|"When the smoke clears, will Jessica and Elizabeth ever be forgiven?"
||[Oct. 20th, 2007|07:25 pm]
Elizabeth and Jessica are better than you.
This is my very first 1bruce1 recap, and because I'm apparently a masochist, I've chosen no. 121: The High School War
This is the second of a three part mini-series - called, with typical SVH imagination, Rivalries - but alas I don't have part one (although I do have part three, which is actually a lot more exciting than this book). Luckily, that isn't really important, because the previous book is pretty much recapped in the first chapter. Basically, SVH is involved in a bitter feud with Palisades High, which of course, along with Big Mesa, is one of the only three high schools in the SV universe. Apparently the feud began when the PH football team, the Palisades Pumas, played dirty in a game against the glorious Gladiators, and after the game their quarterback, Greg McMullen, dared to insult Ken Matthews and then punch him in the stomach. The high school war is on! In revenge, the SV jocks show what hardcore badasses they are by spray-painting "Palisades Pumas purr like kittens" across the PH football team's playing field. That'll show 'em! Oh my God, that has to be the lamest scary graffiti ever. Seriously, couldn't they have come up with something a bit better than that? Of course, this scary gang does basically consist of Todd, Bruce, Ken, Winston, and Ronnie Edwards, so I shouldn't expect too much imagination or, um, badassedness.
While this is all going on, Jessica has been cheating with Ken with a mysterious surfer dude who she met while secretly practicing for some surfing competition, presumably not the same one Elizabeth was secretly practicing for in The New Elizabeth. Why do these stupid twins keep sneaking off to these deserted beaches where they are offered secret surfing lessons by random hunky surfers? I don't know. Anyway, Jessica has, of course, fallen in love with this mystery man, and is now fooling around with him while poor old Ken is getting punched in the stomach and spraying the stupidest graffiti ever on football fields.
And what has Elizabeth been doing while all this craziness is going on? Trying to broker peace, of course. She, Enid and their PH equivalents Marla and Caitlin have arranged a dance attended by both schools, but of course each group sticks to opposite sides of the room and a fight eventually breaks out. Jessica falls over in the confusion, and is helped up by the leader of the Palisades gang who is, of course, her secret surfer lover, Christian Gorman. And he's just punched Ken in the face! Oh noes!
And this is where we come in. The police arrive at the scene but all the boys have made their escape. They convene in a convenient abandoned warehouse, suggested as a meeting place by Bruce. Why on earth is he so familiar with the location of abandoned warehouses in the sketchy part of town? He even knows that the groundfloor windows are broken. What the hell has he been doing there? I shudder to think. Anyway, although Winston says he's "a lover, not a fighter" and wanted to stop the fighting, he, along with rest of the SV goons, is soon caught up in the frankly disturbing war frenzy of his jock chums.
Aaron jumped to his feet. 'Justice!' he shouted. 'That's what we're after!'
Wow, he's a regular Henry V. It works on Ken, anyway.
"Justice,"Ken repeated, his voice ringing strong and clear in the cavernous warehouse.
Dear oh dear. Meanwhile, perfidious Jessica and her saintly twin are being questioned by the police. Elizabeth wonders why Jessica is so upset, and then we get the usual the-twins-look-alike-but-their-personalities-are-so-different shite. In a rare moment of honesty regarding her sister, Elizabeth acknowledges Jess's sociopathic tendencies.
'I would've thought she'd get a kick out of the fight, be egging Ken and the guys on,'Elizabeth mused. 'Doing her cheerleader thing.'
