Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, there are a few other things I need to be clear about up front: Sweet Valley Confidential is a poorly written book (and really, “poorly written” is going easy on it). Sweet Valley books never have been well-written (and I would know–I read all of them), and “ten” (more like fifteen) years later, that still hasn’t changed. There are holes in the plot. Obnoxious flashback devices are used liberally. I laughed out loud at the writing on several occasions (“It was so far-out unsexy that it crossed the line and came back to sexy”). And like, Francine soooo doesn’t know how to properly use “like” and “so.” I rolled my eyes. I cringed. I groaned over the cheesiness of it all.
I also couldn’t put the book down. Sweet Valley Confidential is so deliciously satisfying that I am willing to overlook most of the aforementioned faults (except the like/so thing, because really Francine…that was just sad). Let’s just say that it was so far-out bad that it crossed the line and came back to good.
Pascal isn’t trying to gain new fans with SVC. Instead, the book is meant for established fans of the series who want to know what the twins are up to now. And at 27 years old, they’re up to a lot (if you don’t want to know why Jessica is a bitch, you should probably stop reading now). No longer does Pascal have to vaguely describe all of her characters’ indiscretions with her teen readers in mind. Oh no. We readers have grown up, and so have Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, who are experiencing their twenties in all of their orgasm-having, wine-drinking, casual sex-partaking glory.
Then, of course, there’s the bombshell premise on which the plot is based: Jessica and Todd, Elizabeth’s longtime boyfriend, had an affair behind Elizabeth’s back and are now together. In her heartbroken fury, Elizabeth flees to New York City and starts working as a writer for a small theater publication while she tries to put the pieces of her life back together. She hasn’t spoken to Jessica in eight months, nor does she plan to any time soon.
A lot of memories from the Sweet Valley series came flooding back as I read SVC. Those lengthy descriptions about the twins’ physical perfection were still there, and the flashbacks, however annoying they were, helped fill in a lot of the blanks in readers’ memories. There were nods to characters past, like Trish Martin (Steven Wakefield’s first love, who died of leukemia) and Regina Morrow (the girl who OD’d on cocaine and scared legions of Sweet Valley fans–myself included–off the stuff for life).
But like the twins, their peers have grown up. It was a little Twilight Zone-y to see who became “bad,” who became “good,” and who completely lost their personality. Lila, Jessica’s best friend in high school, barely makes an appearance in SVC (which kind of bummed me out, because I liked Lila). I was also bummed about Todd, who, in addition to becoming a complete bastard re: Elizabeth, had absolutely no depth whatsoever in this book. And Steven. STEVEN! I’ll let you find out for yourself what Steven’s up to now, but ahhhhh! It’s so good!
If you chance upon my Goodreads rating of this book, you’ll see I gave it 4 stars. Not because it’s, like, good? But because it’s awesome. I’ve been waiting for this book for 6 years, ever since Francine Pascal announced during an interview with BUST Magazine that she was working on it. I was so not disappointed!
Sweet Valley Confidential was released on March 29, 2011 by St. Martin’s Press.