Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

I know I am long overdue for a book review post. It's not for lack of reading, my fellow bloggers. Life has simply been busy, as it almost always is. 

Today's book review is on The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick. For my fellow readers out there, the name "Lizzie Bennet" should ring some bells. That's right, it is the name of the protagonist in Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice. A modern adaptation, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a spin on the original - with a very clever beginning.

Before I get into the book review itself, you may need a bit of background information. For those of you who are also interested in social media and networking in our 21st century era, you probably already know that this book is the follow-up to an overwhelmingly popular video web series. "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" was a start-up project with the initial idea pitched to Bernie Su by the one and only Hank Green (one of the Vlogbrothers on YouTube and John Green's brother). With the help of a Kickstarter project to fund DVD creation after the end of the series, it has now reached an incredible number of viewers beyond the initial postings on YouTube. An Emmy Award-Winning mini-series with a multi-modal media platform, it now is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon as well as other entertainment companies.

I recommend watching the web-series before reading the book as it enriches your understanding of the overarching plot. You can find the link to the (free!) viewing on YouTube here. There are a hundred mini-episodes of the initial series, with additional Q & A videos as well as some spin-offs (like Lydia's videos and those supplied by Pemberley Digital).

Now, regarding the book. As previously mentioned, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. For those of you who have read Austen's classic, you will appreciate the rich text of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. Set in modern day California, Lizzie Bennet is a graduate student studying Mass Communications. As part of her thesis project for the completion of school, she decides to create a video blog (i.e. "vlog") that captures the events of her life and those of the people she interacts with. The authors, Bernie Su and Kate Rorick, write The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet in a first-person perspective using Lizzie's point-of-view. This follows the initial project of the actual videos, as they are also told from Lizzie's perspective.

Lizzie and her best friend, Charlotte Lu, quickly realize how popular Lizzie's vlogs have become. Lizzie covers all topics in her life - her sisters, Lydia and Jane; her mother's obsession with their love lives; the arrival of Bing Lee and his increasing interest in Jane; and of course, her overwhelming frustrations with Bing's "snobby newsboy" friend: Mr. William Darcy.

What we don't see in the videos themselves is described in this companion novel. Many are familiar with the storyline of Pride and Prejudice thanks to a multitude of movie adaptations over the years, but this modern take has so many twists and turns that it still keeps the reader turning the pages. I won't go into excessive detail (as the story is definitely known!), but know that the authors did an incredible job taking something timeless and classic and making it that much more special for readers everywhere. The humor, the emotion, and the realism of the book make the reader feel as though they really are a part of Lizzie's colorful and unique life.

I hope you try this one-of-a-kind read - even if you haven't read the original by Austen. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is definitely worth it. Finally, don't forget to seek out the actual video web series. I encourage you to start a discussion about the series and/or companion novel here in the comments below.

Happy reading, fellow bloggers!

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