Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island

Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #092 Escape From Terror Island – Cover from Liz

Title: Escape from Terror Island

Tagline: Island prisoners…

Summary: Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends from Sweet Valley Middle School are shipwrecked! After their ferry was hijacked on a school field trip, the twins saved the day by tying up the hijackers and seizing the helm. But the boat got caught in a storm, and now the twins and their classmates are stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Elizabeth and Jessica are determined to escape. But it won’t be easy. The hijackers have found their way to the island—and they’re out to kill!

Initial Thoughts

I did not enjoy Deadly Voyage, the first half of this Nightmare at Sea sequence, as much as Raven and Dove, but I love stranded on an island stories, and I hope to like this one a lot better. Though that summary does give away the fact that Elizabeth survived the cliffhanger ending of the last book. Which is not actually a surprise, because we know SVH exists, but still shouldn’t be given away in the damn summary.

[Dove: Not just SVH, before then we’ve got the Unicorn Club, Team Sweet Valley (two books only) and Junior High. I mean, it’d be fucking awesome if they killed her off and stuck to it, that would show real balls, but it wasn’t likely.]

[Raven: You mean to say that Elizabeth Wakefield is in the SVH books too? SPOILERS!]


We pick up where we left off. Literally, it’s the last few paragraphs of the previous book.

And then we dive into the same thing happening with Jessica. She’s in the water because the boat fully split in half and sank, so now all of them are in the water. Jessica can’t find any of them, and she’s already sore and exhausted from fighting the ocean. She fights and fights and can’t find even a piece of the boat and then accepts that she’s going to die.

Both of these scenes are pretty tense, I’ll admit, even knowing that they survive to make it to the island. Being stuck out in the middle of waves is horrifying even less than a mile from shore, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in the middle of nowhere.

Elizabeth wakes up on the beach, confused enough that at first she thinks she’s in bed and then that she has no idea where she is. It’s silent and isolated and she quickly finds freshwater to quench her thirst, because Wakefield. She even thinks for a minute that maybe she’s in heaven, which is an interesting thought considering how little we’ve seen of religion from them. [Dove: I also thought that. They tend to stay away from religion, except for the occasional mention of church at Christmas.]

But she aches and surely heaven can’t have that. She tries to remember what happened, but when she can’t, she decides to ignore it. If it’s important, she’ll remember it eventually. Well okay then. [Raven: That’s not like Elizabeth AT ALL.]

Elizabeth stares into the pool of water, sees her own reflection, and suddenly remembers Jessica. She tries to rescue Jessica from under the water, but of course Jessica’s not there. [Dove: At this point, I got excited. Liz has a concussion. I know I haven’t recapped a Point Horror in years, but you know I like it when they take head injuries seriously.]

Finally, she remembers the boat and the storm and falling into the ocean, but she can’t remember anything beyond that. Even that amount of memory has changed the silence of the beach into something spooky.

She decides to go search for Jessica after she gets a little bit more water, but before she can, noise in the bushes scares her —

— but it’s only Amy, her bff! Well, sometimes, and only after Jessica.

They head off in search of the others and manage to appreciate the beauty of the island as they do. They both get nervous when they start to think it is an island because they’ll need a boat to get off an island, but for now Elizabeth wants to focus on finding everyone else. She keeps up an optimistic attitude for Amy even after she realises that there are no footprints in the sand, which means no one has walked there before them.

At some point Elizabeth got her shoe back, because she’s wearing both pairs, but I don’t remember that happening in the last book. Maybe I just missed it. [Dove: No, you didn’t. Sweet Valley is just desperate to reset the Wakefield privilege, and will overwrite actual facts in order to make it happen.] [Raven: Nope. Spontaneous Shoe Resurrection.] [Wing: No wonder Elizabeth thinks she’s in heaven.]

