Title: Unicorns In Love
Tagline: Blinded by love…
Summary: The Unicorns are over… finished for good. But this time we disbanded the club ourselves! Of course, certain members are more responsible than others—Lila, Mary, Mandy and Ellen, who wanted more time to hang out with their new boyfriends. I mean, boys are cool and all, but they’re definitely not worth losing your friends over.
Now I hear Rick Hunter is going to the next big school dance with Amanda Harmon—and not with Mary, who’s supposed to be his girlfriend! And Rick’s planning to dump Mary in public! Nobody gets away with humiliating a Unicorn, club or no club. If we don’t help Mary, who will?
Oh no, romance stories often go so wrong with these characters and by wrong I don’t mean in-world romantic shenanigans, I mean bored-at-best-and-often-annoyed as a reader. Fingers crossed this is more fun than I fear. That summary and tagline do not make me optimistic.
[Dove: I’m still bitter that Rick Hunter was only interesting for one single book, and is now playing the part of Bruce Patman, since he’s moved on to Sweet Valley High. Sigh.]
[Raven: Not looking forward to this one.]
Evie Kim is our narrator! I was not anticipating that when I first started this book. She’s so new, and there are plenty of Unicorns we haven’t seen lead a book yet, but I’m excited to see what she brings us.
…this opening is not making me optimistic either. Her rambling feels very plot-driven and overdone rather than a nice little character detail, though it’s exacerbated by that opening in which she describes herself. I put up with it in the BSC books because of the nostalgia they carry, but it annoys me there and it’s annoying me here, too.
Oooh, another school play! Written by Mr Drew. I have no memory of a Mr Drew in Sweet Valley. Dove? I need your encyclopedic brain!
Note from the future: I EVEN WROTE ABOUT HIM IN MY LAST RECAP, OH MY GOD, BRAIN, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. [Dove: Also, I do think he’s been mentioned several times in the SVT main series.] [Raven: Don’t worry, Wing, I was right there with you.]
No matter. He’s done a lot of screenwriting in Hollywood, had a couple big hit movies (one about a psycho baby-sitter [fuck that, but I do love a good baby-sitter is the bad guy story] and one about a haunted house with stairs that swallowed people up [I find stairs incredibly creepy if they have open backs, and I think this movie could be a lot of fun]), but he got tired of LA and started teaching at SVMS a few years ago.
Evie says it’s unusual for auditions to be open to people outside the drama club but that is not what we’ve seen before, is it? And it’s not practical, either. Of course auditions would be open to people outside the drama club. Why wouldn’t they?
Jessica’s auditioning, of course, and she’s certain she’ll get a part, also of course. Love that confidence. Mandy teases her about it.
This leads to Evie giving us a breakdown of them, and it’s actually pretty cute! I do like seeing familiar characters from a new character’s pov. Evie’s spin on it is the special things they have going for them.
Jessica: Enthusiastic for everything and won’t take no for an answer. (Hey, Evie didn’t say these special things were always used for good now did she.)
Mandy: Funny and the funkiest dresser this side of LA (which is either really far away or really close depending on what moment you’re reading). Strong will and determination (which helped her survive cancer). Self-confident. Involved in a lot of extracurricular things. (That is a lot of words compared to how you talked about Jessica. Do you have a crush, Evie? Because if so, that’s adorable.)
Mandy signs up as Costume Designer, which is interesting that she thinks she gets to name herself into the role rather than signing up as crew and then, you know, talking to the director, but she is self-confident, Evie just told us. Evie wants to sign up as Assistant Costume Designer (I’m going with this Evie’s Got a Crush headcanon), but Mandy refuses and names her Co-costume Designer instead. ADORABLE.
Evie is shocked when Jessica says she never gets stagefright. Evie loves playing the violin but she gets nervous every single time she has a recital. Lots of anxiety even after eight years of playing and performing. Oh, sweetie, anxiety doesn’t have to be logical.
THE PLAY. THE PLAY IS TALE OF A TEENAGE VAMPIRE.
Fuck it, I’m utterly charmed.
They reach the Unicorner (and Evie points out how cheesy that is, I love her), where talk is on the play, of course. Maria tries to make herself look scary but Evie teases her that she’ll never get the part of the vampire and privately thinks that she’s too beautiful with her light brown skin and big brown eyes and longest eyelashes ever. First, I hope Evie keeps describing girls as beautiful, I love it. Second, Maria is an actor and there is stage make-up, I think she’d be fine.
Evie does the look similar, act dissimilar thing for the twins, and it’s not terrible. Nothing new, though: Jessica’s smart but isn’t the best student, loves to watch music videos, sitcoms, and cheesy romantic movies, and doesn’t have a boyfriend — wait, what? I thought she and Aaron were still mostly a thing — though she goes on lots and lots of dates, a surprise considering she’s only thirteen. So we’ve had a birthday? Did I miss that? How out of it have I been lately? (No need to tell me, the answer is A LOT thanks to some bad bipolar brain for several months now.) [Dove: The twins’ birthdays are June 13, so we all missed it during summer holidays (I think… you guys break up early, don’t you?). So, no, you didn’t miss anything. They, like me, age up off screen between school years.] [Raven: I too was surprised at the lack of Aaron’s name here, but it’s inkeeping with the rest of the Unicorn Club series thus far. Todd Wilkins, for example, hadn’t even heard of Elizabeth when he mocked the Unicorn performance on Best Friends in the school cafeteria.]
Elizabeth takes school seriously, writes articles for the 7 & 8 Gazette (god that name is even more terrible than the Sixers) and short stories in her spare time (…does she though?) [Dove: I swear there was a book where Liz wanted to try writing fiction, and found it impossible and we all spitefully agreed that she had no imagination, which is why even the stories she gives Jessica as (unwanted) gifts are just stories about shit that happened to them. The one time she did write “fiction”, it was because the pen was haunted, and it turned out to be completely non-fiction.], and Evie can see her writing a best-selling mystery when she grows up. Only if she’s writing about plucky girl detectives and letting Jessica do most of the sleuth details.
Maria is going to audition, of course, and wants to be involved even with a very small role. Aww, I do like Maria easing back into acting like this, and I hope we keep seeing more of it. (Continuity, too! Evie references Secondhand Rose from Maria’s Movie Comeback.)
We learn that anyone can volunteer for non-acting roles, but what happens if no one volunteers for specific ones? The better way to handle this is to have everyone sign up for crew and then place them with an eye to their strengths and interests if you don’t already have set leaders. For that matter, why aren’t there specific leaders from the drama club? Surely at least one person tends to do costuming, so they should be in charge of that and Mandy and Evie working under them, etc.
Ellen’s going to audition, even though Lila questions her about it (and hurts Ellen’s feelings) because she’s never done it before and Lila is surprised. So is Jessica and she flat out asks if Ellen has any idea how difficult acting is.
Ellen says if Jessica can do it, she can do it too.
Love that snark, Ellen. Stand up for yourself! [Dove: Also, every Unicorn book thus far has mentioned that Ellen is an excellent mimic, a brand new trait she has for this mini-series, (but one I let slide), so surely that could be a useful skill when it comes to acting?]
