On the Shelf: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

I’m currently plugging through the masterpiece that is The Silmarilion by J.R.R. Tolkien, but since I can only cover about twenty pages a day due to its density, I’ve been reading more YA on the side.

So, this week I’ll be discussing The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet… or the novelized version of the hit YouTube show, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Goodreads | Amazon

Summary: Twenty-four-year-old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled by student loan debt and still living at home along her two sisters – beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she starts recording 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, becoming an online sensation and turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities, seemingly overnight.
When rich, handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets — and 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. Providing revealing details about the Bennet household, including Lizzie’s growing suspicions about her parents’ unstable financial situation and her sister’s budding relationship with Bing Lee; her anxieties about life after grad school, the perils of her unexpected fame; and her uncertainty over her future… and whom she wants to share it with.
Featuring plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the web series phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like never before.

My Thoughts:

Honestly… I disliked this book.  Usually because of the writing style, YA novels suck me in.  This one left me flat on my face.  The thing is, I ADORE the YouTube series.  That’s why I went through the trouble of buying the book.  But, unfortunately, the book wasn’t worth it.

What I love about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is that it takes a two hundred year old story that I’ve been reading and rereading since the age of thirteen and breathes new life into it.  I was an early viewer–catching wind of the series within its first ten episodes.  I remember agonizing over Mondays and Thursdays when new ones would be released.  I found myself hating Darcy, moaning over Wickham’s lies, and falling in love all over again.  It does incredible things with characters like Charlotte and Lydia who, in Austen’s original, get sidelined and written off.  The way the creators modernize key events and scenes is not only delightful, but believable.

The show took storytelling to a completely new platform–YouTube.  It broke remarkable ground, won an Emmy, and set the trend of adapting classic literature to web video format.  In short, I could gush about my love for LBD for hours.

Written upon the waves of the show’s success, the novelized version takes us behind the camera into Lizzie’s life.  We get to hear about things from her private perspective–learning insights and details that aren’t in the videos.  Although intriguing, the concept falls flat.

My main issue with the book is that it’s just not well written.  I’ve taken enough creative writing classes to know the old “Show, Don’t Tell” mantra like the back of my hand.  But seriously–whoever edited this novel needed to remind the writers of this basic tip.  The book was primarily Lizzie telling us things.  Yes, this is fitting for the diary format.  But it’s just not satisfying.  Scenes left me wanting more.  On-screen characters I adore fall completely flat on page.  They’re underdeveloped and unlikable.  I found myself picking up the book just to get it over with, not because I savored it.

You Will Like This Book If: You like fluffy YA love stories and Pride & Prejudice retellings

I Recommend: Skip the book.  Watch the web series.

Liebster

A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow blogger, Holly, awarded me the Liebster Award.  It’s an award bloggers give to each other to highlight new and incoming blogs.  The award comes with a series of questions posed by the giver.  Here are the questions I’ve received and my answers to them!  (Also, Holly is an absolutely fantastic blogger and you should all check out her work.)

1. Which book/movie character do you identify with the most?

Ouch.  This one is tough.  I honestly don’t know how much I actually relate to these characters, but I definitely see pieces of myself in them.  Or, I like to think I see pieces of myself in them.  (I realize the question asks for only one character, but I’m going to give three.)

One that comes directly to mind is Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables.  I was in high school the first time I read these novels and immediately felt connected with Anne’s big imagination.  She takes simple things like paths and ponds and gives them grand names, seeing all the beauty and all the potential they possess.  In her mind, all the fantastical things she dreams about–the far off places, adventures, passions–they’re all real.  Although we are very different in many ways I like to think Anne and I are, to use her phrase, kindred spirits.

Another character I identify with is Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  No, I’ve never been locked up in a castle and I have never fallen in love with a hideous beast.  But, like Belle, there have definitely been times in my life where I’ve felt out-of-place, misunderstood, and unwanted.  Like Belle, there were times growing up where I would sit and dream of far away places and adventures.  Recently, I had the chance to go to those places and live out all the adventures I had spent my whole life dreaming up.  It was wonderful.  Finally, Belle and I are both massive bookworms.  Without shame, I admit to daydreaming about the Beauty and the Beast library.  It’s every English major’s dream.

A third character I see myself in is Jo March from Little Women.  Why?  Although I definitely lack Jo’s fiery temper, she too is a reader and a writer.  She moves to a big city all on her own to pursue a literary career.  I moved to a big city to pursue my literary studies.  Grown up Jo almost has the “I’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man” attitude, which I love and definitely, to an extent, relate to.

2.  Describe the best day of your life thus far.

Summer 2011.  I was eighteen.  My morning began pulling drip lines in the strawberry patch.  Half an hour into the miserable job, a thunderstorm struck and work was called off for the day.  So I spent the morning baking cookies.  In the afternoon, my coworkers and I went to the cities (St. Paul/Minneapolis) to see the very last Harry Potter movie ever.  It became the third movie to ever make me cry.  Afterwards, we went to a frozen yogurt place in Dinkytown.  My friend and coworker, David, had sugar for the first time in months (his family is anti-sugar, pro home-grown foods) and went absolutely off-the-walls hyper.  To say he was entertaining is a vast understatement.  I don’t know if I have ever laughed as hard as I did during the drive home.

3.  Do you consider yourself to be an extrovert or an introvert?

I’m definitely an introvert.  I love people and can be very outgoing when the need arises, but being out in public too much is exhausting.  I need solitude to recharge.

4.  What were you like when you were a kid?

Oh gosh, I was annoying.  I was one of those dumb kids who had something to say about absolutely everything.  In our old home videos, I’m always in the corner narrating everything that was going on.

On the positive side, though, I always had a big imagination.  Even as a small kid I loved stories.  I would dream of far away castles and dragons that needed fighting.  I’d go out into the woods and play out these stories, often dragging my brothers or best friend, Erin, to play supporting roles.  Naturally, once I learned my letters, I became an avid reader.  You know those days where you just can’t put a book down and you read the whole thing in a day?  That was me at the tender age of eight.  My imagination and love of stories only grew as I got older, morphing me into the nerdy English major I am today.

5.  What’s one book you think everyone should read?

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  Unabridged.

6.  What are you afraid of?

Centipedes.  They weird me out.

7.  What makes you laugh?

I love intelligent parodies that don’t take themselves seriously.  For examples, I find the movies  The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail absolutely hilarious.  My not-so-inner lit nerd adores The Reduced Shakespeare Company.  YouTube videos like “Beauty and the Beat” and “Jane Austen is my Homegirl” almost never fail to make me laugh.

8.  What’s your (realistic or unrealistic) dream job?

One of the in-character wizards at Harry Potter world.

Travel writer.  The kind that people pay to see the world and write about it.

Disney animator.

9.  Where would you like to travel?

Europe always and forever will have my heart.

If I had been asked this question six months ago, I would have told you England or France.  Now that I have been to these places, my answer would have to be Italy, Sweden, and Norway.  I am always up for another trip to Austria.  It’s not European, but I would also like to visit Israel before I die.

10.  Why did you decide to start a blog?

Six years ago, I was a young nerdy teenage girl up to my elbows in the Harry Potter fandom.  I met a girl named Cathy on a fan forum.  We became friends and she told me about blogging.  Having a corner of the internet to call my own was incredibly appealing.  So, at the age of fifteen, I began my first blog.

I’ve been writing ever since.

11.  Post the funniest meme you’ve ever seen.  (Okay, that was more of a command than a question.  Sorry.  But still post the meme, please?)

I’m weirdly fascinated with the concept of gangster Lord of the Rings.  I have no idea why.