About the Book

Title: Prom & Prejudice
Published: 2011
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: Brown Bag it
Single White Female: Maybe
Talky Talk: Gossip Girl
Bonus Factors: Jane Austen Retelling, Rich People
Anti-Bonus Factor: Prom
Relationship Status: Dirty Little Secret

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

This cover is really not that bad, and I will give the designer points for not putting a headless body in that fancy dress. But that doesn’t mean this cover isn’t completely embarrassing. It’s a book called Prom & Prejudice. The best cover in the world could not save that title. In fact, before I pulled this out on the train last weekend, I had to give the stranger next to me a disclaimer. “I’m about to read a humiliating book right now. Please don’t judge me. I have to review it for a blog! It’s not my fault!” Which is only partly true—I did have like five other books in my bag to choose from, but whatever.  IT’S MORTIFYING.

The Deal:

Every girl at the prestigious Longbourn Academy is interested in one thing and one thing only: getting a prom date. Every girl but Lizzie Bennett, that is. Lizzie is one of just two scholarship students in the junior class, and nobody lets her forget it. As her classmates obsess about their couture dresses and which boys from Pemberley Academy are still available, Lizzie is just trying to get through her day without some horrible trust fund brat throwing a milkshake in her face. If it weren’t for her daily piano lessons with Mrs. Gardiner or her wonderful and sweet roommate Jane, she definitely would have gone back to public school by now.

But much as she tries to avoid the prom drama, Lizzie finds herself dragged back into it when Jane’s beau, Charles Bingley, returns from a semester abroad in London, along with his douchey friend Will Darcy. Sparks are flying, but is it the sign of a budding romance, or that everything is about to go up in flames?

Single White Female: Maybe

Let’s be real. I don’t read Pride & Prejudice knockoffs so I can pretend I’m friends with Elizabeth Bennett. I read Pride & Prejudice knockoffs so I can pretend I am Elizabeth Bennett, which is why I am listed in multiple friends’ phone books as “Lalita” right now. I’m not sure if this Lizzie and I have so much in common. I can’t even imagine myself to be musically talented enough to be a concert pianist, and unlike Zac Efron, I have absolutely zero interest in being 17 again. But she is still Elizabeth, with her snarky sense of humor, and like Lizzie, High School Alix pretty much hated everyone around her. Who knows, maybe when Lizzie gets a little older, I’ll be ready to dye my hair like hers and, eventually, try to murder all her other friends. We’ll see.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Eulberg doesn’t quite reach Colin Firth Wet T-Shirt Contest levels of swoon, but Darcy makes some sweet romantic gestures, and the completely unsubtle way his sister Georgie tries to further his relationship with Lizzie is kind of adorable. Besides, if we learned anything from Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat, opposites attract. Rich snobby dude? “Poor” but plucky girl? Yes please! (Except you, Molly Ringwald. I’ll never forgive you for Pretty in Pink!)

Talky Talk: Gossip Girl

It’s not that Eulberg’s writing is bad, it’s just not particularly good either. This book is a fun read, but it’s also a bit frivolous. The style didn’t usually bother me too much, although occasionally I got distracted by the dialogue. I think Eulberg might have used CW shows to research how rich teenagers talk.

Bonus Factor: Jane Austen Retelling

Cher in Clueless, sitting at her desk and holding a pen while she stares dreamily into the distance

I LOVE JANE AUSTEN RETELLINGS. If there is a Jane Austen Retelling out there, I will find it, and I will read/watch the shit out of it. There’s a book called Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star on my night stand right now. In some ways, the worse an adaptation is, the better. Mormon Pride & Prejudice? Seen it three times. Death Comes to PemberleyPride & Prescience? Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife? Read them all! (Exceptions to this rule include Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which even I could not finish, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, because that book was the laziest piece of shit I’ve ever seen committed to paper.)

Bonus Factor: Rich People

Screenshot from Richie Ritch, with Richie wearing a suit and sitting at a desk

I can’t, in good faith, list boarding school as a bonus factor, because Longbourn is filled with sociopathic mean girls. That doesn’t sound fun at all. But I can totally get behind rich people! I would love to have rich friends who buy me designer coats, take me to their ski chalet, or introduce me to their family at their brownstone mansion overlooking Central Park. I don’t know why Lizzie’s always in such a bad mood; I’d probably put up with Caroline Bingley if it meant I got to hang out with her awesome butler.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Prom

Peter/Lara Jean and Chris/Trevor pose for prom photos (To All the Boys: Always and Forever)

I know this seems like a strange anti-bonus factor to choose. “Alix,” you say, “the book is called Prom & Prejudice. You knew it was going to be about prom. If you are such a prom-hater, why did you read it?” Well, dear friends of The Internet, firstly, I think we’ve firmly established that I will read or watch anything based on Jane Austen, no matter how bad it sounds. Secondly, I am not a prom hater! But there’s a difference between fictional prom and actual prom.

Fictional Prom involves some sort of insane and elaborate rendition of how young people think marriage proposals should work, obscenely expensive outfits, magical first kisses, tragic break-ups, and, occasionally, pig’s blood. If, heaven forbid, you don’t have a date, you might as well go home and drown yourself in the bathtub because YOUR LIFE IS OVER.

Actual Prom involves buying a dress on the internet for $100 because you are too lazy to go shopping, taking your female best friend as a date, chasing your limo down in your high heels because you forgot to get the driver’s phone number, and projectile vomiting all over the bathroom of the nicest restaurant downtown.

Look, I attended two Actual Proms and one Fictional Prom and had fun at all three, despite the vomiting episode. I don’t hate prom! But it wasn’t exactly the highlight of my youth, either. Even at the time, I was considerably more concerned with things like passing my exams and getting the hell out of high school than who would take me to prom. Whenever Fictional Proms show up in books or movies, I just have to roll my eyes and hope it will be a minor plot point. But Fictional Prom at Longbourn Academy is even MORE ridiculous than normal Fictional Proms. Like, Page Six, couture dresses ridiculous. So even though Lizzie shares my dim view of the occasion, her attitude is little consolation against the unrelenting discussion of prom by every other character in the book.

Relationship Status: Dirty Little Secret

I’ve been seeing this one book for forever, and I love it with all my heart. But you know, we’ve been together for so long, and… I get bored. And I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I’m just tired of it telling the same stories the same way, and I see someone new at the library and I can’t help myself. The sick thing is, it’s always just some younger, dumber version I pick up. And that’s what happened with you, Book. Maybe I should feel bad for so shamelessly using you, but I think you knew what you were getting into when you started dressing and acting like my One In Particular just so I would take you home. So yeah, we had fun, Book, and I’ll still call you from time to time when I’m bored. But you and I both know it could never really work out between us. I am way out of your league.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Prom & Prejudice is available now.

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Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.