December 17, 2016

Book Review | Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here

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Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw is a 2016 YA novel. The story follows Scarlett Epstein, a high school student in New Jersey who is grieving the cancellation of her favorite television series, Lycanthrope Academy. Scarlett has made many friends online through her Lyncathrope fan fiction, and is encouraged by them to create a new story, which she bases loosely on her life, with characters who are named after and resemble people in her high school, including her nemesis and her crush. Her fan fiction is discovered and she has to repair the damage.

It’s a fairly simple plot, similar to that of to All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. However, despite the sometimes annoying characters, Jenny Han’s story felt like it had a bit more heart put into it and made me want to continue reading. This, unfortunately, was not the same.

I suppose I was expecting Scarlett’s fan fiction about her life would play more of a role in this story. It was mentioned around the first couple of chapters and we are given snippets of the story she is writing throughout the course of the book, but nothing really happens with it until the last third of the book. It almost felt like the author forgot that something needed to happen there and suddenly remembered this plot point.

Scarlett herself as a character annoyed me, and I’m sure most people can agree that if you do not like the main character then it is extremely difficult to be interested in the story. Scarlett felt like a self-righteous and pretentious girl who thought she knew the answer to everything. I know that when you are around 14 or 15 most people do act that way, but somehow reading from Scarlett’s perspective was so painful to get through. She was constantly babying and bullying her mother, her best friend, and her father and stepmother. How could anyone like this girl?

One of the most annoying things to me is the top review of this book on Goodreads states that this book is Feminist AF, to which I only have one question: HOW? Scarlett spends a vast majority of this book talking badly about her best friend’s sister who happens to be very pretty and popular and dating Scarlett’s crush, as well as slut-shaming and body-shaming her. Now I remember being in high school and feeling a little jealous when other girls flirted with a guy I liked, but I didn’t slut-shame them or obsess over wanting to be them, and I certainly did not write about them in a public fan fiction forum, nor would I have called them by their actual name if I had been stupid enough to do so.

Speaking of the love interest, let’s talk about Gideon. Scarlett and Gideon used to be friends, but when she realized she liked him she decided to drop him from her life altogether. He also magically got cooler as they got older and so was out of her league (I guess). They are constantly rude to each other throughout the book. But Scarlett really likes him (for some reason) and can’t seem to form a way to tell him. And yet, despite them being mean to each other and her writing a story on a public forum about him that trashed both him and his girlfriend, they end up together. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 20s, but that type of high school drama for a crush is ridiculous.

This book had lots of potential to be something truly great, but ended up falling extremely flat for me.

Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

If you’ve read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

#2016#book review#scarlett epstion#ya#young adult
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