EvilEva reviews ...... Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik.
Dissecting The Cover:
This cover is (unfortunately) so very YA. Headless half teens! It's an epidemic, really. Also, after reading this book, I'm at a complete loss for what the title or the picture has to do with the actual story. It seriously makes no sense.
It's the beginning of junior year for Elise Benton. But instead of spending it in Amherst, Massachusetts like usual, she and her 3 sisters are uprooted and plopped down in Los Angeles.
Elise, her older sister Juliana and their 14 year old sister Layla will attend the exclusive Coral Tree Prep, a private school where their father now teaches math and their mother is the new principal. Not a very friend-winning situation.
But when Juliana manages to catch the eye of the charming, popular and rich Chase Baldwin, Elise is introduced to Chase's best friend, Derek Edwards.
Derek is the son of Hollywood royalty and thus ALL the girls in school are hopelessly crushing on him. But Elise is less than impressed with his high-and-mighty act. In fact, she finds Derek's enemy, Webster Grant, to be much more swoonworthy.
But Elise is new in town and doesn't have all the facts. And at Coral Tree Prep, things are far from what they seem.
Here's What I Think:
I was all set to like this book. For one thing, it's written by Claire LaZebnik, an author whose chick-lit I totally dig. And two, it's a retelling of Pride and Prejudice which is one of my all-time fave books.
But I just couldn't connect with this story. The characters seemed a little too sweetie-sweet and too gee-golly-willikers for my taste, especially since this book was supposed to be a modern take on an old classic. That was my problem with the dialogue too. The way the characters spoke to one another didn't seem authentically teenager-y to me.
There wasn't much (or any, really) cussing which I think is bullshit. I mean, what teenager doesn't cuss? At least once in awhile? Especially when the people you're dealing with act like snooty a-holes?
I'm sure some people will find this wholesome and refreshing and a nice change for YA writing, but I'd rather have character authenticity than an adorable lil' world that so doesn't exist. I mean, it's what I imagine living in a Taylor Swift song would be like. It was just a little too wholesome for me.
Another problem I had was that there were a few scenes that seemed thrown in. They didn't really help to move the story along. It seemed like filler to push the main characters together in order to make the reader root for these two crazy kids. Those parts felt a little awkward. Like, and now we're on a class trip, at the beach, at night, looking at the stars, for no apparent reason. This was made even more infuriating when, even with all that ambiance, there were no swoony times to be had. Very disappointing.
I guess I was just hoping for a little more of that Jane Austen drama.
Ok, now I feel slightly shitty for basically ripping this book so let's try to end this review on a high note.
Yes, I had a few issues with Epic Fail but it wasn't all bad. There were some cute parts and some funny moments here and there. I definitely think there are peeps out there that will appreciate the P & P vibe. And I did like the certain little wink-wink-nod-nods to Austen fans, like with the characters names. But, unfortunately, it just wasn't enough for me to really completely fall for this book.
There are a few cute moments between Elise and Derek like with the sprinkler and the ping pong. But I never quite felt that Mr. Darcy swoon for Derek. He was a little too stiff and serious for my taste. I mean, you don't have to go all Logan-Echolls-hosting-a-bum-fight but at least loosen up a little.
Pride and Prejudice Retell!
Epic Fail is a modern retell of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with Elise playing the role of Elizabeth Bennet to Derek's Mr. Darcy.
So of course the story is about Elise making snap judgments over Derek's snotty behavior and Derek assuming Elise is like the rest of her family, silly or indifferent or fame-obsessed. In other words, they're too proud and too prejudiced to really get to know each other in the beginning. Then of course they finally see the error of their ways and things get a'swoony.
Another fun bonus for fellow Austenophiles? The name game! Elise Benton= Elizabeth Bennet. Derek= Darcy. Webster= Wickham. Chase Baldwin= Charles Bingley. Jane= Juliana. Layla= Lydia. Kaitlyn= Kitty. And I guess fuck Mary because there were only 4 Benton sisters and nary a one with an M name. I always did feel bad for poor Mary. :(
If You Liked That, Try This:
Read the OG instead: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Or a far better retelling: Austenland by Shannon Hale.
The Scale Of Judgment Says:
...... 2 and a half.
Not an epic fail but not an epic success either.