The cover is stunningly fug. That's Liz on the left in the role of Daniella Fromage (and of course, I always wear trendy baggy blazers and black berets, and am totally not sitting here right now in faded pyjamas with my hair covered in cereal), and Jessica on the right being Magenta Galaxy. Based on their expressions, I want to smack them both.
The twins are at the mall and Liz is trying on a dress. They both look at themselves in the mirror and are like, "We are so hot! But we have such different personalities!" Liz looks good in the dress, but she refuses to buy it because it's too expensive. Jessica, naturally, just thinks that Liz should just charge the dress to their mother's account and worry about what she'll say later. It always amuses me that in every book Jessica tries to get Liz to behave more like her, but whenever Liz DOES have an attitude turn-around, Jessica hates it.
Anyway. Liz isn't won over by her sister's argument and the two of them leave the store, only to see a new dating agency that has opened up nearby. The sign in the window reads: "Lovestruck Computer Dating: Teens Our Speciality." I'm not kidding: it actually says that. How amazingly inappropriate. It sounds like some sort of bizarre hentai porn interactive game. Sadly(?), there is no tentacle sex in this book.
Thrilled by the prospect of collecting a few more beaux, Jessica decides to sign herself up as two different people: Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy. Daniella is snobby and likes the finer things in life; Magenta is a wild rock star. This. This right here is why I love Jessica. Only she could imagine that having the surname "Fromage" conjures up images of European sophistication. Incidentally, there is no explanation as to how Jessica came up with the names, so I guess it's just a part of her creative genius, so often dwelt upon over the course of the series.
The very next day, Daniella Fromage gets a letter from Lovestruck Computer Dating, matching her with a boy called Pierre Du Lac. From the first sentence it is obvious that he is fakesville, as he says that he has "travelled extensively on the Continent and in Europe", but even though Liz points out the redundancy of this, neither twin is suspicious.
Jessica calls Lovestruck Computer Dating and says that they can give Pierre her contact number. Prince Albert, the dog, is all up in her fries as she's talking, and she says to him, "Prince Albert, not now!" The amazingly stupid Lovestruck Computer Dating receptionist then asks: "I hope you don't mind my asking, but if you've got a prince after you, why do you need us?" And it's not a joke. I hope she gets fired and is forced to re-evaluate her life.
Then Jessica calls up wealthy Suzanne Hanlon, who's a fellow member of PBA, in order to get tips on being sophisticated for her date with Pierre. At first I was confused by this - I wondered why Suzanne was living in Sweet Valley when she's meant to be in New York, dying of mono. Then I realised that there are two bitchy rich girls called Suzanne. I think we can infer from this that Francine Pascal was epically dissed by some wealthy girl called Suzanne in high school, and has wrought her revenge through the poisonous blades that are the Sweet Valley ghost-writers' pens.
The next day, Jessica goes to Suzanne's house. Suzanne makes her look at photographs from her holiday in Italy. I bet she's just been dying to have someone to show those to. She then makes Jessica read up about the Impressionists and listen to opera. Suzanne sounds like a lot of fun. I'm trying to think of a really good put-down for her, but damnit, it's been four hours and I've got nothing! She tries to tempt Jessica into watching a Truffaut film, but by this point Jessica is like, "Forget this shiz," and she heads off to the beach, a Neiman-Marcus shopping bag stuffed full of expensive clothes in her sticky paws.
That afternoon, Magenta Galaxy gets a letter - from a guy called Brett S. I haven't even met him and I can already tell that he's trying too hard. His description of himself is a sad, MySpace profile of a biography, but for some reason Jessica likes it. As before, she tells Lovestruck Computer Dating that he can have her phone number, and sure enough, the next day Brett calls her up and they arrange a date. Two boys at once! Jessica, you rascally vixen! But isn't this more Liz's area of expertise?
This time, Jessica goes to see Dana Larson - no relation to Swedish Alice - who, as we all know, is the lead singer for the Droids. Dana is wearing black bangles, "skintight black pants, black and white-checked shoes, and a lime-green t-shirt. In one ear she wore a guitar pick dangling from a silver wire". Dana is such a scenester. She agrees to help Jessica out.
Liz goes into Jessica's room after school. It is a pigsty, as per usual, with the addition of all of Suzanne and Dana's crap all over the place. Liz thinks: "Between Dana's punk rock and Suzanne's highbrow culture, it looked as though Jessica were becoming truly schizophrenic at last." Ha! Liz, for that I will buy you a beer. Jessica tells Liz off for being boring, causing Liz to have an identity crisis. She returns to her room and cries about it. Then she writes, "DARE TO BE DIFFERENT" in her journal. Liz, I retract my offer of a beer.
