Sara's Reviews > Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal
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Feb 02, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, adult-fiction
Read on March 29, 2011

Ohhh boy where to begin with this one! I have been looking forward to a new Sweet Valley book for YEARS. I read so many of these now-out-of-print books back in the day (and, admittedly, occasionally still read some for the nostalgia/laugh factor). Like everyone else remotely in my age range, I loved the twins, Liz and Jess, and especially loved Liz's swoon-worthy boyfriend, Todd (who, upon re-reading these books as an adult, I've come to realize is really a tool who punches people with alarming regularity). Now, a decade after the last Sweet Valley book was published, the twins have returned! And it's not just the readers who've aged - the twins are now 27!

I devoured this book the night it came out. Knowing how ridiculous many of the Sweet Valley books of old were, I was expecting it to be terrible yet awesome, and in some regards I was right. Liz and Jess haven't talked in 8 months; Liz is living in New York while Jess is in Sweet Valley, desperate for her twin to forgive her for stealing Todd and becoming engaged to him.

The book was pretty high on the soap opera scale, which made for a lot of angst but not a lot of believability. Readers of old (and, really, who else would read this?!?) won't buy the reason for the twins' estrangement, as there is virtually nothing in any of the old books that made this seem likely. Or even possible. Just... no. Although, Jess and Liz did do their fair share of boyfriend-stealing back in the day, and Liz and Todd cheated on each other all the time (why did I not notice how messed up their relationship was when I was 12?). But still. There is no way Jess and Todd would actually be together, much less engaged.

Reality was never a strong factor in Sweet Valley. Somehow their junior year of high school lasted for 140+ books (not including the special editions!), they were a "perfect size six", no one ever had a job yet everyone always had money, it was sunny all the time, and everything always turned out perfect in the end, with the twins (of course) being on top. There were plots involving the twins and friends going on a trip through Death Valley on their own (after winning a school contest!) while escaped convicts are on the loose. Another book (one of my favorites) had Todd staying with Liz when both sets of parents were away to "practice living together". And let's not forget the WTF-inducing MULTI-BOOK ARC of a psycho named Margo coming to Sweet Valley, determined to take over one of the twins' lives because she was somehow identical to them. So it's not as if I was expecting this to be life-changing Literature. I simply expected entertainment!

Yes, this book was entertaining. But it was also unbelievable - and not in the good Sweet Valley way, but in a general sense. It felt like the author simply threw stuff in (like, ahem, the main plot!) to "shock" the reader, not because it made sense or even made for a good story. What frustrated me as well was the fact that most of the other characters had extremely minor roles. One of the things that made the Sweet Valley world so enthralling was that there was a whole world, not just the twins (although the Sweet Valley world revolved around the twins... but that's another story), yet in this book, it was mainly the twins. And Todd, who's managed to become an even bigger tool than before. And a little Bruce, who's still driving his hot Porsche with the 1BRUCE1 license plate! Everyone else got a small mention, and that was it. Come on! If they're all gong to still be hanging out with each other all the time, I want to see them in more than one paragraph!

The best part of the book was the last chapter/epilogue with a paragraph or two about all sorts of characters from back in the day, giving an update about how they've turned out. Why wasn't there more of this sprinkled throughout the book? It would have made for a far more entertaining read rather than watch Liz and Jess slowly muddle their way through a super soapy drama.

Also - the inconsistencies. Granted, Sweet Valley was not the best about consistency in general. This tradition held in this book! People changed names (George Fowler became Richard Fowler, Teddy Collins became Sam Collins...), people changed haircolor (A.J. Morgan is now a blond, not a redhead), people never left Sweet Valley (Cara Walked apparently didn't move to London halfway through SVH), and others moved to Sweet Valley way earlier than canon (A.J. was supposedly there in 7th grade instead of moving to Sweet Valley halfway through junior year). I realize there are over 500 books in the Sweet Valley series that are already inconsistent with each other, but come on! On the other hand, having so many inconsistencies did make it feel a little more legitimately Sweet Valley...

Anyway, the book was entertaining overall but a far cry from the greatness of the addictive books I once knew. I'm not saying that I wouldn't read another book, if this were to be the start of a new SV series, because we all know I'd be buying it the day it came out. This book was simply ridiculous - and not the ridiculous-but-awesome type of ridiculous the old books are, but just ridiculous ridiculous. Sweet Valley fans of old will devour this the way I did, and others will pass it up because, hey, it's not a book that'd be enjoyable in the slightest had I not already been a huge fan of the world of Sweet Valley. Oh, and also, it included a ToddPunch. YESSSSS!
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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen Rombach Oh Sara! hey, you know the canon and I know you write wonderfully, bet there might be some interest in good fan lit submitted! Probably already occured to you but really, you could write them the story that you would have wanted to read! : ) Jen


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