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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Valley Ain't That Sweet

  I consider myself an open-minded person especially when it comes to reboots. I'll see my favorite horror movies rebooted even though I know I'll hate them. I was probably one of the few people who actually liked the new Melrose Place. And when my childhood favorites grow up, I want to be there for it.

  Sweet Valley Confidential was a good idea but poorly executed. The problem is that our much loved characters have grown up to be well, pricks. Sweet Valley was supposed to be the impossibly pleasant world we grew up reading, with logic and common sense put on the back burner.

   The series picks up ten years after junior year. Elizabeth is a suffering writer living in New York. Jessica is still in California having stolen Todd from her twin. (Yet again.) The twins aren't talking, they are not even Facebook  friends. Steven's gay. And almost everyone who ever left Sweet Valley has decided to move back. Oh and they use the word "fuck" way too often. Swearing is not a grownup trait.

   The characters are bitter, depressing caricatures of their former selves. No one is happy nor does anyone end up truly happy. Everyone is rich, successful, and inexplicably child-free. Jessica is so whitewashed she is boring and Elizabeth's angst gets annoying after five pages. Winston Egbert, the sweetest most popular character of the series is destroyed. It's like the author hated these characters with a burning passion and wasn't about to hide it.

   Let's talk about the author, Miss Francine Pascal. We're aware that she farmed off the series on ghostwriters so it makes sense that she may not know some of the details. And I doubt reading all the books was on her hit list. But they couldn't have hired a fact checker? Minor inconsistencies I can handle the mistakes in SVC are far from minor.

   For instance, Suzanne Devlin allegedly died from a car accident after she mixed alcohol and MS medication. But wait, that didn't happen, she survived the car accident and it turns our her MS was a misdiagnoses. Remember when Cara moved to London and Steven moved on with Billie. No, you don't, because the books completely gloss over that storyline. But the character of A.J. Morgan is just mind-bogglingly wrong.

  A.J. first appeared in the series as a sweet, Southern, redheaded boy who moved to Sweet Valley during junior year. He dated Jessica then quickly faded away after the author broke them up. Suddenly he morphs in a blond, bad boy, surfer boy who was in middle school with the twins. Characters names are even messed up, Lila's father and Mr Collin's son being two of the casualties. Seriously, a fact checker would not have been that expensive, there are major fans out there who would have done it for free.

   The book totally rewrites the twins/Todd love story. Apparently Jessica and Todd never hooked up until college, ignoring countless furtive love affairs from the previous series'. The book wants us to believe that Todd and Jessica were meant to be. They even have three different perspectives of their first meeting to drive the point home. Elizabeth's supposed soul mate is Bruce Patman who's been in love with her forever. Yes, Bruce, the same guy that tried to rape her in a previous novel.

  Finally, Sweet Valley, the chaste world of virginal teenagers incorporates sex in the series. And it isn't pretty. I don't want to think of Elizabeth's taut nipples, or her inexplicable crying during sex. Nor do I want the image of Todd watching porn to ever enter my mind again.

  I wasn't expecting classic literature just a proper, sweet, revisit to a book series that I adored as a kid. Not a melodramatic poorly researched abomination. No, Francine, just no.


The Cat Hag said...

Gosh, I dearly loved Sweet Valley when I was a teenager, and read most of their books!!

The love quadrangle of Bruce, Todd, Jessica and Elisabeth was so tormenting then!

I wish they would write a better follow-up and also actually have a series after them.

I would definitely watch it. :)

The Cat Hag