Here we go, kids. This is it. The “original” SVH format is officially over, and now, here we are in June 1993, the time when the highly hyped A Night to Remember was released and the series took a major soap opera turn. I have never read this book or any of the ones that followed, so this is truly a brand new journey for me. I’m trying to act like I’m not excited about this, but am already failing miserably! Hey, I’m currently stuck indoors with a bad cold. I take my joys where I can find ’em, and right now that’s in the pages of this 345-page book! Let’s get into the winding plot of SVH’s third Magna Edition and the one that changed it all …
Elizabeth and Jessica are getting ready for a big Sweet Valley High beach party and talking about how it’s been a while since Sweet Valley had any big fun dances going on (or fun at all, if you ask me). Liz suggests the twins put together a “Jungle Prom”, and the idea comes off as cheesy in the book as it sounds on your screen. Jess loves the idea and adds that they can get the new environmental group Liz has been talking about, Environmental Alert, to sponsor it and then donate the proceeds from the tickets. The twins are thrilled with themselves. What’s interesting to me is this doesn’t sound like the prom will be the high school’s “real” prom. “Jungle Prom” is just the name the girls came up with.
The twins hit up the beach party, which sounds like it came straight out of the 1950s with kids doing the twist around a bonfire. I have to say that these kids are some of the most well-behaved teenagers on planet Earth, even just drinking plain old soda. Liz and Jess waste no time snuggling up to their respective significant others, Todd and Sam. Lila is at the party, too, with Tony Alimenti, the guy she was flirting with back in She’s Not What She Seems. But her attitude has changed; she’s having a hard time letting go and having fun, and she is worried all the guys around her have ulterior motives like John Pfeifer did. She’s kind of an ass to Tony, to be honest, and every time he moves (at all) she flips out. Amy and Jessica talk about how Lila is still suffering from being nearly date-raped by John Pfeifer. The book actually says “date-raped” so I kind of want to give whoever this ghostwriter is kudos for coming out and saying it, since I’m pretty sure they didn’t in the actual book where this occurred. Thankfully, Tony is patient and kind to Lila, although when he tries to kiss her on the cheek at the end of the night, she runs inside and slams the door in his face.
In book 94, we saw Bruce beginning to hook up with Andrea Slade. He’s at the party with her, making out with her in a sand dune and snapping at her for hinting at any kind of commitment from him. He thinks about how bored he is because Andrea was too easy of a conquest. He’s so bored, in fact, that he dares Jessica to swim out to a buoy and back. Liz has flashbacks to the Club X days and begs Jess not to do it. Then she runs around on shore like a panicked puppy dog flipping out while everyone tries to calm her down. She’s about to grab Bill Chase’s surfboard out of his car and swim out to rescue Jessica (no joke) when Jessica swims back to shore. Everyone acts like Liz is bonkers for worrying so much. Liz is humiliated and decides she’s officially done watching out for Jessica. Normally, I would say that will probably last about 20 pages, but who knows where this is going now …
The party gets broken up a bit by a Big Mesa High School “raid.” A bunch of Big Mesa kids show up wearing their school colors and bull masks. They throw food everywhere, toss a cassette in the ocean, spray shaving cream, and drag around the girls, then run back out. Everyone is horrified but just kind of stands there going “Oh my god!” I am really disappointed that no Todd punches go down. Instead, Jessica slaps some guy who tries to drag her off. The Sweet Valley kids are left to clean up the mess. They later reconvene at the Dairi Burger, where Jessica and Liz excitedly tell their boyfriends, Amy Sutton, and Barry Roark about their Jungle Prom idea. Outside the Dairi Burger, Bruce is mad that no one at Sweet Valley seems interested in paying Big Mesa back. It turns out Big Mesa has been playing loads of pranks on Sweet Valley lately, to include putting super glue on the cheerleaders’ pom poms. (Liz finds this hilarious – so do I, Liz.) Bruce gathers old members of Club X in the Dairi Burger parking lot and gets them to pledge revenge on the rival school, which Winston and Roger back out of. Bruce calls them “pacifists.” Yeah, this guy is definitely going to run for political office someday. By the way, Bruce’s “team” includes racist bullies Charlie Cashman and Jim Sturbridge. Oh, I’m sure whatever Bruce has in mind is going to go real well.
