Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: September 18th, 2018
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street. Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all. In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic – Synopsis by Goodreads
“Sometimes love is not enough to keep a community together…”
It hurts to give this low of a rating, but I was just so disappointed with Pride and it was a highly anticipated book for me.
Pride is a remix of one of my favorites classics, Pride and Prejudice (P&P). Usually I’m a little nervous when someone touches one of my favorite books but with this one I really wasn’t. The idea of a modern twist with black characters was such a fantastic and fresh idea I thought. My little heart danced and I was eagerly awaiting some great representation and some banter that would make me turn many shades of red – Yes, I blush at romances, I’m a goof. Atlas, my little heart did not do any dancing through-out this story and I found myself more and more frustrated as the book went on.
The lead characters Zuri and Darcy were obviously our updated Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy. The first few chapters I had some hope with Zuri, she seemed independent, intelligent and very likeable, she started out well enough. She lives with her sisters in the “hood,” all piled in one bedroom of a very small house. Although they live in poverty, she loves where she treasures the neighboor hood that she grew up and it is very concerned that it will change with rich people building houses in the neighborhood. This is where Darcy comes in, he movies in directly across the street from Zuri’s family in a very large, wealthy home. Zuri is resentful right off the bat and Darcy is aloof and distant, very reminiscent of P&P.
I really was trying to not go into this book with a bias, since I love the classic so much. I figured it had it’s own take on the story and I’d just go along for the ride. Unfortunately, the parts that were inspired by the classic, were the parts that really dragged this book down. It probably would’ve been a much better story if the author hadn’t tried to weave in all the plots from P&P, it really didn’t work well at all. One of my main issues is that the main characters, Zuri and Darcy, have zero chemistry. At no point does it get better and their banter isn’t clever, it’s fairly redundant. Lizzie is a really free character, she doesn’t hate Darcy just for having money, she hates him because he’s a complete asshat to her constantly. In Pride, Zuri is almost obsessed with the fact that Darcy has money and talks about it all the time, which gets a little tiring. I did like the relationship between her and her sisters and think that would’ve been a much more interesting story to tell.
There are a lot of plots that are going on in P&P and they are pretty much all present here but the biggest problem is that they are thrown in, not really ever dealt with and they just go away suddenly. We are talking about some fairly big plots, they just go after in a couple of pages. You could easily take them out and it wouldn’t change a thing and would honestly make things a little less confusing. Most of you that love the book know that one of the most horrible but fun characters to read is Mr. Colin, well he is present here. Sort of… Yet again, another thing that is thrown in for no real reason and is never built upon at all. I did like the party scene – it was perfect and I felt so embarrassed for Zuri and the Lady Catherine scene was also pretty solid. There were pieces of this book that almost worked and I tried so hard to get into them, but they just kept speeding by. The romance that does form between Zuri and Darcy does seem kind of out-of-nowhere and really forced and I never really bought that they were into each other. Maybe it’s because there was never a romantic tension before-hand.
I also had a bit of an issue with the fact that Zuri kept trying to make Darcy act “more black.” She constantly shamed the way he acted and talked and when he finally explains why he is the way he is, I suppose she accepts it but again it doesn’t really feel solved or dealt with. It made me uncomfortable.
Did anything about this book work for me? Yes, like I mentioned before, I really liked the sisters relationship, I loved the descriptions of the neighborhood and how Zuri felt about it. I particularly loved the neighborhood party, I really felt like I was experiencing it. It felt really authentic and these are the moments I was really craving more of through-out the story. I also loved hearing about the University that Zuri wanted to attend and the reasons why and reading about her exploring her possible future there. The poetry in the book is also wonderful. All of these things were so much more interesting than checking off all the plot points from P&P. There is also lots of wonderful representation in this book and it’s an ownvoice author, that in itself is something to celebrate. Also the cover and end pages are a freaking work of art. I’m hanging on to the book just to look at it, not even kidding.
At the end of the day, this book just wasn’t for me. I know the book has mixed ratings overall and I’m not saying to not pick this book up. You might love it and if you aren’t familiar with Pride and Prejudice, that might actually be a positive going into this one. You won’t be making the constant comparisons. I would completely read another book by this author, as long as it’s not another remix.