Chapter One

In case you didn’t know, sign up on The Sweet Valley Confidential site, and you will get a (not so) secret link to read Chapter One of the book, coming out in March.

The way I am approaching SVC is similar to the way in which many Star Wars fans approached Episodes I-III. I am happy to have more of the Sweet Valley story fed to me by its creators, but it is not the same canon as the first few. They are Star Wars movies, but they are not STAR WARS movies. It’s too far removed from the originals to be considered part of the series. Similar to Confidential, there has been too much social commentary, too much fandom (and criticism) for it to be considered an “untainted” and a true part of the series.

I am certainly not denouncing St. Martin’s Press or Francine’s choice to write it (did I just defend Francine?). Clearly, I am looking forward to it. I am just considering it a novel based on the characters of Sweet Valley, not a book that continues the series. As we know, the twins are frozen in time, both in our childhood experiences and both because they were juniors in Sweet Valley High for infinite amounts of time (and similarly in college for SVU, and in some weird alternate-universe for the Senior Year series). Wouldn’t advancing them in time totally negate the whole idea that these twins are timeless and really exist not to tell a chronological story, but to be put in differing situations for our own amusement (and snark?) No matter what Francine writes, it can’t change this; this is not her fault. The time and era that the originals came out, and the subsequent nostalgia will forever prevent this from being a true continuation.

But shall we get to the chapter? I want to say….fantastic. Fantastic! Yes, I liked it! I was thinking the worst: Liz waking up in Sweet Valley next to her hunky husband Todd, looking at the Pulitzer prizes for journalism, living right next door to Jessica, and still hanging out with the same exact people she did in high school. ugh. UGH! Can you imagine? But no, Liz has been humbled. She’s moved away from Sweet Valley, IS working in writing, but not at the dream job she suspected she would; she’s at a measly periodical. Guys aren’t falling at her feet. And god, it is so cheesy! And just like a so-good-it’s bad romance novel! And using BEYONCE as the most current cultural reference? It’s so trademark Francine to be out of touch with current pop culture references. The jury is still out on if Francine is in on the joke.

Ok, Ok, there’s the bit about Bruce suddenly being Liz’s best bff. I’m not happy about that. And of course she is having a fight with Jessica. I’ll bet you dinner at Cote D’Or that they are fighting over a guy. Is it Todd? Jeffrey? Ken? Some new character they are throwing in?

We can only just wait until March, I guess.

20 thoughts on “Chapter One

  1. Roger Patman says:

    I read it and I loved it! The fact that Liz cries after every orgasm made me just cry with laughing tears. Can’t wait for March

  2. Leila says:

    Here’s my thing. I’ve always thought (well, since I learned about psychology) that Liz and Jess are the same person, but like, Liz is all superego and Jess is all id. Liz is naggy, all-over trying to cure other people’s deficiencies, and Jess has essentially no conscience, she wants what she wants. And I always thought that this happened because of their closeness; but if they ever lived apart from each other, they’d both have to make up for their absent counterpart and become normaler people. Like you said, there’s the nostalgia factor and I like them being sanctimonious and sociopathic messes.

    That said, as they are living apart now I think this should be happening. Verdict’s still out; and at least Liz is having sex and drinking and hanging with Bruce, so she might have become a more self-balanced person. On the other hand, she still has the fight with Jessica (which, if history points to the present, is over some imagined moral outrage), and she is crying after orgasms (which will never not be funny if I live to 80).

    But my hope is that Jess has become a bit mellower and more serious (while still essentially Jessica), and that Liz is able to have a fun side (that doesn’t involve being the alpha moral authority, like with Enid), and that she’s less meddlesome because she’ll let others be their own people.

    Great review, by the way.

  3. Kate says:

    Ugh, I can’t believe I just read that. I thought it was terrible, from start to finish.

    Doesn’t mean I won’t read the whole thing when it’s out though…

    • Vanessa Saxton says:

      I agree, Kate, I hated it, too. Reminded me of the short lived Elizabeth series. However, I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read the entire thing. I will have a copy on the release date!

  4. nikki says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I hear you on not considering it canon and I love your Star Wars comparison. I’ve never considered Eps 1-3 to be anything more than really well written fanfiction. I’ll probably consider SVC the same.

  5. Whallie says:

    It was by far THE WORST “SV” thing I’ve read. And that’s sayin’ something when you’ve read some of the worst SVH books books out there. Confidential has nothing to do with the many years, no decades of charming, vomitious tears the books have brought to our lives since youth. I honestly do not know how Francine hasn’t slit her own size 6 wrists yet with this tripe!

    I too thought that the twins would live next to each other in SV. Married and living/fighting with their sweethearts. When the subject of Liz having sex with these guys came up I cringed so hard I almost shattered my teeth. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!?! And yeah, 1Brice1 as her bf = WTF? The only thing I’m looking forward to in the so-called Confidential is that through another post about it, someone says that Bruce and Lila are married. If so, that may be the only reason why I’ll bother to put it on my x-mas list. B/C, I’m not paying for this tripe!

  6. imnotscared says:

    I think people are exaggerating. As if it’s the worst SV book written. I’ve read worst, trust me. TBH, this didn’t even feel like Sweet Valley writing. Maybe because those books were directed at teens and this one is more for adults.

    I’m glad you liked it ihatewheat.