Elizabeth closes her eyes and tries to pretend it’s just a normal walk on the beach, breeze noises, Amy splashing in the water, birds, and — oh look at that! Maria, Todd, Randy, Cammi, and several others appear out of the forest! They’ve been looking for Elizabeth. Screw you, Amy. Screw you. [Raven: I hate the phrase “several others”. Last week’s Ghostie at least had the good grace to name everyone that was present. THIS Ghostie just tosses it off with a generic “plus misc” catchall.]

They want Elizabeth to show them the freshwater, but she wants to know if they’ve seen anyone else. Randy has no idea whom she might want to see, because Randy is, apparently, a goddamn idiot.

Elizabeth really wants to keep looking for Jessica, but the others convince her to go back with them to the waterfall, and, since she has no spine, she agrees. [Dove: But isn’t it refreshing to know she’ll abandon her twin if other people pressure her too? I always just assumed it was only Jessica that could bully her into things.]

Meanwhile, Jessica is wandering through the forest alone, certain this is a dream because everything is so perfect, including the fact that she can eat a piece of fruit anytime she gets hungry. And yet you haven’t found one that will make you sick. What an amazing coincidence.

She, too, couldn’t remember anything when she first woke up and things are only now coming back to her in this dream. [Raven: How the hell did she wake up in the forest? It’s not Lost, it’s a shipwreck.] [Wing: … that is a very good point.]

Right up until Lila finds her. Or the “thing that looked like Lila” because she’s a mess.

Lila, too, thinks this is a dream, and what the fuck is going on here, ghostie. There is no way everyone thinks this is a dream or doesn’t remember what happened or whatever. I know there’s a distinct lack of realism and logic in these books, but come on! It does nothing for the story to have them not understand what’s going on and not remember what happened. We already know they’re alive and they’re on an island, this is building absolutely no suspense, and it makes them all look like they’re either idiots or willfully obtuse.

They go back and forth describing things, trying to figure out how they’re having the same dream; hilariously, the sticking point is that Lila claims Jessica’s eyes are hazel and not the same blue-green as the water. OH, SWEET VALLEY. [Dove: I was really bored with this silliness until Lila threw shade at the Wakefield eyeballs. Then I got over the dream nonsense.] [Raven: Whereas I’m still angry at it. Complete horseshit.]

This riveting (and yet partially hilarious) exchange is interrupted by Bruce showing up with Aaron (Jessica’s sort-of boyfriend), Janet, Mandy, and some other kids. I love how these other kids don’t even get named. They look even worse than Lila, and Jessica is shocked.

Janet is hanging all over Bruce’s arm. I can’t believe I’m about to say this about Janet, but you deserve better, girl.

Jessica and Lila continue to be idiots about this dream thing and demand to know how they can be lost in their own imagination when the others are figments of their imagination.


Janet tells the others to ignore the dream thing because there is something far more important to focus on: Bruce risked his own life to save hers.

Jessica doesn’t believe this one bit because the Bruce she knows wouldn’t risk his life to save anyone. True statement.

Mandy confirms this; she thought it was an accident because Janet basically fell off a rock and landed on him, no life risking involved. Janet is infuriated by this, and shoots Mandy down. She couldn’t possibly understand, even though she’s a Unicorn, because she’s too young to recognise strong, brave, cute boys.

Oh my god, I’m going to swallow a gallon of saltwater at this pace. [Raven: I’m with you.]

Aaron and Mandy talk Jessica into remembering the accident and admitting this isn’t a dream and they are all real. As much as I hate the plot point of amnesia/dream, I love Mandy being so gentle with Jessica as she helps her get her memory back. FRIENDSHIP. Mandy is the best.

They argue over what to do next. Mandy thinks they should find water, because again, Mandy is the best. Bruce thinks they should split up (and he keeps himself in a team with Janet, because sure), but Lila wants to stick together because there might be lions and tigers (and bears oh my). Bruce mocks her for this because there aren’t any lions and tigers in California, but Lila points out he has no idea whether they are still in California and even if they are, California does have bears.