Evie’s not so sure, though. Ellen’s nice and sweet but a bit of an airhead and will probably struggle to remember her lines. Evie’s not going to stop her from trying, though, she’ll support her all the way because Evie is loyal to her friends and Ellen is good about doing nice things for her friends. [Raven: Another informed attribute for this mini-series, but I’m down with it. I suppose they had to do something revisionist and redemptive when they switched the Unicorns from idiots to heroines.]
Elizabeth wants to work on sets or lighting or something; she’s not sure she has time to memorize lines because she’s so busy with other activities. As if crew work isn’t time-consuming, you ass!
Mary tells her the same thing without the same amount of judgment, and she decides to do the same thing. She’s too nervous to be on stage. (Very logical, long blond hair, really cute. Evie has crushes on everyone, and I love her for it.)
Lila decides she’ll be stage manager.
…are you fucking kidding me? If LILA comes in from NOWHERE and ends up stage manager instead of someone active in the drama club and, you know, a known entity to Mr Drew, I am going to lose my shit. [Dove: Um… you’re forgetting that while this series is better than SVT, we’re still in Sweet Valley.] [Raven: Also, she’s rich. Maybe George threw money at it, offscreen.]
Evie’s thoughts on Lila: rich, bossy, a bit snobby, but volunteering at the daycare center and baby-sitting Ellie has made her a little nicer. (Evie thinks Lila is wonderful for hiding Evie when she ran away and getting into trouble because she didn’t want to betray Ellie. I can absolutely see that being something Evie would love, but it was a ridiculous, terrible choice on Lila’s part. As Raven handled very well in his recap.)
Talk turns to who will play the vampire and though they acknowledge that it doesn’t have to be a boy playing the vampire, they focus on boys and whether someone will have to kiss him if the vampire is a boy because vampires always come to suck the blood of their victims.
Maria thinks a kiss would mean it really matters who gets the vampire role; Elizabeth disagrees because it’s just a pretend kiss. Jessica says any kiss is a kiss no matter why you kiss them. Shouldn’t Maria have something to say about this considering how big a deal kissing was in her last movie? [Dove: Shouldn’t Jessica, given that she was humiliated by Lila for trying to pretend-snog a pillow so her “first kiss” wouldn’t happen during the school play? Especially since Mandy actually brings up The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley later in the book, so we know the ghostie knows it exists.] [Raven: Maybe in the year or so since Slime, and her countless TV appearences since, Jessica has become much more professional in that regard.]
Ellen thinks this will be the best play ever done at SVMS. Not really a lot of competition in quality-wise, though we’ve seen a school play or two over the years.
Then we get some dun-dun-DUNNNNN foreshadowing from Evie:
If we had known what was going to happen when we started that play, we might all wish we’d never seen that poster, and that Mr. Drew had never written a play about a teenage vampire.
You are ridiculous and adorable, Evie.
Mandy and Evie head to the Attic after school where once again “cool things” include blenders and toasters from the 1950s. WHY ALWAYS THE OBSESSION WITH THE 1950S? Between this and the BSC, I’m going to end up hating the 1950s after we finish all the recaps.
In addition to the play, there’s a semiformal dance coming up soon, and Grandma Clara suggests they pick out their dresses for it before they give away anything to the play. I guess the store is doing a lot better now if you’re able to give away things to the play (though earlier she said borrow, so it’s likely she doesn’t mean fully donate it to the school).
Evie says she probably won’t go because she won’t have a date, but Grandma Clara and Mandy are both sure she will go because (a) there are plenty of guys who will go with her and (b) she doesn’t actually need a date to go in the first place.
What Evie didn’t say is that no guys will be her date, so very heteronormative of you, Mandy and Grandma Clara, but also, Evie, ask someone yourself! (A girl!)
Evie says she’s not shy in general but she turns into a mouse when talking to boys, when she really likes someone. (Two separate statements from her, so she’s nervous when talking to boys and when talking to someone she likes, which could be other than boys. Love this new headcanon of mine.)
Mandy asks Grandma Clara what clothes she has for “today’s hip vampire” and I laughed. I love you, Mandy.
Grandma Clara brings out “a shiny black cape, with purple moons embroidered into the fabric and silver sparkles” and I laughed again. I love you, Grandma Clara.
Auditions happen offpage and we jump straight to seeing the results. Jessica and Maria both get roles, and Ellen does too, which surprises a lot of people, and a big one at that, one of the girlfriends of the vampire. OOOOH, is she a Bride of Dracula then? I love that.
Rick Hunter is the vampire. He’s a cute eighth grader who is also really nice, at least from what Evie’s seen in the short amount of time she’s been at SVMS. She also thinks that kissing scenes with him wouldn’t be half bad. [Dove: Jessica has already kissed him. Nobody but me remembers or cares.] [Raven: I’m sure Rick Hunter remembers. #sloppytongue]
Rehearsals start that Friday afternoon. There are about 40 students working on the play, and Mr Drew wants it ready in a month. Evie thinks that’s too short a timeframe, and I agree, but we’ve also seen SVMS have much tighter timelines on big projects, so whatever, I guess I won’t complain (much).
Mandy and Evie are the only costume designers, which seems like a very small number and also I am infuriated that there’s not someone who’s been doing costumes through drama club involved in this what the fuck ghostie. All you had to do was not mention drama club and this would have made more sense.
A fourteen-year-old boy moves with his family to a new school in Florida. But on the way, they stop at a big amusement park, and the boy—his name is Victor—goes on a ride called the Blood Line. It’s a train ride through all these creepy scenes, and Dracula’s in it and everything. (Dracula even comes out and sort of snaps his jaws at the people on the ride as they pass by in one of those little trains.) Well, something really weird happens on that ride, because Victor gets touched by the Dracula guy (even though it’s only someone in costume), and afterward, every Saturday, he turns into a vampire.
Only instead of wanting to suck his victims’ blood, he starts drinking tons of soda pop. Then he does strange things, like trying to climb up the goalposts on the football field, or dancing wildly at the school party. For some reason he becomes incredibly cute to girls, and any girl he kisses ends up with the same problem. Pretty soon the whole school is acting really weird, and the principal, the teachers, and the parents are all trying to figure out why. It ends with the home economics and nutrition teacher brewing up an antivampire potion, and Victor falling in love with his first victim, Mallory Maraschino.
That is cheesy as hell but I am also charmed by it. I’d watch the made-for-tv movie! [Raven: Still a better love story than Twilight.]
Also, I love that Mallory Maraschino name. Mr Drew may have a bizarre view of things, per Evie in response to that name, but I do, too. Let’s talk, Drew.
Mandy says it reminds her of The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley a movie they made last year (i.e., when they were in sixth grade which, per the numerous holidays, actually covered several years but Sweet Valley Time), which was pretty gross but really funny. I don’t know about that, but I am delighted by the sheer amount of continuity we’ve seen so far. [Dove: I was so impressed by the continuity, I tweeted about it. And you know I only tweet to bitch and moan about how wrong everything is with these books. I’m looking at you, ghostie who thought Ken Matthews was tall.]
Mandy and Evie talk about what kind of costumes they should design, especially when so many of the characters are just regular high school students, at least at first, and it’s pretty interesting. Mandy wants to include a strange piece of clothing whenever someone starts to act weird after being turned into a vampire, like a funky hat or something, and I think that’s a great idea. Way to visually support the text. And Victor’s going to dress eccentrically not just because he’s a vampire but because he’s wearing funky clothes which makes everyone side-eye him and so he doesn’t fit in because of what he’s wearing — not that Mandy’s bringing her own experience to the table or anything. (She even says this! I love her self-awareness.)
