|YMMV • Radar • Quotes • (Funny • Heartwarming • Awesome) • Fridge • Characters • Fanfic Recs • Nightmare Fuel • Shout Out • Plot • Tear Jerker • Headscratchers • Trivia • WMG • Recap • Ho Yay • Image Links • Memes • Haiku • Laconic • Source • Setting|
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 500 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:
- 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.
Series in The Verse included:
- 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.
- 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.
- Sweet Valley University: the twins go off to college. Jessica quickly loses her virginity and briefly gets married. Elizabeth attracts a cyber-stalker.
- Sweet Valley Kids: the twins are 7 year-old second-graders. Sometimes they solve mysteries.
- Unicorn Club: Spin-Off of Sweet Valley Twins.
- Sweet Valley Junior High: the twins are now eighth-graders at a new school following rezoning.
- 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.
- Elizabeth: Elizabeth travels to England, works as a maid, and loses her virginity.
- Sweet Valley Confidential: this is another Spin-Off 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 set to begin in June 2012. It picks up where Sweet Valley Confidential left off, but now Jessica- who's married to Todd- juggles career, marriage, and parenthood while Elizabeth and Bruce's relationship is tested by a major scandal.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Alice Wakefield, who, we're told, looks at least a decade younger than her actual age and is often mistaken for the twins' sister.
- Adults Are Useless - This applies to Ned and Alice, as well as many of the parents in the series (to the point of neglect or even abuse in some cases). The twins' parents can't even tell when complete strangers are impersonating their daughters. Todd notices a difference in the fake Elizabeth before her own parents!
- All this was going on during Liz's trial for manslaughter. Mrs. Wakefield had a nervous breakdown and morphed into this obsessive-compulsive June Cleaver-type mom who only cared about a clean house and homemade dinners. Mr. Wakefield was defending Liz, and Jessica was mad at everybody, so it was the perfect time for Margo to slip in and fool the family. They got fooled again by both Margo and Nora in the sequel, when they have no excuse.
- They were also quick to make excuses for Elizabeth's misdeeds while reading Jessica the riot act for hers (though Jessica usually manages to weasel her way out of punishment), not to mention completely oblivious and insensitive to Jessica's genuine insecurity about Elizabeth's "perfection"--it took Jessica running away for it to dawn on them how troubled she was.
- The enevitable outcome of this can clearly be seen in Sweet Valley Confidential where we see how screwed up everyone has now become! Good job, Ned and Alice!
- Aesop Amnesia: Jessica would frequently try to pull off a zany scheme. More often than not, it would blow up in her face, yet it wouldn't be long before she was trying to pull off another stunt. Sadly, some of these stunts were genuine efforts at improving herself or trying something new--cooking class, music lessons--so it seems rather unfair that this should go as badly as her usual conniving.
- All Just a Dream: Several times.
- In the Sweet Valley High super-special Winter Carnival, Elizabeth gets fed up with Jessica's selfishness and flat-out tells her, "I wish I'd never HAD a sister!" (Ironically, this is after misinterpreting Jessica's genuine attempts to fix the mess that has resulted from her self-centered behavior). She then promptly has a lengthy dream sequence in which Jessica dies. Naturally this leads to a reconciliation.
- The Sweet Valley Kids book A Curse On Elizabeth features a museum trip gone bad, involving the twins being chased by an Egyptian mummy. It is revealed to be All Just a Dream, but ends with an Or Was It a Dream? twist when Elizabeth realizes that she's lost her jacket, which she took off to save them from escaped cobras in the dream.
- The Sweet Valley Kids mystery The Case of the Alien Princess features the twins and a group of their friends being taken aboard a spaceship.
- The Sweet Valley Twins book The Class Trip involves Elizabeth going on a boat ride with Tom Sawyer, only discovering at the end that it was a dream induced by a head injury.
