Well shucks, you guys. I was thiiis close to being able to use the 'dead boyfriend alert' tag. Damn you and your drawn-out dying, Nick Fox!
Onto the cover: I know this is going to sound stupid, but I always imagined that was Winston on the cover. God knows why. I know what Winston looks like (and I know that his storyline in this book has absolutely nothing to do with him getting into a knife fight), but for some reason, whenever I'd stumble across this book at the library, I'd think, "Oh, the Winston knife book." Even when I got my very own copy in the mail a couple of weeks ago, my mind immediately went to Winston. Why do I keep thinking that? It's just not normal.
Who cares, though? It's a shit cover anyway.
Just to catch you up, in the last book Nick tried to track down some drug dealer named Clay DiPalma (who Jess was flirting with only moments before) because he laced Isabella's cigarette with drugs and she jumped off the roof and landed in a coma. And Todd had sex with Dana before getting back with Liz, so there's gonna be a lot of Liz sex angst in this one. I think I might need to separate the plots, for everyone's sanity.
A Plot: Jessica, Nick and the Sweet Valley mob
The first chapter opens with Nick lying unconscious on the ground. Not dead yet, unfortunately, or you'd better believe I'd have tagged the crap out of it. Jessica is trying to wake him up, thinking about how skeezy it is that just days ago (or perhaps it was even that same day?) she was whoring it up for the evil drug dealer and Nick non-killer Clay DiPalma. Jessica is disgusted with herself, finally. That's right, Jess. Bask in your shame. Jess wonders what to do next. "Call the police? No, she especially knew she couldn't call them." Yeah, who's ever heard of calling the police after a drug dealer beats a cop senseless? That's just whack.
Oh, look at that, Nick's alive. I hate you for being alive, Nick. I used to like you, too, until you refused to die. There's no 'bashed-in-an-abandoned-house boyfriend alert' tag, you know. He says, "The way I feel, I wish I was dead..." Heh. Nick must have a fairy godmother or something, because I have a feeling he's going to get his wish sooner rather than later. He and Jess talk about some dead cop named Steve Riviera, who Clay killed. (Apparently he was bragging about it to unconscious Nick, but Jessica overheard.) It's making me giggle, because Nick's first name and Steve's last name equals this:
Anyway, Jess thinks that overhearing Clay and Nick's conversation means she's a witness and they can finally arrest Clay. Nick gets all mad and crazy-eyed and tells her she can't be a witness. Seriously. He has an "angry face". It's Todd 2.0. Jess is lucky he didn't punch her lights out. He tells her she can't testify because Clay's evil and he'll kill her. I'd actually put money on him not killing her, considering he didn't even have the balls to kill Nick. Seriously. He was right there, and instead Clay pistol-whips him? That is so stupid. Clay has learned nothing from The Black Donnellys or Gangs of New York. It's like Being A Baddie 101 -- if you don't kill your enemy when you have the chance, said enemy is going to fuck your shit up big time.
Nick decides that he's going to testify in her place, and he and Jess decide to pretend to be broken up so the crazy drug dealers don't try and come after her. Jess decides to tell Lila, knowing that Lila will tell the whole campus by day's end. Lila's too busy talking about Isabella's recent hospitalisation, though. She keeps saying how nuts it is that such a thing could happen to poor, defenceless Isabella, instead of someone like Celine Boudreaux. Um, no. I do not approve of this lame and out-of-place attempt at continuity. Why namedrop Celine Boudreaux, of all people? Who even cares about her anymore?
The two of them spot Clay DiPalma. His "white, V-neck T-shirt clung to his taut upper body," in case you were sitting there reading this and wondering just how well Clay DiPalma's clothes hang on him. Jess wants to go over to him and pump him for information. Dirrty! Then she decides to -- and I swear I'm not making this up -- pretend to still be attracted to him to make Lila think that Jess and Nick are splitsville. Which is a very good plan, especially if you consider the other, more difficult option -- telling Lila that she and Nick are splitsville. Seriously, Jessica. Read my lips -- Nick. And I. Broke up. Five words. I think she just wants an excuse to flirt with the skeevy drug dealer. This is sick. Lila's reaction to this? "After what that creep did to Isabella, you're going to go and -- eew!" Damn fucking straight. LiFo knows the score.
