Pride and Prejudice set in a stuffy, private high school setting? Considering one of my favorite Austen Spinoffs was the Pride and Prejudice set in an old folks home in Florida one, I'm in! Hey everyone!! It's been a long while since I've written about any Austen spinoffs, but I finally found a new one worth checking out!
Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
Basically, the story is P&P, minus a sister and a few other characters. Juliana and Elise's family moves from the easy coast to California, where their mom will be the new principal of their private high school and their dad is a math teacher. The school is full of wealthy and/or celebrities' kids, and Juliana and Elise have to find their places. Juliana meets Chase, so Elise meets his best from Derek, and I think you know (roughly) where it goes from here.
Why It's Awesome
Ok, so, as a YA fiction book, this was pretty good. It was significantly shorter than P&P (as expected of teen fiction) and arguably much simpler in storyline, but I think that was a smart move if it wanted to be actually connect with and teach an important lesson (don't judge so quick or be so arrogant!) to teens who read it. The characters felt like people I knew, and it was fun to see what the private school experience might have been light for people who moved from public to private, and across the country. I also really liked Derek (aka Darcy) which helped me get through this book pretty well! Overall, an easy, enjoyable read that will have you laughing a bit throughout.
What Could Be Better
So, I said I liked it, obviously, but I don't think it's great to call this a retelling of P&P. Of course, you have to a bit because it's clear that there are so many elements of Austen's tale are shaping this one, but the characters (at times) were just too different for me, even with the time difference. Derek, for instance, was one of my favorites, but I didn't see him having the same arrogance and contempt that early Darcy in Austen does--he's always just kind of truly misunderstood. Sure, defensive against Elise's family, but for an actual reason (i.e. people try to use him all the time). Webster (aka Wickham) too was just kind of....blah! In P&P, I feel for Wickham the first time. That did NOT happen in this one! Maybe because I knew he was probably Wickha, but still his charm was nasty from the very beginning. I also didnt' like how they developed his mean streak--I feel like Wickham was awful in P&P but Webster was awful in a much more serious, scary way. I guess that's modern times, eh?
Yay or nay?
If you like YA fiction, read it! There's really no harm and it's pretty fun. However, if you're looking for a good Austen retelling, I have hard that Claire LaZebnik's other book The Trouble with Flirting, which is a retelling of Mansfield Park, is much, much better in terms of adaptation! Epic Fail was made after The Trouble with Flirting, so maybe LaZebnik was forcing it a little too much!
I'll let you know my thoughts on The Trouble with Flirting later in my Austen Spinoffs Collection! So follow for updates :)