Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Book review 2010.03

Author: Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and I finally remembered to get it from the library. While reading it, I decided to do the right thing and compare it to the original, so I downloaded Pride and Prejudice to my iPod via and the eReader app.

Seth Grahame-Smith did an excellent job of re-writing the story to layer in zombies, without changing the overall theme or details of the original. The zombie plague falls into the background as part of the setting and story, without overshadowing the original tale.

Pride and Prejudice is foremost a story about prattling women, what we nowadays refer to as a “period piece.” Quite frankly, I couldn’t bear to read it without the zombies to spruce it up. Let’s face it, A Room With A View is a great movie, but wouldn’t it be even better if Helena Bonham Carter’s character had been trained by Shaolin monks to be a katana-wielding zombie slayer, as young Elizabeth Bennet was here?

Of course, families of means have their daughters and sons trained in Japan, rather than by peasant monks, but the Bennet family is not so well off. Sometimes the story is over the top, as when Elizabeth slays three ninja without so much as drawing a breath, or entertains friends by doing a handstand for over an hour. That’s right – zombies AND ninjas! Seth Grahame-Smith did a great job with this re-imagining of a terrific piece of classical literature.

Whenever something fun happened in the book, I’d double check the original on my iPod to see how it played out without zombies or G-S’s humor. Many times I was surprised to find that the little bit of humor was not his doing, but was exactly as written by Austen. And it’s her sarcastic and humorous take on English society and culture that carries the story.

While I intended to read this lightly, skimming pages at a time while the women prattled on, and they DO prattle on for pages at a time, I frequently couldn’t. It was an interesting story and would’ve been even without the zombies. But I wouldn’t have read it were it not for the Grahame-Smith. And his handling of some details really enhanced the story, such as how he resolved things with that reprobate Wickham. Just what he and Lydia deserved and very funny too.

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