Let me begin this review by saying that I am an 80′s child. I started reading The Babysitter’s Club, Fear Street and Sweet Valley High when I was about 7. I grew up on Sweet Valley books. From SVH to Sweet Valley Twins to Sweet Valley University (released when I was about 14). So yes, when I saw that Sweet Valley Confidential was coming out, I had to have it. Even though I had to read SVC, my expectations were not high and that was definitely a good thing.
There is absolutely no sub-plot. Everything that happens in the book has to do with the “Liz hates Jessica” storyline. Everything else is simply flashbacks to explain the horrible tragedy that is Jess pissing off her older (by 4 minutes) sister. Which is funny in and of itself because if you have been any sort of a fan of Sweet Valley books, then you know that:
A) Jess and Liz fight in pretty much every book B) Jess is always the one screwing up and feeling horrendously sorry afterwards C) Liz always claims that she will never forgive her selfish twin for hurting her yet again D) Liz and Jess always make up.
The only real difference for this book is that Liz is now in New York and has become this extremely bitter, emo Liz who hates everyone and everything and decides that revenge is the best idea ever in order to get over her pain. And you were the smart twin? Such a pity.
In the spirit of not spoiling anything for any future readers, I’m not actually going to rehash the plot (such as it is). Instead, I’m going to discuss a few things that truly bothered me about Sweet Valley Confidential. Ready? I promise that I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum.
My Top 10 Things That I Truly Hated About Sweet Valley Confidential:
01) To start of this list, did you know that this is actually the FIRST Sweet Valley novel that Francine Pascal has ever written? Let’s let that sink in for just a moment. Sweet Valley High was created 28 years ago, with 8 spin-off series, a grand total of 606 books that spanned those series and not ONE of them was written by Francine Pascal until now. Can I have that job please? Seriously. I have tons of ideas! Anyway, in my opinion it is a benefit that FP never wrote one of the previous books, or the series never would have taken off the way it did. It is painfully obvious that FP also never read the previous books. I do think that Googling the characters that she included in the book, probably would have been a great idea. Example: Redhead A.J. Morgan was introduced in book #48 of SVH after his family moved to Sweet Valley. So it is not plausible that a dirty blonde A.J. Morgan felt up a 7th grade Jessica Wakefield.
02) Jessica Wakefield has never, in all 606 books, ever said “like” or “so” as many times as she did in this one lone book. I don’t know how Francine Pascal view Californians, but saying like or so after every word is not a California thing. It is a Valley Girl stereotype that is used in movies for humor, sure. I will even concede that there are some so-called Valley Girls that do say like. But definitely not as often as suggested by this book. Jessica was always one of my favorite characters. Yes, she was selfish, shallow and inconsiderate. But she was also a ton of fun, adventurous and fiercely loyal to her family. She was never the miserable doormat that has was portrayed as in SVC.
03) Elizabeth Wakefield has been prone to several emo fits throughout the run of the series. But for the so-called level-headed, intelligent and studious twin to resort to a cheap revenge scheme to try and shame her twin? That is not the Elizabeth that I grew up with. Not even in the slightest. This Elizabeth actually had me cringing anytime I had to read her side. Not from the pain she was caused, but from the loathing that I had for what she had become. Also, the twins are now 27. I always expected big things from Liz. You know. More of the stuff she was doing in SVU. Discovering atheltics scandals and secret hate societies on campus. Writing for a throw-away newspaper about Off Broadway shows, was not exactly what I had pictured. Talk about a let down.
04) Bruce Patman is Elizabeth’s best friend. Yes, you read that correctly. Bruce Patman. The rich, arrogant snob that everyone loved to hate. He is Elizabeth’s best friend. The one she turns to whenever her life throws her a curve ball. They are close in fact, that it is described as how he had received several 3am phone calls from her when she first moved to New York. The same Bruce Patman that took advantage of a whacked out of her mind Elizabeth, soon after her coma-induced personality change, and attempted to rape her. But you know, they’re best friends. I understand that people change and that often people forgive a lot of character flaws. But that seems like a HUGE character flaw to just forget about.
05) Todd Wilkins is one of the main protagonists. I should have known that he would be, but I was really hoping he wouldn’t be. And of course, Liz has to rehash her love for Todd throughout the majority of the book. The same Todd Wilkins who dumped her in SVU after she wouldn’t sleep with him, and then who turned around and slept with the first jock jumper he saw. God, Liz. You sure know how to pick them.
06) Flashback. I enjoy an occasional flashback as much as the next person. But each chapter had at least 2 flashbacks up until Chapter 15. No, I’m not kidding.
07) What is with FP’s idea of a relationship? It’s like none of these people have ever left high school. They sleep with someone once and all of a sudden they are in a relationship. It’s 2011. Guess what. People have sex all the time. Sex is simply that. Sex. Confusing sex by calling it a relationship is just not okay. That would explain why the majority of Sweet Valley is miserable. Which brings us to:
08) Why is everyone is Sweet Valley so effing miserable? I don’t think that there was one happy character and certainly not a happy couple. With the possible exception of Alice and Ned. (Although there is an absolutely hilarious moment when Alice gets pissed at all the screaming going on and drops an f-bomb. That was classic.) Everyone is sleeping with everyone else and no one is happy at all. At least in SVH there were still friendships. Oh wait, I forgot. Liz is friends with her attempted rapist. All is right in the world.
09) Did you know that the Wakefield’s joined the country club back when the twins were 12? Yeah, I didn’t either. Especially since throughout most of the SVH series Jessica is always bitching at the fact that Lila and Bruce are members of the club but her family was not.
10) Everyone is a blonde it appears. A.J. Morgan now has dirty blonde hair and Lila Fowler now has blonde streaks. Not everyone in California is a blonde, Francine Pascal.
It’s obvious that I was disappointed in Sweet Valley Confidential. Was I expecting a Pulitzer prize winning novel? No. But I was expecting a book that would be like reuniting with a group of old friends. This is more like reuniting with a group of people you hated and hoped to never see again. And I’m sorry. I have to mention it yet again. I am far from being a grammar nazi (although yes, I try my best to make sure my writing is proper) but this book had me wishing I could swallow a huge bottle of aspirin from all the grammatical mistakes and the over usage of “like” and “so”.(less)
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And my dismay at this book has nothing to do with the rape scene. The rape scene really isn't that bad. It's not graphic in any sort of way. Even the Elf-rape didn't bother me. I've read many books with disturbing imagery and was still able to enjoy them. There just, sadly, wasn't anything about this book that I was able to like, aside from the cover and the idea for the plot.(less)
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