Epic Fail

Epic Fail

4.4 224
by Claire LaZebnik

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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

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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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this latest contemporary update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the four Benton sisters are uprooted from their life in Massachusetts to sunny Los Angeles, where everyone they meet at Coral Tree Prep has rich and famous parents. The oldest girls, high school junior and senior Elise and Juliana, are appropriately spunky and sweet-natured stand-ins for Elizabeth and Jane, appearing along with the rest of Austen's cast in adult author LaZebnik's (If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home by Now) YA debut. Darcy becomes Derek, the handsome but prickly son of Brangelina-level celebrities; Wickam is Webster, who charms his way into the middle of Elise and Derek's budding romance; and Bingley becomes Chase, who is immediately taken with Juliana and destined to end up with her, too. LaZebnik's story has the feel of a summery teen rom-com, and although the author's adherence to Austen's original narrative makes her contemporary twists (misunderstandings via text messages instead of letters, for example) less twisty, Elise's first-person narration has ample wit. For Austen devotees, this adaptation will be reassuringly familiar and charming enough. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
Polly Shulman
“Jane Austen fans will have fun finding the clever parallels in this contemporary take on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, while Austen innocents can just sit back and enjoy the romance.”
Jen Calonita
“I thoroughly enjoyed this charming tale about the joys and perils of going to school and navigating relationships with the celebrity set and their complicated offspring. Claire LaZebnik has done anything but fail.”
Children's Literature - Anne Hevener
Elise Benton and her sisters are new students at Coral Tree, a Los Angeles prep school where her mom has taken a job as the new principal. Happily clad in a t-shirt and sneakers, Elise is not exactly a shoe-in for the well-heeled Coral Tree in-crowd, but when her sister Juliana hits it off with Chase, Elise is thrown into the company of Derek, Chase's best friend and Coral Tree's most famous celebrity offspring. Will Elise fall for the handsome but aloof high school hero? Or will she favor the friendship of Derek's sworn enemy, the witty charmer Webster Grant? Will Layla, Elise's impressionable, party-loving younger sister, be able to steer her way through the dangers of this complicated social scene? And will Elise's mom ever stop embarrassing her? In this modern re-telling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (not the first and certainly not the last homage), the author has successfully reimagined the story, moving it from "classic English lit" to twenty-first century "chick lit" for teens. Fans of the original will enjoy playing "who's who" (Elise/Elizabeth, Juliana/Jane, Chase/Bingley) and seeing how plot lines carry over to the unique setting (e.g. a movie premieres versus a fancy ball). Teens not acquainted with Austen's version will simply take pleasure in an appealing well-told story of a budding high school romance with a smart and feisty heroine who learns important lessons about jumping to conclusions and passing judgment based on first impressions. Who knows; captivated readers may even be inspired to pick up the original. Reviewer: Anne Hevener

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Epic Fail

By Claire LaZebnik


Copyright © 2011 Claire LaZebnik
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061921261

