Misty's Reviews > Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a spoof retelling of the classic Jane Austen romance, with the addition of, well, zombies. Or I should say 'insertion' of zombies, because they were basically plopped down in the middle of the story; it was like reading Regency-era zombie Mad-Libs (trust me, that sounds more exciting than it is).

The five Bennet sisters have been trained in the deadly arts to slay the zombie menace, and second sister Elizabeth is the premier fighter among them; she's sworn off men and just about everything but her bloodlust -- until some new people take up residence in her town, and she finds herself the object of the grand Mr. Darcy's attention. The story that follows is pretty well-known: it's basically the original "romance" story, the template for all that followed (and never quite matched up), but with "extra violent zombie mayhem." I'm not going to waste any more of your time on a synopsis; the story is known, and Grahame-Smith didn't change much in terms of the fundamental story.

What he did change was the essence of the story. I was really looking forward to this, as it sounded like a brilliant idea for a spoof, and the first chapter led me to believe that I was going to get what I wanted. I didn't.

The original P&P has some of the most famous lines in English literature, and where Grahame-Smith altered them to fit the context of a zombie novel, there were moments of brilliance, and some great humor. But most of the time, the alterations weren't really in the favor of context; there were random bizarre changes that didn't lay the groundwork for zombies, and didn't serve to do anything other than muddle the flow and make the story confusing. This may just be that I know the text so well that the changes threw me, but really, there were so many unnecessary changes that I didn't see a need for and just didn't get. Also, there were times when he simple cut some of the best lines/sections in the book -- he didn't alter them or cut them to fit context, he just cut them completely for no apparent reason, or altered them in his own words, which were always more clumsy.

Another big issue for me is the alteration of the characters. Of course, to make the principals fighters of the undead. I was expecting some overhaul, and I was prepared for it. But I think he used too heavy a hand. One of the delights of the original is Lizzie; she's funny and lively and doesn't let things get to her too easily. In G-S's version, Lizzie is blood-thirsty and overly-aggressive, and really not all that likable as a lead. Every perceived slight is a dishonor punished preferably by death. Sometimes her reactions are funny and read a little more true, but most of the time, it's just like, 'Really?'

There didn't seem to be much effort made at melding the two aspects of the story (original romance and G-S's zombie story); it read more like a writing exercise in which G-S printed out the original text and slipped in lines here and there, or chunks of fighting, and left them as he thought of them, rather than smoothing them into the text and making it flow. The two halves were often disparate and at war with each other. Sometimes, it was like he wasn't sure what feel or tone to aim for, so he tried a bit of everything, which meant that nothing worked in the end.

The discussion questions were funny in that G-S poked fun at himself, too. And there were times when he struck just the right tone, or twisted a classic scene to fit his context, and it worked perfectly. Sadly, those parts were few and extremely far between. All in all, it will probably work as a movie, and it may have worked as a book in more deft hands, handled effectively, but as is, it is a disappointment

I have more to say about this book, but as it gets spoilery from here, I will leave off. You can access it in full here on my blog.
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Reading Progress

April 8, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
September 3, 2009 – Finished Reading
September 4, 2009 – Shelved as: horror-mystery-suspense-thriller
September 4, 2009 – Shelved as: humor
September 4, 2009 – Shelved as: read-in-2009
September 4, 2009 – Shelved as: supernatural-paranormal
September 4, 2009 – Shelved as: parody-spoof-satire
September 4, 2009 – Shelved as: disappointing-or-excited-for-nothin
September 30, 2009 – Shelved as: helluva-halloween
October 1, 2009 – Shelved as: excited-for
December 11, 2009 – Shelved as: zombies
March 5, 2010 – Shelved as: cover-appeal
December 26, 2010 – Shelved as: awful
June 5, 2011 – Shelved as: janeite
January 6, 2014 – Shelved as: rant

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Hawk Misty - have you ever tried the audio? I was the same with the book - but the audio had me howling...and recognizing classic Austen moments.


Misty I haven't. I've never done audio at all, really.
I can see why audio would work, though. I think as a movie this would work, too. But on the page, where you can physically SEE where things go wrong and don't fit together, and you can dwell on it, the discordance was clear, and I was just not a fan. At all.

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