Title: "Pride and Popularity”
Author: Jenni James
Publisher: Brigham Distributing
Genre(s): romance, young adult
Part of a Series: Yes, 1st book
Why I read it: Because I’m an Austenite.
Synopsis: “Pride and Prejudice” in high school. Chloe Hart believes she is the only student in her high school who is the not taken with Taylor Anderson. And he won’t leave her alone, even though he has a girlfriend. When he breaks up with his girlfriend, though, he starts to pursue Chloe though she has an active love life of her own. But will she warm up to him and discover a side she never knew existed?
The overlying question I feel I need to answer about this book is "How close does something based on Pride and Prejudice have to stick to the original's spirit?" Or original material?
I will get my main problem with this book out of the way: it’s the Darcy stand-in, Taylor. The idea of Pride and Prejudice in high school is a good one but I feel Ms. James missed the character of Darcy completely. The reason Elizabeth and Darcy work well is because both are proud and have their own prejudices to get over in order to be together. Taylor is…well…he’s perfect. He doesn’t have his own prejudices to overcome. There is only just more for Chloe to discover.
And this leads to a huge personality fault that’s never really explained: How does Chloe spend four years without knowing these things about Taylor? It’s not like Taylor does all his do-gooding in secret. Everyone knows about it. So why doesn’t Chloe? And does she really learn her lesson? Does she really learn not to rush her judgments based on one person? I don’t know.
Otherwise, Chloe is a good, realistic teenager in the YA world. She has the usual problems teens can relate to: overbearing and meddling parents, annoying siblings, strict teachers, love problems, etc. The reader can root for her as she tries to make it through her senior year and fight her growing attraction to Taylor.
The only other problem I have with the book is the fact Ms. James tells more than she shows. She doesn’t slow down to describe things and paint a picture for the reader. It took a while for us to learn our main character (and narrator) has red hair and that her friend is Asian. Are these important details? Not really, but they help the reader. Another example: Chloe mentions Colin is cute but he is never described so the reader can decide if he is.
The book picks up once Ms. James begins to follow Jane Austen’s novel with her characters regarding the romance. It’s a good read, even if the beginning is a bit slow. Ms. James has an easy writing style, she just needs to focus more on showing when possible.
What is it about Pride and Prejudice that has let it resonate through the years?