By Michele Landsberg
Updated September 21, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT

Oh no! Bruce Patman, the richest boy at Sweet Valley High (”He wore designer clothes [and] drove a fabulous black Porsche…On top of that, Bruce was drop- dead handsome”), is going to have to battle it out with his poor-boy orphan cousin Roger for the inheritance he always thought was his alone!

But don’t worry; the ’80s are over. Even though Grandfather Patman, an egomaniacal tycoon, forces Roger and Bruce into a money-making competition to see who will inherit the estate, there are no mean old hostile takeovers or leveraged buyouts in sight. Bruce and Rog and all their sweet shiny-haired girlfriends give lots of money to charity and learn that cooperation is best.

Well, what did you expect from the Sweet Valley High series, the most popular pulp teenage books in America? Stuff like Bruce’s Story isn’t even written; it’s manufactured by Francine Pascal’s ”packagers” (there are currently over 77 million copies of her various series in print). Pascal has cheerfully confessed that not only does she not write her books — she has a staff that fills in her outlines — she doesn’t even read them.

The series seems to have cleaned up some of its sexist stereotypes; now the books are as earnest as the Bobbsey Twins series. Still, they bear no relation to human truth or real fiction. Their slick insubstantiality is as satisfying as a main course of cotton candy. F