A New Austenesque YA Series to Love!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The first installment of Jenni James'The Jane Austen Diaries – a series that modernizes and rewrites the novels of Jane Austen for Young Adult audiences –starts off with retelling of Pride and Prejudice filled with the dramas of high school, cliques, jocks, and prom. In this adaptation, we meet Chloe Elizabeth Hart, feisty, outspoken, and the only girl in her school not under the spell of gorgeous and popular Taylor Darcy Anderson. The last thing Chloe wants is to be another member of Taylor's fan club, so she tries her best to ignore him and resist his flirting (he's nor for real anyway, right?) But lately Taylor has started to act a little strange... Is he a player? Is he for real? Is he only attracted to Chloe because she is a challenge?
My first impression of this series: AMAZING! There was so much that was right with novel, I simply loved it! I enjoyed how, even though this story was a adaptation ofPride and Prejudice, it wasn't predictable or formulaic. With some slight tweaks here and there, Jenni James adeptly transforms the events and characters of Pride and Prejudice to the world of teenagers and creates a story that is engaging, adorable, and sparkling.
Of course my favorite aspect of this novel was looking for all the Pride and Prejudice parallels, which were so inventive and clever! I greatly enjoyed Chloe's vintage TV show Halloween party (a.k.a. The Netherfield Ball). And I had to laugh out loud on the Mr. Collins reincarnation, a socially awkward boy who needs his mom to find his dates. In addition, I thought Ms. James' modern take on the whole Wickham/Lydia debacle was very apropos for young adults and our modern society.
However, readers should expect to find some alterations in this adaptation, (the story would be a little predictable if everything was exactly like Jane Austen's novel!) Georgia (Georgiana) is only four and has no relationship with Wickham. Also, the personalities for Chloe's parents only slightly resemble their Regency counterparts. And Taylor (Darcy) – besides being arrogant, conceited, and misunderstood – is also a bit of an unabashed flirt. A trait which makes him different from the hero ofPride and Prejudice. I found the alteration fitting, and I think Taylor is an excellent illustration of what a modern-day, teenage Darcy might look like!
Having read several other Young Adult retellings of Pride and Prejudice – Love, Lies, and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton, Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, and Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard by Belinda Roberts – I must admit that Pride and Popularity by Jenni James is my top choice and receives my highest recommendation! In my opinion, it is the most plausible, accessible, and well-crafted YA version of Pride and Prejudice I have read! I can hardly wait to read the second installment in this series, Northanger Alibi due out in November 2011!!