This story might benefit from the A plot, B plot, C plot format to keep it all straight but there are so many plots and a lot of them intertwine. And I am recapping as I read. So we’ll just plow straight through.
When we left SVU #1 all sorts of interesting stalker-y/attack-y things were going on. When we open this book, nothing is going on. The book starts off with a Friday night and Jessica Wakefield and Isabella Ricci aka Lila-lite in their dorm rooms. Without dates. Lila-lite turned down some guys who asked her out because she really wants Tom Watts to ask her, and Jessica is waiting for Mike McAllery to call. He apparently saved her at a Halloween party and kissed her and told her he’d call. And he hasn’t.
Elizabeth doesn’t have a date either. We also find out that one twin is size six and one isn’t. And the one that is, is not Elizabeth. Stress eating from adjusting to college and the break-up with Todd and the falling out with Enid and Jessica and her awful roommate. And now she can’t eat whatever she wants and not gain a pound. Liz sees Enid—oops, ALEX, coming across the quad. ALEX is dating a basketball star which makes Liz remember how she and Todd are so distant now. It doesn’t help that ALEX is chomping down on a burrito as she talks to Liz. Liz heads off to the library now that ALEX has twisted the knife in Liz’s heart.
Over in the WSVU office (the newspaper? tv station?), there is another person not dating. It is Tom Watts, football player and super investigative reporter. He is hot on the trail of the guy who attacked Jessica on Halloween and perpetrated a racial attack against his friend Danny. Tom thinks it is Peter Wilbourne III, president of the Sigmas, and that the attack on Jessica was meant for Liz. But this report isn’t about the Halloween attacks but about some screwy stuff going on in the athletics department. Mostly bribes and kickbacks to the athletes. Which Tom, though he used to be the star quarterback, has never heard about or actually seen with his own eyes. Unfortunately, Tom is too well-known in the athletics department so he’ll have to get someone else to get the story—Elizabeth. Who is currently at the library pretending to study and avoiding her room.
Celine, Liz’s southern witch of a roommate, is at a party. She thinks she is all that and a bag of chips. William shows up at the party. William White, the guy who is kinda-sorta stalking Liz? Throw us a bone here people! Eventually we learn that it is William White and he isn’t under Celine’s spell. Celine keeps thinking about putting spells on people and is dumb. William just leaves Celine without saying good-bye. Celine vows to destroy his happiness. William has left the party with the rose that Celine had and shows up at the library and gives it to Liz. Wait, what? How did he know where she was? Why?
Some time later, Jess is at Liz’s room trying to get her ready for the Theta tea. Jessica calls Celine “The South’s Revenge” and isn’t fooled by her accent and false charm. Turns out Liz doesn’t want to join the Thetas despite the fact that it was her mother’s sorority and Alice was a legend there. Continuity-hounds, can this be verified? Liz wants to join the Pi Beta Phis—the “activist” sorority. Jess puts Liz in a dress that fit last year but this year she looks like a sausage in it.
Winston has his own problems. He is hiding under his bed avoiding the Sigmas who are pounding on his door. Since they found out he was the only guy in an all girls dorm (and the housing committee let that stand? If a guy had been assigned to a girl’s floor at my school, they would have been moved the first day.), they haven’t been leaving him alone. All the Sigmas want to be introduced to the “ladies.” Finally, Maia, Winston’s dorm monitor shoos the boys off.
At the tea party, Liz is suffering. She finds the Thetas boring and superficial and eventually leaves early. While walking across campus, she comes upon a basketball game. Todd is playing and he is all hot and sweaty. Liz remembers that she broke up with Todd because she wasn’t ready to sleep with him but right at that moment she is thinking she could jump his bones. (It’s just self-pity girl! Stay away from Mr. Pressure, the Big Man On Campus!) Liz hurries away just as ALEX comes up to the game. She had a fabulous time at the Theta tea, loved all the girls, and is practically assured a spot in the sorority. So now the Amy transformation from SVT to SVH is echoed in Enid/ALEX from SVH to SVU. So original. The annoying thing is that ALEX is called Enid in the writing except when people are calling her ALEX. Well, ALEX’s hot-jock boyfriend’s grant came through and he is taking her out to the most expensive restaurant in town. And he doesn’t need to worry about his physics test on Monday. Why do I think this will somehow figure into Tom Watts’ story?
