Monday, April 7, 2008

Sweet Valley For a New Generation

Yes, that's right. The old favorites from the 1980s are back and updated for today's teens, beginning with the first title, Double Love.

Gone, gone, gone are the perfect size six, writing in one's journal, and composing articles for the high school newspaper. Bruce Patman wouldn't be caught dead in a Porsche, Jessica and Elizabeth have never heard of a Fiat Spider, and the Droids quit playing their hard driving rock music. You can't even get a meal at the Dairi Burger anymore.

In 2008, Sweet Valley teens aspire to a perfect size four, compose lots of email, and write an anonymous blog for the high school news web site. Bruce drives a Cadillac XLR Roadster, the twins have a red Jeep, and everyone rocks out to Valley of Death, the only decent high school band in the last "million years." If you get hungry, you can stop by Casa del Sol, Sweet Valley's local high school hangout.

The characters, though, are more or less the same. Jessica is still manipulative and shallow, Elizabeth remains as nice and upstanding as ever, and good old Lila and Bruce are still their wealthy, vapid selves. Thank goodness. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known what to do. The general plot has also stayed the same: Jessica goes after Elizabeth's crush and manages to get in trouble with Rick Andover, Sweet Valley's local bad boy. Jessica and Elizabeth fear that their father is having an affair and that their brother is dating an undesirable girl from the wrong part of town. The old fight over the high school football field is there, too.

What's different is how the plot is carried out, with lots of references to current pop culture (there's a lovely one regarding Heroes, for example). We see different cars, methods of communication, and even shopping (does anyone also fondly remember Lisette's, the epitome of high fashion). We also see that the perfect size is a size four. I guess size six is fatsville these days, although most people I know would be pretty ecstatic over being able to fit into one.

At any rate, I was amused by the updated version of the book. It was a fun trip down memory lane, spent mostly trying to spot the differences between the original and new versions. This begs the question of who will buy this title: adults who remember it from high school, or today's teen? I was compelled to purchase it much like a moth is drawn to a flame, so my suspicion is the former.

And while I am kind of horrified that the ideal is a size four, it doesn't seem that much worse than some of the other image-obsessed fare currently out there, such as Gossip Girl and The Clique. We could protest the proliferation of such young adult novels, but personally, I'm too busy writing in my blog and shopping at J Crew to do it.

The second book in the series, Secrets, is also currently out, with number three, Playing with Fire soon to follow.


Patti said...

I think you should review them all. You actually made me sort of want to read SVH. And that is sort of a miracle! Seriously, you should read them all and report back to us the amazing plot points and what they're wearing. It would be fun.

joanna said...

Hooray! Hi, Kerry! I'm so glad you posted on this book. I second Patti's idea. If I find any swag at TLA I'll bring it to ya.

Kerry said...

That's pressure, man. I'm not sure I can remember all the changes they made between the texts, but I might try. :)

jenn said...

"Fatsville"!!! That totally cracked me up! I would KILL to be a size 6 again...