Being an English major and an all-around book lover, I have been introduced to many classical works of literature as well as many of their copies, influences, and parodies. Jane Austen has had a significant influence on literature, producing such parodies as the 1995 movie hit “Clueless” based off of Austen’s “Emma.”
A new novel written by Seth Grahame Smith has put another spin on a classic Jane Austen tale. This new book is entitled “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” The novel’s title explains exactly what you’re going to get. Smith has described the novel as 85% Jane Austen and 15% zombies. Because what is good novel if it doesn’t include some form of the undead. Maybe that is the secret to the success of Twilight. It wasn’t the horrible love story, or the glittering oppressive boyfriend, it was the fact that he could kill you. Pride and Prejudice and zombies is just following that same format.
The novel follows the same general plot with a few unearthly alterations. Mrs. Bennet is focused on getting her five daughters married but Mr. Bennet is more focused on teaching his daughters proper combat when fighting off zombies. There is really no explanation why these people living in a zombie threathened society, people are still going to balls and concerend with marring men who are wealthy.
Certain subtle words and actions Austen used to further describe what kind of the world the girls live in have been replaced by zombies. Random messages are lost because the messengers are eaten by zombies.
If the title does not clue you in on what to expect the opening line certainly does: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” This is a truth that Austen may not have been well aware of, but Smith has made sure to include in his rewrite.
The first ball in the novel where Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet is interrupted by a horde of zombies. The five sisters must form the pentagram of death in order to destroy the zombies that have crashed the party. A rather gory description of the sisters slicing and dicing the undead proceads. If I wasn’t laughing I most likely would have been vommiting.
Elizabeth and Darcy do have a general dislike for each other until they realize they have a mutual love for zombie slaying. When Bingley decides to leave and go back to London, the Bennet family assumes it is because all his servants have been eaten by zombies.
When Elizabeth learns that Darcy is responsible for Bingley’s departure rather than a battle of words, they have an all-out battle royal in which Elizabeth beats Darcy senseless. This beating is a slight satisfaction for fans who finally see that Elizabeth can beat the jerk out of Darcy.
When Darcy writes Elizabeth his letter, he explains that he broke up Jane and Bingley because he feared Jane was infected by the zombie plague. Of course as the story continues we see the two come together, Lydia marries Wickham, and Bingley and Jane do eventually get engaged.
When Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine come to confront Elizabeth on the rumors and Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged, she challenges Elizabeth to an ultimate fight. Elizabeth is able to defeat Lady Catherine and her band of ninjas to win Darcy. Another form of satisfaction for “Pride and Prejudice” fans as we see the horribly annoying Lady Cathryn beatin to a bloody pulp.
Reading the first few chapters of this novel, I laughed hysterically. The random mentions of zombies and zombie fighting are so ridiculous it’s hard not to. However, I can say with certainty that I have no desire to spend money on this book. The chapters I read, I found on the internet and I think they sufficed for what I would probably get with the rest of the book. I would most likely read it if I was bored and sitting in a book store.
It seems like it would be a quick, fun read. I don’t think this book will encourage non-Austen enthusiasts to suddenly take an interest in her books, but I would venture to guess this book may be appreciated by the same non-Austen lovers. Austen enthusiast may no be excited to see some of her most famous characters beating each other up, but really when we think about it, when reading “Pride and Prejudice” didn’t we all want Lady Cathryn to get a good smach in the face. Even that Wickham doesn’t get some form of a beat down is a disappointment. Wickham doesn’t get a beat down in Smith’s version either but a reader may close the book with the satisfaction that maybe he was eaten by zombies.
Whether or not people who have not read “Pride and Prejudice” will find the book as funny as I did is up to debate.
Austen’s language mixed with zombies is what makes the book so funny, but the small changes Smith makes to the plot that add to the books hilarity may be lost upon those who have not read the original. This book certainly does not destroy Austen’s work. The social commentary the Austen is making in her original novel is mostly left out of Smith’s new version making it a different book.
This book simply combines two words that are so ridiculously opposite that the only result is to laugh. Maybe Smith will help some other classics move into modern times. One can only hope that such great works like “Sense and Senibility” may be changed to “Sense and Sensibility and Braaaaains!”