Book Review

The Book That Forgot How to Be Original

The Forgotten BookThe Forgotten Book by Mechthild Gläser

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been desperately trying not to think about you all the time. But it’s no good.

—Darcy

Ever since I watched the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth have been one of my favorite couples to root for. It even came to a point that I watched it after every exam week in college as a means of refreshing myself. Basically, Pride and Prejudice holds a special place in my heart, so I am wary about reading its modern retellings.

Unfortunately, when I requested this book from the publisher, I didn’t know expect it to be an actual retelling of Pride and Prejudice. (The name of the male protagonist should’ve been a red flag.) I previously enjoyed The Book Jumper, so I was excited to enjoy another unique and wonderful novel. Little did I know that I would be burdened by jadedness after each chapter of The Forgotten Book; it was frustratingly easy to predict the plot, particularly the outcome of Emma and Darcy’s relationship and the identity of the villain.

To be fair, this book was not a complete replica of Pride and Prejudice in that its main conflict revolved around a magical book/diary that supposedly made Darcy’s beloved sister disappear without a trace. Also, the German setting was vivid, endearing, and quite reminiscent of Hogwarts. I bet it would be so much fun to study in a castle surrounded by such beautiful nature.

I didn’t care a lot about the characters in The Forgotten Book. In retrospect, Darcy and Emma paled in comparison to the original Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. The miscommunication between them was kinda shallow, and their romance blossomed instantaneously. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if Darcy and Emma had hated each other throughout the book because their “love” was so unconvincing. All in all, the “recycled” plot points in The Forgotten Book were unsuccessful because they didn’t evoke the giddy feelings that I had had when I watched/read Pride and Prejudice.

I’m sorry, but it’s hard not to make comparisons because this book is indeed a retelling. Looking at the bright side, I guess people who haven’t read nor watched Pride and Prejudice would find this book enjoyable (and hard to predict). Also, it’s whimsical plot and writing style might appeal to fans of middle-grade fiction.

To conclude, 15-year-old me (who couldn’t understand Pride and Prejudice) would have given The Forgotten Book a higher rating. I wish that it had done justice to dear Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, but it’s futile to cry over spilled milk. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book became literally forgotten someday.

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