Liz is rushing toward her dorm and a bag of potato(e) chips (I am from Indiana, all potatoes have and (e) at the end). Suddenly a voice calls out her name. Is it Todd? Nope, it is Tom. Tom tells her about his hunch about the screwiness in the athletics department. For a moment, Liz is torn but she knows that though Todd has some privileges as a varsity athlete she knows deep in her heart that he wouldn’t take bribes. So she agrees to do the story—they have a duty to expose anything that is going on. This will surely make Liz more friends on campus. Jessica has turned into a pile of mushy peas because Mike has finally made his appearance. She gets into his car and is all over him. She totally dises her friends and takes off with Mike.
Celine is stalking William. Turns out William is rich and carelessly arrogant and effortlessly shows his contempt for everyone, and Celine is jealous. She wants to be that self-centered. Celine knows that William has the hots for Liz because she saw the rose he gave her and is going to make them both pay. Charming.
Jessica is still in mushy-land over Mike but pulls herself together when the Theta VP Allison comes to visit. Turns out they love Jess but don’t like Liz. But for some reason, they can’t just pledge Jess and not Liz—the two are a package deal. What, are they attached at the hip? But if Liz shows her loyalty, they’ll still pledge the two of them. The whole scene is very ominous. I wonder if Liz will have to drink pig’s blood to prove her “loyalty.” Liz meanwhile, has no idea of her impending doom and is contemplating the snack machine. She has worked through dinner and is hungry. She starts talking to Nina and makes a new friend. She also admits she is on a diet because she used to be a “perfect size six.”
Lila-lite is berating Jessica for making a spectacle of herself with Mike and embarrassing her friends. And Jessica didn’t come home the night before! Jess thinks that Lila-lite is not as supportive as real-Lila would be. Jessica thinks that Mike is the man of her dreams. He phones, calls her baby, and tells her to get downstairs because he is coming to get her.
Winston is stalking Denise Waters who seems to be friends with Lila-lite and Jessica. Winston is in LOVE with her and is trying to muster the courage to go talk to her when some Sigmas find him. Turns out Bill-of-the-Sigmas wants to be introduced to Denise. Winston knows Denise will hate Bill and hate Winston for setting the two of them up. Luckily, before Winston has to come up with an excuse for not introducing them, Denise leaves. Win has dodged the bullet.
Celine and William are watching Todd. William can’t understand why Liz went out with Todd, and Celine is just happy that William isn’t pretending she doesn’t exist anymore. He thinks he is using her to get info on Liz but Celine knows that it is she using him. Celine thinks that if she gets close to William, he’ll fall for her and then she can break his heart. But he is all thinking about Liz so when Celine gets home she says some mean things to Liz about Todd being at the party with another girl (Lauren Hill) and how Celine told him that Liz was just fine rather than depressed and gaining weight. What a special girl. Jessica meanwhile is tempting fate by riding on a motorcycle with Mike. Doesn’t she know that motorcycles give you comas?! Well, Jess doesn’t get a coma but she and Mike do end up at Mike’s apartment. Which, coincidentally, is the same building Steven lives in. But while Steven’s apartment is college-guy-leftover decorated, Mike’s is all bachelor pad extraordinaire. Jess tries to find out what he does to make all the money he has but he is cagey and won’t tell. Jess wakes up the next morning still at Mike’s apartment but still dressed don’t worry. But now that she has spend the night at a man’s apartment, she is a real woman! When Mike calls her a little girl, Jess gets mad about the double standard. If you aren’t a virgin, guys wonder if you sleep around and if you are a virgin, they think you’re a little girl. Jess, you have no idea how crappy a standard it is. Mike keeps calling Jessica “baby” which is one of my huge peeves. Any guy calls me “baby” or “babe” gets a mouthful of knuckles. Jess remembers she has a seminar she can’t miss and Mike offers to drive her to class. So she doesn’t have to do the walk of shame. Of course, as they are leaving the building they run into Steven. There is some male posturing and Mike and Jessica head off to the college. Steven rants to Billie who isn’t very sympathetic seeing as how she is living with Steven out of wedlock, it isn’t all that farfetched that Jessica might be doing some things out of wedlock too. Jess and Mike roar up to the lecture hall in the coma-cycle and make out in front of everyone. Then, because she made such a big deal about going to the lecture, Jess decides to blow it off and go to the beach with Mike.
