Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Title Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author Jane Austen (and Seth Grahame-Smith)
Genre SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating B+

Summary Take Pride and Prejudice (pretty much word for word), ratchet up Elizabeth and Jane's awesomeness by making them kick-butt zombie killers, add in a little sophomoric humor, and you've got a best seller on your hands.

First Line "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains," (p. 7).

Review Lest you think, based on my sardonic summary of this book, that I didn't like it, think again. I really enjoyed this book. But, hey, Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books and zombies are quickly becoming one of my favorite paranormal tropes to read about, so you couldn't really go wrong.

Grahame-Smith (or his editor) was smart to stick faithfully to the book. They took some minor liberties with the storyline (perhaps a better ending for dear Charlotte, a more fitting resolution for Mr. Collins, and a little well-placed comeuppance for Wickham), but all in all, they left the original text of Austen's masterpiece alone. It's actually quite surprising how seamlessly the references to zombie-fighting worked into the story. It was really natural, and a delight to read.

The only part that, in my opinion, didn't feel as natural (and, therefore, wasn't as fun to read) were the sophomoric bits. Grahame-Smith has a real obsession with Mr. Darcy's balls (aka, "His most English parts"). It was just stupid and any laughs he might have earned on those jokes (none from me, I might add) were cheap. He should have been more confident in the brilliance of what he did with the zombie fighting and left Mr. Darcy's private parts, well, in private.

The final thing that I have to add (I know this is a relatively short review for me, but this book has received so much attention that anything I add has probably been said a million times before) is that the illustrations in the book (done by Philip Smiley) were fantastic. They added a lot to the book in their own special way. It was really fun to read a totally absurd line, such as, "Two adult unmentionables--both of them male--busied themselves feasting upon the flesh of the household staff," and have it accompanied by an expertly rendered pen and ink drawing of Mr. Bingley's kitchen staff being eating by zombies. You just don't get enough of that in your literature these days. I'm all for more illustrations (in moderation). I thought the illustrations in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian added to the book, and these do too. Illustrations, if edited well, can really enhance the reading experience.

Recommendation Fans of Austen (with a good sense of humor) will really enjoy this book. This is the first in a long line of SciFi updates to the classics (see Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters out now), but for a little bit of a different twist, try some of the modern YA re-tellings of classic literature like Troy High, Something Rotten, and Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading.

5 comments:

Sabrina said...

I read this for my book club. It was slow at times (when is Austen not slow) But I loved the hilarious zombie attacks!! The illustrations are awesome too!

Andrea said...

Yeah, I though the same thing about all the jokes Mr. Darcy made, but I was impressed how well the story took to having zombies added.

Hector Macdonald said...

Hi Heather

I can't find an email address for you, so please forgive me intruding on your comment wall. I’d like to invite you to write about your favorite books at www.bookdrum.com, where you can add information, images, video, music and links to illustrate and explore the books.

Right now, we're running a $3,000 Tournament and we'll be offering contract work to the best entries.

Best wishes

Hector Macdonald
Editor, Book Drum

Bluestocking said...

Yeah! the balls joke nearly killed me.

Jemima said...

I have just started Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters today. The whole concept is hilarious. It is really well written and creative. I will have to try P&P and Zombies soon. Thanks for the review.