Chilling in Sweet Valley: Y2K edition

Auld Lang Syne, Bookwyrms — and a special shout-out to my fellow Millennials! Remember in 1999 when we were all freaking out about the internet actually breaking and the world falling back into the ice age as soon as all the clocks hit midnight on New Year’s morning? Something about digital calendars not having the basic programming to flip from 1999 to 2000?

That was such a fun time. So future. Much sci fi.

Anyhoo, I had just about phased out of my original Sweet Valley obsession by then and therefore missed the amazingly bonkers Y2K psychological thriller that was Sweet Valley University Thriller Edition # 16: Killer Party.

My gods, this book took me on a thrill ride of emotions (in an ultimately fun way, not in a See My Previous Post way). Although, I am wondering if my chipper attitude is a sign of just how successfully this book twisted my mind.

Like, did I drink from the same spiked punch bowl the characters did (I mean, by today’s standards, a punch bowl is kind of a vessel for chaos. Also, just kidding, Lila Fowler was way too ahead of her time to serve petri dish punch — it was individual Perrier bottles or GTF(aux-Pas)O. So…what’s my excuse again)?

Cover of SVU Thriller 16, Killer Party.  The Wakefield Twins, with Lila Fowler in the middle, huddle inside of a giant neon-yellow swirl against a black background, each holding a tall white candle and looking very alert, like a trio of gazelles who just heard a twig snap somewhere.

Laurie John. Sweet Valley University Thriller Edition #16: Killer Party. New York: Bantam, 2000.

Rating: 4.5? 4.9? 6? I can’t decide. Out of 5 times I shouted “How can you not tell if it’s your boyfriend or the mysterious creep calling you?!?! Don’t you have his number saved–oh yeah. 1999. Caller ID wasn’t a thing on cell phones yet.”

Although, to be fair, you’d think Lila Money-isn’t-even-the-ghost-of-an-object Fowler would have a phone State of the Art enough to at least show the caller’s phone number.

Playlist:

  • “Stalker,” by Sweet Valley (srsly! they’re a trip-hop/electronic duo that does very surreal video game homages and twangy, hallucinogenic surfer tunes)
  • “Phony Calls,” by Weird Al
  • “Don’t Stop the Music,” by Rihanna
  • “I Love It,” by Icona Pop
  • “Hey Ya!” by OutKast

Coffee Pairing: the fanciest affogato you’ve ever had — gelato flown in same-day from Italy, surrounded by espresso made on-demand by the host’s personal Italian barista.

GIF image of The Great Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, raising a martini glass and smiling beatifically at the viewer while glitter rains down behind him.  The caption says Cheers, Ol' Sport.

First, I love how all the SVU covers (and the later SVH covers) use the actors from the TV show as their models. That said, although Shirlee Elliot was a fun Lila in her own way (definitely played the rich snob angle well), I preferred picturing Bridget Flannery (seasons 1-2) as the star of this book. I feel like she does the snark and sass better.

Screenshot of Bridget Flannery in the Sweet Valley High TV show, tilting her head to the side with a smug grin.  She has shoulder-length red hair that flips up at the bottom.

The not-so-spoilery half of the summary: Lila Fowler is throwing a totally high-end New Year’s Eve party to ring in the new millennium. Which they never actually make a big deal about, now that I think of it. There’s no talk of Lila’s party being the hub of a major historical moment, Sweet Valley standing on the edge of a new era, the night destined to be of cosmic significance and all that…

I mean, this is Sweet Valley we’re talking about. Melodrama is in the mission statement. Or maybe Lila Fowler’s just too sophisticated to get all starstruck over stockpiling canned goods.

Speaking of which, ZOMG OMG OMG Bruce Patman is coming home from Europe for New Year’s and it’s going to be belated (still G-rated) mistletoe madness at Fowler Crest and Lila’s eyes are just a giant pair of heart emo…ticons and when is he gonna call with his ETAAAAAAAAA?!?!?!

Pause to explain: apparently Lila and Bruce started dating in the SVU series. To which I raised a very delighted eyebrow (I may or may not have written a flash fanfic in the Instagram comments of svhpodcast’s June 3rd post re: Book 71…

It involved Bruce and Lila joining forces to start Amazon an epic online canned goods marketplace and hiring SVH’s biggest computer nerd alums to engineer the robots while Liz and Olivia start a campaign against the loss of human jobs while also grappling with news of how those human workers were treated… you know. What Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life should have been).

