Title: Too Close For Comfort
Tagline: Unicorns only…
Summary: The Unicorns are back—the real Unicorns, that is. Remember all those girls we were hanging out with who weren’t really Unicorn material? We’re through with them. Now they’re calling themselves—get this—the Angels. Pretty dumb name, huh? But I guess it suits a bunch of goody-goodies.
Well, the Unicorns won’t be bothered by the Angels anytime soon-because we’re quarantined for German measles! Now, I know most people would be really bummed, but when you’re a Unicorn, you know how to wear a few spots in style. We’re shacked up in Lila Fowler’s mansion—no non-Unicorns allowed! Perfect, right? Right. Only, I wonder what the Angels are doing right now….
First thought? PANDEMIC BOOK.
Second thought? Unicorns versus Angels. No holds barred. A battle to the (metaphorical) death. Cats and dogs living together. It’s a Brave New World, people.
I’m here for this book. I liked the last one, and was genuinely surprised when the narrative didn’t return to the Status Quo. I’m guessing it will return to normal eventually, meaning this book may be a two-of-a-two-book-series kinda thing. But who knows? Maybe we’ll have Unicorns versus Angels for the remainder of this subseries.
Also, it seems this is a Jessica book. So soon? Meh.
[Dove: I also had similar thoughts to Raven. While the previous book pissed me off – looking back, I think Mandy’s useless character generated 99% of the anger – it certainly was a game-changer, so I’m definitely here for the fallout of it. And I’ve always had my eye on this one since about March of last year. Early on it was with trepidation, and then later on, now that we’re all resigned to the fact we’re living through a Stephen King novel, it was more with glee that even the Unicorns need to be on lockdown. So yeah, high hopes.]
[Wing: Would the Unicorns wear masks? Only if they could match them to outfits. Would the Unicorns stay home for months on end? NOPE. Quarantine is going to mean very little to them.]
“Hey, Mandy, why don’t you join us today?” I asked in my friendliest voice as I came up behind her in the lunch line.
Thus begins the preamble.
For those looking for a ‘Previously On’ style recap, please go check out Dove’s excellent recap on The Unicorns At War. For the C3s and C4s out there, here’s a bulleted rundown:
- Kimberly Haver came back to SVMS.
- Kimberly Haver embodies everything that the old-style Unicorns stands for.
- Apparently, Kimberly and Mary always had a rivalry, despite all the previous books not covering this.
- Both Kimberly and Mary stand for Student Council, with Lila, Jessica and Ellen supporting Kimberly and the old ways (as the Unicorns), and Elizabeth, Maria and Evie standing for the Team Mary (as the Angels).
- Mandy Miller is Switzerland in this war. [Except Switzerland contributes cuckoo clocks and chocolate to the world, Mandy just was a wall of beige paint that occasionally burst into tears.]
- Team Mary come up with some top-notch policies and write a great campaign speech.
- Jessica steals the speech and Kimberly delivers it before Mary.
- Kimberly is voted in as Student Council Representative.
- Acrimony is abound.
- Mandy tells the principal about the theft and plagiarism, aligning herself with the Angels.
- There is a re-vote, which Mary wins, and Kimberly gets in a minimal amount of trouble.
- The book ends!
So there we are! You’re all caught up. Have yourself a biscuit in celebration. [Dove: My version of those facts is far angrier. And makes a reference to Saints Row.]
Back to the preamble. It’s delivered by Jessica, asking Mandy to join her and the Unicorns for lunch in the Unicorner. As Mandy is a recent convert to the Angels (after being neutral throughout the previous book), this request does not receive the level of delight that Jessica expects. Immediately, Mandy asks if Kimberly will be there, as Kimberly is the current bugbear and the (rightful) catalyst of the Unicorns’ regression into ass-hattery.
Jessica’s request is offered at face value, because we all know that true evil comes with a benevolent smile. To her credit (finally), Mandy doesn’t acquiesce, but she doesn’t poo-poo the idea immediately. There are still a few splinters from the fence lodged in her left bum-cheek. Jessica takes this “maybe” to be a “okay”, and gushes appreciatively.
As Mandy wanders off, Jessica delivers the usual recap and mission statement of the Unicorn Club series. No need to dwell overlong, because the broad strokes are well-ploughed furrow, and the specifics are covered above with the bulleted recap.
The section ends with Jessica’s internal monologue hoping that Mandy will see the error of her allegiance, and that she’d come round to the Old-School Unicorns way of thinking.
I mean, we’re much more fun than the Angels. OK, so it wasn’t all that nice of Kimberly to steal Mary’s speech, but no one’s perfect, right?
Alarm bells are ringing.
We all know that JESSICA stole the speech, out from under Elizabeth’s watchful eye in her bedroom. Sure, Jessica may have been tasked by Kimberly to do so, but it was Jessica who overheard the Angels discussing their plans and the speech, and it was Jessica who relayed that information to the Unicorns.
This book has the deed done and dusted by Kimberly, and Kimberly alone. Sure, I guess that Jessica isn’t one for self-reflection, but it’s not even HINTED that anyone other than Kimberly was involved. It’s not nuanced writing. It’s an oversight, pure and simple.
This book is patently written by someone other than the author of the preceding instalment. How that affects you, the reader, is personal. I think it stinks, though if you hated the previous book you might be more charitable.
Either way, you’d think someone would have caught this in the edit, or at least that the two Ghosties would have discussed it beforehand.
Weak. As. Fuck.
[Wing: I could have let it go as Jessica almost always finding a story to tell that doesn’t make her complicit, but that would require ghostie giving even the slightest nod in that direction. Alas.]
Jessica joins her crew at the Unicorner. The girls are cackling riotously about some weak-ass jokeat the Angels’ expense. It’s not worth the recap space; suffice to say, it plays on the Angels’ saintliness, and it tries to belittle them.
Jessica giggles, but concedes to herself that anti-Angel sentiment is not a good look for a group that had just invited Mandy to dine in the spirit of reconciliation. She tries to change the subject is a fantastic way.
“That’s a great sweater, Kimberly,” I broke in quickly. “Is it new?”
Boom! Motherfucking GREAT-LOOKING SWEATER, bitches!
Sadly, her distraction tactic fails, as Kimberly soon turns talk around to the terrible result of the Student Council vote. Kimberly > Mary, repeat.
[Dove: Also, something that really rankled during this conversation was that: 1) Kimberly wants to go to the mall so her mom can buy her a new outfit to “cheer her up” after the election results; and 2) we find out that Mr Clark left it in Kimberly’s hands to tell her parents that she stole someone else’s work and took credit for it (not to mention all the other shit she pulled) – and obviously, she did not. Seriously. This is the guy who was suspending them as a club because they stole his toupee in book 1. Or painting the lockers with a purple stripe. So it’s no fucking wonder these kids are terrible. Literally every adult just shrugs in the face of their terrible behaviour, and the only time they get told off is if the adult present is personally affected by their actions. No wonder these kids are so fucking self-centred with no respect for anyone else on the planet. It’s a learned behaviour. No, it’s a taught behaviour. We’re on paragraph 8 or so, and I’m already done with this piece of shit book. Fuck this fucking book. Oh, and then about three paragraphs later, Kimberly makes a comment about Mandy’s cancer. We get it, we’re supposed to hate Kimberly, but now I just hate everyone. Seriously, at this point if they don’t start writing Ellen right, I’m stuck with Elizabeth as my favourite character.]