That morning, Liz and Nina meet up for breakfast and Nina tells Liz that Celine has been spreading rumors about her. Too the whole campus and even probably Todd. So if Liz thinks she should talk to Todd, she probably should. Todd, Liz’s boyfriend since like sixth grade believes the rumors rather than in Liz’s character? Yeah, good characterization ghostwriter. Really, it seems like it would have been smarter to start with fresh characters than to try to force the SVH people into all these weird molds. Liz decides to go to Todd’s dorm to talk to him. He is there and doesn’t want to talk. She gets a bit whiney despite her best intentions and of course Lauren comes out of the bathroom. Smooth.
Tom meanwhile is actually happy. It hasn’t been explained why he wouldn’t be happy except that he had had an accident and no longer played football as a result. But he is now happy because he was dreaming about kissing Elizabeth. And then who should appear in the dorm but Liz herself! Tom tries to talk to her but she doesn’t even notice him. It is then that he knows he has no chance because she was there to see Todd and not him. Winston is having better luck with his love life. He has been avoiding the girls so the Sigmas won’t bother them and ruin their lives and finally gets a chance to talk to Denise alone. If the Sigmas suck so much, why does he want to join them? Just because Bruce Patman is in the frat?
Jessica is faced with a lecture from Lila-lite in the morning. Lila-lite left her some condom adverts suggesting that even if Jess didn’t sleep with Mike this time, she might the next time and he probably has AIDS or another grody disease. Lila-lite actually says some smart things and leaves Jess with a present. A pack of extra-strength condoms. At the risk of showing my naïveté, they come in strengths? Lila-lite then goes to hang out with Allison the Theta VP. Allison loves to talk about herself and be condescending and snobby. But really, she is trying too hard. Allison thinks that Liz’s show of loyalty should be to publicly go up to Peter Wilbourne III and apologize. Lila-lite, who doesn’t seem to be a bad sort, says that that is a bad idea because Peter was wrong. Allison then says that of course Lila-lite would be against Peter because she likes Tom. Tom walks by at that moment but doesn’t even really notice Lila-lite. Too bad for Lila-lite.
Liz has apparently putt the Todd-crisis behind her and is focused on her story. She is looking for proof of bribes and kickbacks because all she has are rumors. Jess catches up with her to try to talk about the Thetas. Liz would rather talk about Mike. She says that Jess can’t like Mike because she hardly knows him. Jess responds that Steven and Liz can’t hate him because they don’t know him either. Touché. Jessica is now practically ready to sleep with Mike just to get back at her nosy, cautious family. She figures that Mike was a womanizer because he hadn’t found the right woman. Her.
Celine’s plans are going forward too. She tells William that Liz has a date for Homecoming (she doesn’t) and so does she, Celine (she doesn’t). William tells Celine to break her (nonexistent) date and go with him. He wants to stalk Liz at the dance too apparently. That is one messed up buttercup. ALEX is having dinner at an expensive bistro with her boyfriend and Todd and Lauren. She muses that it is odd to be having dinner with Todd and Lauren when she spent so much time with Todd and Liz, but people change. She changed after all—she is now ALEX and is going to be in the best sorority and has a jock boyfriend.
