I'm a huge fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If you've somehow missed hearing about it, it's a modern day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, done via vlogging, and it's AMAZINGLY AWESOMELY DONE. Lizzie is a 24-year-old grad student in communications who starts doing a vlog about her life as a school project, which really takes off. Things primarily focus on her sister's love life with a charming rich guy, but Lizzie's annoyed by the guy's socially awkward best friend. Meanwhile, everyone except the rich characters is broke, there's an unexpected offer from a super annoying guy, Lizzie gets into a whopping fight with her party girl little sister Lydia and Lydia hops into a relationship with a fellow of dubious character.... and Socially Awkward Darcy becomes a lot less of a jerk than he seemed. You kinda know how that goes in general, but I'd plug watching the videos to see how they execute it.
This book is exactly what it says on the tin: the secret offcamera thoughts of Lizzie written during her year of vlogging. I debated at great length in the Veronica Mars book review and elsewhere as to whether or not one could or should read this book without having had any exposure to the Marsverse. I didn't think anyone could or should read that book without the film context preceding it. With this book, I beg to differ! Should for some crazy reason someone want to read this book without having watched the videos, they could totally follow and become interested in the story. It is a very COMPLETE book. It works well as a solo work, I think--you'd get the context of everything and the plot, no question. It's not just a companion work for the fans. So if you want to stealth introduce someone to the series and for some reason they don't want to start watching it, this will totally work.
But how does it work as a companion to the series? It works great. Thankfully, the writers-both from the show--wrote it in Lizzie's first person voice, which is adorbs (to use Lydia's vernacular). It gives us full on scenes of things that we could never see on camera. You get to attend the Gibson wedding and hear the conversations there. You get to hang around Netherfield's media room and see more awkward conversations with Darcy. You get to read Darcy's infamous letter to Lizzie explaining his behavior that she refused to read on camera. You get to hang out with the Bennet parents, Dr. Gardiner, and even hear what it's like to go to dinner with VC Catherine de Bourgh in great, ugly, picking at your entire personality detail. Mr. Bennet and Dr. Gardiner are particularly adorable and made me wish I'd seen them on camera (even though that so wouldn't work). I felt like I was mentally watching a movie to see those scenes, and it delighted me. Things really came to life, and that's a hard thing for a book to pull off for me, so kudos for that. The characters remained just as lively on the page as they were on camera.
The book also answers some of the questions that plagued me throughout the series, such as:
- Why the hell is Bing moving into a house in a small California town during a time when school should clearly be going on? And why are Caroline and Darcy bumming around the house with him for months?
- What does Caroline do for a job? (Alas, the question of "what job lets you bum around a house for months" remains unanswered.)
- How did Mr. Collins find a girlfriend in Canada? And is she actually a girl?
- How did Lydia find out who got her out of a jam?
There are also some ah, secret juicy background details that you never heard of on camera. I'll be polite and not spoil that, though. And also, you get more indicators of what most of the younger characters are going to get up to after the series, which is pretty cool. I also got a kick out of one of the reader's questions at the back asking about George's motivation and why he did what he did on a time delay. If there's anything to critique for me, it's just wishing I could have seen a few more scenes with Darcy at Pemberley Digital (the one segment that always felt too short for me in the series) and ah, after the big hookup. Hubba hubba. I have seen a few objections online that two of the crucial videos with Lizzie and Darcy just had the scripts reposted directly without more details--but I don't have a problem with that. I can't think of a better way to recap it (literally retyping the scenes with "he said's" attached to it really wouldn't have added anything), and those scripts/scenes said it all.
Overall, I think it's an excellent, enjoyable book--both on its own and as a companion to the videos. Heck, you know what? I haven't given too many five stars this year, but for what it's worth, this is pretty epic. Five stars!