Chapter One

The front office wasn't as crazy as you'd expect on
the first day of school, which seemed to confirm
Coral Tree Prep's reputation as "a well oiled machine."
That was a direct quote from the Private School
Confidential website I had stumbled across when I first
Googled Coral Tree—right after my parents told me
and my three sisters we'd be transferring there in the
fall. Since it was on the other side of the country from
where we'd been living—from where I'd lived my entire
life—I couldn't exactly check it myself, and I was
desperate for more information.
A well-oiled machine didn't sound too bad. But I
was less thrilled to read that Coral Tree was "basically
a country club masquerading as a school." The same
anonymous writer added, "I've yet to see a student
drive a car onto campus that's not a Porsche or a BMW.
And even an AP math student would lose count of the
Louboutins on the girls here." Yuck.
But while I was clicking around that site, I learned
about another private school in L.A. that had a
"condom tree"—kids allegedly tossed their used condoms
up into its branches—so I guess my parents could have
done worse than, you know, Coral Tree.
True to the school's reputation, the administrator
in the office was brisk and efficient and had quickly
printed up and handed me and Juliana each a class list
and a map of the school.
"You okay?" I asked Juliana, as she stared at the map
like it was written in some foreign language. She started
and looked up at me, slightly panicked. Juliana's a year
older than me, but she sometimes seems younger,
mostly because she's the opposite of cynical and I'm the
opposite of the opposite of cynical.
Because we're so close in age, people frequently ask
if the two of us are twins. It's lucky for me we're not,
because if we were, Juliana would be The Pretty One.
She and I do look a lot alike, but there are infinitesimal
differences—her eyes are just a touch wider apart,
her hair a bit silkier, her lips fuller—and all these little
changes add up to her being truly beautiful and my
being reasonably cute. On a good day. When the light
hits me right.
I put my head closer to hers and lowered my voice.
"Did you see the girls in the hallway? How much
makeup they're all wearing? And their hair is perfect,
like they spent hours on it. How is that possible?" Mine
was in a ponytail. It wasn't even all that clean because
our fourteen-year-old sister, Layla, had hogged the bathroom
that morning and I'd barely had time to brush my
teeth, let alone take a shower.
"It'll all be fine," Juliana said faintly.
"Yeah," I said, with no more conviction. "Anyway,
I'd better run. My first class is on the other side of the
building." I squinted at the map. "I think."
She squeezed my arm. "Good luck."
"Find me at lunch, okay? I'll be the one sitting by
"You'll make friends, Elise," she said. "I know you
"Just find me." I took a deep breath and plunged
out of the office and into the hallway—and instantly hit
someone with the door. "Sorry!" I said, cringing.
The girl I'd hit turned, rubbing her hip. She wore an
incredibly short miniskirt, tight black boots that came
up almost to her knees, and a spaghetti-strap tank top.
It was an outfit more suited for a nightclub than a day
of classes, but I had to admit she had the right body
for it. Her blond hair was beautifully cut, highlighted,
and styled, and the makeup she wore really played up
her pretty blue eyes and perfect little nose. Which was
scrunched up now in disdain as she surveyed me and
bleated out a loud and annoyed "FAIL!"
The girl standing with her said, "Oh my God, are
you okay?" in pretty much the tone you'd use if
someone you cared about had just been hit by a speeding
pickup truck right in front of you.
It hadn't been that hard a bump, but I held my hands
up apologetically. "Epic fail. I know. Sorry."
The girl I'd hit raised an eyebrow. "At least you're
"At least," I agreed. "Hey, do you happen to know
where room twenty-three is? I have English there in,
like, two minutes and I don't know my way around. I'm
new here."
The other girl said, "I'm in that class, too." Her hair
was brown instead of blond and her eyes hazel instead of
blue, but the two girls' long, choppy manes and skinny
bodies had been cast from the same basic mold. She was
wearing a narrow, silky turquoise tank top over snug
boot-cut jeans and a bunch of multicolored bangles on
her slender wrist. "You can follow me. See you later,
"Yeah,wait, hold on a sec." Chels, or whatever her name was—pulled her friend toward her and whispered something in her ear. Her friend's eyes darted
toward me briefly, but long enough to make me glance
down at my old straight leg jeans and my THIS IS
WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE T-shirt and feel like I
shouldn't have worn either.
The two girls giggled and broke apart.
"I know, right?" the friend said. "See you," she said
to Chels and immediately headed down the hallway,
calling brusquely over her shoulder, "Hurry up. It's on
the other side of the building and you don't want to be
late for Ms. Phillips's class."
"She scary?" I asked, scuttling to keep up.
"She just gets off on handing out EMDs."
"EMDs?" I repeated.
"Early morning detentions. You have to come in at,
like, seven in the morning and help clean up and stuff
like that. Sucks. Most of the teachers here are pretty
mellow if you're a couple of minutes late, but not Phillips.
She's got major control issues."
"What's your name?" I asked, dodging a group of
girls in cheerleader outfits.
"Gifford." Really? Gifford? "And that was Chelsea
you hit with the door. You really should be more
Too late for that advice—in my efforts to avoid bumping
into a cheerleader, I had just whammed my shoulder
on the edge of a locker. I yelped in pain. Gifford rolled
her eyes and kept moving.
I caught up again. "I'm Elise," I said, even though
she hadn't asked. "You guys in eleventh grade, too?"
"Yeah. So you're new, huh? Where're you from?"
"Amherst, Mass."
She actually showed some interest. "That near
"No. But Amherst College is there. And UMass."
She dismissed that with an uninterested wave. "You
get snow there?"
"It's Massachusetts," I said. "Of course we do. Did."
"So do you ski?"
"Not much." My parents didn't, and the one time
they tried to take us it was so expensive that they never
repeated the experiment.
"We go to Park City every Christmas break,"
Gifford said. "But this year my mother thought maybe
we should try Vail. Or maybe Austria. Just for a change,
you know?"
I didn't know. But I nodded like I did.
"You see the same people at Park City every year,"
she said. "I get sick of it. It's like Maui at Christmas,
you know?"
I wished she'd stop saying "You know?"
Fortunately, we had reached room 23. "In here,"
said Gifford. She opened the door and went in,
successfully communicating that her mentoring ended
at the room's threshold.