Clay seems very happy to see Jess, and looks at her as if she's naked. Jess, for once, doesn't like this attention. She still lets him make out with her, though.
Because Danny is a douchetard who does not deserve his own bold-lettered plot of his own, I'm gonna lump his storyline in with Jessica's. It's all related to the drugs thing, anyway, right? Danny goes to the hospital to see Isabella, who's still in her coma. He asks her if her one night of drugs was worth throwing her life away over. Because he's a jerk who never thought to get his facts straight, he still thinks that Izzy deliberately went out and smoked a PCP-laced cigarette after they had a fight. Danny desperately wants her to wake up...so he can break up with her. Wow, Danny. On a scale of one to insensitive, that's about a twelve. I'm having a sudden urge to headbutt you.
Nick goes around campus looking for Jessica, because something about the whole pretending-to-be-broken-up plan is clearly not getting through to him. He spots Lila, doing something awesome probably, and asks after Jess. Lila tells him that she "can't believe someone so street-smart as you could be so foolishly devoted, Nick." Hmm. Nick? Street-smart? So allowing oneself to get cornered in some abandoned house by a spaced-out drug-dealing cop killer, what's that called again? On 'the streets', I mean. Something along the lines of 'straight fucked', I'd wager. Lila tells Nick that Jess went off with Clay DiPalma, and Nick goes crazy and starts running in their direction. He's described as being "like a madman." An angry-faced madman. Nick's getting weirder by the second.
Nick finds Jess flirting with Clay and decides to beat the crap out of him. Then he realises that his actions may, just may, give the game away, so he starts yelling at Jessica like she really is his ex-girlfriend. It's pretty awesome, too. He calls her a tramp and a lowlife slut. Heh. Lowlife slut! She calls him pond scum, which is nowhere near as cool as Nick's insults. Nick threatens to kick her
ass butt if he catches her whoring herself around town again. Oh, and this whole time, Clay's just kinda standing there, smoking a cigarette (possibly laced with roof-jumping drugs), and then leaves. Okay. Nick tells Jess that he's got to "nail" DiPalma, which I believe calls for another Dirrty!
Nick goes to pick up some dinner, pretty pleased with how the whole day has gone so far. Then he gets kidnapped. Yeah. He manages to wrestle a knife off his attacker and throw himself out of a moving van, yelling at "the two officers" to follow the van. Hold it -- what two officers? There were no two officers a second ago, you know, when Nick got himself abducted. Where did these two officers even come from? What the hell just happened?
Nick is soon surrounded by "a swarm of cops". What a good thing it is that Sweet Valley decided to have some sort of cop convention on the sidewalk where Nick got nabbed. Some cop names for you all to have a laugh at: Chief Wallace, Graham Stevens, Bill Fagen and Dub Harrison. Yes, Dub. And who was that first guy again?
Nick tells the cops that he heard Clay admit to killing Steve Riviera, even though it was actually Jessica who did. Perjury is apparently not a crime Nick is familiar with. You know what is, though? Murder. Which is what should've happened at the start of this book.
Nick goes to see Jess. They make out on Liz's bed. Heh. Then he tells her that he's going into hiding until they've arrested Clay, and he's arranged for aforementioned cop Graham Stevens to act as Jess's bodyguard-slash-boyfriend. Because the SVPD does that shit now. Jess is not very happy with this turn of events.
There's some bullshit Danny stuff. He's talking to Tom. They call each other Danno and Tombo, and I throw up in my mouth a little bit.
Jessica is readying herself for her date with her fake cop boyfriend. Yeah, this plot is actually happening. He picks her up, and she starts asking him questions about how much he can bench-press, and what car he drives. Liz comes by, and Graham says something lame about how identical they are. Yeah, Graham, being identical twins will do that to them.
