Every once in a while, I like to read a book I know is going to be terrible as a kind of palate cleanser, a way to recallibrate and regroup before diving back into Proper Literature. Mentally copy-editing a bad book is a great exercise and can help you figure out what good writing is (by realising that it is the opposite of whatever this is). My go-to guilty pleasure genre is the Jane Austen spin-off book. You know the ones. What if there were zombies at Longbourne, what if Austen was a vampire, what if a contemporary American girl who is nothing like the author at all what are you talking about suddenly found herself in Regency England… The list goes on.
Austen spin-offs are usually absolutely awful, but in a way, they are much like peanut M&M’s: you know they have no nutritional value and will only leave you feeling slightly depressed and guilty, but you keep buying them anyway because you just can’t quit the sugary goodness.
Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star is a particularly horrific entry into the genre. I shouldn’t even have to explain why, because it is all there in the title. However, this book does make for great analytical practice because it manages to do just about everything spectacularly wrong. The fact that it was originally published as online fanfiction is not the problem. Oh no. Not only was it badly written fanfiction. Not only was it badly written fanfiction by someone who seems to have completely misunderstood Pride and Prejudice and its characters (under no circumstances should Darcy have a goatee, that is just not allowed). It is also a song fic.
[pause for readers to go ‘eurgh, I hate those, everybody hates those’]
According to Amazon’s product description, this book was an “internet phenomenon, inspiring tee shirts, CD’s and thousands of loving fans.” …Really? Because as far as I’m concerned, the writing in this book is exactly why so many people hate fanfiction: overly detailed descriptions of what the characters are wearing, clumsy metaphors, hilariously long sex scenes… The list goes on. And at a whopping 400 pages, it gets old very, very quickly. I paid two euros for this monstrosity at a book fair and spent two nights cackling to myself over the clunky writing, so at least I had fun. Still, it makes other Austen spin-off books look like great works of literature and that is really saying something.
Only read if you want to feel better about the quality of your own writing (if this drivel can get published, so can you!).