This frightens Jessica, and she convinces the others to go back to the beach because all streams flow to the ocean and they really need water and it will be easier to see the others if they’re on the beach (and oh yeah lions and tigers and bears [oh my] don’t usually live on the beaches).

I am here for Lila and Jessica shutting Bruce right the fuck down.

Back over with Elizabeth, Maria is thrilled with the situation near the waterfall, all the fruit she can eat, water, beautiful sky. I think Maria wants even more of a break from her previous life than she’s getting in Sweet Valley. I can’t blame her for that. It does sound like a pretty great island so far. [Dove: Maria would like The Valley of Adventure. It has all of those things: beautiful setting, waterfall, absence of other humans but with chocolate.] [Wing: That sounds amazing.]

If it even is an island, because as Randy points out, they don’t know for sure. Maria logics that if it was on the mainland, there’d be more life to the beaches, or at least, you know, roads. I suppose it could be a nice, empty swatch of mainland California or Baja California, but that seems unlikely for as beautiful a beach as it is.

It reminds Amy of the book Island of the Blue Dolphins, about a native girl who lives alone on an island after the rest of her tribe moved to the mainland. Apparently it took place around where they are now. Or maybe around Sweet Valley. Or maybe around southern California in general. It’s not really clear what Elizabeth thinks it was near.

(I love that book, by the way. Alone on an island with a dog is a great story.) [Dove: I bought that book based on the mention, but haven’t got to it yet.] [Raven: Wait, that’s an actual thing? I thought it was just a made-up Sweet Valley thing, like Melody Powers or something.] [Wing: Nope! There’s Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, which I love, and a movie I haven’t seen, and apparently a sequel I didn’t know about. So I have some catching up to do!]

Amy then starts to get worried about some secret tribe that might have spears and poison-tipped arrows and would hunt them. Oh boy. Oh, god, what about cannibals, Amy goes on to worry out loud.

Elizabeth tells her she’s being ridiculous and most Indians in California “were” peaceful. Because there are none left, clearly. And there certainly wasn’t a bloody history of colonization and forced relocation. Nope.

Cammi finds a black rock that looks like a small cannonball, and the talk turns to pirates. They are both excited and frightened by the chance for pirates and decide to go inland to be safe. Before they do, she has Cammi throw the rock/cannonball into the forest because she’s trying to flush something from the trees. It doesn’t work and they take off for the water.

Of course, Jessica’s group hears it and freak out about hungry animals coming for them. They talk about Tarzan movies and monstrous great apes and how they’ll be prey if they run. They work themselves up until Bruce arms himself and Aaron with two jagged sticks. He pretends that nothing’s going on, but won’t let it go, either. Jessica’s annoyed with him and his games and promptly snaps a big stick across her knee so she can arm herself and Mandy. YAY GIRLS.

(Also, Jessica comes up with an adorable rhyme while they’re backing away from what they think might be a wild animal but is really that cannonball: One, put your foot back; two, check for sticks; three, put your weight down; four, five, six. And by adorable, I clearly mean ridiculous, too, but she knows it and knows it helps her keep her mind off the animals.)

Elizabeth and the Water Drinkers hear the crack of noise from Jessica breaking the stick and, of course, think it’s gunfire.

They decide to hide by the waterfall. As they try to silently make their way through the forest, Randy points out quicksand. Wow, this island really does have everything.

They hide on a ledge near the base of the falls, arm themselves with rocks, and wait to see what happens.

This back and forth is killing me. Stop trying to build suspense, ghostie! Or pad the run time, whatever you are doing. It’s not working.

Jessica thinks about a movie she saw where some kids attacked a wild boar with sharpened sticks. Uh, isn’t this the exact same reference Bruce made in the last book (i.e., Lord of the Flies)? There are other deserted island stories to pull from, ghostie!

They make for the waterfall when they hear it, and Mandy falls into a pit. Her scream sends Elizabeth and friends back to their super fun natives must be cannibals thing. And then Elizabeth promptly falls over the edge of the cliff.

