Series: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries #2
Published by Touchstone on September 29th, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Media Tie-In, Retelling
Based on the Emmy Award-winning “genius” (The Guardian) web series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this is a new novel starring Lizzie’s spunky sister Lydia as she navigates the joys and pitfalls of becoming an adult in the digital age.
Before her older sister, Lizzie, started her wildly popular vlog, Lydia was just a normal twenty-year-old plotting the many ways she could get away with skipping her community college classes and finding the perfect fake ID. She may not have had much direction, but she loved her family and had plenty of fun. Then Lizzie’s vlog turned the Bennet sisters into Internet sensations, and Lydia basked in the attention as people watched, debated, tweeted, tumblr’d, and blogged about her life. But not all attention is good…
After her ex-boyfriend, George Wickham took advantage of Lydia’s newfound web-fame, betrayed her trust, and destroyed her online reputation, she’s no longer a naïve, carefree girl. Now, Lydia must work to win back her family’s trust and respect and find her place in a far more judgmental world.
Told in Lydia’s distinctive, eccentric, and endearing voice, The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet picks up right where The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet left off and “offers a fresh take on Pride and Prejudice without ruining it” (The Washington Post, on The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet). Featuring fresh twists, wonderful new characters, and scores of hilarious texts, doodles, and tweets, The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet takes you behind the webcam and into the lives of your favorite sisters in a way that’s sure to satisfy existing fans and delight new ones.
In case you didn’t get the memo, I adore The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It’s a fabulous modern day retelling of Pride & Prejudice in a webseries format, and now it’s spawned TWO books to give even more depth to the story. The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet tells Lydia’s story after the webseries ends… and boy. It’s a doozy. It’s only right that Lydia, arguably the series’ most complex character, gets the chance to shine in her own story. I loved it.
This book is all about Lydia, so whether or not you like it will hinge on whether or not you like her voice. She’s so complicated and flawed, but I find that makes her so much more interesting. You see her using cheerfulness as a mask. You see her running away from any dark feelings. You see her stubbornly pretend she’s okay and awesome, when actually she feels anything but. Considering the ordeal she went through in the webseries, this book is not a particularly cheerful one. But it’s a very realistic one. It perfectly captures the mess that’s left behind after someone gets out of an abusive relationship. She’s coping – badly – but gradually getting stronger.
The journey Lydia goes through in this book is a very intrinsic, character-focused one. If you’re looking for super swoons or exciting plot, it may not be for you. But if you do like super duper depth in your characters, heartbreaking feels, and some genuinely good anxiety and therapy related scenes, you will likely appreciate it anyway. I was completely sucked into Lydia’s story and hoping and praying so hard that things would get better for her. She deserves happiness, because despite all of her flaws, she’s not a bad person. I just have a lot of feelings about Lydia. And I adore what this book did for her character.
I would also argue that this is very much a new adult book, though without the sexual content. It deserves the label, because Lydia faces a lot of the new adult struggles and anxiety that actually come with being in your 20s. She’s been left behind by her successful sisters, she has almost finished community college, but she has no idea what direction she wants to go in her life. Or, she thinks she knows, but then she messes it up again. She’s now an outcast from her community because of the sex tape scandal, and she faces a shit-storm of prejudice because of it. Your 20s are filled with stress, anxiety, and peer pressure, and Lydia faces all of that and more. It was seriously relatable.
You also get to see familiar faces – Lizzie, Jane, Bing, and Mary most prominently. Honestly I adored seeing how deep the friendship went between Lydia and Mary (despite their share of drama in this book). It was super heartwarming. And, yeah, Lydia doesn’t really have a shippity ship of her own, but that kind of makes sense since she just got out of such a terrible relationship. She needs to learn to stand on her own two feet. But Mary does get a ship – one that’s super exciting and full of F/F adorableness. And I love how Lydia’s response to that again shows her growth and her genuine friendship with Mary.
Though I feel like Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley caught Lydia’s voice perfectly (seriously, it was like Mary Kate Wiles was talking in my head), my main hangup about this book is the writing. Something about the style was a little bit off for me – it’s mostly told in present tense but it awkwardly switches to past tense in some of Lydia’s thoughts (which aren’t clearly separate from the general narrations). This made me stop and start quite a bit and just kept the story from flowing smoothly. It took quite a bit of effort to just ignore it.