Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Two reviews in one! Both Hedon and Stace are reviewing “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” in this post. First up is Stace.
I finished listening to the audiobook of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen, of course), before we went home. It has taken me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to say about it.
If you’ve read this blog for long, you probably already know that “Pride and Prejudice” is my favorite novel. I’ve read the book numerous times and have several different audio versions. But as much as I love the book, I am not averse to people “sullying” it (as Austen purists would put it), by writing sequels, or the hundred other ways that have been found to reap the profits of Austen’s popularity. I only ask that the sullying be done well, an admittedly tall order for most authors dabbling in Austen’s works.
When I heard about the Zombie version of P&P some months ago, I was amused. I thought it could be very funny if it were done right. So now that I’ve read it, do I think that Grahame-Smith did it right?
The novel has some very funny moments, but how could it not? I mean, Lizzie Bennet and her sisters are kick-ass zombie killers. There’s bound to be humor in that. And there is. The problem is that it’s a one-trick pony. Not too long into the book, after the second fight scene or so, it’s not as funny.
Here’s my problem with it: Grahame-Smith did not change enough of the novel. I would guess some 80 to 85 percent of the book is lifted straight out of the original, word for word. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover he wrote this over a three-day weekend, that’s how little he added to the novel.
I imagine his process was something like, “Read, read, oh look, they’re taking a carriage ride. Let’s have zombies attack them.” A short fight scene ensues, then it’s back to “Read, read, oh look, they’re going for a walk. Let’s have zombies attack them.”
Really, now, how much creativity does that take?
Only a few of the characters’ fates are actually changed, and some of them nonsensically so. Don’t get me started on what he did with Charlotte Lucas. I’ll just say it was occasionally funny, but completely out of character. I presume the characters’ fates he changed, Charlotte Lucas, Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham, were meant as repayment for their being asses, or dull, or whatever. Okay fine. Punish away. But have it make sense, please. Even in a zombie story.
He did have one success, and that was his treatment of Lady Catherine De Bourgh. I’ll say no more, except some of that was good stuff.
Certain things which might have been funny, such as Mr. Darcy’s oft-repeated innuendos about “balls,” to which Lizzie always blushes, don’t work. They don’t work because Mr. Darcy’s character, zombie hunter or not, isn’t changed enough that he would ever, in a million years, make any reference to testicles, no matter how veiled, in a lady’s presence. Probably not even in another man’s presence. I was basically left going, “huh?”
It’s too bad. This was a very good idea, and could have been really great. Unfortunately, this one was phoned in. Grahame-Smith didn’t put in the work necessary to make this a success for me. I’m glad I picked it up for free at Audible.com, thanks to some coupons they sent me. If I had actually paid something for it, I might be a bit peeved.
So I don’t recommend buying the book, but if you can check it out at a local library, or pick it up for free like I did, then go for it. It’s good for a few laughs, some of them pretty loud, and since most of the original is there, that part is always worth the read.
I saw out on the web that Grahame-Smith’s next book is going to be “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” I wonder whose work he’ll use to make up the 80-85 percent of the novel he can’t be bothered with writing.
Oh, and they’re making a movie of P&P&Z. Also, I hear that Elton John’s production company in the U.K. is coming out with a Pride and Prejudice and Predator movie some time in the future. Oh boy. Predator. In Regency period England. Oh boy.
Jane could never have imagined how much money she would make for so many people, in so many silly ways.
And now Hedon gets her say:
How to review “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” as I am having trouble finding the exact words I would like to use… