Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
Released: 2nd August 2011
Source: Bought for Kindle
At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Cast 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.
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
I am a tiny bit obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. Last year, I went through this phase of watching the film (the Keira Knightley one, not a fan of the BBC adaptation...I know, you're all looking at me like I've just kicked your child right now) every single night for about a month. Not kidding. Every.Single.Night. So when I saw a book that's a modern retelling...it had to be mine.
I thought LaZebnik did a fantastic job of capturing the sisters...though she left Mary out for some reason, the other 4 were fantastically similar to the Bennett sisters. I really liked Elise, I think Elizabeth would've approved of her attitude and outlook.At times she did let her insecurities get to her, more so than Lizzie would've, but I figured this was appropriate for the time, I think even Lizzie Bennett would've felt somewhat intimidated in the situations Elise found herself in. Her relationship with Webster was so close to that of Mr Wichkham, and the whole situation with him was given a modern twist that really worked, yet stayed true to the spirit of P&P. I thought Juliana was really similar to Jane, in terms of her personality and attutide towards Chase (MR Bingley) and the two sisters who were Kitty and Lydia were pretty much perfect.
In fact, I thought overall it was a fantastic modern interpretation. I felt the plot and the characters were brought bang up to date, and for the most part it followed the story faithfully without being a word for word rewrite, which I liked. The only aspect I struggled with was the parents. The elder Bentons were....odd. They had the whole 'don't quite fit in with society air' that worked, but while Mrs Benton was obsessed with the idea of her daughters getting boyfriends just like Mrs Bennett is obsessesed with her daughters getting husbands....she was also strangely strict about the weirdest things like no cellphones, what her daughters wore etc, and the combination of the two characteristics felt bery jarring. I also wasn't a huge fan of Mr Benton which is a shame as I love Mr Bennett.
The romances were where everything fell a little flat for me. The relationships in P&P were so complicated, many layered and involving so many factors, and I didn't feel that aspect was fully replicated in Epic Fail. The relationship between Juliana and Chase started out well, it had the same sweet feel from P&P, but it was just a little too simple and easy for my tastes. The relationship between Derek and Elise was equally promising at first. Derek seemed like he would be a wonderful Darcy, brooding and moody and rude, but I missed the chemistry between them that I felt should have been there.
I felt Epic Fail was a little too short to truly capture the nuances of P&P. Whilst I really enjoyed this super-cute, lighthearted and humourous read, I think I would've enjoyed it more had it not tried to emulate such a fantastic story. While Claire LaZebnik did a fantastic job of bringing the plot up to date, certain elements did fall just a little flat for me.