Jessica’s certain that Mandy has fallen into a tiger’s den, she and Bruce argue about it but he does try to help Mandy out of the hole. Lila tells Janet that some people will do anything to hold his hand, and I have never wanted to punch Lila in the face more than I do this moment. (Okay, that’s probably not true, I’m sure I’ve wanted to punch her this much before.) Goddamn it, ghostie, why in the world would Lila say that? Janet, maybe, but Lila’s been arguing with him in both books of this duology. [Dove: I really don’t get this. Lila loathes Bruce. They have that “I’m the richest and most fabulous” rivalry thing.] [Raven: They were literally at each other’s throats in the previous book.]

Elizabeth’s scream makes Jessica think a humongous bird, like a giant vulture, has found its next meal, and Janet ends up shoving Jessica into the hole with Mandy.

And then they all jump down after, because why not.

Oh my god, why is this all so terrible. The scenes switch after just a few paragraphs, and the POV with them. There’s no time for any tension to build, and all it does is make very clear how hard ghostie is working to keep the groups apart. The story has no space to breathe and yet nothing is happening but pratfalls and bad humour.

What happened to the tension from the last book? What happened to letting the story have some space? Did they switch ghosties between the two books? (Possible, actually.) [Raven: One hundred percent guaranteed. This book is appalling.]

Elizabeth wakes up again not knowing where she is and manages to breathe in water before she figures it out. She’s under the waterfall and she can’t make it to the surface with all that water coming down on her. A sentence or two later, she escapes and can breathe again.

See? No time for tension to build.

Because of this, she finds a dry cave a little above the pool of water. There’s a narrow ledge that leads to where the group is still standing, so they don’t even have to get wet, and now they’ll have shelter.

They explore a little bit, find that there are some cracks in the ceiling that let a touch of light through, and move farther into the darkness and away from the mouth of the cave. Just in case.

Oh look at that, Jessica’s group goes farther and farther into the pit and find a ceiling letting in tiny bits of light. They are scared of animals coming in after them and slooooowly back up.

Are you kidding me, book? This is really how you want to bring them back together? Really?

Jessica thinks she touches an animal, Elizabeth thinks a pirate, and then she “found herself staring right into — a mirror.


Elizabeth is worried about Jessica, she wants to go find her, she already did try to find her, and yet the first thing she thinks when she sees Jessica is that she’s looking in a goddamn mirror?

I hate this book.

They reconnect and recap how afraid they were of the other group and finally someone brings up the fucking hijackers. They’re sure the men must be dead, though, because they left them tied up on the boat. Bruce and Aaron are pretty delighted by this. Elizabeth is disturbed. [Dove: They were scumbags, but damn, that’s one of my ultimate nightmares, to be tethered to something heavy in the ocean. *shudders*]

Now that they’re all together and back out in daylight, Bruce and Janet decide to take over as leaders because he’s been a Boy Scout for a long time (I call bullshit, there’s no way Bruce would put up with the rules and activities) and she’s both an eight-grader and president of the Unicorns. They need to build a fire and get food, and he’s not wrong about that, but I still want someone to push him into that fire.

Bruce wants to sharpen sticks and hunt wild animals even though they neither have a way to sharpen sticks or have any wild animals to hunt. They haven’t seen any tracks (not that I’m convinced most of them would know an animal track from a smudge).

Maria stands up to them and argues that it’s a waste of time to try to hunt animals that probably aren’t even there and they should eat fruit instead. Also, that they should all help plan not just let Bruce lead.

Elizabeth joins in with Maria, of course, and they think the most important thing is to find a way off the island, making some sort of big SOS so that any plane flying over might see it.

Bruce says they can just set the woods on fire, and again, he’s not entirely wrong. Setting wood on fire on the beach, if the sand is light enough, might be exactly the way to make a giant SOS. Setting the woods on fire in an uncontrolled burn is a terrible idea (unless someone is going to push him into it).

