Intro: This is one of the last UC books that I read the first time around. It's part one of a two part Caribbean miniseries! In typical SarahLynn fashion, I currently only have book one, but I'm sure you'll be able to figure out the ending based on this recap alone. Plus, it's all taking place on a cruise ship, so you know nothing from this will have any permanence whatsoever.
Cover: There's the cruise ship (which I secretly start to hope is a Carnival ship...c'mon, disaster at sea! I watched CNN a lot when I was off work with my broken arm, so I'm well aware of recent stories regarding broken cruise ships). Jess is rocking some orange shorts and she appears to need a hair appointment just as badly as I do. Oh, the regrowth! I will assume the rest of the girls are UC members, but I have no idea who's who on these covers.
Recap: This book is from February of 1997, so the UC is post-Angels split, pre Rachel (lucky for me. I just don't like her). The club currently consists of Jess, Li, Ellen, Mandy, and Kimberly, and they're joining 100's of 7th and 8th graders on a 10 day cruise! Lila, of course, has been on THREE cruises already, but even she's excited about the BOY factor. It's going to be "hyperwonderful"! Whatever that means. Dream Teen Magazine is sponsoring the festivities.
The club packs for the cruise. And we get a description of their departure outfits! Lila, who is bringing tons of designer clothing, is wearing a lime green rib-knit silk minidress (???), and she wants to share a room with Ellen, who is still depressed about her parents divorcing. Ellen is so sad (and has such an underdeveloped personality) that she merely threw whatever into one suitcase and left without caring. Thus, more closet space for Lila and her 5 suitcases. Ellen has somehow become club president (what?! When?!) by this point.
In the other cabin, Mandy has brought lots of retro 60's beachwear (damnit, Mandy's a total hipster in training, and to think she was once my favorite, however briefly) and Jess went for a casual look. She packed white shorts, flippy little skirts, and little tshirts. Kimberly is all Sporty Spice, so she brought tons of Spandex athletic clothes. They unpack and meet Li and Ellen for a mixer party. Ellen ends up getting ditched by everyone when BOYS start showing up. Awwww.
The UC are worst friends to Ellen than normal in this book, so it takes them awhile to notice that she's gone. They go looking, and find her attempting to leave the ship. She tries to jump back on the dock but instead falls into the water and has to be rescued. She is returned to the ship and forced to stay on the cruise. She's upset that her friends aren't hanging out together and that no one ever bothers to include her in anything.
Her shit friends eventually figure out that she's feeling neglected (I always hated how self involved everyone was in these books, no one seems to notice when their friends have problems!). They decide that she's lacking self confidence and will never get a boy with that attitude.
Ellen, meanwhile, IS attracting attention. A cute surfer boy comes up to say hello. His name is Curtis Bowman (any relation to Mr. Bowman from SVT?) and he thought Ellen's trip overboard was cool. Of course, he's not up to UC standards, so the Bitch Squad -I mean UC- breaks it up. They each decide to pick out a guy for Ellen and give her makeovers!!!! (I love makeovers, but I legit like Ellen for who she is, damnit!!!!)
Li finds her guy first. She's shopping at one of the ship's boutiques and she meets Jared from San Francisco. He's stuck up, snobby, and gold card rich!!!
Jess also finds an eligible bachelor of her own. His name is Sam (not Woodruff, or even Collins, sadly) and he's from Oregon.
Ellen, meanwhile, is desperate to escape the ship. The captain refuses to let her leave and she's stuck with her negligent friends. At dinner, everyone brings a potential hookup for Ellen, but she isn't into it at all. She knows a setup when she sees it, and she doesn't want her friends interfering with her love life. (Understandable, even my own bestie meddles in my love life on occasion, and it never ends well. Still, I appreciate her efforts.). Ellen also hates the food (hey now, at least it isn't onion sandwiches..) but she cheers up a bit when Curtis appears. He also hates the food, and they both agree that junk food is much better. (Yes! I'm eating Sriracha chips right now!). Curtis convinces Ellen to let loose, and they dance like idiots, much to the embarrassment of the UC.
The suitors chosen for Ellen question why she's spazzing out on the dance floor. Li explains to Jared that Ellen is a royal descendant, and as a result of all royals being inbred, she has a "tic" that makes her all twitchy and uncoordinated. After this, the UC is forced to intervene because Curtis = unacceptable.
Ellen spends the next few chapters getting madeover and dating Li and Jess's choices. First, Li makes her over and teaches her to act stuck up and bored. Ellen goes sightseeing with Jared when the ship docks.
