Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One down, 180 to go!

Late Tuesday night I finished the first book in the Sweet Valley High series, "Double Love." I was about as satisfied with it as I should have expected to be. I didn't realize before that the plots were so shallow -- or I just didn't care. I also always knew I preferred Elizabeth over Jessica, but I never noticed that Jessica was such a jerk.

In "Double Love," Jessica does everything she can to try to get Todd to fall in love with her instead of her sister. Elizabeth, meanwhile, sits back and hopes that her luck will change. Both twins make references to how they don't care if the other is her sister because she wants Todd all to herself. I'm not a twin, but I was a high school girl, and I can't remember ever thinking that it would be a good idea to fight over a guy with my BFF. Then again, I was always more Elizabeth than Jessica, and, like Elizabeth, I would have passive aggressively hoped my luck would change through inaction.

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that things ended happily in Sweet Valley (the place is called Sweet Valley, after all). After 223 pages, the twins have righted their wrongs, Elizabeth has snagged Todd and Jessica is ready to seek out her next conquest. The subplots of brother Steven's mysterious girlfriend and Mr. Wakefield's alleged affair both have a lot of build-up (relatively speaking) and quick, undramatic resolution. But then again, the book didn't have much depth in the first place.

Reviews aggregated on the WorldCat listing of the 2008 edition (which I read) complain about differences from the 1983 original. Readers are disappointed about the lack of the Dairi Burger (replaced by Casa del Sol) and Bruce Patman's license plate 1BRUCE1. But I didn't know the original books well enough to care about the changes that make the girls more appealing to today's tweens.

And because I brought up tweens, I'll also mention that it was slightly embarrassing to walk around the young adult series section of the library -- and to check out six Sweet Valley High books at once. Maybe not as embarrassing as the fact that for the rest of the series, I will be putting books on hold to be delivered to my library's circulation desk. I'm going to be totally disappointed if I come to a book that is not in Cleveland Public Library and have to buy it or skip it altogether. My anal-retentive side does not want to read the stories out of order! But, I do have 229 days to track down the rest of the books.

-- Cheryl Sadler



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