Tuesday, October 5

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer borrowed this book from the library and purchased it on audio. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Quirk Books and is used solely as an aide to the review.

The Bennet sisters are sworn by the crown to protect their land from zombies, but things take a turn when a wealthy gentleman arrives in the area and Mrs. Bennet sees marrying off her daughters as a higher priority than killing the undead.

Snubbed by the proud Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet wants nothing more than to tear out his throat, but as Elizabeth overcomes her own prejudices, she begins to see that there might be something more to him than just a cold, dashing zombie slayer.

I'd known about this book for a long time and had been interested in it when I opened it up to the first page and began reading in a bookstore. It wasn't until I saw it sitting on a shelf at the library that I had to snatch it up. I was fascinated by how Seth Grahame-Smith managed to narrate the novel in the style of Jane Austen, and keep the same setting, while introducing the element of the zombies into the characters' world.

My first thought was that the zombies wouldn't seem very plausible, because such a thing just does not exist, but I have always been good at suspending my disbelief when called for. However, I found it quite a plausible situation. Who's to say there couldn't be a plague that caused such a monstrous outbreak? It's a frightening thought.

In the beginning, I worried that it was just going to be the same story, with zombie attacks slipped in here and there, but it wasn't. I like how Seth Grahame-Smith stayed true to the themes of the novel, and didn't at all butcher the story, but reinvented it in a clever and imaginative way.

It was strange to read about the Bennet sisters being fighters who had trained in China. Cultural elements from Asia were prominent in the novel and it seemed a little peculiar to me. I suppose it is because it seems like such an alien concept for a Jane Austen setting, but of course the premise of the novel has changed and the characters have evolved in different ways.

I liked this new Elizabeth. She was a lot feistier and not as level headed. She resorted to violence quite a few times, and even if she was restrained enough not to act on it, the thought crossed her mind. The least plausible thing to me was the insert of more modern humour, most noticeably the use of implied double meanings - for instance "balls" - but I found it to be enjoyable.

I loved reading 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' and was quick to return to it a year later, on audio. This was a newer edition of the book with more "ultraviolent zombie mayhem" than the original printing. Though I can't be absolutely sure (since the original copy I read was from a library all the way back in New Zealand) there were at least two scenes in the book which I couldn't recall from my first reading.

Katherine Kellgren made the story even more enjoyable. She is one of the best narrators I have come across, although this is the only audio book I have heard to her narrate thus far. It is not the first book I have purchased, however. 'Bloody Jack' is another which I have yet to listen to. I will definitely seek out more books she has narrated.

I would recommend this daring, tongue-in-cheek novel to both people who like Pride and Prejudice and those who are not as keen on the original. For those that enjoy a good audio book, I must insist you listen to Kellgren's narration. You won't regret it.


Megan said...

Great review!! I got this for christmas from my sister in law and haven't gotten to it. You've got me looking forward to reading it!

AmethystDaydreams at zoho dot com

melydia said...

Something tells me I wouldn't enjoy this one. I don't particular enjoy Austen to begin with (her stories are fine, but her writing style bores me), so I doubt the addition of zombies would help that much. Or maybe I'm just jaded after reading another in this new genre, The Meowmorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa turns into an adorable kitten. It just didn't work.