Jess gets her hands on Ellen that same evening. She makesover Ellen for the ship's disco and forces her to go with Sam. Since Jess is always so happy, Ellen must act bubbly and totally different from what Lila taught her. She does alright, but when she runs into Li and Jared she has to act snobby again. She ditches Sam and dances with Jared. Li is displeased that she was out with Sam and that she's taking Jared for granted because he's a great guy...hmmmm, curious.
Sam whines to Jess about Ellen ditching him and she tells him to cut in. Ellen gives him the cold shoulder, and Jess realizes that Lila is behind this. She also realizes that Ellen is stupid enough to listen. Ouch.
Jess confronts Ellen and smoothes things over with Sam. The whole UC is fighting about their boys by this point and Ellen is totally over it. She goes to her room and -surprise- Curtis shows up, with junk food!!!! Sweet. (I'm totally picturing Curtis as Spicoli from Fast Times, btw.) Ellen likes spending time with him because she can just be herself and Curtis is accepting of that. She starts enjoying herself.
Of course, the UC cannot allow this!!!! They bust in and declare an emergency meeting. Ellen is upset but her "friends" assure her that they just want the best for her. They even manage to make her feel GUILTY. Those. Bitches!!!!
At breakfast the next morning, Jess and Li talk to their bachelors without Ellen present. (Hands up if you can see where this is going...). Mandy joins them with HER choice, Jack. Jack is an artist type who paints and writes. He wears all black and thus Ellen is manipulated into another makeover. Mandy puts her in all black (even lipstick...ewww) and tells her that she's an artist/dancer now. (Ellen? As a dancer? Now I'm terrified...)
The UC continues to fight about their various boys, but they all agree that they hate Curtis. Kimberly suggests athletic type Peter for date #4, and Ellen ends up getting yet another makeover. Now she's a tennis player (and at least none of her clothing will be dirty after this trip, since she's borrowing multiple outfits on a daily basis...) and she loses to Peter on purpose. Ellen doesn't even like tennis. Sigh.
The UC continues to argue, each believing that they've found the perfect guy for Ellen. They accuse each other of confusing Ellen and agree that their only motive in all of this is finding a guy for Ellen so that they can start looking for their own. Selfish, much?!
Since it has yet to occur to Ellen that she can stand up for herself, she accepts an invitation to join Jared in the ship's VIP club. It's so exclusive that even LILA can't join! Omfg!!!! I want in!!! It's for the children of Presidents (ohhh, are the Bush girls there? I want to party with them!) and diplomats (like Declan from Degrassi...even more appealing!) and movie stars and millionaires. So tell me again why Li is excluded from this? Mr. F has 36 bedrooms in his house, that's like billionaire shit!!!! And, surprise, the other 3 romantic prospects have also sent Ellen flowers and date invites! She accepts them all. (Step your game up, Curtis! You're losing her!)
While Ellen is out slutting, the UC finally hangs out together. They talk, and realize that Ellen isn't right for any of their choices! She just mimicks them! (And we all know each girl is actually perfect for her choice, so I don't know why they don't just figure it out...and why does this need 2 parts?!). Mandy cries when she talks about Jack and Ellen. And it's even worse when she sees them kissing. The rest of the UC feels similarly, and they start to resent Ellen.
Of course, Ellen's secretly hung up on Curtis, but since the UC doesn't approve, she's trying to make them happy. Wow, there's a serious lack of communication. This would NOT have happened under Janet Howell, IMO.
All of the UC finally realize that they're each in love with their choice. This leads to them all sitting around and crying (sweet, they kind of deserve this). Li is the only one who isn't depressed. She sabotaged Ellen's snob behavior, as well as her shoes for the evening! And it's the night of Ellen's VIP dinner with Jared!
The UC gets all slutted up in their club clothes and head to the disco. All of the boys ignore them and only want Ellen. Ellen, meanwhile, is at her VIP dinner. Her sabotaged shoes fail her and she collapses into the table. She's not hurt, but she is embarrassed.
The UC hears of this and rushes to see Ellen in the infirmary. It's full of flowers from her various boys. They apologize for being such bitches and trying to make Ellen into a carbon copy. She forgives them and announces that she loves being popular. And she won't let them down again. No one will be rejected, she'll just date all 4! Which leads us to book #17 - "Boyfriends For Everyone"!
The UC has created a monster!!!! A brainless slutty poser monster, but still a monster!!!! They deserve everything that happens to them in the following book. Yet, by title alone, we all know how this one ends up. Thus, I can safely skip over it and start on some SVH recaps. I was going to do UC #11 - "Angels Keep Out", but my notes for that one fill 5 pages, and I need a break from this series!!!!