Mary and Elizabeth (who are working set design and construction with Peter DeHaven and Tommy Rivera under Mr Yates the woodworking teacher) come over to chat. Elizabeth, too, is worried about the four week timeline, and I can’t say I blame her. [Dove: I had to look up Peter DeHaven because there are too many Peters in this series. This one is Ru-ru-ru-Rockin’ Peter. The nerd that nobody likes/ran for class treasurer against Elizabeth.] [Raven: Meh. Four weeks is doable. Not comfortable, but doable.]
Mandy’s clocked Mary looking at Rick Hunter “eight million times” and teases her about it. Mary admits that she has a crush on him, and Mandy’s both pleased she figured it out and also supportive of it. Rick’s nice and has a great sense of humor and she thinks the two of them would have a lot of fun together.
We switch over to Ellen, Jessica, and Evie taking some of the daycare center kids to the Sweet Valley Science Museum. COME THE FUCK ON WITH THOSE NAMES. Still, a trip to a science museum with children can be a lot of fun. I love taking my niblings to them, choosing different ones as they get old enough for them.
Evie briefly recaps how the Unicorns started volunteering at the daycare center, which we have, of course, already recapped for you, and how they’ve kept on after their punishment. At least of them volunteer three times a week, some afternoons they’re all there, and every Saturday they try to do something outside the daycare center, something the kids might not get a chance to do with their parents. Which is super fucking sweet.
Seems like Evie’s favorite is Yuky, and she feels a little like a big sister for her, in part because they’re both Korean-American. That’s probably some important bonding in lily white Sweet Valley. [Dove: Also, she notes that everyone says “they look like sisters“, presumably because they’re both Korean-American in lily white Sweet Valley.]
The girls talk about the play while the kids check out different displays. Jessica likes her role but thinks it’s a strange one. She’s the Freshman, the narrator, who’s in almost every scene but just comments on everything before leaving the stage. Her lines are often funny, though. Honestly, this sounds like an excellent role for Jessica, and she could really ham it up.
Ellen’s excited to do a lot of scenes with Tim Davis, who she thinks is adorable. He wore a sweatshirt with ripped cuffs and big letters on it. We should all swoooooooon.
Jessica points out that he was a jerk to Mandy last year when her bike broke down on the way to their date at a picnic and he just left her behind to walk by herself. Ellen’s not too bothered by that because Mandy didn’t even want to go with him in the first place, Janet set it up, and we all know how Janet tried to rule the Unicorns with an iron fist. [Dove: Again. Continuity for the win. Raven and I speculated that this ghostie also wrote that book, because it was late in the run and not a much-beloved book, so it was either terrific continuity or the same author.] [Raven: I has to be the same author, right? Not even MANDY remembers that date.]
Evie backs up Jessica, though; Tim has a big head and he’s boring, all he ever wants to talk about is basketball and how great he is. [Raven: Steven Wakefield, is that you?!]
Ellen shrugs this off, too, because girl is well and truly crushing on him. She thinks he’s changed and he’s not a jerk at all and he’s very good at basketball so of course he talks about it. He’s already asked her to skip lunch sometime during the next week so they can get in some extra rehearsal. Or making out. Whichever.
Ellen has to kiss Rick, and Jessica teases her about that, but Ellen doesn’t care. Rick’s okay, but that kiss is just acting and she really likes Tim.
Evie’s a little grumpy that everyone is suddenly talking about boys all the time, at least since the play was announced. She wonders if she’s supposed to have a crush on someone, too, but she doesn’t. Maybe Mr Drew should call his play Tale of a Teenager in Love, she thinks, or maybe teenagers, because it feels like everyone is falling in love — everyone except her.
They work on the play every afternoon and some evenings as well because people on sports teams can’t make the afternoon rehearsals. By Thursday, things start getting a little weird.
Mandy and Evie are meeting with the set designers to ensure consistency in design of set and clothes. This puts Mandy, Evie, Elizabeth, Mary, Peter DeHaven, and Tommy Rivera in a meeting along with Lila who is the goddamn stage manager WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK. Look, I tend to love Lila, but THERE IS A GODDAMN DRAMA CLUB THERE IS ABSOLUTELY SOMEONE MR DREW WOULD TRUST MORE WITH THAT VERY IMPORTANT POSITION, SOMEONE WITH FAR MORE DRAMA EXPERIENCE, THERE MUST BE FUCK THIS NOISE. [Raven: Envelopes. Envelopes for Mr Clark.]
We get a tiny bit of outfit descriptions, which is something I love and I’m sad we don’t see more of lately:
Carmen’s dance scene: old-fashioned green and yellow dress with a ruffled skirt, a geeky look for a geeky girl (in a fond way).
Rick’s amusement park scene: plain white polo shirt and faded blue denim shorts, plain so he doesn’t clash with the vampire on the ride and he will show up in the dark.
After a few more outfits that we don’t get to see because ghostie hates me, Evie notices that Lila isn’t paying attention. Instead, she and Tommy are staring into each other’s eyes.
Evie tries to turn talk to her and Mandy’s questions over what Jessica should wear as the Freshman, but not only is Lila distracted but now Mandy and Peter are flirting over his set designs.
Elizabeth and Evie exchange shrugs over this and they, plus Mary, decide to go over things together because the other four are lost causes. Evie worries this will hurt the play, but Mary is certain it won’t. It’s just because people who don’t normally spend time together are and the shine will wear off soon enough.
Tommy has Lila laughing and smiling, and Evie thinks she’s never seen Lila smile so much (again, you’ve only known her for a short time — but it is good to see Lila happy).
The next day, Carmen is home sick with the flu so Mary stands in for her part so Rick can keep rehearsing, and Mary comes to Evie and Elizabeth with gossip. Gossip that Rick smiled at her all through their funny kind of love scene. Elizabeth thinks he was supposed to be smiling per the script, but apparently he’s supposed to be confused during it. And after the scene finished, he told Mary he was really glad Mr Drew asked her to fill in because Rick likes working with Mary far more than Carmen and he asked her to go see a movie with him.
Good for you, Mary! I’m glad you’re so happy.
Evie’s pleased for her, too, but does say it’s an interesting string of people getting together. Elizabeth compares it to catching a fever, which is a trite comparison but also apt.
(Internal consistency error! Weird things started happening on Thursday, then the Mary and Rick thing happened after rehearsal the next afternoon, which is Friday, but then the next scene is the next day — also Friday.)
Evie’s the first one to the Unicorner that day, and she sits down to wait for the others. Ellen comes in next but sits with Tim instead of the Unicorns. Mandy sits with Peter and his friends. Jessica is the first one to actually come to the Unicorns.
Man, where’s Janet when you need her to comment on how poorly this reflects on the Unicorns? (Though she might support it because BOYS.) [Dove: Well, there was one book where the boys sat with the Unicorns, and it was painfully awkward, so maybe the boys have make a universal vow to never sit there again.] [Raven: I can’t help but agree with Wing here. These girls have had boyfriends before, and Janet would have shut this shit down.]
Jessica’s surprised that Ellen and Mandy are sitting with boys instead, but doesn’t say anything before Elizabeth and Maria join them and talk turns to the kids from the daycare center. They’re not doing anything with them this weekend, so some of them, at least, are going to the mall.