- Alpha Bitch: Lila Fowler and Amy. Later, Enid/Alex Rollins (SVU), Janet Howell (Twins) and Kimberly (Unicorn Club). Jessica has her moments too, the best example being Wrong Kind of Girl.
- Always Identical Twins
- Attempted Rape: Numerous examples, including Dear Sister (#7) and Don't Go Home With John (#90)
- Brilliant but Lazy: Possibly Jessica. Although her primary concerns are boys, clothes, and parties, it is stated in one of the early books that she gets good grades in most of her classes. Later books indicate that she's a poor student, but one who could do better if she applied herself (which in fact does happen several times throughout the series). In particular, one book has her getting an excellent score on the SATs and considerably outscoring Elizabeth, despite barely studying, and everyone assuming that she must have cheated somehow, as this is inconsistent with her typical academic performance.
- Later, Jessica and Elizabeth had to retake the test (due to the aforementioned cheating accusations). This time it was Jessica who studied like crazy and Elizabeth who relaxed and didn't care. The result? Poor Jessica gets horrible scores and Elizabeth gets great scores, lending even more credence to the (untrue) cheating accusations.
- Broken Aesop: Repeatedly. Elizabeth would go on and on ad nauseam about how people deserved to be forgiven for their mistakes and given a second chance. Apparently, this only applied to her friends, as she never once showed the same compassion to Jessica's clique. Additionally, Jessica was constantly criticized for her bad behavior (promiscuity, snobbery, unfaithfulness, etc) whereas similar behavior from Elizabeth was glossed over.
- A perfect example is book 10: Wrong Kind of Girl: Annie Whitman is called "Easy Annie" because she goes out with a different boy every night and dresses provocatively. Jessica, who does the EXACT same thing, condemns Annie for it and goes as far to keep her off the cheerleading squad, while on the other hand Elizabeth insists that Annie shouldn't be judged for her behavior--even as she looks down on Jessica for it.
- Break the Haughty: Lila Fowler's nervous breakdown after nearly being raped.
- But Liquor Is Quicker: Bruce attempts this with Elizabeth in Dear Sister.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Elizabeth drives while drunk once, crashes her car and gets arrested. For worse, Jessica's then-boyfriend was with her and died; that's punishment for Jessica, who had pranked Elizabeth by spiking her drink.
- Regina Morrow isn't much better. The first and only time she tries cocaine, she dies.
- Cartwright Curse: Jessica, whose boyfriends often died.
- Comic Book Time: Just how many birthdays/junior proms/summer vacations, etc. have the twins had?
- Cupid Hates Odd Couples: The twins are constantly stealing each other's boyfriends and fighting about it, only to realize that sisterhood was more important. It happened repeatedly with Todd, as well as several less important boyfriends, but the worst example stemmed from Jessica's jealousy over Elizabeth and Sam dancing at the Jungle Prom, which only happened due to Jessica spiking Elizabeth's drink.
- Different As Night and Day: The twins are polar opposites.
- Drugs Are Bad: When Bruce breaks Regina's heart, she befriends a guy who takes her to a drug party. She dies as a direct result.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Beautiful with sun-streaked blonde silky hair, blue-green eyes and a tiny dimple in the left cheek, Jessica and Elizabeth are easily two of the most beautiful and popular girls in the school.
- Evil Twin: Margo and Nora.
- Face Heel Turn: Amy Sutton between Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, Lila Fowler in Sweet Valley High Senior Year, Enid Rollins in Sweet Valley Senior Year and Sweet Valley University, Winston Egbert in Sweet Valley Confidential.
- Fallen Princess: When Jessica goes from being popular girl to outcast in Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley High Senior Year and Sweet Valley University.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Jessica and Elizabeth (along with big brother Steven), in spades.
- Friend to All Children: Lila in the "Twins" series.
- Friends Rent Control: Elizabeth's NYC apartment in Sweet Valley Confidential.
- Girl Posse: Jessica and friends, especially with the Unicorns.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry
- Hair of Gold: Played straight with Elizabeth, subverted with Jessica.