A guy from Environmental Alert contacts Liz to talk to her about the upcoming Jungle Prom. (Seriously, every time someone mentions it in this book, they call it just that – “Jungle Prom”. It is cracking me the hell up.) Liz explains that the Jungle Prom committee has decided they will elect a Jungle Prom King and Queen. The Alert dude then tells her their group has decided to add a special contest to the Jungle Prom. They will choose one student to be an Environmental Alert ambassador for their organization, and this person will also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Brazil. The group wanted to just make Liz this ambassador since she’s so into the group, but since there’s going to be a King and Queen contest, they might as well say the Queen will win it. The last teen ambassador they had was a guy, so this time they want a girl. Liz thinks it’s a great idea though, because the entire prom committee has already decided she’s going to be the Queen. Of course, Liz is all into pulling some modest shit and acting like she can’t believe anyone would want HER to be the Queen, while secretly daydreaming about being crowned the winner.
Speaking of prom committee, Jessica is supposed to be the co-chair with Liz, but you might be surprised to learn Jess has been skipping out on the meetings! I know, shocking, I say. Liz is essentially single-handedly running things, although she does fill Jessica in about what’s going on – this, despite still vowing she’s done helping Jessica out. Jessica repays the favor by getting royally pissed that Liz called a vote for the prom dress code without her (because Jessica didn’t attend the related committee meeting, of course, so it’s her own damn fault). And, everyone voted for Liz’s view that attendees should wear formal outfits instead of jungle-themed costumes, which is what Jessica wanted.
And, because Liz is just a complete dumbass when it comes to her sister, always and fuckin’ forever, she can’t believe it when Jessica hears about the Jungle Prom Queen election that will be held and starts declaring herself a sure shoo-in for Queen. The girls have a nasty argument over it in which Jessica insists she’s always the Queen while Liz runs things from the background. Liz is really upset because it’s true, although she claims it’s just because she knows Jessica just wants the crown and the trip to Brazil, and won’t do a thing for the Environmental Alert ambassadorship that goes along with it. I mean, yeah, you’re right Liz, but what are you going to do about that if you want this so bad? Rather than launch her own candidacy, Liz sits around bitching to anyone who will listen while Jessica does more pro-active things, like give Caroline an exclusive Jungle Prom interview in which she takes all the credit, give a speech at a pep rally implying the student body should vote for her, and hand out Save the Rain Forest buttons in the cafeteria to promote the Jungle Prom (without involving the prom committee – Jessica pays for all those buttons herself). Liz fumes and fumes. No one understands what Liz’s problem is. Liz bitches the prom was HER idea. She’s right that the initial idea of the Jungle Prom was her idea, but the Environmental Alert part was ALL Jessica’s – an unusually generous one, at that. So, even though Jessica is being a little um, Jessica-ish, haha, Liz is getting on my damn nerves. I mean, if you want to be prom queen so badly, quit the shrinking violet act and just come out and say so already! Sitting there acting all shy, lowering your eyes and fluttering those lashes demurely like you’re Scarlett O’Hara … bitch please.
Meanwhile, the rivalry with Big Mesa is really heating up. Some kids from Big Mesa cover all the Sweet Valley kids’ cars in shaving cream one day after school, then drive through the parking lot taunting them through a bull horn about it. Haha! That’s actually kind of funny. Sweet Valley retaliates by sneaking the Big Mesa cheerleaders trick gum that turns their teeth green at a track meet between the two schools (which Sweet Valley wins). Then someone keeps anonymously sending The Oracle student newspaper office copies of the Big Mesa Bull’s Eye, where the writers keep publishing inflammatory and false articles about Sweet Valley kids, like saying they cheated at the track meet. Liz is outraged, but she and all the other writers keep deciding to take the high road. Mr. Collins is all, ehhhh, you kids decide what you want to do. Seriously, no adults give a crap about what is going on. I feel like a West Side Story gang fight must be on the horizon.
