If my Waiting on Wednesday post and participation in past ‘Everything Austen’ events didn’t warn you, I’m an Austen-ite. I am more likely to pick up an adaptation or re-telling of one of Jane Austen’s books than I am to eat milk chocolate. True fact. Dark chocolate, now, that I eat more often than I’d like to admit. When I read a summary of Claire LaZebnik's Epic Fail (after I got over the hilarious title, that is), I knew I had to check it out.
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.
Epic Fail is Elise’s story, but in terms of narrative, it’s Pride and Prejudice in a Hollywood high school. Other things it is: cute, sweet, predictable, and a good bit of quick fun. If you know the original, you know how this plays out. What saves it from sappy and overdone is Elise’s smart inner dialogue. She’s perceptive and at the same time her worries and concerns ring true for a real kid (albeit an intelligent one).
Outside of Elise, the other well-defined characters were her sister Juliana, and to a lesser extent, Derek. If you’re looking for true learning and honest change in your next read, this isn’t your novel. And if we’re going to talk weaknesses, a glaring one for me was the inclusion of characters from the original P&P who didn’t fit in the space of Epic Fail. Elise’s cousin (who takes the place of Charlotte) definitely had the feel of an add-on, and could have been left out with no problem at all. Despite a slight excess of shallowness, this read resonated as ‘fun’ rather than ‘contrived.’
Recommended for: fans of Austen retellings and spin-offs, those who are into young adult lit with a dash of celebrity and the Hollywood trappings, and anyone looking for some quick and light summer reading with a classic theme and a happy ending.
If you are interested in other YA takes on Jane Austen’s classics, check out this article!