Over the course of the next four hours, I discovered
1. Classes at Coral Tree Prep were really small.
When we got to English, I was worried that half
the class would get EMDs or whatever they were
called because there were fewer than a dozen kids
in the room. But when Ms. Phillips came in, she
said, "Good—everyone's here, let's get started,"
and I realized that was the class.
2. The campus grounds were unbelievably green and
seemed to stretch on for acres. I kept gazing out
the window, wishing I could escape and go rolling
down the grassy hills that lined the fields.
3. Teachers at Coral Tree Prep didn't like you to
stare out the window and would tell you so in
front of the entire class who would then all turn
and stare at The New Girl Who Wasn't Paying
4. Everyone at Coral Tree Prep was good looking.
Really. Everyone. I didn't see a single fat or ugly
kid all morning. Maybe they just locked them up
at registration and didn't let them out again until


Excerpted from Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik Copyright © 2011 by Claire LaZebnik. Excerpted by permission of HarperTeen. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Polly Shulman
“Jane Austen fans will have fun finding the clever parallels in this contemporary take on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, while Austen innocents can just sit back and enjoy the romance.”
Jen Calonita
“I thoroughly enjoyed this charming tale about the joys and perils of going to school and navigating relationships with the celebrity set and their complicated offspring. Claire LaZebnik has done anything but fail.”