With impeccable timing, Mandy Miller rocks up to the Unicorner, having apparently decided to take Jessica up on her “kind” offer. She’s overheard the last part of Kimberly’s rant about Mary, but missed the subject and the context. Jessica blusters on through, trying to save the situation.
Mandy apologises for the delay in arriving, positing the idea that the canteen staff had to decamp back to Italy to fetch her fresh lasagne. Kimberly immediately puts the boot in.
“Maybe you should fly there with them and give them a hand,” Kimberly muttered in her I’m-going-to-pretend-I-don’t-want-you-to-hear-me-but-I-really-do voice. “This school could stand to lose a traitor.”
Gotta give her credit, she’s not fucking about. I’m pretty sure I hate her.
Mandy applies some sass, while Jessica insists that she invited her with the best of intentions. It’s too little too late, of course, and Mandy makes a fine exit. This leave the Unicorns to discuss the fallout.
Kimberly points out that the Unicorns should not be fraternising with the enemy Angels. Ellen agrees, because she’s a sponge and a copycat without a single thought of her own. In fact, the book implicitly tells us this, just as each book in the series thus far has done so before it.
That was typical Ellen. She’s a great girl and everything, but she’s not exactly what you’d call an individual thinker. She usually just goes along with the crowd.
Poor Ellen. Even in the books about actual friendship, she gets a short straw. Maybe they are setting us up for her departure before Sweet Valley High, belittling her contribution so as she won’t be missed. Or maybe they are foreshadowing something she does in a later book in THIS series, something so heinous that she can’t really come back from it? [Dove: If that happens, I’m leaving.] [Raven: Wow. Now that’s a threat.]
Or, more likely, they just don’t give a teeny tiny toss about Ellen. That sounds more plausible.
Lila weights in, spouting some guff about how positively splendid the previous iteration of the Unicorn Club happened to be. Oh how she misses the bitchery and exclusivity! Of course, this is fine for Lila, even though she is much softer in this series, because let’s face it, she’s got form in this field. Jessica tries her best to swim against the tide of Ellen, Lila and Kimberly, but when the team spot Mandy laughing and joking at the Angels’ table, holding aloft a pink Angels shirt, it seems all is lost.
Jessica finally acquiesces.
Well, if that was the way she wanted it, fine. It’s not like I didn’t try.
I looked at my friends and held up my carton of milk. “Here’s to the Unicorns!”
Chapter two starts, and there’s a surprising change in narrator. [Wing: I was shocked, SHOCKED I SAY. I thought we’d left that in the past.] We’re now at the Angel version of the Unicorner (called the Angeliner, which is absolutely fucking terrible), and we’re in the head of the second Wakefield Twin, Elizabeth. It’s a continuation from where Jessica left off, with Mandy holding aloft a new pink Angels shirt. Neat. And I guess it means that we can cut one book from the series, if we mash both Liz and Jess into the same space. [Wing: Oooh, I’d be happy if the Wakefield twins get shoved into one book and not split out over two or more.]
After some introductory gubbins, talk turns to that evening’s Inaugural Angel Slumber Party, planned at the Wakefield Compound for seven pm after their session at the day-care centre. Apparently, this will be the perfect time for Elizabeth to tell everyone about her desire to be the president of the Angels. She has “all kinds” of great ideas about progressing the Angel agenda…
In addition to working at the day-care center, I thought we could volunteer at a soup kitchen or something. I also had an idea about starting a book club.
How depressingly Elizabeth.
The Angels are all looking forward to the party. Mandy shows a vestige of Unicorn thirst and ask if Steven and his cute friends will be there. We’re treated to an into description, before we learn that no, he’s unlikely to be in attendance, thank the veritable fuck.
Mandy continues… will Jessica be there?
It’s a fair question, I guess. I’m sure Jessica wouldn’t want to be there. She’s a Unicorn, of course. Elizabeth admits they’ve not discussed it, and that they’d not spoken much at all recently. Mary mutters something about theft, which Elizabeth pounces on.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” I told Mary. “I mean, my sister’s not a thief or anything.”
“Excuse me, but she was involved in that whole speech thing,” Mary said, buttering her roll.
“Well, yes, but it’s not like she steals things on a regular basis,” I pointed out. “And anyway, Kimberly’s the one who actually took the speech, not Jessica.”
“In my opinion, all of the Unicorns, including Jessica, are guilty,” Mary said.
There we fucking go.
Proof that this book doesn’t give two hot shits about the last book.
The speech was in a drawer in Elizabeth’s bedroom. How the hell did Kimberly steal that? [Dove: Yes, Elizabeth, Jessica is a thief. Off the top of my head, she has stolen: the earrings Liz bought for their mother for her birthday, Elizabeth’s new outfit (at least once every three books), the shoes off her feet, not to mention the money that was buried in Ellen Riteman’s backyard. That’s literaly theft, you muppet.] [Raven: *mwa*]
I’m quickly going off this stupid book, and we’re only midway through chapter two. It doesn’t help that I want to play the new updated Animal Crossing on my Switch, admittedly. [Dove: Even JC is playing. And if she’s not playing, we’re discussing it over instant message. You’re being left behind.] [Wing: Has no Switch, has no Animal Crossing. Waves to the recappers in the distance.]
Evie (successfully) tries to keep the peace, and Mary suggests that they could all discuss Student Council Policy at the party tonight. Fuck my hat, Mary. I’m Team Angel in this fight, but I’d rather stick a Cornetto to my forehead and paint my arse purple than sit though THAT bullshit on a Friday night.
Eventually they settle on a readthrough of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Okay then. There’s a funny dig at Jessica and her desire to play the lead in everything, which makes Elizabeth’s tummy feel weird, but then the Angels all take stock of the Unicorns laughing hysterically in the Unicorner, and Elizabeth’s heart hardens.
Well, I wasn’t going to let her beat me in the good-time department. I gave the Angels my brightest smile. “Tonight we’re going to have the best slumber party in the whole history of slumber parties!” I announced.
So. Two parallel yet identical scenes for two same but different twins. Standard.
Snap-cut to the Unicorner. Apparently, Lila is returning after fetching yoghurts for the clan, [Wing: Bullshit, she would send someone else to do that, especially this version of Lila.] managed to overhear the Angel plans for the slumber party that night. Jessica feels a little nonplussed that her sister didn’t invite her, which is a bit fucking rich since she was the catalyst for the speech theft (I’m not letting this oversight go, I have no idea why Elizabeth isn’t furious with Jess right now). [Dove: Because this ghostie hasn’t read the previous book?] [Wing: Elizabeth is so rarely furious at Jessica when she steals things and even when she is, it’s not for very long. This is a terrible sort of continuity in its own way, and I hate it.]
After some more rote Angels bashing (“I bet they’ll make cookies!”), [Wing: YOU MEAN LIKE JESSICA DID ON FUCKING TELEVISION THAT TIME?!] [Raven – Wow. Great point!] Lila declares that the Unicorns will haver their own slumber party that very evening. This perks Jessica right up, good and proper, because the Unicorns can throw one hell of a slumber party when they put their minds to it.
Lila sets plans in place for seven, so they can all pop to the day-care centre beforehand.
Kimberly is not impressed with this idea.
Kimberly shook her head in disbelief, then turned to Lila. “Are you guys serious? You’re still thinking of hanging out at that dweeby day-care center?”
