Not long ago, I checked Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later out of the library. It was… not good. Now obviously I didn’t expect it to be good. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare, but I did think I would enjoy it in a guilty-pleasure way. Sadly, no. Not so much. I have since put some thought into why this was the case, and have compiled them into a list for handy reference.
Top Ten Reasons Sweet Valley Confidential was far less enjoyable than I anticipated:
Warning: Contains spoilers. But don’t worry about it, as you should never read this book.
1. The writing is really really bad.
2. It turns out that I don’t remember any of the characters or plots from any of the Sweet Valley books I read in my past except for the one Sweet Valley Twins where Elizabeth and Jessica decide to pretend they are triplets for the new girl in school that no one likes but then Elizabeth gets to know her better when she is acting as the fictional third Wakefield girl and feels bad so they throw her a birthday party and Jessica tries to order a chocolate cake but Elizabeth heard the new girl complain about how she always has to have chocolate cake on her birthday because people think everyone likes chocolate cake but she hates chocolate cake. I assume there’s some kind of fallout at the actual birthday party regarding the fact that the entire middle school conned this girl into thinking there were Wakefield triplets, but I mostly only remember the thing about the chocolate cake, as it’s clearly the most critical plot point of the book.
At any rate, I can’t remember any of the characters’ names except for the twins and Lila, the snobby rich girl. Possibly the new girl in the above story ended up being a major secondary character, but I have no idea. So when the characters were reintroduced in Sweet Valley Confidential, I had no frame of reference and therefore didn’t care about them. For example, I did not remember that the twins have a brother a year older than they are. (Turns out, he’s gay. And Jessica outed him to his wife. But I don’t care.)
3. This isn’t technically a reason I didn’t like the book, but I’d like to note that twenty-five years can really change a person’s perspective on things. Back when I was reading the original books, for example, I did not spend time wondering how poor Mrs. Wakefield managed when she had a one-year-old and a set of newborn twins.
4. I kept getting hung up on the fact that Sweet Valley is supposed to be a small town, but it has more than one law firm in it. And a PR firm. And an architectural firm. And a university. And 80% of the graduates of SVH stay and live in Sweet Valley for the rest of their lives.
5. Inasmuch as I can remember what any of the characters were like in the original series, many of them did not change or grow at all in ten years, and most of the characters are rigid archetypes; something that escaped my notice when I was 10.
6. The book starts out with Elizabeth and Jessica estranged because Elizabeth hates Jessica for a mysterious reason that turns out to be – shocker – Jessica stole Elizabeth’s boyfriend. (Former SVH fans: Yes, Todd. Jessica and Todd get married. Elizabeth ends up with Bruce Patterson.) But then Elizabeth turns back into a doormat just like she always was.
7. Jessica has a powerful and high-paying job at the famous Sweet Valley PR firm despite the fact that she still, like, talks like this, even in, like, her thoughts.
8. You guys, the writing.
9-10. At the end, I was forced to read a description of Elizabeth Wakefield’s naked body. This one counts twice.