Jessica goes to Lila's house, and Lila is all offended that Jessica asked Suzanne for help on being sophisticated. As am I! Lila isn't my favourite character, but I'd much rather see more scenes with her in than some random chick who's barely in the series. Jessica flatters Lila, though, and gets her to quiz her on stuff for her date with Pierre. Lila starts by asking her what an aubergine is, and Jessica says that it's eggplant. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I have been waiting for this opportunity since my first recap, so here goes: Eat shit, Jessica, it's carrot!
If you got that reference without googling, well, I just don't know what we should do. Marriage?
Passing reference to St. Martin in the Fields which excites me because that's where my school used to hold its carol services. This book is like a BIOGRAPHY of my LIFE. The rest of the questions make reference to Sir Neville Marriner, Starry Night, Renoir, Abbie Hoffman, and the Grateful Dead. Lila brings up David Hockney - even though he's not on Jessica's list - just because, she tells Jessica, she was "just asking your opinion". Hee. Lila, I'm definitely buying you a beer, no bones about it.
The following Friday, Jessica dresses to impress: navy blue linen pants, a cream-coloured silk blouse, and a silk scarf in red, blue, and gold. It sounds like something my mother would have worn in 1984. Liz picks out the outfit, I should note, but Jessica is guilty of collaboration anyway as she makes no attempt to refuse to wear it. She offers to help Liz buy the dress from the beginning of the book, and says that she'll think of a way for Liz to pay her back. Liz, stupidly, agrees. Jesus. I'm Jessica's biggest fan, and even I wouldn't make this sort of open-ended deal with her. Liz, you're on negative one beer right now.
Jessica meets Pierre at Chez Sam. Good old Chez Sam! Jessica sizes up her date and, Lord bless him, from her description he looks exactly like Niles Crane. Jessica thinks he's hot, though. Anyway, the meal progresses. Jessica speaks some French to him, and it's pretty obvious that Pierre can't speak it at all. He thinks that Fellini is a type of pasta and he doesn't recognise the names of either Millay or Dickinson when Jessica mentions them. He also makes some shit up about two contemporary poets, Verdet and the Baroness Rolfenhausen - I assume it's him making it up, as the ghost-writer is fairly good at using real people and places. But seriously, he's a complete failure. He doesn't recognise the phrase "Bon appetit," for cryin' out loud!
Nevertheless, the date goes well, and they agree to go to the cinema the following week. They make out.
The following day, it's Magenta Galaxy's date with Brett S. Jessica dyes a streak of her hair blue and puts on clothes which sound like the sort of things she usually wears anyway. Brett picks her up in an Oldsmobile which Jessica is unsure about at first but then she decides that she likes it ironically - or, in her words, "it was so square, it was cool!" Brett, incidentally, sounds as though he looks like looks like Dylan McKay. Choose yourself, Jessica!
This date goes well as well, although, as with Pierre, Brett is clearly phoning it in. They go to a club and Jessica is sad that Brett doesn't want to dance. Poor, poor Jessica. You know, I think this book is so awesome because it's got all the elements of a story you would act out with your Barbies: the crazy names! The questionable outfits! The many and varied dates! I'm half-tempted to break out the tiny plastic high heels and make a party of it.
On Wednesday, Jessica has another date with Pierre. She puts on her robe and wizard hat. Not really. She wears an outfit she stole from Suzanne. She and Pierre go and see a French movie. The ghost-writer's description of the movie is hilarious:
The characters spoke so quickly she could only understand the simplest words and expressions, such as oui and pardon, madame. The subtitles didn't help either, because the plot of the movie was so strange. As far as Jessica could tell, all the characters believed they were in purgatory, although to her it looked just like the inside of a doctor's waiting room. Every once in a while a nurse would call someone's name, and that person would look shocked and begin talking morosely about his childhood. Then the scene would switch to someone's apartment, and the characters would begin to talk about opera and the family's cheese-making factory. It didn't make any sense at all!
To make matters worse, every once in a while a little red ball would roll across whatever room the characters were in. No one in the film seemed to notice it.
Finally the film is over. Pierre confuses Ingrid Bergman with Ingmar Bergman. I'm sorry, but that's dumb. Even if you're unfamiliar with Ingmar Bergman, who doesn't know who Ingrid Bergman is? Even Jessica thinks this is stupid. They go for cappuccino and arrange another date. If this were a hentai game, Jessica would have dressed up in cat ears and given Pierre a hand-job by now.
