Published by HarperTeen on August 2nd 2011
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.
In the beginning I was a little weary. As a huge fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice I figured that this book could either be totally suckish or totally awesome. I’m glad to say it was the latter of the two. Epic Fail was a cute book. The first couple pages sucked me in with their charismatic characters and charming dialogue. Claire LaZebnik has a fantastic writing style. All of the characters are described and portrayed perfectly. The style isn’t as heavily detailed as the original Pride and Prejudice, but nonetheless it’s enjoyable. I’d call Epic Fail the perfect beach book, or even a sitting-in-the-gazebo read, with a glass of ice tea by your side, you’re all set for an enjoyable couple hours.
Now here’s the part where I talk about why this book got 3 vs. 5 stars from me. Everything I’ve said so far makes it sounds like the perfect read, you’ve got great characters, witty dialogue, and a fast-paced plot that keeps you interested. However, what this story lacked was “surprise”. I get that it’s a modern-take on Pride and Prejudice with familiar plots and elements, but from the beginning I basically knew which character to suspect and how the finale would play out. Some say there are few similarities between Pride and Prejudice and Epic Fail, however I’d say there is big honky and blatant ones. Basically Epic Fail IS Pride and Prejudice except the story and characters have jumped from the 19th to the 21st century. Elizabeth Bennet Elise Benton comes from a family containing a wacky mom, a no-nonsense dad, and three sisters. One sister, the oldest is reserved and two others are younger than Elise, one of them being easily influenced and slightly out of control. Out of all her family members, Elise is not easily swayed, with her witty-comebacks and stubborn nature she’s basically Elizabeth Bennet reincarnated. Then you have Mr. Darcy Derek Edwards, the standoffish, angst-y, and doubly-stubborn son of a famous actress-mother. Basically all the original characters from Pride and Prejudice are here playing their usual and recognizable roles.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Epic Fail. I really did. All through the book I was hooked, the characters were appealing and likable and the plot was fun and interesting. However, about 3/4 through the book I realized what I had originally feared was coming to fruition. The good guys in P&P triumphed in the same way and the bad guy likewise, lost. I realize that re-tellings are big these days, old stories, fairy-tales, etc. however I think they should be achieved in a certain way. I feel like if you’re going to put a new-spin on a well-known and well-loved tale you should really add some new aspects to it. I know there’s the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but who wants to spend time and money reading something that you basically already read and possibly own. Overall, I do recommend Epic Fail. Even though it left me slightly disappointed it was a fun read nonetheless.