Review: Pride and Prejudice

I’ve literally just finished reading this book, and as I missed posting during the weekend, I figured now would be as good a time as any to take up the Eclectic Reader Challenge once more, this time with a romantic fiction. As always, more information on this challenge can be found in the tab above labeled “The Challenge”.

Now, on to the book.

Pride and Prejudice is, of course, one of the most famous of Jane Austen’s novels. Set in Victorian England, it follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her family. More specifically, it follows Elizabeth’s relationship with a certain Mr. Darcy, who upon first glance is an arrogant, prideful sort of man.

Most people know this premise (and its conclusion) without ever having read the book. However, once I started reading I realized that P&P is so much more than that. It’s about the Bennets’ new neighbor, Mr. Bingley, and his flirtations with Elizabeth’s sister Jane. It concerns the youngest Bennet, Lydia, who’s constantly getting herself into trouble. It touches on the Bennet sisters’ cousin, Mr. Collins, and his mission to make things right with their family.

In terms of themes, P&P is mainly about first impressions and the prejudices they can bring about. It’s about finding the true person underneath the layers you’ve attached to them. Throughout the book, Elizabeth’s opinions and perspectives are constantly being changed and changed again, and it’s up to her to figure out what’s true and what isn’t.

That’s not to say this book is all about preaching morals, however, which brings me to another of my main points: this book is funny. It’s much funnier than I thought it would be. In all honesty, I expected a stuffy, predictable, old-time romance. But some parts of the book made me actually laugh.

For example, basically any time Mr. Collins showed up was a riot. This man is the most pompous fool you could ever hope to encounter, and the best part is he has absolutely no clue about it.

Moving on from the funny, I did think the book was a bit slow at parts. Near the end, however, things really started to pick up, and I got a lot more interested. So if you’re reading this and it seems boring, my advice is to stick with it.

Overall, this book was very well done, but I do have one point to raise. At some parts, it seemed to me that Elizabeth acted a bit silly. Especially where her opinions of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham are involved, she changed her mind incredibly quickly, and it seemed a bit out of character for her. Besides that, however, I found no faults with the book.

This certainly isn’t a book that has some big deeper meaning. I mean, it’s not like The Catcher in the Rye (which I read before this and will be reviewing within the next couple of days). But for someone who doesn’t generally read a lot of romance, it was a great introduction into the classics of the genre. It surprised me by being much more entertaining than I ever thought it would be. I see now why Jane Austen is such a celebrated literary figure.

I suppose the reason I picked this book deserves a mention. I’ve mentioned YouTube quite a lot in the past few months on here, and it turns out that YouTube is responsible for my finally reading P&P. Of course, I always meant to read it, and I had a copy that I would get around to eventually, but I never fully committed until I heard about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Essentially, it’s a web series adaptation of the book, set in the modern day and presented in the form of a series of video diaries made by Lizzie (Elizabeth) Bennet. It’s very funny and, so far, very true to the spirit of the original. If you’re an Austen fan (or if you’re not- it’s a great watch even for people who haven’t read it), I strongly suggest you take a look.

Lizzie and Lydia Bennet, in a screen capture from the first episode.

Well, I suppose that’s it for this review. Stay tuned for my opinion on Catcher. In the meantime, my rating for this book is 3 out of 5 stars.

Happy reading.

P.S. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Novel Journeys! So that’s exciting. I had meant to do something more grand for the occasion, but I suppose this review will have to do.

Is This A Kissing Book?

Readers, I’m proud today to be kicking off this month’s Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain.  Honoring Valentine’s Day and Cupid and whatnot, this time around the theme is:

What are your thoughts on romance for your typical genre?  Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?

I’m not sure if I really have a typical genre, but I suppose lately the majority of what I’ve been writing is dystopian (yes, technically a subgenre, but you can’t expect me to simply call it sci-fi when dystopia is barely that).  Ah, yes, Dystopia, Land of the Love Triangles.  With such hits as The Hunger Games and Matched featuring this particular shape, it’s no wonder I’m perfectly okay with a bit of romance in my reading.  Even novels in this category that don’t favor three sides to their relationships have some sort of love story mixed into the plot.

Love is sort of hard to avoid in the future, it seems.

Writing is much the same.  When I write something like this, sure, I’ll have some romance here and there.  It’s my opinion that every great book has at least some such aspect to it.  However, just as The Hunger Games leaves its share of infatuations in the background in order to focus on the larger plot at hand, a dystopia shouldn’t just be about the kissing.  A dystopian novel, almost by definition, is about a group of oppressed people making a stand against a corrupt and unlawful society.  It’s about fighting back and being strong in the face of adversity.  It does not leave room for the main characters to be obsessing over whether their crush is going to call them or not.

Readers, this is something that must be kept in the right balance in order for it to work.  I understand that in stories, people do find each other, and yes, maybe they fall in love.  That’s okay.  A lot of times it might even be better for the overall arc of the story to put that in there.  In dystopia, though, the romance angle must be kept backseat to the larger plot, which is of course fighting aforementioned corruption.  That’s how I try to write my dystopias.

Of course, that being said, I should probably address the preferred geometric state of my characters’ love lives.  As attractive as it may seem to include one to mix up the plot a little, love triangles are a bit overdone in my opinion.  I mean, essentially they were run into the ground by the whole Twilight/Teams thing, and although that’s not even in the same genre as dystopia, it seems to me that any book today featuring a triangle will inevitably be compared with the Saga. (For more of my opinion on love triangles and Teams, see this post.)  Sure, I’ve considered a love triangle, but to actually put one in my writing would require a lot more thought and planning in order to make it seem somehow different from all the other ones out there.

I mean, really?

In the end, though, this post isn’t about triangles.  This is about how much love and romance and such I like in my dystopian writing in general.  My verdict is this: it’s all right when doled out in small portions.  Even in a terrifying future, people can get together and break up and marry each other.  However, dystopia should very rarely, if ever, feature this in the forefront.  That’s the job of the action and politics that form the core of this genre.

Most of that isn’t a problem for me, since I’m not what you’d call a romantic type.  I’m in no way a poster child (poster writer?) for a Valentine’s Day-type novel.  I do find it interesting, though, that our society seems to think that romance must be in any book that’s halfway good.  What if writers of this genre moved away from the relationships?  I’d like to see a dystopian series that has none of that kind of love in it, just to see if the story by itself can still be just as good.  Say, that gives me an idea…

Happy reading.

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