Friday, June 19, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith)

I have never been this excited to write a book review in my life. Actually, strike that. I have never been this excited to write ANYTHING in my life. I don't even know what else to say, I have to just get right into it.


The synopsis is as straightforward as it gets. The book is Pride and Prejudice... and Zombies. It follows the story of the Bennet family of Hertfordshire, England, and their five unmarried daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, and what happens to them when a rich, eligible bachelor moves into a nearby estate. And there are zombies. Jane falls in love with Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth, Lydia falls in love with everybody. And there are zombies. For once, the blurb on the back cover of the book got it absolutely right:

Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

It's Pride and Prejudice! And Zombies! Okay, I admit, I was a little skeptical going into this reading. There's no way this book can be as good as it sounds, right? WRONG! Seth Grahame-Smith is apparently some kind of genius. He left 90% of the original Jane Austen story, language and drama intact, and just added a plague of undeath that has been the bane of all England for a few decades. He even flavors it up by making the Bennet sisters trained in the "deadly arts," having spent years studying hand-to-hand combat under a Master Liu in China (the rich people send their kids to Kyoto, of course). You would think the random Asian influences and the hordes of walking dead interrupting trips to town and glamorous balls would throw the story out of whack, but somehow it really doesn't at all. It's scary how seamless the entire notion of a zombie-ridden countryside is actually worked into the narrative. Grahame-Smith maintains the voice and mannerisms of the pre-Victorian era even when discussing the proper way to decapitate "unmentionables." There are honestly times when I wasn't altogether sure whether a certain line was written in as a smooth transition into a zombie moment, or if it had actually been a preexisting line that Grahame-Smith utilized as a perfect jumping off point.

One of the very best pats of the book comes at the very end, however, after the actual story is finished. Grahame-Smith includes a "Reader's Discussion Guide," similar to one you might find in a summer reading book, except hilarious. Examples include:

1. Many critics have addressed the dual nature of Elizabeth's personality. On one hand, she can be a savage, remorseless killer, as we see in her vanquishing of Lady Catherine's ninjas. On the other hand, she can be tender and merciful, as in her relationships with Jane, Charlotte, and the young bucks that roam her family's estate. In your opinion, which of these "halves" best represents the real Elizabeth at the beginning—and end of the novel?

3. The strange plague has been the scourge of Englad for "five-and-fifty years." Why do the English stay and fight, rather than retreat to the safety of eastern Europe or Africa?

7. Does Mrs. Bennet have a single redeeming quality?

10. Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sale. Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen's plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?

Genius. The rest of the book is just as hilarious, if not more so. I don't think I have ever recommended a book to anyone as strongly as I recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's absolutely fantastic, everyone needs to read this book.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

I can't think of any other time I've had this much fun with a novel. I hope there are more like this to come.

It's hilarious, and the zombie parts and original parts are seamless interwoven. I can't think of any book that more successfully lived up to its premise.

READ THIS BOOK! It's absolutely incredible. There's something for everyone.


It's going to be very difficult for anything to get a higher Daily Genoshan rating than 9.22. This may not be my absolute favorite book of all time, but I would definitely argue that it's the most well executed (or beheaded, or devoured, or slowly zombified via a bite to the leg). Go read this book, Genoshans.

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