A review by Taryn Dryfhout
Meryton High is your typical high school, and best friends Ivy and Elle are typical high school girls, starting their junior year. The struggles they face – juggling school, homework and their extra-curricular involvement – quickly take a backseat when they meet three new students who have moved into town. These three characters become the basis for this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice – explored within the lives of modern teenagers in a modern day high school.
The book is brand new – hot off the press, so there was no online gossip or reviews to taint my opinion of it (other than Austen’s unparalleled work which would ruin all other reading for even the best of us). I suffered some initial disappointment when I came across several spelling errors and poor editing, but the story carried itself, so I was able to overlook it.
The book, though a little rough around the edges, is quite fun and light-hearted. The characters and themes in Meryton High are the same as those in Pride and Prejudice, but the modern language and setting may just make those themes more relevant, and less removed from the world today. Because it’s YA fiction and was written when the author was still in high school, it’s also very accessible for young readers, and could even function as a ‘gateway Jane’ for teenagers who are resisting your attempts to force classics down their throat. Though I love a nice easy read, and I think it’s fantastic that this book may help connect readers with Jane’s amazing literature from 200 years ago, I wouldn’t recommend this for enthusiastic Janeites looking for a guilty pleasure read for a quiet afternoon. It was a fun, light read but didn’t really satisfy my hunger for more ‘Jane material’.
On the upside, there were some small, original twists which broke any monotony that might arise from a reworking of an old story, and also provided some fun ‘Austen-spotting’, mostly in the form of character names. ‘Bryce’ stands in for Bingley and ‘Daniel’ for Darcy (see what she did there?) and a particularly amusing teacher is aptly named Mrs. Bennet. Of course, the title comes from Austen herself, borrowed from the fictional town of Meryton where the two youngest Bennet sisters, Kitty and Lydia, love to visit in Pride and Prejudice.
Though I wouldn’t rave about this novel, I’m glad I read it, as I tend to relish any opportunity to add a bit of Jane to my day – for that reason, I’m giving this modern twist on a favourite Austen story, a 3/5.