Sweet Valley Confidential — Francine Pascal
I feel like I should go back and re-read some of the old Sweet Valley High books that are gathering dust in old boxes, packed away from the time I was a teenager, just to see if she wrote as poorly as she did in this present-day take on the Wakefield twins, Elizabeth and Jessica.
I’m not sure where to begin, so let’s start off with viewpoint. Since when did it become okay to jump from one character’s head to another’s, all in the same chapter? There are countless times where one moment Jessica is thinking and talking and the next thing I know I’m in Todd’s head. Bad format.
But enough about formats and writing techniques, let me tell you a little about the story. For all you adults who used to read Sweet Valley High in your teens, you might be appalled that Todd would ever fall for Jessica. I mean seriously? He loved Elizabeth. And Jessica, how could you stoop so low?
Well apparently Todd didn’t love Elizabeth enough, and that’s just part of what readers will find out as they take a trip down memory lane 10 years later. The gorgeous Wakefield twins are estranged, as you may have guessed. Todd and Jessica are now together while Elizabeth is living as a small time journalist in the Big Apple, nursing a broken heart. But she’s not truly alone, Bruce Patman is her a best friend.
You might all be hitting your foreheads against your palms in disbelief. But yes, I did say Bruce Patman. Arrogant, misogynist, good looking Bruce Patman. Except this is a reformed Bruce, one who apparently lost his balls in the last decade. I would have to say he was one of the biggest disappointments when it came to character development. I’m all for growing your character and making him a better person, but some of those basic characteristics that make someone who they are need to remain. He was honestly such a different character from where he started out I found him boring and unbelievable.
I could go on with my complaints, but the truth is that despite all its faults, I still stayed up late into the night to finish it. I just love those Wakefield girls and their drama. So to readers who followed the twins back in the day, if you can look past poor formatting, redundancy, writing no-no’s and some poor character development, you’ll still probably find yourself wrapped up in their world once again. For those of you who never read the novels when you were younger, don’t bother reading this now. And for any teenagers out there who might currently be reading the Sweet Valley High novels during the twins’ golden days, read it at your own risk. (As an aside, it’s actually meant for a more adult audience, meaning yes, there is sex.)
Honestly, I enjoy giving good reviews and feel kind of bad for dumping on an author I enjoyed so well as a kid. But seriously Francine, you could have written like you actually still cared about the twins, about the storyline, about good writing!
I’ll have to admit, I bought this in digital because it was cheaper at the time and I didn’t care enough to own it in print. Good choice Katrina, good choice. If you insist on torturing yourself by revisiting the past and a lesser quality of writing, save yourself some money. It can be found for as low as $2.00 on Amazon, or $7.99 for the Kindle edition. God, are people really paying that?