Double Love: Sweet Valley High, Book 1



Series revamp is the same mix of catty and cheesy.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Jessica's lying and scheming to get her man -- by stealing him from her own sister -- is extreme; she even lies about being "almost raped" by Todd because she feels jilted and knows her sister likes him. In the end, she barely gets a lecture, and someone plays a silly prank on her. All characters seem divided into "good" families and "bad" families; those in the bad crowd are drinkers, smokers, and girls with bad reputations.


A drunken car chase. Bad-boy Rick almost forces a kiss on Liz, resulting in a parking lot fistfight between teen boys.


Dramatic kisses. Some innuendo, including a joke about being a virgin and someone sounding like a "phone-sex chick." The Wakefield siblings think their father is having an affair.


Mild, with the occasional "hell" and "this sucks" and plenty of variations of "oh my God."


Updated references are peppered throughout as an easy way to modernize the old series. Cars include the twins' Jeep Wrangler, plus Explorer, VW Eos, Jetta. Also mentions of Froot Loops, Botox, MTV, the movie The Fast and the Furious. Lots of talk of clothes and shopping, cell phones, camera phones, and blogs.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Bad-boy Rick drinks, smokes, and drives drunk. His bad-boy friends are all drinking before a show. Mentions of a girl's family members being in and out of rehab.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this revamped series from the '80s says it's for teens, but, just like in the '80s, the simplicity and candy-coated quality of the stories will mainly interest tweens, especially those who like High School Musical. The iffiest thing that new readers of the series will find in the first book is a bad-boy drunken car chase with unwilling passengers, an almost-forced kiss, a fistfight, and some serious lying and conniving behavior from Jessica against her own sister -- with barely any consequences. To modernize the series, new brands are peppered throughout, especially cars. Alarmingly, the twins have also gotten skinnier in this iteration: size 6 in the '80s, size 4 today.

What's the story?

Twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield (Jess and Liz) share the same California-girl good looks, Jeep Wrangler, and, for one book at least, the same taste in boys. When Sweet Valley High football team captain Todd Wilkins calls for Liz one morning before school, Jess answers and decides he's interested in her. When she finds out he really likes Liz, Jess does everything to get Todd to forget Liz and vice versa, including lying about just who was really out with bad-boy Rick, letting her twin's reputation suffer instead. Will good-girl Liz really get the guy in the end?

Is it any good?


The light-and-fluffy series every girl read in the '80s -- and way before high school -- is back with a 2008 makeover. The Sweet Valley kids now have cell phones and blogs, a school Web site instead of newspaper, a Jeep Wrangler instead of a red Fiat Spider, and occasional mentions of Botox and MTV. But modern junk does not a modern teen-dream fantasy make. The dialog is still corny (The "Infamous Rick Andover [is]... Trouble with a capital 'T.'"), the parent pep-talks are still very Brady Bunch, and the stories are too simplistic to intrigue fans of Meg Cabot -- and not nearly scandalous enough for the Gossip Girl crowd.

The most likely audience is tween fans of High School Musical. But while the idealized view of high school is the same, the tone isn't. Jessica acts like the over-the-top catty, conniving girls they cast on reality shows -- she's both annoying and fake. And bad-boy drunk sideshow driver Rick seems like he's straight out of the rival gang from Grease. Liz and her innocent romance get lost in the bizarre melodrama. Tweens, teens, and even nostalgic adults can find much better light reads.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes a book feel contemporary. Is it modern references about things like blogging and cell phones, or is it the way the characters behave? What still seems old fashioned about this book? Why do you think they made the twins skinnier in 2008 than they were when the books were first written in the '80s? Are teen girls skinnier than they were back then? Or do you think there's more pressure to be thin?

Book details

Author:Francine Pascal
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Friendship, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:April 8, 2008
Number of pages:240

This review of Double Love: Sweet Valley High, Book 1 was written by

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Teen, 14 years old Written byNorthernNights June 25, 2010

Really horrible for book 1.

I'm sorry, but this is really cheesy. Jessica acts real sIutty and Elizabeth lets her sister get away with far too much. This is really bad for a beginning of the new series. And it mainly focuses on their looks. The info at the top explains it all. And the characters are always so rude to eachother and dont understand what friendship really means.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byCooldee June 3, 2010

Kind of fun.

Do not spread rumors and be mean to people! Think before you act!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Really stupid, but kind of fun.

This series is a good series to read when you are incredibly bored. It's certainly not great literature, but it's mildly entertaining in a trashy kind of way.


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