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Allowance Busters: Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, and other YA serials

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Not for me. I enjoyed Mary Anne's initial arc, but she got kind of insufferable once she got her boyfriend, was allowed to wear better clothes, etc. I was reminded a little bit of a line from the Cathy comic regarding Charlene: "It took her 35 years to meet someone decent and 7 seconds to get smug about it." That was Mary Anne to me.

Dawn and Stacey were always my favorites.

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1 hour ago, Black Knight said:

Not for me. I enjoyed Mary Anne's initial arc, but she got kind of insufferable once she got her boyfriend, was allowed to wear better clothes, etc. I was reminded a little bit of a line from the Cathy comic regarding Charlene: "It took her 35 years to meet someone decent and 7 seconds to get smug about it." That was Mary Anne to me.

Dawn and Stacey were always my favorites.

Yeah, she was also always worried that Logan was dating someone else when ever he was away. I liked Mary Anne when she tried to improve herself but she also had a mean streak to her but when anyone ever called her in it acts hurt then cries to get out of it. Like when Claudia was accused of cheating she being the good friend she was and the most sensitive told her that it was okay if she cheated but when Claudia called her on it she burst into tears. Like early when she was being a know it all on the first NYC trip with Stacey's friends and when that didn't work switched to making fun at Dawn. Then when called on it acts hurt and cries. Mallory and Shannon were my favorites Mallory loved books and to write which I do too, Shannon was in a lot of clubs and taking a lot of cool classes I like I wished my school had. They had an astronomy club! 

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I was a HUGE BSC fan, but I got more sucked in to the California Diaries spin-off. Anyone else remember that? That series really got into some serious stuff: anorexia, abusive boyfriends, racism, cancer...

Dawn didn't really come off well in that series, especially with Sunny. Yes, Sunny was acting out and her dying mother doesn't justify this, but Dawn acting like she was in the same situation as her rubbed me the wrong way. No matter how much she loved Sunny's mom, at the end of the day, it wasn't her mother. So she DIDN'T know how she could feel.

But man, did I feel for poor Maggie. Her poor self-image and pressure to be perfect was the one I could relate to the most. 

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25 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

I was a HUGE BSC fan, but I got more sucked in to the California Diaries spin-off. Anyone else remember that? That series really got into some serious stuff: anorexia, abusive boyfriends, racism, cancer...

Dawn didn't really come off well in that series, especially with Sunny. Yes, Sunny was acting out and her dying mother doesn't justify this, but Dawn acting like she was in the same situation as her rubbed me the wrong way. No matter how much she loved Sunny's mom, at the end of the day, it wasn't her mother. So she DIDN'T know how she could feel.

But man, did I feel for poor Maggie. Her poor self-image and pressure to be perfect was the one I could relate to the most. 

I agree she didn't know how she would feel or react because it wasn't her mother.

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I never bothered with the California Diaries series because I was so pissed off that Dawn had been sent off from the main series. starri said something on the Unpopular Opinions thread that maybe Dawn was chosen for a spin-off because the publisher had determined in some fashion that she was the most popular character (who knows if she actually was - again, she was my favorite along with Stacey but I've also seen a lot of people who didn't like her), but my kid self wasn't thinking about any of that - I just didn't want Dawn to be in a different series with characters I didn't care about.

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Calfornia Diaries was past my time, but from what I understand, Martin all but said  that the male character, Duckie, was gay. Apparently at one point, Dawn tells him something like “Sunny doesn’t understand, but she will some day.”

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In SVH, Elizabeth was suppose to be the "good" one but she was so judgemental about anyone not in her league. She's just not as loud as Jessica.

Edited by Snow Apple
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I was in love with the Baby-Sitters Club and even met Ann M. Martin when she did a book-signing at a Target near my house one day. Stacey and Dawn were my faves. I was from boring old Minnesota so 10-year-old me wanted to be from an exotic place like New York or California. Also Stacey made diabetes super-cool. I wanted to be fashionable and diabetic just like her.

My daughter is now reading the Baby-Sitters Club...graphic novels!

As for SVH, I'll never forget how scandalized I was when Bruce Patman untied Jessica's bikini strings in the lake. 

