August 2011, HarperTeen
295 pages (read on Kindle)
Good Reads + Amazon
"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 that 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."
Unfortunately for me, this book lived up to its title. Maybe that was a bit harsh... there were some points in the story that made me smile and laugh but for the most part, I was rolling my eyes. For the most part, I was disappointed by this book and a bit irritated at the stretches that the author took to make it fit as a retelling of Pride and Prejudice.
If you guys have been around my blog at all since December, you know that I have a serious love (obsession? okay, obsession) with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and an interest in any kind of reimagining, retelling, or spin off there is. And, for the most part, I've had a really great experience with these stories. I was so excited to see that Amazon was featuring Epic Fail as one of its monthly deals for $2.99 and immediately bought it because it was the first YA P&P story that I've come across.
Mostly, Epic Fail came off as an unrealistic contemporary romance. I felt that LaZebnik tried to force the characters and plot in certain ways so that they fit the story arc of P&P but at the same time, got a lot of it wrong. For instance, Elise's parents. Elise's dad comes off as an intellectual snob who is more concerned that his daughter is getting involved with a classmate because of his celebrity status than how she feels about the situation... where as the original Mr. Bennet ultimately cared for his daughters' well being and happiness. Elise's mom is the principal of the prestigious Coral Tree Prep who alludes to the fact that she has her doctorate in education. Rather than being a well educated and sensible woman, she often lapses into hysteria over who her daughters are dating. I felt as though LaZebnik wrote two completely different women and smashed them together to make it work as a P&P story.
Another issue (and I'll stop after this one) was what LaZebnik did with the Bingley-Jane separation story line. In the original work, Darcy and Caroline Bingley separate Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet because they believed her status to be inferior and thus unsuited for a man of his stature and also because her family was simply improper. The key here? Both Darcy and Caroline work to separate the couple. LaZebnik decided to place the whole blame on Caroline (named Chelsea). Derek/Darcy had nothing to do with it - no input, no knowledge, nothing... and this really turned me off from the story. The beauty of Pride and Prejudice is that both Lizzy and Darcy begin as flawed and make serious mistakes, work through them all, experience a ton of growth, and ultimately come back together as better versions of themselves thanks to the other. By altering the original story so much, LaZebnik totally lost the growth that could have occurred... and I hate to say it, but the story often felt two dimensional because of it.
Overall, it was an okay book. If you're looking for a good Pride and Prejudice retelling, I wouldn't recommend this one... and I think that was my biggest problem. I went into this book expecting one thing and did not have an open mind to it. It was not terrible... it just wasn't for me. I think that young audiences who are looking for a way to get into the Pride and Prejudice story would probably benefit most from it - just remember that the characters are very loosely based on the originals!
Happy reading, guys!