11/13/2009

Cannonball Read #2: Sweet Valley Senior Year #12: Bad Girl

My brain is mush from midterms, so I turned to a classic series from my middle school days, Sweet Valley Senior Year. A spin-off of sorts of the Sweet Valley High series, the series picks up after an earthquake hits Sweet Valley and the surrounding fictional California towns. The Wakefield twins, popular Jessica and studious Elizabeth, have their lives shaken up by the event. Jessica is no longer popular and Elizabeth has gotten into an on-again-off-again with brooding musician Conner who's house she lived in after the earthquake (sans parents!). Obviously, there's more drama and characters to go around, but what's really essential to know is that all Sweet Valley Senior Year books are like reading "The OC," but less clever.

Book 12, Bad Girl, is the epitome of teen angst. I forgot what a joy teen series are. They're quick and easy reads with comfortable characters you already know, and really like you're reading a TV show: different author writes each book (although it's still under the name of creator Francine Pascal), the scenes are short and sweet, and many characters make up many story lines. Also, they only take a couple hours to read.

Anyway, Bad Girl sees Elizabeth dealing with her perhaps borderline obsession with how Conner is treating her. At the moment, Conner is ignoring her, and she's not handling it well. At least the book acknowledges that this isn't healthy, unlike the creepy Twilight series. Anyway, it's pretty hilarious to read her reactions to his behavior: "After all, it was all Elizabeth's fault. She sighed, sneaking a glance in Conner's direction. She was the one who got herself trapped in this role of the good girl." Self-loathing is never more hilarious.

Elizabeth ends up having to talk to the school counselor, who then tips off her parents that she's struggling with aftermath the earthquake. Overly strict parenting and subsequent rebellion ensue. All of this is to say, it's hilariously cliche and the perfect read for someone who can't think about anything of substance anymore.

But the real highlight of the Senior Year series is the "handwritten" diary pages and various emails in the chapter interims. You get some angsty and often times legitimately funny interior dialogue and perspective from the characters. If you think about it, it's like how The Office and various other sitcoms have used the documentary talking head interviews to make a situation funnier. In this case, it's absolutely funnier with a character's perspective front and center.

But that inner dialogue is no competition for hilarious narration. I mean, when you read a chapter that ends with this:

"Conner sighed. Finding Megan was all that mattered. The Elizabeth factor shouldn't affect anything.

Conner walked over and roughly pulled open the diriver's-side door.

He could pretend all he wanted to. But he knew the Elizabeth factor always affected everything."

You know you've got great teen lit in your hands.

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