Don't worry, Liz, if she hadn't been cheating on him, she'd definitely have been cheering on the bloodshed! Anyway, Jess pretends she didn't recognise any individual fighters, and the girls get a lift home. Jessica is horrifed when Ken calls over to check that she's okay. I find it really hard to believe that Jess is so bad at lying to her cuckolded partner. Lord knows, especially after reading those Secret Diaries, it's not the first time. Anyway, Ken tells her that he's going to get the "Palisades punk" who punched him, because apparently it's the '50s. If only Officer Krupke would sort this out! Actually, I'm surprised these gangs don't settle their differences through lots of West Side Story-esque finger clicking. That would be much cooler. And more entertaining. So anyway, Jessica is horrified to realise that "her relationship with Ken and her illicit love for Christian had landed her smack in the middle of the high school war". Heavens.
Later, Todd turns up to see Elizabeth. Soon this passionate pair are "curled up on the den sofa with cups of hot lemon-scented tea". Elizabeth asks why the SVH gang had to escalate the "war". Todd scoffs at her foolish female lack of understanding.
The next morning, Jess dons her wetsuit and heads out to her usual sekrit surfing practice. Will Christian be there? Of course he will, because, as we are informed, they are "soul mates". But alas, now they're not the "carefree young lovers they used to be". Apparently they had previously decided not to ask any questions about each other's personal lives, which is why Jess didn't know he went to Palisades. Presumably they talked about nothing but surfing and how much they "loved" each other after, what, five surfing lessons. Ah, the ease with with the SVH gang "fall madly in love"! Anyway, Jessica finally tells Christian that Ken, who Christian last encountered when punching him in the face, is her boyfriend. Christian doesn't seem to mind the fact that Jessica is a cheater, but says that because of the "horrible, twisted complexity of the situation", they must never see each other again. The word "never" echoes in Jessica's head "like a prison sentence pronounced by a merciless judge". Steady on there, Jess!
Chrome Dome Cooper has organised a special assembly to deal with his psycho students. The girls are in favour of a truce between the schools. Winston wonders if his lack of desire to punch other people makes him a wimp. Chrome Dome declares that from now on, the wearing of school colours is banned on campus, and that there must be goodwill between SVH and PH. Bruce scoffs and say that there'll be goodwill between the two schools "when pigs fly".
"When cows windsurf," Winston added.
"When horses skydive," Todd contributed.
WHO THE HELL TALKS LIKE THIS? Seriously, what with this and "Palisades Pumas purr like kittens", this ghostwriter really needs to improve his or her trashtalking skills. Anyway, Chrome Dome says that anyone who escalates the war with Palisades will be suspended or even expelled. Winston is horrified at the prospect but it just seems to goad the other nutjobs on. Winston realises that this whole thing has gone too far and that someone could even get killed. Could this be....FORESHADOWING? Surely not.
Elizabeth, ever the peacemaker, has volunteered to join the inter-school taskforce. Todd basically thinks this is the equivalent of being a collaborator in Nazi-occupied France. He tells Liz that the jocks are defending the school's honour "and protecting our women". Understandably enough, this doesn't go down well with Liz, and the boring duo have one of their stupid fights. They agree to disagree. Yawn. Liz writes an article for the Oracle which she hopes will make both sides see sense. How often does that paper come out, anyway? In this book, it seems to be practically daily. Anyway, Mary at PH is doing the same thing. Amy and Lila, on the other hand, are getting turned on by all the fighting.
Amy sighed. "This probably sounds kinky, but I think guys getting all sweaty and panting and punching each other is kind of sexy."
"You are so deviant, Ms Sutton," Lila said with a smile, "but I have to agree with you."
Good Lord, who knew they were all such pervs? This is a bit much for a book aimed at twelve year olds. Lila's probably paying hunks to engage in bareknuckle boxing bouts in the grounds of Fowler Crest. Ugh. Anyway, Jess is squicked out, although you know that if her secret lovah and her boyfriend weren't involved she'd be into it too. She hates the thought of never seeing Christian again.