When Jess mentions Graham being her bodyguard, Liz
breaks out into a rendition of 'I Will Always Love You' freaks out. Rightfully so, I guess. But Jessica dissuades any feelings of fear Liz may have by saying, and I quote, "Graham will be able to protect me, and Clay won't be able to use me as leverage and stuff by kidnapping me or whatever to keep Nick from testifying against him. But Nick has to testify because he's the only one who heard Clay admit that he's a cop killer. Well, I heard, actually, but Nick's taking the heat off me by saying he heard. [Flips her hair] You know?"
Yeah. Those sentences happened. The only way I can explain what I just read is by assuming that Jessica Wakefield, after years of living in the asscrack of criminal society that is Sweet Valley, has become so completely desensitised to violence that she's happy to use the phrases "leverage and stuff" and "kidnapping or whatever" because this big scary words have no effect on her AT ALL. Actually, if that is the case, and our friendly ghostie is having a laugh at Francine's expense, the above paragraph is actually pretty win.
Jess goes out on her date with Graham, and convinces him to help her see Nick. Even though she's totally not supposed to, or she'll be leaving herself wide open for the "kidnapping or whatever."
Danny decides to go to the hospital to tell Isabella that he loves her. Fuck you, Danny. Seriously. Fuck. You. I'm sorry I included you in this.
Nick and Jessica meet up for a secret sexy rendezvous, with thanks to their own personal bitch-boy, Graham. Nice try, Gray-Gray, but you'll have to pry that Doormat of the Millennium award from Elizabeth's cold dead hands. Nick and Jess have some sex and some shrimp. In that order. I really hope Graham's gone now. Nick tells Jess that she has to leave, and Jessica cries a little. "Nick wiped away her tears with his knuckles." Actually, Nick, I think that's still called punching. I may have to ask Todd, aka the Chief Justice of the Punchy Court, but I'm pretty sure that's what you just did. Jessica leaves, saying, "Goodbye, Nick. Goodbye until soon." Goodb -- goodbye until soon? Really, Jessica? Those words just left your mouth? Please go back to second-grade English.
Nick goes back to his hotel, where Clay DiPalma is waiting for him. He tells Nick, "You got away before, but this time..." Clay, seriously. I dig the ominous trailing-off thing you're doing here, but I object to the term 'got away' when you could've used 'got knocked out by the butt of my gun and then lay there unconscious while I actively forgot to shoot you in the motherfucking head.' Of course, he could've been talking about the time he tried to abduct Nick in this book, but I daresay that would've worked a little better had there not been fifteen hundred cops just inexplicably hanging out right there.
Clay is there with his boss, a man hilariously named Nelson 'The Nose' Karl. Which, if you put this guy's first and last name together (and take out that stupid Nose bullshit), you get this:
Nick gets away from The Nose by doing a one-armed judo move (I'm so not creative enough to make that up) and speeds off in his car. He gets on the radio, and Chief Wiggumwallace tells him to drive to Old Olmstead Road for some reason. Nick does so, with Clay and the Nose right on his tail. Heh. How much do those two sound like kids' show presenters? The baddies copy every move Nick makes. "If he'd driven off a cliff, they'd have driven right with him." Well gee, Nick, why didn't you do that, then? It's called taking one for the team. Plus, I would've been able to use the 'dead boyfriend' tag. Why do you taunt me so, Nicholas?!
Nick stops on Old Olmstead Road like Chief Wiggumwallace told him to, and Clay comes at him with a set of brass knuckles. Because just shooting this prick is too easy. Oh, and Nick drives a Porsche, which makes me want him to die more. That's Bruce Patman's thing, Nicky boy. Clay says, "Nick Fox...prepare to die." He may be a shitty gangster, but this Clay fella sure knows how to get full use out of an ellipse. Then he throws all the respect I've given him out the window by asking Nick if he has any last words. Aw, crap. That is pretty much the lamest thing he could've said. Nick's last word is "gotcha", just as the cops show up and arrest that fucker. Wow, Nick, "gotcha"? Are you and DiPalma trying to out-lame one another? Imagine how less popular Die Hard would've been if Bruce Willis had said, "gotcha" right before pulling a gun off his bare back and shooting Alan Rickman in the head.
