The Dairi Burger, one woman's attempt to re-read the Sweet Valley High series of books and not go completely insane. I'm pretty sure I read most of the posts in one go upon discovery, because snark can be pretty awesome when it's done well. And this is done well.
So, If You Lived Here, You'd Be Perfect By Now (which I'm never typing out again because it's TOO long!) is pretty much the collection of posts from The Dairi Burger**, plus some extra book recaps and a few other bits too. I paid literally zero pence for it, which pretty much means it would be churlish of me to complain too much about it, but I do have a few things to say about it that I would have liked to have been better. But I can't be too cross about it like I would be if I'd paid, like, £10 for it. Which, to be fair, I probably wouldn't have done.
But first, the good stuff. If you've ever returned to Sweet Valley High as an adult (if, in fact, you ever read the books at all) you've probably noticed just how terrible they are. The writing is awful, the storylines are ridiculous, and characters who are naturally perfect at everything they try, as well as being so beautiful that they make others cry with jealousy are just, let's face it, annoying. This book appreciates that, and, in a book by book recap, goes through all the things that are wrong with, well, everything in the books. It's pretty awesome, I can't deny it.
So yeah, that's the kind of thing I'm into, and it's done pretty well, so I have no complaints about the book itself. I knew what I was getting, and that's pretty much what I got. NO REGRETS. But, some complaints, actually.
First, the formatting. I'm not sure exactly how Kindle books work, or how difficult it is to format them, but it would have been really cool if there had been a menu or contents thing or whatever where you could skip from one book to another on a whim: like, you could think, "I want to read a snarky interpretation of the book where Regina dies" and BAM you're there, instead of having to go through alllll the books. This is probably a spoilt brat thing because you can do this on the blog, so it's not that big of a deal.
The other thing, though, is that, well, it kind of gets a bit samey after a while. And I don't mean, you're reading snark so it gets samey, it's that it seems like Hardwick is criticising the same things about different books. Which, I get, because firstly, the same things happen in the books, so there's a limit to how much you can say about them, but also, she wrote the posts out of sync (i.e. didn't read book 1 then 2 then 3 and so on) so these criticisms probably happened months apart but just happen to have been valid criticisms of books that came after each other.
But (and here's my really big one) this is a problem that could have easily been solved with some gentle editing, and honestly, at times it felt like no editing had happened at all. There were spelling and grammar mistakes that you kind of let slide in blog posts because eh, people will read them and forget them in about a day, but when you're writing a book (even if it is self-published)? I feel like that's something you sort out. It seemed a bit like she'd just taken the blog posts, not even read through them, and plonked them into a book format. And it annoyed the crap out of me. Not in general! I don't mind that she used her blog posts at all, because that's basically what this book was for, but it did annoy me that she didn't seem to have read through them to weed out even the most basic mistakes. None of them! Not at all!
So, editing-wise, this book just annoyed me, but content-wise, I'm never going to not find criticisms of Sweet Valley High hilarious. It's fun to make fun of the person you used to be, and of the things you used to be impressed by, and kind of important that you don't necessarily continue to revere things that actually seem quite damaging now. Basically, if you ever read Sweet Valley High, you're going to get some laughs out of this, and if you didn't... Then your childhood reading was probably better than mine.***
*Like, 4 years ago, maybe?
**Which, in case you didn't know, was totally the cool hangout for SVH students, where they could chow down on burgers whilst retaining their size six figures.
***It definitely wasn't. Sweet Valley High RULES.
I never read this series because the leads just didn't appeal to me. The Babysitter's Club, however, is a totally different story. I was obsessed with Claudia. That being said, I could still appreciate this blog because it's just a funny idea. Would I want to do that to all my childhood book loves? Absolutely not. But this series kinda seemed like it was going to happen eventually. Anyway. Thanks for the introduction; I'm definitely headed to her blog now!ReplyDelete
I literally was obsessed with SVH AND the BSC. I wanted to be Jessica Wakefield/thought Dawn was the coolest person ever (I still love California, you know, from afar.) But yeah, snark=awesome. Even though I'll remember how I felt about them fondly, there's nothing quite like returning to something and being like 'what was wrong with me as a child..?'Delete
Whomp that this didn't turn out better. I mean yay for the hilarious look at a loved, but ultimately not very good book series but boo to the issues with the book.ReplyDelete
Yeah, it was disappointing that it wasn't better edited. And don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading it and ended up reading it mostly over two evenings, but still. Disappointing.Delete
I remember that blog! I think SVH: 10 Years Later came out last year or the year before and I was thinking of going to read it, but then I just read a summary online and it was probably the same thing. I don't need to go back to those 5'6" twins with size 6 waists and "California blond" hair.ReplyDelete
I read Sweet Valley Confidential and it was awesomely trashy! Pretty much more of the same, but I was all over that shizzle. Gross fact: I read somewhere that they were going to re-publish the SVH books, but updated for a modern audience, (eg. turning walkmans into ipods and stuff) and one of the things is that the twins are going to be a size 4 instead of a 6. OMG #FEMINISTFAILDelete
Ha thanks for blogging about this! I used to read the SVH books in my younger days and didn't know about the blog at all, let alone the book. I love rereading things I used to love and then thinking 'oh my goodness did I really love that?' Next up will be a reread of Nancy Drew lol!ReplyDelete
I remember reading SVH books, but strangely don't remember a thing about them - maybe the literary part of my brain has protectively repressed my tween memories from terrible, terrible fiction. Good job, brain!ReplyDelete