The taskforce meets! The first to arrive (apart from Saint Liz, of course) are our old friends David Prentiss and Jade Wu, last seen in that book where Jade wants to be a dancer and her authoritarian Chinese father (because in SVH land, all immigrants must be really conservative and authoritarian ) won't let her. In fact, wasn't that their only appearance? Anyway, they're at the meeting, and so are a few other familiar faces, including Jessica's old love, A.J. You were too good for her, A.J.! But the meeting is briefly disrupted when some students shout "traitors!" in the door. Elizabeth recognises Todd's dulcet tones. Oh noes!
The jocks have a meeting. Bruce is full of anti-PH rage, Winston a bit freaked out about the whole thing (although not freaked out enough to leave), Ken is having doubts but then thinks he has to protect Jessica, like a good patriarch he is, Todd (unsurprisingly) doesn't seem to have any thoughts at all.
Ken calls over to the Wakefields' gaff. By the way, you might be wondering what Ned and Alice have to say about this wave of violence supposedly engulfing their town and which has involved their daughters being questioned by the police. Well, the answer is nothing. Nothing at all. Because they don't make a single appearance in this book. You might think that if a wave of violence was breaking out in their kids' high school they'd actually, I dunno, talk to their kids about it, but no. Anyway, Jess feels guilty about deceiving Ken. I hate to say it, but I miss crazy scheming shameless tart Jess. Guilt and angst-ridden Jess is really boring. She tells Liz that she's been surfing but not about her sekrit love. After her own experiences, you'd think the first thing Liz would ask would be "did a random surfing hunk offer to teach you?" But she doesn't.
The next morning, despite having vowed to never see each other again, both Jess and Christian turn up at the secret surfing beach. The hell? I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that Jess can't keep her word, after all those books of scheming and boyfriend-cheating. But still, couldn't she (and Christian) have lasted more than 24 hours? Actually, I was kind of glad he turned up, as until he appeared Jess spent nearly an entire page thinking of how "the calls of the seabirds and the musical splashing of the water reminded her of his laughter. Seabirds and waves? What crazy sort of laugh does Christian have?!
At SVH, an English class turns into yet another tedious argument about whether the students are "giving up their liberty" if they don't wear the school colours. Winston has yet more doubts. Then Todd and Elizabeth have yet another fight. OH MY GOD THIS IS SO BORING.
But wait! Maybe things are going to get more exciting! Jessica hasn't turned up to school, so Ken and Liz go to look for her. Liz tells Ken about Jess's secret surfing, so they head off to the beach. Jess, of course, is canoodling with Christian, doubtless reveling in his squawking, crashing laugh. Ken and Jess arrive at the beach and while Jess's car is there, there's no sign of her. Ken dives into the waves. While he's out there looking for Jess's lifeless corpse (oh please oh please) Liz encounters her cheating twin and her new beau, who went off to get snacks and were distracted by each other's beauty - "once they got their hands on each other, they couldn't stop". Ooh-er. Christian heads off before Ken returns/drowns.
The SV jocks are having YET ANOTHER meeting. Crazy Bruce has a new scheme - they're going to slash the PH jocks' tyres. Blah blah Winston has doubts blah blah.
The inter-school taskforce meets. Caitlin, the PH girl, is crying because she and her boyfriend have broken up. He thought she was a traitor to her school, and she thought he was a thug. Oh my God, could there possibly be any parallels between their relationship and another couple that has featured prominently in this book? Surely not. For some reason Elizabeth is perturbed. Hmmmmmmmm. She finds out about the boys' scheme and is haunted by visions of the boys "sneaking around the Palisades parking lot, switchblades in hands. Were they wearing stockings over their heads?" Well, if they are, don't tell Lila and Amy, it'd all be too much for them.
Blah blah the boys slash the tyres, Winston has doubts but does it anyway, a Palisades thug sees him and threatens revenge.
Jessica and Christian have another tedious tryst on the beach. Christian vows to end the violence for the sake of his love. Yawn.
