Oh man, this book is so ridiculous. No, despite the title, it’s not a super chiller, and Steven’s not really a zombie. Or is he? No he totally isn’t.
We open the book with the Wakefields eating dinner together, and Jessica suddenly begins speaking in a Southern accent. She’s getting into the mood for an upcoming social studies project on the Civil War Era South. I think we should have a tag for when the twins have bizarre school projects. Growing up in California, we never learned squat about the South, Civil War Era or otherwise. Anyway, Steven makes fun of Jessica’s crappy Southern accent (he says she sounds like Dolly Parton and wonders if she got spinach in her brain…spinach in her brain? Okay Steven.) and Jessica gets pissy about it. There is a shoehorned in passage about how slavery was bad. Antebellum dresses, good. Slavery, bad. Mmmkay?
Jessica stays up until 2:00 am reading a book called Voodoo in Creole Society. She tries to go to sleep (with the light on, because the book scared her…aw) but she thinks her Johnny Buck poster is giving her an evil look. It turns out someone (Steven) has used a Sharpie to make ol’ Johnny cross-eyed. Jessica plots revenge.
The next day, the Hairnet tells the class about the project. Basically, it’s one of those only-at-SVMS projects, where they can do whatever they want as long as it’s marginally related to the Civil War Era South. No rules! Woo! Why didn’t I ever get to do projects like this? The Hairnet asks for 2 students to volunteer to cook a Southern meal for their project, so Todd raises his hand and volunteers himself and Elizabeth. Poor Liz is like, gee THANKS TODD. It turns out that the most cooking Todd has ever done is to make his mom toast. What a brain trust. However, he’s on a trying-new-things high, so cooking it is!
Lila, because she is awesome, has decided to throw an Antebellum themed party for her project, so all the Unicorns decide to dress up like Scarlett O’Hara (Janet for some unfathomable reason decides to go as Melanie.) It is obvious that all the kids have seen Gone With the Wind, which is a really, really long movie! I love it and it’s one of my favorites, but I wouldn’t have sat through it at age 12, that’s for sure. But whatever. Bickering over who will be the best Scarlett ensues. Note: Ellen is doing her project on Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Oh Ellen. I love you best.
Elizabeth and Amy volunteer after school at a homeless shelter/day care and play with a little boy with a bad leg named
Elizabeth finds Jessica at home making a voodoo doll of Steven out of a random GI Joe. She has cut up Steven’s lucky shirt to make the clothes, and even gives the dolly some zits with a red marker. Heh. Liz: “Aren’t you a little old to be playing with dolls?” Shut up Liz! I played with dolls when I was in 6th grade! (It was only with my 3-years-younger sister, in my defense, and I quit when I turned 12.) Jess makes Liz promise not to tell anyone, but Liz has her toes crossed. How very Jessica of her.
After Liz leaves, Jessica tests out her voodoo powers by sticking the Steven doll with a hat pin (a hat pin?). She tells it: “Sorry, Steven, but all is fair in love and war. I love Johnny Buck, and I’m at war with you.” Hee. Of course, Steven doesn’t feel a thing.
At dinner, Jessica, not suspiciously at all, asks Steven if he’s been experiencing any pain lately. Liz giggles and Jess kicks her under the table. Liz: “ow my leg! Oh hay I know someone else with leg pain!” She tells the family about
That night, Jessica sneaks downstairs and spies on Steven eating a triple-decker bologna sandwich with ketchup and pickles. Steven = Dagwood? She pokes her voodoo doll with a thumbtack and Steven drops his gross sandwich. Jessica: muahahaha!
The next day at breakfast, Steven is being a typical mopey teenager, so Alice helpfully tells him to cheer up. Jessica has her G.I. Steven under the table, and tickles it. Steven starts laughing uncontrollably and Alice is pleased that Steven is taking her advice for once. Oh Alice. Everyone else joins in laughing, and it’s a cute family moment.
Todd and Liz are practicing cooking for their project. Todd keeps screwing up, so he and Liz have one of those super polite ‘no I insist’ back-and-forths about who should go do homework in the living room. Finally they both decide to stay in the kitchen and finish the cornbread. Todd suggests that Liz give it to her family at dinner and see if they like it.
