260 of 278 people found the following review helpful
Good News - Francine Pascal Still Hates Fat People!,
This review is from: Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later (Hardcover)
I fell in love with these books when I was twelve, and even then, I held no illusions about the quality of what I was reading. The SVH books have always the Sour Patch Kids of YA fiction - there's no nutritional quality, but you know what you're getting into when you rip the bag open and dive in, so it's always exactly what you're expecting. They're brain candy, and sometimes there's nothin' wrong with that. When 12-year-old me cracked open a brand new SVH every month, it was a given that there were going to be ridiculous plot twists, lots of infidelity, wacky misunderstandings, Jessica behaving like more of a psychopath than Crazyface Margo yet incurring no consequences, and the sort of prose that makes you say "Christ, I've read fanfic more elegant than this."
So by all rights, I should have known what I was getting when I cracked open SVH Confidential. But the nostalgia was high, and I was dying to see where all these characters ended up. "How great," I thought, "that Francine Pascal was willing to do this for the fans."
About fifty pages in, it became painfully, upsettingly obvious that this book wasn't written for the fans at all. Please make no mistake: it was written to make ol' Francine a quick buck, and almost zero care was put into every aspect of it. Look, I'm totally aware it's kind of stupid to be mad about the quality of an SVH book, but to wit: there are TONS of typos in this book. Glaringly. Obvious. Typos. Either the copy editor spent that day napping or he's got a job at St. Martin's because he's somebody's nephew.
There are so many canonical details that were wrong, when researching the details is the sort of thing that would have taken about twelve seconds on Google. When anyone involved with this project could have asked ANY 90s SVH fan for the right details. Not to mention canonical errors that are flat out contradicted IN THE SAME BOOK: for example, in chapter one, Jeffrey French is married, and by the last chapter, he's "enjoying his unmarried single life."
Elizabeth spends 95% of her time in this book interacting with brand new characters, which is a shame, because we don't spend nearly half as much time with any of the OLD ones. Sure, we're TOLD what's become of them, but we never really spend any time SEEING what's going on with them. I didn't pick this book to meet Liam Will RandomIrishSurname-Whatshisface, I picked it up to catch up with Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman, Ken Matthews and Mr. Collins, Olivia Davidson, hell, even Crazyface Margo!
And HERE COMES THE SPOILER ALERT, if you want to skip it:
Come on, lady, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE a little: Nobody's waited fifteen years to hear about what song plays at Todd and JESSICA'S wedding.
I also enjoy Steven's super unenlightened thoughts on his newly discovered gayness, particularly when he sits down and thinks about how funny it is that his "homosexual" relationship is just like his "heterosexual" one! OH MY GOD, DO YOU MEAN THE GAYS ARE PEOPLE, TOO?!?!?!?!?! How groundbreaking.
Overall, a huge disappointment. Should have let the ghostwriter handle this one.
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Showing 1-10 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 30, 2011 11:33:45 AM PDT
Norma Lehmeierhartie says:
What about hating fat people?
Posted on Mar 30, 2011 4:03:07 PM PDT
A. L. Belmont says:
This is one of the best comments on a book i have seen in a while. Thank you for writing it!!!
Posted on Mar 30, 2011 6:04:08 PM PDT
Andrea Monk says:
Pretty sure Olivia is dead. And you never touch on why this book is anti-fat people.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2011 6:28:22 PM PDT
If Lila's dad can magically be named 'Richard', Roger Collins's son is now named Sam, and Jeffrey French can go from married with a family to single and childless in 250 pages, I don't really hold much faith in Olivia's ability to stay dead. Or we could have at least gotten a shoutout, like "remember that terrible earthquake that destroyed our house and killed a bunch of people?"
Also, SVH has always been, like, crazy anti-fat people. Robin Wilson and Lois Waller were always treated like crap. The books were either super condescending or super mean. And it happened again in this book, when Bruce Patman is looking at Robin Wilson's husband and thinking about how he's getting jowls and a flabby stomach from "being way too interested in food". And then in the same paragraph, goes on to condescendingly say that Robin's catering company is a "courageous career choice" for someone who used to be so fat in high school. Snotty and derisive.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2011 6:28:43 PM PDT
SVH has always been, like, crazy anti-fat people. Robin Wilson and Lois Waller were always treated like crap. The books were either super condescending or super mean. And it happened again in this book, when Bruce Patman is looking at Robin Wilson's husband and thinking about how he's getting jowls and a flabby stomach from "being way too interested in food". And then in the same paragraph, goes on to condescendingly say that Robin's catering company is a "courageous career choice" for someone who used to be so fat in high school. Snotty and derisive.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2011 8:58:15 PM PDT
Andrea Monk says:
I haven't read the book yet, but I'll look out for the things you mentioned in your review when I do. And I know what you mean about the older books being anti-fat people. Though I wonder if that was a symptom of the culture at the time or of the author's personal prejudice. Anyway, thanks for the review.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2011 6:04:22 AM PDT
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2011 8:50:38 AM PDT
I was completely generic and didn't go into plot specifics until the part where it said "HERE COMES THE SPOILER ALERT." Sorry that I don't feel bad about that?
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2011 9:41:58 AM PDT
I have not read the book yet but this spolier alert was outed well before this review. A newspaper review I read discussed this in detail. That article and this review are causing me to rethink reading this book and just keeping my fond memories of the series intact.
Posted on Apr 3, 2011 8:10:21 AM PDT
Nishi Rajan says:
you are spot on!! This totally wasn't written for the fans. I wrote my own review on how it was a disservice to Jessica & Elizabeth as sisters and seriously, Todd is just not all that to be worth it. The Todd/Liz/Jess betrayal angle is the worst excuse to base a new book on. Even the 'Secret Diary' books about Jess & Todd's affairs were from left-wing & from the mind of someone insane who never read all the SV Kids, Twins, Unicorns & High books. Plus, the books were really going all-out by the end of the series exploring insane ideas to make the books more exciting/interesting/saleable. Along the way, it just lost a lot of the heart of what was between the sisters, the family & the message. I'll go back to reading the original series & pretend this book never happened. The only thing I like is who Elizabeth ends up with ;)