These four are missing the kids because they haven’t seen them as often this week due to rehearsals.
Mary comes in with Rick and they head to the lunch line together after Mary greets the Unicorns at their table.
Lila’s next and she comes straight to the Unicorner and joins in talk about the kids from the daycare center. They have next Tuesday off from rehearsals because Mr Drew has a meeting, and they decide to go to the center then.
Jessica mutters that at least someone with a new boyfriend is sitting with the Unicorns and not the new boyfriend.
Lila is only looking for Tommy and when she sees him, she goes to join him where he’s sitting with Tim and Ellen.
The girls at the Unicorner talk about their shopping trip to the mall and about memorizing lines. Jessica reads hers into the mirror. Ellen, meanwhile, read all her lines into a tape recorder and as a part of her memorization plays it back to herself while she sleeps. Laugh away, Maria, but I think that sounds useful, as long as she’s doing other memorizing, too. [Dove: I actually thought this was a pretty good idea, though, like you said, as long as she’s memorising in other ways too.] [Raven: Unless she’s sleep-listening to the whole play, it’s not great value. Your cues are more important than your lines, generally.]
Mary calls Evie that night after her date with Rick and they gossip about it. It’s very sweet. Rick held Mary’s hand during the scary part of the movie, Mary was so nervous she barely paid attention to half the movie, they went to pizza after, and Rick wanted to pay for her food but she wouldn’t let him. AND HE ASKED HER TO THE SEMIFORMAL OH MY GOD. I love this.
(I went to plenty of formal and semiformal dances in high school and not once did we refer to them as formal or semiformal. They all had some sort of name.) [Raven: This one does have a name. It’s the Sweet Valley Dance (Semiformal).]
Mary is absolutely besotted with Rick, and I am utterly charmed.
Evie meets Elizabeth, Jessica, and Maria at the mall. They’re all well-rested, but Evie is exhausted. They slept in, but she had a lesson that morning and Saturday lessons are extra long.
They wait a bit longer for everyone else (who apparently all had dates the night before) until Jessica gets impatient and they decide to start shopping without the others.
Two hours later, Evie is discouraged and even more exhausted. Nothing tires her out more than trying on clothes that look stupid on her. I feel your pain, Evie, though for me it’s trying on clothes at stores at all. It’s exhausting.
Evie’s trouble is that when you’re twelve, everything’s designed for someone older or younger than you are. She found great dresses for when she’s sixteen (slinky with sequins) or eight (ruffles) but nothing in-between. Fair point, and I assume it’s worse because she’s so short. [Dove: Jessica and Elizabeth had the same problem in BIG for Christmas, though no other book.]
Wing (and Ostrich) clothing aside for the next long paragraph:
Mine was always (a) I’m very tall and it was hard to find dresses that hit at the right spot (knee length became too short, ankle length was more up my calves, etc.) and (b) I’ve always been a fatty. I had most of my dresses made for me, though that was mostly because I had a very specific idea in mind and people around me who could sew. I was able to buy dresses, too, but clothes shopping is a pain no matter what. These days, I know my measurements and order my dresses from one specific store that always has the cut I like (mostly casual dresses, a couple times more formal dresses) and jeans from whatever store has the size and design and color and price that fit within the parameters I set. I also don’t own all that many clothes. I wear the same outfit each workday each week, by which I mean I wear the same outfit every Monday, every Tuesday, etc., I wear cute shirts and jeans or dresses and leggings for work and for leaving the house in general, and my studio clothes are a couple of older dresses taken out of regular rotation, a ripped pair of jeans, and my wrestling shirts. I have long-sleeve shirts to layer under my cute shirts because all of them are sleeveless. (I really like bare arms.) I have a couple of dresses that I mostly wear to parties and weddings. My stuff, including a couple coats, take up less than half the closet. Ostrich, by contrast, has 1.5 closets and piles of clothes on all the shelves in the closets, including the shelf that should be mine and keeps several outfits in his car for emergencies. Clothes are one of the few things he is excessive about. (I say excessive, but the amount he has works for him, so I don’t tease him. Much.) He even has shelves of shoes. I have five pairs. My every day Converse. My worn out Converse that I wear when I take Izzy to the dog park or similar places where I might step in gross things. A pair of fancy, strappy sandals. A pair of trainers. A pair of slippers that I hardly ever wear because I actually prefer bare feet and only use them when I am too cold to focus. (I’m wearing them right now, actually, because the weather has turned and my desk is very close to the open door, so the breeze has chilled me. I could shut the door, but I love the fresh air too much.) I do have several scarves on an organizer by the front door because I get cold very easily, and in looking over at it, I realized I have far more rings than I have shoes and actually more rings than I have specific outfits. Amazing. I wear 10 daily (or on days when I leave the house now that I work remote full time at least for awhile) and I have several others that I don’t wear because I have yet to start a rotation of them. The ones I wear daily live on a cute little tray bat gave me and the others live in a little Halloween candle holder that no longer has a candle in it. (My keys live in a hand-thrown pottery bowl next to the rings.) I’m done rambling about fashion now.
They’re all tired now but not willing to give up completely; they’ll come back in a week or so to see if there’s new stuff. Evie, I thought you, at least, were going to check the Attic for dresses.
Jessica buys a Great Looking Sweater! Oversized v-neck with floral pattern, which doesn’t actually sound all that gorgeous to me, which is how Evie describes it, but oh well. [Dove: It sounds like something my mother wore in the 80s. That’s not a good thing.]
They head to Casey’s for ice cream and frozen yogurt (Maria), and I’m sure you’re shocked to learn that Mandy and Lila are hanging out with Tommy and Peter.
And Jessica is incensed over it. How DARE they skip Unicorn Mall Time for boys. [Raven: Pretty sure Jess would miss Elizabeth’s funeral for boys.]
Lila and Mandy not only forgot about shopping but Lila forgot that she said she’d call and tell Jessica that they were going out with the boys. Lila apologises once and then things get awkward. Peter invites them to go to the movies with the four of them, but Jessica refuses.
Evie tries to lighten the mood once the couples are gone, and Mandy and Elizabeth try to be happier, but Jessica is so annoyed that she’s not even hungry for ice cream. Even brand new Evie knows that’s a bad sign.
Monday afternoon Mandy and Mary are both late to rehearsals. Elizabeth has reached annoyance, too, because she doesn’t know how she’s supposed to get things done when no one is actually helping.
Evie thinks she should have known things were going to be rough that afternoon based on how Evie, Jessica, Elizabeth, and Maria were alone at the Unicorner at lunch again.
Mary finally rushes in, out of breath. She ran out to buy Rick a dark-green baseball cap with a white R stitched on the front. For luck. It took her so long because she couldn’t decide which to get and looked at dozens and dozens of them.
Elizabeth points out they don’t have a lot of time left to work and she needs Mary’s help. Mary says she’ll help but then Rick goes on break and she hurries over to talk to him real quick. Elizabeth gripes that she might as well be doing all of this on her own because Mary’s always with Rick, Peter’s with Mandy, and Tommy is with Lila while Lila’s supposed to make sure everyone’s working.