Jess is watching her soaps (because she is 70) when Steven comes in and changes the channel. Instead of getting mad and shouting at him, like she usually does, Jess uses her G.I. Steven to make the real Steven drop popcorn all over the place. He goes off to find the vacuum and Jess changes the channel back. Muahahhha!
At Booster practice, all the Unicorns are bragging to each other about their Scarlett costumes. Jessica has been too busy doing voodoo to put her costume together, but of course she lies and says her dress is awesome. Janet reveals that the best Scarlett gets to be acting president of the Unicorns for a week. A whole week! No ways! Lila, because she is awesome, has spread a rumor that the best Rhett Butler gets the first dance with her. Love it! However, the dancing will be of the square-dancing variety. The Unicorns ridicule her until she agrees to allow regular dancing too. Ridiculous. I refuse to believe that Lila would ever EVER want square-dancing at her party. Fail, ghostwriter.
Jessica spends the rest of the day making a reverse voodoo doll for Benjamin. She makes a “magic” ointment out of rose petals, perfume, vitamin C, milk, and honey, and rubs it all over the doll. Then she builds a little diorama for G.I. Tiny Tim to live in. Liz walks in and busts her and they bicker about whether voodoo is real or not. .
Steven skips dinner, which Ned and Alice chalk up to an illness, and which Jessica chalks up to voodoo.
Amy and Liz go to Casey’s to talk about their social studies projects. All Liz can do is bitch about Todd’s crappy cooking. Just then, he comes over to sit with them, and Amy and Liz pretend they weren’t totally just talking shit about him. Nice. Todd tells the girls that all this cooking has made him want to be a chef someday. He leaves, calling Liz “Julia” as in “Child.” Oh Todd, you are made of fail in this book. Jessica comes over and makes fun of Todd, which annoys Liz even though she was just doing it herself. Amy gives Jess a great idea for her Scarlett costume…use the curtains just like Scarlett did in the movie!
Todd and Liz have another cooking session, this time with gumbo. Todd puts in 5 teaspoons of Tabasco instead of half a teaspoon. To make up for it, he puts in extra celery, and the gumbo goes all over the floor. Liz is predictably bitchy.
Jessica comes home to find Steven playing basketball with Joe. She runs upstairs and jabs G.I. Steven with a pencil, as the real Steven starts twitching and lurching. She comes downstairs and Steven makes up a crappy excuse to go in the house, leaving Joe to tell Jessica about how weeeeird Steven has been acting. Almost…zombie-like. Jessica is pleased, because she has no soul.
The next morning, Jessica draws a giant zit on G.I. Steven’s face. Then, at breakfast, the real Steven has a giant zit too! He claims it’s been growing all week but Jessica thinks it was the voodoo. Elizabeth reveals she is dressing up like Sojourner Truth for Lila’s party. Jessica has no idea who that is. Sweet Valley school system FAIL.
At school, Aaron comes up to Jessica to chat about Lila’s party. He is going as Rhett Butler. Lila comes up and flirts with Aaron. Jessica is pissed, so she arranges it with Janet so the best Rhett gets to dance with the best Scarlett, and not Lila. Pwned, Lila! That’s what you get for wanting to square-dance! The Unicorns want to get ready at Jessica’s house but she blows them off as she doesn’t want them to find out she’s wearing curtains.
After school, Jessica walks over to SVH and finds Steven and Cathy on the lawn. She hides behind a tree and makes G.I. Steven do a headstand. The real Steven does one too, and Cathy laughs at him. He tells her he must have had a spell…dizzy spell that is. Jessica comes up and they walk home together. Steven is nice and carries her backpack. Weeeeeird.
In order to look as much like Scarlett as possible, Jessica has decided to give herself a temporary perm and dye her hair (temporarily) brown. Liz says she can’t even go to the party because she has a cooking date with Todd. Jess tells her to booby-trap the kitchen so there is no way Todd can mess up: anticipate his mistakes and mis-label everything. There is absolutely no way at ALL that could backfire.
Jess comes out of the shower to find her hair is curly and orange. Steven walks by and calls her Carrot Top. Ha! Jessica is furious. She gets revenge on Steven by voodooing him into doing a bellyflop into the pool. Jessica wonders if the orange hair is punishment for being a voodoo witch. She’s a witch! BURN HER!
