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Jul 2, 2010

“If it Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It,” or, A Review of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith is touted as “The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!”

This sort of a tag line let me to expect great things from the novel. I expected lots of Zombie, Mayhem, Gore and Fighting. I did not however, expect dialog that was out of place with Ms. Austen’s style, innuendos that popped up quite prevalently, or the strange addition of fighting styles and training in the orient. I think you can gather what I received and what was lacking.

I will admit that I was excited to read this novel. And the first line only served to increase that excitement.

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

In contrast with the original first line:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife.

And it began pleasantly, I was enjoyed the story I knew and waited for the zombies, mayhem and everything else I expected – forgiving the author for tossing in the bits about being trained in the orient - but the expected gore and mayhem never came, though the illustrations were amusing.

A friend’s sister quit reading before the halfway mark out of boredom. If I did not love the underlying story as much as I do, I might have given up too. But I soldiered on through to the end, even with my jaw hanging open at times with the horrible things that Mr. Grahame-Smith had done to my beloved characters. I was not rewarded for my diligence.

The changes made to Austen’s original novel in no way better the novel. And the things he does to the characters are hard for me to stomach. Wickam is made pitiable – a martyr even. Mr. Bennett is made an adulterer. Darcy is cruel – though only to Mr. Wickam. And Charlotte is stricken!

When it comes down to it, the things that could have been done, were not and those that were come off as poorly done, even half-done in some cases. The zombies are just there, they could easily be taken out of the story and it could have been called “The Pentagram of Death” about the five Bennett sisters, warriors to the end. The characters were not enhanced by this portrayal and in many instances their new speech and behavior lacked believability.

Overall, I don’t suggest reading this novel. Read the original incarnation instead. The first go was the better.

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