Sweet Valley High #62 Who’s Who – Fake persona’s overload! Unique or a rip on 80’s show Small Wonder?

                   Sweet Valley High #62


The Title – Who’s Who  

Alternate title – The many Faces of Jessica

Page Count – 150

The Agenda –  Jess attempting to find a sophisticated teenage boy – good luck –  by the immature move of lying. Meanwhile Liz attempts to hone her wild side – trez yawn. Oh, and there’s a Valentine dance highlighted on half a page.

Plot – A whacked out edition that has our favorite flirt deciding Sweet Valley Boys are immature.  And showing her maturity, the maturity of a twelve year old, Jessica decides to create fake personas – a chic twit and a rocker twit to enter Lovestruck a computer dating service in the hopes of finding someone exciting and mature. Or at least a facsimile thereof. And with names like Daniella Fromage – yes, Jess we always knew you were the big cheese, and Magenta Galaxy which I’m positive is a reference to something like the Rocky Horror Picture show, we’re sure she’ll find…something. To ensure success, she enlists the aid of Suzanne Hanlon ( the bitchy ex-gal-friend of Ken Matthews ) for elitist lessons and Dana Larson for hip culture not to mention borrowing a boat load of accessories. One of Dana’s necklaces is made out of tiddlywinks. I would make a crack about this being yes, totally hard-core but lets face it, in a few more years the rocker set would be donning plastic pacifiers. Naturally the boys, Pierre a frenchie, and Brett a rocker are not what they seem. But Jessica is so in love with her plan, she ignores the fact that they seem to be shoveling more b.s. than her. If that’s possible. While she knows Fellini is a famous director her date thinks it’s a pasta, excellent with clam sauce and her rocker pal flakes out at a rock club refusing even to slam dance. Everyone’s a fraud! Even Liz – while she’s watching Jess live three lives more exciting than even her thought life, she vows to DARE TO BE DIFFERENT. But don’t get your hopes up her ideas of different and the readers vary completely. She paints her nails – something she’d never done before. Oh Liz, that is just plain sad. She switches seats in the cafeteria – you, crazy kid you. And she perms her hair. Don’t gasp even that’s a cop out as it’s a temporary perm. And no one will give her an honest compliment about it. Poor Liz.

Unintentionally Funny – Bicycle shorts as punk-rocker? I don’t know it sounds so Living Color – fly girl. Especially when Jessica combs globs of gel in her hair, she’s got a kind of – fly-girl meets Robert Palmer back up singer look going on.

Funny – Jessica sticking her tongue out at the phone to combat Suzanne’s pretentious attitude.

That’s Whacked – The moral is as schizophrenic as the characters. Though the story builds to a just-be-yourself conclusion, it hasn’t resolved Liz’s contrariwise motto of Dare to be Different. So which is it?

Best Comment – ( There was something so – so tame about it, so ordinary. Then in a flash she realized it must be some kind of statement. It was so square it was cool. ) – About Brett’s Oldsmobile. Ahh, nice try Jess. The car’s a dog and you know it. ( Between Dana’s punk rock and Suzanne’s high brow culture, it looked as though Jessica were becoming truly schizophrenic at last. ) At last – made it sound so inevitable.

Bulwer-Lytton Would Be Proud – “Don’t you love Fellini?” “Definitely. Especially with white clam sauce and Parmesan cheese,” Pierre replied after a brief hesitation. “And garlic bread.” pg 54. This joke needs a little drum accompaniment – Ba-boom-boom.

Say What?! – I’m turning into a real bore – Liz’s gloomy thought. What’s this turning business. For a 16 year old who has never painted her toenails – you are a bore.

Cover Art – One of Mathewuse’s best – Jessica’s look is perfect – she’s all – I’m never going to pull this caper off, look at what I’ve got to work with. ( meaning Liz ) Meanwhile Liz is – I totally rock this look. Egads they’ve got perms. Not too shabby, I was thinking of Elizabeth Berkely’s gorgeous curls. But on the next cover, Liz has this total poodle thing going, it looks as awful as Lynn-Holly Johnson’s hair in Where the Boy’s are 84.  Plastic jewelry was big in the 80’s from bangles to charm necklaces to even yes florescent fish. The movie poster for She’s Out of Control features the star Ami Dolenz decked out in a black strapless dress and plastic earrings – neither of which show up in the movie.

