Sweet Valley High Series, 2008 by Francine Pascal


SVH #1 Double LoveSo how big of a nerd am I? Pretty big, my teenage friends. Pretty damn big .So big that when my brand spanking new copies of the revised-and-updated-for-the- ipod-generation Sweet Valley High volumes 1 & 2 came from the publisher (yeah, sometimes it’s kinda cool being an unpaid teen book blogger—you do get some freebies), the first thing I did was run right over to my living room bookshelf and pull down my copies of the original versions, circa 1983 to compare. Yes, dear readers, I am the proud owner of the first 100 original SVH paperbacks, collected through the years from friends and second hand bookstores. When I was in 7th grade, my best friend Amy H. had the whole series sitting pretty on her white painted bookshelf in her huge canopied bed-bedroom, and to exorcise my adolescent envy of that unbroken line of perfect paperbacks (Amy was VERY neat), I was determined to hunt down my own set. Were they completely unrealistic and unapologetically soap opera-ish? Absolutely, but there was just something so reassuring about those perfectly turned out teenage sisters, their wholesome school and agreeable family—Elizabeth was good and Jessica was bad, and you could take that to the bank. Plus, you have to remember, this was 1983. YA literature was in a rut. SVH #2 SecretsThere weren’t a million and one chick lit series to choose from like there are now. It felt like me and my friends graduated right from Beverly Cleary to Danielle Steel and V.C. Andrews. So, what’s the verdict on the new girls? Well, from just a casual perusal, SVH appears to be just as cheesy and squeaky clean as I remember. Now sixteen year old California twins Jessica and Elizabeth have cell phones, drive a red Jeep Wrangler instead of a Fiat, and Elizabeth maintains a blog as well as writing for SVH’s website. But Elizabeth is still pining for captain of the basketball team Todd Wilkins, and Jessica is still chasing anything in pants. Of course, nothing too sexy ever happens in Sweet Valley. In Double Love, when Jessica accidentally gets in over her pretty little head with SVH dropout Rick Andover, a notorious playa, the cops conveniently show up before Jessica’s virtue is threatened. I know, too tame for you, right? But if your little sister keeps stealing your Gossip Girl books and she’s already read all of the Clique, throw these shiny new paperbacks her way. They oughta hold her—at least until the next Clique comes out. And who knows? Maybe she’ll grow to love good old Jessica, Elizabeth, Enid, Todd, Bruce, and the rest of SVH gang as much as me and my Gen-X compatriots did. Now that you’ve traveled down nostalgia lane with me, I’d love it if you would post YOUR memories of your fav series from when you were a kid.

23 Responses to “Sweet Valley High Series, 2008 by Francine Pascal”

  1. Holly says:

    I never did get into SVH. However, I loved the Nancy Drew Case Files, which back in the late ’80’s were new “current” Nancy Drew books. In middle school, I was very into Christopher Pike and the early R.L. Stine (before Goosebumps) books.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Jen,

    OK, I read this review because I remember Sweet Valley High and wondered what was up. In fact, I remember you and Amy (and all those other girls) checking them out constantly from the library. (Man, I’m old)

    My series when I was a kid:
    Hardy Boys
    Bobbsey Twins (now that really dates me)
    Andre Norton’s Witch World books; still collect those, and you can see the collection on my website.

  3. Mike says:

    Oops; thought the website URL would post. http://www.fowlervillehistory.org/andrenorton/

  4. I am a big fan of this tv series but I am more into their book version. I almost got all of its book series up to Sweet Valley University. So having this a freebie would surely a thankful for me

  5. Kari says:

    I also read most of the SVH books, and the SVH Twins (was that when they were younger?), my mom’s Bobbsey Twins books, and the Babysitter’s Club. very 80’s, huh?

  6. Tarie says:

    Oh my… Oh my gosh… I am interested! I loved the Sweet Valley High series and all of its spinoffs. Hahaha! I will probably buy these and hunt down the old editions – mostly to compare and contrast. I also loved Nancy Drew and the Babysitters’ Club! :o)

  7. Tracy says:

    I skipped over the Sweet Valley High books (AND Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys) as well. I did read Babysitter’s Club in 5th grade. And I was in love Alida Young’s Megan the Klutz books.

