Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Just recently I was in Hertfordshire mingling with England's elite, when suddenly I found myself becoming witness to a zombie rampage in which dozens were ruthlessly savaged at a ball.
Well, sort of.
Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a satirical take on the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, plunges you deep in to 19th-century England, where zombies run riot.
The entirety of Grahame-Smith's novel can be summed up perfectly in the opening sentence, in which he outlines that "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."
Fondly referred to as "unmentionables" and "undead" throughout, zombies remain a centerpiece for the novel, in which innumerable violent zombie attacks disturb the peace at Netherfield Park.
Cue the Bennett sisters Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, who are schooled in the deadly arts. In order to protect themselves and those around them, the girls perform feats such as the "Pentagram of Death" in order to decapitate the feasting unmentionables.
Without wanting to spoil any of the novel's events, the text is essentially the original Pride and Prejudice with the occasional zombie invasion and, inevitably, subsequent combat. For the audience, a basic understanding of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice is assumed.
Grahame-Smith readily adopts Austen's literary style, seamlessly including a continuous zombie dialogue throughout while maintaining the original narrative (a narrative that Grahame-Smith described in an interview as "just ripe for gore and senseless violence").
For those who hate to witness one of their much-loved books be savaged by, well, zombies, Grahame-Smith still echoes the same wit as exemplified by Austen herself, when he says, "The business of Mr. Bennett's life was to keep his daughters alive. The business of Mrs. Bennett's was to get them married."
Grahame-Smith not only satirises Austen's text, it also subtly subverts the closer analysis of novels, providing a list of 10 discussion questions as part of a Reader's Discussion Guide at the back of the book.
One of the questions Grahame-Smith poses is: "Some scholars believe that zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales… can you image what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?"
Having studied Austen's Emma during VCE (and admittedly, I loathed it), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a refreshing take on a classic long revered by a vast readership. And despite receiving concerned looks from fellow commuters on the train while reading it (not suprising, considering the gory cover), I felt it a worthy buy.
This book is a certain winner for all literature lovers, action fans, Austen fanatics and those who love a good parody. This book even caters to the reluctant reader, including illustrations to further give life to the zombie-addled narrative - a pure literary feast!
There is also talk about a Hollywood adaptation, so make sure you get your hands on a copy of this book before it surfaces in the cinemas! It is certainly a brain feasting delight that will leave you in want of more!
For those who are interested, Ben H. Winters has also released a different take on Austen's Sense and Sensibility with the alternate Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, the book trailer for which is available online (new window)
4 out of 5
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