Mandy comes in even later and apologises to Evie. She totally forgot that the seamstress dropped off costumes today, and Evie isn’t surprised. She hasn’t asked Mandy and Ellen where they’d been Saturday during the shopping trip, and that’s because she hasn’t actually seen either of them long enough to ask. [Dove: This kind of thing – not just Mandy, but all of them – really grates on me. I loathe people who are late, and am not impressed if they don’t acknowledge and apologise for it. So, as you can imagine, I spent the whole book hating characters that I usually like. It wasn’t fun.] [Raven: This book is an odd departure for Mandy all round, I reckon. Although I guess making one of the “fallen” the current president and most popular Unicorn demonstrates that the misters-before-sisters paradigm can strike down anyone.]
Mandy doesn’t even remember what costumes go with what character or what they’ve already collected. Peter calls her over to look at what he painted and though at first she puts him off because she has work today but he convinces her to come look at his funny mistake before he has to paint over it.
Evie is now just as annoyed as Elizabeth, but she doesn’t say anything because she has to leave for her lesson.
Two weeks until the first performance and things aren’t looking so good.
Tuesday the Foursome (I’m tired of typing out their names every time) go to the daycare center after school as previously discussed. The kids are super excited to see them and talk about the play and acting and how they want to be a part of it but can’t, until Jessica has the great idea to get them tickets so they can come watch. They think it being about a vampire is cool (Oliver wants to be a vampire when he grows up, which is charming) and are excited about seeing it.
Then the kids start asking about the missing Unicorns and the Foursome aren’t sure what to say, because they were supposed to be right behind the Foursome but that was already more than half an hour ago.
Ellen finally rushes in at 430, which means there’s only an hour left before the parents start showing up to get their kids. Yuky is insulted that Ellen was so late, but Arthur wants to show Ellen what he’s painting.
Jessica asks where she’s been and where everyone else is. Ellen has no idea about them, and she herself didn’t mean to be late but she and Tim went to the video arcade and played a bunch of games since they had the afternoon off.
And to be fair, was Ellen actually at the table during the conversation when the Unicorns decided to go to the center together? I guess they mentioned it to her after, but did they ask her if she had plans or just assume she’d come?
Yuky asks about Tim and when Ellen says he’s her boyfriend, some of them find it gross, some of them are intrigued, and some of them tease her.
Ellie’s mother is the last one to show up, and Ellie’s been quiet all afternoon, staying in one spot for hours. Jessica and Evie check on her and pretty quickly she makes it clear that she’s upset that Lila didn’t come visit her. She even comes close to tears when she asks if Lila stopped liking her.
Goddamnit, Lila, you were already on thin ice after the last book, don’t hurt this kid even more. [Dove: This did not sit well with me. I think the Lila of the last book probably wouldn’t have pulled this nonsense with Ellie, and I think the Ellie of the previous book would be worried that Lila was furious with her for the whole situation and was punishing her by not showing up. To not acknowledge it kind of gives us plot holes. Not huge ones, but it bugs me.] [Raven: One hundred percent agree. This should not have come hot on the heels of Lila’s book about the sanctity of Ellie’s trust, and the obvious (if misplaced) love and care and affection whe has for the kid.]
Jessica and Evie manage to cheer her up, though it’s mostly by making promises about Lila either visiting or calling Ellie, which is a terrible way to do it considering how flaky Lila’s been lately.
Mandy arrives as they’re leaving because it’s ten minutes to six. Jessica’s openly annoyed and Mandy is surprised by it. She’s been working on a science project with Peter even though Elizabeth reminded her (and the others) of their trip to the center before they were due to show up. Mandy apologises and says that she thought with everyone else there, no one would really miss her.
It sucks that she’s left the children hanging, but I am still curious if anyone actually asked Mandy, Ellen, etc. whether they wanted to come on Tuesday afternoon or if they simply told them about it. Lila was still at the table during that conversation, but the others weren’t.
Mandy says she feels awful for hurting the children and promises to come back on her own in a few days but at the same time breezes right through that in order to ask Ellen if she and Tim want to go out with Mandy and Peter on Thursday for pizza, and the two of them start talking about the boys.
Evie thinks that Mandy doesn’t need to make it up only to the kids but also to the Foursome because Mandy and Ellen (and the others, though Evie doesn’t reference them) have been acting as if the Foursome are invisible and have been breaking plans all over the place.
Nobody calls Evie that night, which sucks, but she does point out it’s sometimes confusing to have best friends whose names all start with the same letter; this is the point I made the other day about all the damn MA names, which include these three (Mary, Mandy, and Maria) [Raven: Don’t forget Maila, Malizabeth and Massica (Massica!).]. Evie doesn’t think she should feel mad at anyone because they haven’t actually done anything wrong (they have though) maybe the club is just changing, and Evie’s happy that her friends are happy and finding love, but it still feels terrible. Plus Evie hates sounding whiny and she thinks saying anything will sound like she’s whining about little, unimportant things. [Dove: She also adds that whiners don’t understand real problems, which kind of sucks, because being ditched by your BFFs is a real problem, and just because it’s not your parents dying, doesn’t really eradicate the hurt someone’s feeling.]
Thank fuck for Jessica who has no qualms about calling out Lila the next morning. Lila shrugs off Evie’s emotions and says she’ll surely see Evie this weekend or will call or whatever. Jessica won’t let it go, wants to know why Lila didn’t show up and flat out tells Lila it was irresponsible because the kids depend on them. Lila lashes out that it’s not mandatory and it’s no big deal. Fuck you, Lila. You agreed to continue volunteering! You call Evie your little sister! You already hurt the poor girl bigtime when she ran away to your house. The fuck is wrong with you?
Lila finally says she feels bad that she didn’t show up but she just couldn’t help it, it felt more important to hang out with Tommy and his younger siblings.
Fuck. You. Lila.
Jessica snaps that she’ll just keep blowing them off and Lila’s temper breaks; she’s not done a goddamn thing wrong, she claims, and she’s tired of Jessica yelling at her. You should be glad she’s yelling and not gone silent. That’s when you end up in the Mercandy backyard.
Jessica cuts her off when Lila starts talking about how Jessica can’t possibly understand what it’s like to want to spend all her time with her boyfriend and storms off to her own desk.
Your point is pretty shit, Lila, considering for books and books and books Jessica did basically have a steady boyfriend and several times had other boyfriends, too. And fuck you, Lila. Fuck. You. People don’t have to have experienced exactly how you feel to be upset that you are blowing them off and avoiding your responsibilities to children and rehearsals. [Dove: *applauds*]
The Foursome becomes the Threesome at lunch; Jessica doesn’t sit with them or anywhere, actually. Elizabeth says she thinks Jessica went to the library to memorize her lines, she’s been so annoyed she can’t focus. [Raven: Gotta say, Jessica is pretty great in this book.]
Maria’s worried that everyone is too distracted to pull off the play in only two more weeks. Elizabeth says they have to be ready (well, that Ellen has to be ready, less worry about anyone else, and if Ellen is the only one who doesn’t get her shit done I’m going to be annoyed) because they haven’t put in all this work for the play to flop.
Except the people who will make the play flop aren’t putting in all the work and don’t seem to feel any responsibility for the play any longer, which is why the play might flop.
Worse news: opening night is almost sold out already.
Jessica joins them at the end of lunch and vents about Lila again. They were supposed to get together for half of lunch to work on their science project and they’re way behind because of the play. And, of course, Lila doesn’t show up, she goes to the cafeteria with her boyfriend again.