Lots of arguing, a storm comes in, even Jessica leans more toward Bruce’s ideas because they are more fun than Elizabeth’s. Good god, ghostie, they’ve only been back together for thirty seconds, are you already going to split the groups again? Why drag it out so long earlier? [Dove: Because this Jamie’s been given the directive of “Do Lord of the Flies, but don’t do any of the scary bits”?]

They don’t fully split up that evening, at least, though everyone is still fighting. They eat melons and two fish that washed up on the beach. How convenient. Bruce couldn’t even get a campfire started; Amy and Maria managed a few sticks at least so they don’t have to eat those two fish (which I would guess are pretty nasty, depending on why they washed up on the beach and how long they’d been there) raw.

Elizabeth’s group makes a thatched roof to protect them from the rain, but it is so tiny they can only fit about four of them under it. Jessica’s group (or should I say Bruce’s group, gross) hiked up and down the hill with their mostly dull sticks. No teamwork, no SOS, no additional food, no real shelter, nothing.

This is going well.

The next morning, half the people complain about only having melon to eat. Elizabeth tries to convince them it’s still delicious. Both sides have a point. Many people don’t do well eating the same food every day, especially if they’re used to a variety, like Sweet Valley would be, but also, melon is delicious and I would happily eat it all day.

Elizabeth suggests they split up and explore the island, see if they can find more fresh water, etc. Isn’t … isn’t that almost exactly what Bruce wanted to do yesterday, right down to him thinking there must be a freshwater lake or something on the other side?

But now he’s decided to stay right where he is by the waterfall. The groups split up again, Jessica staying with Bruce even though she has no idea why he doesn’t want to go anywhere, and we’re pretty much exactly back to where we were a few pages ago.

I hate this book.

I don’t want to finish this recap. I don’t want to finish this book. I wanted to love this duology and yet I was meh last book and actively annoyed by this one. [Raven: I too wanted to bail on this book, which I think is a first for me. Such a let down after the first part.]

Team Elizabeth finds a briefcase which makes them think they must be near a town, but then they find another one in the water. And when they open them, we get a cliffhanger scene ending, because ghostie is still trying to build tension and failing miserably.

Team Jessica (which still has Mandy. You are better than that, Mandy, because Team Jessica is really Team Bruce but I refuse to type that over and over) is collecting stuff under Bruce and Janet’s orders, but it’s not going well thanks to Bruce’s criticisms.

Like a Unicorn who knew what was good for her, she wanted to please Janet, but she had to admit, her friend’s bossiness was starting to get on her nerves.

Maybe Jessica will stage a Unicorn coup and this will get interesting.

Team Elizabeth rejoins them with the briefcases full of money. There are stacks of $100 bills, and Bruce estimates $10k, because Bruce has no concept of money. None. Elizabeth does some math and estimates it’s more like $4-5 million. That seems a little too far in the other direction, but without knowing how many stacks are in each briefcase, who knows.

And, of course, at least Elizabeth and Jessica know what it means: this is the money the from the bank robbery.

They decide to hide the money in the tunnel, but Bruce won’t let the twins go alone in case they run off with the money and spend it on trees and melons, I guess. [Dove: There are currently thousands of people on islands who owe millions to Tom Nook right now, so… he’s not completely wrong.]

Apparently Team Jessica has been building a raft so they can escape. Elizabeth is skeptical that they can build a raft strong enough to survive the ocean, and she’s not wrong. Bruce is in charge, and I’d be surprised if he can build a raft sturdy enough to be carried across the beach.

Still, Team Elizabeth decides to help them build it. Each scene lasts a few paragraphs at this point before it jumps POVs and it is awful and I hate this book. (Hate might honestly be too strong a word, but ugh, do not want.)

Maria points out that they won’t have enough room on the raft for all of them, but Jessica ignores that. God, Maria and Mandy need to escape together and leave everyone else behind. [Raven: At the last count, by the reckoning of the previous Ghostie, there should be twenty kids on the island (assuming no one died). That’s one big fuck-off raft.]

