Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

Summary: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers--and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, sword fights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read. (Summary from back of the book and image from Powells.com)

My Review: I feel somewhat guilty giving this book 2.5 stars since so much of it is Jane Austen and I LOVE the classic Pride and Prejudice. Think 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' meets Pride and Prejudice, throw in some stupid Zombie flick and you've got this book. It's like trying to make a chick flick into an action adventure...and overall it doesn't really work. There are a couple parts where the author decides to make the story modern by inserting aspects of infidelity--which is so against the themes in the original Pride and Prejudice that it goes against the grain and feels, more than typically, awful for situations like that. My thoughts are that this is one man's way of trying to make Jane Austen palatable for someone who cannot appreciate a different time and is stuck only finding enjoyment from violence, ninja fighting and brain eating zombies.
WARNING: SPOILERS!!
There are only a couple aspects to this book that I appreciated outside of the original text. One of those is when Charlotte contracts the plague. Now before you think I have some strange hatred for Charlotte, hear me out. She gets the plague, knows it, and that is her reasoning for marrying Mr. Collins. Choosing to marry Mr. Collins, knowing this is her chance at marriage before an early demise, makes much more sense to me; Mr. Collins is truly obnoxious therefore I could never wrap my mind around Charlotte's decision in the original work. And to top it off, Mr. Collin's commits suicide after she dies. Somehow I didn't mourn the absence of Mr. Collins in the world. The second aspect was the punishment Mr. Darcy is able to inflict upon Mr. Wickham and the subsequent punishment this becomes for Lydia. Becoming an invalid, incapable of cheating on Lydia nor defiling another young woman, sits well with me. You get to enjoy more 'just desserts' in this version. Lastly, Elizabeth gets to beat up Lady Catherine de Bourgh (who doesn't wanted to slap that lady?). It was satisfying despite so very different from the original book.

I know some of you are thinking--why did I even bother finishing the book? There were a couple reasons. One, to say I had. Two, because my students really wanted to know if it was any good after seeing me with it in hand. And three, I had to know all the ways Grahame-Smith changed the story once I learned he'd taken liberties with punishing Wickham.

Overall I'd say to skip this book if I were you and you liked the original Pride and Prejudice. That is, unless you're a really big Zombie fan. You might just like this book if that's the case.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Sum it up: Contrary to the back of this book, the original is much better.

3 comments:

Daniel Nighting said...

Come on--zombies are like literary MSG. They make everything taste better!

Granted, it's not exactly great literature--but that's what we have the original for.

Becca said...

Pride and Prejudice, the original, is one of my favorite books. However, I enjoy someone who can take something (like Pride and Predjudice) and do the unexpected and, in this case, I thought it was done in a very entertaining, witty manner. I didn't like the Zombie version as much as the original (not that I expected to) but I still really enjoyed it.

MindySue said...

I have to say, I was planning on reading this because everyone seems to have it on their reading list...but now I'm not in too big of a hurry. But it is nice to see (as with Becca) that there are different perspectives. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre" so I'm not sure if this one would be the same, or be amazing in comparison.

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