Pride and Prejudice goes Hollywood in this winning romantic comedy inspired by Jane Austen’s classic. In her teen fiction debut, the author of Knitting Under the Influence goes back to high school for a tale of sisters, misinformation, and star-crossed love.
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.
About the Author
Claire LaZebnik lives in Los Angeles with her TV-writer husband and four children. She has co-authored two books about autism with Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel (Overcoming Autism and Growing Up on the Spectrum). Her previous novels include Knitting Under the Influence, The Smart One and the Pretty One, Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts, Epic Fail, The Trouble with Flirting, and The Last Best Kiss.
Read an Excerpt
By Claire LaZebnik
HarperTeenCopyright © 2011 Claire LaZebnik
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe 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 Treeright 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 livingfrom where I'd lived my entire
lifeI 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 branchesso 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
differencesher eyes are just a touch wider apart,
her hair a bit silkier, her lips fullerand 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 hallwayand 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
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 waspulled 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 advicein 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?"
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,
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,
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, "Goodeveryone'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.
What People are Saying About This
“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.”
“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.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Good suspense, great love story with likeable characters. worth the time
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!!!
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:)
Amazing books. I love Elise and Derek's relationship
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.
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.
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.
When I decided to buy this book I wanted a light read, and that’s exactly what I got. The plot is fairly basic, not many twists, I could predict the next thing coming, but overall I thought it was a decent story. I would recommended it if you want a short read.
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
I wonder who'll win.
The genre is fantasy! Write and post your stories in result 4! Happy writing! ~Epic
You always say tht lacy. You will be back tmrw.
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
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! ^_^
I loved it and I read it within 2-4 hours. It was a great book and would definetally recommend
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.
My favorite book of all time.
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.
Short and sweet, with a few moments that keep it from being too “fluffy” to be interesting. After reading the second time, I realized the story is basically a modernization of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, with a few twists. Even the names! Elise Benton is Elizabeth Bennett, Juliana is Jane, Chase and Chelsea B are the Bingley siblings... Derek is Mr. Darcy and Webster is Mr. Wickham. It really was comical how many similarities there were once I’d noticed.
The Good So my first foray into a Contemporary read began because I got this one for a deal on Amazon, and I read that it's loosely based on Pride & Prejudice. I really loved the little aspects that were parallel to that story that I love so much. It really was like a modern day version. This was such a fun and cute read. It seemed like I read it very quickly even though it's over 300 pages. It was just what I needed at the time. Elise moves to a new school that is populated by the mega rich. She completely doesn't fit in. So why is she there? Her mom is the new principal. Amazing, right? She definitely didn't think so. Her dad is also a teacher there. Her family plays a large part in the story which is very refreshing. Her sister Juliana is her best friend and she is the 'gorgeous' one that everyone loves. She has two more sisters, one of which has a knack for being in trouble. Of course the other characters, especially the guys, play a key part in bringing the story to fruition. There was also a good dose of humor sprinkled throughout the banter. Epic Fail moves along in a similar fashion to P&P. I really enjoyed reading as the story progressed through this high school girl's life and the many changes she experienced. Each and every character had flaws, and they felt realistic and varied. The Bad There really wasn't much bad about it. It's not an epic book. It's cute and fun and has that familiar feeling since it parallels to Pride & Prejudice. The Romance The romance was a big part of the story. Elise isn't an easy girl to make swoon so it was entertaining watching the dynamics between her and the guys in the story. Her sister, Juliana, on the other hand falls pretty early in the book. I enjoyed the love interests and how everything ended up working out. Conclusion Epic Fail was just what I needed when I was looking for an easy read that was fun, cute, but still full of substance. It is a modern day Pride & Prejudice, but not every tidbit can be guessed if you've read that one. The dialogue is fun, and the characters are varied and interesting. Recommended. *Originally given 3 1/2 stars at JC's Book Haven
Cute book and story but disappointing ending being it felt short or unfinished.