I consider myself fairly lenient with any publication that keeps my Pride and Prejudice bubble inflated. Seth Grahame-Smith, while a interesting story teller, is not a Pride and Prejudice fan and it is evident throughout this book. He has taken a wonderful story and turned it into a Mad-Libs that reads like it was filled in by middle school boys. Many will find it funny and clever. I, however, feel the deep need to go and re-read the original. And shower.
Excerpt from BookList (I down loaded it from i-Tunes - so I do not have the book to copy what was written as the teaser on the back): This may be the most wacky by-product of the busy Jane Austen fan-fiction industry—at least among the spin-offs and pastiches that have made it into print. In what’s described as an “expanded edition” of Pride and Prejudice, 85 percent of the original text has been preserved but fused with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.” For more than 50 years, we learn, England has been overrun by zombies, prompting people like the Bennets to send their daughters away to China for training in the art of deadly combat, and prompting others, like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, to employ armies of ninjas. Added to the familiar plot turns that bring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together is the fact that both are highly skilled killers, gleefully slaying zombies on the way to their happy ending. --Mary Ellen Quinn
Revisit vs. Rehash: A
Nit Picky Things: A-
Wonderful Moments: A
The moment I was hooked: D
Language: SGS did a nice job of blending with Austen's language. In his introduction on my i-Tunes audio version, he says that he pulled up the complete text of Austen's on-line and typed in red to add and alter the original. Some pages were totally red and some just had a few red words. His goal was to change something on every screen of text.
The reading by Katherine Kellgren was lovely.
Characterization: The way I know that SGS is not an Austen fan is:
1. He stated in his introduction that he had the book pitched to him and then went back and re-read what he "struggled through in high school."
2. And more importantly, he changes so much of the character's personalities. Many of the P&P spin offs take Darcy and Elizabeth and the supporting players on rather crazy rides. The thing that lets the P&P fan go along with these varied plot lines is that the author is careful with the characterization of these "people" we know so well. I will will remind you, I actually really enjoyed the Mr. Darcy, Vampire book. (My review of it is here.) I have nothing against fantastical adaptations. The loss of the true characterization is what makes it feel more like a mad libs than a retelling.
There is deficit of politeness and decorum. Mr. Darcy wants to cut out Caroline's tongue for interrupting his letter writing and tells her so.
Elizabeth is a very aggressive person. I know, I know...that must go along with being a zombie slayer of the highest skill. However, when slighted by Mr. Darcy at the dance, she considers killing him.
Col. Fitzwilliam is a gossip and disloyal to keeping a secret of Darcy's in a letter to Mr. Bennet.
Not only is the politeness something that is alluring about the story, it is historically accurate. What? Question historical accuracy in a zombie novel? It is the anchors of truth in fiction that allow me to completely let go in other areas...say a zombie epidemic.
Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Gardener are not faithful to their spouses (not with each other, thankfully). It really has nothing to do with the plot, either. Just casual slander.
A professor of English Literature, Dr. Allen Grove, has an excerpt at the end of the recording. It is interesting because he talks about all the reasons why this retelling works, historical references for taking existing literature and retooling it with modern motifs and how Jane Austen would probably have enjoyed it. Hmmm. A book she wrote and reworked over a large portion of her adult life? Far be it for me to talk for Jane. I think she would have found humor in the plot. She liked humor and irony. The tarnishing of her characters...well, character? I do not think that daughter of a clergyman would find Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Gardeners' unfaithfulness funny. And even though Austen pokes at social decorum of her day, she personally abided by those rules.
Plot: I liked the plot. I thought is was clever and it was what lured me in to download the book to begin with. SGS came up with a convincing additional reason why Darcy wanted to separate Jane and Bingly that works quite well.
There were many times where dialog was replaced by narration. Some of the subtlety of Darcy's emotions were lost in this transition. Instead of letting Caroline act desperately, it is a narrated fact.
The necessity for marriage is minimized because the sisters Bennet can always get jobs as personal body guards using their ninja skills against zombies.
Rehash or Revisit: As this was a re-telling of the original Pride and Prejudice, there is no rehashing.
Nit Picky Things: I really didn't like the cover of the book. That is why I downloaded it on i-Tunes.
Wonderful Little Moments: Believe it or not, I did find some humor in the book. Instead of appearing in a wet shirt from the lake (a nod to the 1995 A&E/BBC Pride and Prejudice movie) Darcy shows up gallantly shooting zombies from horseback when he and Elizabeth have their chance meeting at Pemberly.
"Musket fishing" and "Make a defensive pentagram, girls" both made me want to laugh out loud when I heard them. The cauliflower business was quite clever.
Originality: Well done on this account.
The moment I was hooked: Wow, I don't know that I ever really looked forward to hearing the story until 3/4th of the way through when a lot of the plot remained true to Austen. The opening, by SGS, was entertaining and simply made the disappointment of the actual text all that more felt.
Normally, I read a book twice before I review it. But I just couldn't bring myself to listen to this a second time. Perhaps it would have given me a greater appreciation for Seth Grahame-Smith's writing. Just as the cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies shows what one can assume is Elizabeth's slashed face, SGS has slashed up characters I really like. But maybe I am just being all Lady Catherine about this and Mr. Grahame-Smith hasn't truly "polluted the shades" as much as I think he has.
Apparently people do like this book as it has gotten great reviews. I would like to hear someone who loved Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and also loved this retelling. To me, it has the novelty effect of a Chia pet shaped like Sponge Bob. But then again, Chia Pets have been around now for over 25 years...so clearly, there is a market for everything.
If this were a movie, it would be rated "PG13."
Several course words for one born out of wedlock and urine were used freely. There is infidelity.