Nicole Tracy | Literary Columnist
As I was looking through a stack of books at our local Library on Saturday, I spotted a title that immediately caught my interest. The book is a mashup of one of my favorite classic novels with my favorite television/movie monsters mixed in for good measure? Thats right, I discovered a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.
My excitement was rather short-lived however, once I actually started reading the book. These two worlds, however fun it might sound to have them mix… shouldn’t.
But, to be fair, and give one a chance to evaluate the story idea for one’s self, the synopsis for the novel is as follows: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.
What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? 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.”
How can one not want to read a book with this title and description? It sounds quite entertaining. Jane Austen novels are always enjoyable, and I like zombies when they’re handled well, though they’ve always fared better in films than in print. So such a mashup seemed promising.
Unfortunately, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies just doesn’t deliver. For a parody to work, the parody really has to read like the original. The author’s prose can’t touch Austen’s effortless, elegant, and, most of all, witty style. Now, having said that, there’s a lot of actual Austen available in the story, which was what kept me reading it, but it is completely apparent when Grahame-Smith’s voice enters the story.
The depth of character that makes Austen such a great read is almost irreparably damaged in this book. When Elizabeth seriously intends to cut Darcy’s throat for insulting her, something which Austen’s Elizabeth, zombie-killer or not, would never have considered, was something of a fatal blow to the story. In order for this to work, it is required to stay as true to the original as possible.
The zombie attacks are quite predictable and all too frequent, and the added dialogue from author Grahame-Smith is pretty bland rather than charming, which you can tell the author was attempting to be. There’s just not much to recommend about this book. It’s a one trick novelty that gets old really fast.
This story was picked up with fairly low expectations, but even that didn’t help to make it any kind of enjoyable to read. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies managed to do something most books have been unable to do, in that I found it quite impossible to finish reading the story.
Yes, it was that bad. I consider it outstanding that I managed to make it through three quarters of the novel before before giving up and putting it down.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is available at the Howard County Public Library. Copies are limited, so if it is unavailable, ask at the front desk to be put on a waiting list for it.