Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Sweet Valley Confidential

By Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

Since I was among the many devoted "Sweet Valley High" fans when I was growing up, I was eagerly anticipating the release of "Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later," which was written by the same Francine Pascal who brought the Wakefield twins into our lives many years ago. I even went to a website where I could read a short synopsis of each book, thus allowing me to remember some of the characters a little better before delving in to this new story.

"Sweet Valley Confidential" opens with Elizabeth refusing to answer a phone call from Jessica after a huge betrayal. We are then taken through the steps leading up to the betrayal through flashbacks from the twins and some other major players in their lives, while also learning what is happening to everyone in the present. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is deciding whether or not she wants to see Jessica again and how she will avenge such a betrayal. It leads to some major drama between the sisters and their loved ones. Will Elizabeth ever forgive Jessica? And what happened to the gang at Sweet Valley High over the last ten years?

Have no fear...Ms. Pascal answers both of these questions throughout the story. In the meantime, she takes her readers through some interesting experiences and adventures in the twins' lives. She even tosses in some twists I never would have seen coming, keeping me guessing at every page turn. Her use of description makes it easy to visualize the characters and settings. She easily takes us back to the stories from the series so that there's a smooth transition from one to the other, through reminders about who the characters were back then.

However, I do have some critiques. My main concern was audience confusion. I wasn't sure if this was written for her fans from the 1980's who are now adults or her current fans, adolescents reading the series for the first time in this new decade. The use of curse words and sexual terms would tell me it was for the former, while the somewhat simplistic language and Jessica's constant use of the word "like" would say it is for the latter. It was also wrapped up a little too neatly. Either Ms. Pascal wanted quick closure or this was another case of audience confusion. It just seemed like there was a big build-up to get to the drama but then it quickly subsided and became lighthearted again. There is not much room left for a sequel, unless she wants to expand on what had already happened in this novel. Aside from that, there were some grammatical and spelling errors that could have been easily caught before going to print.

Overall, this was a fun story that will satisfy a thirst for all "Sweet Valley High" fans of then and now. It had a CW feel, as I could see it fleshed out into a television series on that channel. I enjoyed it and found it easy to follow. I was thrilled to be reunited with characters I loved so much as a pre-teen. Maybe Ann M. Martin will follow Ms. Pascal's lead and do the same for "The Babysitter's Club."

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the review copy. They also have three audio books to give away to anyone in the US or Canada. In the meantime, listen to chapter one.

How to win "Sweet Valley Confidential" (audio):
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: If SVC were to be a show on the CW, who would you cast as the twins? (You can double one person like in "The Parent Trap.")
2. Please tell us: For which book series would you like to see a reunion?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Sunday, April 17th at midnight EST

36 comments:

Jen R said...

1. the first person that comes to mind is Dakota Fanning
2. The Babysitters Club
3. follower - jen161
5. FB member

Katie said...

1.I would love to see Tori Spelling as Jessica and Jennifer Aniston as Liz.
2.The Baby-sitters Club.

makingfoodandstuff AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

I am an epic SVH fan. I started in the early 90's, reading all the way from Double Love (specials, mysteries-even some of the twins junior books etc) and then caught up just as the covers changed from number 100 up. I read this series through to the earthquake, then continued on to the Senior Year editions, which were much more realistic and modern... yet flowed seamlessly on from the former.
I never bothered much with the University series, although I was given them today so I will have a go at them in the near future.
Anyway the bottom line is that I've read each and every book at least ten times, so I was foaming at the mouth at the idea of a new edition.
The book was entertaining as hell. Well written and sexy and being that I'm currently 28 it was a nice take on everything.
However I must say that I'm very possibly TOO good a fan, because I was very confused by the angle from which the story was told. The fact that I followed this series through into the 21st century made it nearly impossible for me to get my head around. It's as though she wrote it from the 80's and university books exclusively, using characters and reflecting on story lines that were made redundant by the last 40 or so books of the 'original' series.
Cara Walker instead of Billie? Caroline Pearce instead of Heather Mallone? A.J Morgan??!! Who cares? Can you imagine a T.V series doing 10 seasons, then 20 years later, doing a movie based on the end of the third?
Has Francine Pascal even read the final sweet Valley High books? Because Liz didn't end up with Todd in ANY of them. And the thing with Winston was too much of a stretch. Why make the beloved character the evil one?
Too many cooks...well the same can be said for too many ghost writers.
All this being said, I'll take it. I mean, it's SVH so by the time I'm 38 I probably would have read this 10 more times, but I just really wish the author had attempted to use more of the modern characters to appeal to all of her fans, not just the 38 year old ones.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

1. I think Hayden Panietierre (sp?) would be fantastic as the twins!
2. I would like to see a reunion of Babysitters Club, but didn't they do one a long time ago?
3. I tweeted!
4. I'm a follower on FB

I can't wait to read this and I have to wait for the copy at the library or win it. I'm not allowed to buy books... for awhile.

Froggie said...

1. Scarlett Johansson

tracey AT froggieknitslikecrazy DOT com

JoAnne Kenrick said...

I can't tell you how psyched I am about this book! Expecting a wee flash back in time to my late teenage years with this read! WOOT Even better in audio, I can listen while I repaint the kids rooms...way to make a dull job so much more fun!!