Todd and Elizabeth have another version of the same argument they've been having throughout the book. Elizabeth has "never seen his coffee brown eyes more sincere" than when he talks about his need to protect the feeble women of SVH. She is, once more, perturbed.
Bruce suggests finding out stuff about the private lives of their PH rivals, in order to "hit them where it hurts". Ken has doubts but like everyone in this book who has doubts about anything (hi, Winston!), he does nothing. But then he overhears Jess talking Liz about her mystery man. Vengeance will be his! Or "justice", as he memorably declaimed earlier in this ridiculous book. He rips up a copy of The Oracle in his rage. And who can blame him?
The next day he feels "the violent urge to smash his fist into the hard, unyielding metal of the lockers". Stick to ripping up paper, Ken! He wonders if Todd knows about Jess's betrayal and decides that he doesn't (perhaps he gazes into Todd's oh-so-expressive coffee brown eyes) and heads off to meet Jessica, who has suddenly turned into the worst cheater ever and behaves really guiltily. I really don't understand why she doesn't just break up with Ken - it's not like she even feels torn between him and Christian. Hang on, am I expecting emotional realism from an SVH book? Sorry about that, it won't happen again.
Todd is giving a party. Bet that'll be a barrel of laughs. Elizabeth mystifyingly thinks it'd be a good idea to bring along her Palisades pals, without mentioning it to Todd. Alas for optimistic Liz, it isn't. Of course, Liz, Enid and the PH girls arrive just as a CD ends and there is a super-dramatic pause as the SVH goons gawp at the new arrivals. It's all very uncomfortable and when Liz approaches Todd, his face is "tight with suppressed fury". He orders the PH to leave, accusing them of being spies. It's all kind of insane. Liz and the girls leave, and Liz speculates melodramatically about the future, which apparently is "as murky and blank as the starless night sky".
The next day, Todd apologises for his rudeness, and suggests a date that night. Liz says she'll give him "one more chance" but wonders if that means this is their "last chance". Well, yeah, if you're just going to give him one more chance ever, it kind of is the last chance. Sorry, Liz.
She's not the only Wakefield with a hot yet emotionally fraught date - Jess and Christian are going out on their first "nighttime date", as opposed to their daytime dates, which seem to be spent surfing and getting off with each other in a van. Mmmmm, classy. Jess dolls herself up for the date in a "gauzy green dress".
Maria and Winston are also spending Saturday night together. They're watching a film at his house. Winston is basically thinking about how great it is to spend some time with a normal human being instead of his war-crazed psycho jock buddies. Then Todd rings, saying that they've got word PH are planning something big against SVH, and that everyone's meeting at the warehouse in 15 minutes. Todd's voice sounds a bit strange, but Winston just thinks it's because he's "afraid of being overheard". By whom? Are PH bugging people's houses now? This is demented. Anyway, Winston reluctantly agrees to go, telling Maria that if he doesn't, "the guys will never speak to him again". Jesus, Winston, I know peer pressure is tough, but grow a freaking spine! You've had serious doubts every five pages in this stupid book. Anyway, Winston drives off thinking that although "he was willing to be a foot soldier in the war against Palisades High, ever ready to march into battle, he was going to keep on looking for a way to steer the guys in the direction of peace".
Liz and Jess prepare for their dates. Liz has a moment of strange twin psychic intuition. Foreshadowing, is that you? Meanwhile, Stalker!Ken is outside, ready to follow Jess. He knows she was lying when she said she was studying tonight! He sees Jess get into a strangely familiar van. Could he have seen it before? At the beach when he nearly drowned looking for Jess? Inside the van, Christian tells Jess that he told the PH gang he wanted peace and got kicked out of the room. Christian thinks that something big is planned for tonight, and is worried that the violence is escalating. Oh, hi, foreshadowing, come on in! They listen to Jamie Peters (continuity!) but when Jamie launches into a doubtless dreadful power ballad, Jessica feels "as if she were in some kind of spaceship, traveling at light speed away from the known world". She might even discover another high school that isn't Palisades, SVH or Big Mesa. But I won't hold my breath.
