Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. 2009. Quirk Publishing. 317 pages.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.
As you can see, this isn't your traditional Pride and Prejudice. And Elizabeth and Jane aren't your traditional heroines. Meet the Bennet family. "The business of Mr. Bennet's life was to keep his daughters alive. The business of Mrs. Bennet's was to get them married." Why is life so dangerous? Zombies, of course! Fortunately, all five of his daughters have been trained in the deadly arts. All know how to defend themselves from the unfortunates, the undead, the unmentionables.
If you're familiar with the original, you'll recognize the basics. Yes, some of Jane Austen's lovely text remains. It definitely provides an outline for the rest.
Here is a classic scene which you'll remember if you've read the book or scene the movie:
"Upon my honor!" cried Mr. Bingley, "I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty."Here is another one of my favorites, the scene where the highly critical Catherine meets Elizabeth for the first time:
"You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room," said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.
"Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable."
"Which do you mean?" and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men."
As Mr. Darcy walked off, Elizabeth felt her blood turn cold. She had never in her life been so insulted. The warrior code demanded she avenge her honour. Elizabeth reached down to her ankle, taking care not to draw attention. There, her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat.
But no sooner had she grabbed the handle of her weapon than a chorus of screams filled the assembly hall, immediately joined by the shattering of window panes....(13-14)
Yes, the book is gimmicky. But it's clever and fun. Though personal taste plays a big role in rather you find it so. I enjoyed most of this one. I loved some of the twists and turns. Some of the lines were just genius. There was only one chapter which angered more than amused. (But I won't spoil that for you!) You'll find all the same characters and situations...but the women--as warriors--are more empowered than the originals.
"Have your ninjas left you?"
"We never had any ninjas."
"No ninjas! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without any ninjas! I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to your safety."
Elizabeth could hardly help smiling as she assured her that had not been the case. (126)
As a comedy, this works. And Pride and Prejudice becomes a page-turner for a whole other reason.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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