I’m the one who suggested we read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, for October, in the spirit of Halloween. So of course it figures that I’m the last one to finish it, and not until December. It was a hard slog. Not quite as hard as Point of Hopes, but less things compelling me to keep reading. I definitely would’ve abandoned it after a few pages if I wasn’t obligated to keep going.
I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie or tv version of it either. So what I know of it is gleaned from the movie Bride and Prejudice and things like an episode of Red Dwarf. You pick up things here and there, but without a real grasp of well, much of anything.
So the hardest thing in reading this was I didn’t know where the original left off and the zombies began. It was easy to tell that anything relating to the zombies was new. All references in martial arts, new. Silly little changes like Crypts and Coffins (the original game I can’t immediately name) and Kiss Me Deer (that one I can name, but don’t know how to play), obviously new.
The characters, essentially the same as the original, I’m sure. The general plot, I’m sure the same. When Elizabeth goes from place to place to place, I’m pretty sure she did so in the original. When people get married, again, reasonably sure that was the same.
But other things, when the two ideas seem to intersect, or seem a little unreal, I’m not sure. Are the stupid innuendo jokes about balls in the original? How much puking was Elizabeth’s mom doing? Did Darcy seriously cripple that guy? Wickham, was it? I find it rather unlikely he was traveling around on a bed in the original, but.. how do I know?
And still other things, I know they were new, but I wonder what they were replacing in the original. In specific, Charlotte (was it?) gets stricken with the zombie disease and gets herself quickly married to some guy, Collins? Lots of C names. Very annoying. And then she continues to partake of society while she slowly turns into a zombie. And he doesn’t seem to notice. No one seems to notice except Elizabeth. And then the C guy commits suicide.
So in the original, was she pregnant before she got married? Did she die in childbirth? Did he then kill himself?
Is any of that guessing correct? No idea.
As you can tell, I had a real problem with names. People had first names, and they had surnames, and there were several Miss Bennetts, of course. Which I may not have even just spelled correctly. But then they might also be called ‘the Longbourne ladies’ and it was just very hard for me at first to tell anyone apart or keep anyone straight. So it was especially hard for me to get into it at the beginning, and to keep going. About the halfway mark, it wasn’t as hard to keep going. I guess I finally got into the story. Or.. some story. I don’t even know.
My favorite character? Elizabeth’s father. Until there’s a reference to him boffing a bunch of women. Which I suspect was added. But, again, no real idea if I’m right or not.
Okay, so the zombies themselves. They’re zombies. And you know what, I’m not really into zombies. Or zombie movies. The new vampires they’re not. So in the spirit of zombie movies, there’s gore, there’s unrealistic fight scenes, and there’s attempts at humor.
At the end of the book, there’s a discussion guide. Here’s a question not in the discussion guide:
* Elizabeth and her sisters feel pity for the zombies, embarassment when a friend is turning into one, and even spare the life of a zombie infant. Ninjas, on the other hand, Elizabeth disembowels and kills for no reason at all except to prove her competence as a fighter. Do you think this dichotomy is due to racism, classism, or something else?
The book draws in Japanese and Chinese references, as all the zombie fighters have gone to the Orient to train. One woman in particular, Catherine(?), thinks her Japanese training far superior. Elizabeth is pretty biased towards her own Chinese training.
Why then, does Elizabeth, with her Shaolin training, fight with a katana?
Why does one of the houses have nice Japanese gardens and whatnot, and a ‘coy pond’?
My answer? I think the author (no, not Jane Austen, the other one) has watched too many zombie and martial arts films, and doesn’t quite know what he’s talking about.
One final thought: too much vomit and other bodily fluids. They’re not funny. Not even the first time. Especially not in quantity. Author has also been watching too much SNL.
Long story short, this would’ve made a better short story. Or a direct-to-video movie.
Don’t read it. Seriously. Consider this my holiday gift to you. I have just saved you several hours of time that you can put to better use.