Despite constantly fighting, they finish the raft that night and decide to try it in the morning. I hope you all drown. Maria and Mandy can survive. Maybe just Maria, considering how Mandy threw her lot in with Team Jessica.

Jessica wakes up in the middle of the night from a dream about two figures prowling around the campfire. She goes to check on the raft. There are a few bigger footprints than the others and decides that it must have been Todd or Randy. She doesn’t wake anyone up to check, though, just goes back to sleep.

They have an actual cute moment of throwing melons around and splashing in the ocean but it is too little too late and all too soon they’re on the raft out in the water and, of course, they have not enough space and keep nearly upsetting it.

And then it completely comes apart. Shocking. These poor kids. I’d honestly be far more sympathetic, because there’s no way these kids could build a competent raft, not with how little experience most of them have with anything, but god, I hate this book.

Elizabeth and Todd are the last two to leave the raft for some reason, and Elizabeth is once again driven under the water and nearly drowns. How many fucking times can this happen to the same person in this book? And then, after Todd saves her, she passes out. Again. [Dove: And again she gets a concussion that vanishes after a few paragraphs.]

God, I am done.

Bruce decides that the only reason the raft came apart is sabotage. He blames Elizabeth, everyone fights, and I am exhausted. Mandy gives in to the pressure and decides to listen to Bruce. He’s ruling Team Jessica with fear and bullying, and I guess I really do have to start calling it Team Bruce.

I will never be clean again.

Also, Mandy can go drown with the rest of them. Guess you’re my final girl all on your own, Maria.

Jessica finally remembers that she heard someone on the beach the night before, but doesn’t say anything about thinking she saw two people and the big footprints because she’s too glad to have Janet’s approval.

A plane flies overhead, Janet shouts at Elizabeth that if she’d listened to Bruce they would have an SOS and be off the island. Because Elizabeth wasn’t the one who fucking suggested that. I hope you all drown.

Jessica keeps following Janet because it’s easier. That sounds more like an Elizabeth statement than a Jessica one. DROWN.

The next morning, Team Bruce’s breakfast food disappeared and they argue over who is at fault, though they also take a moment for a Very Special Message about wild horses being endangered and how the Unicorn Club needs to have a fundraiser to help them. Because sure, why not. [Raven: This sounds like an Elizabeth crusade rather than a Jessica crusade.]

Bruce blames Elizabeth for sabotaging them again, and Jessica finally stands up a little only for them to decide she’s a spy and maybe she’s not meant to be a Unicorn or on that side of the island.

Jessica wavers back and forth and tries to convince herself that Elizabeth must be guilty because she forces Jessica to sit in the backseat of the car sometimes and beats her at Monopoly without being sorry for it and of course she would sabotage a raft and steal food.

What the hell is happening in this book? [Dove: Fighting. Boredom. Fighting. Boredom. Nothing else. Just constant arguments. It’s so fucking boring.]

Jessica decides to stay with Team Bruce, deciding what he says makes sense, and I want everyone to drown.

On the other side of the island, Team Elizabeth’s shoes have all disappeared and they can’t really stay on the beach since there aren’t any fruit trees there, but if they go back into the trees, they’re likely to cut up their feet without a first-aid kit. They decide that of course Team Bruce did it.

Because there’s not possibly anyone else on the island who has it out for you guys, especially now that you have the money. Not a single person could have survived the storm like you all did. No one.

Todd even flat out says that he’d almost rather be stuck with the hijackers than Team Bruce. WTF.

Storm comes and they run for their shelter, but it’s been destroyed, too, and instead they have to go into the tunnel.

Team Bruce huddles under the trees during the storm desperate for dry shoes and a thatched roof. Geeeeeeee.

And then we switch over to Gary and Jack, the hijackers, warm and dry with fruit and the thatched roof and a fire. They’re going to get their money back then kill the kids. Oh, the tension, it is so high. So. High.