Fucking hell, Lila, you are getting on my last nerve. All of that group of Unicorns are. [Dove: Someone used to do this to me when I was a kid. One of mum’s friends. She’d say something like, “I’ll come by on Saturday and we’ll go horse riding” and I’d wait, in my jodhpurs all fucking day, and be devastated every single time she flaked. And the next time she’d be like, “Oh, this time I really mean it. I promise I’ll be there.” (As if solid plans hadn’t been enough to guarantee her appearance the first time around.) And of course, despite the promise, she didn’t show up. It got to the point where my mother asked her to stop offering, because every time she didn’t show up, she had to deal with me being upset. Her reaction was, “Oh, I thought it was nice she had something to look forward to.” And mum was like, “Well, no, she could’ve gone to her best mate’s house.” And the other person just didn’t really get it. I’m not sure if she genuinely thought the idea of hanging out with her was better than actually hanging out with my best friend, or she just really didn’t understand that constantly breaking plans is a dick move.] [Raven: *hugs* That’s so fucking shitty. What sort of logic is “I thought it was nice she had something nice to look forward to”…? So many idiots in this world.]
Jessica’s angry enough that she wants to do something about it. Elizabeth asks what exactly they are supposed to do, it’s not like they can tell them not to have boyfriends, and Evie points out that they’re really in love. I’d argue that it’s only been a few days, they can’t actually be in love, but even that short amount of time can feel like it for some people, I guess. Still isn’t an excuse for blowing off their responsibilities and promises, though.
Jessica decides that they should give everyone one more chance to prove whether they’re still friends by having a combination Unicorn meeting and party at the Wakefield’s house Friday night, and since it’s an official meeting, everyone has to come unless they’re sick.
Lovesick doesn’t count.
Elizabeth thinks it’s pretty harsh to kick them out based on whether they show up for this one meeting or not, and Jessica says that they’ll only decide what to do if the others don’t show up.
The next morning the Foursome track down the others. Evie and Elizabeth are both getting nervous, partly because Jessica’s acting like a general leading them into battle. That does sound true to character.
Mary and Mandy are both excited to see them, and Mandy even says that she hasn’t seen them in practically forever.
Mandy. MANDY. Normally I like you quite a lot, but this is bullshit.
Unsurprisingly, Mary, Lila, Mandy, and Ellen all have plans for Friday night, and despite everything else, I’m on their side for this. Waiting until Thursday morning to make plans means you take the risk that they’ll already have things planned for Friday. And sure, Jessica can make an ultimatum that they have to break their plans with the boys and come to the meeting/party, but all that does is reinforce the idea that it’s okay to break plans all the time in either direction.
They fight over whether they should still have a rule that everyone has to show up to an official Unicorn meeting. I would argue that people shouldn’t be required to come when the meeting isn’t pitched until the day before, except in times of extreme emergencies. Of course, Jessica would argue this is an extreme emergency.
The fight comes down to this:
Team Boyfriends think it’s more important to spend time with their boyfriend than their friends and that the single Unicorns can’t possibly understand.
The Foursome (with Jessica’s words) think they need to decide whether they want to be friends and Unicorns, and that decision will come down to whether they attend Friday’s meeting.
And all of this escalates until they end the club and Team Boyfriend walks away and back to their boyfriends. [Dove: Call me naive, but I thought this was actually going to be a case of “Sure, we’ll come.” *Team Boyfriend does not show up*. This way was much quicker.]
Evie ends up crying a little and the rest of the Foursome reassure her that they will all be friends still. Jessica even says they’re better off without Team Boyfriend, but her voice is shaky and Evie thinks she doesn’t really believe it. I think it’s quite possible all of Team Boyfriend will be buried in the Mercandy’s backyard by Sunday and Jessica is shaky with excitement, but po-tay-to po-tah-to.
Everyone avoids the Unicorner at lunch and when Evie runs into Mary at the drinks machine, Mary ignores her completely and only talks to Ricks’ friends’ girlfriends. Later, Mandy and Lila passive aggressively walk past them and laugh together as if they’re making fun of the Foursome. [Dove: And Evie is like, “how can everyone jump in our graves so quickly? We need time to mourn!” (hyperbole mine) Dude, if a table’s empty at lunch, you grab it. Also, I did not get how the club was instantly dead from this moment. I assumed that Team Boyfriend had left the building. Why did everyone else just collectively shrug and say, “Welp, the Unicorns are disbanded then”?]
Basketball in gym time. Evie’s pretty good at it even though she’s short (Ken Matthews could have bonded with her over this once except in the UC he’s apparently tall and blond).
Not only is Amanda Harmon in Evie’s gym class (remember, Amanda from the Eight Times Eight Club who kicked Unicorn butt at the Best Friends game show) [Raven: I am glad the Eights are a constant.], Ellen is as well, which is bad enough because of their current split but made worse by the fact Ellen thinks she knows a lot about basketball because she’s going with Tim but she’s pretty terrible at it.
Amanda, Ellen, and Evie are all on the same team that afternoon, of course. Their teacher, Ms Langberg, says the most important thing is to communicate, which of course goes miserably for them. Evie bites back her complaints about Ellen, including that she’s a ball hog, because it’s not very mature. Oh, Evie. Sweetheart.
Evie worries about rehearsal, and she’s right to do so. Mandy won’t even talk to her but instead forces her to write notes back and forth. And Evie goes along with this instead of just speaking every time she responds. [Dove: Urgh. This scene. Was no grownup present for any of this nonsense? Apparently not, since Lila is the fucking stage manager.]
Elizabeth and Mary aren’t having a much better time. They are passing messages back and forth through Carmen. We don’t see for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Elizabeth was the one who started this.
Evie goes to watch some of the rehearsal, and I really like how we see Jessica’s role used! I would love to have her pop in and out of recaps like that, too.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Ellen said.
“Likewise.” Rick held out his hand, and when Ellen shook it, he leaned down and pressed his lips against her hand.
“Easy,” Jessica said. “She doesn’t like to be kissed on first dates.”
Rick looked over his shoulder at Jessica. “Who are you, anyway? I’ve seen you everywhere ever since I got to town.”
“Me? I’m nobody. Just a freshman,” Jessica said with a shrug. “Well, gotta go—see ya!” She dashed across the stage to the other side, where she’d be hidden behind the curtain when the play was actually on.
Apparently Jessica’s been helping Ellen with her lines during rehearsal itself and when she disappears behind the curtain, Ellen starts panicking and messing up her lines. Lila’s not there to feed her the correct lines, either, which is a part of her job, and Mr Drew notices she’s missing. He goes off to find Lila, Ellen continues to struggle, and I know I said that I’d be mad if Ellen is the only one who can’t manage to come back from not doing her work, and I will, but this is absolutely believable.
The Foursome have their party that night, and they are determined to have fun even with it only being the four of them. Maria suggests a Dracula-vampire movie marathon and she rented three Draculas ranging from the black-and-white original to modern blood and gore, as well as Summer Surf in case they get tired of seeing Dracula turn into a bat. [Raven: Actual laugh from me there.]
Maria teases Jessica that her role should be Flying Rodent instead of Freshmen and they joke around while the pizzas bake. (With only four people, no sense in order pizza, they say. I disagree, though I do also like frozen pizza and wouldn’t mind this.) [Raven: Frozen pizza can fuck off. All it does is cook unevenly and burn the roof of your mouth.]
