Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review of Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

Name of book: Sweet Valley Confidential


Author Name: Francine Pascal


ISBN: 0312667574


Publisher: St. Martin's Press


Type of book: Adult, attempt at contemporary


Year it was published: 2011


Summary:

Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood. 


Characters:
Elizabeth Wakefield: She's the "bad" girl of the book who turns somehow into Jessica. She apparently has multiple sexual partners and also became devious with a plan to make Jessica fall in love with a friend she will bring from New York. While I have never read the main body of Sweet Valley series, I did read what I call "fringe" books like Sweet Valley Superchillers. Elizabeth in there was as sweet as an apple pie, a real girl next door type. In this one she turns into her sister it seems, or what her sister would have become; a party girl with mindless affairs. I didn't like the character change because Elizabeth is someone I could imagine maybe trying a one-night stand once, and suffering for it the rest of her life. Instead she continuously has them. I wonder if she has had some sexual problems in the past if she weeps after orgasms.

Jessica Wakefield: This is like so not cool. When you're reading her point of view, you frequently fall into these words all the time; so, like. Jessica, despite her ultimate betrayal of sleeping with Todd, has a personality switch of becoming Elizabeth and no matter how miserable they are, they still stay together. (They never even liked one another, only slept because they got drunk and found it funny that people are confusing Jessica for Elizabeth!) There really was no true love between them. Todd, for example, never even attempted to get back into the good graces of Sweet Valley. And Jessica pretty much had no good excuse in running away from her husband, besides the fact that she was bored.

Miscellaneous: I hated the fact that Steven was gay. For one reason or another I liked Steven, and if she had to make him gay, why weren't there earlier signs in other books? As far as I know, people struggle with homosexuality their whole lives and it's not too sudden "OMG I can't believe I'm gay!" It would have been more interesting if for example in this book she could have addressed the definite SVH or SVT events where he was struggling with those issues. I also had a problem that Cara was portrayed as a bakery woman and Steven seems to have no feelings for her. If she could have used that plot it would have been far more interesting than the predictable story she gave us of Jessica stealing Todd away and causing Elizabeth to run away to New York. Besides being upset, why couldn't Cara's realization to the problem be addressed, and wouldn't she have been devastated to learn that she was married to a homosexual and wouldn't it have taken her a very long time to recover from such a blow?


Theme:


The themes of the book was whether or not the twins' bond could survive (for the millionth time apparently,) through Jessica's betrayal of her and Elizabeth's friendship. Apparently, no matter what Jessica does, Elizabeth is a doormat and forgives her sister way too easily. If, G-d forbid, something like that happened in my family, they would kill me or else have a serious talk to me about it. Why didn't Jessica talk to her mom about how she feels about Todd, or why not talk to Elizabeth? Sure Elizabeth will be upset, but its better to talk about it than to walk in and have Jessica's ex-husband tell you that his wife and your boyfriend love one another.

The matches are also interesting. As someone mentioned on amazon it's kind of an incest and it took me awhile to understand what is meant. Elizabeth, by marrying Bruce is like marrying Jessica, and same for Jessica, she is marrying Elizabeth. Through their opposite matches, they become whole.


Plot:
Although the plot was simplistic, there are problems with third person and first narrative, and frequent point of view switches wherever the author feels like switching. The whole effect is jarring and unpleasant and its difficult to keep up with who's talking and who's not. Also, the plot doesn't make sense, and I can't sense or feel or relate to the characters at all, and that's very important when reading a book.


Author Information:

Francine Pascal (born May 13, 1938) is an author best known for creating the Sweet Valley series of young adult novels. Sweet Valley High was the backbone of the collection, and was made into a popular television series.[2] [3] There were also several spin-offs, including The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley University. Although most of these books were published in the 1980s and 1990s, they have remained popular such that several titles have been re-released in recent years (From Wiki?)


Opinion:

What she is trying to do:

What the book actually is:



The book itself is terrible beyond words. It is confusing, especially with the whole third person first person constant narrative, and then, just to make it more even worse, sometimes point of view switches every other sentence! As in, let's say Elizabeth is talking, then in a next sentence one of the guys starts to talk and then it switches back to Elizabeth and so on. The whole idea of twins grown up and one of them moving to New York is somewhat like Fergie's Glamorous song (First video) but what she actually succeeded was in creating Rebeca Black's song Friday (second video) While reading it, I couldn't help but remember the lessons I learned in writing; stick to the main character's point of view, don't jump from one character to another. If there is a jump, make sure there is a warning of sorts, like some authors create space between the shifting points of view or others devote one chapter to one character and another character to another chapter and so on. Since I have not read Sweet Valley High Main series or SVU or any others, its hard for me to pinpoint accuracy but also do your research no matter what genre you write. If you write sci-fi and create your own world and whatnot, stick to the rules no matter how painful they are. Or if you can't do it, then don't bother making the rules up. If you write contemporary novels, research as well to make them realistic. I also did not enjoy that she made one of the characters homosexual, and I wonder if she even bothered to research about it. And why should I be happy about the Wakefields getting three sons-in-law? I want for them to get two sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law.

0 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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