- Identical Grandson / Generation Xerox: Almost every book in the series mentions that the twins' mother was frequently mistaken for their older sister, and that their brother Steven was a carbon copy of their father. Taken to extremes in the Saga books, in which almost every generation of the twins' maternal and paternal lines tend to be nearly-exact copies, particularly the two other sets of Different As Night and Day blonde twin girls on their mother's side of the family tree.
- Identical Stranger / Replacement Goldfish: Margo and Nora. Also:
- Surfer Bill Chase fell in love with Elizabeth because she resembled (in looks and personality) his late girlfriend.
- Elizabeth became infatuated with a guy who looks like Todd until she discovers he's a jerk.
- The twins' brother Steve repeatedly dumped girlfriend Cara to pursue girls who resembled his dead girlfriend Tricia. Adding insult to injury, he refused to see any of the girls as their own person and instead tried to mold them to his memories of Tricia, including the way they wore their hair ("Don't put your hair up, Tricia always wore it down."), the things they did ("Let's go to the aquarium! Tricia loved the aquarium!"), things they were interested in ("You like science? Just like Tricia! She wanted to be a doctor!"), and even the food they ate ("Vanilla? But Tricia always had chocolate ice cream!"), making them feel bad when they wouldn't comply, all the while insisting "She's just like Tricia!" Only when one of the girls finally blasts him for this and declares that she deserves better than being used as a substitute does he realize how unhealthy his behavior is.
- Jerk Jock: Bruce Patman.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lila really can be nice when she wants to be. Bruce as well in later books.
- Karma Houdini: Jessica Wakefield. She spikes Elizabeth's punch at the prom and lets her drive off with Sam. Sam was killed as a result of the crash and Elizabeth was arrested and put on trial for manslaughter. During this whole ordeal, Jessica does not speak up and completely abandons her twin. In fact, she even blamed Elizabeth for killing Sam, and to get revenge, she hooks up with Todd. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has to deal with the guilt of "killing" Sam, being an outcast at school and possibly being sent to prison.
- In book 100, The Evil Twin, Elizabeth realizes that Jessica spiked the punch. She never really confronts her about it, but after Margo "dies" she forgives Jessica.
- Long-Lost Relative: Mild-mannered Roger turns out to be the missing son of Bruce's uncle.
- Long Running Book Series
- Most Writers Are Writers: Elizabeth's dream is to be a journalist of some sort.
- The Movie: currently in the works and is rumored to be a musical.
- No Periods, Period: Averted. In the "Twins" series, a secondary character gets hers and is dismayed as she thinks this means having to give up playing baseball as well as hanging out with boys. In a later book, Elizabeth starts hers and Jessica is upset as she hasn't (though she does by the book's conclusion). In another book, Jessica refuses to give evidence in court about a store hold-up because she was embarrassed about buying pads at the time.
- Precision F-Strike: Alice in Sweet Valley Confidential: "Bring out the FUCKING CAKE!"
- Retcon: The Secret Diaries - interspersed with clips from prior books, these diaries each tell how, while those events were happening, one twin was hooking up with the other's boyfriend.
- Rich Bitch: Lila Fowler
- Room Full of Crazy: Margo
- Runaway Bride: In the first "Saga" book, Alice (the twins' mother) ditches her fiance Hank Patman (who would later become Bruce's father) at the altar, partly because she's suddenly realized he isn't the man for her, but mostly because she's fallen in Love At First Sight with Ned Wakefield--and as you recall from the book, their ancestors have missed numerous chances to get together in the past.
