After the disappointment of their last book, Quirk Classics takes a breath of fresh air with Android Karenina: a mashup of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina andAfter the disappointment of their last book, Quirk Classics takes a breath of fresh air with Android Karenina: a mashup of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and a steampunk Russia where humans have their own robot servants. Unlike Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Quirk's latest novel (co-written by Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters's Ben H. Winters) feels like stepping into fresh, new material.
The characters remain as enigmatic and tortured as they were in Tolstoy's original, but this new steampunk twist adds a whole new dimension to the story, and doesn't distract nor detract. Mr. Winters doesn't give off the impression that he's strictly out for laughs in this book. Rather, the robot subplots work seamlessly with Tolstoy's original ideas in a way that almost feels like a perfect fit.
The only real complaint I have about this excellent book is the lack of visual description, which was already a criticism of Tolstoy's original work. By updating Tolstoy's Russia into something almost out of The Golden Compass, Winters has so much to work with in terms of the visual surroundings and appearances. Sadly, but perhaps staying true to the original, we don't get very much in the ways of visuals.
Overall, Android Karenina was a risky, but ultimately satisfying experiment that yielded more good results than bad, and is definitely a recommended read....more
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was an anomaly. It was a re-working of a literary classic that retained its cultural significance, while adding in a hPride and Prejudice and Zombies was an anomaly. It was a re-working of a literary classic that retained its cultural significance, while adding in a hilarious subplot that actually worked with the original text. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, a prequel to the original novel, seriously pales in comparison. However, there's nothing terribly wrong with it, either.
Set in the early days of the second zombie apocalypse in England, author Steve Hockensmith gives us a look at what happened before the Bennet sisters became such efficient warriors of the deadly arts. While the story is frequently very clever and very original, Hockensmith seems to forget what made the original so brilliant: the context. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies worked because it wasn't an author re-writing the original work, it was the author presenting "an extended edition" to the original work, leaving the original language intact. Hockensmith's writing is very modern, which I cannot fault him for. The problem is simply this: the humor works so much better when it's thrown into Jane Austen's words.
One thing that I can fault the author for is his own English. While reading the ARC of this novel, I frequently got the impression that this was an unedited manuscript. Mr. Hockensmith, in what appears to be an attempt to emulate Austen's language, goes so overboard with the comic details that it feels like beating a dead horse. We understand the scene, we understand the humor, but we don't need all the extra, extra reminders of why it's funny.
However, despite its flaws, I cannot dismiss Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. On many, many occasions it made me laugh, sometimes very hard. There's no denying that Mr. Hockensmith has a lot of clever ideas up his sleeve, but reading this book made me think that it was rushed into publication too soon. Had the author and an editor spent a few more months on it, then they probably would have had something great, possibly comparable to the original. But still, I have to say that I recommend it. It's good for a few great laughs, and a lot of great zombie mayhem....more