The two groups of kids get ready to confront each other. Elizabeth actually says she hopes Team Bruce drowned. Hmm, maybe you can survive along with Maria. Maybe. We’ll see how the next few pages go.

Elizabeth and Jessica fight and insult each other, right down to Jessica telling Elizabeth to get her ugly face out of Jessica’s life and that she’s far more beautiful than Elizabeth, because (a) any of that matters and (b) DID YOU FORGET YOU’RE IDENTICAL TWINS?!

Cammi is the one who finds the message on the beach that says: $ OR YOU ARE DEAD.

Because “money” is too long to spell out, I guess.

I can’t. I can’t do this anymore. This book is awful and it will never end and it is so fucking boring.

  • They finally figure out the hijackers must also be around. Shocking. And then, of course, fight over what to do about it and in the split up. Again. After making the same arguments. Again. I want them all to drown. Again. (Not Maria.)
  • Team Bruce hides in a rocky grotto by the ocean and don’t think about their footprints in the sand leading right to them until they’re already hidden. Instead of trying to do anything about it, they hope that the tide will wash it away.
  • Team Elizabeth finds a boat that is plenty big enough for all of them. The rest of Team Elizabeth is ready to leave everyone else behind, but Elizabeth refuses. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I’m with Elizabeth here. It’s unfortunate but true. [Raven: Also, a dinghy for twenty. Nice!]
  • Of course, tide comes in and fills the grotto where Team Bruce are hiding. Janet blames Jessica for talking about the tide even though (a) that was Bruce and (b) it’s not like any of them control the tide. They decide to make a run for it, but the hijackers catch them and tie them up with vines.
  • The hijackers hike them through the forest and demand to know where the money is. Team Bruce almost convinces them that they don’t know anything about the money until Lila says they absolutely didn’t see $5 million or anything. And if that’s not bad enough, Gary tricks her into admitting she knows the money was in two briefcases. God, kid, you dumb. [Dove: FFS. If there’s one thing the Unicorns can do, it’s lie.] [Raven: “We didn’t burn him!]
  • Even though Jessica’s terrified that Janet and Bruce will turn on her (and even kick her out of the Unicorns, oh no), she uses Elizabeth’s plan to tell them that only one of the kids knows where the money is but they won’t tell the hijackers which one. This should keep them all alive at least for awhile, or at least that was Elizabeth’s logic. The hijackers buy it and make Team Bruce sit on the sand in the sun. They offer water as soon as they get their money, and Jessica worries how long she can live without water. Oh, kid, you’ve got awhile.
  • Team Elizabeth finds Team Bruce tied up on the beach, but Elizabeth thinks that Jessica’s sunbathing even though her arms are tied behind her fucking back. Kid, you an idiot. And of course Team Elizabeth gets captured, too. [Dove: This scene makes me want to shake Elizabeth until her neck snaps. “OMG, why are you all tied up while you’re sunbathing?” … “Shhh! Be quiet!” … “WHAT? I WILL SHOUT MY QUESTION A SECOND TIME UNTIL I AM CAPTURED!”]
  • As night comes, the hijackers call their bluff (or make a terrible decision if they truly believe what the kids say) and decide to kill one of them an hour until someone admits where the money is hidden. Lila ends up being the weak link and the hijackers push in on her after they notice Jessica threatening to kill her if she talks. Before she breaks, though, Bruce says he’s ready to cut a deal.
  • Elizabeth believes Bruce is really turning on them (and I don’t blame her), but Jessica listens to what he’s actually saying, which is that it’s in a cave up the hill, just a few minutes away — and then still believes that he’s turning on them. Bruce takes a moment to say good-bye and sounds like he’s reading from a script when he says they exerted undue pressure on him and then shouts “not” as the hijackers drag him away.
  • Elizabeth figures out that Bruce wasn’t talking like himself and that he wants them to undo the knots. Are you fucking kidding me? Even if he wasn’t giving you a clue, are you really going to sit there until the hijackers come back to kill you?! Oh my god, this book. [Dove: WHY ARE YOU JUST SITTING THERE! FREE YOURSELVES, YOU MUPPETS! This, by the way, is not tension, it’s a burning rage at their idiocy.]
  • Bruce does take them to the briefcases and then sets the money on fire and runs. [Raven: This was the one satisfying moment of the entire shitshow.]
  • Elizabeth and Jessica get the others untied and they head toward the dinghy. Again Elizabeth wants to save everyone, this time wanting to rescue Bruce, but even Jessica doesn’t want to do so — until she realises she needs to be more like Elizabeth. Of course she does.
  • Luckily, she sees Bruce coming out of the tunnel by the waterfall and they head for the boat. He says he blocked the one entrance with fire and hopes the hijackers won’t find the waterfall entrance too soon.
  • The rest of the group has to team up to get over a big fallen tree blocking their path and then down the cliff to the dinghy. They see the hijackers on top of the cliff as they push off and the fire taking over an entire corner of the island. Elizabeth says it’s beautiful, and it does sound beautiful, really.