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As a boy, I read the early BSC books... and found myself not liking Kirsty for some odd reason.  She seemed like a know it all and controlling .. that was how I viewed her as a kid.  Now, I think she'd be a high profile executive in a tech start up... and I imagine Claudia would still be an artist while her older sister Janine would be in IT.. perhaps they'd team up to design/build/manage web pages for people.

Elizabeth and Jessica sound like toxic twin sisters.  When I was growing up, girls in my class were debating which girl Todd would go for... most preferred him with Elizabeth.

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Todd with Elizabeth made perfect sense.  He never held her cheating against her and she wasn't remotely bothered by his need to assault someone in every book. 

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3 hours ago, Minneapple said:

I was in love with the Baby-Sitters Club and even met Ann M. Martin when she did a book-signing at a Target near my house one day. Stacey and Dawn were my faves. I was from boring old Minnesota so 10-year-old me wanted to be from an exotic place like New York or California.

LOL, I'm from Iowa. I know the feeling :p. I've actually been to both New York and California on trips (school-related and visiting relatives, respectively) since I last read those books, so yay for making that a reality, at least :D.

That's so cool that you got to meet Martin once! Lucky you :). I seem to remember trying to write a letter to her once, but I don't know that I ever got a chance to mail it. I remember she had little personal notes she used to put at the end of her books-I always liked reading those.

Regarding the "California Diaries" series, I do remember seeing those in our bookstore, and I think I kinda flipped through a couple of them, but I never properly delved into that series. I think at the time they came out, I just wasn't ready to see somebody from the BSC go dark :p. Would be kinda curious to give one of those books a look now, though, out of sheer curiosity, at least. 

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I only read a couple California Diaries books, mostly out of curiosity. They were quite a bit more "adult" than our good ol' Baby-Sitters, dealing with topics like teen sexuality, drinking, etc. Except I think Dawn was still in eighth grade? Sigh. Forever stuck in eighth grade.

2 hours ago, JAYJAY1979 said:

As a boy, I read the early BSC books... and found myself not liking Kirsty for some odd reason.  She seemed like a know it all and controlling .. that was how I viewed her as a kid.  Now, I think she'd be a high profile executive in a tech start up... and I imagine Claudia would still be an artist while her older sister Janine would be in IT.. perhaps they'd team up to design/build/manage web pages for people.

Oh, that's good. I figure Claudia would have an Etsy shop where she sold her jewelry and other artwork. Maybe Kristy would be an executive with a sports team? Mary Anne would be an elementary school teacher. 

I had posted this in the pilot shows thread, but it works here

Did anybody read the Sweet Dreams novels? I loved those too. I was a sucker for a teen romance back in the day. I still to this day love the "enemies to friends to lovers" trope that you often see in YA and even regular old romcoms. As long as the guy isn't too big of a jackass. 

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Dawn would own a marijuana dispensary.  

Jessie would have taken over from Mme Noelle when she retired.

I actually think Janine and Kristy would have a tech startup together.  Stacey probably ended up their CFO.

4 hours ago, Minneapple said:

I only read a couple California Diaries books, mostly out of curiosity. They were quite a bit more "adult" than our good ol' Baby-Sitters, dealing with topics like teen sexuality, drinking, etc. Except I think Dawn was still in eighth grade? Sigh. Forever stuck in eighth grade.

I think the gimmick was she was going to a high school that started in 8th grade, so they could have the more mature subject matter while keeping Dawn the right age to make guest appearances in the main series.

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Um. I didn't even know these California Diary books existed! I feel somehow offended! Like when I picked up one of the latter books (after I had stopped reading regularly) and it was about some girl named Abby and I was all, "Who is this pretender!? NOT!"

