Wednesday, June 03, 2009
weekly book review: pride and prejudice and zombies, by jane austen and seth grahame-smith
It's only been out for a little while, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has already received so much Internet buzz that I feared my little review would be a bit redundant. However, I get paid in orange cream soda and Monopoly money to write for this here weblog, so I guess redundancy is the price one must occasionally pay for being a follower of pretty to think so. I simply can't be the first one to report on each and every trend, doves. ACTUAL paychecks must be earned, else the repo men come and carry my laptop away, and then where would we be?

I'll tell you where. Holding a lovely orange cream soda, however Internetless. That's where. (Shudder.)

Anyway, I have quite shamelessly cheated on my New Year's reading resolution by reading Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies rather than finishing Austen's original novel, something I've been half-heartedly trying to do for roughly ten years or so. It was, however, a necessary shortcut seeing as I suffer from Britlitaphobia. Makes me all twitchy and glassy-eyed and irritable. Not pretty. BUT, since the addition of zombie mayhem makes most things better, I figured it could only improve Austen's beloved classic.

And did it? Why yes. I'd say so, yes. And here's some proof:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." So begins Austen's novel. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Grahame-Smith's version. Clearly, both are good, however, the second is obviously much, much better. It's a truer statement with fewer commas and more zombies. Better.

In the original, Elizabeth Benet is a feisty, witty, fiercely independent young lady who will not stand to be insulted. Which is good. But in P&P&Z, she's all of these things PLUS a blood-thirsty zombie slayer, trained by a Shaolin master in China to protect her beloved England from a never ending hoard of "unmentionables." Which is clearly better.

Darcy is still Darcy, but here he cracks jokes about the male anatomy and threatens to cut Miss Bingley's tongue out if she doesn't stop her idle chatter. Lydia is still Lydia, but now her empty headedness is rewarded by spending the remainder of her years married to an invalid, forever changing his soiled bed linens. Charlotte is still Charlotte, except it now makes more sense why she would marry the clearly revolting Mr. Collins: in Grahame-Smith's version she becomes infected, is slowly turning into a unmentionable, and wants a taste of married life before she joins Satan's army. So, her decision to marry a boring, chubby sycophant finally makes some sense. Better!

Furthermore, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has pictures:

"Mr. Darcy watched Elizabeth and her sisters work their way outward, beheading zombie after zombie as they went." well as discussion questions at the end:
"Some critics have suggested that the zombies represent the authors' views towards marriage -- an endless curse that sucks the life out of you and just won't die. Do you agree?"
Which, again, makes it bet-ter.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how well the joke will hold up for someone who hasn't already read (at least in part) Austen's original novel, but if you 1) are in possession of a sense of humor, and 2) are already familiar with the source material, I think it's fair to assume that you'll have fun reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's exactly like reading a Jane Austen novel, except better. It's actually interesting.

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
2009, 319 pages

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Blogger Mary said...

I heard about this book on NPR and I thought it was a joke! I just finished P&P last year and now I think I must find a copy of this book to read!

By the way, have you ever read the Jasper Fforde books? They start with The Eyre Affair and are pretty damn hillarious.

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