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Two more on the Ocean Girl radar…and some Sweet Valley books

Originally posted at LiveJournal on Mar. 22, 2012

EDIT 04-24-12:  EOTW Challenge progress: 2515 pages  2464 pages.  I discussed it with the Booksluts, and they said I can use Whalesinger as long as I don't count the first 51 pages.  Also, I'm including the Afterword to Isabel of the Whales.

See my reviews of Whalesinger (212 pages) and Isabel of the Whales (181 pages*) at Postcards.

     
                 
   

* That's if you count the author's Afterword to Isabel of the Whales.  If the challenge-makers say nay, then the story itself is 173 pages, and my total page count is 2507.  Also, I had started Whalesinger years ago, but put it down after the first four chapters (51 pages).  Depending on what the challenge-makers say, I may have to not count the book, or at least start the page count from page 52.

Included in my page count are two more Sweet Valley books:


 


Francine Pascal.  Sweet Valley Confidential.  New York: St. Martin's Press, 2011.  293 pages.


In Sweet Valley Confidential, the twins are about 27 years old, and have had yet another break-up.  Except that this one is really serious.  So serious that Elizabeth (gasp!) has moved to the other end of the country.  As the story opens, we watch as super-cool New York City resident Elizabeth Wakefield unlocks all three locks of her apartment door ("this was New York, after all") and enters with her boss.  She ignores Jessica's pleading voice on the machine and contemplates sleeping with said boss.  The word "orgasm" appears twice.  I wonder if that's why the book was placed in the library's adult section rather than in YA.

Meanwhile, Jessica is feeling terrible about the terrible thing she did to make Elizabeth hate her.  Hint:  it has to do with a guy.  Jessica and said guy are now planning their wedding, but they can't get over their guilt over hurting Elizabeth.  They engage in dialogue that makes Twilight feel a little more insightful.

As Katie McLaughlin of CNN Entertainment notes, the Sweet Valley world in general is "ridiculously melodramatic," and I think this final ode to (or is it?) the franchise matches that mood perfectly.  It looooves telling vs. showing.  It tells us how special the twins' twin-ness is, and how deeply connected they are as twins (at one point they realize they'd just gotten the exact same haircut even though they haven't seen each other for months… cue Twilight Zone music … And in case you still don't get it, when Jessica saw Elizabeth after so long, "there was a part deep inside [her] that tingled with the thrill of seeing her sister again.  It was an involuntary response deep in her DNA.")  The book also tells us how pissed Elizabeth is at Jessica, and how guilty Jessica feels, but how in love she is with her fiancé, who she actually used to hate when he was Elizabeth's boyfriend, but then one night they got drunk and had wild, crazy sex and then they were suddenly in love, like, for real.

And things happen and people get mad and then make up and everyone lives happily ever after, yay!

I'm starting to understand why I was more hooked on the Sweet Valley Kids series than the high school and college series.  The adventures of second-grade Jessica and Elizabeth were much less shallow and more relatable to me.


Jamie Suzanne.  It Can't Happen Here.  Sweet Valley Twins #86.  New York:  Bantam, 1995.  133 pages.



In Sweet Valley Twins #86It Can't Happen Here, a visiting teacher gives the social studies class a new project.  He splits them into two groups and lets the leader of each group decide on whatever rules he/she wants.  New guy Brian Boyd, the leader of the first group, thinks this game is awesome.  At first he gives his followers harmless rules -- they have to wear a black t-shirt and armband every day.  And then his orders start getting more mean-spirited, especially toward people outside the group.

Of course Brian's followers (except Elizabeth) think he's the coolest person ever and the group makes them feel so powerful, and of course they have no idea what this has to do with the Holocaust, which they're learning about in social studies right now.  Even Elizabeth just has this vague feeling that there's something "evil" about Brian.

Yes, the story has a rather simplistic and contrived way of teaching readers about why people followed Hitler even though his orders were so despicable.  I wouldn't say it's as bad as the Kony video, but comparing a sixth-grader who wants to trash a restaurant's parking lot and shove a girl in her locker to Hitler?  Even in the things he does do, Brian is a very 2-D "villain" who plays way too easily into the book's message.



After all that Sweet Valley, I feel like I need to bury my face in a Jane Austen novel.  Sense and Sensibility, here I come!

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