Lila blushed and stared down at her frozen yogurt. “It’s just that—Well, Ellie kind of expects to see me.”
Bless Lila, doing her best to state her case despite the blowtorch withering gaze from the returning Unicorn. I don’t like this girl, I really don’t.
Kimberly declares that the day-care centre is for losers. Jessica sees her point, a little, but knows that she loves the centre, and the kids, and thinks that Kimberly would too, given a chance. But when she offers up that idea, Kimberly roundly shoots her down. Cleverly, she invokes the threat of the Angels and their likely presence at the centre that night.
Immediately, Ellen jumps on that idea, because in this series she’s a spineless yes-hag.
Kimberly piles it on. Kids are boring, they have runny noses, only dweebs volunteer at such places, and so on. Both Lila and Ellen seem to buy into the idea, and eventually so does Lila.
Kimberly smiled with satisfaction. “See? Aren’t you glad that the real Unicorns are back now and you won’t have to deal with that stuff ever again?”
I swallowed. “Ever again?”
Lila laid a hand on my arm. “Well, we don’t have to go today, anyway.”
Good old Lila, leaving herself a little wiggle room for the inevitable face turn somewhere down the line.
At the end of the chapter, the Unicorns mock the Angels from afar for having the unmitigated gall to actually be laughing at something. We have the following scenario for that evening:
- Angels holding a slumber party at the Wakefield Compound. Jessica not invited. Angels going to the day-care centre beforehand.
- Unicorns holding a slumber party at Fowler Crest. Unicorns not going to the day-care centre beforehand.
Chapter three starts with Elizabeth’s viewpoint. The Angles have entered the day-care centre, and the kids are being hellish little bundles of sugar and spite. Site director Mrs Willard pushes the girls towards the kids before sauntering off for a stiff drink. Evie suggests a super tiring game of dodgeball, which is smart.
Before that happens, little Oliver – Jessica’s favourite – asks Elizabeth where her sister might be. I mean, good work there Oliver, not many people can tell these twins apart. I guess that has dulled as the series has run on, rather like the initially terrifying threat of the zombies in The Walking Dead becoming rather workaday in the later seasons.
Elizabeth lets the kid down gently, not revealing that her sister likely didn’t come because she’s a heartless cow. Lila’s favourite, Ellie, asks after the valley’s richest pre-teen, and Elizabeth gives her the same story she gave Oliver. Both kids are predictably heartbroken.
As the Angels play dodgeball with the kids, they discuss the selfishness of the Unicorns. While Elizabeth agrees that their absence proves they are likely irredeemable, she’s melancholy about the current state of affairs.
BING! We neck-jerk into Jessica’s POV. She’s with the Unicorns, enjoying a sundae at Casey’s Place. In the booth next to them? Cute boys.
Lila mentions the upcoming feast she’s planned for that evening, or at least the feast she’d demanded of Mrs Pervis. Ellen is up for it, but Kimberly lets fly with some food- and fat-shaming bullshit.
“Well, you should be careful,” Kimberly advised. “You don’t want to get fat, you know.”
Yeah, we get it. Evil Kimberly is Evil.
Lila declares that the food she has incoming is naught but the finest gourmet offerings…
“Mrs. Pervis is ordering food from that new gourmet store. I told her we’d want some pasta salads and some good dips for those little tiny crackers. Not to mention those gourmet sandwiches. You know, like sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella on focaccia.”
Ah, lovely… cheese and tomato butties. [Wing: Those gourmet sandwiches do sound delicious, though.]
Ellen tells the throng that she’ll supply face masks made with dead minerals from the sea, and during the ensuing conversation we see Rick Hunter pop up from the adjacent booth.
In the brief paragraph about how spleen-shittingly cute he is, we learn that everyone was pretty mad at him for what he did to Mandy. Y’know, all that stuff a couple of books back where he told Mandy he’d take her to the dance, then he asked Amanda Harmon to the dance instead.
Except in the actual book, it wasn’t Mandy. It was Mary.
This is some rookie bullshit right here, and it proper sours my enjoyment of this book. Usually I’m rather laid back about such things, but this is fucking atrocious. [Dove: When I read that, I naturally assumed that I had accidentally autocorrected a bad spelling when I scanned in the book and chose the wrong name, but it was weird it happened on every single reference. So I went and found the original files. Literally no. This ghostie managed to reference a plot but get the name entirely wrong. Consistently. I’m out.] [Wing: I’m telling you, they fucked up with the Ma names and now they can’t come back from it.]
As Mandy (Mary) is an Angel, it seems as though any Unicorn indignation at her maltreatment has dissolved away like a thin honeycomb umbrella under a Squid Game contestant’s tongue. Rick invites the Unicorns to the objective Party of the Year, to be held the following night at Chez Hunter. And it’s going to be exclusive. No geeks allowed.
The girls agree, and Rick leaves.
As Jessica walks home from Caseys, presumably to collect her belongings for that evening’s Unicorn slumber party, she’s approached by a cycling Rick Hunter. He mentions that he’s forgotten to invite Elizabeth and her friends, and asks Jess to do the honours. While she’s initially dumbfounded by his obtuse notions – I mean, doesn’t he know that the Angels and the Unicorns are at loggerheads? – she rallies well and promises to pass on the invite.
Of course, when Rick leaves, she has a crisis of conscience before deciding that she really did need to pass the message on to her sister. She wouldn’t want to be seen as a withholder.
Snap cut back to Elizabeth’s POV, and we’re in the Wakefield Compound. The Sainted Alice and her more pious crotch-rat are preparing for the latter’s slumber party that evening, mostly through the dissemination of snacks. Steven rocks up, and is a shit-spackled cock-sprocket as usual.
“Hey, hands off,” I commanded Steven, who was in the kitchen with us, working his way through one of the bags of chips. “Those are for my friends.”
“I thought you girls were always on a diet,” Steven teased. “I’m just trying to help you out so you won’t get fat.”
“That’s Jessica and the Unicorns you’re thinking of,” I corrected. “The Angels aren’t as hung up on our looks as they are.”
“Well, you don’t want to get a reputation as the Goodyear Blimps,” Steven said.
Just fuck off and die, you twat. [Dove: This. fucking. book.] [Wing: So glad to know Steven continues to get worse such that even a momentary appearance can destroy everything.]
Jessica enters, and is legitimately pissed off when she discovers that the Angels’ sleepover is taking place on her turf. I mean, the gall of her sanctimonious sister! She states her displeasure with the setup, and soon there’s a terse back-and-forth between both wounded parties.
Thankfully, the gin-addled Alice is in no mood to brook discontentment. She puts the warring siblings firmly in their places, and forces an unhappy truce. We all love a good compromise, after all.
Chapter Four? Back in Jessica’s head.
What I thought would be a fun conceit at first – the Duelling Banjos between Jessica and Elizabeth – is proving to be dizzying and annoying and downright shitty.
I can’t believe I’m crying out for a return to a one-and-done narrator. How positively vanilla.
While Jessica doesn’t want to be involved in the Angels’ Slumber Party, she does resent her sister for apparently stealing her friends away from her. Her logic is that both Mary and Mandy would be Unicorns if Elizabeth and Maria hadn’t joined up earlier this year. And this is such a cardinal sin that she barges to Elizabeth’s room for a confrontation.
In a heated, frank and forthright exchange, the twins twitter and snipe at each other. Jessica comes at the problem with a devious mind, offering to participate in a legitimate truce as a smokescreen to her real intention: a casual namedrop of Rick Hunter’s party the following night, with no mention of Elizabeth and the Angels’ collective invites.
