pride-prejudice-zombies-coverFor months there’s been buzz about the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. How unexpected! How au courant! How funny! I snatched up a copy as soon as I saw a sign for it in the window of my closest indie bookstore.

I’m thrilled the original Jane Austen book is in the public domain and that, as such, Seth Grahame-Smith was able to take his liberties with it. Unfortunately, that’s where my happiness with the book ends. Simply put, it’s terrible.

Grahame-Smith really did eat the brains out of this book. He cut much of Austen’s original descriptive prose but left the rest, and by so doing accomplished two things. First, he removed much of the context of the story, and, further, he left the remainder feeling like a stilted anachronism with zombies thrown in. It’s artless and lacks imagination.

If he’d so wanted to cut out the descriptive prose, he should have rewritten the story in his own words. Instead, the old-fashioned language seems choppy, awkward, overly formal, and the zombie bits just seem unsophisticated. Writing-wise, that is. It’s not like I think zombies need to be sophisticated. It’s just that this particular plague of living dead has done “unmentionable” things to the classic tale.

I’m not at all offended by his messing with such a beloved book. The more beloved, the more fabulous such a messing-with could be, I say. Mostly, I’m disappointed because this book is like one, giant, hyper-buzzed missed opportunity. Its success rests on the cleverness of an idea that failed to thrive in the hands of the writer, and on cover art and a fabulous blurb that encompass all the genius of the concept that isn’t fleshed out (heh) within. We’re missing out on something that could have been wildly entertaining. And it’s too bad—now if someone else is inclined to work mash-up magic with this tome (or any other classic, I imagine) they’ll play second fiddle and will seem a copy-cat. We’ve been robbed of greatness that could have extended well beyond the pages of this one book, and that’s the horrific tragedy.

7 responses to “Zombies Ate the Brains of Pride and Prejudice”

  1. smartgrrrl Avatar

    Here's where you and I differ. It's not that I was offended by someone messing with Austen because in the right hands, at the right time, updates and fiddling can be genius (see: Clueless). But the whole concept struck me as something that should've remained a concept. It was a one-off joke that didn't need to be written out, something that would always have been funnier in theory. Or possibly visually, rather than in text.

    Plus I'm just a little tired of the whole zombie thing, or at least the idea that X + Zombies = instant win.

  2. knitgrrl Avatar

    I'm reading it at the moment and I'm less than impressed, too, which makes me sad because I really WANTED to like it. In the hands of someone like my friend Mike, a book like this could have been genius. But, sigh…no. The cover remains the best part.

  3. Molly Avatar

    The idea of zombies did little to interest me, but the buzz had piqued my curiosity to the point where I was on the verge of seeking out a copy. But I think you've saved me the trouble…

  4. Heather Avatar

    Man, I loved the concept. It kind of seems a shame that: 1.) a man wrote the mash-up and 2.) he wasn't skilled enough to marry his original writing with the writing of Jane Austen.

    Thanks for the review. Here's hoping the movie(s?) are better.

    And, we'll always have fan fiction! Or we could write our own and self-publish… right?

  5. Polgara Avatar

    I was waiting for your review before buying the book. Now I'm sure I won't read it.

  6. Polgara Avatar

    I was waiting for your review before buying the book. Now I'm sure I won't read it.

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