Monday, 9 May 2011

Book Review: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal.

Product details:
Publisher: Arrow
Release date: April 14th 2011.
Paperback, 293 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Ten years after graduating from Sweet Valley High, the Wakefield twins have had a falling-out of epic proportions. When Jessica commits a complete and utter betrayal, Elizabeth flees to New York to escape the pain and immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a journalist.

Jessica remains in California, dealing with the fallout of her heart-wrenching choices. She has a career she loves and lots of old friends, but misses her sister, her oldest friend. With Jessica as her enemy, Sweet Valley is no longer the idyllic town of their youth.

Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can't forget her twin's duplicity. She decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the "good" twin, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables...

Sweet Valley Confidential is a fun and flirty trip down memory lane with those perfect-in-every-way sun kissed Californian twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. For me, a long time fan of Sweet Valley High as a teen, this was a pure nostalgia fest and a true guilty reading pleasure. This book demands a light-hearted approach. It’s packed with secrets, scandals and surprises, features lots of OMG! moments, and is an all-round great summer read. If you’ve ever wondered what Elizabeth and Jessica would be like ten years on, here’s your chance to find out. I was most interested to find out if Jessica had changed at all. Was she still as selfish and self-obsessed as ever or had she finally grown up and started thinking about anyone but herself? I was also eager to find out if Elizabeth and Todd’s relationship had stood the test of time. Those guys were perfect for each other, right? Sweet Valley Confidential provides you with these answers and more, and I have to say, I was left shocked by the scandalous revelations!

From the very first pages of Sweet Valley Confidential we know something is not quite right. First off, Elizabeth is angry (an uncommon occurrence if ever there was one), and we also learn that far from being all loved up with Todd, she’s a single girl living on her own in NYC and going on dates with highly unsuitable men. She seems lonely, unhappy and unfulfilled, and it’s fair to say that something must have gone drastically wrong in her perfectly planned life for her to end up this way. Meanwhile, Jessica is living back in Sweet Valley in domestic bliss and is planning her wedding day. Something doesn’t add up. The twins are in such different places in their lives, and worst of all, they are not on speaking terms. In fact, Elizabeth is full of anger towards her twin sister, and it’s true to say she pretty much hates her! Why? Well, if you haven’t already figured it out, I’m not going to tell you, but I will say that Jessica has committed the ultimate betrayal. If it was possible to be jailed for crimes of betrayal against twin sisters, then Jessica would be serving a life sentence right about now!

The main plot deals with Elizabeth’s plan for revenge on Jessica, while we also learn where it all went so wrong for the twins through the use of flashbacks. It’s juicy stuff – I promise! Pascal also updates us on all those other Sweet Valley favourites. Some characters lives have taken more shocking twists than others. You can look forward to some dot com millionaires, a glamorous divorcee, and a shocking death, amongst a myriad of surprising revalations. Some characters are pretty much the same as they were in high school (Lila Fowler), while some characters have changed very much for the better (Bruce Patman.) I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be talking about Bruce in glowing terms, but it turns out, he’s a nice guy after all!

Sweet Valley Confidential is a fun, nostalgia filled read. It’s one that’s firmly for fans of the original series who want to revisit characters they know and love. Sure, the writing is not that of a literary master and I’ve heard that Jessica’s constant Valspeak, while it didn’t bother me, has annoyed a lot of readers. However, if you enjoy the book for what it is and don’t take it too seriously, then I promise it’s a fun read! Oh, and I’ll bet you are just dying to know who Jessica is marrying, right?!


  1. Great review, Leanna! This sounds like the ultimate beach read/guilty pleasure. I was a huge fan of SVH when I was younger and I even had the board game. I loved it and was definitely going to check out this book, but I've read some bad reviews. I'm glad you enjoyed it, b/c now I'll probably still check it out. I could use a good fluffy beach read for vacation. Plus, I need to get caught up on the scandal!

  2. @Christina - I've read some terrible reviews for this, but I honestly wonder what people were expecting from this book? A lot of the Amazon reviews I've read have been very harsh. I don't remember the intricacies of the series well enough to look for inconsistencies, so I just decided to enjoy it for what it is. I definitely thought it was a fun catch up with the twins!

  3. I have far more interest in reading this than I should admit to. Great review!

  4. My mom read these books when she was my age and I guess I'll read them too. I love reading books about the characters and then new books where they're older. Thanks for the review!

  5. I picked this up from the library this week and can't wait to get to read it. I loved the Sweet Valley books when I was younger so I'm looking forward to some nostalgic fun. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Great review! I loved these books growing up. I saw this book at the library. After reading some negative reviews I wasn't interested in reading it. But after reading yours I think I will!

  7. OMG!I always read these book back in junior high. I really want to pick up this book! Thanks for the review!

  8. Great review, Leanna! I have been in two minds whether to read this book or not. On one hand, this book will evoke a lot of childhood memories; on the other hand, I am a little afraid it might not live up to my expectations.

  9. Great review! I just can't seem to makeup my mind whether I want to read this or not! :S I loved the series when I was younger...

  10. Can you believe I've actually never read a Sweet Valley High book? That's craziness. I wasn't a big reader in high school outside of the required reading, but I want to go back and experience these books:)

  11. I bought this as a way of finding out what finally happened, and to close a chapter on my Sweet Valley reading (although I am sure, I will eventually read them again).

    However, I was very disappointed with this, there were certain stories from previous books such as Elizabeth and Sam Woodruffs fling (the boyfriend of Jessica's who died) - he mainly featured in the diary books (Elizabeths secret diary etc), however, him as a whole character was omitted from the book.

    Some of the character developments I also found a little odd, but I suppose this could be because this is actually the first SV book Francine Pascal has written all by herself.

    I wasn't totally impressed to say the least.


  12. I meant to say certain stories from previous books that should have been brought up, that weren't


  13. Oh, I must admit that I can't wait to read this. This series was one of the series that seriously got me hooked on teen fiction back in my tweenie days. I'm very curious as to just what Jessica has done to Elizabeth that would make her act so out of character and plot revenge. Great review Leanna.

  14. Fab review! I’m so reading this one over the summer :) Now if Ann M. Martin would follow suit & give readers a look at where the girls from The Babysitter’s Club are now ;)


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