The sight was breathtaking. The fire blazed on one corner of the island, sending sparks shooting up into the sky and obscuring even the brightest stars. Jessica watched in amazement as the smooth water shimmered in beautiful shades of red and gold.

They’re not in the water too long when they run into a fishing boat. Unfortunately not literally. Elizabeth is actually sad that they don’t get the chance to row all the way home, which is fucking ridiculous. You don’t know where you are, it keeps storming, and you’re in a fucking dinghy!

They get back to the marina, reunite with their families, talk about how teamwork saved them, and this is such a letdown of a book. All those pages wasted in failed attempts to build tension and what actually could be tense rushed through. [Raven: Not one news outlet there to report this? What, is it going to be an exclusive in the Sweet Valley Sixers? Also, no closure with the stranded hijackers?] [Wing: My head canon is that they burned alive. Unlikely, yes, I know, but I have to have something here after this terrible book.]

The last scene sets up the next book; Jessica says she knew she’d find Elizabeth flopped on her bed reading a specific Amanda Howard mystery, which she is, and argues that it means she’s psychic. Elizabeth reminds her they’ve been through this exact story before, much like we recappers do, but we’re going to go with it anyway in The Incredible Madame Jessica.

Final Thoughts

Oh my god, this book. It is terribly paced, it is repetitive, it is boring, the part that could have been beautifully tense was rushed, and the ending was, as always, wrapped up in a neat little bow. The only redeeming features are Maria and the fire. I want all my recapping time back.

[Dove: That was rubbish. Complete waste of time. That was 35,000 words that can be summed up as “Team Boring and Team Popular could not agree on a single thing to save their lives.” And they’re not even funny or bitchy when they fight. Just petty. Every single interaction is tedious, which sucks because you read it a good six or seven times before the finale. However, this is a great example of how hard it is to find a desert island book that doesn’t suck.

So, as a palette cleanser, here are three YA shipwreck books and one adult book. I love this trope, and my main interest is on survival, rather than romance or whatever. So, here are the books: Wrecked by Elle Casey, Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (all YA, and the latter is a real treat as an audio book), and Wreckage by Emily Bleeker.]

[Raven: It would have been better if everyone died at the end of book one.

Absolute garbage, from start to finish. I hated the fact that no one bothered talking about the ordeal they’d just gone through, or that there wasn’t any joy in them being alive in the first place. I hated that the resourceful kids from the first book were either absent or idiotic in this one. I hated that characters that argued had in book one were chummy in book two. I hated that the book spent ninety percent of its resources on what was a throwaway inter-group feud and only ten percent of its resources on the interesting stuff established in book one. I hated the rushed ending and the fact that when they got home NO ONE GAVE A FUCK.

I liked it when Bruce burnt the money. I liked it when Elizabeth actually wanted to strangle Jessica.

The rest can get into the fucking sea.]