    • Whallie says:

      I think most of us didn’t like it because it was based out of New York and not Sweet Valley. And perfect, responsible, overachieving Elizabeth Wakefield is struggling to make it, as if she hasn’t written anything in her entire life. You can write this book geared towards adults, but it’s the adults who grew up with the “direction at teens”. If I never read SVH growing up I certainly would have never heard or cared for Confidential. As a writer for teens for decades you need to remember who your fans are. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide to put out a SVH book, name it something more adult, talk about the same teen characters, but expect the readers to LOVE IT. B/c the Beyonce reference was too much. It would have been better if Liz was listening to the Droids newest album because they were now rock stars or something.

      • imnotscared says:

        True. The only thing I truly disliked reading was the beyonce and Justin timberlake reference. But that may be because I don’t like them (at least it wasn’t Justin effen Bieber). Reference to the Droids would have been awesome.

  7. I hate meat. says:

    Yep, that ?$!!/?! SVC site STILL will not allow me to view the chapter, saying I’m too young or some such nonsense. Fer cryin’ out loud, now I have to wait till March for the WHOLE DAMN THING!

    Double drats.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I actually don’t mind Beyonce as a pop-cultural reference for SVC. It’s much better than being 20 or 30 years behind the way that the ’80s books were. I don’t remember anyone from the 1980s driving a Fiat or hanging out at a disco on the beach, but maybe things are different out here in Georgia…

    Hopefully, they’ll have blacks, gays, and a few nymphomaniacs in this one. Can’t wait ’til it comes out, though I do have a feeling I’ll buy it, read a couple of chapters, hate it, and toss it in the garbage.

  9. Becca says:

    Argh! I went and signed up for that stupid Macmillan Publishing newsletter and they sent me the link to the first chapter but whenever I try to download it it just goes to a blank page! Is anyone else having that problem? It’s really ticking me off because I really want to read it. I’m not expecting greatness but I’m definitely intrigued.

    • winstonegbert says:

      The fake prada handbag got me more than anything. I hope they don’t try to whittle down the twin’s polar opposite characters too much though, that happened in Senior Year and it was awful. I’ve been in contact with St Martin’s Press and suggested that Margo return and hook up with Winston. [They just lol’ed.]

      @Leila, love the Freudian reading of the twins.

  10. kathy says:

    I kind of like the first chapter. It’s Sweet Valley so I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare.

    But like others, I am glad things aren’t so perfect for The Twins. When I was younger I just KNEW that in the end Todd and Liz would be happily married. And most likely have twins of their own. Barf. Liz would be a best selling, award winning writer, and Jess would be a big time movie actress.

    But looks like things are pretty crappy for Liz right now. As far as the fake Prada handbag, I think the writers were trying to tell us Liz is struggling in the money department. And I don’t get the impression Liz has turned into a slut. She’s pushing 30 and she’s single. She has sex every now and then. Nothing wrong with that. The crying may be because she’s still in love with someone else. But can’t be with him.

    I do wish the chapter was split between Liz and Jess. Jess interests me more. As far as the cultural references. Better Beyonce and Justin then the damn Droids. Because when I was younger I also figured Francine would eventually go on and make then a hugely famous band. So again, I am pleasantly surprised.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m excited about the new book. I’m also wondering if they’ve made any progress on the movie. I think I’m more excited about the movie than the book.

  12. Serena says:

    Okay, now I realize this could get me in trouble, and my comment deleted, but…free speech and all that. Gotta try.

    Maybe you honestly enjoyed this chapter and wanted to give it a good review buuuut…

    Here’s what I’m afraid of.

    Because Francine’s publishers are contacting all the Sweet Valley recap blogs and treating them like straightforward “fanpages” (instead of mockery done by critical readers who may remember the series with some fondness as a part of their childhood but aren’t blind to it’s faults) and giving bloggers free swag to give away in contests/asking them to promote her upcoming book…

    You guys are gonna lose your edge! Please don’t sell out and cut back on the snark, especially when it comes to the new book (which the majority of first-chapter-readers seem to think is crap…except for people who were invited to meet the publishers — ooh, ahh! – to get a sneak peek and not-so-surprisingly only have positive things to say.)

    I understand bloggers may be excited to be in touch with an author/publisher, and get free merch, yada yada. But the danger is that you’ll start thinking, “oh, they’ve been so nice to me…I don’t want to not-be-nice back! I’ll cut them some slack and give their product a more favorable review.”

    You might not even realize you’re doing it. Maybe their attention/freebies just put you in a more favourable mood, like…a mood-altering substance or something. You’re mellow now, y’know? Everything’s gooooood. But is it? Is it *really*? 😛

    My point is, I enjoy reading this blog, and others devoted to Sweet Valley. And I’d hate to see them turn into hollow hype-fests… just another cog in the publicity machine. Not saying that’s happened yet. Just consider me a conspiracy-theory-minded integrity-watchdog, if you will. Please don’t become part of the system you once criticized so well, eh?

    Yes, evil is seductive. We’d all rather hang with Jessica than Elizabeth. But remember… she’ll turn on you in an instant, if you stop worshipping her unconditionally and letting her always have her way. 😉 Maybe it’s best not to get *too* chummy. We should watch our backs, and be Jessica’s (and Francine’s) frienemy… Yeah, I think we can all agree it’s best to be Lila. 🙂

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