Front Cover Blurb: Ben heard it first, and he told Nina, who told Claire not to tell… but now EVERYBODY (except Jake) knows, and Claire’s wondering if she ought to say something because Jake ought to know that… Zoey Fools Around.
[Dove: Yeah, um, that’s not really what happens, that’s sort of the path of Ben’s theory of the crash, but no, doesn’t relate to Zoey fooling around.]
[Wing: I think it’s like that game where you write something, cover it up, and the next person writes the next scene without seeing what you wrote. No one writing the cover blurb got to see what was written for the back blurb or for the book itself.]
Back Cover Blurb: Zoey fools around and it turns their world upside-down. New couples are formed, friends become enemies and secrets are unearthed…
One thing I love about this series is the wacky formats they throw in there, journal entries, quizzes, one week squashed into a daily countdown. I’m not being sarcastic, I genuinely love this about them.
[Wing: I used to work in publishing, and while this sort of thing can be difficult to work with when designing the book itself, as a reader, I love when publishers include it, including pieces in the character’s handwriting, as long as it’s legible (unlike in the original Baby-Sitters Club books). The daily countdown is probably my favourite formatting trick the authors use.]
The books starts with Zoey Passmore’s thoughts on love. Zoey witters on but doesn’t really come up with anything concrete about love. Some love is like yoghurt, and doesn’t have a long shelf life, but she’s looking for something that lasts a long time, like peanut butter. She doesn’t know anything for sure, but she does know more about it now than she did… two years ago.
Flashback to two years ago
Zoey Passmore and her boyfriend Jake McRoyan are having some banter about him trying to eat her ice cream, but Zoey’s enjoying the waffle, thank you very much. Jake mocks her because it’s called a cone, not a waffle.
Jake is in a good mood because today is the day that Lucas Cabral is going to jail/youth authority for killing his brother, Wade. Zoey is uncomfortable about how delighted Jake is about it – what happened to Wade was awful, but it’s not ok to be happy about this. Jake’s plot point sister turns up and reminds him to go take the Geiger’s boat out of the water. [Rosey: Seriously, did they throw her overboard in the next (offscreen) scene? Poor Holly is never seen again! Hi, btw! I’m Rosey. I’ve muscled my way in here to help Dove and Wing recap Making Out by offering to point out the pop culture references that were updated in the 2014 reprints, which were re-titled as The Islanders.] [Dove: And originally published as Boyfriends/Girlfriends, apparently.]
[Wing: We’re glad to have you, Rosey. And I had completely forgotten that Jake momentarily had a sister, but so did everyone involved with making the series, so it’s cool.]
Zoey is left alone and wanders through the small town and sees Lucas, waiting alone for the ferry that will take him to the mainland to jail. He looks lonely, and Zoey wonders if he’s waiting for someone to see him off. He’s waiting in vain though, the islanders are unified on freezing him out after what happened.
Zoey is moved by how lonely he looks, so gives him a brief kiss, saying that she felt someone ought to say goodbye to him. She then gives him the last of her ice cream, since he probably won’t get any ice cream where he’s going. She apologises that there’s not much left, but that’s ok because Lucas likes the waffle best. [Wing: Clearly, they are meant to be because they are the only two people in the world who call it the waffle.]
There’s a news clipping on the accident that sent him to jail. Lucas (age 16), Claire Geiger (15) and Jake’s older brother, Wade McRoyan (18) were drunk and driving around Chatham Island, Lucas drove them into a tree. Wade died, Claire got a concussion and a broken wrist and Lucas was unscathed. Lucas will be charged with “charges of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter”. [Wing: Small island and small paper or no, I have a hard time believing the underage kids would be identified.]
Zoey and her best friend, Nina Geiger, are on the ferry coming back from Weymouth, the mainland where they go to school, shopping, etc. They’ve been shopping for school, which starts in five days. Zoey’s going to be a senior, while Nina is going to be a junior.
They have some banter, and we learn that Nina is much more interesting and funny than Zoey. Also, she’s wearing fishnet stockings, army shorts, a brown leather jacket and black Doc Martens. She smokes unlit cigarettes because she’s allergic to smoke. Nina is basically the 90s on legs and – oh, by the way – my hero. Also, we’re introduced to Nina’s comic tautology rule: examples must always be given in threes, running from least to most funny. [Rosey: Nina is the best! And the first example of why these books are so much better than Sweet Valley.] [Wing: Claire and Aisha are probably my favourites in the long run, but like Dove and Rosey, I adore Nina, too. The 90s exploded all over her and she is GREAT.]
Zoey, by contrast, is wearing the entire LL Bean catalogue (we don’t have that over here, but it’s hella preppy, right?) and eats fig newtons. Nina and I are suitably disgusted by that. [Wing: Hey now, Nina later says they’re not bad. She’s wrong. They are terrible and don’t deserve to be called cookies. In fact, I think one of their ad campaigns was that they weren’t cookies, they were fruit and cake.]
