NOSTALGIC READS: Deceptions

DeceptionsTitle: Deceptions

Author: Francine Pascal, Kate William

Series: Sweet Valley High #14

Blurb: A tangled web …

Elizabeth Wakefield is stunned when Nicholas Morrow asks her for a date. A newcomer to Sweet Valley, Nicholas is fabulously wealthy and extremely handsome. Even though Elizabeth would never cheat on Todd Wilkins, her steady boyfriend, Nicholas is so attractive and sincere that she agrees to go out with him just once.

To make matters worse, Jessica, Elizabeth’s scheming twin, announces that Nicholas Morrow is the boy for her. Suddenly Nicholas is the only thing on Jessica’s mind. Elizabeth is terrified to think what will happen if Todd or her twin finds out about her date with Nicholas. But who can keep a secret from Jessica Wakefield?

Synopis and Review: After the last book’s high drama and high stakes, it’s nice to get back to the soap opera that is the typical Sweet Valley experience. This time, the object of everyone’s affection is Nicholas Morrow. His family just moved to town and he’s the one who threw the party in the last book that made Jessica forget that her sister was missing. And of course, since he’s living in Sweet Valley, he is practically perfect in every way. Gorgeous. Smart. Nice. Jessica is, as expected, completely head over heels for him.

The Wakefields are throwing a party to celebrate Liz’s return and Nicholas is completely enamored . . . with Liz. This is not going to go over well. Nicholas follows Liz all around the party. It actually gets slightly creepy, at least to me. Liz also gets to meet his sister, Regina, who does seem genuinely sweet. She’s also deaf, but they make a weirdly big deal about the fact that she can read lips so well that most people don’t realize that she can’t hear. It’s a bit odd. Honestly though, Nicholas is practically glued to Liz. She goes to get food, he follows. She goes to answer the door bell, he follows.

Finally Jessica sees this going on and steps in, taking Nicholas away on the pretense of introducing him to the rest of their family. After that, she dances with him, but it’s clear he’s not focused on her at all. He makes an excuse to leave early, claiming work the next day, and goes to look for Liz to say good bye. He finds her after Todd left to get her a drink. To his credit, Nicholas actually apologizes for being creepy and following her around, but then he ruins it by telling her that he’s falling in love with her. The girl he’s known for all of ten minutes. Liz is, quite rightly, taken aback by this. She tells him that she has a boyfriend, but he is very pushy about how she should give him a chance.

Dude. She’s taken. Get a clue.

But he doesn’t, and since he is good looking and charming, we’re supposed to be okay with the fact that he literally makes Liz feel guilty for turning him down even though SHE HAS A BOYFRIEND! Nicholas finally convinces Liz that he should get to take her out to dinner, that somehow she owes him a few hours of her time in order to prove himself. How does she rationalize this? Because Nicholas is new in town and doesn’t know that many people. This will just be like hanging out with a friend having dinner. Not a date. Pretty sure Nicholas doesn’t see it that way, but hey. Oh, and she will definitely tell Todd about it.

Speaking of Todd, he isn’t exactly thrilled that Nicholas has been taking up all of Liz’s time this night. And because she can tell that Todd is really jealous of Nicholas, she decides to not tell him that she promised to go out to dinner with Nicholas next weekend. THIS WILL END BADLY.

Jessica, on the other hand, has spent the last bits of the party flirting with a computer nerd from school, Randy. Her reasoning is that she wants Randy to teach her about computers because Nicholas’s family is in the computer business and she wants to know more about his interests. So on top of Todd being jealous of Nicholas, Jessica will soon be jealous of Liz since the boy she likes has fallen for her sister. And she’s using a computer nerd to help her snag him. Jessica really has it bad for Nicholas, so much so that she can’t really talk about anything else.

