As I mentioned last week, Kindle Unlimited lets me read a lot of Sweet Valley High books. Hooray? I read Book 14. Here's my review for it, which I'll post in video form...eventually.
The premise of the series is that Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are two gorgeous high school twins. They're throwing a party, to celebrate the fact that Elizabeth was safely recovered from her kidnappers. The book doesn't go into any details about her kidnapping, which is kind of a big thing to gloss over, but Jessica can't help it. Who can talk about something boring like kidnapping, when she can talk about Nicholas Morrow? *sigh* He's rich, he's charming, he's so wonderful.
Nicholas instantly falls in love with Elizabeth, and she's too nice to mention she has a boyfriend already, so she lets him follow her around, talk to her, flirt with her, dance with her, that sort of thing.
Jessica is angry that her crush is dancing with her sister. She steals Nicholas away and distracts him by introducing him to her super-hot mother. Yeah, the book goes into detail about how attractive Mrs. Wakefield is, and how she could easily pass as their sister. It's awkward.
Nicholas doesn't care about Jessica, though. He only has eyes for Elizabeth. Jessica gets really nasty and snaps her fingers in front of Nicholas' face, to get him to pay attention to her. Then she storms off angrily.
Before leaving the party, Nicholas goes to Elizabeth and confesses that he's fallen in love with her. She points out that this is the first time they've ever met, but he doesn't care. He pressures her a lot, tells her to dump her boyfriend, he pressures her some more, and she eventually agrees to have dinner with him on Sunday.
Elizabeth tries to tell her boyfriend Todd about the date, but he's too grumpy about Nicholas to want to hear more. She tries telling Jessica, but Jessica is too much in love with Nicholas to pay attention. So Elizabeth decides to keep her date with Nicholas a secret from everyone, which is a dumb plan that's sure to backfire in the worst way possible.
Speaking of bad plans, Jessica starts dating computer geek Randy Mason, so she can learn about computers and impress Nicholas. We get to hear Jessica's inner monologue during the dates, and all she can think about is how he's a stupid loser. Granted, his pickup line is "Oh, boy, want to run a program?", but still. Jessica is super mean for no reason, and I don't like her now.
Jessica convinces Randy to hack into the school's computer system and change her grades. They get caught, and Jessica tries to pin all the blame on Randy, because he's a nerd. It doesn't matter what happens to nerds. Elizabeth forces Jessica to confess to the principal, and Jessica starts crying when they get suspended.
I'd be happy if the story ended here, with Jessica getting punished, but no. Elizabeth can't stand to see Jessica cry, so she begs the principal to give them another chance. He agrees, and he even agrees to not tell their parents. So Jessica gets away with everything, scot free, because she cried a little. On the way home, she thanks Elizabeth--no, I'm lying. Jessica doesn't care about what just happened. She only cares that she messed up her makeup. I don't like her.
I also don't like how Elizabeth goes through a lot of fake drama, wondering if she should cancel her date with Nicholas. She gets a chance to call off the date, but she doesn't, she gets a chance to tell her boyfriend, but she doesn't, and she gets a chance to tell Jessica, but she doesn't. Bleh. Elizabeth complains about everything to her best friend, as if the entire situation isn't her fault.
The big date ends up being rather nice, or at least, Nicholas stops acting like a sleazeball for the first time in the book. They bond over their love of literature, but even though Elizabeth likes Nicholas a lot, she doesn't love him the same way she loves Todd. She explains this to him, and the two of them agree to be friends. Which is what should have happened in the first chapter.
Of course, Todd just happens to be at the same restaurant and sees the two of them together. Elizabeth pretends to be Jessica, to get out of trouble. But then Todd learns the truth, when goes to the Wakefield house and the REAL Jessica answers the door.
It's a pretty gross scene, actually. Jessica just got out of the shower, so she's wearing nothing but a loose robe. He grabs her arms and starts making out with her. And when he's done, she compliments him in a sultry voice, before he realizes which twin she is. It's all completely unnecessary. I guess the author really wanted a hot accidental makeout scene with these two.
Jessica is furious that Elizabeth went out with her crush, and there's a big confrontation scene, as if Jessica is totally above lying and boyfriend stealing. Jessica quickly gets over it and decides she didn't want to date Nicholas anyway.
Todd isn't over it. He avoids Elizabeth at all times, and he plays badly at the championship basketball game. But Nicholas and Todd have a heart-to-heart talk in the locker room, and Todd is elated to hear that Elizabeth still loves him. He starts playing like a pro again, and he wins the big game. Hooray!
Todd and Elizabeth kiss and make up, and they go to a party together. As an end of book cliffhanger, the twins get bad news! Their brother's girlfriend is dying!
Wait, they have a brother?
I haven't read any Sweet Valley High books before. I read the Nancy Drew knockoff of this series, and I have to say, I like the knockoff better, because this book is pretty awful.
Jessica is horrible, shallow human being who hates everyone for not being her. She has no redeemable qualities whatsoever. I can see how the book is _trying_ to have the dynamic of "Jessica is the bad twin, Elizabeth is the good twin", but Elizabeth is just as bad. She lies to her boyfriend and everyone else multiple times, she has plenty of opportunities to get herself out of this mess of her own creation. I feel no sympathy for her at all.
Maybe these books were recommended to me, because I like soap operas. Even by soap opera standards, this book kind of falls flat. The love triangle doesn't work, because there's no chemistry between Elizabeth and Nicholas. They don't come across as a good potential couple; he comes across as overbearing and kind of sleazy for dumping all this pressure on a girl he just met. Todd was the best one in the love triangle, as he perfectly falls into the role of the jealous boyfriend who hates the new guy.
At least, Todd was good, up to the point where he made out with Elizabeth's sister. Sorry, Todd. You can't criticize Elizabeth for cheating on you, now. You're even more of a cheater than she is. So...gosh, all five main characters are horrible people, each in their own way.
Overall, it's characters I don't like, tied to a fairly simple plot I've seen before. I wouldn't want my daughter reading this and looking up to these people as role models. I can only hope the other books in this series are less awful than this.
I give Sweet Valley High #14: Deceptions a 1 out of 10.