Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Having recently read Austen's Pride and Prejudice and reviewed it , I decided to buy a used copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Actually, I used a gift coupon.) When the book arrived, the first thing I did was to make a cover from a brown paper sack. I just got tired of seeing that image--so I guess the book designer should feel complimented. It's gross.

Of course, it's supposed to be gross--that's the zombie way.

As far as I understand it, the zombie sub-genre of horror includes the following requirements:
  • graphic descriptions of zombies attacking in hordes, eating brains
  • violent "offings" of many zombies utilizing martial arts, edged weapons, and firearms
  • a certain level of humor and poking fun at the whole process, and a clumsiness and stupidity in the zombies
  • the threatened end to "life as we know it"
I wasn't thrilled with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies--and not just because of the grossness. I knew that would be there, going in. There are some quite clever parts to this novel. Observing the five Bennet girls arrange themselves into the Pentagram of Death to fight their way out of the Netherfield dance was clever, and the girls taking their walks to Meryton, packing Brown Bessies (famous British army muskets of the era) and loaded for . . . zombies . . . had its own unexpected humor.

However, the charm began to fade as the novel progressed. I began to anticipate where references to zombies or fighting skills were going to be inserted--and found myself correct. The writing was beneath that of Austen and couldn't sustain its appeal.

I finally put the book down for a while because it seemed that the plotline was virtually the same as the original novel, except comments were added at appropriate points regarding how many "kills" a character had attained or some comment about fighting strategies. I got to where I could anticipate when a zombie comment would be made and how it was phrased--and was accurate too often. The story became predictable.

The story did diverge in three main areas, though, and this allowed me to finish the novel, albeit with a lot of skimming. The main divergences began when Elizabeth visited the Collinses at the vicarage at Rosings.
  • The Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas relationship was significantly changed.
  • The Mr. Wickham and Lydia Bennet relationship was quite different.
  • The Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh has a significantly different role in the novel.
I supposed since I had to skim significant portions of the novel to finish it that I cannot recommend it more than "Two Stars." Someone who has never read Austen's Pride and Prejudice may enjoy the novel more, being unaware of how much zombie information was just stuck into the novel.

Ultimately, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies just wasn't clever or elegant enough. But, of course, zombie novels are supposed to be clever or elegant.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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