If I’m honest, it’s a decent plan. Come across all nicey-nicey before asking to borrow something for the party. Oh, you’re not invited? That’s such a shame. Perhaps next time?
Of course, Jessica lays it on with a trowel, and Elizabeth sees through her patent ruse. I’m unsurprised, Liz has had years of Jessica’s bullshit to wade through, she’s an old hand and Twin Wrangling.
“You were invited to his party, weren’t you?” I asked innocently. “It’s going to be the best party of the year. Very exclusive.”
Elizabeth turned her back to me and walked to her closet. “I’m tired of your obnoxious games, Jessica. As I’m sure you already know, I wasn’t invited to his stupid party, and no, you can’t borrow anything to wear.”
Elizabeth kicks her scheming twin out of her room. Nice work, Liz.
It’s suddenly later that evening, and Jessica answers the door of the Compound. She’s expecting Kimberly and her folks, as they form the backbone of Jessica’s transport for the evening. It’s not Kimberly, of course. It’s the Angels, looking radiant in their pink t-shirts.
Jessica keeps them on the doorstep, and barbs are exchanged. Eventually, Kimberly does arrive, and things get even worse.
“What have we here?” Kimberly asked. “Are the Angels of Nerdville having a little meeting? Oh, and isn’t that sweet—they’re all wearing those adorable little-T-shirts. They even have their names on them. I think I had a shirt with my name on it like that when I was about eight years old.”
Oh, FUCK OFF Kimberly. I was enjoying the books until you arrived. In fact, I even enjoyed the previous book, in which you were a front-and-centre bum trumpet, but I’m losing my patience with your overblown shittiness with each passing hackneyed brickbat. [Dove: I found myself very quick to tire of this petty bitchiness the book was full of. It really pointed out that I am too old for this shit, and even if I wasn’t, I think it’s awful that she gets to be such a morally bankrupt spiteful hag, and is somehow still a leading character, and since the next book is called Kimberly Rides Again, we know she sticks around, so… does that mean even if your friends are literally toxic manipulators, you should still hang out with them, because occasionally they’re funny? (Or “funny”). Like, what’s the message here?] [Raven: I really hope she’s Outta Here soon.] [Wing: Dove makes a really good point. I don’t think our dislike of this only stems from not being in the intended age range; Dove and I, at least, have enjoyed a lot of YA fiction even as adults, and all three of us liked various SVT books. This isn’t about reader age, it’s about how awful Kimberly is and how frustrating it is to watch characters we’ve seen grow and change over the past few books, growth and change that surprised the hell out of me, at least, and now it’s all being torn back from us, and I don’t think it’s told very well. (Okay, the continuity is also shit, but that’s, uh, pretty consistent in itself.)]
Of course, Jessica mentions Rick Hunter’s party, specifically the apparent lack of invite for the Angels. This darkens the mood considerably. Eventually, Kimberly and Jessica head off to Lila’s for their Fowler-Brand Sleep Over Extravaganza.
Another jarring cut to Elizabeth’s POV later, and the Angels are eating pizza. They’re gorging, allegedly, which takes the form of the four of them polishing off a large pizza each. [Wing: Damn, that is a lot of pizza. I couldn’t have done it at their age. I’m not sure I could do it now.] [Raven – Pff. A mere amuse bouche.] Talk turns to the concept of Rick’s party, and the idea is that a mere bagatelle created by the Unicorns in order to make the Angels look bad. But no, it’s confirmed to be a real party, as Evie had overheard Kimberly discussing it with her mother while in the changing room at a local clothing emporium.
After a brief moment of contemplation, the Angels decide that the party, and Rick Hunter, and the Unicorns, can fuck off. It’s time to read Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, people! The girls don southern accents, which isn’t cool but is thematically appropriate.
Yoink! We’re back in Jessica’s head, and now I’m getting a migraine. The Unicorns are now in Lila’s basement, devouring their gourmet feast. Jessica is boasting about how Mandy was so cut up when she heard of Rick’s party.
Kimberly and Lila poke fun of the nerdy Maria and her ‘ridiculous’ walk, positing that she’s simply not Unicorn material. I’m sorry, but the old Unicorns would have eaten an entire punnet of dogturds to count Actual Child Actor Superstar Maria Slater amongst their number, and no amount of retconning will convince me otherwise. [Dove: Actual proof.]
Kimberly moves onto mocking Elizabeth through the medium of imitation, and Jessica feels bad for her sister. She doesn’t feel bad for the black girl, of course. That would be ridiculous for a Sweet Valley resident! She tries to change the subject, but plays along when it seems that the group’s opprobrium is heading her way. Spineless. Maybe she’s more like Elizabeth than she realises.
Chapter Five starts with the Angels playing Levitation. I’ve literally no idea what this is, outside of the book’s description and obvious context. Is it a US thing? Or a kid’s party thing? Either way, it’s weird, but I suppose no weirder than playing a number of other kids’ games. I like Kerby, that was my favourite, although it’s a two-player game that requires a road and a ball so is not really slumber party material. [Dove: Wow. Having just had a conversation with Raven, he really has never played Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. It was a staple of girlish slumber parties or boring non-riding moments at the horse riding stables, and since Raven attended neither, I suppose it makes sense that he’s never played.] [Wing: I’ve never played it, either, and I’ve been at girlish slumber parties, at least. I’m amazed it’s a game that is actually played and not something that just shows up in fiction. The things I learn here.]
The Levitation game is a bust, as Mandy has fallen asleep. The Angels are aghast that they are so tired, as it’s only nine thirty. Christ, ladies, party hard much?
We skip to the Unicorns, also settling down for the night. Apparently, they are plum tuckered after their dance contest. As they curl up in their sleeping bags, they discuss how great it’ll be at Rick’s party the following night. Jessica moons over Aaron Dallas (wow, the Ghostie remembered him!), while Kimberly channels Janet Howell…
“I bet Rick will ask me to dance,” Kimberly said dreamily. “He’s a great dancer, and as we all know, so am I.”
… and Ellen lusts after a midget…
“I hope Ken Matthews will be there,” Ellen said. “I think he’s my new crush.”
[Dove: We remember when Ellen’s crush was Ken Matthews’ ex-crush, Amy Sutton. Sigh. Also, we remember that Ken Matthews is short, which is more than can be said for the ghostie, who thinks he’s “tall”.]
Lila peeves Jess by talk of clothes shopping and having “nothing to wear” despite having the biggest closets in the county, before the group (sans Kimberly) reminisce about Mary’s great ghost stories, one of which would have gone down a treat right about now. Of course, Kimberly can’t let such a mention of Mary’s (newly created) talents go without comment, so she declares that she’s so good at ghost stories she’s practically Stephen fucking King.
“OK, so let’s hear it,” Lila said. “Tell your story.”
With the gauntlet well and truly thrown down, Kimberly adlibs a ghost story that sends the interrupting crowd firmly off to sleep.
It’s morning! It’s Elizabeth! She feels like shit, and… she’s covered in spots!
Soon, it’s revealed that it’s not just Elizabeth that’s suffering. All the Angels, it seems, have come down with a case of the German Measles. How fun!
Alice goes to call the doctor, as the girls laugh hysterically.
