It gets even better

April 11, 2008

Paul Constant notes,

I read this young adult bookblog more because I like the writer and she’s from my home state of Maine than because I’m interested in young adult books.

And, to be honest, I only clicked the link because Paul Constant made the point.

I never read the Sweet Valley High stories, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But, apparently, the Wakefield twins are back, and as BoD reviewer Leila Roy notes—

They may have changed some things — the Wakefield twins are no longer “a perfect size six”, now they’re (get ready…) “a perfect size four” — but wow, they haven’t changed Jessica Wakefield. She’s still a bitch.

—they’re better than ever.

Okay, so maybe not. The new books, apparently, are updated—remodeled, revamped, retooled—versions of the originals. I just figured this out thanks to New York Magazine (via, you guessed it, BoD):

As ardent fans of Sweet Valley High, we eagerly awaited this week’s rerelease of the prudishly soapy, good-twin-bad-twin saga’s first two books, freshly modernized to appeal (and pander) to kids today. The plotlines remain the same, but tiny details have been updated: The school paper is a blog, top band the Droids have been renamed Valley of Death, and yes, there is one mention of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new, smaller, “perfect” size 4 figures. They’re even allowed to say “crap.” But who cares about that when there are clothes to be discussed? With eighties fashions again at the forefront — we still can’t forgive Leggings 2.0 — we compared the crazy-bad outfits in the original eighties Sweet Valley High books to those in its supposedly with-it progeny. Did Elizabeth’s infamous tuxedo outfit survive? Read on — and bring a hanky.

The Twins: Probably to prolong their shelf life, the books are now tragically vague when it comes to fashion. For instance, in the original series debut, Double Love, Jessica longs for an outfit of Elizabeth’s that involves a tuxedo shirt, matching pants, and a bow tie. (What, no cummerbund? Horrors!) In the revamped edition, Jessica 2.0 is seduced by a mere J.Crew skirt. Right. The follow-up, Secrets, turns Jessica’s burgundy ribbed sweaterdress into a black wrap; otherwise, she mostly prances around in miniskirts and halter tops, while we hear almost nothing of Elizabeth’s wardrobe unless she’s doing her homework in sweatpants. (Get it? She’s SMART, and therefore drab, while Jessica is SUPERFICIAL and shows more skin. Some stereotypes never go out of style.)

I’m not sure what to say, though. I mean, I never read the books. I figured they were stupid, yucky, girly things about, well, all sorts of bad stereotypes. And then I got older and forgot about them. It never occurred to me until now that the damn things were, like, evil. Double Love? Seriously, it sounds like porn. (“Double your pleasure. Double the love. With perfect size four high-school girls.”)

Maybe they should have updated the titles, too. (Secrets is only mildly better in the hypersexed pop-culture of the twenty-first century.)

And here I was worried about the damn lolcats. Then again, who out there actually read these things, what, twenty years ago? Anyone? Anyone? Can you give us a little perspective?



One comment

  1. Twenty years ago, I was still twenty years too old. Even when I was a young adult, I didn’t read YA books. I read Poe, Tolkien, and James Thurber. Call me eclectic. Or don’t.

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