Zoey thinks Jake might be watching the ferry come in and has a brief urge to make a “rude gesture” but shrugs it off because it would be “inexcusable”. Yeah, Zoey’s basically Elizabeth Wakefield. Today she’s feeling a little suffocated by Jake’s constant presence in her life, though mostly it’s comforting knowing he’s always around. [Wing: Well, he is basically stalking her at this point, so I can see feeling suffocated.]
She thinks she sees someone on the deck of the Cabrals’ house. For a second, she thinks of Lucas and that strange kiss, but shakes it off.
She says goodbye to Nina and drops into Passmores’, her parents’ restaurant. We meet her dad, Jeff Passmore, who is an aging hippie in a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Nothing really happens, except we learn that mom and dad are fighting because mom said she was getting fat, and he said no, just your butt. [Rosey: In the 2014 reprints Jeff Passmore is still wearing the Grateful Dead t-shirt and it really bothers me! The text makes pains to point out that he was skipping high school to smoke weed in the 90s – shouldn’t his shirt be Nirvana or ICP or any of the bands 90s Nina listened to?!] [Wing: That is AMAZING. And yeah, Nirvana or maybe NIN, at least per my experience in the 90s. ALSO JESUS CHRIST DOVE AND I ARE OLD ENOUGH TO BE NINA’S PARENTS IN THE REPRINTS. Pardon me, I need to go drink a lot.] [Dove: Hipster!Jeff Passmore?]
True confession time: there’s not a single person in the Passmore family I like. The parents are childish, Zoey is a fucking saint (and I mean that in exactly the same way as when I say it about Elizabeth Wakefield), and Benjamin… well, we’ll get to him later. [Wing: Looking back on the first time I read it (as an adult, I didn’t know about these books when I was a teen), I thought my dislike of Benjamin came much later in the series. Rereading it for this recap reminded me that NOPE, he has some terrible moments even here in book one.]
Zoey moseys off, dreaming about going to UC-anywhere and falling for someone like Marky Mark. Guess this was written during the precise second when “Marky Mark” was cool, before the long period of him being a joke, and way before Mark Wahlberg became a respected actor. [Rosey: the 2014 equivalent of Marky Mark is apparently Liam Hemsworth from One Direction. I, for one, await his film career with an open mind and a raised eyebrow.] [Wing: Wait, there’s a Hemsworth in One Direction?! … a quick Google tells me there is a Liam, though not a Hemsworth. Did they flat out call him a Hemsworth in the reprint? I’m so curious now.] [Dove: Yeah, that threw me because while I know bugger all about One Direction, I do know they were the result of the UK X-Factor and the Hemsworth boys are Aussies, so… confused Dove is confused. And clearly not down with the kids.] [Rosey: Oh man… this is embarrassing. So in one bit, 2014 Zoey refers to Liam Hemsworth, and a few sentences later she mentions “the youngest member of One Direction” And I knew 1D had a Liam and just…. brain farted all over the blog?]
She bumps into Jake, and accidentally lets it slip that her parents are both working, so Jake immediately suggests they go to her house and see what happens. Zoey is fiercely protective of her virginity, and Jake is like most guys his age – and says that he wants to do the stuff after kissing.
/ aside about Zoey and her virginity.
Note from the future: If Zoey is alone with a boy she’s involved with, you can pretty much guarantee that this subject will come up. Zoey’s not ready, and most teenage boys are asshats. Because it happens so often, it’s very irritating to read. (I was in her shoes many times when I was younger.) Morally, I side with Zoey (and she’s sensible enough to say, “Kissing’s not enough for you? Get in the fucking sea,” each time), but I really hate Zoey. So I generally get annoyed at everyone in these scenes. Also, despite being right, Zoey has the air of a pearl-clutcher every time it comes up. I can’t help but imagine her as really over-acting every time the topic comes up. [Rosey: Flip reverse it: I was not nearly as protective of my virginity as Zoey was, but these are some of the few moments when I actually like her. How many times does she have to say it? No means fucking no, lad!] [Wing: I split the middle. I love how Zoey shuts it down every time, and particularly in this book, Jake is obnoxious about how he keeps pushing. But she is sanctimonious about it sometimes, and it does start to feel that she judges people for wanting sex and assumes no girls could ever want sex. (In fact, she basically says that at one point to Nina.) Which is some shit.] [Dove: That’s a really good point, I hadn’t noticed originally, but there is a “slutty” character and an “enjoys sex because of true love” character, and Zoey really does treat these as if they’re exceptions to the rule, and most girls don’t want sex.]
/ end aside about Zoey and her virginity.
A note from Zoey:
It’s about how she and Jake got together. They were thirteen, out hiking, and when she stood up after taking a drink from a stream, he kissed her (hastily and clumsily) and they’ve been together ever since. Everyone says they’re a great couple and she really likes his parents. And if you take note of the passive voice, and the lack of statements from Zoey, she’s just not feeling the deep love that everyone thinks she’s in.
