Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sweet Valley High Murder in Paradise, #115 Treasure of Death Valley, and #116 Nightmare in Death Valley

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, Murder in Paradise, Alice Wakefield has won a trip to Paradise Spa.  Liz, Jess, Enid, Lila, and Mrs. Fowler go on the trip with Alice.  Both Liz and Jess immediately fall for boys who work for the spa.  Everyone is enjoying the trip, but soon, the girls sense that something is wrong.  All of the employees are runaways who are not allowed to leave.  One employee turns up dead, and Alice Wakefield vanishes.

The girls discover the spa director's sinister plot.  The director, who has a severely disfigured face, plans to steal Alice Wakefield's face.  Wow.

This book mostly bored me.  On the upside, at least this thriller edition does not use the ridiculous summer intern story of all the previous thriller editions.

In Sweet Valley High #115, The Treasure of Death Valley, Liz, Jess, Todd, Ken, Bruce, and Heather are dropped off in Death Valley for a four-day hiking trek.  The six students were selected via a mandatory essay contest run by Sweet Valley Survival School.  The students are placed in pairs for the trek:  Liz with Bruce, Jessica with Todd, and Heather with Ken.  Clearly, the survival school wants maximum drama.

Heather brought her portable television on the trip and watches her favorite soap opera.  It is then that the teens learn about three escaped convicts who are in the area.  Meanwhile, Liz finds a map to hidden gold, and Jessica makes certain that the group goes off course to find it.

It's quite odd that this particular group of six won the essay contest.  It's even more odd that Liz is the only one interested in the survival trek.  Nobody else is happy.  How did the others win?  I don't guess that we are supposed to question any of this.

The author was not good at suspense or at the humor that is supposed to be present in the Sweet Valley High series.  The books are not anywhere near as interesting as they should have been.

The dangerous scenes are like vignettes.  The danger comes on suddenly, is described minimally, and is resolved extremely easily.  There is no suspense whatsoever.

In one scene, Jessica and Todd are trapped in a tunnel after the entrance collapses.  On page 73, the pair suddenly pushes through the "loose pile of debris" like the rocks are lightweight Hollywood props.  I must say that I have never seen a tunnel cave-in resolved like that.

Each time the teens are in trouble, they yell and bicker constantly.  It's awful.

In Sweet Valley High #116, Nightmare in Death Valley, the nightmare continues.  That is, the reader's nightmare continues.

Page 122 is from Liz's point of view, but the escaped convicts are called names that Jessica thought up.  Liz hasn't had a chance to talk to Jessica, so it's rather strange that she uses Jessica's names.  Perhaps some twin telepathy is at play, or maybe just bad writing.

One of the escaped convicts dies while trapped in a cave with the six teens.  The teens take the time to bury the dead man before trying to get out of the cave.  This is stupid!

Finally, the teens try to find an exit from the cave, but water runs into the cave.  Oh, no!  This is exactly why the teens shouldn't have taken the time to bury the dead man.  The water rapidly rises higher and higher, but before the reader can feel concern, the water suddenly begins falling.  That's what I mean about no suspense.

Shortly thereafter, Ken punches the wall of the cave in frustration.  You'd think he would break his hand, right?  Of course not!  The cave's wall is not hard packed.  The soil is loose.  They start punching a hole in the wall, then they see stars in the sky.  The hole that was just created is right next to the 7-Eleven.  I'm speechless.

These two Death Valley books are by far the worst Sweet Valley High books that I have read so far.  The werewolf books are pretty bad, but at least they were written by a decent writer.  The Death Valley books are just completely awful.

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