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12 September 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: More Bitter than Sweet

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years LaterSweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just a warning before I get on with the review- this is going to contain spoilers. Plenty of spoilers. If you'd rather go into it knowing nothing, then I wouldn't go any further. Suffice it to say that I am not the only Sweet Valley fan that was not totally impressed with the new book. For everyone else, here is what happened and what I thought...

As a Sweet Valley High fan back in the day, I was really looking forward to the new book. I was curious to see where they took the Wakefield twins and their friends in the 10 years since they left Sweet Valley High. Sadly, I was in for a big disappointment. Let's start with the main plot: a rift between Jessica and Elizabeth. It all started when Jess and Todd hooked up briefly 5 years before. Liz eventually found out and left Todd and Sweet Valley behind to head off to New York. She ends up working for what she describes as a Zagat guide for the theater. Meanwhile, Jessica has gotten a job with a green cosmetics company and is living with Todd. Steven has come out as a gay man and is living with Aaron Dallas, both of whom also hate Jessica. It's not because of Liz, though. Jessica caught them both one day and decided the best thing to do would be to go to Cara, Steve's wife, and tell her. Naturally, she justifies this by telling herself that what Steven is doing is not only wrong, but is unfair to everyone involved.

Naturally, a big family event is coming up to bring everyone back together and Elizabeth decides to bring along Liam, an actor she met in New York and not her boyfriend. She tries to pretend that she is not bringing Liam along to try and tempt Jessica and ruin her wedding to Todd, but she eventually admits that that is what she was hoping for subconciously. Ned and Alice are as ineffective parents as ever, yelling a bunch of shut ups at the warring relatives at Grandma Marjorie's (nice nod to the Saga books!) birthday party and not telling anyone that Liz is going to be there until the last minute despite all the tension. What better way to avoid a fire than throwing a match into some gasoline right? Other plotlines include the bad blood between Winston and Todd after Winston cheats him in a business deal, Lila's seperation from Ken and Bruce's new attitude after losing both his parents.

Now, at first glance a lot of that seems like classic SV craziness, but this book is anything but classic SV. First off, the book has a bit of an odd format, switch between present day third person narration and a first person POV for flashbacks. And boy, are there flashbacks! Secondly, Jessica has an exaggerated Valley Girl speech pattern that is nothing like the way she would talk in the previous books while Elizabeth has a bit of a mean streak that seems more Jessica. Granted, she has reason but come on- she got over Jessica slipping her that punch that killed someone easier than Jessica's attraction to Todd. The book, btw, never makes mention of Jessica's previous cheating with Todd. It gives the impression that the college-years fling was the first time. They did get one thing right, though. Liz conveniently forgets she's been guilty of cheating many times herself. I kind of liked the end where they fill you in on other past character's lives that were not featured in the book. I just feel like it could've been worked in as something more than a quick laundry list. Especially considering so much of the information was covered earlier. They also could've left out mentioning the death of Regina and other characters in that section, which also would've saved room.

So, what do you think? Have you read SV Condifential? If so, let me know what you thought.

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