Lila has been going to counseling sessions at Project Youth to help her heal from her near rape at the hands of John Pfeifer. Her counselor is a guy named Nathan Pritchard. He chats with Lila about her progress and about the date with Tony, but when he gently suggests Lila might have made assumptions about Tony Alimenti’s intentions toward her and that it’s incorrect to assume all guys are as bad as John, Lila bristles. In another session, John notices that Lila seems to be having a hard time opening up to him, and wonders if she might do better with a female counselor. Lila immediately gets upset and tears up at the thought of yet another person abandoning her – like her mothre has! and her father! and all her friends! – and Nathan apologizes and says they can continue to meet. Lila is really having a hard time, but she does seem to be making the effort to continue to get out more with her friends the way Nathan has suggested. When she’s by herself, she thinks about how her mom deserted her at a young age and her dad is never there for her and gets depressed. Jessica is no help – she’s such a bitch that she thoughtlessly says something to Lila like “Aren’t moms the greatest, Li?” in the midst of babbling about her dumb prom queen campaign. Another day, Lila’s walking on the beach with Jessica when they run into Nathan and his black lab, J.D. Lila doesn’t want to waste time talking with Nathan and is surprised when Jessica points out that Nathan is cute – she hadn’t noticed, but now that Jessica mentions it …
Someone else who isn’t doing well is Bruce Patman. He’s been having anger issues ever since Regina Morrow died, and in private, he stares at her picture and cries about what he did to her. Running into Nicholas Morrow only makes things worse. Old Nicholas seems like he’s not holding anything against Bruce, but when Nicholas tries to relate, Bruce shrugs him off because he can’t handle the pain. Damn, this book is really laying it on thick. At least we’re finally getting some of the realism I have been bitching about not receiving for 94+ books. Ha ha! Bruce is a total asshole to Andrea, though, and she seems like she’s just going to sit there and take it. Bruce thinks about how he enjoys seeing how much Andrea will let him use her. So, business as usual there, basically.
Sam is prepping for a big dirt bike race soon, but Jessica seriously doesn’t give a crap because all she can think about is the prom queen contest and how she’s not getting along with Liz lately because of it. She goes to Lisette’s to try on gowns for the Jungle Prom; unbeknownst to her, Enid has also dragged Liz there for the same purpose. Hilarity ensues when the sisters step out of the dressing rooms at the same time wearing the exact same dress. (Neither twin buys the dress – Liz says the dress was much too provocative, Jess says it was much too conservative. Hah!)
When Jessica is supposed to pick Sam up at Sweet Valley High one day to drive him back to Bridgewater (remember he’s not a Sweet Valley kid), she totally forgets and Liz has to come to his rescue. Then Lila deliberately freaks Jess out even more by casually mentioning everyone considers Liz a shoo-in to win. Hahaha! I see the old Lila is starting to reappear. Then Sam takes Jessica out for a nice Italian dinner at Oggi restaurant, and Jessica interrupts him chatting about his dirt bike race to go on and on about her stupid drama. This is feeling like serious deja vu. Wasn’t there a similar scene just a few books back?
Lila thinks back to how Jessica said Nathan was cute. She realizes it’s true. She also thinks about how Nathan has actually helped her more than she’s been wanting to admit. She decides to go to the Jungle Prom by herself and wear a smashing outfit that she’s sure Nathan will love. (He’s going to be there as a chaperone – he also works at the school part-time as a guidance counselor.) Uh, oh. Her crush on Nathan starts to grow and Lila feels her depression dropping away, or thinks she does. Nathan is oblivious and continues what Lila considers his “psychobabble” in their sessions while Lila surreptitiously tries to find out if he has a girlfriend.
