Pride and Prejudice and Zombies… Are You Cool Enough For This Book?

August 25th, 2009

I recently finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.  At first, I found myself highly entertained by the book.  That is to say, I found myself feeling like I should be highly entertained by the book.  In reality, I kind of felt like I used to feel in high-school when all the cool kids were laughing about something and I had no idea why they were laughing, but I laughed anyway because I wanted to feel cool and like I was a part of their group too.  As I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I found myself wondering if I was laughing at the story because I really thought that zombies roaming the English countryside side by side with Lizzy and Jane was funny or was I laughing because I wanted to be part of the supposed coolness of messing with a classic love story by loading it up with zombie attacks?  

Over the past ten years, Jane Austen has broken the bonds of PBS and become firmly entrenched in pop culture with one blockbuster film after another starring the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Keira Knightley.  It would follow that a pardoy of one of Jane’s books, if done properly, would be even cooler than the actual books themselves.  What is even more interesting is that Jane was often parodying the romantic books of her time when she wrote.  So Seth Grahame-Smith really wrote a parody of a parody with his version of the classic Pride and Prejudice.  And when the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes out in film, it will be a parody of a parody of a parody.  Just try and absorb that little factoid why don’t you!

The book is clever.  The idea is clever and it truly has some hilarious lines and a few absolutely hysterical scenes in it.  In a nutshell, Seth Grahame-Smith hijacks Austen’s entire book and inserts zombies into it at obvious intervals.  As strange as it seems, there are obvious intervals for zombies to arrive on the scene in Pride and Prejudice.  The recent dead are a good fit for Austen’s books, especially if you have a high tolerance for the utterly ludicrous, which I do.  

I found a quote from co-author, Grahame-Smith that sums it all up as he refers to Pride and Prejudice and it’s innate ability to incorporate the un-dead.  He says…“You have this fiercely independent heroine, you have this dashing heroic gentleman, you have a militia camped out for seemingly no reason whatsoever nearby, and people are always walking here and there and taking carriage rides here and there . . . It was just ripe for gore and senseless violence. From my perspective anyway.” 

I don’t want to give away the story… as there is really not much to give away.  Just picture your favorite version of Pride and Prejudice, add a few zombie attacks and a few well placed round house kicks from Lizzy and her sisters during a walk in the woods, an evening ball, or an afternoon tea and you will have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  You might also want to add a fierce militaristic training regime to the five Bennett sister’s lives and a dojo in their garden.  Got it?  Okay.  Now you can skip the book and read something else.  

Personally, I don’t think Grahame-Smith went far enough.  I think the book should have been far more absurd.  I think he was a mite too cautious and a mite too sane in his approach. I also think he got tired of his version of the story before the end.  Or maybe, it is I who got tired of his story before the end.  Either way you have the same result, a story that lasts longer than the actual story lasts.  

The movie rights have already been sold to the highest bidder and a film is in the works.  I am afraid that I will have to see the movie.  I have no idea if I am motivated by an insecure need to be able to talk the funky Jane Austen parody with all the cool kids at school, or if I just have to see Lizzy Bennet kick the ever-loving crap out of Mr. Darcy to defend her warrior honor.  I just hope that the film industry pushes the envelope a bit further than Grahame-Smith did.  Somehow, I don’t think that will be a problem. 

In the mean time, the next book, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is due out in mid-September.  Someone has already put together something that is called a ‘book trailer’ for this book, which is good, because I simply can’t abide reading a book until I have seen the ‘book trailer’ first..  And in case you were wondering, a book trailer has nothing at all to do with a book-mobile.  One is a vehicle that delivers books to people that might otherwise never get to read them and the other… is a vehicle… that delivers books… to people… that might otherwise… never… get..to read… them.  

Hmmmmmmmmmm……..

Comments

  • I saw this book at Costco but was not inclined to buy it.

    I am trying to find a copy of the original P&P so I can read it and not having any luck! Would you believe I couldn’t find it at the library!? And I’m ashamed to say I don’t own a copy (or if I do, and I may, someone needs to come and catalog my books for me so I can find things). My dd has a copy as part of a one volume “complete collection” but I can’t read it without a microscope. It is really difficult to lounge in bed at midnight reading a book with a microscope.

  • A blogging friend sent me this book and it’s on my to read list… I like the idea, and wonder if it’s only funny at first, only then to get repetitive and not-funny. Glad to hear that there are some funny bits in it…

  • safetydog:

    For ludicrous books full of the English countryside, great literary works, romance, action, and dodos, try Jasper FForde’s series starring Literatech Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, and The Well of Lost Plots. Very clever.

    • Rechelle:

      Dear Barbara – Thank you. I loved the article!

  • Stephanie:

    This one doesn’t really appeal to me…I am a great fan of Jane Austen and have enjoyed many of the sequels….
    Amazon has one listed that I may read Darcy, Vampyre….
    that one I could sink my teeth into (hee..hee)

  • Leslie:

    I just re-read P&P a few weeks ago on vacation. On the way back through the airport I was looking for something else to read and I had this in my hand to buy but couldn’t do it in the end. I am all for ludicrous and I even like the occasional zombie battle but I am not sure if this book is for me. I think I just love the original P&P too much…

  • Sandy in MI:

    Since Pride and Prejudice is one of my very favorite books, I tried to read this version this summer. I only made it about ten pages in and gave up. I didn’t know it will be made into a movie. I have a hard time watching anyone but Colin Firth portray Mr. Darcy, so I’ll probably skip it.

  • CilleyGirl:

    I couldn’t get into P&P&Z either, and like you I thought there could have been more done with the idea. Sense & Sensbility and Sea Monsters sounds intriguiging though…

  • Okay then, I think I’ll just skip this one. Danny and Josh were fascinated by that trailer, though. I think they’ve secretly always wanted Jane Austen’s characters to be eaten by zombies or sea monsters. Have you seen Bride and Prejudice? Now there is some silly fun!

  • Jaki:

    Your description of PP&Z sounded like a bizarre idea; but, I have to say, that for some odd reason, I laughed at the S&S&S trailer. Go figure. I wonder if Jane would be appalled.

  • Thank you for the review! I’ve giggled every time I’ve seen the book at the bookstore, & wondered if I should read it…. now I don’t need to! I may have to see the movie though (although I won’t be one the cool kids who can say, “oh well, the book was way better!”)

  • Jean:

    Oh I need some more suggestions. Couldn’t do the zombie thing but loved both the potato society book and, amazingly, The Good Earth (WOW!) I’m thinking of going back in time for some other gems. What would you recommend?

  • Jeanna:

    As an avid Austin fan I really would never even consider buying this to read. I really gets me that people want to make fun of something so very well written. Anyway I liked the article and love your blog.