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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

By Genny (also Rusty) | Books | June 3, 2009 |

By Genny (also Rusty) | Books | June 3, 2009 |

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

This is probably one of those times I’m going to be accused of being no fun or not having a sense of humor, so let me say that if you want to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith’s undead update on Austen’s classic novel, you should totally read it. I can promise that you won’t regret doing so.

That out of the way, I have to say that I like the idea of literary updates or revisions more than I like the finished product. I wasn’t a fan of the novel Wicked, even though I liked the idea, and I have to say the same for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The concept works in a broad sense, but I’m not a huge fan of Grahame-Smith’s habit of taking the novel past humor and straight on into absurd. All five Bennet girls are apparently Shaolin-monk trained warriors who are sworn to protect their countryside until such time as they are married off. There are ninjas featured in at least two or three scenes*. Elizabeth responds to Darcy’s slights by roundhouse kicking him in the face, and reacts to the shame of her own prejudice by administering something referred to as “the seven cuts of shame” to herself. All of the houses have a dojo, one of Lizzie’s friends contracts the zombie virus (although a few places where the story is told from her rapidly zombifying perspective are pretty damn funny in their own right).

For those not familiar with the original Pride and Prejudice, it is principally the story of how a Ms.Elizabeth Bennet and a Mr.Darcy come to see past their individual prejudices and prideful natures and fall deeply in love with each other. It’s a lovely piece of writing, but I suspect that this book has launched more unhappy relationship and women pining away after men who aren’t that into them than any modern romantic comedy. I mean, the message of this is basically “when men act cold and indifferent to you, it’s because they’re really just trying to hide from their feelings of love” which is wonderful for Elizabeth and Darcy, but deadly when applied to real life romantic situations. Anyway, that part of the story remains unchanged in Grahame-Smith’s version, but there’s also much talk of dispatching “Unmentionables” and that Elizabeth’s warrior training (despite taking place with Chinese masters rather than the more respectable Japanese masters) is a factor in her suitability as a wife. All the characters are more violent in their reactions to one another, and several important conversations between characters (such as Darcy’s initial proposal) take place while characters are engaged in combat.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is fun, lighthearted, and feature some rather inspired illustrations. Also, since it’s the closest my brother will ever get to actually reading Pride and Prejudice I suppose it’s also a good way to inject a small amount of knowledge of classic literature into someone who would rather read about zombies.

*Were there even ninjas around in the 19th century? I guess this is a pointless question because of all the zombies crawling around, but it was a real sticking point for me, for some reason. I’m not on the ninja train the way I’m on the zombie train.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Genny (also Rusty)’s review, check her blog, Rusty’s Ventures.

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