Convinced that Elizabeth is deliberately trying to take over the prom so that she can manipulate things to win Prom Queen, Jessica makes Robin, Amy and Lila go to a prom committee meeting with her. Gee, it’s about time. Jessica immediately acts like she’s been in charge all along, making a big deal out of passing a sign-up sheet around the group so everybody can choose a shift for getting the gym ready for prom on Saturday. (Jess deliberately chooses the last shift because there won’t be much left to do by that point.) Just to antagonize her sister, Jessica then suggests that everyone vote on whether or not any Big Mesa kids should be allowed at their prom. Apparently, Sweet Valley has always had an open door policy about who can just show up at their dances uninvited. (Wait, for real?) If no Big Mesa kids can come, that means Enid’s boyfriend Hugh can’t come. Who cares, Hugh’s a drag anyway. Half the group (including Jess) votes no to Big Mesa, and the other half (including Liz) votes they should be able to come if they want. Liz reluctantly agrees to take the issue to Principal Chrome Dome to break the tie, then angrily leaves the meeting without looking at Jessica while Jessica laughs to herself. Later that afternoon, Penny Ayala (who’s on the committee) catches up with them and tells them she forgot to mention something important: Sweet Sixteen magazine heard about the Jungle Prom benefit for Environmental Action and is really excited to interview the two twin sisters who came up with the idea. In fact, they want to do a photo shoot to go with the interview! To prepare, the twins toss their hair and glare at each other. Oh, boy. This is gonna be good.
Chrome Dome holds an assembly that afternoon at which the majority of students vote to have the Jungle Prom be open to whomever wants to attend. Yep, great idea. I’m sure there won’t be any fighting at all, or anything like that. Seriously, the adults in these books are mega clueless.
Liz goes outside the school after the assembly to meet the magazine people, who are thrilled with her looks and talk about how she is a natural model and how great her “real” golden blonde hair is. Yeah, yeah, we know, the twins are the most beautiful girls in the world. They wait around for Jessica, who is late (what? no way). Liz searches the school for her, but can’t find her. Ah, the days before everybody had a cell phone. The magazine people are getting antsy, and say it’s now so late that either they go do the interview and shoot with just Liz or not at all. Liz goes by herself whereas normally she’d probably pull a “I’m NOT going without my sister!” For once, Liz also thinks about the fact that Jessica definitely wouldn’t wait for her if the tables were turned. Meanwhile, Jessica finally takes her ass outside (45 minutes late!), waltzing out the door doing a comical modeling pose in her “sand-washed” green silk shorts. When she doesn’t see Liz or the magazine people, she’s all, “Oh, at least I’m earlier than they are.” Yes, she’s for real, folks. Eventually Jessica goes off looking for them, and she is told by Lois Waller, of all people, that they left without her and she doesn’t know where they went. Jessica decides this must mean Liz definitely wants to sabotage Jessica; Liz must have either lied and said Jessica couldn’t come, or maybe she even said Penny got it wrong and there’s no twin sister! Um, no, those are all things YOU would have done, Jessica! But Jessica is furious and the twins have a huge fight at home about it later. Oh please Jess. I’m with Liz on this one, frankly. She tried to find Jess, and she stalled the magazine people as long as she could. And Jessica finally got her just desserts and it’s long overdue. And, if Liz HAD refused to do the interview and shoot without Jess? Well, the magazine people would’ve just left, meaning no photo shoot at all, and then Jess probably would’ve found a way to blame her sister for that! Don’t worry, there are no lessons learned here.
Liz spends the rest of the week obsessing over the prom queen crown. It puts her in one shitty mood as she continues to become “the new Elizabeth” (or whatever you wanna call it, since The New Elizabeth was already tried on for size once and it just resulted in Liz deliberately losing a surfing contest … damn, no wonder Liz is screwed up trying to become somebody new again NOW). Liz suddenly changes direction with the Big Mesa rivalry, and writes a “hostile” editorial for the Oracle that becomes the subject of a minor lunchtime spat with Todd when he points out she’s definitely not taking the high road now. Aw, did someone call you on your shit too, Liz? It’s not just Jessica who should have to face facts, you know.
