When I was a senior in college I got to know several of the other senior literature majors a little bit better. Two of the girls were big Jane Austen fans and we bonded over it. There was also couple of guys who could not stand Austen. One of them did however believe that some accounts of zombies in the Caribbean were true.
That was the year “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith came out. When I saw it, I printed out the description and brought it to share. The girls and I thought we finally had found a way for the guys to appreciate Austen. I had no real intention of ever reading it, but it seemed to perfect not to share with my zombie loving friend. Well…this week I read it.
I started the audio-book incedibly skeptical that Grahame-Smith could in any way satisfy the Janite in me (its a thing…check it out) but I finished the book surprisingly pleased.
I refuse to read most Austen prequels, sequels, or appropriations, because most of the authors try to copy her tone or style instead of finding their own voice. Grahame-Smith on the other hand didn’t try to use Austen’s voice…just her words plus some zombie infestation. In the preface he explains he opened up the text of “Pride and Prejudice” and proceeded to add mayhem and the deadly arts. Grahame-Smith’s story dispels the feeling he is trying to be just like Austen, he is creating something brand new with a classic foundation.
Also, Grahame-Smith’s loyalty to the orignal plot line won me over. Wait…loyalty? Yep…you read correctly. He may have added zombies and yes, a moment or two may feel forced, especially at the beginning, but never at a moment crucial to the story. He never changed the main course of the story to fit what he wanted to do, he made the new premise of the living dead fit into Austen’s beloved regency romance.
I do have to warn my fellow Austen enthusiasts that there are some incredibly un-Austen like moments and for the most part they work. But be prepared for some infidelity, Mr. Darcy’s shirtless sparring, a very violent Elizabeth (who at one point literally rips the still-beating-heart out of a ninja), and a moment of hilarious sexual innuendo at Pemberley.
…for the Austen fan who is thinking about it…read it. If nothing else it will make you laugh. I did…out loud…at work…in an almost silent workroom.
…for the Austen fan who loves Austen and nothing else…maybe hold off. It is a great book, but you might not be able to get past the talk of deadly arts and zombie gore.
…for those preparing for the zombie apocalypse…read it. I don’t know how it stands in the canon of undead literature, but as my first foray into stories of the walking dead, I quite enjoyed it.