  8. Mina says:

    But did you see the controversial disparity between the decades?

    In the 80’s the twins were a “perfect” size 6, now they are a “perfect” size 4. What does that say about these books?


  9. Jen Hubert says:

    Hi Mina,

    I did see the controversy about the size changes, and agree that isn’t the best message to be sending girls who read these books. But most books are full of mixed messages, including the currently popular Gossip Girl and Clique series–books that arguably are the equivalent to what SVH was in its day. While those series are not my favorites, if they get teens reading, I’m willing to view them as a stepping stone into getting them reading “better” books (although, reading taste is relative in my opinion and you should NEVER apologize for what you like to read) Are there “better” books? Sure, but you never learn how to be a discerning reader until you’ve read through both trash and treasure. Random will find out soon enough whether or not the new SVH will fly with teens. I’m not convinced that they’re any better or worse than any of the other series books for female teens currently on the market.

    Here are two links that argue the pros and cons of the continually popular GG, which in many ways is today’s SVH, except racier:

    Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things by Naomi Wolf

    Advanced Placement: the wicked joy of the Gossip Girl novels by Janet Malcolm

  10. The balance of “good” and “bad” with Elizabeth and Jessica was just an amazing thing to behold when I was younger. It was like, “She’s me! They’re both me!” which is a balance that exists less in the SVHs of today, I think.

  11. Raina Sedore says:

    I have many fond memories of my love affair with any and all Nancy Drew series. I made the local youth services librarian print out a list of all the Nancy Drew books they had in the system, and I taped it on the back of my bedroom door, checking them off as I got through them. I only stopped when they put out the new covers (based on a tv show I didn’t watch) with PHOTOGRAPHS of actors portraying the characters, instead of the impressionistic illustrations.

  12. Whitney says:

    they r awesome books !!!

    i love them !!!

  13. René says:

    these books were kinda borring….i knew what was going to happen the whole time. yet it was a quick easy read.

  14. BornIn1974 says:

    I loved the series too. And was envious of my friend’s complete set. I only had the first couple and one of the summer vacation special editions so I had to borrow from the library. I hope they survive the update for the next generation to enjoy.

    Check out my blog post on the original series…

  15. Jen Hubert says:

    Born in 1974, I LOVE your blog! But then, I would, since I was born in 1973:)

  16. Alanah says:

    i have just started to read the new Sweet Valley High books.
    They are wonderful. I know why there the new york times best selling series.
    When ever a new book comes out I’m buying it.
    i have read the first two books in two weeks.
    There brilliant.
    I hope you all get into them. you won’t be disappointed

  17. Born in 1994 says:

    The new series is marvelous .
    I have all the ones that are out and i have put in orders as they come out.
    i love them. all the young generation so totally read these.
    I hope you all enjoy them.

  18. Angela says:

    I am soooo a child of the 80’s!! 😀 I grew up with Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys… loved ’em all!!

  19. Jen says:

    I read these, and the younger ones, I preferred the “specials”, like the Christmas ones with the murderous twin identity-stealers! Haha, hilarious stuff.

    But I obsessed over Baby Sitters Club. I read every one, loved the special books like the snowstorm school trip and summer vacation to DisneyWorld. Even read the Little Sister books. Ann M Martin, I love you!

  20. elizabeth says:

    i have an identical twin sister named jessica. we both live in california. my dad said hes never read sweet valley and didnt name us after the books. pretty weird coincidence though lol.

    anyways, i discovered the series in elementary school and own all of francine pascals SV books. i absolutly love them!

  21. Jen Hubert says:

    That’s a pretty good story, Elizabeth!

  22. Nadia says:

    Does anyone know where I can find the Sweet Valley High series #7 Dear Sister,#8 HeartBreaker, #9 Racing Heart in the new revised editions? My daughter is hooked on the SVH series (the new ones)now (as I was in the 80’s with the originals) but can’t find 7,8 or 9 anywhere…?

  23. Nadia says:

    Opps..of course I want to be notified if there are any comments/help in finding these! 🙂

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Jen Hubert Swan
Librarian, Book Reviewer,
Reading Addict