Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Release date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Overall: 4/5 stars

Summary from Amazon:
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.
I bought Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik on an impulse because I had heard wonderful things about it and because it's a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. So of course, I had high expectations for this book.
Epic Fail starts off with Elise and Juliana Benton moving to a new prep school in LA where their mother is the principal. As soon as Juliana starts hanging out with the popular crowd which includes Chase and Derek, our new Mr. Darcy, there is instant tension/attraction between Elise and Derek. Derek has a guarded and some what jerkish view of the world thanks to his celebrity upbringing, and Elise has her parents' conservative values, leading to some conflicts of interest. But when your sister, whom you adore, loves the jerk's best friend, what are you going to do? Ignore him? So of course, much like in the real Pride and Prejudice, Elise is forced to endure the (incredibly attractive) presence of Derek Edwards.
I thought Claire LaZebnik did an excellent job of creating a cute contemporary romance novel. The plot was wonderful. Full of moments where Elise and Derek couldn't decide if they hated or adored each other, there was plenty of romance. And of course, there were plenty of interesting family members and characters who brought little quirks to the story. LaZebnik did a great job of including all of the chaotic members of the Benton family and the pretentious ones from Derek and Chase's families. LaZebnik artfully showed the themes of pride and prejudice in a new way, still managing to show how vicious our prejudices can make us. She also did a good job of incorporating Webster Grant, Elise's other love interest who isn't exactly as he seems.
While LaZebnik created a fabulously funny contemporary romance, at times I did feel like some of the wording was a bit awkward, like she was trying a bit too hard to make the book modern yet still similar to Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes the banter between the characters was cute, but at other times it was just trying too hard.
For the most part, Claire LaZebnik payed careful attention to detail when creating similarities between Epic Fail and Pride and Prejudice, but sometimes the connections didn't really work. She portrayed the so-nice-they're-naive Chase and Juliana perfectly, and made Elise's little sister Layla and Chase's little sister Chelsea plenty annoying, but there was a bit lacking with Elise and Derek's characters. I felt at times they were a bit too forgiving and weren't as stubborn as the characters in Pride and Prejudice.
However, if I hadn't read Pride and Prejudice before this I don't think I would have minded at all. Overall, Claire LaZebnik has created a cute and insanely funny romantic read perfect for summer, and it definitely wasn't an Epic Fail.
Writing: 3.5/5 stars
Plot: 5/5 stars
Characters: 4/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 stars
Cover: 3.5/5 stars

Hope you enjoyed this review!
Love always,

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