Speaking of Jessica, she doesn’t show to the last prom committee meeting, but she’s the only one who hasn’t said she can’t go pick up the art supplies. Penny has to go ask her if she can do it because Liz refuses to. Enid tries to talk to Liz about her attitude, but Liz brushes her off. Then the Friday night basketball game between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa arrives. Jessica shows off her cheerleading skills, sure that her ardent school spirit will win her the Jungle Prom Queen crown and the trip to Brazil. Bruce causes trouble with his old Club X mates by tossing water balloons all over the floor. Really, Bruce, is that all you got? This is so cheesy, but if it wasn’t, you know I’d be disappointed. Meanwhile, Liz is in the stands with a big Sweet Valley sign. She also shows her school spirit by nastily trashing Enid’s man, Hugh, for not coming to the game because he didn’t want to get caught up in a brawl afterwards. Seriously, Liz is a real bitch about it. She calls Hugh a “wimpy” and then sarcastically relents that he’s a “hero”. Damn, Liz, you really are going crazy. Enid says something back but it gets drowned out by the crowd, and Liz never apologizes. Enid is the real wimp here, so I’m sure she was over it in about two seconds anyway. God forbid the goddess Liz do anything to turn off her biggest fan. Anyway, Sweet Valley wins the game, and Todd is the hero of the night. As everyone cheers him at the Dairi Queen that night (while Liz and Jess very obviously and conspicuously ignore one another), Jessica suddenly realizes this could mean that Todd wins Prom King easily … and that would make Elizabeth the natural vote for Prom Queen. Jessica angrily thinks about how it’s not fair that her boyfriend is just a “dumb old dirt biker” from another school who hasn’t done anything to help her campaign. You so don’t deserve Sam, Jessica.
The day of the prom arrives. Liz shows up to admire the handiwork all the prom committee members have done (except Jessica) over their shifts. She thinks sadly about how she wishes she could share this with the person who helped her come up with the idea – oh, now you admit it wasn’t just your idea, Liz? – and then leaves. Shortly afterward, Jessica shows up for her shift to find all the work has been done (nailed it, Jess) and then discovers Liz has accidentally left her personal datebook behind a potted palm tree. Jessica pages through it, thinks about all the work Liz has done, and then considers that maybe Liz deserves to win Prom Queen, after all. Just then, she hears a door slam somewhere and gets a chill! “It sounded so desolate, so final …” Shit’s about to go dowwwwwn (and I don’t just mean in some cars at the Point).
Back at home, the twins tiptoe around each other, going out of their way to avoid speaking to one another and being overly formal when they do have to speak. Liz finds her misplaced datebook on her dresser and figures she must have left it there, even though we the readers know Jessica actually just did the right thing and put it there for her. Liz puts on an ice blue dress that sounds kinda ugly, even though I love ice blue. Jessica wears a sleek red strapless gown. Jessica freaks out when Todd tells Liz she looks beautiful, and secretly thinks maybe Liz really does look better than her even as Sam is exclaiming over Jessica’s looks in turn. The twins are rude to their dates who present them with corsages, and to their parents who get them to take pictures together before they leave. Old Ned and Alice seem completely oblivious to the fact that the girls have been fighting. Damn man, they’re almost as bad as Lila’s dear old dad. Speaking of which, Lila is so happy lately that she’s practically bouncing off the walls on the way to the gym to see Nathan. When she sees him, he acts mostly like, well, like a chaperone. He’s also wearing a rainbow-striped tie. Um, I wonder if he’s trying to tell Lila something.
