Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

Published:  June 24th, 2014
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
By: Bernie Su & Kate Rorick
ISBN-13:  9781476763149

Based on the Emmy Award winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Twenty-four-year old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and is still living at home along with her two sisters, beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia.  When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into Internet celebrities seemingly overnight.

When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets & for Lizzie's viewers.  But not everything happens on screen.  Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet takes readers deep inside Lizzie's world and well beyond the confines of her camera; from the wedding where she first meets William Darcy to the local hangout of Carter's bar, and much more.  Lizzie's private musings are filled with revealing details about the Bennet household, including her growing suspicion about her parent's unstable financial situation, her sister's budding relationship with Bing Lee, the perils of her unexpected fame, and her uncertainty over her future, and whom she wants to share it with.


     So, this review would have been up on Tuesday but I was having issues with my internet connection and couldn't get Blogger to load for me.  Therefore, here it's Thursday and I'm half a week behind, listening to John Legend and chilling at home - and finally getting you my thoughts on this book!  I will tell you one thing for certain, I am one of the rare people who watched maybe two episodes of the web series and quit.  I just am not really big on web series and even though I adore Pride and Prejudice, that form of digital media is mainly not my thing.  I went into this with a mostly clean slate and I truly enjoyed myself!  I always did say that if it ever became a book I would read it and when I saw it on NetGalley, I figured that I should keep my word.  I'm glad that I did!
     This is a book about Lizzie Bennet, 24-year-old Mass Communications grad student, who is living at home with her parents, her older sister Jane who went into fashion and makes next to nothing, and their younger sister Lydia who is more interested in partying, boys, and the YOLO lifestyle than anything else.  Lizzie decides to do a video blog for her thesis at school, enlisting the help of her best friend Charlotte Lu.  Everything begins to change when rich, young and handsome medical student Bing Lee moves into the neighborhood.  Lizzie's mother of course begins using all her Southern Belle tricks and cunning to get Bing and Jane together.  Then there's Caroline, the scheming older sister of Bing, and Bing's millionaire, digital media mogul friend Darcy.  Getting off on the wrong foot, Lizzie and Darcy's relationship to each other becomes one of challenges, arguments and prejudiced misunderstandings.  With everything being chronicled in her videos, and things spiraling out of control in her personal life, can Lizzie and Darcy ever fix their mistaken opinions of one another?  Will Bing and Jane get a happy ending?  And can Lydia overcome her most devastating mistake yet?
     So, like I said, I really enjoyed this one.  Here are my opinions on it:

  1. Kitty Bennet versus an actually Kitty:  I really didn't mind this at all.  A lot of people complained about the fact that Kitty isn't there as a person.  Yes, she got kind of shafted.  But in a book based on a series of 3-5 minute videos, she really wouldn't have served a purpose.  She was basically just the extra Bennet sister and served as Lydia's shadow.  It was unnecessary in this particular incarnation.  I commend the creators for a smart decision.
  2. The Bennet Family dynamic:  Jane and Lizzie were obviously close to one another, but they also had some snarky banter that was absent in the original Austen relationship.  I also enjoyed Lydia being fairly close with both the other sisters.  Lydia is less stupid in this one, so much as young naive and a bad decision-maker.  Not to mention slightly obnoxious.  But there is a bond between them all that shows fairly obviously to me as a reader.  The scenes with Lizzie's father were tops as well, and her mom isn't quite as hysterical or non-sensical as in the original.  She's satirized and over-the-top, but means well and really loves the girls.  Mary is the emo cousin with a hippie mother - nuff said.  She isn't really in the book all that much though.  Overall, the family dynamic in this one is really well illustrated in the interactions and dialogue.
  3. Ricky Collins and Charlotte Lu:  This particular plotline was much better handled than the original, but considering the gap of almost 200 years, the social differences definitely account for this conclusion.  I liked that they ended up as business partners instead of a married couple.  Also, Ricky wasn't quite as bad in this adaptation, more like a harmless, lost puppy with absolutely zero social skills, than a complete creeper.

  1. Lizzie and Darcy:  There really wasn't much of a relationship build between these two.  They just kind of fell into each other after Lizzie learned about his part in the Lydia situation.  She spends the whole web series and book (minus a few episodes and a small chunk of page-time) deconstructing him as a person and going on and on about how horrible he is and how much she hates him.  To me this did feel a little more like an "I owe you" situation than it should have.  Definitely a white knight complex in Miss Lizzie - which brings me to my next point.
  2. George Wickham:  I felt like he was a very basic, flat, plot-moving character.  George is set up as the villain from the beginning without anyone realizing it (except P&P fans) and I feel like it's all very superficial.  Not to mention the whole swim week thing was slightly bizarre.  Like, that's the best excuse they can come up with to get him into the plot?  Not to mention the whole "random bar guy" thing seemed slightly out-of-character for this particular Lizzie.  He disappears for large chunks of time and the thing with Lydia was creepy but nowhere near as personal (or involved) as the original novel.
     Basically, I found this to be an interesting read, especially with all the focus on (and talk about) the field of mass communications, of which I have little experience with personally.  I did feel that it got a little too into that at times, but it made sense with the grad student storyline.  The oddness of the Lizzie/Darcy connection and lack of any real romance/spark deducts a decent amount for me personally.  I go into P&P retelling for the Darcy and Lizzie interactions!  Not the best I've ever read, but I think I would've liked it more if I'd been into the web series.  I'd highly recommend it to fans of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**I received this book from Touchstone, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published July 1st, 2014.**

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