Liz is still working on her story. Turns out that after Tom quit playing football, it demoralized everyone and so the athletics department decided to turn everything around. He also is pretty sexist to Liz, but that isn’t exactly unexpected from the way the story has been going. Liz finally gets away and is late for lunch with ALEX. While jogging there she frets that she hasn’t been losing any weight despite the diet and exercising. She then runs smack dab into William. He quotes poetry to her and asks her out but she remembers her lunch appointment. ALEX tells Liz about the dinner that she went to with her boyfriend, the new car he is getting, and the trip he might be taking her on. Oh, no, that’s not suspicious. Tom, on the other hand, is not thinking about the story. He wants to ask Liz out but figures she is going with someone else. Steve is still fretting about Jessica and with good reason. Jess heads over to Mike’s apartment for dinner and “dessert” and she is wearing sexy underthings. Turns out Steven is right to worry because no sooner is Jess in the door than she and Mike are busy doing the horizontal tango. Making the beast with two backs. Etc. And when Lila-lite wakes up and sees the untouched bed, she knows what has happened. Allison the Theta VP comes by to talk to Jess about Liz but Lila-lite smoothly covers for her. I haven’t read any of the other SVU books, but I find myself liking Lila-lite more and more.
Celine continues to spread her rumors about Liz, assigning all of Celine’s sterling qualities to Liz. It is working until Nina steps in and calls Celine out on her lies. Celine tries to cover by asking if Nina is mad at her because she is from the south where there was slavery. (Nina is black, fyi) Nina laughs and tells Celine that she isn’t mad at her because she is from the south, she is mad at her because she didn’t stay there. Celine digs though Liz’s things to find something to use against her but all she finds is an outline for the athletics article. How lucky she happened to notice it. Celine takes her scoop to William for some reason. I don’t get why she follows him around like a little puppy dog but she does. Liz and Tom almost have a moment but then Tom brings up Todd and Liz says that there is no way he is involved with this. She defends him so strongly, Tom immediately assumes they are still an item and emotionally closes up.
Lila-lite and Jess have a bit of a tiff. Jess comes back to the dorm all glowy and crap and Lila-lite tells her that Allison has Liz’s loyalty assignment. It is to apologize to Peter Wilbourne III and go on a date with him. Jess figures she can convince Liz but Lila-lite is upset that Jess isn’t more upset. Peter was an ass and Liz shouldn’t have to apologize. Jess doesn’t want to be dropped by the Thetas but she is still going to date Mike despite the Thetas not liking him either. Contradictions all around but I guess she is used to pushing doormat Liz around and knows she can upset her and be forgiven but the Thetas will never forgive. I guess. But it turns out Liz isn’t willing to be a doormat this time. She will not go on a date with Peter Wilbourne III and nothing on the planet could make her. Too bad there isn’t another girl who looks just like her that could stand in for her. Too bad.
Tom is obsessing over Liz still and Jessica is obsessing over Mike. She knows she has to study because if she fails college, she won’t get to see Mike anymore because she’ll be back at home. Mike’s solution to the problem of Jess having to keep running back to campus is to have her move in. Because of course that will help her grades. Jess, in a rare moment of good sense, realizes that moving in with someone isn’t something you usually do after a few weeks and that she needs some time to think about it. She doesn’t let the hormones control her—maybe she is actually evolving from her animal roots.
