Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Rating: 3 / 5

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith is a re-telling of Austen's classic, retaining almost 85% of the original but now with 'ultraviolent zombie mayhem'. I must admit when I first heard of it I was conflicted between excitement (I have a fondness for zombies) and being slightly outraged over what promised to be a bloody massacre of Austen's work. The picture on the cover decided me, as I got delicious chills down my spine from the combination of the lady in innocent-white Regency dress, blood-shot eyes and rotting flesh, I knew I had to read it.

To start with, it's the longest I've ever taken to read P & P (over 3 weeks) even though I laughed a bit over the course of the book. While most of the story is Austen's, Grahame-Smith's voice quickly becomes apparent when it inserts itself into the work. I must mention the hilarious illustrations added through the book, often with zombies, Elizabeth and sharp objects.

And so the premise is that England is stricken with a deadly plague that creates zombies or Unmentionables as they are known. The unmentionables have a fondness for soft, mushy brains and can infect humans with a bite. The militia are sent out to various regions in England to help the local population with the unmentionable menace. The Bennett sisters under the tutelage of Mr. Bennet

The business of Mr. Bennett's life was to keep his daughters alive. The business of Mrs. Bennet's was to get them married.
are a deadly trained team who have vowed to His Majesty to protect Hertfordshire from the plague. Their mother sees ample oppurtunities to get her girls married upon Mr. Bingley (and his battle-hardened friend Mr. Darcy) moving to the neighborhood. However, the Bennett's training under the Chinese masters of the Shaolin earns them the criticism and scorn of the Bingley sisters and Mr. Darcy who have been reared thinking that a "superior" training can be found only under the Japanese masters. Will the Bennett sisters find true love amidst all the violent Katana-wielding, zombie-bashing, ninja-fighting, vomit-strewn pages of this book?

We (and an admiring Mr. Darcy) get the first inkling of the deadliness of the Bennett sisters at the ball where Bingley and Darcy make their appearance and after Darcy has delivered his famous set-down to Elizabeth "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me"... Elizabeth instantly desiring to avenge her honour reaches into her ankle boot to remove a dagger with which to slash Darcy's throat when the ballroom is attacked by unmentionables.

As guests fled in every direction, Mr. Bennett's voice cut through the commotion. "Girls! Pentagram of Death!"

Elizabeth immediately joined her four sisters, Jane, Mary, Catherine and Lydia in the center of the dance floor. Each girl produced a dagger from her ankle and stood at the tip of an imaginary five-pointed star. From the center of the room, they began stepping outward in unison - each thrusting a razor-sharp dagger with one hand, the other hand modestly tucked into the small of her back.
The dainty fighting pose made this bit paisa-vasool for me!

Grahame-Smith tends to get raunchy often, inserting scenes, some which have the capacity to hideously rend Ms. Austen's gentle, well-bred world for the reader forever. The following occurs when Lizzy is in Netherfield to help nurse Jane (who has caught a cold from battling zombies in the rain) and the party are gathered in a parlour where Miss Bingley questions Bingley's intention on throwing a ball at Netherfield warning that Darcy would not like one..

"I should like balls infinitely better," she (Miss Bingley) replied, "if they were carried on in a different manner."

"You should like balls infinitely better," said Darcy, "if you knew the first thing about them."

Elizabeth blushed and suppressed a smile-slightly shocked by his flirtation with impropriety, and slightly impressed that he should endeavour to flirt with it at all.
With all the violence here, it's not surprising that the consequences to people in this book are much more explicit than Austen's subtlety. For instance, Charlotte Lucas marries Mr. Collins because she is stricken by the plague and Wickham is rendered paralysed from the neck down as punishment for running away with Lydia while Lydia has to take care of a cripple for the rest of her life.

So, while not perfect (I would have been happier with it as an original work if it contained less of Austen's work), of all the pastiches that seek to take advantage of Ms. Austen's cash cow, I think I have enjoyed this the most. Atleast, it made me laugh.


avdi said...

CP, Janie's style is impeccable, but her insistence on propriety, and views of the society make you cringe.

I love her books, but dont agree with her all the time. (same feeling I get when reading Little Women)

This does sound like fun, if it made you laugh. I really must get it. hehe !

Smita said...

Hmmmm...the cover looks hilarious :)

Dunno whether I will pick this book or not but great review :D

couchpapaya said...

avdi - yeah it is fun in parts! as for the old-fashioned views i wonder if ppl a century on will look at our books and shake their heads at racism and homosxuality issues. at least one can hope :)

smita - isnt the cover hypnotic and gross! i found myself starng at it quite a bit, esp the blood-shot eyes!! i might have dreamt of them a bit too :(

Anonymous said...

Pride, Prejudice and Zombie mayhem?! Graham Smith should have adopted a pseudonym for this book, something like Jane Ostentatious!


Mama - Mia said...

wow! this sure sounds like verry interesting book CP! zombies and Austen! phew!

Bouncing-Bubble said...

am not quite sure I'd be picking many are after P & P!

couchpapaya said...

roflindian - with everyone wanting to jump on the jane-wagon, i'm thankful for that bit of restraint :)

abha - i think u'll like it ...

bubbles - have u ever read any of the numerous sequels ?? many times i've ended with throwing the book across the room they were so irritating ... this was ok, but i doubt it will appeal to everyone.

magicalsummer said...

your review, cp, was paisa-vasool :) a hilarious read, and a much neede good mood shifter in a not so nice day :)

couchpapaya said...

mags - thanks :) hope the day got better for u !!

    I also blog at ....

    Search This Blog

    Currently reading ....

    The Secret Wedding

    Blog Awards

    Blog Awards
    Thanks, Abha

    Thanks, Angel's Flight

    Thanks, Avdi

    Thanks, Nishita