Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #11: “R” for Revenge

ST09-OuterThe Moral of the Story: Sweet Valley High needs to start doing psych evals on potential cheerleaders.

The Big Deal: Big basketball tournament


In the prologue, the SVH cheerleading squad is tied up in somebody’s basement, which is filling with water while “Free Bird” plays on a radio upstairs. Oh boy. I can’t wait to see how this happened…

One day, Liz is called to the principal’s office after school. Mr. Cooper introduces her to Diane and Brad, a writer and photographer from Scoop magazine. They’re in Sweet Valley because they’re going to write an article about “The Girls of Seventy-Six.” The “Girls” are the SVH cheerleading squad of 1976, who did nothing more extraordinary than win the state competition that year. Diane happened to be on that squad, but I still can’t imagine why a national magazine would care about it. Anyway, the article is a “where are they now?” kind of thing, and Mr. Cooper has offered Liz up as a research assistant. In exchange, she’ll get a credit in the magazine.

Liz leaves for the library to start her research right away. Brad follows her and obnoxiously starts flirting and asking her where da party at. He’s confused and thinks Liz is the cheerleader who was just showing off for him on the football field. Just so you’re aware, Brad is the best looking guy we’ve ever seen. Liz gets rid of him. In the library, she tells Ms. Swanson, the new shy library assistant, all about the article. We can assume Ms. Swanson mysteriously has something to do with the Girls of Seventy-Six because she wears hippie clothes, says things like “far out,” listens to classic rock and has a bad reaction to Liz’s talk about the article.

Jessica and her cheerleaders are all upset because the school board just made a rule that all school activities must now have a faculty adviser. Finally! They can’t think of anyone who would still let them do sexy moves and wear skimpy outfits and this pains them. Liz suggests Ms. Swanson. Jessica thinks that’s a great idea because she figures she’ll be too shy to tell the cheerleaders what to do. At her very first practice, Ms. Swanson starts to get weird when she confuses the cheerleaders with the Girls of Seventy-Six. Meanwhile, Liz finds out there was another girl on the ’76 squad who dropped out because she had some kind of weird disease. Of course, nobody remembers her name, but I’ll bet you anything it’s Nancy Swanson. Anyway, all this research is taking up too much of Liz’s time and Todd gets pissy like he always does and they have a big fight.

Amy and Jade don’t show up for cheerleading practice on Friday, but Nancy tells the rest of the squad that she sent them up the coast to pick up the new uniforms. Later that night, Nancy sits in her beanbag chair listening to her Doobie Brothers records loud enough to drown out the noises coming from her basement. She remembers being seventeen and suddenly having this unnamed mysterious disease that makes her twitch and stuff. The other girls kicked her off the cheerleading squad and one of them Loretta, stole her boyfriend, George. So I guess it all traumatized her so bad that she wants to punish the current cheerleaders. Whatever. I mean, that’s pretty shitty, but don’t be a crazed maniac because of it. The next day, she kidnaps Heather and throws her in the basement with Amy and Jade. Amy’s and Heather’s mothers both call Jessica to find out if she knows where their daughters might be, but Jessica is too wrapped up in her dates with Brad to concern herself with such things.

Liz accompanies Diane and Brad to Gina Bari’s house. Gina’s sister is Loretta, the captain of the ’76 squad. She tells our gang that Loretta died shortly after graduation, but that she was never the same after “the accident.” Apparently, Loretta and George were driving around when George grabbed the wheel and steered the car off a bridge. George died instantly, and later there was some mysterious ugly girl whose name nobody can remember on Loretta’s front lawn screaming at Loretta for killing her boyfriend. The September after she took her squad to nationals, Loretta got drunk and drowned in the quarry. The story gives Liz flashbacks to the accident that killed Sam. She’s all sad and stuff and decides to stop being mad at Todd because she needs him. Todd hangs up on her when she calls. Ha! But damn, they make up the next day.

On Sunday, Annie and Jessica meet at the mall and realize all the other cheerleaders are missing except Lila. Then Jessica goes home and gets pissed that Lila isn’t there like she said she’d be. *facepalm* Jessica is about to get ready for a date with Brad when a car pulls up outside. Lila’s at the wheel and Annie’s in the backseat. Nancy is in the passenger seat and she tells Jessica to hop in so they can talk. Jessica says she has to be somewhere else, but Nancy pulls out a gun and tells her she’d better just go ahead and get in the fucking car.

So now we’ve caught up to the prologue. The cheerleaders are in the basement and “Free Bird” is playing upstairs while water pours out of a pipe. For some reason, when none of the cheerleaders come home Sunday night, all their parents come to the conclusion that they’re at Maria’s house having a big party because her parents are out of town. Nobody goes over there or anything, but they take the fact that nobody is answering the phone there as proof of this party. Then, when all the cheerleaders skip school on Monday, everyone thinks they’re just a bunch of wild and crazy gals. Nobody worries.