- Stalker with a Crush: Both twins have at least one during the series. Elizabeth gets abducted by hers; Jessica's pursues her relentlessly and finally kidnaps Elizabeth by mistake.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Steven comes out as gay in Sweet Valley Confidential, despite having supposedly been heterosexual for the whole of the original series, being married to Cara at the start of the book, getting engaged to Billie in Sweet Valley University, and having a nervous breakdown over the death of another girlfriend (Tricia Martin - see Identical Stranger above). His eventual boyfriend is Aaron Dallas, another case of Suddenly Sexuality.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: In the original versions, Mr. Collins is described as looking like Robert Redford. In the new, updated editions he's just described as looking like "a movie star".
- There Are No Therapists: You would think that everything the twins have gone though (trials for manslaughter, abductions, attempts on their lives, being stalked by identical impersonators) would qualify them for months and months of therapy. Nope, doesn't happen.
- This is played with in Lila's case. Following her near date rape, she goes to therapy at Project Youth (at first just going to get her dad to stop worrying about her), but becomes attached to the therapist there and accuses him of assaulting her when the fight breaks out at the Jungle Prom.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Sam, Jessica's boyfriend who dies in a drunk driving accident. Unlike a lot of men Jessica dates, Sam is pretty much a nice guy who brings out the best in Jessica and makes her want to be a better person. So naturally he ends up dead. This also applies to:
- Sweet Valley High: Tricia Martin (Steven's girlfriend), Regina Morrow, Christian Gorman (another one of Jessica's boyfriends who died as a result of a school war), Roger Barrett Patman, and Olivia Davidson (the latter two died in the earthquake when the original series ended and Senior Year began). Roger Barrett Patman's death is later retconned in Sweet Valley Confidential.
- Sweet Valley University: Gin-Yun Suh (Todd's girlfriend) tells him on her deathbed to get back together with Elizabeth.
- Twin Switch
- Twin Telepathy
- The Board Game:
"You can be a Sweet Valley girl. Living in a Sweet Valley world. Our school! is so! cool! Sweet Valley High!"
- The Unfavourite: Several books in the series deal with Jessica's feelings of insecurity about Elizabeth's perfection--#21, Runaway and #83, Kidnapped By The Cult--as well as several in the "Twins" series.
- Viewers Are Goldfish: A rare literary example. Try to find a volume in the main series that doesn't mention the Wakefields' Spanish-style kitchen, the twins' Spider Fiat (Jeep Wrangler in later books), or the identical gold lavalieres they received from their parents on their 16th birthday. These facts will be burned into your mind forever.
- Or that the Wakefields live in a split-level, ranch-style home on Calico Drive.
- Not to mention that they're both 5'6, with perfect size 6 figures, matching dimples, sparkling blue-green eyes, golden tans and sun-kissed blonde hair...
- Also, Elizabeth has a small birthmark on her shoulder, Jessica doesn't, it's how their cheating boyfriends can tell them apart (or realise they've been duped into snogging the wrong girl...again)
- Or that Jessica NEVER wears a watch.
- Or that Jessica's room is completely brown and dubbed "The Hershey Bar" (in later books, it's completely purple) and is always a complete mess.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: Done with Jessica in a Sweet Valley Twins Special Edition. She's not shunning Christmas like most "Scrooge" characters, but instead, is only thinking of her own pleasure. Sure enough, she's visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past (showing how she used to love sharing her gifts with her sister), Present (Jessica is now selfish and refusing to share), and Future (Jessica is loathed by everyone, even those she was once friends with, because of her horrible treatment of people).
The TV series provides examples of:
- Book Dumb: Jessica.
Teacher: I'm going to let you take a make-up test.
- This might be an example of Adaptation Decay. In the books, while fun-loving and boy-crazy, it was mentioned in at least one book that Jessica got decent grades in her classes.
- Flanderization: Jessica was much more of an airhead in later episodes.
- The Other Darrin: Happens to characters Todd Wilkins and Lila Fowler. Original actors Ryan James Bittle and Bridget Flanery (seasons 1-2) were replaced by Jeremy Garrett and Shirlee Elliot (seasons 3-4).
- There Are No Adults: Notably applies to the twins' parents, who are rarely, if ever, seen or referred to throughout the series.