Fan fiction is a popular Internet trend that is, well, fans writing fiction about their favorite characters from television shows, movies, video games, books and so on. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, the debut novel of Anna Breslaw, uses fan fiction as a major part of the plot, all of it written by the protagonist, Scarlett Epstein.

Scarlett is a sixteen-year-old living in New Jersey who dislikes school and has few friends. She is an avid fan of the television show Lycanthrope High, and writes fan fiction as a hobby. When a series of events causes her life to become difficult, Scarlett turns to fan fiction as a way to channel her frustration and begins writing about the people in her life and her issues in her online stories.

I liked Breslaw’s inclusion of fan fiction as a device in the plot, as it’s something that thousands of people participate in. I myself have read fan fiction and even wrote a few stories (a really long time ago.) It’s enjoying to read other people’s writing styles and different interpretations of what characters experience. Breslaw also uses several pop culture references to explain her character’s feelings and experiences.

Honestly, though, I felt like the fan fiction presence was the only element that set this story apart from other similar novels that I’ve read. I found Scarlett’s life and experiences to be full of cliches: old friend comes back into life and stirs up feelings in the girl, girl experiences drama between her divorced parents, the popular crowd causes trouble for the girl. The list goes on.

As much I appreciated Breslaw’s talent, I just couldn’t get into the story or relate to the characters. I would recommend borrowing this novel from the library.