I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time from the library, as it’s a pretty hot title right now.
What we have here is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, retold faithfully scene-for-scene and in similar language by Seth Grahame-Smith — except that there are zombies.
Just the high-concept is enough to make you want to run out and read it, isn’t it?
Elizabeth and Darcy are still dealing with snubs and misunderstandings and wayward sisters, but also the walking dead. Lizzy is a China-trained zombie slayer who kicks ass on a regular basis and is pretty hard in spirit, as well. Darcy is her equal with a sword at taking down the undead, and also, you may recall, pretty dreamy in spite of being rather proud.
They meet at balls, they exchange witticisms, then they slay some zombies. It’s a living.
This book is the very epitome of fluffy, but it was a quick, fun read. If you’re a fan of Austen, it’s almost a must read. The zombie encounters are both hilarious and exciting, and most suprising of all — actually seem to fit in the story. It’s amazing how quickly I accepted the fact that zombies were wandering around the fringes of 19th century England. I absolutely didn’t notice when the story veered away from a comedy of manners into zombie battling territory — it was seamless and fully integrated. The militia camped nearby finally has some actual work to do; all those boring passages of people travelling from one location to another are now nicely spiced up by zombie encounters.
Although the book is mostly just about having fun with the classics, I have to admit that there were places where it actually improved on the original novel, at least for me. Having Elizabeth be a cold-hearted killer shed quite a bit of light on her character — what makes her different than the other girls, what makes her catch Darcy’s eye, and what her own weaknesses of character are that must be overcome. Seeing Lydia throw away her calling as a zombie slayer in favour of frivolous flirting makes the whole business of boy-chasing seem so sad and wasteful — probably just as Jane Austen actually intended.
Not that this is in any way a deep book (despite the hilarious mock-book-club discussion questions at the end). It was fun, it was funny, and I’m buying a copy for my teenaged niece for Christmas, but that’s about the end of it.
One other thing: the cover art freaked my kids out. I had to cover it with post-it notes.
This book has been so popular on the bestseller lists that it’s already inspired a bunch of copycats — Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is already out, for example. I’ll be staying away from those in favour of something a little more serious (I hear Sea Monsters isn’t that good, anyway). But for a weekend at the cottage, this book will entertain without exactly keeping you up nights.