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The Wrong Kind of Weird: 01/23/23
The Wrong Kind of Weird by James Ramos (2023) is a YA update on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813). It's set in Minnesota in a high school, with protagonist Cameron Carson taking the role as Jane Bennett.
To drive home the pastiche, or at least clue the reader in, Cam's school is putting on a play based on Austen's novel. This isn't, though, a book about a play based on a book. The play is there as a thematic hook but it's not the point.
Instead the point is the culture class between different high school cliques. You find your spot and you stay in your spot and the different subgroups don't mingle — ever. That's how these stories are set up (even if my experience as both a high schooler and parent of two high schoolers never bore this trope out in reality).
Cam has broken this cardinal rule by dating a popular girl on the down-low and later making friends with another popular girl when she reveals her true geeky nature. The popular girl geek, Mackenzie, is of course, our Mr. Darcy for this retelling.
Although I'm still not much a fan of the source material, nor have I seen the Colin Firth version, I think The Wrong Kind of Weird falls short as a novel by not leveraging its connection to Austen more. There's so much more that could have been done to discuss class, race, cliques, etc that are only brushed upon here. Instead, much of this novel gets distracted by Cam's mixed feelings about becoming sexually active when his secret girlfriend suggests it.