Jess is at home, still thinking about all the hot shrimp sex, when Nick comes to see her. He tells her that he's going to testify against Clay and then enter the witness protection program. Jess is like, "Awesome, let's roll." Nick has to spell it out for her -- she can't come. Well yippee-kai-yay, motherfucker. No more shrimp. No more sex. No more Graham watching quietly from the corner while all the shrimp and the sex is happening. Jess is heartbroken. And that's the end of the A-plot, believe it or not.
B Plot -- Elizabeth, Tom and the open packet of condoms
So last book, Elizabeth got back together with Tom, but then found a half-empty packet of condoms under his bed. Which means he and his ex Dana were frequently riding the hobby horse on numerous occasions. This book begins with Liz debating what this all means. She comes to the conclusion that he and Dana must've had sex, and when Tom walks back into the room, she says she feels sick and wants to go home. Tom's stunned at Liz's attitude 180, and hilariously thinks that "I might as well be dating Mr. Freeze." Hey, Tom:
Tom tries to cuddle up next to Liz, but she seems really stiff and rigid. He even wonders, "Why wasn't she melting in my arms?" Probably because she's still wearing that special freezing suit, Tom. Did you even watch that movie? Tom begs Liz to stay, but she maintains that she's not feeling well and leaves. Tom feels like he's "frozen in place." Hee! Are they deliberately trying to squeeze every drop out of this freezing analogy, or is it all just a happy accident designed by the gods to make me love this book? Either way, it's working.
Liz is having coffee with Nina, and Nina comments that Liz is acting strangely. Liz tells her that she thinks Tom slept with Dana, and Nina's like, "Whaaaa?" Um, I'm sorry to burst the Sweet Valley bubble, but is this really so difficult to believe? Dana (slut) + Tom (boy) = rampant gorilla sex. That's just math, you guys. Nina concedes that it's actually quite possible that Tom and Dana did do the mattress mambo, and then awesomely upon awesomely asks Liz, "How come you haven't slept with Tom?" AHAHAHAHA! Nina, you seriously are the greatest. Liz talks about crossing bridges and staying up all night thinking about how sex feels and denying her own womanly needs. Or something. She doesn't actually give a reason beyond being medically frigid.
Tom and Liz meet up, and Liz remembers how much she loves kissing the freckles on Tom's neck. Uh, okay. I don't want to hear that, really, but I guess it's your book, Liz. She wonders if Dana liked kissing Tom's neck freckles as well, which is something I definitely don't want to hear. Liz decides she'll fish around for the truth, and keeps asking Tom whether or not he was lonely while they were broken up, or if he needed a shoulder to cry on, and how easy it must've been to get carried away. It's the least subtle thing I've ever read in my life. Tom either ignores her, or is too stupid to realise what she's doing here. He tells her he has to go home immediately, so I'm thinking it's the former.
The next paragraph starts with, "Tom hurried across the quad as if he was being chased by the Furies." I totally read that as 'furries', and now I can't stop thinking of Todd and Dana doing it in animal costumes. I can never call it gorilla sex again, you realise that, don't you? And I liked that phrase, too. Tom's like, "Oh my God, oh my God, she knows!" and wonders if someone tipped her off. He actually says that, like it's some sort of gangster film. I think Tom's in the wrong storyline. Between all his guilt, though, Tom still manages to have time to think about 'gorgeous' Dana, and how "she's looked so sexy, lying under his sheets, laughing in his bed." Okay, Tom. Glad you know what you want.
(By the way, I should mention that I keep typing 'Todd' instead of 'Tom'. This is the first SVU book I've recapped with Tom in it, and I can't believe how difficult it is for me to let go of Trusty Boyfriend Todd. I guess his mild psychosis and brutal stupidity have really grown on me.)