Liz finds Jessica a big hat to wear over her orange hair and tells her the key to winning the contest is attitude. All she has to do is walk in to the party knowing she’s the best Scarlett there and she’ll win easy. But what if everyone does that? Liz wraps the curtains around her and pins it in some magical way so that it looks like a dress and not curtains. I hope Jess is wearing something under her outfit, just in case.
The Unicorns all walk around the party quoting non sequitur lines from Gone With the Wind. Caroline comes up and asks Jessica if she got her dress in the linen department. Hee! I love that Caroline is the only person at the party who figures out that Jessica is wearing a curtain. Elizabeth shows up at the party, just in time for the contest winners to be announced. What a big surprise, Jess is named Best Scarlett. Apparently Aaron was named Best Rhett, because they dance together. Jessica then dances with all the boys in succession, and thinks this is the best party she’s ever been to, square-dancing and all.
Liz makes Jessica leave the party early so they can put the curtains back before their parents find out. They finish rehanging the curtains just in the nick of time. I’m sure you were worried. Then Jessica washes her hair five times, and finally is blond again. I’m sure you were worried about that too.
At breakfast, Jessica spills food all over G.I. Steven and is thrilled when the real Steven makes a mess of his own face. Steven says he’s been feeling spacey lately and Ned tells a story about getting nervous during a class presentation, and bursting into song. Yankee Doodle Dandy, in fact. Fail, Ned. Epic fail.
Liz, Jess, Amy, and
The twins walk around the mall and bicker about whether Jess’s voodoo has any effect on anything. Liz thinks sometimes medical problems just go away on their own, and chalks Steven’s weirdness up to his being…well…weird. They go to Casey’s, as Jessica is hungry again, and run into Steven and Cathy. Jessica once again gets food all over G.I. Steven, and the real Steven gets food all over himself too. Cathy laughs at him. She must have the patience of a saint. Jessica wants Liz to write an article about her voodoo powers for the Sixers, because this will obviously lead to her becoming famous. First the Sixers, next…the world!
Jessica decides that it’s time for Steven to become a zombie. She stands outside his door and pokes G.I. Steven a bunch of times, but the real Steven keeps twitching even after she stops. Then he sees her outside and says she’s a wonderful sister. Does…not…compute.
The next morning, Steven looks like crap, so Ned and Alice fuss over him, and tell him to stay home from school. He tells Jessica she’s wearing a beautiful blouse, even though it’s a ratty old shirt she’s had for years. Jessica starts feeling weird. What could it be? What is this guilt you speak of?
Jessica comes home from school to find Steven watching a documentary about ballet. Hah! He tells her he has to go to the doctor, and Jessica hilariously wonders if voodoo could show up on his test results.
That night, Jessica dreams that she is drowning in the ocean, and Steven saves her. Just as she gets to shore, a huge wave comes and Steven is swept away and drowns. Whatever could it mean?! Jessica wakes up and decides to stop doing voodoo. The next morning, she sets up G.I. Steven in the Diorama of Wellness and turns on an easy listening radio station, which is playing “Feelings.” The book doesn’t say what version of “Feelings” is playing, just that it’s corny, so I will assume that it is THIS one. Then she goes downstairs and has a panic when Ned and Alice tell her Steven is sick and having breakfast in bed. They tell her she’s a good sister for being so worried. Oh, the irony.
Jess and Liz walk to school and Jess is positively convinced that her voodoo is killing Steven. Liz dismisses her worries and Jess cries. She can’t concentrate in school or at Booster practice, and when Ellen asks her what she’s making for some bake sale, she says, “I guess I’ll make voodoo.” Everyone laughs at her and she runs away.
At home, Jessica finds Steven lying on the couch humming “Feelings.” OMG HE’S A ZOMBIE! She goes upstairs and rubs Tiny Tim’s healing potion all over G.I. Steven. Liz comes in and dismisses her worries some more. Liz is a jerk in this book, as we’ll find out when we get to the end. Also, she went ahead with the kitchen booby-trapping that was discussed before. Because she sucks. Literally this book should be named Elizabeth the Jerk instead of Steven the Zombie. Jessica goes to check on Steven again, and he is nice to her. Jessica feels more of that strange “guilt” sensation.
