AUTHOR: Claire LaZebnik
GENRE: Young Adult-Romance-Contemporary
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2011
READ DATE: December 2011
SUMMARY: Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail? 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.
Anyone who has read my blog enough can tell that I have a huge love of Jane Austen and her work. I also love reading retellings of her stories and seeing how authors put their own spin on a classic plotline. Pride and Prejudice is the Austen book that is probably most often retold due to its overwhelming popularity. It is not my personal favorite (Persuasion, anyone?), but I still adore it.
Epic Fail is a modern-day high school retelling of Pride and Prejudice. All the usual suspects of P&P are here, just with updated names and backgrounds. LaZebnik does a fine job providing the Jane Austen fan with little tidbits and the classic themes of the original and providing great introductory material for Austen newbies.
Our main characters are Elise Benton (aka Elizabeth Bennet) and Derek Edwards (aka Fitzwilliam Darcy). Elise and her family have just moved to California in order for her mother to take a job as a principal at a prestigious LA prep school. On her first day, she discovers she might be a little out of place amongst all the designer clothes and outrageus wealth. Then her older sister, Juliana, catches the eye of one of the most popular guys in school, Chase Baldwin and Elise must deal with a growing attraction to Chase's best friend , Derek, the son of two well-known Hollywood actors.
Elise was a great heroine who was smart, loyal, and had no problem telling people what she thought. She was also flawed in a way that counteracted with her opinions of herself. Derek had all the wonderful attributes of Mr. Darcy from his shy manner, awkward courting of Elise, and protectiveness of his little sister, Georgia. This couple had many great moments together where they showed typical high school flirting along with the classic courting scenes from the Austen's classic. My personal favorite was when Elise and Derek went to a movie premiere and dealt with the ups and downs of a Hollywood life.
I also enjoyed the secondary relationship between Chase and Juliana. Both of these characters are sweet and their romance is the catalyst that gets the rest of the storyline going. I particularly enjoyed how LaZebnik dealt with the conflicts in this relationship and gave it a modern-day feel. There were also plenty of fun tidbits from Pride and Prejudice that caught my eye from the Benton's overbearing mother to the ridiculous behaviors of the high school girls around Derek and Chase. The character of Layla, Elise and Juliana's little sister, was as annoying as Austen's Lydia and the "villainous" Webster Grant provided a great counterpart for Austen's George Wickham. Any well-done Pride and Prejudice retelling needs to follow a certain criteria and Epic Fail does this perfectly from the prideful hero to the embarrassing family to the scandal involving the hero's sister.
The only complaint I had about this book was the ending. I was going along enjoying the relationship between Derek and Elise and then it just ended. It felt like there wasn't much of a conclusion to Elise and Derek's story and the other characters were just left out to dry. But, I was interested in LaZebnik's writing style so I will definitely look for more of her work. Recommended for Jane Austen fans and fans of well-written teen romance!
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
--Everyone at Coral Tree Prep was good-looking. Really. Everyone. I didn't see a single fat or ugly kid all morning. Maybe they just locked them up at registration and didn't let them out again until graduation.
--No one's family is normal. Normalcy is a lie invented by advertising agencies to make the rest of us feel inferior.
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