But anyhoo! So Bruce and Lila started dating sometime between freshman and sophomore year at SVU, but then Bruce went off to Europe for the fall semester and OMG it’s been suuuuuuch a long few months and he’d better be getting her the cuuuuutest, cheeeeesiest knick-knacks from the airport and, like I said. Total sophistication.

GIF image of a pink cartoon bunny with long ears that flop down as she shrugs her shoulders seductively and stares, lovestruck, at the viewer while hearts fly out from behind her.

Of course, it might be easier for Bruce to get through if Lila wasn’t being pranked all morning by some obnoxious caller saying she’ll be super sorry she didn’t invite whoever it is to the party.

And here’s where I say Fair Enough to Lila’s famous snobbery. She correctly reasons that the caller has nothing to really complain about precisely because of the hyper-exclusive nature of Lila’s parties. Whoever it is has a ton of company in their alleged misery; it’s not like they were individually snubbed.

I mean. Unless it’s someone from Lila’s sorority, Theta Alpha Theta (like, srsly, she didn’t even invite the whole sorority. That’s how selective she is). But really, whoever it is can just chill and have a giant pizza night with the rest of Sweet Valley (my words…and, depending on your vibe, that could be more fun anyway).

But ANYWAY, it’s nothing for Lila to get stressed about as long as Bruce can get OMG IT’S BRUCE HE’S CALLING IT’S BRUCE YOU GUYS!!! He’s calling to tell Lila he’s just SO…not at the airport yet. And not on his way to the airport. Because his dad needs the jet. And there’s no way Bruce is going commercial air on New Year’s Eve. C’mon, babe. You gotta understand, right?

Ahem. *prepares my Chelsea Hart falsetto*

GIF image of Chelsea Hart, a TikTok comedian and social commentator, waving her hands up and down under her face, staring into the camera with a distressed, big-eyed expression, saying HE DID NOT LIKE THIS!

SHE DOES NOT LIKE THIS!!!

Seriously, Lila is PISSED. Like, she practically tears a hole in her Kate Spade bag getting her Angry Eyes out. (remember 1999? remember the movies and brands and celebrities that were popular back then?).

She tells Bruce that he’s being a lousy son-of-a jerkwad and who does he think he is telling her to calm down and be reasonable and why I oughtta (no, guys, she really does get OTG* for a second when she snarls, “Just back up a second there, buddy…”).

BUT. ANY. WAY. The Fowler/Patman merger is SO cancelled. Bruce can just go ahead and rot in Prague while Lila doesn’t in any way wallow in her iced mochaccino at the Stoppin’ Shop Cafe (I know, great name, but it’s better than when Lila says “Let’s all head to our favorite clothes store!” and I legit half-wondered if that was the actual store name. Because Sweet Valley) while her sorority sisters comfort her.

But the party must go on, right? Lila gets her #girlboss eyeliner on, wrangles the adorable-but-ditzy new sorority recruit away from a group of grunge guys to whom she was about to give out Lila’s party info (don’t worry about it), and totally slays that night!

Fowler Crest is lit to the nines, everyone’s salsa-ing and eating mini quesadillas (I love how the characters are much more chill about eating in this book than in the whole of SVH. Jessica gleefully admires the assortment of “munchies” without a second’s thought about her figure) and drinking real French champagne, the DJ is throwing funky cyberpatterns on the walls, and it’s exactly as extra as you’d expect a Fowler New Year’s Eve party to be.

Awww, remember when it was a fully-operational mini-carnival around the pool, with twelve-year-old Lila as the fortune-telling headliner?

And that’s it!

. . .

. . .

. . .

Just kidding, here’s where things go psych thriller.

. . .

SPOILERS AHEAD

Jump to page 2

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Credits, etc.

* OTG = Old Timey Gangster. It’s a running gag on svhpodcast.

Bridget Flannery screenshot from youtube.

Gatsby GIF from tenor.

Babs Bunny GIF from tenor.

Chelsea Hart GIF from tenor.

2 comments

  1. Pretty sure no spoilers here.

    Speaking of spoilers…I’m so glad you had them! I kept going through them, one after the other. I can honestly say, the mistake that happened with the painting, it makes sense. If I were super stressed out, I’d probably forget a detail like that too. That ending though…

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