Though disappointed with such a beginning, Lady Catherine held the greatest hopes for her third and final ninja, the deadliest of the three. But no sooner had she snapped her fingers, than Elizabeth flung her Katana across the dojo, piercing the ninja's chest and pinning him against a wooden column. Elizabeth removed her blindfold and confronted her opponent, who presently clutched the sword handle, gasping for breath. She delivered a vicious blow, penetrating his rib cage, and withdrew her hand -- with the ninja's still-beating heart in it. As all but Lady Catherine turned away in disgust, Elizabeth took a bite, letting the blood run down her chin and onto her sparring gown. (from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, page 130, 132)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith is not the typical retelling of the beloved classic Pride and Prejudice. Grahame-Smith basically takes Austen's words and throws in some zombies. That's the short of it. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, with some people absolutely hating it and some thinking it great fun. I lean toward the latter, but I wouldn't say I loved it.
I would recommend that anyone who doesn't approve of another author taking charge of Austen's characters steer clear of this book. A mysterious plague has settled over England, and for many years, the "sorry stricken" have died and emerged from the ground as zombies, unless they have been beheaded and burned. The Bennet sisters -- Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty -- have all studied the deadly arts in China, and they are masters of the sword, dagger, and musket. Elizabeth is especially accomplished in this regard; in one scene on the way to visit her best friend Charlotte Lucas after her marriage to Mr. Collins, Elizabeth's carriage is attacked, and she takes on hundreds of dreadfuls on her own, and later she kills three of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's best ninjas while blindfolded. Jane Austen purists might be shocked at this treatment of their beloved characters, but I honestly thought the book was hilarious. From Lady Catherine and Elizabeth sparring to Charlotte slowly becoming a zombie without anyone noticing to Wickham's unfortunate inability to control his bodily functions, I found myself laughing throughout the book.
However, I don't think writing a few new scenes and altering the characters here and there while using most of the author's original work makes for a good book. Mrs. Bennet is still annoying and still focused on marrying off her daughters. Mr. Darcy is still arrogant, Miss Bingley is still obnoxious, and Lydia still runs off with Wickham. One thing Grahame-Smith changed that I really disliked was Elizabeth's personality. As in the original Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is a strong woman who voices her opinions. But Grahame-Smith has given her a violent streak that just doesn't sit well with me. When Jane is snubbed by Miss Bingley and the entire Bingley party leaves Netherfield, Elizabeth wants to defend Jane's honor by killing Miss Bingley. When Mr. Darcy proposes for the first time, albeit badly, Elizabeth kicks him and sends him flying. And then there's the eating of the ninja's heart (see quoted passage above). I guess when zombies have been brought in, there's no sense stopping there.
Still, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was fun, and I'm not sorry I read it. But the illustrations by Philip Smiley steal the show. Seriously, the book is worthy buying just to flip through and see the detailed drawings of the zombies...and Elizabeth taking them down.
Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word.
Disclosure: I purchased my copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.