Friday, January 1, 2010

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

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.

I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word.

Disclosure: I purchased my copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


Literary Feline said...

Thank you for your thorough review, Anna. This is one I think I'll avoid.

Celticlady's Reviews said...

I had looked at this book a few times at the bookstore. I did decide to buy it because I was a bit intriqued by the title. I have to say that I hated it... I could not even finish it and I ended up swapping it.I guess I feel that the supernatural has not place in a classic....

Violet said...

I'm glad you find it worth a read, I absolutely hated it :)

Blodeuedd said...

Lol, it was nice for a good laugh, but great, no. Though I liked Lizzys weird violent ways

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have yet to pick up an Austen spinoff. I mean, I just read Pride & Prejudice for the first time this year, and I didn't want to spoil the magic of it all!

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this, but I don't think it's for me. I haven't gotten into Austen re-tellings or zombies. I guess I'm too old. :(

Julie P. said...

I'm not sure I'd enjoy this one but I do like reading everyone else's perspectives.

Serena said...

This sounds like a fun book, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what I think about it.

The Bookworm said...

I just finished read this one myself. I was laughing out loud while reading :)
I totally agree, I didnt like Lizzys mean streak, and the eating of the still beating heart was a bit much.
Great review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Your review is fun, but I don't think I would want to read the book! I will take your advice, however, and look through it for the pictures!

Mari said...

I thought it was fun but am enjoying Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters much better. The reason- there is a lot more original (new) content added and another parallel storyline that makes it much more interesting.

Kailana said...

I had this out from the library, but I didn't get a chance to read it. I am not sure I would have liked it anyway, but I was curious.

Jeanne said...

Thanks for the advice--I think I will flip through the illustrations and leave it at that--a violent Jane does sound a bit too much for me.

Stephanie said...

I'm not sure whether I'd like this book or hate it. Maybe, like the last commenter, I'll stick with browsing the illustrations.

Heather G. said...

I found this one hilarious...yes, a bit violent with the zombies! But I just couldn't get enough!

Anna said...

~Literary Feline: It's definitely not for everyone!

~CelticLady: I couldn't finish Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, so I see your point. I thought this one was fun, though.

~Violet: It's always interesting to see so many different opinions on the same book! Sorry you didn't like it at all.

~Blodeuedd: I thought the scenes with Lizzy being violent were funny, but I can't say I liked that he changed the character that much. I've always thought of her as feisty, but not feisty with a murderous streak! LOL

~Sandy: I can see why you'd want to avoid the sequels and mashups for awhile. It doesn't bother me, though, because I know they'll never top or mar the original for me, and I'm okay with that. LOL

~bermudaonion: Oh, stop! Seriously, though, if you're not into the Austen sequels, I'd pass on this one.

~Julie: So true!

~Serena: You seemed to like it much more than I did. You went all analytical with it, too. I just looked at it as pure entertainment. LOL

~naida: Yeah, the heart part shocked me a bit, but I still thought it was funny. What happens to Wickham made me laugh hard!

~rhapsodyinbooks: I thought the pictures were cool! And Serena and I found a hardcover version and the pictures were in color! :)

~Mari: See, I couldn't get into the sea monsters. I wanted more original content, but I guess the sea monsters just didn't work for me.

~Kailana: I'd definitely check it out again if you're curious. I'm not sure I would run out and buy it though.

~Jeanne: Well, Elizabeth was more violent than Jane. Jane fought the zombies, but other than that, was still the same noble character.

~Stephanie: It's worth a shot! I'm not sorry I read it, it was a lot of fun, but it wasn't a great book.

~hmsgofita: Glad you enjoyed it!