Todd reassures Elizabeth at the dance that she will win prom queen, so she starts the night off happy. But when Jessica frets about her own chances to Sam, he starts to get tired of her shit. He makes a couple of comments about Liz’s hard work that don’t sit well with her and she bitches him out and stomps off, telling him he’ll have to find his own dance partner for a while. She slinks around the floor trying to slyly brag about how much work she’s done for the prom so people will vote for her. I’m not sure people are going to fall for it, Ms. Thing.
A bunch of Big Mesa kids show up to the prom causing a momentary ruckus as Winston lets them in, per the policy, and then Bruce pulls some SV kids together to try and throw them out. A big fight almost goes down, but then Todd stands up for letting it go and letting them stay, and Bruce finally relents. Todd is once again the hero of the hour, and an obvious shoo-in for Prom King. Sure enough, at 9:00 the votes are tallied and he’s crowned King. The ballots for Queen are then passed out and the winner will be announced an hour later, at 10. Liz and Jess are both on edge. Jessica is pouting and being a baby – now that Todd’s been crowned King, it’s almost certain Liz will be crowned Queen. Jess, you really need to get over it already. Just then, Jessica spots Liz dance by, “shaking it” with Sam, who looks super happy about it. Jessica is stunned. Hey, you told him to find his own dance partner, ya ass. A moment later, a drunk Big Mesa boy sidles up to her and starts hitting on her. Jessica sees the cup in his hand and gets an idea. She gets the drunk boy to pour some “clear liquid” (vodka? Everclear?) from his flask into her cup, then some more, till the cup is full. Jessica then leaves … to dump the alcohol into Liz’s cup, which is sitting on a nearby table next to Sam’s. Damn girl, you cold!
Jessica watches as Liz gulps about half of her punch without even tasting whatever it was Jessica added, then offers the other half to Sam. (Note: The book doesn’t say what it was either. I initially assumed it was vodka, but then I thought back to my college days and remembered Everclear. Given how completely wasted these two are about to get, and how they somehow had no idea something was amiss with their punch, that seems far more likely.) A few minutes later, Liz and Sam are totally trashed and cutting a damn rug on the dance floor. Kids are standing around staring in shock while Liz and Sam go totally nuts. They tango, they Charleston, Sam swings Liz over his head in a complete circle. This sounds HILARIOUS. Enid and Hugh come to check on them, and Liz slurs an apology at them for the way she acted at the game. Nathan and Lila overhear some girls tittering about how Liz is totally drunk and running around with her own sister’s date, and he considers intervening, but Lila is sure there’s no way Liz Wakefield of all people is drunk, although she admits that would be “hilarious.” Just then, more Big Mesa kids show up and Nathan walks off to help a trembling Winston decide if they’re allowed in without tickets. Moments later, Liz stumbles over to the ticket table and she and Sam slur at Patti and Andrea that they’ve decided Jessica deserves to be prom queen. Even if Liz wins, she wants to forfeit so that Jessica gets it. She is making a total spectacle of herself and everyone is talking about it. Jessica thinks it’s really funny, but is stunned when the prom queen is announced … and it’s her. She overhears some girls saying that maybe she just won because Liz dropped out. What! No way! Jessica is so shocked that she can’t even be happy about her win. Damn these girls are so fucking wishy washy, I can’t even. Just then, from his bamboo throne on the stage, Todd spots what looks like Sam and Liz making out in the corner. Now, just a second ago, Sam was just doing some babbling (out of Todd’s earshot) about how much he loves Jessica, so I really don’t think so, but Jessica sees the same thing and thinks the same thing and both are horrified. As they’re about to make their way over to them to see what is going on, Big Mesa kids suddenly rush the floor, randomly punching people and making a break for the football field. Half the SV crowd runs after them and the other half goes for the other exit toward the parking lot. That’s also where Sam and Liz are heading. Todd and Jessica try to follow them, but the crowd is too thick. Everyone is caught up in the crush, and murmuring about the fight outside. Jessica’s crown falls out of her hand and she just barely saves it from being destroyed under someone’s foot. The symbolism! The symbolism! She finally gets outside just in time to see Liz DRIVE off in the Jeep with Sam in the passenger seat! Jess has one last chance to stop them, but she trips over her heels and goes flying onto the pavement. She gets up in time to watch them helplessly ride off. At the same time, the big fight is raging on the football field. Not in Sweet Valley!
