It’s summer time, which means that you might be in dire need of a good beach read. Well thank God for Francine Pascal and the World of Sweet Valley, because both are back with the latest chapter in the Sweet Valley saga, titled The Sweet Life.
The Sweet Life is the new eSerial from Ms. Pascal that picks up three years later from 2010’s Sweet Valley Confidential (review here) and follows the iconic California twins, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, further into their adulthood as they juggle marriage, children (!), and of course the latest scandals to hit the titular town of Sweet Valley. While the Sweet Valley we know is still at the heart of The Sweet Life, the series has graduated to full on adult status with hints of bunkbuster laced throughout its digital pages. Is that a bad thing? Simply put: Hell No.
Just as Sweet Valley Confidential started, The Sweet Life begins with a shake up of the former novel’s status quo. To say what that is will ruin the first surprise of the first episode, but let’s just say The Sweet Life isn’t so sweet for our beloved Jessica and Elizabeth as they are having a hard time adjusting to not their careers, but their personal lives instead. One of the twins is a proud mother now, while the other has to deal with the ramifications of a scandal that rocks the happiness she’s experienced for the past three years. Meanwhile, Lila Fowler has evolved from poor, little rich girl to reality TV star as she’s landed a spot on The True Housewives of Sweet Valley. However, Lila’s fight to stay relevant on the show could ruin her marriage to Ken Matthews, but her true dilemma is whether he even gives a damn. It’s just another day in the world of Sweet Valley!
The first two episodes of The Sweet Life (titled, “The Sweet Life” and “Lies and Omissions”) are just the beginning of a six-part series and the action is just getting started. The story moves at a fast pace, just like most Sweet Valley novels did back in the day and will leave you hanging on its last word. With that said, there were few moments that might drive a few Sweet Valley aficionados up the wall.
The ‘issues’ that popped up in both episodes dealt with that mighty enemy known as the continuity error, which has always plagued Sweet Valley since the series began almost 30 years earlier. One such incident involves Lila recollecting how Bruce Patman was a brute from high school, but any Sweet Valley University fan (Or Sweet Valley fan period) knows that Bruce and Lila spent a large chunk of that book series run as a power couple deeply in spoiled love. The oversight had me wondering for a second whether Ms. Pascal carried over certain elements Sweet Valley University and disregarded the rest, but in the end, does it really matter? It’s Sweet Valley, for crying out loud. It’s pure escapism and an excuse to revert back to a teen in the mid-80s and 90s for a few hours, which The Sweet Life delivers in abundance with no signs of stopping.
By all means, The Sweet Life isn’t the next literary wonder that will be read in esteemed social circles across the nation, and it shouldn’t be approached as such. But if you owned at least 20% of the entire Sweet Valley saga, then The Sweet Life is a worthy addition to your collection. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that it was mandatory.
The Sweet Life #1 – The Sweet Life (available now)
The Sweet Life #2 – Lies & Omissions (available now)
The Sweet Life #3 – Too Many Doubts (available now)
The Sweet Life #4 – Secrets and Seductions (available now)
The Sweet Life #5 – Cutting The Ties (available August 5, 2012 – pre-order here)
The Sweet Life #6 – Bittersweet (available August 12, 2012 – pre-order here)