on March 27, 2009
The literary community should never be too proud to laugh at itself. I own three copies of the original "Pride & Prejudice" plus all the movies, so my husband and I bought this the moment we spotted it on the shelf (and laughed all the way to the register).
Fans need to read this book tongue-in-cheek and prepare to laugh WITH it. If you don't like zombies or consider yourself a Jane Austen purist, if you admire only the most intricate writing and consider this sort of work irreverent, then you'll be appalled more than amused. The level of writing IS degenerated from the original but, considering the subject matter, I don't think "quality" was the forethought of the day. "Brains" is more like it.
On a literary note, the juxtaposition of familiar classic and farcical horror makes for harmless, laugh-out-loud comedy. I applaud this idea and hope the "Quirk Classics" line hammers out more spoofs on stories I love.
The only thing I find annoying is the last line of the blurb: "transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read." I'm perfectly capable of enjoying BOTH, thankyouverymuch.
on March 28, 2009
1) It is an excellent mashup
2) It has freaking Zombies... I mean 'unmentionables'
3) I started reading it in the local store this afternoon and have wasted most of the afternoon reading it.
4) Did I mention the Zombies?
If you like 'Good Omens' you'll like this.
If you like 'Shaun of the Dead' you'll like this.
If you're literate you'll like this.
If you're a zombie you probably won't
on April 20, 2009
I was an English major in college when I encountered Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I loved it--after a semester of Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness, it was nice to be reading a romance novel for a change.
But in the end I was unsatisfied. There were so many questions left unanswered: What could conceivably induce Chrlotte Lucas to marry the intolerable Mr. Collins? What were those soldiers even doing in that part of England when, at the time Austen was writing the book, she would have supposed them in Brussels, fighting Napoleon? How could Mr. Bingley's balls exact such excitement from an entire community? Now I have the answer: (Spoiler Alert) Zombies.
With the addition of Zombies, everything in Pride and Prejudice falls into place. Miss Lucas's marriage, Lady Catharine's widely held respect, even Elizabeth's remarkable self control and discipline makes more sense now that I know of her training in the orient.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies shows that occasionally due an excessive concern for popular sentiment or commerical appeal, an editor may be a trifle too liberal with the red pen. When I think of the generations who have been deprived of this edition, my only comfort is knowing that, with Miss Austen listed as primary author, librarians will now be shelving Pride and Prejudice and Zombies alongside the original redacted version.
Now that the Zombie barrier has been breached, I look forward to reading Of Mice and Men and Zombies, Being and Nothingness and Zombies, Crime and Punishment and Zombies, and War and Peace and Zombies, which, with the reinsertion of the Zombie scenes, will finally be a substantial read.
on May 20, 2009
The concept was great - I thought - a kind of Buffy the VAmpire Slayer done with Elizabeth Bennett and all the smart and sassy conversation of Jane Austen in her wonderful outing, Pride and Prejudice. But it just didn't hit the mark.
The attempt to splice the two ideas together left me cold - it didn't blend together easily or nicely - and boy I wish it had - it would have been a pretty hilarious book if it had. Elizabeth Bennett would make a great 'unmentionable' slayer. She has the confidence, humour and sass to pull that off. But the book is brought down, in my opinion, by straying to far from the text and forgetting who the characters are and what they represent in the story. Mr Bennett as a trainer of his 5 girls in the pentacle of death just doesn't ring true. He really takes no interest in his children at all - let alone the training of them - and Lady Catherine de Bourgh as the trainer with Ninjas. Sorry. I know they were supposed to be ironic touches, but the writing of Jane Austen and Seth diverged too greatly to allow a continuity of theme between the two.
So - I don't begrudge anyone finding this funny. I don't know that Janeites would enjoy this - but I am looking forward too - and ever hopeful that some clever person in the future will achieve this novel - as it would be a real hoot.
How can you not want to read a book with this title? I've enjoyed Jane Austen, though I'm not one of her devotees, and I like zombies when they're handled well, though they've always fared better in films than in print. So such a mashup seemed promising. Unfortunately PPZ doesn't deliver. For a parody to work, the parody really has to read like the original, and the author's prose can't touch Austen's effortless, elegant, and, most of all, witty style. (Admittedly, there's a lot of actual Austen here, but it's always pretty obvious when the 21st century collaborator's voice enters.) And the depth of character that makes Austen such a great read is seriously damaged here. The first warning sign comes when Elizabeth seriously intends to cut Darcy's throat for insulting her, something which Austen's Elizabeth, zombie-killer or not, would never have considered. The zombie attacks are predictable and frequent, the interior illustrations are amateurish (though I suppose one shouldn't complain, since one never expects them), the new dialogue is bland rather than charming, and it's really a one-joke book. If your expectations are low, you may enjoy this, but personally I couldn't finish it, as all I found was more of the same as I went on. And for those of you who will chivvy me because of that, as you've done to other negative reviewers, let me just say that after I eat a bite, I don't have to finish the entire fish to know it's bad. I'll add a star for the delightfully grim cover -- if only the book itself delivered a fraction of its impact.
on December 29, 2010
(I preface this with the note that my review not only contains many spoilers but is EXTREMELY sarcastic by nature.)
