“Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here” by Anna Breshaw

Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here written by Anna Breshaw

Published by: Razorbill on April 19, 2016

Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction

Plot: Meet Scarlet: Fangirl. Angsty. Pretty much hates everything except for writing fan fiction about her favorite TV show and the possibility of snagging her childhood friend as her first boyfriend.

Review: Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here is one of those books where even though it has a lot of favorable qualities about it, it just didn’t work for me. Let’s pro / con this one:

Pros:

  • The characters can be rather witty. I will give Breshaw some credit. When she turns on the snark, it is pretty entertaining, particularly when Scarlet rips some writers a new one.
  • If I were to ever have a beatnik grandma, I would want Ruth. Scarlet basically hits the neighbor jackpot with her and you will love her instantly.
  • The fan fiction wasn’t half bad. The way the Scarlet chooses to work through some things is by pulling people and situations from her real life and weaving them in to fan fiction. While this violates the “Mary Jane” rule (all will be explained in the book) the fiction itself isn’t half bad. Sometimes when writers try to use this trope, the end result is choppy and lame. Breshaw manages to blend the fan fic into the main plot rather seamlessly, and for that I applaud her.

Cons:

  • It’s been done. Maybe it’s because I read so much YA fiction that this idea feels over played to me, but a lot of this book has been done elsewhere. Fanfiction? See Rainbow Rowel. Nerdy introvert with a chip on her shoulder? Too many to list. Love triangles? Yep, seen it. Mean girls? I mean come on, there is a movie! This book read like The D.U.F.F. and Fangirl made a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that it can be hard to break new ground with contemporary fiction, but this just felt too much like a rehashed mash up.
  • Scarlet is kind of whiny. The main character can make or break a book for me. If I don’t connect with them on some level, I have a really hard time investing in the plot. Sadly, Scarlet and I didn’t click. There were a lot of times where I just wanted to shake some sense into her, and that hindered my enjoyment.
  • Scarlet and Gab do not feel like the fabled OTP. OTP (One True Pairing of characters who just NEED to be together) is a big theme in this one. Scarlet weaves her feelings for Gab into her fan fiction as the OTP of her work, and that is supposed to model Scarlet’s idea of how things should play out in real life. The thing is, Gab is kind of a tool. Without spoiling it, let’s just say he works the whole “gray area” thing, and the awful part is that everyone lets him. It felt really shallow and sad to see these girl who are fist pumping their feminism to the heavens turn right around and lower their standards for a boy. Does this happen a lot in YA relationships? Yeah, but I wanted better for these girls and I was sad that I didn’t get it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Who Should Snag It: If you loved Bookishly Ever After or Fangirl you might like this one.

*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*

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