Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Sweet Valley Confidential

Title: Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
Author: Francine Pascal
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 293
Where I Got This Book: Library
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.

My Thoughts: Sweet Valley High (and all its spin-offs, from Twins to University) were pretty much all I read in elementary school and going into junior high, so obviously this book was a must-read.

**Warning**: There are spoilers in this review, although I use the term spoiler lightly since I believe that this book is incredibly predictable. After the first chapter, you know exactly where the story will end up.

I finished this book in less than two days and I was left with very mixed feelings about it. I loved reading Elizabeth's chapters and learning about her new life as a journalist in NYC. Elizabeth has always been my favorite twin and it was nice to see her living the life she wanted (at least as far as her career was concerned). As for Jessica, I outright hated her in this book. I always knew she was self-centered and narcissistic but she had always had a charm to her too. In this book, there was no charm. She was just a cold-hearted b**** who slept with her twin's fiance.

Thinking back on SVH books, though, I have to admit that Jessica has done some pretty screwed up things in the past. The first thing that comes to mind is when she spiked her sister's drink at a school dance. Elizabeth ended up leaving the party with Jessica's boyfriend (Sam Woodruff? I'm not 100% sure on the name)-not aware she was drunk-and crashed the car, killing Sam instantly. Jessica basically called Elizabeth a murderer and did not fess up to her part in all of it until Elizabeth had already begun defending herself in court for the charge of manslaughter. Yep, pretty screwed up. Alright, enough of memory lane. On with book at hand.

I hated reading about that part when Jessica had the [month long!!] affair with Todd in college. Reading about how it all happened did not justify it for me at all. She didn't even try to stop herself. They kissed once in the car and then sped to Todd's apartment to have sex, while poor Elizabeth was lying oblivious in her room, sick with the flu.

Reading Jessica's parts was not only frustrating for me because of her actions but also because it was just poorly written. There were so many "likes" and "sos" thrown into her narrative, and it was like so totally annoying to read. It also made her sound stupid, as if she really was just some dumb barbie-doll Valley girl.

I have to admit, though, that I started to warm up (a tiny bit) to her character once Elizabeth finally confronted her. The twins had been split apart for the whole book, and the first real scene when they're together doesn't happen until about 200 pages in. Just having the twin dynamic back made me more open to Jessica--I was becoming more like Elizabeth and willing to forgive her for anything. However, despite all that, I thought Elizabeth forgave her twin way too quickly. What Jessica did was incredibly wrong and she had no justification for it (I just wasn't buying that she and Todd were truly in love-they had zero chemistry). Even after everything she did, she still got her happy ending. Ugh.

I was really happy that Elizabeth got together with Bruce Patman in the end, though. I thought they made an interesting couple. It almost made up for the screwed up way that her and Todd's meant-to-be relationship ended.

All in all, I'd recommend that you don't buy this book but check it out from the library instead. I don't think it's worth spending money on, but it's not a waste of time to read either, especially if you're a die-hard SV fan.


  1. Oooh fantastic review. I read the SV twins and loved them but in reading the review, it feels like they never grew up but their readers did. It doesn't seem to work well.

  2. Oh, we were totally on the same wavelength with this book. I was going to mention the annoying 'likes' and 'sos' in Jessica's narrative, but my review was long enough already.

    Yes, you're right about Jessica's boyfriend being Sam Woodruff! I think Jessica managed to be a little sympathetic in that storyline, because her boyfriend died and she was devastated about it. But I had no sympathy at all for her in this one, especially as she was onto her third marriage at 27. It came across like no relationship was very important to her, so I couldn't buy her and Todd as true love.

    You're right that it got better once the twins reunited. After all, the whole point of the series was that it was about twins and it's a real shame that this book kept them apart for most of it.