Jan 13, 2010

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


"Sadly, this action prevented her from saving the second musket man, who had been pulled from his perch.  He screamed as the dreadfuls held him down and began to tear organs from his living belly and feast upon them."  (Page 117)

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a mash-up of Jane Austen's classic, Pride and Prejudice, and a zombie conflict.  Grahame-Smith effectively weaves in the zombie attacks and how the Bennet clan dispatches them with skill.  A majority of this novel is Austen's words, but the dialogue and descriptions that are modified to accommodate zombies are done with aplomb.

"'My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world in your excellent judgment in all matters within the scope of your understanding, particularly in the slaying of Satan's armies, but permit me to say, that there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy.  After all you may wield God's sword, but I wield His wisdom.  And it is wisdom, dear cousin, which will ultimately rid us of our present difficulties with the undead.'" (Page 77)

Fun and entertaining on a base level, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an exercise in revision and an examination of Austen's characters in a new light.  Many readers will disagree with Grahame-Smith's portrayal of Lizzy as a cutthroat assassin who is quickly turned by her own emotions or strict sense of duty and honor, particularly since she often talks of dispatching her peers for slighting her family, imagines beheading her own sister Lydia simply because she prattles on, and other unmentionable actions.

"'Jane, no one who has ever seen you together can doubt his affection.  Miss Bingley, I am sure, cannot.  She may not be a warrior, but she has cunning enough.  Dearest sister, I implore you -- this unhappiness is best remedied by the hasty application of a cutlass to her throat.'"  (Page 95)

However, one of the most perceptive and playfully done sequences in the novel is the sparring match between Mr. Darcy and Lizzy.  Some readers could find this sequence too forceful, but others may view the physical combat between the characters as just a manifestation of their verbal tete-a-tete in the original novel.  The elements of zombies and ninjas provide additional circumstances that further delineate the class differences Austen sought to examine in her novels, enabling readers to further investigate the social conventions and prejudices inherent in this society.

There are other instances, however, in which these revised scenes do not work as well, and many of the social conventions of the time are overlooked in favor of ensuring the Bennet sisters, who are of little means, were shipped to the Orient for training in the deadly arts -- even if it was with the inferior Chinese Shaolin monks --and were prepared for combat, which is inevitable in a nation nearly overrun by the undead.  In Austen's novel, it would be unconventional for Lizzy to converse so openly with Wickham about Darcy, and it would be outside convention for Darcy to write her a letter to explain himself.  Here, convention is defied even more so in that the Bennet women are trained to kill -- even if it is only zombies -- and Lizzy openly displays her talents and shuns marriage.

Austen purists will NOT enjoy this novel unless they loosen their reverence for the author's work.  Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a creative revision with an edge that modern readers may enjoy for its drama and action-packed zombie slayings.  There is a lot more to this rendition than simple entertainment.



This is my 3rd book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge, though should I consider it a new author if a majority of the book is written by Jane Austen, who is an old favorite.

This is my 2nd book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010!

FTC Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies from FSB Associates for review.  Clicking on titles or images can bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated. 

36 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've been sitting on the fence for these books since they came out. I actually only read Austen for the first time early last year! I don't know, it all seemed pretty goofy, which I guess is OK in the right mood. Maybe someday...

Serena said...

Sandy: I was on the fence, but I took a chance. I liked this one. Its not the best book I've ever read, but it was enjoyable and gave me a lot to think about. I even compared it to the original...I know I'm odd. I still have the Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters to review.

thekoolaidmom said...

I have this on my TBR mountain range and look forward to reading it eventually. I love Jane Austen and I love zombies, so the combination of the two make for a fun concept. I just wish I could read faster so I could get to it ;-)

Anna said...

Thanks for the thoughtful review. I didn't like how he portrayed Elizabeth, but overall, this was a fun book. I think I would've liked it more if he didn't capitalize too much on Austen's actual words. I think he should've written the story entirely in his own words. That just didn't work for me for some reason.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Carrie said...

Great review! Ah, and may they live happy everafter and hunting zombies together.

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this, but I just don't think it's for me.

Lezlie said...

Between the two, I preferred this one to "Sea Monsters". I thought it was fun. But I'm all zombied out now. Back to the real thing! :-)

Lezlie

PS I think it counts as a new author. He changed enough to qualify.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have the Sea Monsters one, and I just couldn't get through the first couple of pages! But P&P&Z is very popular, so a lot of people must find it entertaining!

Serena said...

Koolaidmom: I think you should read this one. I haven't read SSSM yet, but keep an eye out for that review soon.

Anna: I'm glad you liked PPZ, though you had more issues with it than I did.

Carrie: I agree.