Oh it is soooo vile.
It wasn't even that they ruined a great story with zombies. I already knew that there were zombies, and since I like the RE series and The Walking Dead show, I thought I'd like it.
But first off, the zombies didn't just magically appear on the scene at some point in the story like I expected. Upon reading the story you find out this "plague" of "unmentionables" (as the zombies are called) has been going on 55+ years. Ok, I'll suspend my belief for 317 pages that anyone would even still be alive or that all zombies couldn't have been killed some 50+ years sooner since they already know to behead and burn them and dig up the dead to behead and burn them. Ok. I can suspend belief because, well it is a zombie story after all which inherently means suspend your belief.
None of this was the problem. The problem was that he decimated the characters I've come to know and love. Mary isn't the homely, bookworm. She's a warrior (though still spouts her same crappy lines). Lydia, Kitty, Jane and Elizabeth are also warriors. As if this isn't bad enough, the writer made Elizabeth our to be some psychopath that rips hearts from people and eats them (literally he had her do this in the book and reference that it was far from the first time). He frequently talked about her cutting herself with the "7 cuts of shame". Um ok. He never stopped babbling about Shaolin temples, warriors, Master Liu and other ninja, kungfu, swords, muskets, etc.
If it was just zombies and they ran into them and killed them or needed to be saved from them, it would have been fine. But at every turn "quickly girls...Chinese death star!" or some other stupid exhibition designed to give excitement to some pimply faced, comic loving, dateless kid no doubt trying to recover from some childhood torment.
Oh and the best of the worst came when Charlotte was written to be "stricken" by the plague (zombie bit her leg) so for MONTHS (nay a year) no one noticed her turning into a drooling fool with puss filled sores popping on her face, pale and gray pallor, and increasingly affinity for 'flesh'.
Oh and when she finally is "found out" and needs to be "beheaded," Mr. Collins supposedly does it? The buffoon from the book I know wouldn't have the stomach. On top of that, instead of him writing the letter to Longborn to announce that he is coming to visit them after Lydia elopes, it is now written by Col. Fitzwilliam because shortly before Mr. Collins wrote to tell them Charlotte was dead and that he wouldn't need Longburn upon Mr. Bennett's death because by the time the letter reached them he'd be dead. He would hang himself from Charlotte's favorite tree???? WHAT???
And Lady Catherine as a warrior? Now that just took the cake.
Oh I could go on, but I'm rambling I'm so irritated.
I really expected to like this, but instead if it was my copy I'd burn it. Since it's a friend's copy I better not.
Ugh. Parting in this case (w/the book) is NOT sweet sorrow...It's going to be bliss.
Oh, and there is typo on page 279. Yes I noticed!
on June 9, 2009
Never has so great an idea been so poorly executed. You could give the concept to any thirteen year old boy and he would probably come up with something better. It is like some publisher thought it up one evening and grabbed a Word document of Pride and Prejudice and went through very quickly adding the occaisional zombie reference. The first half of the book in particular is 95% Jane Austen with phrases like "but for the strange plague," "despite her warrior training," "wary of the sorry stricken," etc. pasted into the text.
There are exactly three jokes, which are quite funny the first time you read them but they wear thin when they are repeated every few pages:
1. There are zombies. The author inserts a zombie encounter, usually when Jane Austen has the characters travelling from one place to another. The fact that these are pasted into the original story stands out a mile - not because the original story had no zombies but because they are so badly done!
2. Elizabeth Bennet is a warrior with a short fuse. Jane Austen gave her sharp wit in response to the banal conversations of the day. This has been edited to imaginations of running her sword through the person talking. Ha ha.
3. There are a lot of balls (dances) in Pride and Prejudice. This leads to some innuendo, particularly between Elizabeth and Darcy. Very funny the first time, not so much the tenth.
The illustrations in this book are great. They are there to make you buy the book because the actual story is hastily and badly done. There are 11 illustrations, one for each part of the book that breaks away from Jane Austen's story into zombie territory. Save yourself some money and just thumb through the book looking at the pictures - there really isn't much else to this book other than what you can see in the illustrations.
Were Jane Austen around today, she may well be a zombie. Even though she would have all the physical and mental deficiencies of a zombie, and even though she is an author who knows nothing about zombies or slapstick undead horror, she could no doubt whip up a funnier zombie book than this one.
on May 12, 2009
I had such high hopes for this book. How can you not laugh at a book entitled "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?!"
The concept is excellent, however, the execution is just TERRIBLE, choppy and uneven.
Here's the laundry list of disappointments:
1) Seth Grahame-Smith seemed to at least "try" to imitate Jane Austen's style of writing at the beginning of the book, but towards the middle, he seemed to lose steam and he lapsed into a more modern style of writing. It was jarring to see Austen's style next to Grahame-Smith's in many cases. I have an image of him in my mind of simply scribbling zombie-laden passages on post-it notes and sticking them into a copy of Pride and Prejudice. It was that disjointed. There didn't appear to be any effort to integrate the writing styles at all.
