Monday, April 18, 2016

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

"Is this the moment I'm supposed to realize Gideon's actually a shitty person who just happens to have excellent taste in comedy? Or is this the moment I realize I'm too judgmental and living in my own weird cerebral universe and have unrealistic standards for boys, or just for life?"

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is largely about internet fandom and fanfiction, so there is a great deal about tumblrs and netspeak and such. FYI. Scarlett is a BNF (Big Name Fan) of Lycanthrope High. It's a television show about teenagers at a boarding school and werewolves and other supernatural stuff. The book opens with a letter from the show's creator announcing its cancellation. Scarlett and the other BNFs aren't sure what to do. Should they keep going with Lycanthrope High fics using their own OCs (Original Characters) or should they join another fandom, such as the show Imaginary Detectives? They decide to try and write their own stuff, and Scarlett starts it all with a story based on characters from her own life.

When they were kids, Gideon's mother used to watch Scarlett after school. They bonded over stand up comedy, though that all changed when she urged him to try it out himself. Gideon's mother refused to watch Scarlett and the two drifted apart. Still, Scarlett can't help feeling that Gideon is her destiny. They are two kindred misfit elves who will be together in the end. The trouble arises when Scarlett tries to bond with Gideon over their shared misfit status, only to find that he isn't such a misfit anymore. Gideon is sort of dating the popular, but fake, Ashley and hanging out with some a-hole boys.

Scarlett's first story is about a boy named Gideon who is given a robot girlfriend named Ashbot. She continues by adding in her best friend Avery, Ashley's sister, and the boy she has just started dating, Mike. Scarlett thinks that Mike is a dumb jock, but Avery is smitten. Finally, she adds in herself as a heroine and true love for Gideon, and as her friends call her out on, a Mary Sue.

In the real world, Scarlett's father finally gets his novel published. She doesn't have a bad word to say against him and often wishes that she could move to New York with him and his new wife and baby. Predictably, the book is based on her father's life pre-divorce and contains some devastating stuff about Scarlett. If all that wasn't enough, her only other friend is the elderly neighbor across the street. Scarlett helps her garden and buys her pot. She finds out that Ruth has cancer and has to deal with the grief of her death.

Basically, Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is a fully loaded book. It's also really good. I liked Scarlett a lot, even with her tendencies to be judgmental and hipsteresque. She learns some stuff through the book, so it's not so bad. Also, as I've said before, I'm also a sucker for a happy ending.

I received my copy of Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here from Edelweiss, courtesy of Razorbill. It's available for purchase April 19th.

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