Publication date: 29 March 2011 by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 10/13: 0312667574 | 978-0312667573
Category: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Keywords: Contemporary, revenge, romance, realistic, siblings, high school
Format: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
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.
Let me begin by staying that I didn’t have very high expectations for this book. I picked it up mostly for nostalgia’s sake. Like many, I was a fan of the original Sweet Valley High series. I felt like I grew up with the Wakefield sisters and, when I saw Sweet Valley Confidential at the library, I couldn’t resist the chance to find out where their lives had taken them.
The books begins 10 years after high school and we find Jessica and Elizabeth estranged from each other. 8 months earlier, Jessica commits the “ultimate betrayal” and Liz is still trying to cope with it. 10 years hasn’t done much for the twins. Jessica, older but not wiser, is still in Sweet Valley and is much the same, hanging out with the same high school friends, who she still doesn’t like very much and who don’t seem to like her much either. She’s still shallow, though we do get to see a more vulnerable side to her than usual. The book is told from both Jess and Liz’s points of views. Jess’ narrative was littered with a ridiculous amount of so’s and like’s and I was grating my teeth whenever it was time for one of her segments. I felt like I was listening to Clueless, but not in an ironic way. Liz has left Sweet Valley to move to NYC and is working as a journalist for a small theater publication. Unfortunately, she has changed. After the incident with Jessica, she has become bitter and resentful. She spends most of the book brooding and thinking of ways to get back at her twin. The kind, sweet Elizabeth from high school is gone and has been replaced with someone I don’t recognize.
When the situation between Liz and Jess is finally resolved, it’s very anti-climactic. Most of the book is spent going over the history and details of the betrayal and Liz and Jess’ feelings about it only to have the whole thing resolved in few pages. I was expecting something bigger – a fight, a scene, anything really, but the whole thing sort of fizzles. But maybe this is where Liz hasn’t changed, as she always forgave her twin much too easily.
I was also extremely disappointed in the futures of the other SVH alums. Lila Fowler is still superficial and snobby and is the original frenemy. Winston Egbert has become a total jerk. Liz’s former best friend Enid is mean and unlikeable. Todd, bless him, is still as bland as he was in high school. The only saving grace is Bruce Patman who, while in high school was the poster boy for conceited jock, manages to become a decent person. I was rolling my eyes at the epilogue that included what had happened to some of the other, lesser SVH characters. It felt like Pascal didn’t know these characters or her audience at all.
This book doesn’t do any justice to Sweet Valley High. If you were or are a fan of the original series, I would skip this and keep your fond childhood memories intact.
Visit the author online at www.sweetvalleytenyearslater.com and follow @SVConfidential on Twitter