What happens when your carefully planned, senior party/last hurrah at beloved-but-now-closed small town icon goes horribly awry? You go with it. That’s the premise behind Rachel Cohn’s LOL-worthy new YA comedy, Kill All Happies.
This is it. Graduation. And Vic Navarro is throwing the most epic party Rancho Soldado has ever seen. She’s going to pull off the most memorable good-bye ever for her best friends, give Happies—the kitschy restaurant that is her desert town’s claim to fame—a proper send-off into bankruptcy, and oh yes, hook up with her delicious crush, Jake Zavala-Kim. She only needs to keep the whole thing a secret so that her archnemesis, Miss Ann Thrope, Rancho Soldado’s nightmare Town Councilwoman and high school Economics teacher, doesn’t get Vic tossed in jail.
With the music thumping, alcohol flowing, bodies mashing, and Thrope nowhere to be seen, Vic’s party is a raging success. That is, until Happies fans start arriving in droves to say good-bye, and storm the deserted theme park behind the restaurant. Suddenly what was a small graduation bash is more like Coachella on steroids with a side of RASmatazz pie. The night is so not going as planned. And maybe that’s the best plan of all.
This book sort of has all the earmarks of a classic ’90s teen comedy movie — and as someone who was a teen in the ’90s, that means it brought back all the nostalgia for me.
There’s the carefully planned senior party — which all goes out the window as soon as the seniors actually show up and go crazy, because (1) alcohol and (2) they’ve just graduated high school and (3) who’s going to stop them? Certainly not fellow graduate Vic Navarro.
There’s the semi-douchey crush and the unexpected other guy waiting in plain sight. (“Can’t Hardly Wait” much?)
There’s the teacher/townie with a major chip on her shoulder and a taste for vengeance, on the prowl to Shut. It. Down.
And setting Kill All Happies apart from the crowd is that unexpected element Cohn has tossed in here: Happies itself, and the band of older and eclectic die-hard fans who don’t care about a senior class party when they can glean on last hurrah for themselves at their beloved landmark.
Kill All Happies is wild and outlandish and over-the-top, but it also encapsulates that weird, perfectly imperfect moment you find yourself facing at the end of high school. When you’re gleefully leaving behind the drudgery of high school, on the cusp of adulthood and freedom, but also facing the terrifying realization that earning a diploma does not make you suddenly automatically equipped to face the real world head-on. That being an adult does not mean you feel like an adult. That the future is now here and staring you down, and you maybe don’t exactly quite know what to do next, and while you’re excited for the changes graduating high school promises, does anything really have to change, really?
Look for Kill All Happies in stores May 2nd.