Friday, June 19, 2009

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

Summary: Austen's classic story of misunderstandings and reconciliations is updated with zombie killing mayhem.

Musings: I can't write a review about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies without reviewing both Austen and Grahame-Smith, for although Grahame-Smith has added zombies, the story is all Austen's. In truth, the zombies are a clever conceit that add absurdity but change little of the story's overall feel or tone.

In fact, I was surprised how little I noticed the zombie killing. I did like that Elizabeth was given not only mental wit, but physical strength as well, as she's known as a champion zombie slayer. It makes her all the more equal to her love, Darcy. Otherwise it's easy to overlook the Bennett daughters' intensive training in the "deadly arts" since their training in China has done little to affect their temperaments. Mrs. Bennett and the three youngest daughters are dismissed as utterly worthless people, although they are granted some positive growth at the end of the novel.

Austen's prose can be tiring at times, and even some of the more ludicrous additions (such as Elizabeth pulling out the heart of one of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's ninjas and taking a bite) don't make a significant difference. The beginning of the novel frequently bored me, and I could only digest the book in small parts. However, I read the last one hundred pages straight through, and I did so because of Austen's story, not zombies. I knew Elizabeth and Darcy would end up together, but I read eagerly, quietly pining as they avoided revealing their feelings for one another.

If Austen's not your thing, Grahame-Smith's changes aren't sufficient to make it worth your while. However, I think any Austen fan can find pleasure in reading an old work in a new light.

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