Jane Austen's masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, looks terrible, and I am going to cross my arms and scowl until—what's that you say? If I don't read it, I'll get fired?!?
Well then, Jane Austen's masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, looks terrific, like a beautiful literary blanket made of satin and, erm, silk, upon which a cat has regurgitated its midday snack. I mean...
Sparklers, you may not know that it's part of my job to stay abreast of teen literature. My boss—John, the Sparkitorial Director—has had me on a diet of one teen novel each week since the beginning of time, aka summer 2009.
And I liked it that way. Apart from being 10 years older than the protagonists of every novel I read, my life studying teen lit was peachy. Until I opened my giant face hole and admitted...
"I've never read one Jane Austen novel. Not in high school. Not in college. Not during open heart surgery. Not. Ever."
Why?! I don't know! Because I'm busy, and ANGRY, and, well, because I think the novel will go something like this:
Marriagable girl 1: I have cholera!
Marriagable girl 2: I have dysentery!
Marriagable girl 3: I have a broken leg, and nobody knows why!
Mr. Darcy: Is there not a young female in this town healthy enough to be mine? And by "mine," I mean, "mine own personal human breeding farm."
Marriagable girl 4: My hips are small, but sturdy. I am the one you seek. But I loathe you with the power of a thousand cotton gins!
Mr. Darcy: You jezebel!
Marriagable girl 4: Oh!
*Mr. Darcy and Marriageable girl 4 embrace*
Did I get it right?
Probably definitely. *hip thrust*
But oh hell, I'm stuck with this big, ugly green book, so I'll read it the only way I know how: like it's about to get it's own TV show on ABC Family.
Here's how the book starts:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
Teen Novel Translation: Rich dudes get girls. They can even pick the cheerleaders.
Teen Novel Rule #1: Never let your male protagonist pick the cheerleader. If you want this to be a really good teen novel, Ms. Austen, you will have the rich man choose the witty, misunderstood brunette. I'll be giving you lots more advice along the way, but I can't lay it on you all it once because you'll probably get polio.
At the beginning of the story, this lady named Mrs. Bennet tells her husband that someone is moving into a vacant property in the neighborhood. The property is called Netherfield, but I bet all the kids at school call it "Nether region," because the kids at school are immature and hilarious. Mr. Bennet could care less about this, even when Mrs. Bennet explains that the occupant will be a rich, eligible bachelor called Mr. Bingley.
Teen Novel Rule #2: Do not name your sexy, eligible bachelor "Mr. Bingley." Name him a.) something stereotypically hot, like Jeff, or Sir IronFire von ChiliPepper b.) something hot in an old-timey way, like Ulysses, or c.) something hot in a totally off-the-wall way, like Horchips McGuillicutty.
Austen either broke the rule, or has a trick up her sleeve, that Bingley is NOT really a sexy bachelor. Already, Austen, you're messing with my noodle.
Mrs. Bennet wants Mr. Bennet to introduce himself to Bingley, but Mr. B tells his ladytiger that she should go over to his house with their five unmarried daughters herself. He also says to put in a good word for his daughter Lizzy.
Lizzy! Is she brooding? Brunette? Feisty? Unconcerned with trivial matters? Is she our gal?!
Must be, because Mrs. Bennet gets pissy. She reminds her husband that his DNA also contributed to a hot daughter, Jane, and a "good-humoured" daughter, Lydia.
So, Jane is the cheerleader, and Lydia is the—what does "good-humoured" mean? Agreeable? Boring? Whatever, Jane Austen, twelve points for you, because you followed Rule #3!
Teen Novel Rule #3: Make sure there's a hot girl, but she can't be your main character. This sets up our Lizzy as an underdog, so we love her even more.
Mr. Bennet says all his other daughters are all silly and ignorant and spend all day texting and watching YouTube videos and taking suggestive photos of themselves for their Facebook profile pictures. Lizzy though, is smart. She can tweet a complete tweet in 126 characters, and not even backspace once. She cooks organic seitan that really tastes like chicken. She reads smart things, like Jane Austen novels. Basically, she's ME!
Teen Novel Rule #4: Make your main female character a smarter, more thoughtful, more witty, more introverted version of your reader. So that your reader puts herself in the protagonist's shoes, and then feels really good about herself.
ME! I AM LIZZY! I AM PERFECT! I AM—
—Ehem. Mrs. Bennet tries to convince her husband to go Bingley's by saying that it wouldn't matter if there were twenty suitors moving to town because Mr. Bennet won't even visit even the one. Mr. Bennet is awesome, and says that if there are twenty, he'll visit them all. He's messing with his wife, because everyone knows there will never be twenty guys going after their four Twihard daughters and Lizzy, the me-ish cool one.
And then, in the last paragraph of this brilliantly short chapter, our narrator explains that Mr. B is smart and Mrs. B is dumb. This is pretty hilarious, but the trouble is that this whole chapter is one great big giant MEGA FAIL because of Rule #5.
Teen Novel Rule #5: NO PARENTS!!!!!!!! Parents must be divorced, dead, working all the time, in jail, robots, aliens, chickens, absent alcoholics, or just generally unconcerned about their kids. This rule is more important than chocolate.
So there you have it, Jane Austen! Not a bad start to your little novel, but you really blew it on rule #5. If these parents don't get shipped off in a hot air balloon to Hell in the next chapter, I'm sending you straight back to writing school. You are still alive... aren't you?
YA rules broken: 1 rule
YA rules adhered to: 2 rules
Jury's still out: 2 rule
Prediction for next chapter: Lydia's leg is broken, and nobody can figure out why. She sits in a rocking chair, under an afghan, forever.
Do you love P&P? Do you think it'd make a good teen novel?