Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Synopsis: “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! 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. Can Elizabeth 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. (from the online description)

After seeing the movie, I decided I should probably read the book. It was dreadful (pun intended).
I understood this to be a re-write of P&P, but with the assumption that zombies existed and Lizzie Bennet engaged in war against them.  I expected zombies to be integral to the plot and the quality to similar to Austen’s original work.
Instead, it felt like Grahame-Smith just replaced words in Austen’s story with the word zombie. Most of the time, the mention of zombies made no sense in the sentence or scene. It seemed the zombies where just dumped in without consideration for how they connect to the plot. It ruined the story. The idea of Lizzie as a warrior was fantastic, but the execution was cheesy, amateurish, and ridiculous.  The constant references to their time in China and the over-the-top training they supposedly received – seemed ludicrous and stupid. If they were so well trained, Lizzie wouldn’t lose control and nearly behead Darcy just for insulting her. Lame. And zombies weren’t the only thing dumped in. Grahame-Smith also added odd things that had no influence on the story - like Mrs. Gardner having an affair with an old boyfriend. Why would you add that in?
My other main complaint is the inconsistencies in the story. For example, at the time of the story, zombies have been around for 20+ years.  So why do they still have zombies coming up from the earth, new, each spring. Why aren’t people cutting the heads off – in particular because it is the law? And after a while, with all the roving bands of militia, the warriors like Elizabeth and her family, and Darcy and his family - do you still have these large packs of zombies? After a while, you’d simply kill all the ones above ground, and dig up and kill all the ones in the graves? The population seems to shift it’s attitudes towards zombies based on whatever suites the plot at the time. This creates characters that change – one page they are ignoring basic zombie safety, the next berating other characters for their lack. There was also a lack of consistency in the supposed British manners – sometimes it seemed society praised the skills of the warrior and others, the girls were shunned and whispered about for carrying sword.
In the end, I had to shift my thinking. By treating it as I would, say, an episode of Power Rangers, meaning, I suspend hope or expectation of consistency or reality, I assume the author is an amateur and the intended the story for a immature audience, was I able to finish this book. It almost was enjoyable once I stopped expecting it to be good. Not sure how this made it to the top of the best-seller list with it being so dreadful…..

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-59474-334-4
Year Published: 2009
Date Finished: 3-1-2016
Pages: 319

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to have heard your reactions, lest I also would be tempted to read the book after seeing the movie!