My email is listed on my google profile, or you can catch me on facebook - www.facebook.com/joannekenrick

1. I'd love to see the original twins from the 90s TV show play the role of Jessica and Elizabeth again -- Brittany Daniel and Cynthia Daniel.

2. I'd love to see what happened to the Famous Five!

3. I follow this blog - Joanne

4. I shared on facebook - http://www.facebook.com/joannekenrick/posts/123270417750688

5.I am already a member of the facebook Chick Lit Central group - JoAnne Kenrick

Anonymous said...

kcsanfrey AT yahoo DOT com

1. Cynthia and Brittany Daniel
2. Flowers in the Attic -- as a mini-series.
5. Facebook member :-)

Thanks!

Sara said...

1. Drew Barrymore

2. The Babysitters Club would be neat; they did have a movie made way back in the early 90's I believe. I liked the Flowers in the Attic idea, another fave of mine growing up.

coversaralea@yahoo.com

Froggie said...

2. The Freshman Dorm book series. This was the other book series I was uber addicted to as a preteen!

tracey AT froggieknitslikecrazyDOTcom

Lesli said...

I am a brand-new follower & would love to win!

email address is:

llejeune@thymes.com

thanks!

lesli

Lesli said...

And I just tweeted

llejeune@thymes.com

leslialison on twitter

Kat said...

I'm not sure how old they are supposed to be in these books. I'm guessing late 20s? For some reason I pictured the girl who played Cher in the tv version of Clueless. Rachel Blanchard.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

I have no idea... I didn't really read any book series other than Sweet Valley. I'd say Harry Potter, but we kind of have a taste of what happens at the end of the final book. I'll let it at... I don't know. :)

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

I am a follower of the blog.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

Posted on FB.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

I am a member of CLC.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Froggie said...

I tweeted this contest (Froggi)...

tracey AT froggieknitslikecrazyDOTcom

Shaunna said...

1. Aimee Teegarden of Friday Night Lights (with Leighton Meester as Lila Fowler!)
2. Taffy Sinclair & The Fabulous Five

Followed/membered/tweeted!

Donna said...

Huge fan of SV. I have been a fan since grade school and I am now almost 28. My daughter is now in gradeschool and it has been really great passing the series to her. I would love to see a movie made about their lives currently or a current TV show of them now in the lives as adults.
ageoriamomma@gmail.com

I would stick with Brittney and Cynthia Daniels as Jessica and Elizabeth. But if they would not or could not do it then I would go with Rachel Mcadams and Elizabeth Banks (blonde versions :) )

Donna said...

ageorgiamomma@gmail.com

2. I would love to see a reunion of SVH or BSC. I am more of a SV fan than BSC so it would be my first choice.

Donna said...

I am a follower of your blog (GFC)
ageorgiamomma@gmail.com

Donna said...

I blogged about your giveaway!!

http://mommadsavesgiveaways.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweet-valley-confidential-audio-version.html

ageorgiamomma@gmail.com

Donna said...

I Just found you on FB. So excited!
ageorgiamomma@gmail.com Donna Marie

Lauren said...

I picked my actress (and photos to share!) before I saw you said "a CW show" and oddly enough, I had picked a CW Actress! haha.

1. Amber Heard would make both an amazing Jessica (http://mimg.sulekha.com/amber-heard/stills/amber-heard-04.jpg) and Elizabeth (http://gossip-juice.com/images/2011/amber-heard-2011.jpg)
2. The only series I *really* wanted to see a reunion for was Sweet Valley! But I guess I'd pick up a Goosebumps one (though don't ask me how they'd do it) or a Saddle Club one... maybe Babysitters Club, but I never liked BSC as much as SV!
3. I'm already a follower (lvsouch @ gmail.com)
5. Didn't know you guys had a Facebook - joining in a sec (Lauren Valerie)

Anonymous said...

1. I can see Dakota Fanning playing both twins quite well.
2. The Box Car Children or Babysitters' Club!
3. Follower on FB
mejustz@bsd405.org

Anonymous said...

1. Dakota Fanning definitely has the versatility to play both twins well.
2. No question-Babysitters' Club
3. Follower on FB
zorefbz@gmail.com

Annabelle said...

1. I would cast Sasha Pieterse from Pretty Little Liars. Alison is basically like Jessica already, but she seems sweet enough in real life to play Elizabeth too.
2. Babysitters Club for sure!
3. I'm following!
4. I posted this contest on my Facebook and Twitter pages (@annhepburn)
5. I've join on FB too!

annabelle.foster AT gmail DOT com

Froggie said...

I'm a follower of this blog!

tracey AT froggieknitslikecrazyDOTcom

Froggie said...

I follow the group on facebook.

tracey AT froggieknitslikecrazyDOTcom

Nancye said...

I am SO excited to read this book! I read all of these books when I was young! Thanks for the cool giveaway!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I think Bridgit Mendler who plays
Teddy Duncan on the Disny show "Good Luck Charlie" would be a good choice for the twins.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I would love to have a reunion for the "Super Fudge" / "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" by Judy Blume. Who wouldn't want to see how Fudge turns out?!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Follower

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I joined Chick Lit on Facebook

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!
@NancyeDavis

http://twitter.com/#!/NancyeDavis/status/59816441242853376

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Andy said...

udyllicATyahooDOTcom

1. Cynthia and Brittanny Daniels
2. Sweet Valley Junior High
5. Certified FB member