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Epic Fail 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 224 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two days, it would of been less if I wasn't so busy. It was hilarious. I actually laughed in class out loud and publicly embarrassed my self, but it was totally worth it. It was cute and really quick and light. Perfect for anytime of the day, and admittedly night. Teen girls, unless you're a guy who wants to know how girls think? I'm going to read all her books, and keep loling in class.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a very well done modern retake on Pride & Prejudice. I knew exactly how it would end but I could not for the life of me put this book down. It was so cute and absolutely hilarious. Elise, the main character, is very witty and embodies all that is Elizabeth Bennet in the original tale by Jane Austen. Derek is an amazing Mr. Darcy, which is not easy to say because I absolutely adore the actual Mr. Darcy. You know a book is good when you can feel exactly what the characters are feeling and you can make connections with them through that, and this book kept me on my toes the whole time. I literally felt nervous, sad, and angry during different situations in the book. This book is a very good and easy read. I highly recommend it. And if your looking for another good modern remake of Pride & Prejudice I would recommend you read Prom & Prejudice. Do not be deterred by the pink cover or by the title. I myself held off on reading it because it looked so girly and cheesy, but when I had nothing else to read I ended up checking it out and loving it.
marianne68 More than 1 year ago
Good suspense, great love story with likeable characters. worth the time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so funny! I was laughing aloud in every chapter! The characters were so life-like and unique and the plot had some VERY interesting twists! I recommend it to anyone who likes comedy romance!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good bookk! I read it in less than 5 hrs. I laughed out loud A LOT and humiluated myself. Its just one of those quick, cute, aww books. It actually made me think of better ways to treat my brothers....HA! JK. But seriously it was a good book:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing books. I love Elise and Derek's relationship
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very cute play on the original book/movie. I found myself comparing the charactors from this book to the original. It's more fun to read if you have read Pride and Prejudice. (No clue how to spell that) I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haven't even finished the book yet, but already I'm in love! The characters and plot are so real, i could just imagine myself being there. It's really funny and sweet.
ValerieStuckInBooks More than 1 year ago
My Summary: Elise is starting a new school for her junior year in a new city with her older sister Julianna, a senior. Too bad her mom is the new principal. The exclusive prep school isn't really what she's used to and making friends is proving to be a challenge. Not for Julianna though. She's caught the eye of the adorable Chase, the best friend of Derek, prince of the school. Thrown together with Derek, Elise isn't sure she wants to be his friend. What is his story? Then she finds Webster Grant, a funny attractive guy that is hated by Derek. Maybe Elise is better suited for Webster. But first impressions are sometimes wrong and there is almost always more to the story than anyone wants to admit. The pride and the prejudice that fills the cliques of a high school always get in the way of true love. My Thoughts: 3 1/2 stars - a great read So I've been on another paranormal reading binge and I really needed a break. I love just standing at my bookshelf looking at the books I haven't read and choosing whatever I want to read. Last Sunday, I did just that. I picked up several books, mostly stand alone contemporary romance. I consulted friends on twitter but I finally settled on this one. I sat down to read and five hours later, I finished the book. It was so nice to be so enthralled with a book that I just kept turning the pages. There were no supernatural creatures to keep track of or paranormal worlds to figure out. No, it was a high school love story. I devoured it. I liked the characters. Derek was this brooding gorgeous guy whose parents were famous movie stars. He didn't like people wanting to be around him because of his parents. But after you cut through his protective walls, he is this great guy with a fun sense of humor. His strong dislike of Webster is intriguing. I figured it out pretty quickly but that doesn't take away from the story. Elise is a strong responsible junior whose is trying to balance family and friends. She falls for some of the prejudice traps but when she discoverers her mistakes, she's quick to forgive and forget. Both characters are great fun people that I enjoyed reading about. The story is strong and has some parallel to the original Jane Auston novel. I will never get tired of reading stories based on that classic. I did find a few inconsistencies and a couple of plot points that I felt should have been resolved but I just needed to read a fun book like this so I didn't care. If you're looking for a quick romantic read that doesn't take any real thought on your part, then check this one out. It's a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book has an ending twist and you will fall in love with derek i love the romance between elise and derek
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wonder who'll win.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im in!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in - John
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The genre is fantasy! Write and post your stories in result 4! Happy writing! ~Epic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You always say tht lacy. You will be back tmrw.
InkandPage More than 1 year ago
Rating: 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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like a modern of Pride and Predjudice by Jane Austen. Though there many other parady book of PP, this one is the one that I love the most. Unlike the others, it leaves you wondering what would happen next. So if your interested in books with a strong female lead, and amazing bloomin love, this book is right for you. BUY IT AND I PROMISE YOU WON'T REGRET IT! ^_^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it and I read it within 2-4 hours. It was a great book and would definetally recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending sucked. I mean there were somany unanswered questions. Was truly funny felt rushed in someplaces then it dragged in others. I wish there could of been an epilogue to this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite book of all time.
ChuckMA More than 1 year ago
Epic Fail? Not this novel. Advertised as a young adult novel I suppose a 63 year old man ought not be interested. But as a reader of the classics, especially Austen, Thackeray, Trollope, Dickens, Bennett, etc. I was drawn to LaZebnik's novel because I have read her other novels. And she does not disappoint. Do we know what will happen? Most probably adult readers will figure it out. But we don't read Austen to be thrilled by some plot reversal - we read for the enjoyment of the language and to be privy to the thoughts of the characters. And LaZebnik does not disappoint. Here we have an old story told with verve and élan. Like Austen, the wit lies just below the surface and though you will be tempted to speed through the novel in one sitting because the writing flows so naturally resist dear reader. The satire of modern LA is too good to let slip through your fingers, as it were. Elise Benton is a joy. Where was she when I was in high school to whisk me to romantic rapture? What half way intelligent boy would not fall in love with her? Juliana is her sister and older by a year and possesses just those tweaks that yield her a beauty while her sister must get along on her wits. Derek Edwards is the son a famous movie couple - handsome and aloof. We will discover why he is aloof and why the pretty young things at the private high school interest him not. That Elise's fashion hindered mother is principal at the school does not help her coolness quotient. A joy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute book and story but disappointing ending being it felt short or unfinished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago