What books influenced when you were young? Catcher in the Rye? Lord of the Flies? Intelligent and provocative fiction that made you think and question the very nature of society?
I’m not ashamed to admit that for me it was nothing as thought-provoking as all that. It was Sweet Valley High. Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, with their silky blonde hair, aqua blue eyes and perfect size six figures were loved by pre-teen females across the globe and by the time the series ended over 300 books had been written about the twins, tracing their journey from kids to university students. It must have been one of the most profitable “brands” in pre-teen fiction.
So imagine my delight when, meandering aimlessly around the internet, I found the website of my childhood dreams:
Yes – it’s a whole site dedicated to sweet valley. And it’s brilliant. For each book, Shannon has identified a tongue in cheek moral of the story and written a detailed synopsis. I admired her dedication and spent a blissful hour (or two) browsing the site before cursing her for distracting me.
But there was even better news to come. Francine Pascal, the creator of the twins, had decided to bring them back – 10 years on. And they’re 27 – my own age! It seems like things are meant to be. When I read the book it will be like welcoming back old friends.
Or will it?
I was so excited that I decided to read the reviews before going back to work.
They weren’t good.
Apparently Francine Pascal didn’t appear to have read the original books (most of which had been written by ghostwriters). Characters’ entire personalities and even their names (in some cases) had changed. Key plot points in previous books had been forgotten – including a character’s death.
For a new writer these kind of errors would be unacceptable.
Can I forgive her and read the book?
The thing is I think I will. I can’t resist the power of the brand.