When I received this ARC at BookCon last year, I was really excited. I love a good retelling, especially one that is able to bring a completely new spin to the original story. And while Ibi Zoboi’s Pride was able to take the story in a new direction, it wasn’t even close to living up to my original excitement. This is going to be a brief review, y’all.
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.
In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
- Family Dynamics: The Benitez family is pretty amazing. I loved seeing how loyal they all were to each other, relying on one another and spending most of their time together. It reminded me a lot of my own family, as we are loud and crazy but love spending time together. Strong family relations aren’t usually found in YA stories and I appreciated how much Zoboi emphasized its importance. I would totally want to be a part of their family!
- Modern Themes: It was really interesting to see how Zoboi weaved modern themes such as gentrification and class dynamics into the plot. I live in a fairly suburban and majority white area so I haven’t really experienced this personally, so it was nice to see that portrayed in the story. I know it’s been a really hot button issue the past few years all over the country and probably the world. I do wish that we would’ve gotten to see it addressed even more in the story though, as it was mentioned a lot but not really in depth.
- Zuri, the BITCH: Listen, I know that the whole point of Pride and Prejudice was for Elizabeth (and to some extent, Darcy) to learn not to judge people so harshly. However, she was a character that you still liked and wanted to root for. You could tell she was still a good person and someone that you would want to be friends with…. Zuri is none of those things. I’ll be honest that at no point in the book did I think that I would like to hang out with Zuri or be friends with her. She was stuck up and pretty much hated anyone who didn’t live in her own neighborhood. All she did was whine and talk down to everyone she came in contact with, like her opinion was the only one that mattered. I would’ve liked to have seen her character develop, well, really any, during the book but it never happened. The only thing that changed was her opinion of Darius, but even then it was like she still thought he was too rich but she overlooked it because she liked him. Honestly, I really just spent the entire book wanting to punch her in the face.
- Romance Plot: I just didn’t buy it. I never saw what Darius liked about Zuri and vice versa, other than that they were both physically attractive? Darius was pretty flat as a character and I never got any depth from him. He was really just there to stand still and look pretty. I also felt like any conflict used to try and move their relationship forward, was really rushed and done with before it even made an impact on me. I think this is one of those cases where the book actually could’ve used another 100 pages to really help develop the relationship and overall plot.
Unfortunately, this book just did nothing for me. I feel like there was so much more to explore in regards to the gentrification and class struggles, but any in-depth discussion was relegated to the side or only mentioned in Zuri’s poems. Also, the only characters that I liked were the side characters, while I pretty much hated Zuri and could never find myself rooting for her. I almost wish we could get a redo and just focus the story on the rest of the Benitez family. I think we would all be much better off for it. Maybe the finished copy of the story is an improvement on the ARC copy? I can only hope.
Final Verdict: 2/5 Stars
Have you read Pride? If so, what did you think about it? What were your thoughts on Zuri as a main character? Did you feel invested in the romance?