Jan 26, 2010

[Books] Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesI was never really into the whole zombie pop culture thing. I have nothing against zombies - I just don't necessarily feel a particular interest towards the movies and computer games related to them. Maybe I think they're creepier than they should be. Perhaps I just hate how slow they are as units in games like Heroes of Might and Magic II.

Yeah, I don't think I'll ever get myself out of that particular installment of the series. So sue me.

Anyway, we were talking about zombies. There's certainly an inherent element of morbid fun to the zombie genre when you get down to it and more creative artists have managed to have some real fun with the concept, especially with comedy movies like Fido and of course Shaun of the Dead. But that's movies and zombies have lived in Hollywood for some time now. It's also nice to see the zombie culture trying to break into books in highly creative ways.

Marcia Fox by William BeecheyImage via Wikipedia

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an interesting mash-up between Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice and popular zombie culture, all brought together by Seth Grahame-Smith. The story still follows the classic tale of the Bennet sisters living with their parents. Their mother wants nothing more than for all 5 of them to get married off to worthy (and hopefully wealthy) young men while the father ensured they were trained in the deadly martial arts back in the Orient in order to become ruthless zombie killing machines. All of England has been infested by the "unmentionables" and every man and woman and child has to do their part to safeguard humanity from the risen dead.

Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bennet is one of the most feared fighters in Hertfordshire and perhaps the most dedicated to her craft. She's far too-focused on defending her family and fellow citizens against the sorry stricken that she's always felt that she has no time for men. This changes when a series of events starts off with the a ball and her chance meeting with the boorish and aloof Mr. Darcy.

And thus one of the world's best love classics gets the zombie treatment with the story largely intact, which was rather surprising I have to admit. Changing the normally idyllic landscape with the occasional zombie infestation or horde added an interesting alternative kind of charm to the tale, one that didn't take too much away from the original plot.

To be fair, it's not the most amazing story in the world and fans of Jane Austin may celebrate how the book remains coherent in terms of the original tone and pretty much the setting (save for the zombies) but the average zombie loving bloke might not enjoy the book since it feels like an odd trap designed to get you to read a classical work of fiction. Yes, I say this despite the fact that there are even several ninjas in this story.

Ninjas. Seriously.

The book didn't flow as easily for me, and this may be more of a question of personal preference. I never claimed to be a Jane Austin fan but I've always appreciated her works but that wasn't quite to get me eagerly turning every page in order to get trough the story. Perhaps Grahame-Smith adapted the story too well, leaving the original slower pacing intact along with the tone, which makes for slightly more difficult reading.

There are some campily fun fight scenes here and there but the book isn't exactly action-packed. The addition of zombies really was only a minor change to the background or setting of the novel more than anything else and not exactly something central to the plot or the flow of the story.

Still, it's an entertaining read, especially if you take the time to actually read the Reader's Discussion Guide at the end of the book, just like any other classic story. I don't think this will have me rushing to read my copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters or grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls prequel, but I'm not voting against the book either.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gets 3.5 Brown Bess muskets out of 5.

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