Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

Title: Sweet Valley Confidential
Author: Francine Pascal
Genre: YA, Adult, Fiction
Perfect for : Nostalgia reading
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Taken from Goodreads, "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."

Ah, nostalgia... As a kid growing up in the 80's and 90's, I read a lot of 'Sweet Valley Kids/High' books. I can honestly say I grew up reading them. While I can't say I followed the Wakefield twins to 'Sweet Valley University', I have fond memories of totally dated, but nicely drawn covers and crazy sibling antics.

'Sweet Valley Confidential' has Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, feuding twins from sunny Sweet Valley, stuck in the middle of yet another large argument. At 27, you'd think they'd have figured out how to get along, but after Jessica does something that is, well, totally wrong, but, also, totally Jessica, Liz hops a plane to New York City in hopes of forgetting her sister and starting anew.

I'd be lying if I said this book was fantastic. It has its fair share of problems, but then again, hardly any book is perfect. All in all, I enjoyed reading this novel. It was a nice walk down memory lane in terms of characters and various 'memories' brought up during 'Sweet Valley Confidential'.

A major problem with this (and many other books) is that it is too long. A lot of time is spent discussing or re-iterating stuff that we already know. The plot elements just don't call for so many pages. I would have loved for this novel to be a little 'tighter'.

Matching that with a positive, Pascal seems to have character histories for almost every character mentioned in the Sweet Valley Universe. From main characters to minor characters who you may have only seen for a short while, Pascal has an answer to where they've been and what they've been doing since we last saw them. The number of characters Pascal brings back, even for cameo's, works well in this novel because everyone has different memories of different series. More camio's makes it easier for those who only read 'Sweet Valley Kids' or 'Sweet Valley High' to not feel intimidated by this story that is based off events from 'Sweet Valley University'.

As far as storytelling goes, 'Sweet Valley Confidential' is a little slow. I found myself skimming over portions that weren't moving as quickly as they could have. The plot points laced throughout the novel make for a solid story, but there is a lot of 'extra' stuff between them that make this novel seem long. The plot is engaging at times, so this minor slowness isn't a total deal breaker.

Pascal did something very well in this novel-- writing a very true account of moving far away from one's family and trying to make your life on your own. In Liz's case, she's in New York with no friends or family. Liz's thoughts and general insight into how she feels about being literally alone with hardly any social life rang true to my ears. Having lived away from home in a state with no safety net for half a year, I found myself relating to what Liz was going through. That is something that Pascal did quite well in 'Sweet Valley Confidential'.

Is this a fantastic, over the top, earth shattering novel? No. But, did you expect it to be that? I went into this hoping for a good trip down memory lane and, you know what? I did enjoy visiting Sweet Valley again. 'Sweet Valley Confidential' is available everywhere books are sold. It earns 3 out of 5 stars from this little blog.


Bekka said...

I've never read any of these books. Maybe I'll check them out now.

But, is that the same cover image for the Vampire Diaries?

Brooke said...

Bekka- I would probably start with the re-prints of Sweet Valley High, now in stores, before jumping to 'Confidential'.

The covers to look similar, but I don't think it's the same girl. :-)

Cialina at said...

I didn't exactly read every single Sweet Valley book that came out but I've read a fair share of them while growing up. I thought about reading this one just for nostalgia's sake but I don't know if I will now... Still sounds like a good book to read, but not for me at the moment.

We Heart YA said...

Nice review. It's always helpful to know the good and the bad, you know?

Interesting factoid: One of our members, Kristan, was almost published by the same team that published SV CONFIDENTIAL. :)