Friday, March 24, 2006

Cheer, cheer for Sweet Valley U

I loved this academic analysis of the Sweet Valley University books.

The SVU books didn't have the same Archie and the gang addictiveness as Sweet Valley High did. It was fun to see the same characters go off to college, but it felt like they grabbed some random writers who'd really never read the SVH books and instructed them to write a kind of college soap opera that would be palatable to younger readers who really didn't know what to expect from college.

So you get joke plots, like Winston mistakenly being housed in a girls' dorm, and Serious Issues that feel thrown in, like Todd and some athletic scandal, and minor issues, like Liz gaining the freshman fifteen and no longer being a "perfect size 6," and then totally bizarre plotline destruction, like Jessica getting married as a freshman to some new character we barely get to know.

However, there is an awesome plot later where their brother, Steven's girlfriend, Billie, gets pregnant even though they're supposedly using birth control. Steven has always been this perfect John Boy-esque priss, so this plot is rather unexpected and totally weird, and Billie is also always painted as a good girl so to see them fall into the ultimate bad kid plot is just hilarious. There's also a great scene where the Wakefield parents are pissed for all of about ten seconds and then get really excited about being young grandparents. Anyway, Steven's all "my child!" when Billie actually goes and talks to someone about abortion, and then he immediately backs down, but of course it doesn't matter in the end because she miscarries while they're arguing, a la every single soap opera pregnancy ever that doesn't involve a flight of stairs.


Anonymous said...

What book is this in (SVU #________)? It sounds great . . . I have such a soft spot for Lis, Jessie, and their kooky antics. (Oh, did no one else give them nicknames? Ahem.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for reminding me of the SVH series! But what does it say about a series of books that, although you read 75% of the entire series cover to cover, you have no recollection of doing so 15 years later!