Real-Lila makes an appearance in Jessica’s dream. Real-dream-Lila isn’t delirious with happiness over her new marriage but is a woman now who is living with a man. Dream-Jessica counters that she too is a real woman and living with a man. After that prophetic dream, what else is there for Jess to do but to get breakfast to surprise Mike with and tell him she is moving in? Well, Jess gets there and comes across a redhead leaving his apartment. Jess runs off in tears. She spends the day crying and Lila-lite tries to comfort her but Jessica is beyond help. In so many ways. It takes a while, but Lila-lite finally pries the story out of Jess. She doesn’t say “I told you so” but instead is helpful. But the more Jess thinks about it, the more it doesn’t make sense. Lila-lite asks if she wants to write a “Dear Mike” letter but Jess doesn’t want to do anything rash. She fights for what is hers after all.
Liz is starting to get over Todd. Nina councils Liz that the best way to get over one guy is to go out with another. She immediately thinks of Tom but Nina means William. Well, Liz doesn’t take her advice and decides to ask Tom out. But then she chickens out. And when she finally runs into him, it is all about business. I know there wouldn’t be any story if everyone weren’t making wrong assumptions but don’t these people ever talk about things? If I like someone, I tell them. If I am mad at someone, I tell them. If I think someone is cheating on me, I confront them. Maybe I am a weirdo. Or else it is something in the SVU water. Well, Tom likes Liz and Liz likes Tom but neither wants to say anything. Later that evening, Tom is still obsessing over Liz when she comes back from the interview. She is very upset because it looks like Todd is implicated in the sports scandal. She wishes it weren’t true but she isn’t going to drop the story just because it is.
Jess decides the best thing to do is to trail Mike. She follows him to a bar where he is pool sharking. He wins and she is about to throw herself into his arms when another woman beats her to it. She goes crazy. Mike laughs and thinks she isn’t serious but she is gone in a flash.
Tom and Liz decide to push forward with the story. Liz is crushed because the coach implied that they had bought Todd’s attendance at the school and Liz had thought he was going there because of her. Celine and William continue to dance around the Tom-Liz subject and spar verbally. Winston and his dormmates plot to get the Sigma guys to leave them alone by humiliating them; when the guys ask the girls to the dance they won’t answer until too late and then say they have other dates. Tom realizes that he really likes Liz and that he really misses his parents, his older sister, and his little brother. I haven’t heard otherwise so I am guessing they died. Jess engages in retail therapy but unfortunately for her catches Mike with yet another woman. Liz goes to Todd to warn him about the charges that will soon be made and that he is implicated. He is all defensive saying that he thought she knew him better than that. She says she did too.
Jess is brokenhearted and Lila-lite is answering the phone telling Mike that Jess doesn’t want to talk to him. Not even if he dies and comes back as another person. I might talk to a person who said that because it is pretty funny. Jess feels like she has been run over by a tractor but at least she hasn’t lot the Thetas. Lila-lite isn’t so sure—the whole Liz-Peter thing, remember? Jess decides that Liz will go out with Peter and have a faboo time. Yep, Jess will pretend to be Liz yet again.
Tom has written Elizabeth a poem. Apparently it is an emotionally charged poem that explains his feelings and stuff. But he is scared to deliver it. He eventually puts it in her mailbox and Liz reads it. He didn’t sign his name but she thinks it is from Tom. Then she wonders if she thinks it is from Tom because she wants it to be from him or because it is from him. She is so confused.
Steven and Billie-the-girl are at the football game. Steven spots “Elizabeth” with Peter. He now knows his sisters have lousy taste in men. Tom is talking to his friend Danny (who has appeared before this but never really worth mentioning) and they are watching the game too. Tom misses football but he doesn’t miss the horrible person the game made him. And if it weren’t for football, his family would be alive. Yep, they died. Playing football? Anyway, the Thetas and Sigmas are making a ruckus so of course Danny and Tom look over there and notice “Elizabeth” with Peter. Jessica has her “Elizabeth” routine down to a science after 18 years of doing it so everyone is fooled. And Tom feels like an idiot for giving Liz the poem. But he didn’t sign it so it isn’t like she knows it is from him. “Elizabeth” then kisses Peter and Tom feels like has been stabbed. Lila-lite is sitting next to “Elizabeth” and notices Tom looking her way. She thinks he might be looking at her but after shading her eyes, notices he is looking at “Elizabeth” and that his expression isn’t intent, it is pained. Lila-lite now knows that Tom isn’t the Ice King everyone thought and that he has feelings for someone—just not her. Poor Lila-lite.
