffrey to throw the game, he just wants Jeffrey to make sure they don’t slaughter Big Mesa – win by only two points. Jeffrey is pissed and offended and tells Ronnie to get lost. I think this should have been the end of it. I mean Jeffrey just feels sorry for Ronnie and is trying to be nice, but he doesn’t even like him, and they just said their first words to each other two days ago when Jeffrey saved Ronnie’s ass. I mean, they’re not even friends! But then Ronnie does the whole guilt thing and says he isn’t sure he’ll make it to the weekend so Jeffrey says he’ll think about it.
Elizabeth hears some of this conversation and bugs Jeffrey about it until he kind of snaps at her. I say kind of, because it’s not really a full-fledged snap – sometimes I wonder if he is even capable of such a thing. 😛 The fact that she is so anti-Ronnie only makes it worse. I mean she really doesn’t like him, but this I totally get, because this is the guy who was a complete asshat to Elizabeth’s bestie Enid Rollins back in book #2 “Secrets” and isn’t that what best friends are for – to hate the guys who have done you wrong, so you don’t have to?
Jeffrey decides he just can’t betray his team and that Ronnie is on his own, until Ronnie is followed to school and there is a pathetic car chase – both pathetic that you can call it a car chase, and pathetic because Ronnie goes west and everyone knows what happens when you go west on the California coast. The guys following him punch him in the gut and rough him up, letting him know that is just a preview of what will happen if the game isn’t taken care of. Ronnie begs Jeffrey again, and after these latest happenings, Jeffrey finally relents and feels extra crappy about it.
Now let’s focus on Jessica for a moment. This whole book she has been designing these hideous earrings, saying they’re the latest trend. It actually sounded like she did her homework, which is so unlike her. The problem is, it costs about $25 to make a single pair of earrings, and she wants to really make a name for herself. With the help of Lila Fowler and Amy Sutton, Jessica gets a local store’s interest (Lila and Amy pretending to strangers and saying how much they loved Jess’s stuff) and she wants whatever Jessica has. So Jessica talks to her mother and finally gets her to agree to a $200 loan. But then she realizes buying in bulk is the way to go and the total bill ends up being $908. Somehow she cons her mother into letting her use her credit card, and I know I seriously question the Wakefield’s parenting abilities, but I wish I had had this kind of parent! After she buys everything and puts in tons of work (again, so unlike her) the store manager who had asked for several pairs of earrings calls with some bad news – her store is changing their product focus and she can’t take any of Jessica’s jewelry. So now Jess has no buyers, no prospects and has to get a job at that same store to pay her parents back the $908 she spent, plus interest. Yikes! I hope we get to see her working in the next book because whenever she has to get a job it is such a disaster (in the best kind of way)!
Back to the betting thing. Jeffrey is playing terribly and Elizabeth sees Ronnie with his bookie, and John Pfeifer (Sports Editor for the high school paper) tells her he is a bookie, and Miss Little Detective puts two and two together. She confronts Jeffrey and he comes clean to her about everything. Liz feels terrible and that there must be some other way out of this, without having Ronnie’s bodily injuries on their consciences. To make it even more “Ugh,” Elizabeth tells Jeffrey that there is a scout from some big deal college that Jeffrey really wants to go to, coming to the game to check him out specifically. Now it’s his future on the line too. He is even more confused than ever before.
The day of the game Elizabeth sees Ronnie being forced into a car by a scary looking dude and Elizabeth decides to follow them because that’s a wonderful idea. They go to a bad part of town, and the guy pushes Ronnie into this abandoned bar and threatens him with a noose, like what you hang people with. Apparently, we just walked into an old western. Elizabeth finds a payphone and calls the police, but before she can say more than, “Hello,” the goon grabs her and now she is in the same predicament as Ronnie.
Meanwhile back at the game, Jeffrey decides he can’t keep fighting what comes naturally and he is going to play great. Especially since Jack, the injured star from the other team is able to play after all. But then he gets a message from Big Al who is in the crowd, saying if he ever wanted to see Ronnie again, he would remember not to play his best. He gets this message via telegram, and all I’m thinking is, “Really?” So he starts sucking, partly because he is listening but mostly because he can’t find Elizabeth in the crowd (or Ronnie) and he just feels so helpless. Ugh.
Back to Liz and Ronnie, the bad guy does the whole villain spiel and he doesn’t notice Ronnie behind him, as he ties up and talks to Liz. Ronnie hits him over the head with an empty beer bottle and he is knocked out cold. He and Elizabeth drive far away from the place and then call the police (at least she learned). Afterwards they go to the soccer game, and Elizabeth makes the coach call a timeout (even though apparently there aren’t any timeouts in soccer). She tells Jeffrey it’s all over, and he can play his best. Ronnie is with her and the three of them watch Big Al be taken away by police. Jeffrey kicks ass the rest of the game, so much so that it doesn’t matter he sucked for the first half. The scout is happy. Elizabeth is happy. Jeffrey is happy. Jessica is… well she has a lot of earrings. All is well that ends well! 🙂
This book seemed super disorganized. I mean the scout, and there was this thing with Jessica needing money, and Jeffrey was also worried about playing soccer next year because chemistry is so hard, and, and… it’s like this ghostwriter wanted to throw in everything he/she could, and every single thing was an afterthought. Luckily it focused on a less ridiculous cast of characters – it made it that much more bearable. 😛