Thursday, 3 September 2009

‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ – Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books)


‘Lady Catherine was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and her reply to the letter which announced it’s arrangement came not in written form, but in the form of an attack on Pemberley by five-and-ten of her ladyship’s ninjas.’

I’ve never been one for the classics; while I’ve given some a go I’ve always found myself going back to what I really enjoy reading (no guesses what that is). This made doing an A-Level in English literature really difficult when I was discovering Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books for the first time!
The classics I did read were interesting enough but, looking back, I realise now that they were missing vital ingredients that would have kept me reading and probably sent this blog down a completely different path. ‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles’ would have been a lot more fun if it had happened during an alien invasion. ‘Great Expectations’ would have made excellent reading if it had been discovered that Miss Havisham was a vampire. As far as ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ goes... All I’m saying is that a tribe of cannibal pygmies would have spiced things up a lot more :o)

I’d never really had much interest in reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’, a book that (on the face of it) appeared to be about various ladies trying to work out if rich gentlemen were going to propose. Add zombies (and ninjas!) to the mix though and all of a sudden it became a book that I really had to read...

As I’ve mentioned briefly, ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ tells the tale of the Bennet sisters and their mother’s quest to find them all suitable husbands. Mr Darcy looks like he might be a good catch if he wasn’t so proud and haughty, will Elizabeth ever find out how he really feels about her? Will Elizabeth ever work out how she really feels about him? Will the armed forces of Great Britain ever succeed in turning back the undead hordes that wreak havoc across our fair isle...? The answer is to read and find out as ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ is great fun to read.

I’ve never read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ but I’m fairly certain that it never featured zombies and ninjas so it’s easy to spot where Jane Austen takes a back seat and Seth Grahame-Smith takes over. I felt this was done pretty well actually with the zombies and ninjas standing out (obviously) but the language itself staying faithful to the original text. That’s not to say that things don’t get a little... immature at times. I’m pretty sure that the characters in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ didn’t vomit quite as much as they do here. There are also frequent references to Mr Wickham’s bodily functions but these contrast so strongly with the Austen’s text that you cannot help but laugh. I did anyway. It’s childish but the book never pretends to be anything other than being fun for the sake of it

One thing I did find, reading this book, was that while I was waiting for the zombies to make an appearance I found myself really getting into what was going on in the ‘proper plot’. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is actually a very clever comedy of manners (and misunderstandings) that fits in well with the other plot devices that it employs such as who will inherit the family home, Lydia’s elopement etc. Whether I find the time is another thing entirely but I wouldn’t mind picking up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to find out what actually happened to Charlotte Lucas and the real outcome of the confrontation between Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Catherine. I’m not sure if this is what Seth Grahame-Smith had in mind for the book but it can’t be such a bad outcome can it?

I came for the zombies and they turned out in style! It’s a real gimmick to add something like zombies to a classic work of literature and Grahame-Smith avoids the obvious pitfalls by playing down their presence and concentrating instead on how life in zombie infested times would affect the original plot. As a result, when the zombies do turn up their antics are free to shock and amuse in equal measure. I’m not sure if baiting zombie traps with cauliflower would actually work but I had fun reading about it all the same!

I bought my copy of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ so won’t be giving it a mark out of ten; I think you can guess how I felt about it though (the most fun I’ve ever had reading one of the classics). If only all my English A-Level books had been like this...

6 comments:

Michael said...

I don't understand why you are not giving it a mark ?

Graeme Flory said...

I'm trying something a little new here to see how it goes...

If I'm sent a book then I'm happy to give it a mark. If I buy a book, and review it here, then I'm wondering if the fact that I chose to buy it will reflect unfairly in the final score (either giving it too high or too low a mark). I thought I'd see how it worked out with not giving such books a mark (hopefully you will still get an idea of what I thought of the book!) Depending on how it goes I might change my mind, about doing this, at a later date :o)

Harry Markov: daydream said...

I love the original. It's one of those classics that stuck with me and didn't let me go or perhaps I enjoy that period in Bitain. But I certainly hope one day to read the zombified version. Hah!

James said...

I have been ignoring this book for some time, but the quote about the ninjas sold me. I was going to wait it out for the next one, Sense and Sensibility, and Sea Monsters, but I will be picking this one up as well.

Mardel said...

I love your ideas for some of the other novels:
especially Lady Haversham as a vampire and cannibal pygmies in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Now I'm going to start imagining things like that with a lot of the books I read.

Anonymous said...

Graeme you really should read the original! I am mainly a fantasy/sci fi fan and that is 90% of my reading, but pride and prejudice (the original version) would still rate as one of my favourite novels. I read the zombie version a couple of weeks ago and found it a blast, but it also reminded me how great the original is.