Jessica is happy she fooled everyone and will now be pledged by the Thetas and she is glad she was able to escape that creep Peter but she is still broken hearted. As she is walking down the hall, she hears someone playing “her song.” The song Mike played for her. She goes into her room to cry her eyes out and is shocked to find Mike standing there. He look as haggard as she does—as though his heart were broken too. He begs her to listen because he loves her, he really does. She throws herself at him despite all the little voices telling her to be cautious.
Elizabeth is miserable. She isn’t going to the dance and the Pi Beta Phis told her that they weren’t going to pledge her because she seemed more like Theta material. Guess they were at the game and saw the performance by “Elizabeth.” William, Celine’s date arrives then and is surprised to see Liz not dressed for the dance. She says that she isn’t going because no one asked her. William says he would have asked her and is all charming until Celine comes in and then he is cold and snakelike. The two of them leave. Steven and Billie-the-girl drop by. Steven asks why she isn’t dressed for her big date with Peter Wilbourne III because everyone saw her at the game. Billie-the-girl tries to shut Steven up (seeing as how he isn’t either twin’s dad) but Liz says that she wouldn’t go out with Peter if he were the last man on earth. The two finally put two and two together and come up with Jessica. Duh. Liz thinks that in all their 18 years of life, this is the worst thing Jessica has done to her. I guess she forgot the whole getting her drunk-manslaughter trial stuff. Liz storms off to find Jessica but runs into ALEX, Todd, Lauren and ALEX’s boyfriend-who-is-on-the-dole. ALEX doesn’t know what to say but Liz just tells her she looks nice. The dumbass boyfriend asks why she isn’t dressed to go to the dance with Peter. Smooth move, dumbass boyfriend. Enid really is a bitch because instead of running after her obviously upset bestfriend, she blows the whole thing off and heads to the dance.
Winston isn’t at the dance either. He was afraid of the Sigmas hitting him if he showed up with a date while they had been stood up. Besides, he only wanted to go with Denise. It is lucky for him then that as he is making his way to the TV room, he runs into Denise who hadn’t wanted to go with anyone who asked her and is all for a scary movie night. Lucky Winnie. Liz doesn’t want to find Jess after seeing ALEX and Todd and how happy they are so she heads to somewhere safe—the TV station. She expects it to be deserted but finds Tom there. She looks at him hoping he wrote the poem but he looks at her with icy disdain. She runs out crying and he calls after her but she doesn’t stop. Correct me if I am wrong, but Tom used to be a football player. And football players do this thing called running. And he can’t catch up with her? But Liz knows there is no love there. No love anywhere. She is about one more disappointment from throwing herself off a bridge. Jess on the other hand is thrilled. She is dancing at the dance with Mike and having a fab time and has told him she’ll move in with him.
Bad points: Overuse of the whole “Now I know I am crazy, I am hearing his/her voice.” I think it happened three times in the book. At least.
All the assumptions. Everyone assumes. ASS-U-ME
Todd. Todd sucks.
ALEX. Alex double sucks because she didn’t break up with Liz but is still a bitch and a half.
Lauren. She is a cardboard figure
Allison. She is a cardboard caricature.
Steven as the obsessive over-protective brother. It got old real fast.
Good points: There was a dance!
Lila-lite - Isabella really was pretty awesome. I bet she eventually goes Margo or something but right now, she is cool.
Mike. Yep, I actually liked Mike. He was about the most normal/rational person in the book.
The episode in a nutshell:
And I just got back from the used bookstore and got a metric butt-load of Sweet Valley Junior High and Senior Year and a few SVH books. So watch out for Sweet Valley Overload in the coming days. :)