Isn’t summer the best?
The weather is great, school’s out, psychopaths are escaping from local hospitals and terrorizing teenagers—
Oh, wait a minute. That wasn’t real life. That was in Sweet Valley. That must mean it’s time for another edition of Lessons from a Sweet Valley Reread! And today, since I felt like walking on the wild side, I decided to jump into the classic 1989 Super Thriller: Deadly Summer.
In case you’re wondering what my comfort level on the horror genre is, this is it.
Now, before we even get into the meat of the teen drama, there are a few things I discovered right off the bat:
Books were super cheap in 1989
Do you know what this book cost? $2.95. What can you get for $2.95 these days? Honestly. You can’t even buy a greeting card for less than that, let alone a literary gem that you can savor for decades.
I personalized my books with flair
And by flair I mean writing my name on the inside cover in different colored inks. I know exactly what pen I used, too. A big, fat red pen that I got on a field trip to the USS Constitution with ten ink options you could click through. Man, I loved that pen. RIP, that pen.
Old books smell amazing
I know you already know this, but you know how some books smell even better than others? I wish I could make this blog a scratch’n’sniff so you could get a big whiff. You’ll have to trust me on this, but this one is a goodie.
And I picked up on all of this before I even tapped into the first chapter. No wonder why this is a super edition! Now let’s dive into what I discovered about the real drama in Sweet Valley.
Sweet Valley is a dangerous place
I’m still unclear on how big Sweet Valley is. Large enough to have a university, small enough for the entire high school to go to the Dairi Burger every day. No matter the size, no town should have to deal with this much drama. In their one summer of interning at the local newspaper (shout out to Sweet Valley News!), Liz and Jess get caught up in a grisly murder case and, in a separate incident, are dragged into some kerfuffle between mob hit men and a boy in the witness protection program. Now there’s an escaped mental patient on the loose trying to blow everyone up to exact revenge on the teenagers who picked on him in high school?! Why are the Wakefields still living there? I get that the Patmans and the Fowlers are kind of tied there with their old money and massive estates (you don’t just sell Fowler Crest), but can’t Alice move her interior design business to a town where her daughters aren’t, I don’t know, facing near-death experiences on a monthly basis? Maybe they stay for Ken Matthews, because…
Yup. Ken Matthews has still got it.
Full disclosure, this book didn’t have enough of Sweet Valley’s hottest Gladiator for me. Aside from a brief appearance at the Dairi Burger with Winston Egbert, Ken is pretty much non-existent here. We don’t even get to see him at the beach disco, and if there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that Ken Matthews would have a blast at a beach disco. On the plus side, his absence probably means that he was safe from the crazy guy on the loose, so there’s that. Also, can anyone tell me what a beach disco is?
Sweet Valley internships are intense
You’d think that with a criminal on the loose threatening to blow up the town, the folks at the Sweet Valley News would be like, “Uh, why don’t you sixteen-year-old girls head home and hang low for a while?” Or, at the very least, keep them in the newsroom making sandwiches or something. Nope! Instead, their editor, Seth, is having them investigate the story and even takes Liz to the movie theater with him to get the inside scoop after a bomb threat has been called in. Chillax, Seth. I know she acts forty sometimes, but she’s a kid! And not only is she a kid…
Liz Wakefield is kind of gullible
Honestly, I have concerns about Liz’s future as a journalist. How can she keep her hard-nosed, investigative cap on if she can’t even stop herself from falling hook, line, and sinker for a classic Lila/Jessica scheme? She starts out by teasing them for having some fun with a Ouija board, and after one round with them, she’s reading A Beginner’s Guide to Occultism and believes that Bruce Patman is secretly battling a terminal disease. Check your sources, Liz. If their names are Jessica, Lila, and Ouija, dig deeper. But maybe you had it coming, because…
Liz Wakefield is kind of a hater
I mean, she’s great. She’s smart, everyone likes her, she’s always on time…but I also can’t blame Lila and Jessica for wanting to prank her when she A) insults them for playing with the Ouija board and B) insults them for wanting to see Terror in the Subway Part 4. Sure, it’s probably not going to win any awards, but she doesn’t have to call it—and I quote—“incredibly stupid.”
Bruce Patman is…not that awful?
After re-reading SVH #3, I declared Bruce to be the worst. And he’s still super arrogant and shouldn’t put his tennis racket on the table when people (like that god Ken Matthews) are trying to enjoy their milkshakes at the Dairi Burger, but then he goes and tries to sacrifice himself when the lunatic is trying to kill everyone. Surprising move, Bruce. You’ve got layers I didn’t know you had in you. But if you think you’re replacing Ken Matthews as Sweet Valley’s #1 heartthrob, you’re cray.
The kids in Sweet Valley bounce back
I suppose this happens when you’re dealing with kidnappers, murders, and the like on a regular basis, but if I had just barely escaped a horrifying stand-off with my life, the first thing on my to-do list probably wouldn’t be to chuckle and tell my twin sister to throw out her Ouija board. Priorities, Liz! Although maybe you’re just getting prepared for the next disaster.
And there you have it, fellow Gladiator fans. Just another day in the life of the Wakefield twins. I’ll continue sharing all of my revelations as I continue rereading this treasure trove of Sweet Valley gems. Hopefully, the next one I choose will have a little more Ken Matthews, a little less murder, but in Sweet Valley, you never know what you’re going to get. Stay tuned!