Bermudaonion: I don't think this is for everyone; you really need to be flexible with the original text.

lezlie: stay tuned for my review of SSSM; I'm glad you think it counts for the challenge.

Rhapsody: I've heard people are having issues with SSSM...Guess I'll find out soon enough.

Jenners said...

I wonder how many readers who never read Austen at all would read this and then go read the original? I wonder if it works like this. This book continues to confound and amuse me.

Aarti said...

I haven't read this one, but I have Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters on my shelf! I think I'd like that one more as that book isn't one of my favorites, but P&P is. Thanks for this review!

Serena said...

Jenners: I wonder the same thing. Would anyone read the original after reading this.

Aarti: I still have to read SSSM, so I'll keep you posted with my reviews of these "quirky" books.

Janel said...

I'm still thinking about reading this one. Twisting a classic sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I would like this one.

J.S. Peyton said...

I liked "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" much more than I liked this one. The author of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" just didn't go far enough in being creative I thought. I thought it was entertaining for about the first third, though. I guess maybe my expectations were so high given how much I love "Pride and Prejudice" and zombies.

Staci said...

I have a sense of humor so reading this will not make me upset that they've taken a classic and made it into a zombie thriller!!

Marie said...

You make it sound like a lot of fun :-) Are you going to read sense & sensibility & sea monsters next? :-)

Belle said...

This one's been on my TBR for a while - I'm still not sure whether I'll like it or not! I do like a good zombie novel on the one hand, but on the other hand, I adore P&P ...

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

i struggled mightily with this one and then stupidly picked up sense & sensibility and sea monsters. don't do it...

softdrink said...

I really wanted to be entertained by this book, but I tried to read it along with P&P and I ended up loathing both of them. I'm afraid I'm an anti-Austinite.

Dar said...

I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one Serena. I bought it a while ago but haven't had a chance to pick it up yet.

Book Chick City said...

I love Pride & Prejudice and I love zombies. I bought this book a while ago but have been reluctant to read it as I didn't really know if the two would combine well. However, it sounds as though I would enjoy it as long as I don't take it too seriously. Thanks for the review Serena, I may just read this after all :)

Serena said...

BookChickCity: I'm glad you'll give this a try. I think you'll like it. It will be really hard for those who love P&P and don't like to see changes at all.

Iliana said...

This is one of those which I just don't know about. I've read some good reviews about it and some mixed ones but I guess it all comes down to a mood thing. Thanks for you review, Serena!

Kristen said...

While I'm not an Austen purist by any stretch, I just can't muster up any desire to read this one or the subsequent mash-ups either. Guess I'll have to stay ignorant of this newest publishing trend.

naida said...

I recently read this one and enjoyed it.
I thought it was fun too. It had me laughing out loud.
Great review Serena!
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Michelle said...

I absolutely adored the sparring scene. Elizabeth became an even more "girl power" character by adding the zombie-killing plotline.

I loved this book!

Becca said...

Sounds like you have to read this with a really open mind, about Austen and about keeping things authentic to the times and the original. But it also sounds like it could be a lot of fun if you can avoid being offended that someone has tampered with a classic. I’m not really a stickler about things like that so I’d love to give this a try.

mariska said...

I've seen so many people had tried Jane Austen's books. I'm so curious about it, since i haven't read any.

i'm gonna look at my local bookstore if they have any.

Anonymous said...

an interesting combination....

karenk
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

Susan said...

I'm usually such a purist when it comes to things as classic as Austen's novels, but sometimes it is fun to cast that aside and enjoy something different (if irreverent!). I think I would appreciate, if nothing else, the author's creativity and ability to imagine such craziness.

Bcteagirl said...

Thank you for this review! I have been wondering if I should get this work. I had not realized that most of it is in her original words. And Ninjas! Adding it to my wishlist now!

Lisa R said...

My daughter has been urging me to read this for awhile as she is an avid Jane Austin fan. I'm the paranormal reader in our family and she wants my take on it.

blogged about it
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bookaholic said...

I haven't read any Jane Austen mash up but I have read many reviews and I so want to read the books!!


frndz.debas@gmail.com

buddyt said...

Sometimes we tend to get too srious about books that are considered classics. I think a bit of irreverance can often help us in perhaps re-reading the original and getting a different insight into how good or bad it really is.

As long as the spoof is done in a good humoured manner and the author tries to stay true to the original authors style and story to a degree, I think such books can be great fun.

Carol


buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Kelly said...

Great interview! I was hesitant to pick up this book, but I did and I loved it! It still has that Jane Austen feel, even though Lady Catherine duBourgh owns ninjas!

heatwave16 said...

I have not read the original classic, but I figured a litte bit of zombies would help my classic-phobic persona. :) Great review.

heatwave96(at)hotmail.com