Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Title:    Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
Author:  Francine Pascal
Rating:  ★★★

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later is perhaps one of the most anticipated and hyped books last year, and for good reason: It’s been over a decade since the last SVU has been published (now, I feel terribly old!). The Sweet Valley series is perhaps one of the most popular series in the 80s, well into the 90s, and it has had several spin-offs. I daresay there’s also the usual debate on whether you like Elizabeth or Jessica more (if you like either of them at all).

Like any Sweet Valley fan, I’ve been so excited when I heard that Francine Pascal was writing another Sweet Valley book after years of waiting. This was actually in the news for so many years, and then it finally came! The reviews were mixed – some were praising it but I think it got more flak. Perhaps the anticipation was so great and the book did not live up to expectations?
It took quite some time for me to take to Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later but once I did, I couldn’t stop. I stayed way past my bed-time just to finish the book. I mean, I waited years to get an update about the characters I grew up with – Bruce, Elizabeth, Jessica, Todd, and the others. It was like I was gossiping with a friend, keeping up-to-date with the cool kids. It felt wickedly delicious, and some of the characters’ stories were shocking and some were really sad.

But going back, the plot was…unexpected. I mean, really unexpected. Did you ever expect that so and so would pair up, or that him and him would be gay? It was astounding, and just a little bit unbelievable. There were times I felt the story turned out that way to keep up with what’s trendy nowadays – such betrayals, homosexuality, blatant gossiping – but I think the old Sweet Valley was way more…meaner, actually. Remember Gossip Wars and It Can’t Happen Here? The Sweet Valley University series were even wilder and more scandalous at that time.

However, once again, the world revolved around the Wakefield twins, with a little spotlight on Steven this time. *ehem* But come on, Lila was largely ignored. I feel like Caroline Pearce got more press time than Lila did, and I hated that. Lila was a central figure, especially in Jessica’s life, and honestly I felt like she had more potential. Remember Sweet Valley University? She was trying to make something of herself at that time. And what about Winston? What the heck. First thing we hear is that he and Todd had a falling out and then his story ends that way? Enid was barely mentioned. I remember in college she and Elizabeth patched things up. Betsey Martin, shucks. That girl just couldn’t catch a break, huh?

I think one of the reasons why Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later was not the success I thought it would be is that because it was incredibly one-sided. And until today, only the Wakefields had things going great for them. Plus, the stories were just disjointed. The University stories were mentioned in passing, but there was no continuity of the stories.

And after all these years, after all the heartache, Elizabeth is still a wuss. Honestly, how do they expect Jessica to grow up if they all keep catching her and easily forgiving her? And what’s up with Liz thinking about Todd while being kissed by Bruce? Furthermore, all that talk about love during the ending sex scene – uhm, hello, it wasn’t even established that Liz loves Bruce.

Aside from the story, the writing just left a lot to be desired. The descriptions were too exaggerated at times (her eyes were open so wide they stung – I tried it, my eyes didn’t sting). In the wedding, the tables’ d├ęcor were described in minute detail. And in the ending, of all places, there were unnecessary descriptions such as “Jessica, the bride” when we already know it’s her wedding. And what was up with the reference to Todd’s parents dress (electric blue) as an expression of aggravation?

So with all these criticisms, you might wonder why I’m still giving it 3 stars? Well, I managed to finish the book, and I didn’t struggle to finish it when I reached the middle anyway. I honestly got caught up in their drama. But the start and ending left much to be desired (seriously, that ending was just so disappointing). But…admit it. If you look back through the years on Sweet Valley, and if you have reread them, the writing was pretty much the same. It wasn’t glorious or the best plots but we still devoured them anyway. And Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later still has the same effect on me.

Do I recommend it? Gosh, that’s a tough one. If you can stomach the crappy writing and “I’m a Wakefield so life’s just going to be peachy” tone (as always) then go ahead, if only so you can catch up with the Sweet Valley family. Oh, sorry, I meant the Wakefields. But if you’ve had enough Wakefield twins’ perfection, better grab the next book on your TBR. I, on the other hand, am already reaching for the sequel series to Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, The Sweet Life. Lol. To each her own? :p



  1. Oh man, sounds like a pretty tough read! I never read anything from this author so I'm not very familiar with writing. Great review!


    1. Oh thanks Ellie! It was a tough start, engaging middle part, and a disappointing ending, but I enjoyed bits and pieces anyway. :)



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