Zoey then moves on to see her brother, Benjamin. He is blind, half his posters are upside down, they are pictures of maps and kittens, and Benjamin pretends he believes they are beautiful works of art to newbies. If the newbies laugh, then they’re ok, if they’re awkward or play along out of pity, then they’re dicks. When I first read this I always thought that Benjamin’s a bit of a dick himself, because I wouldn’t pass that test. If I go to a new friend’s house for the first time, I’m on my best behavior no matter what and I think my brain would shut down in that situation. [Rosey: I was a bit of a pretentious teen twat myself, so I’ll let Benajmin slide on the posters and upside down books and whatnot. That’s not to say I’d have passed his tests: all his friends are people who knew him before he went blind – no newbie has ever passed these tests. I guess Aisha? But she’s really Zoey’s friend.] [Wing: This is one of the few things I like about Benjamin, though I also think it is a dick move. I can’t blame him for wanting a dick move in this situation, though. (I’d probably fail it too, mostly because I often don’t get the joke. Ostrich (my partner) and my dad often tease me about it.)] [Dove: I would probably feel as if he was making fun of me, and just get all awkward, embarrassed and probably not visit again. #SocialAnxiety]
So, yeah, I don’t like any of the Passmores, although Rosey pointed out, they’re at their best around Nina. In book 3, Zoey is a great friend, and Nina and Benjamin have fun banter. Still, my opinion on Benjamin is that he’s smug, irritating… and the rest can wait for later books.
Anyway, Nina is due to come over and read to him tonight. Oh, and he’s also dating Claire, Nina’s older sister.
Zoey heads back to the living room, where Jake is waiting. Jake rags on Nina – he calls her Ninny, she calls him Joke – and Zoey wonders if they’re stuck in a rut, since Jake and Nina have been ragging on each other since fourth grade. Then something un-rut-like happens, they spot Lucas on the deck of his house. Jake is not a happy bunny.
Next we meet Claire Geiger, who’s up on her widow’s walk, a balcony at the top of her house above her bedroom. At the time I started reading these, I didn’t realise a widow’s walk was actually a thing. I just assumed Nina had named it that, given that she thinks her sister is Satan, and everyone had eventually gone along with it. I like my version better.
[Wing: And here is why I love Claire so much. She’s cold and reserved and likes to isolate herself where there’s nothing between her and the sky, where she can see everything coming for her and gaze at the sea.]
Nina climbs the ladder, but doesn’t join her on the widow’s walk, because she has a fear of heights. She asks about the weather, and Claire responds in full – Claire is all about the weather, and it’s kind of cool – and then Nina drops the bombshell, she was supposed to be reading to Benjamin, but then they found out Lucas is back.
Claire asks what the reaction was: Jake = angry; Zoey = worried enough to want to warn Lucas; Benjamin = cool-headed enough to calm Jake down… for now.
Claire sniffs at the idea of warning Lucas, but Nina points out they were deeply in love. Claire points out that was two years ago. She feels anxious, maybe afraid, at the idea he’s back. She shakes it off and says he won’t be on the island long as nobody will make him feel welcome.
A note from Claire:
Claire doesn’t remember the accident itself. She knows she was out drinking with Lucas and Wade, and she and Lucas were deeply in love – he’d have died for her – and she remembers making out with Lucas that night, and that Wade was down because he’d just broken up with a girl from the mainland. The accident is just an empty space. She woke up in the hospital with a broken wrist and a concussion. Jake came to see her and explained he didn’t hate her, Lucas was driving, Lucas was the killer, and Claire was just a victim.
Zoey goes over to Jake’s house to make sure he’s ok, she sees his mom, Daisy, who offers food and goes on about puff pastry but Zoey says no. Zoey heads down to Jake’s room just as Jake is coming of the bathroom after a shower… nekkid! Zoey’s scandalised. After that minor hilarity, they snuggle and Jake is made up that Zoey came over to see if he was ok.
[Wing: This part still makes me laugh, because it goes down like this:
Zoey: I SAW NOTHING.
Jake: IS THAT A DICK JOKE.
The next morning, Zoey wakes up and observes her quote wall. If she finds something cool, she writes it on a post-it note and sticks it to the wall.
A man (or a woman) can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days.
This one has been bothering her recently, because her life is very ordinary. Oh, Zoey. There are twenty-five further books of high-drama coming your way. Be careful what you wish for.
Over breakfast, her parents say that they made up from the fight (*wink-wink*), and Zoey says she doesn’t need details. Mommy, who will later be given the name Darla Passmore (book 5, I think), says that she doesn’t do the normal parent thing, and if Zoey wants that, she should go to Daisy McRoyan, who just keeps baking while Fred McRoyan bangs everything with a skirt. [Rosey: #Foreshadowing]
Zoey gives her a lecture on not saying such horrible things – what if Jake had walked in and heard that? And I’m on Zoey’s side. I don’t like Darla. She’s one of those “I’m not like other girls/I’m not a girl’s girl” people, who are literally the problem they’re trying to distance themselves from. #StayClassyDarla [Rosey: I’m a Cool Mom!]
