Friday, July 17, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Society hit a new low with the publication of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (Quirky Classics, 2009). Naturally, seconds after I found out about this book I raced to the bookstore where dozens of people had already congregated to purchase a copy.
P&P&Z stayed very close to the original story--including using much of Jane Austin’s exact text--except that in this version England is overrun with man-eating zombies have turned carriage rides across the countryside and neighborhood balls into life-threatening events. The Bennet family spent several years training under a ninja in Japan and so fought valiantly against the zombies in several gripping passages throughout the book.
Co-author Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the book over six weeks, pasting his own zombie passages in between Jane Austin’s original text. His writing stayed true to Jane Austin’s style of “using 40 words when one would suffice” (quote from Seth Grahame-Smith). Before settling on the concept of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Grahame-Smith experimented with classic titles such as Wuthering Heights and Crime and Punishment with themes like monkeys and ninjas. He comically altered some of the characters from Pride and Prejudice, writing about Mr. Bennet’s love affair in Japan, having Charlotte die the painful death of a zombie, and then her husband Mr. Collins kill himself in grief.
Undeniably, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a lot of fun, in a totally ridiculous sort of a way. Unfortunately, however, Grahme-Smith opted to make the book purely comical, and forwent the opportunity to turn P&P&Z into a satire on Jane Austin and all of her books in general. After enduring almost two decades of Jane Austin obsession—where every six months another movie comes out of one of her books--it would have been a breath of fresh air to read something that ridicules plots entirely consumed with matchmaking and marriage.
In addition, the entire concept, chosen at random, seems simply bizarre and silly, with very little creativity involved in the process. In fact, the only part of the book where Grahame-Smith exercised artistic liberties was when he made puns out of the frequent conversations that arise in the book about ‘balls’. This book was kind of like eating a bag of marshmallows; it may at time be fun, but mostly it feels like fluff and you have no sense of fulfillment afterwards.

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