I may not have known about those, but I remember a non-BSC Martin book I really liked. Ten Kids is Enough, and it was about a family with, you guessed it, ten kids, who moved to the countryside from NYC. The kids, like the Pikes, were stairstep kids, a year apart, (except for a set of twins, not triplets) and their mother, who had an organizational system for everything, named them in alphabetical order out of a baby name book - the oldest kid had the first A name in the book, the second had the second B name, etc. So there was some weird names. I think the oldest boy was Bainbridge. The shy Mary Anne-esque girl was named Calandra, which I remember thinking was very pretty. ANYWAY, each kid had a POV chapter, and the throughline was that they all wanted a pet, which their mom wouldn't allow, because see the title. Eventually:

Spoiler

the mom gets pregnant again and the kids all argue that she (and their dad too I guess, but he was basically a non-entity in my memory) broke the rule and so they should totally be allowed to get a pet! And she agrees! Yay!

God, I can't believe I remember all that.

Anyway, I liked books about huge families when I was a kid. As an adult, it sounds like a complete fucking nightmare. I mean this poor lady was pretty much continually pregnant for a decade!

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I REMEMBER THAT "TEN KIDS" BOOK! Oh, my god, I checked that book out from our school library god knows how many times. May have owned it at some point myself as well. Wow. There's a blast from the past, right there.

10 minutes ago, Melgaypet said:

Anyway, I liked books about huge families when I was a kid. As an adult, it sounds like a complete fucking nightmare. I mean this poor lady was pretty much continually pregnant for a decade!

LOL, exactly. It was just myself and my younger sister growing up, so I sometimes liked to imagine what it'd be like if we had more siblings (and since I didn't have brothers, I was always curious about what having one would be like),

But yeah. Now as an adult, I could not imagine having that many children. More power to the families who make it work, though. 

Regarding old books, I also remember reading one involving some kids setting up a backyard summer camp for the neighborhood children or something like that? And naturally, wacky hijinks ensue :p. 

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16 minutes ago, Annber03 said:

There's a blast from the past, right there.

Isn't it? I've been sitting here trying to remember all the weird names the kids had. Here's what I got:

  • Abigail, aka Abby. Not weird, she lucked out.
  • Bainbridge
  • Calandra, though they called her Candy. I still like Calandra better.
  • D ???
  • Eberhard, who I think was called Hardy. I also think he was the one who thought he was a detective and this may have been a shout-out to the Hardy Boys? Or maybe not, because possibly it was magic he was into.
  • Faustus? That can't possibly be right, can it? I think he and Eberhard were the twins.
  • Gardenia. I think. Though I'm more confident about this one than Faustus.
  • Hannah. She also lucked out.
  • Ira. Not so bad, even if it is kind of an old man name. I think he had kind of an old man personality, anyway, so it fit.
  • Jan

Not so bad! Don't ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday, though, because there's no room for that in my brain.

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I just Googled to double check the names, and yeah, you got them pretty well accurate :D! The kid with the D name was named Dagwood (or "Woody", for short), and then for F it was Faustine, and Faustine and Gardenia were the twins. Yeah. Very interesting naming system, indeed :p. 

I always liked the name Abigail. 

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On 8/12/2018 at 9:10 PM, Snow Apple said:

In SVH, Elizabeth was suppose to be the "good" one but she was so judgemental about anyone not in her league. She's just not as loud as Jessica.

That is PRECISELY the problem I always had with her. I remember one book where she was unbelievably rude to the girlfriend of one of Jeffrey's friends, having decided from how she's dressed and what she orders at dinner that she must be stuck up and superficial, even though the girl makes several attempts at chatting with her.  And she was such a fucking hypocrite--she practically demands that everyone give HER friend Enid a second chance, but won't even consider doing the same thing for Jessica's friend Cara.

20 hours ago, Minneapple said:

Did anybody read the Sweet Dreams novels? I loved those too. I was a sucker for a teen romance back in the day. I still to this day love the "enemies to friends to lovers" trope that you often see in YA and even regular old romcoms. As long as the guy isn't too big of a jackass. 

I loved those too. 

Any opinions on Nancy Drew? I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I wanted to be sure she got a mention in this thread.

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On 8/12/2018 at 7:28 PM, Minneapple said:

My daughter is now reading the Baby-Sitters Club...graphic novels!