The following day is another Magenta Galaxy date. Jessica wears "a blue strapless minidress and fastened a necklace of dice and tiddlywinks around her neck. In among the clicking pieces were Scrabble tiles that spelled out 'Hard Rock'". I have to admit that I made several attempts to replicate this particular outfit when I was fourteen. Jessica is going to a rave with Brett. She's not really looking forward to it, but she hopes that they can park at Miller's Point later. No follow-up information on this date, so I assume it goes well as well. I can't help but remember my last date, a miserable affair filled with awkward silences and self-loathing. Obviously I need to move to Sweet Valley and buy some ugly clothes. Then I'll get much boys!
Brett calls and Alice Wakefield picks up. So Jessica arranges for Lila to take phone calls from Brett in case he calls and her parents pick up. I don't know.
Liz finishes off reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. She says, "That's great. Jess should read it. I know she'd really like it." Oh, ghost-writer, you wag. I see what you did there. Also on Jessica's reading list: Twelfth Night, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Lottie and Lisa, and The Prince and the Pauper. Then Jessica stabs Liz in the face for forcing her to read shit she doesn't care about. Negative two beers, Liz!
Brett calls up Lila's house and rearranges his date with Magenta Galaxy for the same night as Daniella Fromage's date with Pierre! Disaster! Lila tries to call Jessica and warn her but the line is busy, so Lila just passes on the message when she meets Liz at the mall. The obvious solution is a twin-switch. Liz protests at first, but in the end she goes along with it because of the dress Jessica helped her buy. I knew it would come back to bite her on the ass.
So, the two couples go to the same restaurant and every fifteen minutes, the twins switch roles. Like in Mrs. Doubtfire! Liz sees straight through both boys, of course. Pierre claims that Paris is on the Riviera. Brett claims that the Doors sang Sympathy For The Devil. Liz calls him on this right away - which is a double-burn, if you consider that Liz blatantly doesn't listen to anything more hardcore than Journey.
Awesomely, though, Liz ends up accusing both boys of being big fakers, and they slink sadly away. Jessica is angry, of course, but I'm impressed. Liz, you keep throwing me all these curveballs and I just don't know what to say. How many beers is it I owe you now?
The next day, Jessica plays tennis with Cara and flirts with a cute boy. His name is Tony Mangino, which is only one letter away from being Mangina. Worst name ever. Jessica, if you marry him, I will have to kill you. I'm sorry. I love you too much to watch you become Mrs. Mangina. Anyway, they arrange a date.
The two girls go to the Dairi Burger, where they run into Dana, who has "two New York City subway tokens dangling from her ears". Dana wants her stuff back and Jessica lies, saying that she has to visit her dying grandmother in hospital, so Dana should just stop by Casa Wakefield later. Really, Jessica just can't be bothered to drive to Dana's house. Jessica is fascinatingly lacking in ethics. She calls up Suzanne and tells her the same story. Then she toasts herself, for a day well-manoeuvred. Hee.
Liz feels guilty about being mean to Brett and Pierre. Damnit, Liz! Don't feel guilty! It was awesome! She calls them up and invites them over. FOR SEX. Or apologies. Of course, they both arrive at the same time as Dana and Suzanne. Pierre and Brett admit that they were both faking, and Jessica is shocked, simply shocked at the news. Jessica, it is HARD FOR ME TO DEFEND YOU WHEN YOU'RE BEING AN IDIOT.
For some reason, Liz is shocked by the revelation as well: "Whoa! Hang on a second. You mean they were both faking it, too? Just like you were?" Didn't she...already know that? Last night? When she accused them both of faking it? Man. I suddenly feel much better about Jessica's idiocy. I'm taking away two drinks right there.
Of course, Dana and Pierre hook up and Suzanne and Brett hook up, and we never see either boy in the series ever again. Maybe Lila throws them into her crocodile pit. There's almost no Todd in this book and Jessica is lumped with the Mangina dude, so things end on a generally-gloomy romantic note for our favourite twins.
After Jessica laughs at her, Liz worries that she doesn't have enough fun, so she makes plans to be more spontaneous. Yeah. Even Enid sees the flaw in that logic, and she's spent the last few years high on meth.
Things Liz does to spice up her life:
-She paints her toenails red. I'm not sure whether this is exciting because Liz never paints her toenails, or because red toenails are a temptation towards doing the Lord's mischief.
-She sits somewhere else at lunch. I am not even kidding.
-She gets a PERM! Oh, Liz, you rebel. (Hilariously, Liz frets over having curly hair for ages, then when it's time for the twin-switch, Jessica just curls hers without a second thought.)
-She briefly considers painting her room.
This of course all leads into the next book, The New Elizabeth, AKA The Lamest Sweet Valley Book Ever. Liz, I'm so conflicted. Shall I just buy you a root beer and you can write an article on 1bruce1 for the Oracle and we can call it even?