Darla then asks whether Lucas is really back. She says that he used to come down to their house each morning with sweet rolls that his mother made, and she should open a bakery, because they were delicious. Apparently being a subservient baking type mom is only abhorrent to her if a McRoyan does it, because when we later see Lucas’ mom, she has less backbone than Elizabeth Wakefield.
Claire heads down to The Circle, where they always gather. Except this is the first and last time they do. It is never mentioned again. By the time she gets there, everyone is there: Zoey, Nina, Aisha and Jake. Wow their friendship circle is small to begin with.
They talk about graduation, and we learn that Benjamin is two years older than Zoey, (so three years older than Nina… I did not notice than on a first read), but is in the same grade because he lost two years due to rehab for his blindness, and has managed to make one of those years back up. They decide to take the boat out and have a BBQ.
Oh, and Claire asks what they’re going to do about Lucas, since they’ve either discussed it already and she missed it, or they’re deliberately not discussing it. Jake is furious, he doesn’t think two years is enough for the loss of life. Zoey points out he got the maximum sentence for a juvenile, and Jake says that was only because he had an existing record. He’d have probably gotten a warning if he’d been a good boy.
They decide to freeze him out, because Lucas’ proud Portuguese fisherman father is ashamed of Lucas, and if he sees that nobody wants Lucas around, then he’ll get shot of him. Everyone uneasily agrees, except for Jake and Claire, who are pretty gung-ho about everything. Claire feels oddly relieved about this decision.
Aisha Grey heads off home and muses on how people who are new to the island are “from away”. She moved to Chatham Island three years ago, when her parents bought an inn. The other island kids kept their distance. She initially thought it was racism that kept them from being friendly (and admits maybe part of it was) when she first moved to the island three years ago. But when she went to school, some guys gave her a hard time about the colour of her skin. Zoey told them to back off, and when that didn’t work, she fetched Wade and Jake to sort out the racists.
It took about a year for that to rub off, and have the island truly accept you. Again, this is the last we hear of it. Everyone who comes to the island is immediately welcomed into the fold. As this only happens to Aisha and Christopher in the entire series of 28 books, it has unfortunate implications.
She bumps into Christopher Shupe. They are the only two people of colour on the island (aside from the rest of Aisha’s family, obviously), so people keep asking Aisha when she’s going to start dating him. This makes her determined not to. Christopher asks her out, she says no, and it gets a little heated, when he starts to make a comment about the odds of two African-Americans being on such a white island, and Aisha pounces on that, saying that she’s sick of people waiting for them to date simply because of their skin colour. Christopher doesn’t take the rejection well and calls her a bitch.
[Wing: I still can’t believe I end up liking Christopher later in this same damn book after he has this reaction to her understandable rejection.]
Aisha’s mother comes out and Christopher offers to work on their garden for them. He’s graduated from high school and is working for a year to put away enough money for college, he works at Passmores’ and does odd jobs around the island. He’s hired, much to Aisha’s – I want to say chagrin but Twilight has ruined that word – annoyance.
A note from Lucas:
Lucas talks about YA (Youth Authority, not Young Adult books), about how Claire never visited and how he thought it was “the least she could do”, all things considered. He talks about how he found a picture of Zoey in the paper and taped it up over his bed, and it helped him cling to hope. Bless. Or creeper alert. It depends how you feel about Lucas. I personally like Lucas, but I think he could do better than Zoey.
[Wing: I like Lucas a lot, and think that is a creepy thing to do even in such a shit situation.]
Zoey and Nina are sunbathing in Zoey’s back yard. They discuss Jake being a groper. Nina considers getting a boyfriend, but reports the last one that kissed her was “trying to lick my liver” and Zoey is suitably squicked. We also learn that Zoey kissed Tad Crowley when she was mad a Jake. These are the themes of Zoey, kissing boys who she’s not dating, being super judgmental and being outraged when boys get gropey. She doesn’t have much range as a character. (Again, she’s right to say no to anyone about anything, it’s just the pearl-clutching way that she does it that makes it annoying/funny to read.) [Rosey: That’s not all she does! She also gets really jealous anytime her boyfriend is friendly with another girl.]
Nina goes to the bathroom and Lucas shows up. He sort-of flirts with Zoey, and immediately deduces that the islanders have decided to freeze him out. He lumps Claire and Jake together in one sentence and Zoey overreacts, and says that she’s with Jake on this too, not just Claire. Lucas asks Zoey to tell Claire not to worry so much, he keeps his promises.
