Oct 31, 2012

Halloween Throwback! Sweet Valley Twins and Friends

The Haunted Burial Ground is a "Super Chiller" edition of the seemingly endless Sweet Valley series.  I read (or reread, I honestly can't remember because there are so many of these books) this book last night and I am having mixed feelings about the experience.

On the one hand, it was a great book to feed my current 90s nostalgia mood (I was a Tamagotchi for Halloween and I've been watching Frasier every night lately).  The distinctly opposite personalities of the twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, were fun to relive.  But with the twins came the flood of awful memories of "The Unicorns" and the annoying members who make up that group.  Ugh.

The book also reminded me of some of the cringe-inducing dialogue.  Take, for instance, Elizabeth's meeting of the plot-important new Native American student, Kala:
"That's a pretty name," Elizabeth commented.
 "Thanks. It was my grandmother's name. She was Native American."
"Wow. That means you're part Native American."
Yeesh. Nothing like spelling out the obvious.  Then there's this quote from when the twins' mother scolds The Unicorns for being too loud during their sleepover:
"We want you girls to have fun, but it's late and Mr. Wakefield and I are trying to sleep."
Okay, maybe this one irks me because I'm from Boston, where we come prepackaged with a different set of manners; manners that include excessive swearing (both celebratory and anger-induced) and punching as a form of greeting loved ones.  But I've never heard any of my friends' parents refer to their spouse as Mr. or Mrs.  Asshole, yes, but never Mr. or Mrs. 

The text doesn't get much better than that and the story itself is a little meh.  Jessica wants to throw a Halloween party so a cute boy will come, she decides to hold it in an abandoned shack that her friends promise to clean up (abandoned meaning structurally unsound and trashed), and they ultimately discover it's on a burial ground - which is the major twist and also the title of the book.  Remember how Kala is part Native American? In case you've forgotten, Elizabeth performed scholarly work to figure it out (see above).  Well thanks to her heritage, she receives messages from "the old ones" full of warnings not to disturb their peace.  Yikes.

Do I still love the memory of Sweet Valley series? Yes. It was one of the series I would read by moonlight when I was supposed to be asleep.  I used to get in trouble for that until my parents realized they should just let me leave the lights on and pass out while reading.  But I don't think I would ever outright recommend this to a child to read, unless they were specifically looking for an easy, cheesy book to pass the time.  OR if they wanted to look at the ridiculous trends of the 90s. 

I snagged Christmas and Valentine's Day themed Sweet Valley books as well, so I'll revisit the cheesiness for those holidays!


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