Literature: Sweet Valley High
Book series running from 1983 to 2003, created by Francine Pascal. Spawned a TV series made by Saban Entertainment
, several Spin-Off
book series, a board game and other merchandise. Almost 200 books were published in the main series alone; over 600 were published including the spinoff series. Stories were handed off to ghost writers and generally hit bookstores once a month.
The series centers on Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, identical twins living in Sweet Valley, California. Elizabeth is serious, studious and levelheaded. Jessica is flirtatious and free-spirited; often her zany schemes
drive the plot.
Until book #95, plots alternated between two types. In some, the main plot focused on the twins. In others, the focus was on another student at Sweet Valley High School, with a subplot devoted to the twins. In some of the latter type, Elizabeth Wakefield helped the focus character with some personal problem. Social issues such as racism, anorexia, and drug abuse were addressed in this manner.
Beginning with book #95, the series' format shifted. Books were grouped into miniseries, usually of three books, based on a theme. The first such series, which spanned seven books, was about a sociopath named Margo, who happened to look just like the twins
, traveling to Sweet Valley intent on assuming Elizabeth's identity. (This Evil Twin
later turned out to have an Evil Twin
of her own.) With the shift in format, the storylines became increasingly fantastic, some dealing with such topics as werewolves and vampires
.In addition to the standard, numbered books, special editions included:
Series in The Verse included:
- Super Editions. The twins go on vacation and/or celebrate holidays. Later in the series, the Super Editions focused on supporting characters.
- Super Thrillers. The twins become entangled in mysteries.
- Super Star Stories. These focus on supporting characters.
- Magna Editions. Large-scale stories. Included the Sagas, which revealed the twins' family history, and the Secret Diaries, which were basically clip shows.
- A Night To Remember: Special super-sized novel, the only one of the rare few specials which is canon in the main series. Taking place inbetween #94 and #95 of the main series, it tells the story of the "Jungle Prom", a dance that destroys the status quo of the main books and sets up the "Evil Twin" arc.
- Sweet Valley High: the flagship. The twins are 16-year-old juniors at Sweet Valley High. Jessica is a cheerleader and Elizabeth writes for the school paper. (181 books)
- Sweet Valley Twins: the first Spin-Off. The twins are 12-year-old sixth-graders at Sweet Valley Middle School (and in case you were working on the math, no, it's not right; they should have been 11 years old.) Jessica is in a clique called the Unicorns, who got their own Spin-Off. (144 books)
- Sweet Valley University: the twins go off to college. Jessica quickly loses her virginity and briefly gets married. Elizabeth attracts a cyber-stalker. (81 books)
- Sweet Valley Kids: the twins are 7 year-old second-graders. Sometimes they solve mysteries. (88 books)
- Unicorn Club: Spin-Off of Sweet Valley Twins.(25 books)
- Sweet Valley Junior High: the twins are now eighth-graders at a new school following rezoning. (30 books)
- Sweet Valley Senior Year: the twins are now 17-year-old seniors. After a devastating earthquake hits Sweet Valley (on the twins' birthday, no less,) many students from flattened El Carro High transfer to Sweet Valley High. With this entry, the series reverted to less fantastic storylines, and the characters were more culturally diverse. (48 books)
- Elizabeth: Elizabeth travels to England, works as a maid, and loses her virginity. (6 books)
- Sweet Valley Confidential: this is a stand alone novel which was released in March 2011 and chronicles the lives of the twins and their friends at age 27.
- The Sweet Life: a six-part ebook series that began in July 2012, which is a Spin-Off of sorts. It picks up three years after Sweet Valley Confidential and the twins and their friends are 30. Jessica's marriage to Todd has crumbled, Bruce and Elizabeth are living together and he's accused of sexually assaulting an intern, Lila's on a reality show, and Steven and Aaron are clashing over parenting styles.
This series provides examples of:
The TV series provides examples of: