Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Most Embarrassing Moment

At school, I am at the top of my class. I'm at top of the honour roll, top ten in the school, where they post both your name and your average for everyone to see. I'm considered smart, by, you know, some people. So, when they catch with a book that looks like this, they usually do a double take:

They think that smart women couldn't possibly read such "girly" books. You should have heard it the week I brought in Perfect Chemistry:

I literally had people ripping it out of my hands to hold it up in front of the class for everyone to laugh at. They read the description aloud, pausing to mock it at key parts. 

People like to poke fun at young adult romance, thinking it's fluff, saying that it is stupid and shallow and girly. You know how, when people read a "smart book" they always try to make sure everyone can see that they're reading it? Well, sometimes, I try to hide my books from people, so they don't laugh. 

So it makes me mad when authors and publishers make it even harder on us, by producing books like this:

I loved Lonely Hearts Club, and I love Elizabeth Eulberg. Otherwise, I would have never picked up this book. It looks so freaking stupid. And I felt so stupid carrying it around. It's just so pink. Moreover, it makes me look like I'm too dumb to read the classic so I have to read some stupid rip off about prom! It gives a bad name to all other young adult romance novels, and that's even before you crack the spine! 

Reading the book inside, I continued to feel embarrassed. Embarrassed for Elizabeth Eulberg and her ridiculous rip off/remake of a book. Embarrassed for Jane Austen and the poor way her work was being treated. Embarrassed for all the girls who actually care about prom. Embarrassed for women, everywhere. 

I actually stopped reading after about 80 pages because it got so bad. But then, last weekend, I was out of books, and I picked it up from my reject shelf. I really don't know how I finished it.

It felt like the main character belonged in a different book. I could connect with Lizzie--she was nice and funny. She felt real, like someone I would actually know, today. But she was so out of place with the world around her. It felt so odd, connecting with the main character, but feeling so alienated by the world she belonged to. Lizzie was a modern character. Yet she was stuck in such an outdated, backwards book. It didn't make any sense. 

People just don't act like that today. Beyond Lizzie, every other character felt like a caricature, a cliche, a waste of ink. They were so flat, so evil, without any empathy. No one is all evil and no empathy, unless they live in a children's cartoon. Real people, even really bad people, have strengths and weaknesses about them, but this book was too shallow to show any of them. 

The entire book felt like that type of anachronism, with people acting so mean and so classist in a way that was so blatant and brash. I don't mean to suggest that classism doesn't exist today. It just doesn't exist in that way, in my opinion. I couldn't relate to it all, and, as result, I had a hard time understanding any of the characters. I had a hard time not burning this book all together, just to watch it's pretty pink cover go up in flames. 

And I understand that that's the way Jane Austen wrote it. And I haven't read Pride & Prejudice, I must admit. But I have read Emma, so I do understand some of the Austen admiration. Jane Austen has a certain charm about her writing. Elizabeth Eulberg loses all that charm in her 21st century translation. 

If you haven't read either, read the classic. Don't settle for this silly substitute. It's a ridiculous remake, a waste of a book, as frivolous and stupid as the never ending line of hollywood movie remakes. As always, stick with the original. 

People don't take young adult romance seriously, and books like this are the reason. Books like this are the reason that bookstores never bother to put YA books out on the shelves on time, because they think it doesn't matter. Books like this are the reason that movie adaptations of YA romances are always so bad, blatantly ignoring plot, when they stick so diligently to every twist and turn of every Harry Potter plot or every detail of The Hunger Games. Books like are the reason that people think I'm stupid, when I'm actually smart. 

So thank you, Elizabeth Eulberg, for wasting my time with this terrible book, for ruining a classic for me,  and for making me embarrassed for my favourite genre and my entire gender. Thank you indeed. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a really interesting and thoughtful post! I agree with you on a lot of points you brought up here-- especially re: YA covers! People kind of go, WHAT is that you're reading?!?! Then they try to shove the new Pulitzer winner is your view. And yes, adaptations of YA novels have a tendency to fall pretty flat.


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