Next up, Zoey does a full day’s work then heads off to Big Bite Pond on Jake’s boat with the islanders (Jake, Nina, Aisha, Claire and Benjamin). The authors thoughtfully provide a map. Rosey told me that these maps were missing from the re-release. Given that Team Grapplegate (as Raven has dubbed them) worked really hard on a bible for this series, that’s really disappointing. Also, in the original releases, the journal style notes were in fonts specific to each character, the re-releases just use regular font in italic. [Rosey: I’m on the fence about this: I want maps – I need a much more detailed version of North Harbor – but I actually find some of the handwriting fonts in the originals really hard to read. *ducks*] [Dove: There are more maps as the series progresses.]
This whole evening seems really cool, and it’s a shame they don’t do this more often, but with the high drama that follows, it’s not surprising they don’t have time to hang out and cook burgers.
Zoey, Nina and Aisha set off to look for firewood, and Zoey worries about leaving Jake alone with Claire – who, by the way, is the most beautiful girl on the planet with an amazing body. Aisha says that all guys look, and Nina comfortingly comments that Jake “lacks the imagination” to cheat on her, then there’s this exchange.
They also discuss the Ben/Claire relationship.
“You know what I don’t get?” Aisha said. “I don’t get Claire and Benjamin.”
“No one gets that,” Nina said. “Claire’s been getting by on her looks since she was twelve. Now she’s going out with the one guy who can’t be totally sure she isn’t a gorgon. Go figure. Not to mention the second part of the equation—what’s a nice guy like Benjamin doing with my sister?”
“I don’t know about Benjamin being such a nice guy,” Aisha said. “No offense, Zoey. I don’t mean he’s not nice, just that he’s… he’s got an edge to him.”
Nina immediately jumps to Benjamin’s defence, saying that he keeps people at a distance because having to adapt to being blind was hard for him. Aisha says it’s because they’re island people, and actually quotes the tagline.
“I think it’s you island people,” Aisha said. “You all grew up here together, you’re stuck together, so you all get kind of protective of your space.”
“We do not,” Nina said. “Hey!” she yelled at Aisha. “Don’t touch that stick. That’s my stick. It’s much closer to me.”
(bold emphasis mine)
As the evening goes on, Aisha and Nina move to the water’s edge, giving the couples time to canoodle. [Wing: Alas, no bisexuality running through Aisha and Nina.]
Zoey and Jake discuss the singletons – Zoey says Nina needs a boyfriend, and Jake can’t believe Christopher hasn’t asked Aisha out yet. Jake goes for some sneaky boob action and he and Zoey have a fight about it. [Wing: I’m with Zoey on this one. Her brother is right there, and so are a bunch of their friends. It’s absolutely believable for her that she’d feel uncomfortable.] Jake wants to know if he’ll be stuck at first base until they get married, and Zoey explodes because they’ve never even discussed marriage before. He manages to talk her down by saying that he loves her. Jake says it’s Wade’s birthday, and he wants to have a son and name him Wade. (Hey, Jake, ever wonder if Wade drank so much because his name was also verb?) Zoey notices that Claire is watching them.
A note from Aisha
Aisha used to live in Boston. She was one of the black kids who got bussed to a previously all-white school. Naturally a lot of people were upset by this, so a bunch of white kids, their parents and older siblings decided to turn the bus over with the black kids still in it. After that, the Grays decided enough was enough and moved to the island, which is pretty much the whitest place on earth. Aisha thought everyone was racist because they didn’t speak to her when she first moved there. Zoey clarified it’s because she’s “from away”, and now it’s reached the point where Aisha is suspicious of “away” people too.
I can totally see this being a thing in such a small (and, let’s face it, middle class community – I suspect island house prices are quite steep), however, once again, this raises the unfortunate implications because as the books progress and new characters are added left, right and centre, the “from away” thing doesn’t kick in.
[Wing: Yeah, the away thing is believable for some island communities (and true in a bunch of the ones I’ve seen), but since it is dropped for everyone else, it just makes them look racist. There’s also some class issues going on, especially between Claire and Nina’s family and Lucas’s and Zoey and Benjamin’s families. Aisha’s family also seems very well off, even with how much money they sink into the inn.]
The next day Aisha gets on the ferry and runs into Christopher and they have a snarky little back and forth, that makes me love Christopher – although he’s never this funny again, which is a bit sad. He asks if everyone says “ayuh” in Maine, which makes me adore him, because King’s work is littered with that word. Aisha breaks both our hearts by saying no, only old fishermen say it. (And when we meet them in about twenty books’ time, they don’t say it either.)
He tells Aisha that Christopher means boyfriend. It doesn’t, it actually means “bearer of Christ”. Aisha doesn’t buy it either, but he says one day it will mean boyfriend to her, and not because they’re both black, but because he thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world when he first saw her. He nearly kisses her, Aisha gets all wibbly, but he doesn’t kiss her. He tells her he will soon, and she “will stay kissed”. Whatever that means. I’ve never heard of anyone becoming un-kissed after a make-out section, but whatevs.
