Book Review: ‘Epic Fail’ by Claire LaZebnik

It is a truth universally acknowledged…that I will read just about any book that is even remotely based on Pride and Prejudice.

Book Cover Epic Fail by Claire LaZubnikRating: 3.5

The Low Down: Elise Benton’s family has moved across the country from Collegiate-Town, Massachusetts to La La Land, California. Elise and her older sister, Juliana, along with the third Benton sister, Layla, will all attend an exclusive private school called Coral Tree Prep. Youngest sister Kaitlyn is in middle school.

It’s only the first day of school and Juliana, the sweet one, has already attracted the interest of Chase Baldwin. Unfortunately, Elise has attracted the ire of his sister, Chelsea, and the glower of his best friend, Derek. The only thing that can make this more embarrassing is the fact that the new head of school is her blowsy mother who is equal parts Rules Standard Bearer and twittering cheerleader. Luckily, Juliana makes friends with Webster Grant, a cute and funny boy who, apparently, has been named persona non grata by Derek.

Juliana is in love, but when she receives some ugly texts from Chase, she is heartbroken. As for Elise, how is it that the closed-off and terse Derek can be warm and happy sometimes? What of the seething hatred that he has for Webster? And can Elise figure it out before it’s too late – for all of them?

Best Thang ‘Bout It: I didn’t remember that this book was based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when I started reading it. All of the sudden after reading for a few pages – DING! – the light went on. So of course, I settled into the couch and let the book take me away, searching for those similarities that reminded me of my favorite book. There were many, some subtle, but they made me smile. This is not the first book based on P&P, and it certainly (I hope) won’t be the last.

Moving the action to Hollywood/Los Angeles made for a new twist, as well as the Benton family being the one who moved into town and not the traditional route of the main male characters, etc., coming to them.

So…: You can’t squeeze everything into an adaptation, and shouldn’t, especially when the original source material was published 200 years ago. In our time period, you can’t have teens marrying at the end or girls running off with boys, so you have to make adjustments. They were well done for the most part, but I thought having Elise’s cousin, Diana, as the voice of reason (sort of the Charlotte character, for those of you taking notes), was unneeded. She is only in two brief scenes that don’t really add anything to the story. I, for one, certainly appreciate the fact that there was no attempt to shove EVERYTHING into this retelling.

The Bottom Line: Hollywood Setting + Adaptation = Familiar storyline with new twists. YA-a-fying a classic makes for a fun, romantic read with great, relatable characters.

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik was published August 2, 2011 by HarperTeen. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, so no one had a choice about whether it was reviewed.

Genre:Young Adult Contemporary Fiction Romance
Ages: 13 and up
You Might Want to Know: Some profanity

Other Reviews:
AC Reads: 2.5 of 5 Stars (@ACReads)
Writer of Wrongs: (@mizgillianberry)

Find the Author:
Author’s Website/Blog
Author on Twitter (@clazebnikwrites)
Author on Facebook

Buy the Book:
Abe Books
Barnes & Noble
A Real Bookstore

HarperTeen Website
Twitter  (@HarperTeen)


3 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘Epic Fail’ by Claire LaZebnik”

  1. Oh my gosh, I love you little quote at the top :

    It is a truth universally acknowledged…that I will read just about any book that is even remotely based on Pride and Prejudice.

    It’s the same with me. I liked Epic Fail, too. It isn’t my favorite P&P retelling, but I had a lot of fun with it. Now I kind of want to read it again. Somewhere on the Internet there is an extra scene that LaZebnic wrote with Elise and Derek. It’s cute. I don’t remember where I found it.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Ooh, I’d love to know where that extra scene is, if you happen to come across it again. I was obsessed with retellings and “what happened afters” for a while, but there are a lot of horrible versions out there. I still always look for them, though.

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