I mentioned in the Unpopular Opinions thread that led to the creation of this thread that I just got the first of those for my niece and she tore through it. I flipped through it and thought they did a good job, but I was disappointed that the artists chickened out on drawing Claudia's book outfits. I wanted to see them try! I loved how we got descriptions of the most ludicrous outfits and were always assured that "somehow Claudia made it all work."

But it does make me happy to think that the BSC will be relevant to another generation thanks to the graphic novels. Isn't Sweet Valley also supposed to have graphic novels?

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Does anyone remember a series of books about a bunch of late teens/early 20-somethings who lived together over the summer?  It took place close to a beach (because they all were either lifeguards or some were lifeguards and others not).  I also remember one of the male characters lost weight from one year to the next because he apparently became hot.

Did I dream this series?  (It would have been published in the 90s, I think. )

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4 hours ago, Camille said:

Any opinions on Nancy Drew? I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I wanted to be sure she got a mention in this thread.

Ned sucked. I always wanted Nancy to hook up with Frank Hardy in those crossover books. 

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7 hours ago, Camille said:

That is PRECISELY the problem I always had with her. I remember one book where she was unbelievably rude to the girlfriend of one of Jeffrey's friends, having decided from how she's dressed and what she orders at dinner that she must be stuck up and superficial, even though the girl makes several attempts at chatting with her.  And she was such a fucking hypocrite--she practically demands that everyone give HER friend Enid a second chance, but won't even consider doing the same thing for Jessica's friend Cara.

I loved those too. 

Any opinions on Nancy Drew? I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I wanted to be sure she got a mention in this thread.

I liked Nancy Drew. I read mostly the originals and the Nancy Drew Files I like a teen girl solving mysteries. 

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8 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

Does anyone remember a series of books about a bunch of late teens/early 20-somethings who lived together over the summer?  It took place close to a beach (because they all were either lifeguards or some were lifeguards and others not).  I also remember one of the male characters lost weight from one year to the next because he apparently became hot.

Did I dream this series?  (It would have been published in the 90s, I think. )

They were part of Sweet Valley High’s Sweet Valley University spin-off. Elizabeth was hooking up with their slightly older boss even though she was still with her boyfriend Tom, and the newly hot guy was Ben, who hooked up with Jessica. 

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5 hours ago, Minneapple said:

Ned sucked. I always wanted Nancy to hook up with Frank Hardy in those crossover books

I HATED how he spent the first few books of the "Files" series complaining about Nancy's detective work, even finally breaking up with her, then comes to her in the very next book to ask her to help his new girlfriend. I don't know what's worse, his hypocrisy or his insensitivity.

I thought the sexual tension between Frank and Nancy was HOT.

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The hardy boys and Nancy Drew...reminds me of how the combined show starring both of them squeezed out Nancy drew over time.  

My parents had their old nancy drew/hardy boy books..and of course I went toward the nancy drew books (interesting case names drew me in).

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Other series I remember are Cheerleaders and another called Crystal Falls which was a teenage soap opera with a cast of thousands (weren't they all). Man, I wish I kept those.

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6 hours ago, ZuluQueenOfDwarves said:

They were part of Sweet Valley High’s Sweet Valley University spin-off. Elizabeth was hooking up with their slightly older boss even though she was still with her boyfriend Tom, and the newly hot guy was Ben, who hooked up with Jessica. 

I'm pretty sure what I'm thinking of wasn't SVH related...tho I guess I could be wrong but I don't remember Elizabeth or Jessica as part of it.

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Did anyone ever read the Elizabeth series?  Apparently, Jessica finally did something that was so unforgivable that Elizabeth had to flee to England and become a scullery maid or whatever.

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I haven't read it, but you got me curious enough to go looking for recaps. Turns out in the first book, Elizabeth was dating and planning on losing her virginity to a guy named Sam (couldn't they have named the character something else? considering what a major character the first Sam was?) whom Jessica hated and correctly had tagged as a douchebag Liz shouldn't sleep with. So she got Sam to make out with her so that Liz would see them and realize how terrible Sam was, but Liz thought Jessica actually really wanted Sam, felt betrayed by both of them, and ran off to London.