[Wing: I’m pretty sure Aisha’s swooning here is what makes me like Christopher, because she’s ridiculous and delightful when she’s swooning and annoyed at the same time over him.]
Zoey interrupts Nina reading to Benjamin, Ben tells Nina he’s taken up too much of her time, and she should go, besides, he’s going to rest up before he comes over to their house to see Claire. Nina is unhappy because she has a crush on Benjamin. As Zoey walks Nina home, she confides in her that she’s spoken to Lucas, Nina puffs on an unlit cigarette and says that Benjamin made a comment along the lines of the best part of Wade’s life was him leaving it, Zoey recognises it as Shakespeare and quotes it properly (“Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.”). Nina then says she’ll pass on the message Lucas gave (that he keeps his promises), telling Claire that she spoke to Lucas direct, so as not to involve Zoey.
A note from Zoey:
She tells us about her lusty-yet-virginal romance novel that has 22 versions of chapter 1, yet no chapter 2.
[Wing: This is another of the details I actually like about Zoey, because it’s so real. Tons of writers start a project but then obsess over getting the first part just perfect and are never able to move on.]
Zoey leaves the restaurant and runs into Lucas, who is sitting by the breakwater. He is described thusly:
“A fountain of spray erupted, drenching him in a salt shower.”
Tell me your mind did not go to a filthy place just for a second there. Anyway, Lucas talks about how it’s nice to be back, he understands Zoey’s position and suggests she leaves. She does, calls over her shoulder to ask Lucas to drop by for breakfast. She then lies in bed thinking about him. Then gets up in the middle of the night to write up draft #23 of chapter 1 of her novel. It is in no way about Lucas instead of Jake now.
Meanwhile Aisha has a dream about Christopher, she wakes up and he’s at her house gardening. They snark but manage not to part on bad terms.
Zoey then gets up to find Lucas in her house, having brought sweet rolls for breakfast. Zoey’s only wearing the t-shirt she sleeps in and panties, but after her initial embarrassment, they get talking, and Lucas says that he’s grateful she’s been so kind, but he does not expect her to speak to him at school or in public. They flirt and he kisses the sugar from her fingers, then the doorbell goes. Lucas sneaks out while Zoey lets Claire and Jake in. Claire and Jake interrogate her about talking to Lucas – Claire didn’t believe for a second that Nina was the one to talk to him – Zoey is both irritated by their attitude and the way that Claire acts like she and Jake are together. Jake says that it doesn’t matter that Lucas didn’t set out to kill anyone, he got behind the wheel of a car while drunk and Wade is dead.
Before Jake and Claire leave, Claire makes a comment about how it’s probably harder for Zoey than anyone, because he’s her next door neighbour, then pretends to reminisce on how cute he was with his “soulful eyes” and Zoey knows that Claire has spotted the sweet rolls in the kitchen and knows Lucas was here. Zoey hits back with Lucas’ message, that he keeps his promises. Claire looks momentarily troubled, then indifferent again as she says she has no idea what it means.
[Wing: What cracks me up is that Zoey goes through this entire thing in her t-shirt and underwear. She feels attacked and yet doesn’t take time to put on clothes.]
Once they leave, Zoey fumes that they are conspiring together against her. But on the other hand, Lucas makes her weak at the knees. On the other other hand he killed Wade. Fourth hand: but he paid for it. Fifth hand: no he didn’t. Zoey is very conflicted, so she decides to go to Weymouth, the town on the mainland. She bumps into her brother on the ferry over there. Benjamin says he finds it strange that the one driving the car was the least hurt in the accident, you’d have thought the people in the front would have been worst injured, and yet it was Lucas that was injury-free. He then says that Zoey will discuss this with Nina and news will travel…
A note from Claire
When Claire was thirteen, her mother died. Nina was sent away to their aunt and uncle because she needed a change of scenery. Nina had always been closer with her mother, and Claire with her father. When she came back, things were different between Nina and Claire. After the accident, Claire was a mess, and her father reassuring her that he’d take care of her and protect her was just what she needed. And then Lucas confessed, and life went on.
Nina and Claire are shopping with their father for lobster, they’re all out at wherever they are, so they head down to Lucas’ dad’s boat, which the girls are surprised to find out their father owns half of, and buy them there. Nina brings up Benjamin’s comments and Burke Geiger buys a couple more lobster and tells Claire to invite Benjamin for dinner. At dinner, Burke offers to help pay Benjamin through college, while impressing on him how much loyalty is valued.
Notes from everyone on their hopes:
Nothing worth recounting, although Zoey tells us that for student council she came forth after two other people and Bevis, however, she beat Butthead by two votes. [Rosey: 2014 Zoey came forth after two other people and Captain America, however she beat Thor by two votes.] [Wing: First of all, unlikely. Hello God of Thunder. Second, that is not nearly as funny as Beavis and Butthead.]
