Friday, 22 July 2011

'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' by Seth Grahame-Smith (2009)

Synopsis: The plot of this book is almost identical to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, only condensed and set in an alternate universe where Regency-era England is being terrorised by zombies. Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters live in a countryside estate called Longbourn with their parents. Mr Bennet instructs his daughters in martial arts and weapons training but Mrs Bennet would rather have her girls married off to wealthy men. When the wealthy bachelor Mr Bingley moves to nearby Netherfield, Mrs Bennett spots an opportunity and sends her daughters off to the first ball where Bingley will appear. The girls save the party from a zombie attack but Elizabeth clashes with Bingley's friend, the zombie-hunter Mr Darcy.

I'm a huge Jane Austen fan but I also have a sense of humour. I'm not one of those fans that gets automatically uptight and offended over humorous parodies of a favourite book or author. I suspect Jane Austen herself felt the same way because she wrote a comic parody of Gothic literature called Northanger Abbey. That being said Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is nowhere near as funny as its premise would suggest. Admittedly there are some fairly entertaining scenes and passages in it: the highlights being the opening three chapters and Darcy's first proposal. However, the problem is that the humour gets old very quickly and the novelty wears off. The gags became repetitive and just plain irritating after a while.

It's a shame really because this book has a great premise but it just doesn't warrant its length. I think it would have worked far better as a short excerpt in a magazine.

Rating: 2/5


Geneva said...

I thought I would love this book when I first heard about it. It combines two of my favorite things: Austen and zombies. But then I opened the book and I kid you not, read three or four lines and knew this was not for me. I realized something I had never really put into words: I don't like books that profit off of other literature.

I don't mind when books are adapted into plays or movies, or vice versa, because you are going from one media to another and it takes talent to honor the original whilst molding it into another art form. However, when one author takes another's work and writes a sequel or prequel or companion I just feel they are riding the coattails of a better author.

There are so many people out there trying to bank on Austen's work, especially Pride and Prejudice. I get it, Darcy is one of the most interesting character's out there, but rather than tack on to Austen's work, write someone new who is Darcy-like.

Not only that, but many of these authors seem so arrogant to me. Do they really think they equal Austen (or whichever author they are stealing from)? Do they think they can do someone else's characters justice?

I may be the odd man out with this feeling, but I just can't help it, I think these hangers-on sully beautiful works.

Hannah said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. There are supposed to be some excellent Sherlock Holmes stories out there that haven't actually been written by Arthur Conan Doyle (Anthony Horowitz's 'The House of Silk' and Laurie R. King's 'The Beekeeper's Apprentice'). But up until now my experiences of other authors writing sequels, prequels and retellings of other works has only ever been bad.

Books that I'd recommend to Jane Austen fans are Elizabeth Gaskell's 'North and South', Stella Gibbons' 'Cold Comfort Farm', Dodie Smith's 'I Capture the Castle', Susanna Clarke's 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell', Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows' 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel-Pie Society' and any of Georgette Heyer's works :) Those books have all got a similar tone or spirit to Jane Austen's works and yet none of them re-use her characters or attempt to rip Austen's stories off.

Geneva said...

I will have to add those to my list! I've only read I Capture the Castle in that list but I did read Wives and Daughters by Gaskell. I've read Edgeworth, Burney, and Radcliff which of course are either similar to or actually influenced Austen herself and I've enjoyed a lot of those.

I did enjoy the book Lost in Austen because it's not trying to be a novel. It's just fun and "what if it were you?" The miniseries for it was odd, though. Parts were funny but I didn't enjoy the end (and the rest I actually don't remember, so that can't be good).

Hannah said...

I read Ann Radcliffe's 'The Italian' after I read 'Northanger Abbey' but I didn't like it at all. There was way much description for my liking! She'd describe a setting and then she'd go back to describe what that setting looked like at night or a different time of the day. It drove me nuts! Frances Burney's 'Evelina' is on my current to-read list though. I don't really know anything about Edgeworth. Is she worth it?

I didn't even know Lost in Austen WAS based on a book! I didn't like the miniseries at all. Actually I do remember finding Episode One quite funny but after that I hated it. I wouldn't usually describe myself as a die-hard purist but as far as I'm concerned you just CANNOT have Darcy ending up with anyone other than Elizabeth Bennet! I know it's not trying to be a serious adaptation or anything but when I saw it I just got really angry. It went too far.

Geneva said...

Exactly, Darcy and Elizabeth should always be together.

I liked Edgeworth's Belinda (probably 4/5). The characters make mistakes but they learn and grow a lot. However, her Castle Rackrent was only about 2/5. So her other books could go either way.

I thought The Italian was about 3/5. I liked The Mysteries of Udolpho better, but it is actually longer AND more detailed! I still really love it, though. The detailed writing bothered me more in The Italian for some reason, maybe because there is just so much going on in Mysteries, so I never got bored. The Romance of the Forest is in between the other two imo.

Evelina is worth a read too. I thought it was about 4/5 but Cecilia was only 2/5. I still have to read Camilla.