Winston arrives at the warehouse, which looks suspiciously deserted. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing is a trap. Poor Winston! If only he'd acted on those doubts...
Liz and Todd are on their date. Todd calls Liz "a hysterical female" because apparently he's now Rex Harrison. There's a really stupid and borderline offensive bit where at the height of their argument Todd of course starts kissing her and she gets really into it. Yeah, ghostwriters, it's never too early to equate fighting and quarreling with sexual passion and chemistry in the minds of your readers! The dopey duo agree to work through their problems, and Todd declares that he's not going to engage in any more violence. Famous last words, Toddster. Famous last words.
Poor Winston is getting beaten up. It's quite horrible, really. He starts thinking that they'll never let him go and just keep him there as a "punchbag". He tries to wisecrack his way out of it, but just gets more punches in the stomach for his trouble. Why couldn't they have kidnapped Bruce instead? I wouldn't mind seeing him get beaten up.
Jess and Christian arrive at the restaurant and start getting off with each other in the foyer. Still classy! But who should arrive and see them in a passionate embrace but Ken! That's what you get for engaging in inappropriate PDAs, kids.
Todd and Liz arrive at the Dairi Burger. They're all happy and optimistic about the future, but then they meet Maria and discover that Winston has fallen into the PH trap. Todd and Bruce head to the warehouse.
Ken confronts the cheating duo. His voice is "hoarse with pain and anguish" as he tells Jess he never wants to see her again. He vows revenge on Christian. Be careful what you wish for, Ken...
The SVH ladies are frantic with worry about Winston. Liz eventually thinks of calling the police, which surely would be the first thing a normal person would think of if they knew someone had been lured into a warehouse by a bunch of violent goons.
Jess feels guilty about the way Ken found out. She realises that if she chooses to stay with Christian, she'll be an outcast at SVH. Well, considering how many people she's basically bullied by excluding them from SVH society, this seems pretty fair to me, but Jess of course doesn't have any self awareness and doesn't think about this. However, she does show some sense of social responsibility when she worries that the high school war can now only get worse.
Back at the warehouse, Winston is delirious with pain. But then hurrah, the SVH boys arrive! A huge crazy fight breaks out, and the girls arrive to see Winston staggering around covered in gore. They scream. Winston collapses. The fight is getting wilder and shows no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Jess and Christian have followed Ken's car to the warehouse. They arrive just as the police turn up, sirens blaring.
Amy and Lila wonder how they could ever have thought hot, sweaty, half-naked men wrestling together was exciting. Liz can't understand why the boys aren't breaking up the fight now that the police have arrived. Todd has pinned one of the PH boys to the ground, and seems unaware of the sirens - in fact, he's repeatedly punching the boy in the face. Liz is shocked at Todd's ultra-violence, but, hilariously, is totally shocked when, after ignoring the police's demands that he get up and put his hands in the air, Todd is arrested. "Elizabeth's jaw fell open in disbelief. She'd dialled 911 because she thought Todd needed police protection. Instead, he was under arrest!" Liz, HE WAS PUNCHING SOMEONE IN THE FACE AND DIDN'T STOP WHEN A COP TOLD HIM TO! Jesus! What did you think the police would do? Elizabeth offers to accompany Todd and bail him out, but he refuses when he realised that she called the cops. Liz weeps as she watches the cop car "take Todd away from [her] forever".
Jess approaches the battle scene and realises that her love for Christian will supposedly mean abandoning all these, um, battle crazed freaks. She makes her escape in typically dramatic style: "Whirling, Jessica melted into the night, returning to Christian's side". Let's just enjoy that hilarious mental image as we wait for the ominously titled final volume in the trilogy, A Kiss Before Dying, which I will recap as soon as I recover from the epic task of summing up one of the most repetitive SVH titles ever.