Quick dash to the basement at Lila Crest, and wouldn’t you know it, but the Unicorns have the German Measles too! Of course, they don’t take it with the sense of aplomb that the Angels managed. They shriek, they wail, they realise that they can’t go to Rick’s party looking like acne-ridden losers. Standard stuff.
Back now to Alice at the Wakefield Compound. She’s talked to Mr Fowler at Fowler Crest, and to Mrs Willard at the day-care centre. Everyone has German Measles, and it seems that the kids there were Patients Zero through Five.
So, it’s the day-care centre kids giving it to the Angels, then the Angels presumably giving it to the Unicorns via Elizabeth’s infection of Jessica? Happens I suppose. [Dove: Jeez, this is a fast-moving plague.]
Alice has also talked to the doctor, which officially makes her appearance in this book the most useful she’s ever been. The doctor has decreed that all the girls need to spend time together in their separate units, in quarantine, for a couple of days until it all blows over. [Wing: UMMM. They can be infectious up to one week before the rash appears and one week after, so a couple of days isn’t going to fucking cut it. Though I guess with this fast-moving version, anything is possible.] So the Angels (and the Unicorns) slumber parties can continue for the whole weekend, and perhaps beyond!
The Angels are excited for this turn of events. Let’s face it, they’ve nowhere else to be, so why not spend it in each other’s company.
The Unicorns, however, aren’t quite so ecstatic. Ellen is happy, at least, but when they realise that the enforced quarantine means that they’ll all miss Rick’s party, they are bummed.
We get confirmation that the chain of infection was the day-care centre to Elizabeth to Jessica to the Unicorns / Angels, and of course Kimberly is quick to apportion blame to the haloed half of their esteemed club. Jessica is given the option of returning home to the Wakefield Compound, but she declines after the tiniest of pauses to consider. Shame, really, as having one girl in the opposite camp may have made for a more exciting book.
Once Daddy Fowler leaves, the Unicorns discuss what they can do with their gift of Extended Slumber Time. A second dance contest is declined, as are Ellen’s face masks due to their newly-spotted skin. In fact, when they mention the spots, the girls finally crack a smile and laugh at each other’s humorous visages.
Lila suggests giving each other makeovers. Not makeup, but clothes and hair. Jess mentions Mandy and her fashion savvy, which would be great at a time like this, before Kimberly shuts that talk down because jealousy and SHE CAN ROYALLY GET THE FUCK INTO THE SEA.
“You’d almost think you miss the Angels or something, the way you can’t stop talking about them,” Kimberly continued.
“That’s ridiculous,” Lila said. “I don’t miss the Angels one single bit.”
“I’d rather be alone in my bedroom than spend the day with them,” I added.
“Me, too,” Lila said.
“Me, three,” Ellen chimed in.
So, back to the acrimony. Yawn. I guess there’s still a chunk of time left in the terrible book.
The Unicorns dash off to Lila’s closet district.
Back with the Angels, it seems they’ve just finished a cartoon marathon. They’re discussing the merits of Road Runner cartoons, and the plight of the ineffectual Wile E Coyote. Mandy feels bad for him, which results in this peach from Maria:
“You’re such a softy,” Maria teased. “I suppose you also feel sorry for that cat who never catches the mouse. What are those guys’ names?”
I mean, who in the blue fuck doesn’t know the names of Tom and fucking Jerry?! [Wing: A child actor who never had time to watch cartoons? (I say tongue in cheek, I also could not suspend my disbelief here.)]
The girls start channel surfing, and discussing how fun it was that the Unicorns would now be forced to miss Rick’s party. Petty bitches, but I guess it’s in the wheelhouse of young teen club even if they are named the Angels.
Next, we hear Steven talking to Jessica on the phone. We’re still in Elizabeth’s POV, and Steven is telling Jessica that he can’t “ruin Elizabeth’s party” as he’s being forced to go stay at Joe Howell’s for the weekend to avoid the Measles.
Hasn’t anyone in Sweet Valley had the German Measles before? When I was a kid, everyone had them at some point. There were even Measles Parties to share the infection around, as it’s pretty benign to kids. Or am I getting this confused with Mumps? [Dove: Yeah, this rings a bell with me as well… I think it was measles, because when I had mumps, I wasn’t allowed to hang out with anyone because a lot of my friends had older brothers, and adults kept saying in arch tones “of course, it’s much worse for boys when they’re older”, so I just assumed their junk would fall off or something. I’m sure that’s right.] [Raven: It leaves you smooth like Barbie’s Ken, true story.] [Wing: Here the big thing was chickenpox. The vaccination is more common now, at least among people who believe in vaccinating their children, but there were (and probably still are) people who want their children to get it while they’re young. It’s not like having chickenpox leaves a virus in your body that can later manifest into shingles which is certainly not a painful illness that can feel like it’s absolutely destroying your body. Nope, totally fine to not vaccinate and instead intentionally infect your children. All of that being said, I’m not sure I know anyone who had the measles, and also, with as fast as this is spreading, wouldn’t Steven also need to quarantine because of his exposure?]
I realise this book has a subtextual parallel with the current state of the world. We’re in a Pandemic, albeit at the raw arse end of it, and there’s plenty I could be doing to extract humour or pathos out of the comparisons here.
Truth is, I’m not feeling it.
We’re bombarded by news and facts and fibs and rumours about this fucking pandemic, twenty-four hours a day, through our news and social media outlets. Forgive me if I don’t feel like adding grist to this mill.
So yeah. Measles. Covid. Similarities.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Having overheard Steven’s side of the conversation, Elizabeth grills him on what the Unicorns were (initially) planning. After feigning repulsion for his sister’s spots, Steven spills the beans: Jessica had asked him to collect up a variety of bugs from the Wakefield Compound and put them in the Angels’ sleeping bags. I mean, what is this, Animal Crossing?
Elizabeth thanks Steven for the info, and takes it to the Angelic Council Choir Invisibule.
The Angels are scandalised. They deem the Unibug Plan as immature, and Mandy shares a charming story about her third-grade run-in with Joey Bopper and his big beetle. This must have happened before she joined SVMS in sixth grade, of course.
The Angels brainstorm some ideas of their own, couched in the trappings of retaliation even though the Unicorns didn’t actually succeed in their scheme. Sending a fuckton of takeout deliveries to Fowler Crest is nixed, as Lila would just buy all the fucking food. A crank call is suggested, but that just makes Liz wish her sister were here, as she’s the best at crank calling.
In the end, they decide to hit the Unicorns where it hurts: in their obsession with boys. Maria suggests that Elizabeth call Ken Matthews, pretending to be Jessica, to invite him and all his friends to an impromptu party at Fowler Crest. When the boys rock up and see the Unicorns covered in spots, it’ll be super embarrassing!
To be fair, it’s a good plan. Way to go Maria! [Dove: And it spreads the plague, so… is that a win or a loss?] [Wing: It’s the plague driving this! It wants to survive! It wants to spread! It wants to live!]
Chapter Seven begins with the Unicorns sat around the pool that same Saturday morning, enjoying the day and talking amongst themselves. Mr Fowler rocks up, looking “pretty steamed”, and informs the girls that he’s just had to turn away a gaggle of partygoers (including Ken Matthews) who had been invited to a pool party.
The girls immediately decry that idea, as they are in no position to entertain with such hideous facial disfigurement. Lila hotly denies they had sent out any such decree, but her dad hand-waves her protestations away. He reminds them all that their convalescence is not Party Time, tells them they need to get out of the sun, and dashes off to DO BUSINESS.
