Apologies for not posting yesterday, but I’m a bit under the weather with a nasty sore throat. Still, I don’t want you to miss me too much, so I’m going to cheat on this week’s Saturday Selection and post a review I did a few years ago. But just because it’s old, doesn’t mean I don’t still love this book!
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (oh my!)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies brings up the age-old philosophical quandary of What is the best way to send devoted Jane Austen followers into a tizzy? Surely, taking a classic and clever tale revered by many as one of the top ten on the world’s literary list and turning it into a horror story might upset those out there who were born without a sense of humor, but for those of us that can appreciate the classics while poking fun at them, this book is devilishly fun.
Take the Bennet girls and turn them into kick ass zombie warriors (necessary because Southern England seems to have a nasty outbreak of the undead) while keeping all the elements of the original story and that’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in a nutshell. Don’t worry all the key bits are still in there – Mrs. Bennet is still a nitwit whose only goal in life is to marry off her daughters to the wealthiest men who will take them, Elizabeth still holds all her preconceived notions about everyone, Darcy is still haughty and confused in his attraction for Elizabeth (and I can’t help but visualize Colin Firth as I read this or any version of P&P), and Jane and Bingley are still meant for one another. But then there’s those pesky zombies roaming all about noshing on people’s brains.
The co-author (Jane Austen is still listed as first author), Seth Grahame-Smith, mingles and meshes Austen’s lines in with his own, re-working them enough to change the tone and add in horror/action plot elements. For example, the original first line “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” becomes “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
Truer words were never spoken.
The zombie problem is quite rampant and therefore the Bennet girls have been trained in martial arts and swordplay to be some of England’s best zombie fighters. As we know, Bingley shows up and Jane goes all swoony for him. Unfortunately, Bingley is a bit of a pussy and is afraid of the zombies so he mysteriously high-tails it. Elizabeth is certain the rude (and quite handy against the zombies himself) Mr. Darcy is behind this departure and, since her family has been slighted, she must avenge them by killing him. Their nearly deadly fights against each other take the place of the original dances and sitting room scenes where their surly chitchat occurs. Other plot elements such as Wickham’s underhanded ways, Elizabeth’s trip to Pemberly, and the meddling Lady Catherine (a sort of Grand Master against zombies) are all there, they’re just a little more fun, and gruesome.
One of my favorite moments in the book is a scene when Lydia – possibly the most annoying character in any edition of Pride and Prejudice – is rambling on and “Elizabeth presently drew her [sword] and cut off Lydia’s head…Elizabeth sheathed her blade and, in a most delicate tone, said ‘I beg you all forgive me, but I could stand her prattling no longer.’” It’s lines and situations like these that make the book (blasphemous as it may be to those with a stick up their butt) a witty tome. Because really, in the original, when Lydia gossips non-stop for several paragraphs, you know you’re sitting there wishing someone would do her harm. Grahame-Smith has given the Bennet girls skills that are as good or better than most men they encounter so anyone who has read the original and cringed at the girls’ dull lives need cringe no more.
And the zombies, you can’t help but enjoy their stupidity as they continually mistake cauliflower gardens for rows upon rows of brains.
So get off your Austen-ian high horse and have some fun with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Then stay off that horse and check out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.