They talk about whether they should hold a Unicorn meeting and whether they are the last members; Jessica suggest that they start a new club. I’m not sure I buy this response from her, she so loved being a Unicorn and fought Lila so hard for control of it just a few books ago. Maria, Elizabeth, and Evie still have hope that the others will want to get back together, but Jessica is having none of that. Even if Team Boyfriend decide they want to come back, why would the Foursome let them? After all, Team Boyfriend said the Foursome don’t matter.
This black and white response is perfect for Jessica, even though friendship and forgiveness is far more nuanced than this.
The next week, Elizabeth and Evie overhear Amanda talking to her friend Kristin about how the semiformal will have a live band and they really need to figure out the date thing soon. Amanda plans on inviting Rick Hunter.
Because the costume work is basically done but for dealing with them during and after the performances, Evie heads to the daycare center instead of rehearsal on Tuesday. She can’t stop thinking about how it’s been five days since she talked to any of Team Boyfriend (if you ignore the angry notes with Mandy), and she feels terrible about it still.
To her surprise, Mary is at the daycare center when she gets there. Evie can’t believe it and Mary is a little hurt that Evie is so surprised. Really, Mary? You shouldn’t be, you know exactly how the Foursome feels and how many things you’ve been skipping because of your new boyfriend.
(I’ll be honest, unless it is in front of me on the page, I cannot remember who is dating whom, that’s how little these relationships matter. It’s the actions and the fallout from them that drives the story, the friendship at the core of this series, and I love that.) [Dove: Uh… Mary/Rick, and Mandy, Lila and Ellen are with… um… Timmy, Tommy… and someone else, but I can’t tell you who’s dating whom. Wing’s right, the relationships are meaningless.
] [Raven: I hope she’s got the Bells.]
Awww, the kids are making an advert for the play, a huge poster with a ghost and a vampire on it. They’re going to put it at the front desk to entice parents to go see it. This is fucking adorable.
The kids pepper Mary with questions about the semiformal and her boyfriend, and Evie feels like Mary’s only talking about it to rub it in Evie’s face. Eve decides that she’s going to go to the damn dance even though she doesn’t have a boyfriend, just like Mandy and Grandma Clara said. Good for you, Evie!
Next, Elizabeth and Evie overhear Rick and Tim talking about how Rick is bad at breaking up with girls, and Tim says it’s easy, he just tells her he’s going to the dance with someone else. [Dove: Due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. Bruce Patman not failing eighth grade) the part of Bruce Patman will be played by… *picks name at random* … RICK HUNTER!]
And Elizabeth and Evie sure are in the right place at the right time pretty often lately.
Rick goes on to say that he’s not going with anyone else, not yet, but Tim points out that he wants to and that’s the same thing. Which is fair!
Elizabeth and Evie actually go talk to the boys about this, which surprised the hell out of me. Sure enough, Amanda asked Rick to the dance, and he admits he’s always kind of liked Amanda. (“Kind of” Tim scoffs and it’s pretty clear that he’s liked her for awhile.)
Elizabeth points out that he’s already made a date with Mary, and Rick says yeah, he asked her, but that was a long time ago (…it’s been mere weeks, dude) and he’s changed his mind. Which is shitty as hell.
Evie agrees with me; she gets terribly angry at him over this.
Rick says he doesn’t want to break up with Mary, he really likes her. Maybe he’ll just fake sick and then go with Amanda. WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK. And that’s a big assumption that she won’t go without you. (Though since she’s alienated many of her friends, maybe not that big an assumption.)
Elizabeth and Evie decide not to say anything until they know for sure that Rick is going to screw over Mary. I can see why, in part because it’s likely that Mary will not believe them, but that’s still kind of a crappy thing to do to someone you considered a close friend until recently. [Dove: It’s ok, there are like 30 pages left. If this was a two-book series, they’d tell Mary, and she’d yell at them for lying about her beloved boyfriend. Rick, trapped, would side with Mary and claim they were setting him up with Amanda to get back at Mary for ditching them… but thankfully we’re not in Sweet Valley High just yet.] [Raven: *spider sense tingles*]
At her next lesson, Mr Santos says she’s not playing her music with the amount of emotion she normally does. She’s technically correct, but she’s just going through the motions. She admits she’s dealing with someone big and breaks it down for him in very general terms. He points out that just because they stop being best friends doesn’t mean Evie doesn’t still care about this girl because Evie is a good person. Aww, I love this.
Evie and Elizabeth overhear Mary and Mandy (SO MANY MA NAMES) talking about all the things she’s doing for the dance (including new shoes to go with the new, expensive dress) and they’re both worried about how many things Mary’s doing when Rick might screw her over soon.
They call an emergency meeting of the Foursome and update them. Maria and Jessica have both heard different people talk about how Amanda and Rick are going to the dance together but they both assumed it was false gossip. Evie decides they have to tell Mary; Jessica doesn’t want to do it because Mary doesn’t want them as friends. Then we get this great exchange:
“Jessica, how can you say that? Put yourself in her shoes,” I said. “What if you were just hopelessly, helplessly in love with someone and he was about to dump you? And on top of that, make you look like a fool? Wouldn’t you want to know?”
“Well, it’d never happen to me,” Jessica said.
“Right,” Maria said. “Sure it wouldn’t. Come on, Jessica, it happens to everyone.”
Jessica’s casual confidence is so much fun. [Dove: Fun story about casual confidence. I got beaten up by a local asshat (it was one of those where you get punched out of nowhere, and then the puncher accuses you of calling them a slut/bitch/whore/whatever, and then keeps punching, when in fact you hadn’t even known of their existence before they broke your nose), and on the bus for school the next day, a kid two years younger than me was like, “I’d have fought back! I’d have put her in the hospital!” and I kind of ignored her and decided she was an absolute asshat who lacked empathy. However, due to gossipy girls who were bored to death on the bus, someone set about a counter-rumour that I had told my punchy nemesis that the younger kid wanted to fight her. So we got to see her fucking panic for days. Sadly, when no fight appeared, the youngster then started boasting that she’d scared off Punchy Girl.
Shit. Just realised I went to school with Jessica Wakefield.] [Raven: *moar hugs*. Also, LOL.]
Elizabeth points out that Mary is going to be humiliated because Amanda’s big mouth now has the entire school except for Mary hearing about it. And apparently except for the rest of Team Boyfriend, which I find difficult to believe. Not that I think anyone would tell them directly, they are Mary’s friends, but surely they would have heard something.
They decide to tell her, and then Maria asks what comes after and that if they really want to do the right thing, they’ll need to help her and that might mean calling all the Unicorns (ex-Unicorns, Jessica interrupts) to help.
In the end, they decide to have a Unicorns reunion the next afternoon at the Wakefield’s. Jessica and Evie make the very good point that they didn’t come last time why would they this time when it’s the exact same amount of notice, but Maria says they’ll just have to convince them.
They manage to do that and when they’re all together, the Foursome are nervous about breaking the news. Evie offers to start and manages a good job of breaking things down. Soon enough other people chime in and everyone is furious at Rick; no one disbelieves them. I’m kind of impressed by that.
They call around and confirm it and then settle in to come up with a plan of action. Mary wants to just confront him and tell him he’s a jerk, but Jessica thinks it has to be much worse than that. Of course you do, Jessica, never change.