Jessica manages to get herself untied and she unties everyone else. They all gather at the top of the stairs near the apparently watertight door, but the water level is still rising. Liz shows up because she had a flash of brilliance and deduced that Nancy was the missing cheerleader from 1976 and she wants to talk to her for the article. When she gets there, all that happens is that she gets thrown into the basement with the others. Well done.

Since Nancy seems to be living in the past and keeps calling the cheerleaders by the names of the girls on the ’76 squad, Liz comes up with the idea of going along with it and pretending they want Nancy on the squad. The plan gets Amy’s Project-Youth-volunteer seal of approval, so they all start chanting some cheer and then yelling for Nancy to join them. Finally, Nancy opens the door and the water rushes out and knocks her over. The cheerleaders go free and Nancy gets arrested. Hooray!

I guess that’ll show the school board what happens when you try to impose a little adult supervision over the cheerleaders.


“Cowabunga! Brad is looking better and better every minute!”

Did anyone besides Ninja Turtles ever actually say “cowabunga?” Especially as late as October of 1997?

“Why can’t he cut me a little slack now and then when I’m working on a writing project that matters to me? He does this every single time!”

He really does. Maybe it’s time to BREAK UP!!

The Cover: Very compelling picture, I guess. But not really what happened in the book.


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  • Sadako December 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    That “girls of 76” idea sounds vaguely…dirty. Sorry, I’ll retrieve my mind from the gutter.


    Shannon Reply:

    It sounds like it’s the theme of a dirty calendar, doesn’t it?


  • Lindsay December 14, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Shut up. Cowabunga? The word ‘cowabunga’ actually appeared? Shut up!

    The parents of Sweet Valley are the worst people in the entire world.


  • Merrie December 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    The title for this reminds me of the ongoing mysteries series by Sue Grafton.

    Yea, Linday, SV has the worst parents ever.

    Lila is a cheerleader? I didn’t know that.


    Lindsay Reply:

    I don’t think I like the idea of Lila being a cheerleader. I like to think of her as way above that, especially since she’s not captain. The Lila in my head would never take orders from a freaking Wakefield.


    Darren Reply:

    Lila was actually a cheerleader until I believe book 10 when she and Cara got kicked off the squad for pulling some prank at Palisades I think. Then Lila came back on when Heather Malone had her ‘power grab’ moment in ditching Sandy and Maria for no reason other then being a manipulating bitch that had to be slapped around if I was in the book. I think Lila found the old magic again when Jessica formulated her squad. But I’m confused…are there 8 cheerleaders? THere’s Heather, Sandy, Maria, Amy…but Jeannie wasn’t even mentioned, Jean West! I don’t think Sandra Bacon was snatched either! THis ghostwriter seemed to forget who all the cheerleaders were!


    squeen Reply:

    They mentioned that Jean and Sandy left because they got tired of the bickering between Heather and Jessica.


  • Shannon December 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Lila joined the squad for a minute during the Pom-Pom Wars, but promptly gave it up again. She’s only helping out in this book because Sara Eastborne broke her ankle and Jessica begged her to take her place.

    Seriously, Lindsay. Cowabunga.


  • Keri December 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Did anyone besides Ninja Turtles ever actually say “cowabunga?” Especially as late as October of 1997?

    …I don’t think so, but I know I’m going to start saying it alllll the time now.


    Shannon Reply:

    I would expect no less from you, Keri. 😉


  • HelenB December 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I’m pretty sure the only time I’ve ever read the word “cowabunga” was in a Baby-Sitter’s Club book.

    I’m also pretty sure this is one of the few SVH books I actually owned, as opposed to borrowed from a friend or took out from the library, and yet I can’t remember anything about it.

    I love the cover. Teenaged cheerleaders bound and gagged? That’s kinda porno.


    Christine Reply:

    Hmm…combined with the recent cover of the twins chained up in a dungeon… I’m thinking book sales must’ve been waaay down at this point, so the SVPTB were resorting to desperate (and sleazy) measures.

    But somehow, I don’t think it worked …at least, not in getting back the young girls who quit the series in disgust after The Jungle Prom (or the Vampire/Werewolf books :P)

    Trying to hook us with that jump-right-into-the-action-aren’t-you-dying-to-find-out-how-we-got-to-this-point?! Prologue Of Peril! is very Fear Street. So is the idea of putting scared-looking scantily clad girls on the book art, for that matter. Classy!

    I prefer the cheesy oval portrait covers. A more innocent time, to be sure, when Liz putting her hand on someone’s shoulder and looking concerned…was considered Dramatic and Intriguing enough to sell books. (okay I know I’m conveniently forgetting covers like “Kidnapped!” and all the others with exclamation points. ;))

    Anyway, the cover art may be more modern, but at least we have “cowabunga” to reassure us that, the ghostwriters are as dorky and out of touch as always. Whew!


