SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL: TEN YEARS LATER by Francine Pascal

If you’ve never heard of Sweet Valley, CA, and the names Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield mean nothing to you, then I recommend you stop reading right now.

SVI just finished the audio version of Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, the (most recent) sequel to the Sweet Valley High series that was very popular in the late 80s. Now, I was never a Sweet Valley fanatic. I read maybe 10 or 15 of the books. I didn’t know all of the characters. I didn’t read the prequel series, nor the prequel to the prequel series, nor the first sequel series. I was a casual fan who read enough to know the main players and some of the outlandish storylines Pascal presented in her addictive, cliche-ridden, but totally enjoyable books.

When I was at BEA last May, I came across a display that featured the audio version of Pascal’s widely-panned recent release, Sweet Valley Confidential and I just couldn’t help asking if I could have it. I must have been the only person that day who expressed even recognition of what the book was, much less interest in it, and the guy at the display gladly handed it over to me. It sat in my “BEA box” for several months until recently, when I decided that I was in the mood for it and popped in the first disc.

Yes, it’s totally silly and overwrought. Yes, it’s full of cliches. Yes, the emotions felt by the characters are extreme and over-the-top and yet totally transient. BUT… I will say this: the book was very enjoyable. It was fun to check in on Elizabeth and Jessica as adults, and to learn that Jessica has stolen Elizabeth’s longterm boyfriend Todd, that the couple is now engaged, and that the inseparable identical twins are no longer on speaking terms. (The horror!). There are other scandalous twists and turns that have befallen Sweet Valley’s most memorable residents, and Pascal at least attempts to “keep things real” by making her some of her characters dotcom millionaires, giving them cancer, and having them come out of the closet.

I’ve read a few reviews of Sweet Valley Confidential that complain that there are inaccuracies throughout the book, as well as several names and plot points that directly contradict things that happened in the high school series. Whatever. I didn’t notice them, and they didn’t bother me. Other people complain that the book is dumb and unrealistic. Yeah, I can see that. But for the last few weeks, my commute has been unusually enjoyable. And for that, I thank the generous folks at Macmillan Audio. (Hi FTC!)

A word about the audio: it’s fine, except that whenever the narrator voices a male character, she makes him sound like a moron.

I just read on Amazon (where the book got a whopping 2 stars on average) that there is a Diablo Cody movie version of Sweet Valley High coming out. Really?

Next post, I promise to return to the kind of fare that I – and you -wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit to reading.

5 Comments

  • October 23, 2011 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if you intended it, but this review made me giggle a little. My name is Melissa and I was a Sweet Valley High fanatic. I read most of the series, including the thicker Super editions 😉 I would NEVER be able to go back and read these books. But it was fun to reminisce and laugh at those cheesy covers (alot of them are still on Amazon.com) since this review made me go back and look at some of those books. I’ve honestly never wondered what happened to the dynamic duo though.

  • October 23, 2011 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    I definitely intended it!

  • October 29, 2011 - 12:30 am | Permalink

    “whenever the narrator voices a male character, she makes him sound like a moron.”
    Well, to be quite honest, they all kind of are, aren’t they? I don’t know how you put up with Elizabeth Wakefield’s passive agressive prudishness for 27 years without being at least a little soft in the head.
    I have a wee obsession with SVH, probably because I was unpopular in high school. I feel like I waited so long for this book; how it managed to be equal parts awesome and totally disappointing in its unawesomeness, I will never know.

  • October 31, 2011 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Started listening to the book on the train today. Totally fun, but the male voice is killing me!!!

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