80's neon plastic necklace

Something Dana might’ve owned. Very cool.

Long plastic earring

Long plastic earrings – say chic or sheet.

Toilet charms

Speaking of… toilet bowl charms for characters who shovel the …. you get the picture!


Summary / Opinion – Not bad could’ve been better. The plot is ancient – how many times have we seen Jess go out on a blind date or use some sort of personals or dating service and how many times has she pretended to be something she’s not in order to get her guy, and that the guy wasn’t worth it to begin with – oodles. It’s all in the visuals – mentally picturing Jess actually responding to the name Magenta Galaxy – snicker-snort. Or Liz putting a blue streak in her hair. Or a necklace made out of plastic florescent fish. Or the fact that Jessica isn’t going after one guy but two. Its decadence doubled.

Out of Five Stars – ***½ 

80’s Pop Culture – Okay, I watch a lot of 80’s tv shows and I’m always amazed at the similarities between a plot in a sitcom and a plot in a series book. Now, you wouldn’t think a whacked out plot like Who’s Who would have any contenders but it does. Check out an episode from the low-brow-low-budget t.v. series Small Wonder ( remember that one? dad creates a girl robot named Vicki. ) In this episode the next door neighbor – Harriet, a rather shrill but funny redhead is made over by Vicki into a southern hottie via a slutty dress, blonde wig, Lolita sunglasses and a southern-fried accent. She manages to get two dates, one with her heartthrob Jamie ( Vicki’s ‘brother’ ) and one with the school hunk. Meanwhile, the school hunk drops his girl, Debbie, to date ‘Scarlet’ And Jamie, with the same piggy attitude as Harriet, agrees to two dates himself – one with the southern hottie, ‘Scarlet’ one with the school ditz, Debbie. Rather than either of them breaking their dates, they decide to multitask. But Harriet wisely talks Vicki into dressing like the southern hottie too,  and all four of them converge in a Chinese restaurant ( sound familiar?)  to play musical booths. But nothing so subtle as Jess and Liz retiring to the Lotus House washroom every five minutes, instead these characters find themselves crawling commando style under the booths. Lol!

Why didn’t they / Predictable  – In Who’s Who, the author goes the predictable route more often than not. Lets start with the obvious, why does Jess pick – punk rocker / culture snob for her new personas? I mean in the rise of bungee jumping why not make Jessica’s persona an adrenalin junkie. Can you imagine Jess pulling her switch just as she’s about to strap into her harness, forcing Liz to take the jump. Ha ha! Instead as a punk rocker she goes to a club where the music is… fill in the blank – too loud. And comes home….fill in the blank – Almost deaf. As for the cultural side she goes to an art film that she ….fill in the blank – doesn’t understand? – correct. All rather predictable. Even the French restaurant scene flakes out. Rather than have Jess choke down an order of sheep brains the reader has to follow jokes that have to be explained.  I mean the Fellini pasta joke, it’s funny but how many of us got that, back than. I think the artwork surpassed the outcome – though I will admit this was a fun read especially after having to endure Liz dumping Jeffery and Ken in a pulpy melodrama losing his sight and regaining it – in the same book!

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4 Responses to Sweet Valley High #62 Who’s Who – Fake persona’s overload! Unique or a rip on 80’s show Small Wonder?

  1. Carolyn says:

    What I remember about SVH was that no matter how many summer specials, Christmas specials, etc., not to mention the years in general, the twins & co. all managed to remain 16 years old.

  2. E. says:

    Hey! I’m kind of a 70’s and 80’s fan so I enjoy a lot your site! I took some photographs from here and made book cover with them….i’m not sure if I’m explaining myself well. Anyway, you can check what I am talking about in my blog 😀

    Hope you like it 🙂

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