Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Since I am known by my friends as a Jane Austen person, SEVENTEEN different people sent me the link to this publishing announcement. Even though the book won't be published for another two months, a friend managed to procure an advanced copy (aka Word doc of the finished product), and so I read it over the weekend.

That being said, it's rather unnecessary for anyone to read this novel in its entirety, even if it does sound amusing. The best plan is to read the first two or three chapters, and then call it a day. You'll get the point and you won't be missing much. (Actually, you'll get everything you need, because Chapter 3 will include a ball and a zombie battle.)

It really is a clever idea -- maintaining the actual text of Pride and Prejudice and simply inserting another storyline... one that just happens to involve zombies overrunning England so that the upper classes (men and often women) are sent to Japan or China to be trained in deadly arts so as to combat the unfortunately afflicted. But it's a funny joke that gets old very very fast. The first few chapters had me giggling as a result of the novelty. The exact P&P text with small insertions or minor dialogue alterations... it is a funny idea, even I must admit. But that's where it ends. Nothing truly unique was done with the story beyond some small revenges on irritating and wicked characters that didn't receive what was coming to them in the real novel. For the sake of maintaining as much of the original text as possible, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies runs exactly the same course as Pride and Prejudice.

SPOILERS after this point, but really, admit to yourself that you're not actually going to read this novel. You'll chuckle over the cover (which is the best part of the whole thing) when you look at it in the bookstore, and then you'll set it down. We're in a recession. You're not seriously going to purchase this novel when there's so much else out there to be read?

I suppose that is my biggest qualm with the novel. If it was going to do something truly interesting, the plot would have needed to change a bit. I suppose it was unrealistic for Darcy or Elizabeth to die, but there are so few casualties that it's really quite disappointing. I was expecting to at least lose one Bennet sister (Kitty could have been eaten or Mary could die in a blaze of glory). Even Grahame-Smith alludes to this desire at one point, where Elizabeth fantasizes decapitating Lydia in a carriage. But there's no follow-through! The only losses we experience are of Charlotte (who is afflicted with the zombie plague) and Mr. Collins (who hangs himself in unexpected and rather uncharacteristic grief). Wickham is crippled (by Darcy, which is nice) and he's sent off to a seminary for the lame in Ireland with Lydia. I had actually been hoping that Wickham would be a slowly changing zombie and that he'd make an attempt to eat Elizabeth's brains, or that his taking Lydia away was a ruse to feast on her brains, too -- or better yet, that the terrible thing he had done to Georgiana Darcy was to try and elope with her and end up being a coward in battle to the point where she was bitten by a zombie and lost a limb to it or something. Nope. Sorry. Not nearly so interesting. I would never expect me to say this, but there was just too much Pride and Prejudice in here -- the author was unwilling to deviate from the novel enough to create something interesting that could stand on its own as a ridiculously funny Austenuation. Ah well.

In the end, it's a clever idea, but that is all. I'm pleased that someone brought the idea into being, but I'm not sure it merited a full novel. A short excerpt in a magazine would have been sufficient rather than the entire creation -- such as a fake book review and excerpt in something like Believer where you could have read a few chapters and then seen a summary.

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