Friday, May 1, 2009

Brains Anyone? They're Fresh!

So I’m finally here with my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I finished the book a while ago but I just couldn’t figure out how I felt about it, which wasn’t making writing a review all that easy. But good news: I finally made my decision! So let us begin. I’ll try very hard not to include any too-important spoilers. But then again, if you’ve read the original, you already know how it ends. Or do you?

I never would have imagined that zombies and Jane Austen would have any place together, and for this successful "collaboration”, I applaud Seth Grahame-Smith. As his biography states, he once took a class in English literature, and it pays off here. The story was very well done, the writing exquisite. The novel flowed seamlessly from proper English life to zombie gore and back again. There were some one-liners so hysterical that I made sure to make note of them to include in my review.

Elizabeth watching her friend “suffer through a quarter-hour of sickness so severe that decorum prevents its description in these pages” is funny. Mr. Darcy attending a meeting of the League of Gentlemen for the Encouragement of Continued Hostilities Against Our Most Unwelcome Enemy is funny. Elizabeth telling her sister Jane that “this unhappiness is best remedied by the hasty application of a cutlass to her [Miss Bingely’s] throat” is really funny. But humor alone wasn't enough, and I’m forced to say that I didn’t really like the “And Zombies” part of this work.

I think my problem with this novel was twofold: first of all, I am so used to reading the masterpiece that is Pride and Prejudice that I couldn’t keep from being annoyed every time new material interrupted me and reminded me that I wasn’t reading the real deal. Things just don’t seem as romantic and proper when zombies are feasting on people. My other complaint is that the Elizabeth Bennett character seemed too different from Jane Austen’s description of her. Where we once had a clever and feisty young lady, Mr. Grahame-Smith created a professionally trained fighter, a lady unconcerned with killing, consumed with honor, and possessing more than a touch of bloodlust.

One part of the novel finds our Miss Bennet, blindfolded, killing Lady Catherine’s ninjas. Now here’s Elizabeth balancing herself, upside down, on one finger, while Mr. Darcy looks on in amusement. Her rejection of Mr. Darcy ends in a physical battle that includes her kicking him so hard that he shatters part of the mantlepiece. Wait, now she’s eating someone’s still beating heart (those poor ninjas). Seriously? We’re supposed to believe that faced with zombies, this is what Elizabeth Bennet would do?

Still though, I must again commend Mr. Grahame-Smith. His clever writing was admirable, and he even included illustrations and a handy reader’s discussion guide, which was my favorite part. The final question had me laughing out loud in the doctor’s waiting room, which is never a good thing when you’re reading a book with a bloody zombie on the cover.

"Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of the living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?"

That question to me sums it up for me perfectly: a really funny novel, but yes, I can imagine what it is like without the zombies, and I’m sorry to say I like it better that way.


Julie said...

Your reaction seems to leave me on the fence about reading it myself. Those were some funny quotes! And yes laughing in public with bloody zombies on the cover of your book, is never a good idea. People will look at you funny lol.

Martha said...

I appreciate your review, hmm, not sure if I will read this. I love Pride and Prejudice, so not sure. Thank you!

Bee and Rose said...

Thank you for sharing:) I picked this up and have not yet read it...I am planning on it soon! I actually did an entire Jane post today! I love Jane and P&P is my all time favorite book!

I think I will probably share your opinion!

Rachael said...

thank you for the lovely commentary--i think i will skip the book myself though...btw, you should read charles dickens next--just saw "Little Dorrit" on PBS and I am sure the book is even better than the film (which stars the guy who played Mr. Darcy in the latest P&P film).

Claire said...

Ugh, I don't know about Charles Dickens. Miss Havisham kind of scared me away from him :)

Michelle said...

I made you blush!?! Oh--you're too cute!!

So Zombies huh? I guess it sounds kind of interesting....not really my thing though. Thanks for sharing!! Maybe when I'm in a reading rut, I'll pick it up.