    Shannon Reply:

    I also very much prefer the old covers. But you’re right. At least we have “cowabunga!”

    I think you must be on the right track with the theory about book sales. This is getting pretty close to the end of the series. I’m thinking they just couldn’t hold it together too well at this point. All the original readers had grown up and they couldn’t bring in new ones with their crappy plots.


  • Lori December 14, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I liked this one especially the way each girl disappeared and no one thought it was odd.

    Hey Liz lots of people dress like Nancy and they’re not cheerleaders of ’76. My best friend does and she wasn’t born yet.


    Shannon Reply:

    The absolute best part was all the parents thinking the girls were having some huge party without telling anyone. And nobody doing anything about it. “We’ll let them have their fun tonight, but they’re totally grounded when they come home.” Excellent parenting.


    Kate Reply:

    I guess the Wakefield parents aren’t the only terrible parents in Sweet Valley. I first noticed this problem when Jade and Amy went missing.

    Your teen daughter doesn’t come home on Friday night. Or Saturday morning. Or Saturday night. You find out that another girl in town is missing too. Do you call the police? No. Of course not. You call Jessica to ask her if she knows what’s up. WTF?


    Darren Reply:

    That was funny and lame about the parents! I swear Sheriff Lobo or Sheriff Roscoe must run the police force!


  • Schatzi December 15, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I’m pretty sure that only the Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson ever said “cowabunga.”


    Shannon Reply:

    Ah, yes. I forgot about Bart Simpson.


  • Kate February 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Also, it appears that being unattractive and smart is still grounds for being a complete psychopath in Sweet Valley.

    Take home lesson: be cruel to the geeks. They totally deserve it. They’re all homicidal maniacs anyway.


  • Michelle July 6, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    With all these super thrillers I am convinced that F.P. secretly wishes the Wakefield twins were dead. Or at least brought to the brink of it.


  • Darren July 21, 2010 at 3:29 am

    This was a freaked out story. You know for some reason…Claire Lyon if that’s correct…what if that could’ve been Tricia Martin’s mother, hmmm? Somebody should’ve looked into that for Tricia had strawberry hair too! As for Diane and Susan…they should’ve clearly remembered what they did. Also maybe the way they went it sounded mean, but I think they were trying to be logical with Nancy about her condition. To me, her condition is kind of like Bell’s Palsy that the former wrestling commentator named Jim Ross also has that took away his ability to smile. Can somebody tell me why George grabbed at Loretta’s arm?
    Also as I read…what if maybe Loretta was drunk, but it was Nancy getting her drunk, playing into her mind that she was at fault? Or let’s say Loretta got drunk, but maybe Nancy pushed her in the pool, and then drowned her? That really would’ve been freaky for Nancy to see the girl that looked like Loretta was alive!
    it would’ve been funny if she was like a Grandmother to Jack the psycho that went with Jessica and Lila back in book 19.
    I think back in 76, there should’ve been a better way to convince Nancy she couldn’t be a cheerleader, even if she loved it. It was sad to see her grown up lost and alone.


  • Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

    beautiful story


  • Dane Youssef August 26, 2013 at 7:39 am

    “Cowabunga! Brad is looking better and better every minute!”

    Did anyone besides Ninja Turtles ever actually say “cowabunga?” Especially as late as October of 1997?”–Shannon

    No. No one who deserved to be alive. The whole “Ninja Turtle” thing was finally dying out. And it should have.

    Thankfully, it seems to be coming back. But… has the whole “Sweet Valley” thing gone retro yet… after the “Confidential” debatable?

    –Wondering, Dane Youssef


  • Dane Youssef December 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    … still, the end-paper with the cheer-leading squad bound and gagged.

    If only… More often.

    … Every cheerleader.

    I think that would actually HELPS school and team morale…

    –As Always, Dane Youssef


  • Kim December 10, 2015 at 5:49 am

    “Anyway, all this research is taking up too much of Liz’s time and Todd gets pissy like he always does and they have a big fight.”

    “She’s all sad and stuff and decides to stop being mad at Todd because she needs him. Todd hangs up on her when she calls.”

    “He really does. Maybe it’s time to BREAK UP!!”

    Todd is such a whiny bitch. Liz should just drop Todd and get herself a real man.


  • hippiegeekgirl March 12, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    I confess, my childhood BFF and I used to scream “Cowabunga!” on the swings back in elementary school. This was in the late 70s.

    Good times, good times.


  • Natasha August 10, 2016 at 5:23 am

    I hate this book! One of their worst I think. Mr coopers ott praising of Liz made me want to throw up. And I really hate it when people think one twin is more beautiful then the other-hello?? They are identical twins!

    Brad is a sleaze and just Jessica’s type.

    Quiet shy people always turns out to be villains.


  • Elizabeth Wilkins January 1, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Oh Dane, your witty repartee is just the bee’s knees. Every comment is so insightful and intense!


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