A brief intro: I'm Bonnie's sister--a life-long bookworm who used to trudge back and forth from the Bookmobile (which used to visit, every other week, a block away from the house we grew up in) with a bag crammed with dozens of books. In accordance with my book-ish tendencies, I'm wrapping up a master's degree in English in May...after which, I'll find myself obliged to find a real job to work in before I go back to school for a Ph.D.
I may periodically interject by adding on to Bonnie's reviews prior to May--and if I manage to sneak some personal reading time of my own, I may post some of my own reviews prior to then. But come May, you will definitely be reading more of me. And on to the title of the post:
By PPZ, I mean of course, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I dearly love Austen's original, but the humor of what has been termed a genre-mishmash comes from exactly that: Austen's original social satire becomes a funny reflection on our culture's current preoccupation with the supernatural. (If you don't believe we as a reading public have become enthralled with the less-than-normal, I have two book series titles for you: Twilight and Harry Potter.)
Further, the twist works incredibly well: where the original contained any commentary about society or about marriage, Seth Grahame-Smith inserts a perfectly-worded Victorian expression about zombies instead.
Certain reviewers have claimed that this project somehow corrupts the original work and that Jane Austen would be horrified by what has been done to her novel. (As though this is somehow more horrifying than the completely out-of-the script, sappy ending tacked on to the American version of the most recent film version of Pride and Prejudice?)
I say Jane would be proud of finding a way to further satirize an already-brilliant satire.
April 8, 2010
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith is going to be a novel that you will either enjoy or hate. I have not read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice but I have watched movie several times and I love it. The words in the book are mostly Austen's with Smith adding a little twist of unmentionables (zombies). If you're not a fan of twisting original works then you probably won't like this book. I really enjoyed the book, laughed often, and couldn't wait to tell my husband all the parts I found hilarious. If you have not ready the book, watched the movie, or anything of the sort then this review might be a little confusing. Just to warn you!
The novel beings with "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." I had to laugh at this statement, and it urged me to keep reading. A strange plague has fallen upon the English countryside where the dead are returning to life and seeking the life of those still living. The novel begins with the plague already in full force, and these unmentionables alter the story in subtle and momentous ways. Couriers are overrun and messages are lost, zombie-fighting is a universally acknowledged skill, and women must decide whether or not to carry a musket.
The countryside is more open to attacks by the undead because they have no fortifying walls as do big cities, so country folk are used to "taking care of" the undead. All the Bennett sisters are well-known for their fighting skills, as they were taught by a Chinese Master and regularly train to maintain their abilities. The book is full of pictures that bring to life the story. The image below is of the Bennett sisters fighting zombies in a pentagram fashion, efficiently taking care of the problem.
When the Bingley group arrives at Netherfield, much of the story parallels Austen's (Jane getting sick, Darcy and Elizabeth's mutual dislike of each other, etc). Darcy's initial disinterest toward Elizabeth turns around as he notices her fighting skills, and she grows more beautiful in his eyes. When Elizabeth goes to visit her cousin Mr. Collins and his wife Charlotte Lucas, she is able to meet with the legendary Lady Catherine De Bourgh, known for being the best female fighter. In the original Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth is asked to play the piano and sing, but in this book she demonstrates her ability to walk around a room on her fingertips (using a modesty rope to hold down her dress of course).
When Elizabeth goes with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner on their visit to Derbyshire, Elizabeth encounters Darcy at Pemberley when he helps her fight off a herd of rampaging zombies and saves her life. She spends time with Darcy, his sister, and the Bingley group, and I really enjoyed reading about Elizabeth's changing feelings for Darcy. Just as she was getting to know him and his sister, she is rushed home when she hears of Lydia running away with Mr. Wickham. The couple is discovered and they are married, and and it is learned that Mr. Wickham suffered an unfortunate accident and is now a quadriplegic. The couple is to settle in northern Ireland.
Lady Catherine comes when she hears of a rumor that her nephew is soon to be engaged to Elizabeth, and the encounter turns into a verbal and physical fight that I thoroughly enjoyed. The result bring Mr. Darcy back to Elizabeth, where she confesses her changed feeling toward him.
I could go on and on describing my favorite parts, but I want readers to experience the humor first-hand. There were a few things that I didn't like about the book - it did contain a bit of "potty" humor which I don't think was necessary, and Elizabeth is sometimes portrayed as being a rather heartless person. If you're an open-minded Austen reader, then I would recommend this book to you! And to anyone else.