Perfect Size Six

August 18, 2010

#13 Kidnapped!

“Elizabeth’s nightmare is about to begin….”

You know this is serious business because Liz’s trademark “O” face has reemerged. (Stay tuned for my many “O”-faces of Liz collage in this recap. You’re welcome.) Props yet again to James Mathewuse, who did most of the SVH covers. He really captures the spirit of, “O hey, I’m about to get chloroformed by some creeper in a van.”

That mysterious hand reaching out for Liz belongs to Carl, a “husky***” janitor at Fowler Memorial Hospital where Liz has been volunteering.  She was nice to him once, so he falls madly in love with her-emphasis on the mad, as in crazy.

He kidnaps her from the parking lot of the hospital after one of her shifts and transports her via van to his home in the outerlands of Sweet Valley. (Unfortunately, there is no Stockholm syndrome for our dear Lizzie. That would have been an amazing plot–Patty Hearst meets #13 Kidnapped! meets #82 Kidnapped by the Cult! If only I could have been an SVH ghostwriter…). This book is a lot less thrilling than I remember. Maybe, it’s because I’ve been exposed to all the perils of real kidnappings. Except for the whole chloroform thing, Carl seems pretty harmless. He doesn’t want to torture her or turn her into a sex slave. His grand plan involves them living secluded in the mountains. As far as Sweet Valley psychos go, he’s pretty tame.

It takes the denizens of Sweet Valley awhile to realize that  Elizabeth is missing—due to Jessica, of course. See, the night of Liz’s kidnapping is also the night of a fabulous soiree at the Morrow manor. The Morrows, a new, uber-wealthy family, has moved to town, and they’re throwing this shindig to introduce themselves. And Jessica will do anything to “introduce” herself first to the fresh meat, Nicholas Morrow. Jess is supposed to wait for her sister but catches a ride with Cara Walker. Hours pass, and Jess still hasn’t concerned herself with Liz’s disappearance. When Todd confronts her about it, she lies and says Liz is baby-sitting for Mr. Collins.

Todd decides to call Mr. Collins to verify, and *surprise* to no one, Jessica was lying. (Sidenote: why would a student have a teacher’s home phone number?). Then, Todd pushes Jess into the pool before he confronts her. Nice waste of valuable time, Todd. After discovering Liz isn’t at home either, Todd and Jess leave the party and finally go into panic mode once they reach the Wakefields. After they exhaust all the leads on Liz’s possible whereabouts, they decide to call the most incompetent fictional police department of all time.

The Sweet Valley PD can’t comprehend a kidnapping on their idyllic turf, so they hypothesize that Liz ran away—never mind all the evidence to the contrary. 1) She leaves her keys in the ignition 2) Her purse is still in the car and 3) The car door is open. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out. Instead of pursuing credible leads, they arrest Max Dellon, lead guitarist for the Droids. Due to her ill-timed kidnapping, Elizabeth missed her tutoring appointment with Max. He got worried and went to the hospital to look for her. When he got there, he noticed the aforementioned signs of kidnapping and decided to rifle through Liz’s car instead of calling the police. Max is so busy snooping that he doesn’t notice that the cops have arrived to investigate. He almost deserves to be arrested for being so stupid.

Max is quickly released, but there’s this cloud of suspicion forming since he’s already known as a quasi-bad ass (for Sweet Valley, anyway). Todd confronts him, then punches him, then decides to work with him to help find Liz (all in the span of a page). Todd, Jessica, and Max head to the scene of the crime–Joshua Fowler Memorial Hospital–to look for clues. Carl sees Jessica, thinks she is Elizabeth, and pushes her against the wall with a laundry cart. I’m pretty sure that the book has portrayed him as so stupid that he can’t understand the concept of twins. Fast forward a bit, and Carl is singing like a canary to the SVPD. The cops, with Jessica and Todd as backup apparently, rush into Carl’s home and save Elizabeth.

Disability at Sweet Valley High: One of my major fields of interest in literature/criticism is disability studies. This book introduces the infamous Regina Morrow, who is currently deaf. (She will soon be un-deaf by way of miraculous Swiss treatments and then soon after that will be dead from a single line of coke). She’s our go-to victim, waiting in the wings—-to be activated upon the imminent demise of our current go-to victim, Tricia Martin. Anyway, Jessica doesn’t quite get that people like her can be disabled.

“The stumble, the lack of response to Jessica–It was only natural to conclude that the Morrow girl was drunk.”

Drunk, deaf–same dif.

Perfect Size Six moment: This is the first overweight male we’ve seen in Sweet Valley. Of course, he’s deranged and illiterate and has a menial labor job, but compare the repeated references to his larger size (“stocky,” “husky,” and “heavyset” ) to say the description of a pre-anorexic Robin Wilson (“tubby”, “fatso”, “Queen Mary”). Methinks I see some gender disparities.

English major moment: “(Max) had no idea what he’d been reading. Although the book was written in English-it was Shakespeare’s Othello– for all he’d been able to understand, it might have been written in another language.

‘Sir, he is rash and very sudden in choler and haply with his truncheon may strike at you.’ Max read the words again and shook his head in confusion. No one he knew talked like that. He felt it was terribly unfair of Mr. Collins to expect him to know what it meant, let alone why Iago bothered to say it in the first place.”

The random literature reference should totally have been Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. The scene where Carl is stroking Elizabeth’s hair seems like an ode to Men‘s Lennie, the hulking, mentally-challenged farmhand who likes petting soft things.

1 Comment »

  1. I will never ever ever forgive you for the Liz O-Face Collage. It reminds me of The Art of Art Frahm, and I’m wondering if celery is present.

    Comment by Dwanollah — August 22, 2010 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

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