In the last few pages of the book, a few key things happen that effectively end this Magna Edition on a hell of a cliffhanger:
- Bruce and his Club X friends rush to the field, where they find a line of Big Mesa guys just standing there waiting to fight .Hahaha, it’s straight out of The Outsiders or something. Bruce beats the shit out of a couple of kids and relishes in the feel of blood running through his fingers. No, really, it says that. Just then, some giant kid starts beating on Bruce with a baseball bat and I have a Ramones song running through my head. As the giant kid prepares to bash his head in, a girl who looks a bit like Regina appears in Bruce’s vision to beg “Craig” to back off. Bruce thinks she looks like an angel. Just then, the police arrive. The Craig kid kicks Bruce in the head and disappears in a flash with the mysterious angel girl, and Bruce goes unconscious.
- Nathan pulls Lila to safety from the crushing crowd outside the dance, pulling her into an empty classroom which is really the only safe place outside the crowd, since they can’t get outside. He closes the door and walks toward Lila. As he nears her, Lila suddenly has a horrible flashback to John looming over her and starts screaming bloody murder as Nathan reaches out to give her a reassuring pat on the arm. The arriving cops hear it and kick in the door. Lila screams Nathan was attacking her. The cops drag away a stunned, “ashen” Nathan as he yells at Lila to please tell them it’s not true. A cop asks Lila if she’ll come give a statement and she – truthfully believing Nathan was just looking for a way to get her alone and was about to attack her – resolutely says yes. You know, I would say What the fuck? but I have seen the effects of PTSD on people in real life. So while this is Sweet Valley’s funky attempt at it, and while this particular example is pretty damn dramatic, it’s also just really sad! I somehow think it’ll end up okay for everybody in the end. Meanwhile …
- Jessica begs Todd to take her to find her sister and Sam. Todd is stunned to hear Jessica say they were drunk. Really, Liz’s goody goody rep is that solid? Come on, man. Jessica doesn’t admit she was the one who gave Liz the alcohol. Of course not. She also hangs on to her crown for dear life as they drive. That’s deep. They finally find the Jeep … overturned and crumpled near Secca Lake. Jessica manages to get past the police line and as she rushes toward the bloody, broken glass, she hears a police officer says it’s a shame and that there was no way anyone could have survived that. She screams dramatically as we’re lead to believe both Sam and Liz are now dead. No, Sam, noooo!
Okay, y’all, and that’s it until we reach the next book. Heavy, huh? Did you read this when it first came out and what was your reaction then compared to right now? Am I the only person who never read this book before? I have to say, that’s quite a denouement for what started out as a crazy cheesy story. It seems Sweet Valley wanted to go back to its dramatic roots, and then some.
Can I also say, this book was better than I was expecting. When the book got cheesy, it went over the top. And, the character development had been lacking for some of these kids, and now the writers are kind of, well, overdoing it, but it’s definitely better. Bruce and Lila are traumatized in a way that wasn’t shown before, and we get to hear their inner thoughts and what they’re REALLY thinking for a change. Will that last? Doubtful!
Liz and Jessica’s usual twin rivalry flares to the forefront in a predictable way, but then it heads in a refreshing direction when Liz actually stands up for herself. And then, you know, it fucking goes to hell in a hand basket. Although, come on, you know there’s no way they would have even considered truly killing Liz’s ass off. That’s Francine’s girl.
Random notes: At the beach party, Tony Alimenti pulls a big no-no and tells Lila “you look tired”. OH HELL NO. As someone who always has dark undereye circles no matter how much sleep she gets (and I get plenty), that is one of the WORST “innocent” things you can say to a lady. Why don’t you just come out and say “You look like shit!”