She also keeps them on task when they go off on tangents about pranks they could pull, until Lila says that they should get their revenge through his starring role in the play.
You’re going to fuck things up for all the people who worked hard on the play. This is bullshit. Getting revenge on him, okay, I can understand that desire, but fucking up the play? NO YOU FUCKING JACKASSES. [Dove: Urgh. Also this scene. Thank god these are the only kids in the entire school, otherwise a bunch of people who worked hard will be very disappointed in this group performance being hijacked for a personal vendetta. Also, I was not ok with the suggested plan of destroying his wardrobe so he ends up undressed on stage. I mean, for one thing, wasn’t it Rick Hunter who pointed out that the girls invading the boys’ bathroom was just as distressing for the guys as it was if the genders would be reversed. Gosh, yes, I think it was. So, four books ago, Rick told them about personal boundaries. And they’re still wanting to break them. *sighs deeply*] [Raven: Absolutely hated this “revenge solution”. So disrespectful to the other people with a vested interest in the play. Never thought I’d side with faculty, but I feel sorry for Mr Drew here.]
Evie points out that this could really ruin everyone else’s hard work, THANK YOU, but Ellen calls her chicken. They’ll change part of one scene, nothing more, and she’ll just say she forgot her lines and improvised if Mr Drew says anything about it.
Mary’s feeling better but sad and disappointed that her mother will be upset she’s not going to wear her new dress to the dance. Except Jessica’s going alone, and Evie pipes up and says she is too, and she and Mandy start bonding over what she’s going to wear.
We jump ahead to Wednesday’s sold-out opening night. Time for Former-Unicorns Take Revenge.
Near the end of the last scene of Act Two, Rick is supposed to tell Ellen about his special powers and how he got them. The interruption comes right after he finishes that. Maria bursts in and snaps that if he doesn’t want to ask Mary I mean Mallory to the homecoming dance he should just be honest with her instead of telling her instead of making up some story about being a vampire, and Maria would rather go with him anyway so he should just get rid of Ellen.
Rick is, of course, thrown by this.
Ellen talks about how she deserves to be told the truth and Rick stumbles through the exchange and even looks out at the audience for help that, of course, is not forthcoming. The girls end up playing literal tug of war, each of them holding onto his belt, and the audience loves it. Jessica bounces in as the Freshman and says that cheaters never prosper, the easiest way isn’t always the right way (now if only she would learn this lesson and keep remembering it), and honest is the best policy. (And she does not burst into flame for these lies.)
Ellen tugs so hard Rick’s belt flies off and his pants drop to his hips before he grabs them to hold them up. The girls rush off, leaving him alone on stage, and he has no idea what to do. You need to work on your improv, Rick.
Mr Drew comes to find them after the play is done and they talk circles around him until he believes it was all just opening night jitters and they’ll be much better the next night.
At the after-party, Jessica calls Rick over to talk to him. He’s angry that she didn’t tell him that everyone knew what was going on and just let the scene go ahead. She points out he could have been decent and told Mary first. He complains that they didn’t have to humiliate him onstage. Jessica points out that it’s on him if he didn’t figure out the Unicorn Club sticks up for their friends.
…can you blame him, considering everything that’s happened in this book?
Mary admits that she feels kind of bad for him even after everything.
The next day, the Unicorns all meet up at Casey’s, everyone wearing so much purple it’s ridiculous. They wrap things up for readers I mean gossip: Amanda dumped Rick after his humiliation, they’re going to go clothes shopping for Evie’s dress after they eat, Team Boyfriend aren’t spending all their time with their boyfriends anymore, and the Foursome actually bring up the situation in a calm, mature way. It starts to go badly, but Elizabeth, as nervous as she is, tries to keep things calm. Finally they decide to come up with new rules instead.
#1: When they need to have a meeting, everyone has to come no matter what unless they’re sick.
#2: Meetings at least once every other week. (But not on Friday nights.)
#3: No ignoring friends in favor of boyfriends.
#4: No dating jerks and if anyone does, they have to talk to her about it and she has to listen.
There is plenty of snapping and bickering, but in the end they come together to go shopping for clothes and decide anyone without a date is still going to the dance.
Evie’s glad to be doing things together again, but she’s still worried that the Unicorn Club won’t have much of a future, which sets up for the next book, The Unicorns at War.
This went far better than I expected! It wasn’t friends fighting each other for the same boy, it dealt with something realistic and painful, and mostly in believable ways, the core of it was not the boys but the impact on their friendships and how they treat each other, there was a lot of little consistencies, almost everyone seemed very in character — overall, I really liked this. I didn’t love it, but it was a lot of fun to read and recap.
And I adore Evie! I hope we see a lot more of her.
Final note: Mandy’s dated a Peter before, per our tags! Peter Jeffries that time. For a book about Unicorns and romance, there was a surprising but pleasing lack of Elizabeth and Todd.
[Dove: I swear Todd’s not been mentioned yet. Maybe they’re phasing him out so that she can get to know him for the first time when she gets to SVH? Also Mary dated Peter Burns previously, but Peter DeHaven has dated absolutely nobody because he was an ugly nerd, on par with Randy Mason or Winston Egbert. *shrugs*
So, my thoughts on the book. It was fine, but it annoyed me, because I loathe late people, and people who stand me up. I would much rather have an offensive text that says, “I found something better to do, so I’m not showing up” than be stood up. The text is insulting, but at least it shows a modicum of respect for your time as a human being. So basically, I hated everyone I usually like, so it wasn’t a fun book for me. And it really didn’t feel resolved by the end of it. This series it getting more like Making Out as it goes – format-wise, I mean – yes, you can read the books individually, but it makes much more sense to read them in order in one go. Overall fine, well-written, and the continuity was on point, but the subject matter wasn’t my cup of tea.]
[Raven: I enjoyed this recap far more than the book, which I found to be lacklustre and boring. I’d have been much more invested in a more straightforward tale about the film, although such a story would have been weird so soon after Maria’s POV book about the film.
The continuity was decent, as was the characterisation of Jessica and Ellen (and, I guess, Mary), but I had issues with Lila, Mandy and Elizabeth. There’s no way Lila would be so thoughtless over Ellie, just as there’s no way Mandy would have fallen so deep into love that she’d have ditched her friends and acted like a twat. And there’s no way on god’s green earth that Elizabeth wouldn’t have told Mary IMMEDIATELY about Rick’s plan as soon as she overheard the details. That soul-searching was left to Evie, and Liz wasn’t even touted as a possible spiller of said beans. I mean, has the ghostie not read any of the previous books?
But the thing that irtked me the most was the story told from Evie’s point of view… had nothing at all to do with Evie. All the other POV stories in this series thus far has the main character leading the action: Mandy saving the Unicorn Club and becoming president, Maria starring in a film, Lila being embroiled in the Ellie saga, and so on. This book? Evie basically watches some of her new friends get boyfriends, and the rest of her new friends react badly. There was truly no need for this book to be in First Person. I was really looking forward to reading an Evie book about Evie problems with Evie solutions, but she did little other than report on the action driven by others. Maybe she should be in charge of the Liz-free Sixers.]
I am the evil twin. I’m in a feud with R.L. Stine, but he hasn’t found me here yet. Every story needs more werewolves.