The Unicorns muse about the source of the party invitation, and land on the correct answer of “The Angels Did It” almost immediately.
Kimberly, to my surprise, gives the Angels a little credit for an ingenious scheme. The group compare their respective plans – bugs vs fake party – and conclude that the Angels definitely got the upper hand in Round 1.
Kimberly soon reverts to type, of course. She badmouths Elizabeth to Jessica’s face, and Jessica stands up for her Angelic twin.
Kimberly looked at me as though she’d figured out some deep, dark mystery. “Well, well, well, it seems to me that you miss your twin,” she said.
“I didn’t say that,” I snapped. “I’m just saying… well, never mind. It’s none of your business.”
It seems that this will be the catalyst that’ll bring the warring factions back together…?
We skip back to the Angels, and they are playing Monopoly. Man, I feel for them. I know it’s the late Eighties (early Nineties?), but even so, there are many more enjoyable games from that time. I’ll give them Risk, Scrabble, or even Clue(do). But I believe I’ve spoken on this topic before.
To her credit, even Elizabeth is bored of Monopoly. Her friends are playing sweetly, offering each other tips and advice, and Liz misses Jessica’s cut-throat approach to the sport. I can dig that. I can’t, however, dig that Elizabeth also misses the fact that Jessica always steals from the bank. Cheating in games is wrong, period. [Dove: *stops googling “hacking nintendo switch animal crossing”*] [Wing: Stealing from the bank without being caught is a part of the game!] [Raven – HARD DISAGREE.]
Thankfully, all the other Angels think the same as me. Cheating is a Unicorn trait, and they are vocal about Jessica’s shortcomings in this regard.
This makes Elizabeth feel weird, as she’s the only one allowed to rag on her sister in such a way. She’s not an expert in hiding her feelings, however, and soon the Angels are questioning her allegiance, just as the Unicorns had questioned Jessica’s allegiance before her. Parallel lives! It’s all very Sliding Doors.
Just as her sister did earlier, Elizabeth brushes such concerns under the carpet with a weak smile. They turn back to the game.
Zing! We’re back with the Unicorns. Ellen is playing the role of Shampoodle, and giving the rest of the Unicorns new hairstyles. Next in the chair? Jessica.
“Don’t do anything too radical,” I cautioned her as I sat down on a stool in front of the mirror.
Yeah, this is going to go very badly.
Lila’s new style, two braids, is branded as childish by a nervy Jessica. Ellen chimes in that it’s all the rage, as Lila seethes. [Dove: In the 90s? Yeah, that style was very in. I was delighted, my hair was down to my waist, it was the one style that kept the knots out.] The entire crew start bickering, largely about the Angels, and Kimberly suggests that Jessica needs to do something radical to distinguish herself from her saintly twin.
“I have just the thing,” Lila said, her face lighting up. She bent down and pulled out a little cardboard box from underneath the sink.
“What’s that?” I asked suspiciously.
“It’s a home permanent kit,” Lila said excitedly. “You’ll look great with your hair all curly.”
Nice work, Lila!
Jessica does her best to deflect the attention away from herself, but there’s no escaping it. Jessica is getting a motherfucking perm, and there’s no stopping it.
Eventually, she acquiesces to the inevitability of fate.
Maybe it was time to be a little different from Elizabeth. “OK,” I said, shutting my eyes. “You can do it. Make me curly!”
Fade to black. The very next line?
“I look like Shirley Temple!” I shrieked when I took the towel off my head and looked into the mirror.
OF COURSE it was destined to go badly. OF COURSE. [Dove: This joke was much funnier when Elizabeth couldn’t stop lying/telling the truth. You’d think Jessica would know enough not to let Lila perm her hair after the first time.] [Raven: Man, I’d forgotten this had ACTUALLY HAPPENED BEFORE.] [Wing: Apparently so did all the people involved with these books.]
The Unicorns offer words of support, initially. It’s hollow, but it’s entirely on brand for the vacuous Old School Unis. Their comments become more barbed, and funnier, as the scene unfolds. At first she’s “cute”. By the end, she’s “a poodle”.
Jessica turns on her friends, and Lila is primed to pounce.
“Gee, Jessica,” Lila said, frowning. “Just because you look ridiculous, you don’t have to take it out on me.”
“So now you’re saying I look ridiculous?” I cried. “A minute ago you said I was gorgeous.”
Lila, Kimberly, and Ellen exchanged looks.
Hah! Totally Unicorn. It’s fun, I guess, but if I’m honest I am enjoying the new Unicorns much more than I thought I would. They are more nuanced, and their focussed membership with equal time given to all (most) members is refreshing.
Suddenly, it’s Saturday afternoon, and the Unicorns have just finished up a movie marathon. Kimberly casts aspersions on the veracity of a titular werewolf, and I believe we can use an oft overlooked tag for the first time in a wholly contextual way. Yay! [Wing: THIS IS NOT THE WEREWOLF I WAS PROMISED, DOVE. (That being said, I was DELIGHTED to see this.)]
Ideas of their next activity are mooted. Dress up with Lila’s clothes is suggested, which again turns talk to Mandy and her fashion sense, which again tweaks Kimberly’s nipple. And so it continues.
Eventually, Lila has an idea…
Daddy Fowler is leaving that evening, for business. After he’s gone, there’s nothing stopping the Unicorns donning their best finery and heading over the Rick’s Party!
The crows are sceptical, naturally, as even in their finery they’re still the spottiest of urchins. This is no problem, naturally: they can cover the spots with heavy makeup before setting off.
Of course, Kimberly is the driving force behind Lila’s idea. She thinks it’s simply spiffy. Eventually, everyone agrees to the plan. Stupid, selfish children, prepared to infect others for the sake of a few hours of fun.
Must… avoid… anti-vax… comparisons…
Kapow! We’re back with the Angels. It’s Saturday night, and it’s time for cooking class! The Angels are preparing an elaborate meal.
Sounds nice, right? Wrong. It seems that Mandy is irritating Elizabeth by taking charge in the kitchen in a wholly inappropriate way. She’s bossy and contradictory, and she leaves Elizabeth feeling out of sorts.
When she questions the amount of oil Elizabeth wants to use to saute the vegetables, it’s the final fucking straw.
“Mandy, why don’t you cook the vegetables?” I said, frustrated. “Seems like you’re the expert here.”
“OK, that’s a good idea,” Mandy said cheerfully, nudging me out of the way.
I mean, way to go Mandy! This pisses off Elizabeth something rotten, but it washes over Mandy like water off a duck’s back. In fact, no one else seems to notice, so perhaps it’s only Liz who’s got an issue here. Perhaps this beef ain’t about vegetables at all. [Dove: I hate myself for saying this, but I’m with Liz. Urgh. I don’t even know who I am any more. I think that Mandy shouldn’t assume that she leads them, I think she should stop ordering people around, and I don’t think this new personality of hers is any better than her wall of tears of the previous book. Can we just have the real Mandy back, please?]
While cooking, Mandy suggests a cool activity for the Angels: a school bake sale, with proceeds to charity and the day-care centre. This idea goes gangbusters.
Mandy stepped away from the stove and made a little bow. “They don’t call me club president for nothing.”
I nearly dropped the knife on the cutting board. So Mandy just assumed she was president of the Angels? Didn’t anyone have anything to say about that?
Nope. No they didn’t, Liz. No one cares a pimply fig.