When Jessica removes her T-shirt and shorts to swim out to the buoy, boys hoot and holler and the book says she’s kicking her clothes off “like a striptease.” I can’t help but feel like this book is going back to the series’ roots, before it tried to get all pure and mega boring. Bravo!
Nicholas says Andrea dumped him because she decided he was getting boring. Well, I agree, Andrea, but Bruce isn’t exactly gonna be the kinda thrill that satisfies in the end.
Sam and Jessica snuggle on his couch and kinda/sorta joke about spending the whole night together after the prom. Damn, are they actually talking about having sex?
Oggi means “today” in Italian! Well, that’s kinda a boring name for a restaurant.
Roger takes Rosa to the prom. I guess she’s not seeing Eddie anymore.
Bruce: “I’ve had everyone at Sweet Valley High I wanted to have.” Ummmm….damn. He went ahead and put it that way. Wondering if the ghostwriters meant for it to sound the way that sounded.
Here’s Jessica moping around at home waiting for Liz to come back to the house from the photo shoot: “Through the gloom, Jessica saw the knob turn.” What perfect, overly dramatic writing for Jessica’s way of thinking!
The reggae band that plays at the prom is called Island Sunsplash. Sounds like a Sunny D knock-off drink!
This prom is such a big deal that each attendee gets a Sweet Valley Jungle Prom souvenir YEARBOOK to go with it. Not the regular yearbook, a special book just for Prom.
Jessica compliments Sally Larson’s prom dress. Sally confides it’s actually one of Dana’s. Jessica thinks, Like I couldn’t have guessed that. You usually dress like someone who works at a morgue. Burn. I wish she had said it out loud.
This book does a ton of foreshadowing, like when Liz and Jess seem to have premonitions that something awful is going to happen at the Jungle Prom. I think they really wanted you to believe one of the twins was going to bite the dust.
Bruce taunts Lila and jokingly warns her not to run into any Big Mesa guys, because some of them make John Pfeifer look tame. What an asshole.
I still cannot believe that Liz and Sam could not realize that something was off with their damned jungle juice at the prom, especially since they never drink. They don’t even seem to realize that they might be drunk. Like, not even for a second. That must have been some sugaryass punch. Although I kind of assume half the reason Liz gave Sam the other half of her punch wasn’t because his own cup ran out, but because she thought “Hmmm, tastes a little off. You want the rest?”
When Liz and Sam are dancing the Charleston, Liz starts trying to reminisce about a movie where some kids are doing the Charleston and the floor opens up under them and they fall into a swimming pool beneath them. Are they talking about It’s a Wonderful Life?
From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “For your information, I chose to come to the dance alone. What’s your excuse, Bruce? Andrea finally get fed up with your macho behavior? Or did your inflatable blow-up doll pop when you pinned on her corsage?” I. Am. DYING.
The cover: This cover was done by Keith Birdsong, not Jimmy Mathewuse. The cover flap shows the corsages, with the full cover showing three of the photos the Wakefield parents took that fateful night (when the twins were acting like bitches about it). There’s a picture of Jessica and Liz (ripped almost in half, with both girls doing a bitch face), Liz smiling up at Todd (seriously, that does not look like Todd), and Sam and Jess (Jess looks exactly the same as in the other pic!!!, and Sam is pretty cute). The girls’ dresses do not look the way they were described in the book. Here, Liz’s dress is bright blue, has puffy sleeves, and is fucking hideous. Jessica’s looks like a scaly pink getup instead of bright red, and her hair looks like a goddamn rat’s nest. Looks like a horse walked up and vomited a bale of hay up on her skull.
In the back of the book: There is a promo for the next Sweet Valley “mini-series”, books 95-100, which will be “explosive”! It says “someone evil” is coming to Sweet Valley. Wait, someone worse than Jessica just was? What the fuck is going on here?
Seriously…what in hell just happened? I guess I’ll find out!
Coming up next: It’s THE MORNING AFTER!