Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sweet Valley High

I couldn't resist the allure of the newly repackaged Sweet Valley High books. I read these books (in all of their permutations--SV Twins, High, University, Super Specials, and so on) when I was younger (probably mostly around 5th grade-ish, but certainly kept picking them back up for years after that) and was always so excited for a new one. I liked that the characters were older and seemed so exotic (California!), and that I could read a book quickly (even now, I most like to read a book in one sitting).

One afternoon last week, I read Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love. I was glad to see that many of memories of the books still held true. I still think Jessica is a conniving bitch and that Elizabeth is almost unbelievably wholesome. As soon as I read the names Lila Fowler (rich snob, friend of Jessica's) and Enid Rollins (Liz's BFF, bookish and unassuming), I felt right back in the drama of SV. Sometimes I put books on my library list, only to figure out after I get them that I've actually read them (and, embarrassingly often, I will have read them not all that long ago). Yet somehow, even though it's been 20 years or so since I've truly been wrapped up in the world of SV, I remember all of the characters and lots of the major drama.

So what's new with the series now that it's aimed at an audience in 2008? Well, Liz has a blog, in addition to writing for the school's paper (and I guess The Oracle is now just a website?). There's talk of botox, cell phones, and pimped out cars. I wish I could get my hands on the original first book (I'm sure I could with little effort... maybe later this summer) to compare them more closely. Aren't you glad to see that they changed Jessica and Elizabeth to a "perfect size 4," a fact that we learn on the very first page? Heaven forbid they should be a "perfect size 6" like they were in the original series (a fact that was repeated in every single book).

Can we talk about Todd? I always thought it was so cool that this lunky basketball player (now also football player) ended up with Elizabeth. Like there was so much more to him, or something. But god! What a dope! Though intially immune to Jessica's charms, he still somehow sorta falls for her after the whole drinking/driving thing. And Elizabeth is just way too forgiving! How could anyone like Jessica? When she lies and says that Todd "practially raped" her, I think she crosses from manipulative and bitchy to just plain horrible. And yet, I always kept reading, wondering what hijinks that Jessica would get up to next!

If you're looking for blogs on the Sweet Valley books, there's plenty to choose from. Check out The Dairi Burger, where you can find other links to SV-related websites. Reading this book was kind of a kick for me, just from the nostalgia standpoint, but I wonder if modern teen audiences will like this series. I remember reading a long time ago, maybe in an interview in Bitch or Bust, that Francine Pascal was writing a book about Jessica and Elizabeth in their 20s or 30s. Now THAT I would like to see!

So, did anyone else read this new book? Or did anyone read SV when the series was first out? I miss discussions on here!


Dawn said...

Summer has made me a delinquent book club member but I can't resist a re-read of SVH... I shall acquire it, like, now.

Anonymous said...

I have read the 2003 senior year Sweet Valley High Books at my local library and I loved them!!Then I read about 70 of the 80's junior year books and liked them too.When I found out that they came out with a 2008 series i was excited.I have ordered and read the first two books and they are great!