Across the island, everyone wakes for their first day of school, their alarms are as follows: Zoey: I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston; Jake and Nina: Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses; Benjamin: Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony; Claire: the alarm buzzing (nice touch); Aisha: her younger brother Kalif screaming “The house is on fire!”; Lucas: the default setting of being awake at 6am because of Youth Authority. [Rosey : 2014 Zoey gets Trouble by Taylor Swift; Nina and Jake get Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore.] [Wing: WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK, REPRINT. That update is TERRIBLE.] [Rosey: RIGHT?]
This is something I love, by the way. Actual songs by actual people, none of this “Pass the Buck” by Johnny Buck, or Melody Powers or Donny Diamond (who sounds like someone who fills in when Butlins can’t get anyone people have heard of).
Jake spots Lucas on the ferry and drags Zoey over to him so that he can start a fight. He calls Lucas “Killer” and kisses Zoey hard right in front of Lucas. Then he says that he had to move up here to the front of the ferry because there was garbage blocking his view, and Zoey doesn’t like garbage. Lucas says don’t drag Zoey into this, and Jake punches Lucas.
Zoey jumps in the middle of them, protecting Lucas, while Nina and Aisha drag Jake away. She helps clean Lucas up while Claire “comforts” Jake (yes, this scene becomes draft #24 of chapter 1 of her novel).
In gym, Aisha and Zoey must suffer soccer (it’s called football, people, FFS). And guess who’s just taken a job maintaining the gym equipment? Christopher. Coach Anders asks Christopher to pick someone to demonstrate the “fun-da-mentals” with. Aisha is convinced he’ll pick her, but he picks Zoey, who tries to get him to choose Aisha, but he says Aisha has big feet. This works perfectly, and Aisha is offended and ends up agreeing to meet Christopher after school to work on her soccer. [Rosey: Christopher is such a dick.]
After school, Zoey makes a list of Jake vs Lucas, it looks like this:
|—Known him for years||—Barely know him|
|—Great body||—Okay body|
|—Like his mom||—His dad is a little intense|
|—Very good kisser||—?|
|—Never got anyone killed||—Probably got someone killed|
|—Everyone likes him but Nina||—No-one likes him|
|—Thinks he’s going to marry me||—Says he thought of me a lot|
|—Getting kind of gropey||—Hasn’t seen a girl in 2 years|
|—Friend as well as boyfriend||—Neither|
|—Makes me feel safe||—Makes me feel|
|—Excellent chest||—Possible tattoo?|
|—Don’t like his hair||—Nice hair|
Next we hop over to Claire, who is seeing her shrink. She’s been seeing her ever since her mother died. She dreamed she was in the car with Wade and Lucas, only it was a lobster. She slips and says that Lucas was trying to grab the wheel out of her hand, but corrects herself and says she was trying to grab it from him. The car crashed, and she could see Benjamin standing on the side of the road. Her shrink noncommittally says the dream could mean anything. She also suggests that Claire ease off on the meetings, every two weeks instead of every week. Claire agrees, then says she’ll forget which week she’s supposed to be there, so she might as well stick to weekly. I find it adorable when Claire does things like that. She’s a difficult person, and she could easily be annoying in the hands of less talented writers.
Zoey makes up with Jake, feeling irritated that she should have to. Jake says he was worried that she was romantically interested in Lucas, rather than just not liking blood and violence. She laughs that one off.
Poor Jake. I mean, he’s an asshat for starting that fight (I hate it when lads do that), but his brother died, and Lucas was only incarcerated for two years, which was ages for Lucas, but bugger all to him, and Zoey was halfway out the door before Lucas arrived. I feel like the only reason she sticks with Jake is because everyone expects her to, and she’s worried that Claire might want him – never mind that Zoey doesn’t, if Claire wants Jake, then Zoey’s not giving him up.
The next day Zoey bumps into Lucas and they get talking, despite the island-wide embargo on fraternising with Lucas. Lucas says he was never a huge fan of McD’s, but after not having one for two years, he’s crazy about them. Zoey suggests they play hooky and go to McD’s. Obviously they end up making out and missing the ferry.
Nina and Benjamin talk on the ferry, Claire talks to Jake. Benjamin asks if Nina thinks Claire is into Jake. Nina thinks so, and they have a thinly veiled conversation about how sometimes things can change between a guy and a girl who have been just friends up to this point. Or at least, Nina has that conversation, Ben is still talking about Claire. Nina goes home and rages at her Axl Rose poster about Benjamin’s inability to pick up nuance today, when that’s pretty much his speciality in every other conversation he’s ever had. [Rosey: 2014 Nina has a poster of Ed Sheeran on her wall. That man gets bloody everywhere! We also see a reference to Shannon Doherty updated to Lindsay Lohan.] [Wing: Shouldn’t that poster be updated to Macklemore, considering the earlier update? Also, Benjamin’s thoughts after talking to Nina is the part where I remembered how much I dislike him; he’s so fucking self-centered and annoyed at her for not worrying more about his feelings, he’s the one being hurt here after all.] [Dove: And he’s so smug and superior, yet judges Claire for being isolated.] [Rosey: The 2014 updates actually seem to have a much wider pool of pop culture references that the originals. But then, I guess with the internet, we ALL have a much wider pool of pop culture references?)
