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Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009)
7th Jun 09
An expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem.
From the age of 14 I spent many a geography lesson daydreaming about the smouldering Mr Darcy, and how he might perhaps see sense and ditch Lizzy Bennett, leave Pemberley on his trusty steed, and rescue me from my dragon of a geography teacher, whose idea of fun was to memorise a ridiculous rhyme defining what a 'contour line' is.
Needless to say, Darcy never showed and I failed Geography. But I always kept a fondness for Austen's timeless love story, which is why I couldn't believe my ears when I heard that someone was going to rework the classic novel to include zombies! LA TV comedy writer Seth Grahame-Smith was able to rewrite Austen's novel was because is it out of copyright – fair play, I say – why didn't I think of doing anything like that?!
After reading the opening line,"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains", I could tell this was going to be one of those 'marmite' novels that you will either love or hate. The story opens with a zombie attack on the quaint village of Meryton where the Bennett family lives. Set in the same time as Austen's tale, the novel explores all the trials and tribulations of the young Bennett sisters' quests to find suitable husbands, with some much needed zombie action thrown into the mix for good measure.
According to Writer Grahame-Smith, around 85% of his version is the original text, which sounds rather a lot, but once you read it you'll realise just how mammoth his task of editing an reworking was, because the finished result is so completely different from Austen's original!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies uses some clever genre plot devices to spice up the original novel, including the Bennett sisters substituting reading and playing music for sparring with martial arts experts in the far east and becoming trained assassins, with the sole purpose of defeating the zombie army waiting to attack.
There are quite a few bloody, graphic zombie confrontations throughout the novel (some complete with illustrations!), however, as an avid gore fan, these much needed zombie attacks seemed too frequently interrupted by lengthy dialogue and plot developments that were almost redundant, given the zombie context version of the tale. I felt I was constantly counting down the pages until the next eye-gouging, beheading or gutting which were too seldom to make Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a great triumph.
To say that I was expecting a lot more, blood, guts and suitably gross adjectives is an understatement, and in that respect I was left feeling a little unsatisfied by the end. Maybe as a hardcore horror fan, I was expecting a little too much. If you are a horror fan and have yet to read Austen's Pride and Prejudice, or an Austen fan and have yet to see a zombie film, then Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the perfect halfway house.
Also, look out soon for the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on the big screen - it is rumoured that Hollywood is currently engaging in a massive bidding war over the film rights!
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