Tuesday 13 December 2011

REVIEW: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Publication Date: August 2nd 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Paperback, 288 pages

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 one of those books you really have fun while reading them and totally forget about having ever read them in the next hours I'm afraid.

I am huge Jane Austen's fan and since I spotted this book which is basically a retelling of Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite books ever), I just had to read it. Granted, retellings aren't my thing. Granted again, that every single retelling of a fairy tale or book I have picked until now, wasn't such a good idea. But for some reason I keep picking these stories and I will continue doing so because something about the idea of transferring a classic story in a whole different universe or era plainly fascinates me!

As I said, Epic Fail is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in the 21st century where the protagonists are teenagers.
The idea behind the book is good and I really wanted to see how all those complicated characters from Austen's novel would be handled from a different author and how all the setting from the original book would be ingested in our modern society.
I'm sad to say that the whole project for me was a bit of a failure. The characters in Epic Fail, resembled those of the original story but only on the surface. Elise wasn't Elisabeth and Derek wasn't Darcy. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect to meet the same characters but since everything else was the same, with the necessary adjustments of course, I kind of expected that the characters would still possess the same essence, sort of.
Instead, Elise did everything Elizabeth did,acted in the same way, only in Epic Fail I just failed to see the motive behind her actions. Same goes with every other character. And especially with Mrs Bennet... You see Mrs Bennet, whether you liked her as character or not had a motive behind her outrageous actions. Mrs Benton on the other side had none... LaZebnik tried to make her a funny character, tried to make her act like a bizarre woman, but the result was a middle aged woman acting like a teenager with no reason at all... She drooled over a couple of teenage boys just because they were famous? I just wasn't convinced.

The transfer of the setting from Victorian England to 21st century L.A. was interesting. Not perfect but better executed. The story followed more or less the same pattern with Pride and Prejudice with the necessary adjustments and omissions. For example, Charlotte is almost a non existent character, Mister Collins went on permanent vacation and Lydia, actually came off as a way better person in Epic Fail.

All in all, Epic Fail is a fun book to spend your evening but just that. The writing gets a bit awkward at times, thus making me feel awkwrd in turn and to be honest, I won't remember it for long. Not a bad book, but not anything special either in my opinion.


  1. Hi Anna, I do wonder if you would not enjoy this YA book more, if you did not know it is supposed to be a retelling of P&P. Or did not know that book/tvseries/movie.

  2. I'm afraid Aurian I wouldn't. The characters were flat and the only way I could relate to them was just because I had already read the book. And the story itself wasn't anything unusual or remarkable to stand out. So probably if it wasn't a retelling I wouldn't enjoy it half as much I did.

  3. Thanks so much for this review! I have had my eye on it and been wanting to pick it up.


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