Zoey calls Nina to ask whether they were missed on the ferry, then spills the beans about all the snogging, then they discuss the possibility that Lucas was not driving the car when it crashed. Claire is listening on the other extension. Claire goes to see Benjamin, who she finds to be irritating and smug (and, in this scene, I really do agree with her) who says he will stand by her no matter what. She asks why he is protecting Lucas and smearing Wade’s name by saying he was driving, and he really is patronising when he’s all “Oh, Claire, you really don’t remember do you?” Claire has a flashback of someone screaming “Stop it, you’re scaring me!” and storms out.
A note from Benjamin
In this, he is much less smug and irritating. The note explains that because he couldn’t see Claire’s injuries or the destroyed car, he had to imagine it. He had to manually insert everyone into the car, and it seemed logical that Lucas was in the back seat. When Lucas confessed, Benjamin assumed he was wrong, right up until Claire started grabbing pitchforks and stirring up the villagers. He believes that if she’d have known the truth two years ago, she would have acted on it. It’s the only way he can keep on loving her.
Sidenote: because he’s blind, Benjamin’s notes are in Courier New, as if typed on a computer/typewriter. I always wondered what handwriting he’d have when he regained his sight, but they always stuck with Courier New. [Rosey: SPOILERS!]
Nina spills the kissing beans to Aisha, and they “accidentally” bump into Zoey as she gets off the ferry. They tell her that her being with Lucas will destroy the group. And… horrible as this makes me feel… I’m with Zoey. She can’t stick with a relationship that she’s not into any more just because it makes everyone else happy. [Wing: I’m with Zoey, too. I think this particular situation is shitty all the way around, but Zoey should never have stayed with him this long just because it’s expected of her (or because she can’t handle the thought of someone else wanting him), and she certainly shouldn’t stay now just because it will make the group uncomfortable.]
Claire walks around town, trying to order her thoughts, and eventually goes to see her father. She says she remembers everything, and she was driving, so how did he get Lucas to take the blame? Burke says that nobody came out and said that Claire was driving, there was no proof, but he had an idea that she was driving. Wade and Lucas are bigger than Claire, and only someone small could have been driving and lived. He didn’t realise that Lucas would actually go to jail for it – but he’s also a bit of an ass, stating that Lucas would have ended up in jail sooner or later anyway. Nobody confirmed that Lucas was lying to save Claire, but they would have veiled conversations about it, during which Burke offered to buy half of Roy Cabral’s fishing boat. [Wing: Which really benefits Burke more than Roy in the long run anyway, good lord.]
Later that night, Zoey can’t settle in bed, so she goes for a walk to Lucas’ house. He’s on his way to her house to tell her that his dad’s had enough and is shipping him off the island to live with his grandfather in Texas. This would be an excellent “Oh, Lucas!” moment but it doesn’t happen.
The book ends with the two of them cry-kissing over the realisation that their romance will be very short-lived.
90s references: Marky Mark, Beavis & Butthead; Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses, I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, Nina rages to an Axl Rose poster
I do love these books, but I find it incredibly irritating that not a single one of them ends. It’s as if the entire series is a single book, and each book is actually a chapter. It’s not so bad now, but when I was buying them with my weekly pocket money as a teenager, it was really bad because, pre-internet, there were only ever about five at the bookstore I went to, and I couldn’t buy them in chronological order. It took me a fair amount of time to hunt them all down and read the whole thing. I know I read about Aaron being a dick before the book where he was charm personified. Nina Won’t Tell (#3) was one of the last I purchased because it was so hard to get hold of.
This was the first one that I read, because it came free with Mizz (a teen magazine) – Rosey got hooked in the same way. I also got Ben’s In Love the same way – they even have the Mizz logo where the bar code should be – which I read next. They I bounced all over the place, spoiling plotlines left, right and centre. But this book got me hooked. People were dicks, they swore (lightly, but still, better than “gosh” and “darn”), teens drank, boys pushed for sex and would break up with you if you didn’t hand it over (not that that’s a good thing, but to actually show it was miraculous, because every other book series I read was all about holding hands and never even thinking to kiss with tongues, let alone anything that came after it).
[Wing: I think coming to it much later after the series was complete and being able to marathon the books means I never realised quite how often the books just stop without having a real end. It really does read more like one long book than individual stories, and I find that almost as annoying as R L Stine’s needlessly dramatic unnecessary cliffhanger chapter endings.]