We never thought we’d see it happen! A new Sweet Valley book. And the first one AUTHORED by Francine herself. At least that we know of.
Allow me to use a metaphor for how I am feeling about the release of this book. I mean without even getting into the content. Because that’s a whole other…well, just wait on that. I have recently come to find out that Motley Crue and Poison are on tour and are stopping in San Francisco. (Oh yea, and the New York Dolls, but they have no significance to me.)
For those of you that know me, I freaking love the Crue and Poison. They are a huge part of my childhood, my introduction to loving music. That and they were AWESOME. To me, as a teen, they epitomized the ultimate cool, the ultimate rock ‘n roll, the ultimate MEN. The fact that they wore makeup and glam made them even MORE AWESOME AND HAWT. I longed to be one of the women who partied backstage with them. Although, I am sure my 14 year old self didn’t have a TRUE idea of what that entailed. [Side note, a coworker recently revealed to me that at age 15 she went backstage and fooled around with Vince Neil. I cannot control my immense envy. ] I was obsessed with watching their videos on Headbangers’ Ball [ah memories] and waited for the “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” video to catch a glimpse of Bret Michaels getting out of the bed in his briefs. Am I right ladies? You did that too.
Alas, I never got to see them live. I should probably thank my parents to never allowing my tween self to one of those concerts. So wouldn’t the choice of seeing them live be a total no-brainer?
I’m not gonna go. Why? Because yes, even though the bands are the same, have all the same members, will likely sing some amazing classics, they are NOT Motley Crue and Poison. At least how they were, and it’s not even about their age. The times are different, I am different, and they don’t represent that rock n roll outlaw culture that they defined. It wasn’t just them that I loved, it was for me at the time what they represented and the influence they had over the music and culture of the time. I will never get that back and it can never be created. So, it’s not their fault, it’s just a change in my relationship to them. [However, if Enuff Z’Nuff reunited and joined the tour, I’d probably be there in a second.]
So thus is my feeling with Sweet Valley Confidential. Plus, we have such a relationship with these characters that nothing that happens to them will fit our expectations. So, in a way, I feel bad for Francine. She’s running an uphill battle with this.
First things first:
It seems that Francine is completely ignoring the other series that are not Sweet Valley high. Hence, all the stuff that happened in Sweet Valley University obviously has not happened in the Confidential universe. No marriage to the Mike guy, no Tom whats his face. And certainly no time when Elizabeth goes to London to become a scullery maid (which, btw, WTF? I’ve never really talked about that before.) Does Francine not “endorse” those series? Or was it easier for her to just keep it in one universe? Thank god this isn’t sci fi, or it would be torn apart by angry fans. Well, more so than now.
[Apparently I am wrong- I had read an earlier draft where these things were not mentioned.]
For now, I’m focusing on the first two chapters, because let’s be honest folks, we need to analyze this to death.
-So Liz ran away to New York. And she’s not suddenly the toast of the town, offered a job at the New York Times, etc. That’s refreshing. She’s working at a “meager” theater periodical, which sounds sort of like Playbill. Not too shabby, that actually sounds like a dream gig for me.
-Jessica and Todd. Sigh. So we’re back to that. I don’t buy it for a second that these two should be together. Although really Liz, are you surprised? All that cheating didn’t give you a hint?
-Remembering back to the “Double Love” era. is this a verbatim of what happened? I don’t care to take the time to look. And Jessica’s voiceover: sorry Francine, after 100+ books of Jessica’s sociopathy, there is no way you can convince me that she is a tortured soul. That’s she’s really tortured and is the way she is because she is insecure. Too little, too late.
And then we get to Lila’s party. Sigh.
Francine, I feel, hates her characters. The ones that were the supposed “good” and “well-meaning” are sad souls. Cara is miserable and has a failed marriage (did the move to London never happen?) Enid, now married to A.J. Morgan (what?) is an arrogant anti-choice doctor. I guess that’s your punishment for being brunette and a non-cheerleader. You hold that anger inside you until you are an adult and then become a horrible person. Beware everyone.
Robin Wilson. Robin, Robin, Robin. Never able to escape her food issues. Well, don’t worry folks, she only gained back “a little of the weight” she lost. And, apparently, will always be a fatty because she became a caterer so she can always be around food. Wasn’t Robin a science wiz? And a champion diver? None of that mattered?
Lila, our dear Lila. What happened to her? All that character building and exploration of her true self…leads her to being a manipulative trophy wife. With a boob job.
Lastly, why are they all still hanging out together? These folks were not friends in high school. For the sake of the story, we need to see all these characters interacting, but I just don’t buy that they would all move back to Sweet Valley after colleges and various careers.
And Jessica and Todd. Wow. They are miserable people. And pretty much hate each other. And Todd still loves Elizabeth, but is with Jessica because he would just end up hurting Elizabeth anyway?
I realize I’m being bleak, but this book is turning out to be bleak. I guess my hopes were that it would celebrate the characters we have come to know, but it seems that I’d rather not know if this is how they turned out.
And that’s only the first two chapters! To end on a positive note, let’s watch a golden oldie from Poison, back when narrative stories were all the rage with videos. And this story is very Sweet Valley-like.
More thoughts later…