Sunday, August 16, 2009

The BRAAAAAAINS of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I recently finished reading my local library's (slightly overdue) copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. I confess that I did not, perhaps, get as much out of this book as others might have, as I haven't read Pride and Prejudice in over a year and did not particularly enjoy it when I did so. (I understand that this makes me a heathen in some circles. I did not enjoy Little Women, either. Make of that what you will.) As a fan of all things undead, however, I thoroughly enjoyed this re-telling of a classic. The blurb on the back cover proved to be, unlike many books, quite accurate: "Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read." When a story opens with "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains," how can you go wrong?

One of the most wonderful things about PP&Z is how even as Elizabeth decapitates zombies, the story remains neatly within its period. (There are a few exceptions, mostly there for humor, but they aren't overwhelming.) The zombies? Usually referred to as "unmentionables." Instead of reading in the sitting room, the women all retire to the dojo and make sure their guns are ready and sharpen their knives. Perfectly domestic, just heavily armed. Mostly, I enjoy watching all the Bennet sisters slaughter as many zombies as they possibly can.

PP&Z isn't a great masterpiece by any means, but since it's not supposed to be, I don't mind one bit. It's strange. It's funny. It's absurd. It is absolutely not for those who cannot stand to see the slightest alterations to Austen's works or those who take themselves seriously. It is for anyone who wants to see Elizabeth Bennet send Darcy smashing into the mantelpiece with a well-placed kick or enjoy a lovely illustration of zombies feasting on cauliflowers, having mistaken them for brains. And if you believe that taking up arms against the undead with your significant other makes for a great date ... well, join the club. We have jackets.

This whole thing came out hilarious; I was laughing so hard at some points that my sides hurt. This isn't "serious" zombie fiction - try World War Z if you want that - but it is good fun. If, however, you simply must search for academic value in this book, there are discussion questions at the back.

Consider the very deep: "Does Mrs. Bennet have a single redeeming quality?" or the thought-provoking: "Vomit plays an important role in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ... Do the authors mean for this regurgitation to symbolize something, or is it a cheap device to get laughs?"

That right, folks, academia in a zombie novel. Now you can have your brains and eat them, too.

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