Epic Fail by Claire LeZebnikAugust 2, 2011; HarperTeen
*Free copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks to Teen Book Scene for allowing me to participate in Epic Fail's blog tour!
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books. In fact, I re-read it every year. I love a good modern re-telling. Epic Fail is the third Pride & Prejudice re-telling I've read in the past year (the others are Prom And Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg and Pies And Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick).
It's difficult to write a good re-telling. You have to play to the fans of the classic novel - recreating elements of the plot and making sure the modern characters resemble the originals. At the same time, you don't want to alienate people who have never read the classic novel. The story has to be able to stand on its own in terms of plot, writing, and characters.
Epic Fail succeeds as a re-telling and a stand-alone novel. The P&P connection aside, I love that it features uber-wealth, Hollywood, and fashion but does not feature a cast of completely amoral characters (with the exception of Webster/Wickham). It falls into my (broadly defined) Gossip-Girl light category.
Elise and Derek are witty, smart characters. Just as I did with the original Elizabeth and Darcy, I loved reading Elise and Derek's astute, sometimes biting, funny views of life. I wish I could just come up with snarky quips off the top of my head like they do. I loved how Juliana, Chase, and Layla were all loyal to the personalities of their doppelgangers, but not as cardboard as the Jane Austen characters. Juliana, for example, is an extremely nice girl, but not incapable of a negative thought.
I liked how Elise and Derek's relationship slowly evolved into something real and that, as modern characters, they had the freedom to actually talk to one another without a roomful of listeners. At the same time, if this was a stand-alone novel, I probably would have thought their relationship made big, unrealistic leaps. Their path to love made perfect sense to me, because I knew how the story was supposed to go. If I hadn't known, I probably would have thought it undeveloped.
Some re-tellings play out every scene from the original novel in a new form. Epic Fail didn't do that. It was definitely loyal to Pride and Prejudice and there were tons of little references that will please fans. However, there were key elements of the original's plot that were skipped or hardly broached. I think the book would have felt stilted if it tried to incorporate everything, yet at the same time, the little things of Pride and Prejudice combine to make it the complex, fun classic romance novel that it is.
Epic Fail isn't a perfect book, but it is a fun one. I thought it was adorable and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. If you're looking for a great light read, you definitely need to get Epic Fail. Any Pride and Prejudice fan will enjoy it and it has a distinct story that will still drawn in those who haven't read Jane Austen.