Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pride and Prejudice AND ZOMBIES

I am an Austen fan. The manners, the sly humor, the layers upon layers of subtext, the well-developed characters--both major and minor--I love it all! And even though Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel, when I saw this book advertised on amazon (click here for your own copy! Now only $7.77!), I knew I had to have it.
Finally, after a few weeks of my summer vacation have passed in a restless haze of waiting for the most opportune moment to crack the binding for the first time, I have succumbed. It was a long-awaited pleasure, and it was not a disappointment, overall.
Was it classic literature, deserving a space on my shelf next to Austen's other works? Maybe not. Was is pure, silly fun? Absolutely.
Here's the first sentence, just to give you an idea: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." And it just goes on from there. According to this revision of Austen's novel, England has been plagued by a--well, a plague that makes people into zombies. And the zombies like nothing more than to kill people and feast on their brains, which apparently are quite tender, succulent, and salty. A young person of any class or standing is sent to be classically trained in killing techniques by the masters of death-dealing in Japan (or China, if a family has less class or standing, such as the Bennett family).
Nobody with any brains leaves home without a dagger in her stocking and a Katana or Brown Bess strapped to her back.
The story unfolds much as does the Pride and Prejudice you may have been required to read in high school or college, with occasional (no, really, frequent is the better word) diversions for vomiting, sword-practice, and zombie slaying. Oh, and there are ninjas, too.
Remember Lady Catherine de Bourgh? She's an accomplished zombie slayer, one of the best in England.
How about Mr. Collins? Guess what? He's no good at all with killing zombies. I'm sure you're surprised.
Of course, all the Bennet girls are excellent swordswomen, and they have even perfected a five-point formation, which they use to good advantage when zombies attack guests at a ball.
It was gruesome, and the gore was only heightened by the illustrations every few chapters that usually featured zombies feasting on corpses or being decapitated by one of the main characters. Much of the text is word-for-word from Austen (85%, I've read in some sources), but there was certainly enough zombie mayhem to satisfy my taste for the gruesome.
Still overall, it was a fun read. Definitely something I'd recommend to a friend who has read and loved Pride and Prejudice. If nothing else, it will make you appreciate Jane Austen's genius even more.
One of the illustrations from the book. Don't worry: it's cauliflower the zombies are feasting on. Obviously, they're not very bright, and the veggie is often used as bait for zombies, who mistake it for succulent brains. That's Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy in the background, by the way.


Ilona said...

I'm not sure I can look past the cover, and the illustrations...they gross me out...

Kir said...

I know. I don't know why I find them so funny, but I do...

Ron Samul said...

Being a bit of a zombie fan - check out the film "Fido" - I must say that this is a nice acknowledgment that zombie stories are still important to our culture and now fits into our literary canon. When vampires were the "it" thing - circa 1988-1998, it was the dark cult to belong in - lust and coolness were all there around these blood suckers. Now, perhaps a sign of the times, we need an undead legion, to hate. I actually purchased a "Zombie Escape Plan" book for my father for his birthday so we would have a plan when the time comes. He loved it. Anyway - there is life with zombies and life without... I think just understanding the world with them is just being forward thinking and well prepared. I enjoyed the book and took it to be a critical staple of literary benchmarks in Zombie Classic Literature. I can't wait to see the syllabus for the Zombie Lit class. I'll be the first one in line to register.

Nice review. RON

Kir said...

Me too, Ron. I've read snippets of the Zombie Survival Guide, and found it to be both illuminating and helpful. Maybe I need to get a copy to keep next to PPZ on my you say, it is always good to be prepared.