2) The zombies are called "unmentionables" by polite society in the book. But then the characters themselves flip flop back and forth between calling them "unmentionables" and "zombies" openly and in front of company. It makes me wonder if anyone bothered to edit this book and check for flow. It was so inconsistent and distracting.
3) Elizabeth Bennett is a psycho and not at all likeable or sympathetic, even in light of this being a satirical work. She is such a nutcase that you wonder why you even care. Here are a few examples that make me think "psycho!!"
a. She battles fellow warriors defending England from the zombies for entertainment.
b. She wants to slit other characters' throats in defense of her perceived slights. Uh, okay....
c. She fantasizes about lopping off people's heads when annoyed by her. Alrighty....
d. And there's more, but it's too long a list for this purpose....
4) The Bennett sisters are warriors, which is hilarious. I cracked up at the 1st scene of this when the premise was introduced. Brilliant!! BUT I don't understand why Elizabeth would want to kill humans in defense of her honor or for sport, but then show compassion for a zombie in one of the road-side scenes. Why show compassion to a zombie when Elizabeth is supposed to be a zombie-killing machine? Simply doesn't make any sense at all.
5) I don't want to reveal too much so I'll be a little cryptic here, but one of the characters has a odd death that leaves me going "huh???" and it is barely mentioned. Blink and you miss it. I didn't see how it helped the plot, especially when there was a huge opportunity to twist the situation into a "stiff upper lip and live with it." Missed opportunity!
This was just one of the worst and most disappointing books I've read in a long time.
on August 19, 2009
I was amused at some of the negative reactions to this work from Austen fans who resent that their favorite "romance" novel was treated so disrespectfully, and I was equally amused at some positive reviews from detractors of Austen who consider this a huge improvement. The book jacket itself encourages this latter response, with its snarky suggestion that this, unlike the original masterpiece, is readable.
As for those who hate Austen and prefer this adaptation, I am at a loss because about half the book IS word for word, paragraph for paragraph, even page for page copied from the uncopyrighted original! So I am bewildered by those who hate Austen but enjoyed this book -- they are probably oblivious to the fact that they are chuckling in large part at Austen's original work. In fact, I'd suggest that it takes an Austen fan to fully appreciate the book. For me, the greatest pleasure was reading familiar passages that are pure Austen, and then finding the author veer into some zombie or ninja tangent that oddly parallels the original work. Eg- the proposal scene's dialogue is basically identical to the original, but has Elizabeth and Darcy engaged in physical battle between verbal parries; ditto the Lady Catherine-Elizabeth confrontation at the end. Jane doesn't just catch cold on her trip to Netherfield; she is attacked and battered by zombies en route. Darcy doesn't buy Georgiana a new piano; he buys her zombie-fighting apparatus.
Secondly, P&P is not a Harlequin romance novel. It is satire. Austen ridicules the importance of manners, the impact of snobbery and elitism, the reduction of marriage to a state of prostitution by women like Charlotte who have no other means to support themselves. Austen's male characters treat the women with great delicacy and chivalry as they bargain for them like cattle; the women are genteel, demurely displaying their cultured accomplishments, while they battle each other ruthlessly and cattily for the attention of the most desirable bachelors; mothers desperately groom their daughters for marriage but inadvertently repel potential suitors by their maniacal and vulgar behaviors. Just as Austen is satirizing her environment and its values, the zombification of P&P satirizes both Austen and the zombie genre. I think Austen might have approved! Those who take Austen as a serious romantic, full of mush and optimism, won't like this book, but those who read Austen as subversive and cynical will find this to be a fun extension of the satire.
This adaptation isn't a complete success, and the author has a few flubs here and there. Lady Catherine couldn't possibly be in her 70s when her daughter is Darcy's age (28); Darcy wouldn't have inquired about Elizabeth's aunt and uncle in Pemberley, when he hadn't met them yet -- it was her parents he asked about. And occasionally I got the impression that the author, when abbreviating certain scenes, was relying more on Andrew Davies' screenplay for the A&E miniseries, rather than the book itself. Some reviewers took offense at some of the potty humor (one character becomes incontinent mid-story; there are other bad puns on "balls" and "fingering," the latter a deviation from Lady Catherine's reference to Elizabeth's piano skills), and while I enjoyed each tawdry joke the first time, the author did get a bit repetitive.
Overall, if you know and like P&P as fun, bitchy satire, and you have a good sense of humor, then you will likely appreciate this book as funny, light reading. If you are not a fan of Austen in the first place, or if you read Austen as serious romance not to be trifled with, then you will likely be put off.
on May 6, 2009
I could not finish this book. I love zombies and enjoy P&P but this mash up is not enjoyable. I think the partial adherence to the original text is detrimental to the humor - the attempts to retain the textual flavor of the original are too tedious. The original P&P is much wittier than this book.
Personally, I think that for this project to have succeeded it would require more attention to the zombies and a total rewrite in which the characters behave true to form and the major plot elements frame the story. Slavish adherence to the original text is definitely not necessary.
If this book were music, it would be like a remix where the original song is performed on a kazoo and a dj interjects "Zombies" in a funny voice periodically.