Jessica’s “date” with Randy is particularly cringy. She is completely clueless when it comes to computers, or at least pretends to be. Now I know this came out in the 80s, but still, no one could be this bad. Randy, poor thing, actually buys her act and Jessica feels a bit miffed that she has to compete for his attention with an inanimate object since he’s so into computers.

Meanwhile, Liz is so nervous about her whole situation, she is snapping at everyone, including Jessica. Jessica tries to make her feel better by complimenting the last article she wrote for the school newspaper, which was about Nicholas’s father, who had given the school a computer. Just one. That’s all they need to revolutionize the way they keep grades. Honestly, this whole chapter is so dated, it’s funny. Ah, the 80s. How did we ever survive without technology? Jessica has a weird idea that Randy could possibly help her. They discuss him tutoring her in math, but I don’t think that’s what she has  in mind.

Liz and Jessica run into Nicholas at the mall, but thankfully he doesn’t mention the fact that he will be taking Liz out in front of Jessica. Jessica is still blissfully unaware of his attraction to her sister and is still supremely confident that he will ask her out soon. Later that night, Nicholas calls Liz and asks if their date is still on. This would have been the perfect time for Liz to say NO!!!! But she doesn’t. Instead she is very happy that he suggests a restaurant that is an hour away so that there will be less of a chance for her to run into anyone that she knows. Still, she has to tell someone before she explodes, so she calls Enid. Enid is sympathetic, but gives the terrible advice that Liz should just go ahead and go on the date and hope that Jessica doesn’t find out. She does, however, tell Liz that she should tell Todd. And I agree. Todd needs to know, even though he’s going to hit the ceiling.

On Jessica’s next date with Randy, we find out exactly what she wants him to do – hack into the new school computer that has all the grades. Randy doesn’t have a good feeling about it, but he does. She pulls a sob story when she sees that she has an F in math and convinces him to change it to a C-. And then she promptly ditches him. Literally. Right after he fixes her grade, he asks her out to dinner and a movie and she says no. She is too fixated on Nicholas and is devastated that he hasn’t asked her out yet. When Randy calls that night, he gets Liz and mistakes her for Jessica. He’s also freaking out about what what he’s done, thinking that he may have gotten caught and that he could be in big trouble.

He decides to turn himself in and asks “Jessica” to go with him. Liz, as Jessica, agrees and then goes to confront the real Jessica. She drags Jessica to the principal’s office – Randy is already there. Jessica actually does take partial responsibility for the situation. The principal, Mr. Cooper, is ready to suspend both of them, but Liz, as the good twin, convinces him to give them both another chance.

It’s Saturday night. Liz and Todd are out on their weekly date. Liz knows she has to tell Todd about Nicholas, since she’s going on that dinner Sunday night, but it goes wrong immediately. Todd doesn’t like Nicholas and says as much, making Liz lose her nerve. She changes the subject to ask about his plans for Sunday, since it’s his mom’s birthday. She figures that if he’s busy with family, he won’t be thinking about her and what she might be doing.

Sunday night. Liz gets ready in a fancy dress and jewelry. Honestly, none of the kids I went to high school with owned anything like what these girls have. She drives up to the fancy restaurant and is escorted to Nicholas’s table. The restaurant is beautiful and Nicholas is so happy that Liz is there. This is still creepy though! He should have respected the fact that Liz had a boyfriend, and LIZ SHOULD HAVE TOO! They have a nice conversation, I guess, where Nicholas mentions that people always expect him to be a snob just because his family is wealthy. Where would they get that impression, Nick? You just bullied your way into a date, but carry on about how people shouldn’t think you’re entitled.

Overall, Nicholas isn’t a terrible person. He’s certainly nicer than, say, Bruce Patman. And once Liz says that she still doesn’t love him, he respects that, thanking her for at least giving him a chance. Which is weird, but it could be infinitely worse. What else could make this evening worse? How about running into Todd at the restaurant! Turns out they had decided to take his mom out to a fancy restaurant for her birthday. Liz saves face by pretending to be Jessica and it works. Todd is stunned, but he buys it.

