REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Austen and Grahame-Smith

Thursday, May 7, 2009 1:00
Posted in category Review

Book CoverShannon C.’s review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Humorous fiction released by Quirk Books 4 Apr 09

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blogger in possession of an opinion must be in want of a platform to post it in. And after reading Dear Author’s haiku review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I felt compelled to offer my own, quite different, take on this story. As it happens, I’d only read the original, non-zombified version of Pride and Prejudice recently, so I’m by no means an Austen fangirl, although I think I could be persuaded to become one in short order. As Sybil constantly points out, though, I am a sucker for what in fandom terms is referred to as crack-fic. And on this account, P&P&Z largely works.

The premise is basically exactly what you think it is. Grahame-Smith basically takes Pride and Prejudice and cuts and pastes random battles with zombies. Whether you like that sort of thing really does depend on your tolerance for crack-fic. Me, I laughed. Very hard. A lot, especially since I’d just finished reading the original Pride and Prejudice. And I know, being one of those readers that tends to take things in her escapist literature far too seriously, that it’s entirely hypocritical of me to not mind that in many ways the presence of zombies totally butchers the characterization and historical context of the novel. Because, honestly, would there have been any way to write this story that *wouldn’t* have butchered one of these things or both?

For me, the best part of the book was its sheer absurdity. The image of Elizabeth Bennet, decked out in Regency costume, fighting scores of the undead made me giggle. Every time Darcy made a joke about balls, I laughed. When Elizabeth demonstrates her accomplishments to Lady Catherine de Bourgh by gutting some of that lady’s ninjas, I found the scene hilarious.

Not all of it works, though. What I liked about Austen’s writing was that she was much more subtle in mocking the characters who deserved it.  Grahame-Smith steamrolls right over subtlety. What he does to Wickham and Mr. Collins, while cathartic in their ways, was, well, a bit too much. I’m also not a fan of gore for its own sake, and there’s a lot of that. After a while, and after the 87th reference to a character vomiting, I kind of wanted to vomit a little myself.

I’m not really sure who I’d recommend this book to. It’s certainly not going to please fans of historical accuracy, and I kind of doubt it will please zombie lovers as well. But if your sense of humor leans to the absurd, and you’re curious about this book, which has been hyped quite a lot, I definitely recommend checking it out.

ShannonCGrade: B

Summary:
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“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!
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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 as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.
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Can she 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 read.
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Read an excerpt.

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