Review: Sweet Valley Twins Best Friends: The Graphic Novel by Nicole Andelfinger & Claudia Aguirre

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back ... again. In yet another attempt to revive the bestselling Sweet Valley series, the first book in the middle-grade Sweet Valley Twins series has been reimagined as a graphic novel. Set in present day, the story opens with Elizabeth and Jessica starting sixth grade at Sweet Valley Middle School. The pair, who dress alike, and who do everything together (including sharing a phone,) begin to realise that they are developing different interests. Jessica is becoming interested in fashion and hanging out with a clique of popular mean girls, while Elizabeth hangs out with the less popular girls and is interested in starting up a sixth grade newspaper. Both twins struggle with, and embrace, what these differences mean, before eventually reaching a place of acceptance.

The reimagining of this classic title from the original series is interesting enough but something about its existence feels very unnecessary. Certainly, Sweet Valley titles were best sellers back in their day and there is a wealth of podcasts, blogs and social media devoted to the series from people who grew up with the books. Just the sight of some of the old covers is enough to cause a huge wave of nostalgia amongst the generation(s) who grew up with them. Unfortunately, that has not translated to a great deal of success stories when it comes to resurrecting the brand. If anything, it has been a detractor as fans seem to remember many key details and characters better than the creator. There is also the problem that the books are tied so closely to a particular era.

This reimagining tries to address some of the more problematic issues in the originals, such as diversity and the portrayal of certain one-dimensional side characters such as Lois Waller. The illustrations are cute and in particular I love the hippie vibe that I get from Alice Wakefield. The story itself feels very superficial, though it is entertaining in places. 


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