The next day, Todd and Liz have their presentation and Todd embarrasses Liz with his “silly announcer voice.” Everyone takes some food and there is a long dramatic pause...then the class erupts into pandemonium, and the Hairnet has to run out of the room to throw up. Heh. The principal has to come in and, because the Hairnet is too ill to teach, he just dismisses the class to wander around until their next period. Man, oh man, do I wish I had gone to SVMS. Todd feels really bad about allegedly ruining the presentation, but Liz knows it’s really her fault. Does she speak up about it? No of course not.
Before bed, Jessica thinks about Steven and hopes he isn’t really dying and/or turning into a zombie. “’What if I actually kill Steven?’ she couldn’t help worrying. ‘Mom and Dad would be so mad.’” Hahaha. I love that this is what she worries about. Finally, she goes to sleep and dreams that she is being burned at the stake for being an evil voodoo witch. She wakes up in a panic and runs to get some water, but OMG! The G.I. Steven doll is lying in a puddle of water! The voodoo has taken over!!111!!1! She checks on him in his room, but he won’t wake up, so she runs to get her parents. She tells them she’s killed Steven, and her parents are just like, what time is it? Fail, Wakefields. Liz wakes up too, and they all go to check on Steven…who of course is totally faking.
The next day at Casey’s, Lila tells Liz that five people went home sick after eating Liz and Todd’s Antebellum meal. Ha! Then Bruce comes up and is like, I never knew you had it in you
Next, Liz goes to Todd’s house to apologize. She tells him she switched all the labels around on the ingredients and measuring cups (with masking tape labels, which Todd was too dumb not to notice…wow.). Instead of being mad, Todd is just relieved that he isn’t a terrible cook after all. They
Finally at dinner, the Wakefields get around to discussing what happened the night before. Elizabeth admits she told Steven about Jessica’s voodoo doll. “I was crossing my toes!” She thought it would be funny to make Jess think her voodoo was working. See? She’s a jerk. Steven tells Jess that he always saw her with the doll and just acted out whatever she was doing. Even when she had the doll under the table, he could see her moving her hands around, and due to the magic of needing to wrap this book up in a timely fashion, he always correctly guessed what she was doing to the doll. Also, he really does have a mild case of the flu. How convenient.
The next morning, it’s the day of Jessica’s presentation, and since she was planning on doing her project on voodoo, she has no idea what she’s going to say to the class. She asks Steven and Liz to help her fake her voodoo presentation in order to make up for scaring her all week. Jess writes Steven a note (from Alice) excusing him from class, and Liz is predictably distraught.
Jessica’s presentation is kind of awesome in that she doesn’t even mention anything about the South during the Civil War, but just goes straight into her voodoo demonstration. Steven is blindfolded, and they have a code wherein Liz coughs a certain number of times to indicate where the doll is being poked. The project is a huge success and all the kids are awed and amazed. However, due to Jessica’s project having nothing to do with anything, the Hairnet only gives her a C+. Heh.
At lunch, Jessica is going on and on about her voodoo powers while the other kids hang on her every word. They want her to make voodoo dolls of their brothers, or rival sports teams, and Jess is soaking up their attention like a giant narcissistic sponge. Liz finally has to pull her away and is like, ummmm if the other kids go home and make voodoo dolls, their parents are going to FREAK. She also makes Jess promise to tell Todd the cooking scheme was her idea. Even though Liz and Todd already made up and there are no hard feelings. I don’t know.
So Jess goes to talk to Todd, and it’s a total rip off of the scene in Double Love where Jessica tells Todd that it was her at Kelly’s, not Liz. Todd thinks Jess is just covering for Liz, blah blah. But whatever, Todd doesn’t care anyway, so I guess everything is a-okay.
At dinner, Jessica gives Steven a brand new shirt to make up for destroying his lucky shirt to make the voodoo doll. She tells him to go back to teasing her and being obnoxious because it makes her feel weird (read guilty) when he’s nice. He agrees.
And we all learn a valuable lesson about not making voodoo dolls of our brothers, because it could totally backfire. The end! And Happy Halloween!