Or does he? On the car ride home, he has his doubts. As soon as they get home, he heads over to the Wakefields’ house, finds Liz and gives her a big kiss. Except, as we the readers know, that’s not Liz. That’s Jessica. Who is very surprised by all of this. Todd tells her that he just saw Liz, pretending to be Jessica, at the restaurant, which makes Jessica absolutely livid. And for once, I’m on Jessica’s side. Liz played this so wrong. Also livid is Todd, who thinks that Liz is basically cheating on him.

As soon as Liz gets home, Jessica confronts her. Liz knows that it had to be Todd who told Jessica, so she knows she is caught. Jessica accuses Liz of being jealous and of not being fair to her by going after the guy she likes. Eventually she calms down. In the course of a few minutes, Jessica has decided that Nicholas is boring, since he’s a computer type just like Randy. Liz is pretty sure that Jessica is just giving up because Nicholas isn’t chasing after her like all the other boys do. Jessica also drops a bombshell: Tricia Martin, their brother Steve’s girlfriend, was rushed to the hospital. She has been fighting cancer and she is now in intensive care.

Later that night, Liz tries to call Todd, but his mother says that Todd has already gone to bed and doesn’t want to be disturbed. He is resting up for the big basketball game. The next day, Liz tries to talk to Todd at school, and while he doesn’t yell or act mad, he completely brushes her off. Mr. Collins, the newspaper editor, asks Liz to cover the basketball game that afternoon. She sits with Enid and hopes that Todd will see her, but he seems to be purposely looking everywhere else but at her. Liz bursts into tears and Todd ends up playing horribly. He can’t do a thing.

At halftime, the Sweet Valley High crowd is all wondering what has happened to their star player. Nicholas shows up at the game, which is weird since he isn’t a student, and sees that Liz is upset. She tells him how angry Todd was and how it’s affecting his game. Basically, she’s blaming herself for the school getting ready to lose the state championship. Nicholas takes it upon himself to go talk to Todd, to explain what happened. How their dinner was arranged, and how Liz couldn’t stop saying how much she loved Todd, no matter how Nicholas tried to impress her. He immediately brightens up and realizes that everything is okay now.

Seriously, Todd?? Okay, I know Liz messed up here, but she tried to explain everything to you and you wouldn’t even talk to her. Now just because Nicholas tells you how things were, you’re suddenly okay? That’s messed up, dude. Whatever. Now that he’s happy, Todd is a point scoring machine. The team catches up during the second half and wins with Todd making the final dramatic shot at the buzzer. All the students head to a big party at Cara Walker’s house, but Liz stays behind, working on the story for the newspaper. She hears someone coming up behind her – it’s Todd! He’s happy! He kisses her! He tells her everything is okay now because Nicholas explained it all! UGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

They end up going to the party. Todd is hailed as the hero of the game. Nicholas is there too (doesn’t he have anywhere else to go besides hanging out at high school parties?) and asks to have one dance with Liz, which Todd is totally fine with now. Cara interrupts Liz to tell her that her mother is on the phone. Liz grabs Jessica, feeling like this might be important, and together they hear the news that Tricia has taken a turn for the worse and . . . this might be it. She asks the girls to head to the hospital to be with Steve.

Overall this book gave me a headache. I know that Liz is usually a doormat, but honestly, I spent the whole book just wanting to smack her. It’s not often I completely side with Jessica (other than her computer hacking exploits), but I had to this time around. Liz did her, and everyone else, wrong. But, since this is a Sweet Valley High book, everyone forgave everyone (for now).

 



Categories: nostalgic reads

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4 replies

  1. I loved Sweet Valley High books when I was younger (years and years ago) but I’m not sure I would ever want to revisit them 😀 😀 Great review.

  2. Ahhh…memories. Regina was my favorite character in the series. I also really liked Cara.

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