Top critical review
34 of 40 people found this helpful
I wanted to like it, but...
on April 5, 2012
I have to wonder if I and the other reviewers were reading the same book. I had my doubts when I downloaded the sample, but given all the high reviews, I decided to give it a chance, because I love Pride and Prejudice. I figured maybe it would get better later on. And the concept seemed interesting.
The plot, for being a re-write of an already established classic, is actually different enough to be interesting. Some of the scenes were obviously taken from the original book, but others were new. The characters were also similar but different. That was nice.
Unfortunately, that was about the only thing it had going for it. The book is self-published, and it really shows. The writing is amateurish; I spent most of the book wondering if it had been written by a young teenager (it wasn't). It reads like something I'd find on a site like Figment or Wattpad, where teens post stories in progress for critique and suggestions on improvement. I wish it HAD been posted up there. It definitely could have used some real critique and suggestions and editing BEFORE a price tag was slapped on it.
Warning: There are spoilers to the story ahead. Read on at your own risk.
First off, the dialogue was awkward. In some places it seemed stiff and way too formal to be natural. For example, in one of the beginning scenes, one of the friends is relating how she met the guy she likes. She sounds more like she's reciting lines from a play than an excited teenaged girl squealing to her friends over her crush. Not realistic at all. The dialogue in general could really use some work.
Secondly, Chloe, the main character, is unfortunately nothing like Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Bennet is a strong-willed, determined young woman who knows her own mind. Chloe is overdramatic to the point of being annoying. She overreacts to the least little thing. She's not nearly as rational as Elizabeth Bennet. I felt her being a dancer was also unrealistic, especially teaching classes. I admit I don't know much about ballet, but I imagine it takes a LOT of skill, discipline, and CONSTANT PRACTICE. I don't believe for a second she'd have the ability to actually teach classes, not to mention win scholarships to prestegious academies. Aside from teaching, there was no mention of Chloe doing ANY sort of dancing or taking lessons. Oh, and doing the four-wheeling thing? Would someone who claims to be a serious dancer actually go out and risk breaking something vital - like her legs - by riding around on dangerous vehicles? Doesn't seem very smart to me.
The whole Collin/boyfriend thing was too contrived and forced. What parents actually FORCE their teenage girl to date a guy she clearly doesn't like? Also, Chloe was just downright rude (and, again, way too overdramatic over the whole thing). Sure, Collin played around with his phone but other than that, what was wrong with him? He seemed like a normal teenaged guy to me. I understand the whole Collin/Mr. Collins plot point, but frankly, he could have been left out. He was just unnecessary baggage that did nothing to enhance the story. If he had to be there, then something should have actually been wrong with him. Something like a serious aversion to soap and general lack of hygiene. Or maybe being too touchy-feely at the wrong times, or possessing a foul mouth. Something that's actually a big turnoff for most girls. Just playing with a phone isn't good enough to make him "ridiculous", to deserve such a snobbish, rude reaction from Chloe. I wanted to smack her. Really.
I'm sorry, but Taylor is a jerk. I am baffled over his nearly begging Chloe to ask him to the dance, and then back out on her right away. He's an ass, there's no two ways about it. And there was no good reason given that doesn't make him any LESS of an ass. Darcy had his valid reasons for acting the way HE did, given the time period, setting, and society's expectations for someone of his station in regards to someone of her's (she was poor, her family caused scandals, ect...). Thus, when he overcame all those inhibitions, it made all the more impact.
Taylor has no such excuses. This is the 21st century. The situtation should have been entirely different. He's a jerk and nothing will convince me otherwise. End of story.
The prom was just kind of ... meh. I do not understand why Ethan - who was maybe mentioned five times throughout the course of the story - won the prom king title. Sorry, I don't care if Chloe thinks he's the "coolest guy in the world", there weren't nearly enough scenes showing the READERS how cool he is to make HIS winning of the crown, instead of the oh-so-popular Taylor-who-can-do-no-wrong, anywhere CLOSE to believable. Frankly, I felt Ethan was only there as a convenient excuse for Chloe to meet Blake. That's all. If he was really THAT cool, then the author should have tried harder to show it, and make the readers believe he actually stood a snowflake's chance in hell of winning that crown. I think she probably only did it because Taylor winning it would be too "cliche". Unfortunately, it backfired. Cliche, maybe, but at least it would actually have been realistic.
Speaking of Blake, I have to question Taylor's family's morals, for knowingly harboring a convicted rapist, helping him change his name, get a job, ect. I don't care if he's a relative or not. That's just wrong. And I'm pretty sure not entirely legal. Hm.
FINALLY, we reach the end of the story, and I think that's all, except there's a preview for a second book. I start reading it, and am immediately confused. Throughout Pride and Popularity, I was given the impression that Chloe had only ONE younger sister, Cassidy (as opposed to E. Bennet's four sisters). And yet, in this preview for a sequel, suddenly there pops up a whole new younger sister that is not mentioned ONE SINGLE TIME in the first book. All I can say is, "What the HECK?" Where did this person come from? Why have we never seen her before? You'd think she'd make at least a FEW appearances in Pride and Popularity, but no. I cannot recall a single instance in which she appeared, not even as a brief introduction in the beginning (or, if she did appear, it was SO brief that it was instantly forgettable). Given that this sister is the star of the next novel, THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING.
Very sloppy, Ms. James. Very, very sloppy. I knocked off a whole star just for that.
So. My overall thoughts on this book:
If you're one of those types who don't give a whit about consistancy of plot, or bad characterization, or awkward dialogue, or everything else mentioned in the above review, then you'll probably like this book. It's a lighthearted, fun read at times; there were moments where I actually laughed. At least until one of the many contrived misunderstandings and subsequent teenage wangst-fests set me to rolling my eyes again.
I dunno, maybe I'm just too picky. But, when I pay real money for a book, I expect it to be something actually deserving of the pricetag. Not something I might read off fictionpress.net for free.