Sweet Valley Confidential

Book cover: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine PascalOMG JESSICA YOU BITCH!

*clears throat*

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.

IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon
I read it as a(n): hardcover
Source: Purchase
Pages: 304

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6 comments

  1. Emily @ Eat the Books!

    Okay, so…I never read Sweet Valley high because my parents wouldn’t let me (I know I was deprived). But I do have to say that I admire you for reading a ton of literary fiction and nonfiction, and in the midst feel comfortable picking up this book. It just shows that it’s okay to indulge our reading–even if it’s outside our normal genres. Thank you!

  2. Vasilly

    Wow! I heard about the bad writing in SV Confidential after reading another review yesterday. Please tell me that Elizabeth NEVER starts back talking to Jessica. Even now I hate her with a f-ing passion!

  3. Nicole

    This was a fund review to read, if only for your enthusiasm. The other review I read was petty scathing. Looks like this one will split folks down the middle.

  4. Hira Hasnain

    I’m SO glad I read this review. You have written an AWESOME review, and have gotten the essence of the book. I’m talking like I’m some kind of expert, when I haven’t even read the book. But like you, I read ALL the Sweet Valley novels, from Kids, to Teens, to SVU (no, not the TV show, LOL). And you cannot deny the fact they were never well-written novels, just incredibly entertaining ones! You connected with the characters, and sort of grew with them, which is what makes THIS book SO exciting! Gosh, I’m SO looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the AWESOME review! 😀

    ~Hira~

    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

  5. Melissa

    Thanks! This was a fun review to write. 🙂

    @Emily: It felt especially good reading this because all the books I was reading at the time were super depressing. I need to take fluffy book breaks more often!

    @Vasilly: I know! It was despicable! I’d murder my sister. MURDER! We’ve actually discussed that scenario before, and we mutually agree that we’d be dead to each other if that ever happened. lol

    @Nicole & Hira: I went into it fully prepared to read 300 pages of badly written junk food (it’s not like Sweet Valley ever had high standards!). I think if you go into it with your eyes open in that regard, it’s a LOT easier to just sit back and be entertained.

  6. slb

    feminist texican’s right. about everything. i *have* read it, and if as a fan, it’s true: if you go into it expecting it to be what all sweet valley books are–confections–overlooking its (many) faults is a breeze.

    great review!

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