Tom and Liz go out again. Liz wonders if Dana would've killed to sleep with Tom. Cree-pee. Tom almost mentions Dana's name during one of their conversations, and is so taken aback by his own thoughts that he spills coffee all over Liz's overalls. Yeah, I said overalls. The next day, Liz does some yoga with Jess, and randomly tells her that she thinks Tom did the bouncy-bouncy with Dana. Jess actually says, "I'm sure Tom did." Hee. Way to bring the lolz, Jess. I'm not even being sarcastic this time.
Tom goes to the gym, and sees Dana there. He freaks out and tries to run away from her, but ends up in the women's locker room. Dana asks if it's so hard for Tom to run into her, and he says, "Um, no, it's...it's not so hard to run into you. I mean, it's hard -- I mean, how are you, Dana?" Is that an erection joke? In a Sweet Valley book? Awesome. He silently thinks about the times he made love to Dana, and then corrects himself -- he loves Elizabeth, so he never made love to Dana. That's right, Tommy Girl, it's called filthy unemotional boning, and you did it. You dirty, dirty boy.
Dana gets closer to him, and says, "It shouldn't be that bad, bumping into me. After all, it wouldn't be the first time...right, Tom?" AHAHAHAHA! It's funny 'cause when she says 'bumping' she actually means 'bumping uglies'. It's innuendo, Tom, get it? 'Cause of all the sex you guys had? This is the best book ever. As if this scene couldn't get any more awesome, Liz takes this time to walk out of her yoga class. Dana leaves while Liz resists the urge to scream out "WHOOOORE!" Liz casually asks what Dana was doing there, and Tom says that he just "bumped into her." Which, after the conversation we just witnessed, is probably the wrong word to use. Liz holds his hand, then thinks that they look so immature doing that. Well gee, Liz, you are in public. I doubt even Tom and Dana would be so bold as to do the horizontal tango right there in the gym.
The next four Liz chapters are all about awkward dates with Tom, so I'm just going to skip right ahead to the last one. Tom takes her out to a fancy French restaurant and tells her that he'll do anything for her love. Liz asks him if he did the McNasty with Dana Upshaw. Stupid Tom fucking decides to lie and claim that the condoms Liz found belonged to sexually active Danny, and Liz is happy once again. And for some reason, all the language in this paragraph is talking about fire and heat and burning and warmth, and you know what that means? Hey, Tom:
C Plot -- Winston, Denise, and a whole bunch of slutty prep school girls
While I approve of Winston having his own storyline every now and then, this one is just boring and repetitive. Basically, a whole bunch of high school girls come to stay at Oakley Hall for some sort of orientation or whatever, and they all seem to be attracted to Winston. Every single one of them. Denise spends the entire book fighting them off, but it all works out in the end. Actually, it ends with Winston kissing some girl who's not Denise, so I guess it doesn't work out so good after all. In lieu of actually recapping the same thing over and over again, I think I'm just going to share with you a number of quotes from their storyline that make exactly the same amount of sense out of context than they do in the book. Ready? Here we go:
Winston and Denise had inadvertently started a small bonfire when they'd tried to make Jiffy Pop with a blow-dryer.
This sentence is so hilarious that I don't even feel the need to Google 'Jiffy Pop' and find out what it is.
"And remember," Mrs. Winterbottom trilled, "don't forget to use your finger bowls."
"Don't hit him," a gaggle of girls squealed as they ran to his defence, "he's way too cute to be meringued."
Yes, that's 'meringue' in past-tense verb form.
"I can wear that vintage check shirt with the oversize collar. That will look perfect with my Bermuda shorts."
Winston getting dressed in the morning. Not ironically.
Winston closed his eyes. Brenda had Snoopy, and Brenda had him.
Probably the funniest out-of-context quote my life will ever see.
"Well Winnie," Denise said between convulsions, "I don't know about Cary Grant, but I'm sure the Everett girls will think you're a dead ringer for Arnold Schwartzenegger!"