Claire LaZebnik’s EPIC FAIL is a recent release from Harper Teen. Full disclosure: Harper Teen provided a copy of the book for review purposes.
Here is the official blurb from the publisher:
At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:
As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.
When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is one of my favorite books. I’m pretty open to reading Austen adaptations. But this particular Austen book is bound by the social mores and customs of Austen’s times. I wondered how LaZebnik would translate the themes into a modern book with teenagers.
What I found was a fun retelling. What makes Elizabeth Bennett so fantastic is how normal she is. She’s not pretty like Jane or musically gifted or any of the things her society values. I felt like LaZebnik did a great job of catching the spirit of this character with Elise. While frustrated by her sisters and parents, she obviously loves them and is loyal to them.
Then we meet Derek. He seems dismissive and arrogant much like Darcy does in P&P. But we get the sense that there are more layers to him. He’s a great foil for Elise. Interestingly enough, the society the author chose to use is Hollywood royalty. Derek’s parents, like Darcy’s relations, are wealthy and have reason to be guarded.
Here’s what I was missing in this retelling, though. The heavy handed disapproval of Elizabeth and her relations by Lady Catherine, Darcy’s aunt, which comes at a pivotal point in P&P, is missing. And, I hate to admit it, but the stakes were missing for me. Elizabeth and Jane have their reputations at stake, plus the entire weight of their family’s fortunes. It would be hard to make this come across in a high school equivalent.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the characters and had fun reading the book. I would definitely recommend EPIC FAIL to Austen fans and those seeking a lighthearted romance.
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