Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Author: Claire LaZebnik
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Pages: 295
Format: Paperback
Average Rating: 3.72
Read it in: 1 day
Source: Bought from Amazon

- Summary - 

 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.

- Review - 

After the disaster that was Enclave, I was in the mood for something light, romantic and short; an easy read. And what better to turn to than a contemporary novel? It is no secret that I am as big a fan of fluffy romances as I am to dystopian/paranormal/creeptastic Sci Fi reads, so when I found Epic Fail in my Goodread's TBR, I immediately ordered it on Amazon and cracked it open when it arrived. What I did not count on, however, was how much I freaking LOVED this book.

Contemporaries are always a hit-and-miss with me; I either love them to death or hate their guts (examples of the latter include: The Duff, Stealing Parker, and anything by Alyson Noël...). Don't get me wrong; contemporaries are a great way to pull yourself out of a reading slump, but I like a little depth in the things I read. I like themes. And not random, clichéd stories about teenagers having sex for fun, who end up falling in love with the wrong person, but actual themes that make you think; that you can relate to and go, "Yeah. I can see that totally happening in real life." And this book, my friends, successfully ranks up there next to Sarah Dessen and Sarah Ockler in those regards.

Anyway, like I said, I picked up this book to get my mind off of the read that had come before, and was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I enjoyed getting to know these characters and their story. I will admit—rather embarrassingly—that I was completely oblivious to the "Pride and Prejudice" parallels in the beginning of the novel (obviously I am either not very observant or extremely thick), but once I realized that they were there, I enjoyed picking them out and comparing/contrasting similar characters and scenarios. And that was one of the things I loved most about this book; that it remained faithful to the original source enough that you could definitely (or in my case, eventually) see the similar ties, while still remaining original and unpredictable.

The characters were all extremely likable, and the main character, Elise, was a great female lead. I loved the protectiveness she displayed toward her sisters; particularly when Juliana was broken up with and Layla was in trouble. I enjoyed how cynical and sarcastic she could be, all while remaining the closet romantic that she was (and denying). Derek was a perfect Darcy, and I particularly liked the way that LaZebnik portrayed his backstory and how she incorporated his celebrity parents into the mix, as well as his sister, Elise's and Webster's relationships (considering how important—and separate—those details were in the classic). His brooding was a little annoying in the beginning of the story, but I warmed up to him considerably; particularly when it became clear that he was crushing on Elise. Juliana was great as well, and I appreciated the Big Sister attitude she displayed toward her sisters—which led to an incredibly overdue outburst that I found hilarious. I wanted to fist-bump that girl. Also, was it just me, or did anybody else imagine Jane from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries anytime Juliana spoke or was present? No? Okay then.

The writing was incredibly hilarious, and a lot of the exchanges between characters left me laughing out loud—which was problematic, as the majority of this book was read at work while the toddlers were napping. Like Elise, the inner/outer dialogue was sarcastic and cynical, and by the end of the book, I really wanted to be best friends with everyone in the story. Though a few of the lines toward the end—between Derek and Elise—were a tad cheesy, I seriously could not put this book down and think that I have found a new favorite book to read over and over again.

- Rating - 

This book received 5/5 stars from me, for likable characters, hilarious dialogue, interesting parallels, and a fantastic family dynamic. I definitely plan on checking out more of Claire LaZebnik's work.

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