This doesn’t sit right with Elizabeth. She vows to bring up the presidency as soon as possible, and the chapter ends.
Like, what even IS this book?
Where’s it going? It’s really fucking dull. Nothing is happening, by any metric. I’m thoroughly underwhelmed by this.
Damn, I hope Operation Infect Rick Hunter’s Party injects some spice into proceedings.
Bing-bong! We’re back with the Unicorns, and they are applying makeup with trowels, bickering all the while. There’s mess everywhere. And, facing facts, the makeup isn’t working.
I looked in the mirror and almost fainted. My skin was covered in a cakey, orangey mask everything was covered, that is, except for my spots. Let’s just say I looked like—well, I don’t know what I looked like. I just looked totally ridiculous. Like a sick ghost or something.
[Dove: This part made me overly anxious. I have very sensitive skin on my face, and it took months for me to realise that my makeup was not just exacerbating the condition, but causing it (since I’d been using those products for decades, it simply didn’t occur to me that I could become allergic to them). I had flashbacks to all the times Raven’s had to drive me to hospital with a swollen face that oozes fluids and unable to open my eyes. But of course that never happens in Sweet Valley. Fuck these assholes and their non-sensitive skin.]
Arguments abound, mainly with Jessica on the side or reason and the other Unicorns on the side of fantasy. The girls do NOT look good, but no-one but Jessica knows it. Eventually, Jessica makes an excuse to call the Wakefield Compound, ostensibly to speak to Alice.
Sigh… we skip back to the Angels, after dinner at the Wakefield Compound. Ned and Alice have just returned from a barbecue. Elizabeth enjoyed her meal, but was still a bit pissed about Mandy’s bossiness.
Alice is pleased that Elizabeth is having fun and not overexerting herself. She passes on details of Jessica’s call (that happened off screen), which included Jessica gushing about what a damn great time she’s having over at Lila’s.
This does not improve Elizabeth’s mood.
Now we’re back with the Unicorns, and I have fucking whiplash. Daddy Fowler, it seems, has decided not to go out on business, and instead to remain home and look after his daughter (and, by extension, the Unicorns). He’s rented them some movies, and he’s curious as to why they’re made up in such a ridiculous fashion. They are tasked to remove the makeup lest it flare their measles.
Great. So the tiniest flame of hope we had of interest and intrigue in this water-treading beigeness of a book has been snuffed out by a stream of stagnant horse piss. How positively shit. [Dove: Sigh. If only it was that easy in the real world. Stay home. OK. Boom. Plague sorted by July 2020.] [Raven: That’s what we were actually promised at the time.]
And we’re back with the Angels, and I’m swallowing back a mouthful of sick. They are looking for a new task. Cooking is out, TV is out, Group Reading is out… Eventually, Mandy suggests a Truth Circle.
“What’s a truth circle?” Evie asked.
“Everyone sits in a circle and you take turns saying something good and bad about each other,” Mary explained.
“Something bad?” I repeated. “Isn’t that kind of mean?”
“Believe me, it’s a fun game,” Mary assured me.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to end well.
Everyone is given a piece of paper with a name on it. First up is Mandy, who has to say a bad and a good thing about Maria.
Maria asks for positive first. Mandy compliments her honesty. For negative, Mandy starts by saying honesty can be negative, and that Maria can be abrupt with people at times. Even rude.
Maria is taken aback. [Dove: As am I. I have never seen Maria be bluntly honest to anyone. She’s blandly nice, just like every other character in this series.] Eventually, she asks to be excused, making her feelings on the game as clear as fucking crystal.
Evie is up next, almost corralled into it by the only person who’s interested in continuing. Ironically, Evie has that person’s name on her paper… Mandy.
Evie praises Mandy’s cheerful and energetic nature. Then, for the negative side, she tells Mandy that she can be bossy.
Predictably, Mandy doesn’t like this.
I mean, what the fuck? If no one can take any criticism (especially Mandy), who the hell thought this would be a good idea? Neither negative “fact” about both girls so far necessitate a full-on meltdown, especially in the confines of the game itself. I mean, they both got off pretty lightly, I can’t think of much that would come across as within the game’s remit and milder than what was actually said.
[Dove: Let me try!
Maria, your good points are that you give +1 to diversity by existing, you seem really nice and you’re a part-time plucky girl detective with Elizabeth. Your bad points are… um… nothing. You’ve never done anything bad. It’s fine. It’s bland. But well done you for not being a toxic shitstorm like everyone else here.
Elizabeth, your good points are that you are fantastically funny when you’re tripping balls on wishes, whether it’s your own wish to be BIG or Jessica’s wish for you to lie/tell the truth. Your bad points are pretty much anything that’s not that. You’re insufferable. You pry, you push your way into things and behave in a toxic manner, and it’s sickening the way everyone applauds you for being so awful.
Mary, your good points are… um… well, you’ve probably got nice hair. Your bad points are… um… you have an idiot for a friend who made disabled loos a thing in a school not fit for disabled people? Basically, I got nothing. Mary’s a void.
Mandy, your good points are that you dress cool, you beat cancer, and you said the sassiest line to Lila when you compared her to a hot air balloon. Your bad points are: literally everything else. Please either go back to who you were or have the good grace to move away before the next book.] [Raven: All lovely stuff. Poor Evie, not getting a mention.]
Mandy demands that Elizabeth confirm or deny the Bossiness comment, and of course Elizabeth agrees with Maria (after a fashion). She cites Mandy’s bossy chef routine as an example.
The game is abandoned in acrimony. Good thing too. I wish I could abandon the book in a similar fashion.
It’s now Sunday, and Elizabeth wakes to a ringing phone. She’s spent the night in her bedroom, away from the other slumbering Angels.
The conversation they have is terse and pregnant. Nothing is really asked, nothing is really said. Jess asks Elizabeth to check if she’d left her curling iron on, but that was likely a safety question that masked her real intent. Either way, the call ends with both girls confirming that the respective pranks didn’t work, with no one communicating their true feelings.
Great, we’ve another three chapters of this.
Chapter Nine. We’re still with the Angels. Elizabeth heads back to the family room, and is surprised at just how chipper the Angels appear to be. It’s Day Three of enforced incarceration, but the sun is shining.
Everyone agrees to forget about the Truth Circle game, which is fine for the fictional characters but not so easy for us readers.
Elizabeth spills the beans about Jessica’s non-event phonecall. Talk then turns to the future of the Angels, but this is curtailed by breakfast.
And we switch to the Unicorns. I can now smell colours.
Sunday morning, and the Unicorns are eating doughnuts in “bed”. They discuss their plans for the day, in a much more catty way than the genial Angels.
After a vote, they settle on Truth or Dare. ANOTHER excellent idea, I’m sure.
First up, Ellen is dared to call Rick Hunter. She has to pretend to be Mandy and claim that she’s devastated that they broke up.
IT WAS MARY, YOU INCOMPETENT HACKS.
Sure enough, Ellen puts on a nasal nerdy voice and goes through with the call, as the other Unicorns listen and laugh. After the call, they tell Ellen that her impression of Mandy was absolutely terrible.
WE WERE TOLD A FEW BOOKS AGO THAT ELLEN HAS A TALENT FOR MIMICRY. Don’t make up shit in one book and then contradict it in another. I’m heartily sick of this. [Dove: This. fucking. book.]
Lila’s next. She chooses Truth. Kimberly asks Lila who she thinks should be president of the Unicorns.