Five books later, her love interest Max pointed out the obvious, that given that Jessica hated Sam so much and had been constantly telling her sister to dump him, Jess really didn't want him at all and only kissed him to get Liz to dump him. Max got Jess to show up in London to confirm this, and the sisters made up and went back to America.

While down this rabbit hole, I discovered that the final (so far) book in the entire SV saga has everyone ending up with someone except Liz, as the book ends with Bruce declaring his love for another woman. Apparently enough readers protested that Francine wrote an alternate ending where Bruce swears his love for Liz instead and posted it on her FB for free downloading. I forgot how terrible her writing is...

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7 minutes ago, Black Knight said:

Turns out in the first book, Elizabeth was dating and planning on losing her virginity to a guy named Sam (couldn't they have named the character something else? considering what a major character the first Sam was?) whom Jessica hated and correctly had tagged as a douchebag Liz shouldn't sleep with. So she got Sam to make out with her so that Liz would see them and realize how terrible Sam was

Yeah, because I know if my sister were dating somebody who I thought was a real scumbag, the best way for me to prove that to her would totally be to make out with said scumbag. 

Wow. That...sounds like a real mess of a plot. 

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It's a total Jessica thing to do.  Not have a confrontation with Sam in Liz's presence, find the other women he'd cheated with and have a tough but honest intervention, or just stay out of it and let Liz accept the truth the hard way.  No, she decides to be the other woman. 

The Elizabeth series was so awful and that's saying something.  The only significant thing that happened was that Liz finally lost her virginity but no one cared at that point (or ever really). 

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20 hours ago, Black Knight said:

So she got Sam to make out with her so that Liz would see them and realize how terrible Sam was, but Liz thought Jessica actually really wanted Sam, felt betrayed by both of them, and ran off to London.

THAT was a bridge too far?  That's probably not even in the top ten list of Jessica's schemes.

And even if it was more personal because Liz was thinking about cashing in her v-card, she'd already gotten pretty close to sleeping with her other college boyfriend within the first dozen SVU books, so it wasn't like this was the first time she'd been that serious with a guy.

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Somewhere in the recap it was mentioned that Elizabeth says she's mostly upset that Jessica didn't just tell her that she wanted Sam because Liz would have given him to her (I guess Sam isn't allowed any agency). But of course, Jessica didn't actually want Sam...

But yeah, you'd think there would have been something fresh for a betrayal than just another go-round of one twin getting with the other's boyfriend. I seem to remember that any guy that one twin wasn't actively shown trying to get with in the original SVH series, a later "secret diaries" book revealed she had gotten with him after all. Like, Elizabeth was never shown getting with Sam Woodruff in SVH, but a secret diary revealed that she saw him for a while behind Jessica's back. But even in the original SVH Liz's hands weren't clean - she arranged that cheating rendezvous with Ken Matthews, for instance, when Ken and Jessica were seriously involved and Liz herself was with Todd.

I'm still stupidly happy that Jessica and Todd were endgame. I don't even know why. I know it's terrible for so many reasons. I always did think that the two of them had more chemistry than Elizabeth/Todd, who were as exciting as a dishrag, but that's not really it. I think it's because Todd and Elizabeth were originally presented as the perfect fairytale OTP couple and I usually ship the underdog couple in the triangle in those scenarios, out of some sort of perverse sense of "Don't tell me who to ship." I did it all the time with triangles on soap operas and it made for lots of painful watching because the underdog couple so rarely actually won out. So to have Jessica/Todd be endgame? That almost never happens to me. Ha.

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Revisiting Sweet Valley Confidential (and the SVH series) made me realise just how creepy Todd's relationship with the twins is.  Like, in the evil twin miniseries when Todd and Jess are semi-dating because they are mad at Liz for the Sam thing (even though Jess spiked Liz's drink!), Todd has all these moments where he loves up on Jess specifically because he is missing Liz and he is sort of using Jess as a substitute because they are identical.  Later in the series Todd is supposed to be going on a date with Liz, but he thinks she is acting weird so it might be Jess pretending to be Liz, but he decides to make out with whichever twin is on the date anyway.

