Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.
I’ve had this book on my shelves for at least a year and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it. As I told someone on Instagram, this book gave me serious Fangirl vibes, but I actually liked the story Scarlett was writing, unlike the Carry On snippets in Fangirl (note: I love Fangirl, so no shade).
Scarlett is a teenager who fluctuates between being a realist and a pessimist. Her favorite TV show was just cancelled and she’s currently in a mild state of depression. To make matters worse, her favorite thing to do, writing fan fiction, now seems pointless without the show. Until she comes up with a new concept.
Rather than writing about her favorite characters, she begins writing about the students at her high school. There’s her longtime crush, Gideon, who’s become one of the “populars,” and Ashley, one of the popular girls and Scarlett’s archnemesis. Ashley also happens to be the sister to Scarlett’s best friend, Avery, and is, of course, dating Gideon.
As Scarlett starts to blur the lines between the fictional world she’s created and the real one, her life gets way more complicated. There may be something more than just friendship blooming between her and Gideon, but she’s not exactly sure. Meanwhile, Avery’s starting to take an interest in high school activities that have nothing to do with her regular academic studies. Additionally, Scarlett’s mom is dating someone new… again. The only constant in Scarlett’s life at the moment is her elderly neighbor and good friend Ruth, who’s a BAMF in every way you can imagine.
I really loved the characters in this novel, especially Scarlett. She’s snarky, funny, and unafraid to stand up for herself. I also like that even though she’s a “nerd,” she’s not the kind that is super intelligent. In fact, Avery often does Scarlett’s homework for her, which I loved. Often times in novels like this, the characters that geek out about comic books or TV shows are also insanely smart and are heading to Ivy League schools. While there’s obviously nothing wrong with that, it sometimes seems like these books about fandoms and geek culture skip over the outcasts and the people who don’t fit in with the academically inclined or the “popular” people; they’re just different.
That’s what I loved about this novel. Even Ashley, the “popular mean girl” character, really surprised me, as she wasn’t exactly that typical mean girl that often exists in these types of novels. These characters were all complicated and had their own issues that really reflected what high school is actually like and I loved it.
In summary, Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is a must read in my book.
Borrow or Buy: Buy it!
“…the importance of trying to understand people who are different from you, even though it’s so much harder than writing them off, because it might make you admit something to yourself that’s painful.”