Friday, February 19, 2010

My Take On Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton — and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers — and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to listen to.

To be quite frank, this book was a lot slower going than I had first hoped. But I suppose that was in line with the original book. I read another review that said P&P&Z was not sped up to make it more interesting; Grahame-Smith left the pacing alone, and I actually think it was for the best. Sure, it wasn't a fast-paced thrill ride, but it was funny!
The first line is my favorite ever and roped me in instantly, but after that it took about 30 pages for my full attention to be captured. It just so happens that the first zombie encounter occurs on about the thirtieth page. Coincidence? Maybe. But if you can hang in there for that long, it's a worthwhile read. The pace was sorta like a freight train; it took a bit to get going, but once it did it kept increasing by steady increments right until the end.
The plot, as I'm sure you're all aware, centers on the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her family; her four sisters, only one of whom has a lick of sense; her mother, a one-sided, insipid gossip; and her father, the cock in the hen-house; and their encounters with a plethora of suitors as well as zombies.
Their mother's main goal in life is to see her girls happily married. Their father's is to see them survive.
The result is that the Bennet girls, particularly Elizabeth and Jane, are highly accomplished and capable warriors trained in the deadly arts. Elizabeth and Jane were also quite level headed and independent for their time and were quite easy to relate to, despite the considerable socioeconomic and time differences.
Besides zombies, there was another shocking addition to this imaginative revamping of a beloved, if not overrated, novel; that being ninjas. Yes, ninjas. Scads of them. And where there's ninjas, there's ninja combat sequences, complete with throwing stars, katanas, and dismemberment. As fun as this tidbit may sound, I actually had a hard time swallowing it. It felt spoofy. The feats performed by the daring Elizabeth were overdone and clashed with the rest of the novel. However, it provided a much needed boost in humor to the original plot and kicked up the action just when I was about to get bored with the tedium of social niceties.
The characters were interesting, and though the peripheral characters were rather one dimensional, they left me with, get this, the desire to read more Jane Austen! By the end of the book, my favorite part was actually seeing the transformation of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy1; through personal growth as well as through the shedding of light on the true character of both. The zombies were still great, but the character interaction was, surprisingly, better.
It is this conclusion that leads me to jump to another; I do believe I have been tricked into, if not loving, at least liking classic literature! Let it be known that Seth-Grahame is a fiend of the highest order; luring in an innocent and unsuspecting zombie aficionado with the promise of zombie gore, only to open my eyes to the startling revelation that Austen's works might not just be girly novels full of ancient etiquette. They might just be, dare I say it, interesting2! I haven't picked up a "classic" in quite some time, and all my memories of them, save a few, are tainted by the stain of shear boredom. Maybe I've matured. Maybe it was just the zombies. Who knows!
But I digress.
I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...
...Three and one-half Zombies!
Proof that a crypt full of zombies helps the literature go down. The literature go do-own, the literature go down.

1  In the theatre of my mind, Mr Darcy was played, at first, by Collin Firth, but by the end he'd transformed into Mat Bomer, aka Neil Caffrey of White Collar. He still had the accent, though.
2  Another factor that leads me with the desire to read more Austen is that, the night before I started this book, I watched The Jane Austen Book Club on Lifetime. It was the last thing I saw before going to sleep, so maybe it was a subliminal sorta thing. Maybe the movie has secret messages embedded in the score that compel you to read Austen's books.


pirate penguin said...

Nice review! (and nice signature! did you get it from live signature?) o.o

Ninjas! Lemme guess, Elizabeth faces off with whatsherface...Darcy's aunt... *is sleepy for no reason and therefore can't remember anything right now* ughhhhhh... well, YOU KNOW.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Great review! This one looks like fun!

I like signature too!

Zombie Girrrl said...

I think the sig came from live signature... Orchid helped me out, so I'm not entirely sure. :}

Zombie Girrrl said...

P.S. Yeah, I know what you're talking about, Sandy! Lady Katherine, though I wouldn't call her a lady. Stuck-up old battle axe, maybe, but not a lady.

Misty said...

I just was not impressed with this, or what SGS did with the original text. It was like he barely tried to work the two together at times. I got an ARC of PPZ: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, which is written by someone else, so I'm hoping it's going to be better. We'll see...
I love the half zombie!

Zombie Girrrl said...

@ Misty: Ooh, lucky! Velvet told about the DotD ARC thing, but I missed the boat. I hope it more than you did PPZ.
I know what mean about it being disjointed at times. Most of the time it fit together nicely, but some things just didn't go (like I said before). It was a pretty funny read, though.

pirate penguin said...

Lol, battle ax... she's mean in the novel but the women who portray her in the movie versions? They're horrible. (but of course that means that they act very well!)

I'm hoping I'll have lots of fun at BEA! Maybe you could go next year :D

Moony said...

I liked it at first, but then I started feeling the book didn't reach its full potential. Once the ninjas entered the scene it seemed a bit overdone, and the zombies seemed to take a backseat. Lizzie is going to take a bite out of a heart without flinching, but the sight of pus dribbling in her friend's mouth makes her want to vomit?

The prequel is supposed to be released soon so I will read that one.

vvb32 reads said...

yes, funny read with the classic pretty much intact. i was hoping for more z action which i hear is in the deluxe edition. i'll have to read that one too.

btw: you've been awarded ;-D

Stacy @ said...

I agree, it was a bit slow. But in the end I am glad I read it. I liked how Elizabeth was very much a lady, yet still able to destroy zoombies the next.

Froggy said...

I have debated buying this one and I still am undecided...but I most likely will cave and by it. I love the original story!
Thanks for the great review!


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