Then in SVC we learn that Jess and Todd had an affair in college, after Liz and Todd reunited for the 100th time.  However, the affair started because Liz was sick and asked Jess to pretend to be her and go to a party with Todd (Todd knew Jess was being Liz but everyone else thought it was really Liz).  Todd and Jess had fun faking being a couple and were acting all schmoopy, and Jess pretending to be Liz turned them both on so much that they slept together.  So the first time they have sex is after Jess has spent the whole night pretending to be Liz???

Then Todd and Jess end up getting married and having a kid, but they separate for a while.  One of their big issues is Todd doesn't like Jess's career and would prefer she was a stay at home mum.  If having a wife be a SAHM was something Todd wanted, I don't know why he married Jess because I never would have picked her as someone who would be a SAHM.

I swear they should have been daring and ended the series with Todd married to both Jess and Liz in a sister-wife scenario.  Todd seems like he wants both the fun and exciting side of Jess but also the caring and stable side of Liz.  And let's be real, the twins are codependent messes who cannot function without the other, so they would probably be perfectly okay with the whole thing.

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I stopped reading SVH pretty early. A few books before Regina died. I'm having a blast reading this thread but all I can say is "What the hell happened in Sweet Valley after I left?!" There was always drama but Yowza!

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2 hours ago, HazelEyes4325 said:

Isn't there some sort of "SVH 20 years later" book that is very dark (and darkly comic).  I thought I heard about it, but I can't find the title anywhere.

Sweet Valley Confidential and its ebook followup The Sweet Life.

Jessica marries Todd, Liz fucks Bruce Patman, and Steven is gay and married to Aaron Dallas.  And Lila and Ken Matthews are a couple for...reasons.

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Anyone else love those teen horror books? Some of them were pretty scary.

But where the hell were the parents? They were never around.

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Oooo, I loved Christopher Pike so much back then. He put out a book a month and I would buy each as soon as it was out. Eventually his writing took a turn for the worse, bogging down not only his new books with some sort of weird spirituality thing but going back to previous books and adding sequels that also had this added in (like Remember Me, which was an awesome book in itself and did not need the sequels). I still have all my Pike books and re-read them on occasion, especially my favorites like the previously mentioned Remember Me, Fall Into Darkness (which was made into such a terrible, disappointing TV movie), See You Later, and Witch.

R.L. Stine's Fear Street series wasn't quite as good as Pike in his prime, but I still enjoyed that series too. (And parents did tend to be more present there. Of course, Pike did often have his characters be orphans.) I still have The Stepsister. He ended up writing sequels to that one because of its popularity, but they weren't as good.

And remember The Babysitter books? As sad as the ultimate conclusion was, it rather made sense...

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There has to be some kind of fascinating sociological study in looking at trends in YA.  Like, I don't think the PG-13 horror genre has come back around, but in the last fifteen years, we've segued from sci-fi/supernatural (your Twilights, Hunger Gameses, Mortal Instruments, etc) to romance-y things (If I Stay, The Fault in Our Stars), and now we're into...I guess more realistic stuff, like The Hate U Give?

I wonder what's out there in the culture that drives it.  What were we so afraid of in the late 80s and early 90s?  Stranger danger?  Satanic panic?  Something else with a catchy rhyme?

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I loved Christopher Pike's early books and also still have some of the ones mentioned above. 

If I remember correctly, he kept making references to something called the Starlight Crystal in a few of his books (it was a video game in one book). Looks like he eventually wrote an entire book using that name. I stopped reading his stuff by then though, so never found out if there's a connection to all his book.

 

My ultimate favorite was Lois Duncan. Sadly but understandably, she lost her passion after what happened to her daughter.

Edited by Snow Apple
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5 hours ago, Black Knight said:

 

And remember The Babysitter books? As sad as the ultimate conclusion was, it rather made sense...

What happened? I never read the sequels.

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I loved Fear Street my favorite books were always the ones dealing with the Fear family because they were just so insane.  The Stepsister was really good, Switched, and I liked the Cheerleaders. My least favorite was the Cheater where the rich girl got away with everything and Silent Night and its sequels. Reva was such a bitch why did they keep writing sequels with her right back to being a bitch and horrible to everyone? 

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