Authors: Anna Breslaw
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Publishing Information: April 19th 2016 by Razorbill
Source: ARC for Review
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.
As soon as I heard that Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is about a character who writes fanfiction, I immediately wanted to read it because I will pretty much pick up any book that reminds me of Fangirl. Although Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is quite unique from Fangirl, it still is similar in that it has a wonderfully authentic female main character, includes fanction elements, and is immensely engaging.
Scarlett is one of the most hilarious and snarky characters I have ever come across in YA contemporary. Scarlett has flaws and insecurities but those flaws made her a better character — the fact that she lacks confidence in her writing abilities, doesn’t always realize how her actions impact others, and isn’t afraid to tell people off made her a much more personable character. Throughout the book, Scarlett definitely grows as a character and learns that she’s quite a judgmental person. Anna Breslaw definitely did a wonderful job of creating an authentic teenage character who really develops throughout the story and is willing to change her opinion of others.
Also, yay for having a character that’s all about women’s empowerment! I love Scarlett’s feminist side and her wonderful quotes. For example, at one point she says:
“I still wear the same bras and underwear I’ve worn since, like, seventh grade. And every time I try on bras or jeans in a department store and some saleswoman says they fit me “right,” they feel so tight I can’t breathe, so I size up, because the patriarchy.”
YES!! As someone who tries to get away with wearing sports bras as much as possible, I completely cheered Scarlett on. There’s also another fabulous scene where Scarlett is a book party full of old white men and yells at them about how anti-feminist Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest are — I was just like “WHOOT! Trample the patriarchy Scarlett!”
Can’t you tell how much I adored Scarlett?! There was definitely a lot of cheering on happening when I was reading the book.
It was so interesting to read bits of Scarlett’s fanfiction while also reading about her own life. Clearly, Scarlett’s life impacted the stories that she wrote and it was interesting to see how the people in her life were translated into fanfiction characters. Scarlett writes a sci-fi story so as a sci-fi fan, I especially enjoyed because able to read a bit of sci-fi within a contemporary book.
The romance in this book never really steals the spotlight away from Scarlett’s struggles as a writer and her issues with her family — it’s there but more as a side element, which I liked. Scarlett, as a “I won’t stand for BS” type of gal, definitely is super logical when it comes to her romance with her former best friend, Gideon. I liked just open she was to Gideon and the fact that their relationship wasn’t really filled with angst, which you often find in YA romances.
If you’re looking for a hilarious and engaging contemporary to read, I highly recommend pick up this book. It’s such a fun debut — I can’t wait to see what else Anna Breslaw writes!