Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mini Reviews: The Jane Austen Academy Series by Cecilia Gray

The Jane Austen Academy series is a modern adaptation of the works of Jane Austen. Each book retells a different Austen novel, with the characters recast as teenagers all attending the Jane Austen Academy. It's kinda odd to have all the heroines and heroes interacting with each other, and it also means that the secondary characters of each book have been stripped back, to the point where most of the girls are only children, and one character becomes the equivalent of George Wickham, Henry Crawford AND John Thorpe. A minor point that bothered me was the fact that Jane Austen and her novels still existed in this universe - which doesn't make a lot of sense considering the characters in this series are supposed to be living the stories themselves. Theses are by no means perfect adaptations, but if you're after sweet, easy teen romances with a hint of Austen's characters, then you would probably enjoy them.

Fall For You (Book One), based on Pride and Prejudice
Source: Netgalley
Perhaps because Pride and Prejudice is my favourite Austen novel - or maybe because I was still getting used to the concept of the Jane Austen Academy - but I didn't really love this book. I found Lizzie actually drove me nuts, Dante made for a very poor Darcy (his name didn't help), and the story as a whole was pretty far removed from Pride and Prejudice. It actually reminded me a lot of The Hairy Bird with the way it centered around the uproar over an all-girls school letting in male students. I probably would have enjoyed the story more if it wasn't actually supposed to be connected to Pride and Prejudice. What was there that related to Austen's work felt very rushed. Fall For You was OK, but not great.
Rating: 2.5/5

So Into You (Book Two), based on Sense and Sensibility
Source: Netgalley
While this book is based on Sense and Sensibility, it actually only adapts Elinor's plot - Marianne has disappeared all together. That made me a little sad, as her story is great, but I quite liked what was done with Elinor - or Ellie, here - and her dramas. Her tuition troubles were a good way to modernise the way the Dashwoods fall on hard times, and I really liked Ed. The tension between Ellie and Ed was well developed and a lot of fun. Even with half the story missing, I felt like So Into You was a better adaptation than its predecessor.
Rating: 3/5

When I'm With You (Book Three), based on Northanger Abbey
Source: Netgalley
This was probably my favourite in the series (that's been released, anyway), and funnily enough it actually takes place away from the Jane Austen Academy. Kat is a budding actress who jumps at the chance to spend her holidays on a film set as the assistant for her celebrity classmate Josh Wickham (yes, THE Wickham, doubling here as John Thorpe). Kat's love of drama and overactive imagination are well done, and Josh and his female co-star as the scheming Thorpes works effectively. I really liked the love interest, Henry - he was cute and sensitive, and his scenes with Kat were lovely. It was kinda nice that he didn't go to the Academy, too - the whole hooking up within the one friendship group thing was already feeling like a bit of a stretch. I've always had a soft spot for romances involving celebs/Hollywood, so I enjoyed this.
Rating: 3.5/5

Suddenly You (Book Four), based on Mansfield Park
Source: Purchased on Amazon
I didn't feel like the main characters, Fanny and Tran, resembled their Austen counterparts much at all (side note: I find it incredibly odd that after modernising pretty much all of the names, Gray left Fanny). I still enjoyed their friendly but confused dynamic, and I also liked Fanny's connection with Josh (who took Henry Crawford's place here). I actually felt pretty bad for Josh at the end. I kinda hope he gets a happy ending before the series is over. He's much nicer deep down than any of his Austen influences, I think. Once again, I probably would have enjoyed this story more without the Austen connection, but it was still pretty fun.
Rating: 3/5

Overall, the Jane Austen Academy series is good for a light, quick read. It's not amazing, but it's enjoyable, and I'll definitely continue with the final two books when they come out.

1 comment:

  1. I've only read the first three but agree about liking When I'm With You the most-the drama was great and I have a soft spot for celeb/Hollywood stories too.

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