The US cover (above) and the UK cover (below). These say a lot about our respective cultures, don’t they? Not that you should judge a nation’s culture by the cover of a (very cheesy) update of a late-80s young adult book series, but you know. (I like the UK version better.)
Yes, I admit it to the entire world. I read the latest update to the Sweet Valley High series. Behind The Baby Sitters Club, these were always my favorite books growing up. I devoured them. I read every single one. They made me want so badly to be a blue-eyed, blond-haired perfect California twin with an equally gorgeous, albeit rambunctious and manipulative twin sister. Because I always identified with Elizabeth – the brainy, loyal, trustworthy, nice sister.
So, here we are 10 years later (although, really, it should be much more than 10 years, I think). Elizabeth, betrayed by Jessica and not on speaking terms with her, lives in New York City, trying to make it as a journalist. She’s pretty much your classic cliché. Jessica lives in Sweet Valley, that perfect fictional Southern California town.
Blah blah blah.
If it sounds like I’m being unduly harsh, I am. I really wanted to love this book, and I finished it, so it isn’t terrible. But, it isn’t good either. I read it because I didn’t want to use my brain and a brain isn’t required for this book. Maybe I’ve become a book snob? Maybe my taste in novels has changed in the last 10 years, but I wanted more.
There is “drama” without drama, and the author tries to make Elizabeth into a jealous “monster” but only succeeds in making her seem even weaker than she is. And of course, true to SVH roots, everything turns out perfectly in the end.