A conversation breaks out, in which Lila, Jessica and Kimberly all declare themselves to be the best candidate for the job. Lila and Jessica argue between themselves as to why they and they alone should get the honour, while Kimberly suggests that she’s the choice because the other two would never let each other take the crown uncontested.
Additionally, Kimberly says she represents the spirit of the true Unicorns, and as such she’s the only viable option.
Ellen is tasked with casting the deciding vote, which she resolutely refuses to do. The whole discussion is shelved for quieter times.
Skip back to the Angels, and we see them doing their maths homework on Sunday afternoon. Weak. Once they’re done, an official Angels meeting is called to discuss their current direction. Mandy has some ideas on future parties they should throw, including a fun movie character party theme that’s ripe for fancy dress. She also suggests they all pick a day to wear their Angels t-shirts to school.
Elizabeth starts to get irritated. Mandy’s ideas are good, but she’s taking a lot of liberties about her implied presidency. She speaks up, and a conversation on the role commences.
Soon, it boils down to this: both Mandy and Elizabeth want the presidency, but no one else does. It’s suggested that Elizabeth shares the ideas she has for the Angels.
“Right now?” I asked.
“Sure. Why not?” Mandy asked.
“Well, I don’t want to do it now,” I said. “It would feel too much like we were having a presidential debate or something. And besides, my list is upstairs.”
“Suit yourself,” she said matter-of-factly. “We’ll talk about this later.”
FOR FUCK’S SAKE. THIS BOOK ISN’T DOING ANY-FUCKING-FUCKING-THING. TALK ABOUT IT NOW!
I’m sick to the back teeth of this meandering, plotless belch of a book. Fuck this shit, I’m going to the bullet points. There are two chapters left, and it’s already bled a cool eight thousand words out of me.
- We’re back with the Unicorns. They are reading magazines and bickering.
- Lila gets legitimately upset when Kimberly casts aspersions on Mr Fowler’s generosity as a host.
- Jessica leaves the Argument Room to speak to Elizabeth, who has called Fowler Crest and asked for her.
- The twins’ second phonecall is about as useful and communicative as their first.
- Cut to Monday morning, with the Angels. The doctor has given them the all clear, and the Angels can finally go home.
- The Angels don’t say it, but they are all rather keen to leave.
- We cut to the parallel scene with the Unicorns. They too are keen to depart.
- They agree to discuss the presidency when they are back at school.
- Lila and Jessica express their need to hit the day-care centre later that week. It seems they do have hearts, after all.
- Kimberly, of course, is furious at the idea. She declares that the Unicorns need to get Back to proverbial Basics.
- Jessica is suddenly sick of Kimberly’s bullshit. AT FUCKING LAST. She declares that visiting the day-care centre is not immature, as Kimberly is claiming.
- Happily, thankfully, spectacularly, both Lila and Ellen agree.
- They all declare the breakup of the new Unicorns to be Kimberly’s fault. Which, of course, it definitely is. [Wing: They certainly had a lot to do with it, too. She might have been the trigger, but it’s not like they did nothing.]
- The noon-Kimberly Unicorns unanimously declare that they all wish Kimberly had never returned.
- This causes Kimberly to crumble, and she bursts into tears.
- It turns out that she only disparages the day care centre because it’s a thing they started doing while she was away. Fine, I guess, but there’s still no need for her to be a fucking twat about it.
- With tears streaming down her face, Kimberly cries that she felt so left out of the New Unicorns, and that she now believes the club all hate her because, well, they wish she wasn’t there.
- Before anything else is resolved, Ned turns up and Jessica bolts for the exit. Typical Jessica.
- Jessica, now back at the Wakefield Compound, has a discussion with Elizabeth that obliquely suggests that they are now back on talking terms. They decide to play Monopoly together.
- We skip to the twins watching Days of Turmoil together that afternoon.
- Alice brings them grilled cheeses and tomato soup.
- The twins are now definitely friends again.
- It’s Wednesday, and the twins are preparing to head off to school. All is better, measles-wise.
- Steven says something stupid.
- We’re now at the Unicorner that Wednesday lunchtime. Kimberly is doing her best to project her finest Face Turn, praising the other Unicorns in a wholly supportive way.
- Evie approaches, and nervously tells Lila that she has a message from Ellie at the day-care centre. She says that Ellie misses her, and also that Ollie misses Jessica. And then she departs.
- The Unicorns decide to head to the day-care centre that afternoon. Kimberly isn’t sold, but she’s guided past her insecurities and decides to tag along.
- We skip to the Angeliner (the Angel Unicorner, remember?). The Angels mention that while the Angel-Unicorn relationship is still icy, it is beginning to thaw.
- Next, it’s the day-care centre, and the Angels are there. The Unicorns, with Kimberly, all enter.
- The day-care kids are thrilled to see their previously-AWOL friends.
- Kimberly is reticent to get involved, but grudgingly does so. They all play Duck Duck Goose, which is another game that I don’t really understand.
- The book ends after this day care centre session. Kimberly thinks it wasn’t totally disgusting, but she still thinks it’s not exactly a Unicorn activity. When questioned, she remains mysterious.
Thank fuck for that.
I championed the previous book. It was fun, and it left things far flung from the status quo. I was genuinely thrilled to continue reading the series.
This book? THE POLAR OPPOSITE.
It was repetitious, and boring, and static, and badly researched. NOTHING HAPPENED from start to finish.
I hate Kimberly, and I don’t believe her partial face turn at the end. The next book is called Kimberly Rides Again, and if I’m honest I’m hoping it leads to Kimberly leaving Sweet Valley for good. Or at least leaving the Unicorns, who merge with the Angels once more to become the Newnicorns once again.
This was probably in the bottom five books of the series for me, and I had to recap Ithig and The Class Trip.
NOT recommended. NEXT.
[Dove: Everything Raven said and more. It was written by someone who had no idea what went on in this series, and had some real blunders. Particularly the Mary/Mandy bits when the ghostie had no idea who dated Rick Hunter. And as he said, nothing happened. It was pages and pages of the same thing happening twice, while the plot crossed its arms and resolutely refused to move on. And now the ending… I still don’t know where we stand. Sure, the twins are talking, but what does that mean for everyone?
And Kimberly showed up to the daycare centre, big fucking whoop. She’s still a toxic harpy, and I don’t give a shit that she feels left out because her family moved away. There are better ways to engage with your friends than ousting half of them, stealing their word, and bitching at them every two seconds. Boo hoo, Kimberly’s all sad. Literally nobody cares. And since she never actually admitted that stealing was wrong, am I supposed to think she had a face turn at the end of the book? That she’s a good person now? Because she fucking isn’t. She’s a horrible person who momentarily stopped being an absolute nightmare for a few sentences. That’s not redemption. That’s grudging silence.]
[Wing: I am amazed that this dropped down to Ithig and Class Trip levels for Raven. I didn’t dislike it as much as he did, but I also didn’t have to recap it, which helped a lot. I could skim it quickly and I love reading Raven’s and Dove’s recaps, so a shitty book at least gives me that much fun. Still, nothing fucking happened in this book, the continuity is for shit, and I’m annoyed that the story isn’t pulling off the Unicorns changing and then regressing a little, tempted by a person from their past. It could be an interesting story told well. This is not that.]
Looking back at things I’ve enjoyed, and smashing them to pieces with the Snark-Hammer. Lover of games of every stripe and hue. NOT A REAL BIRD.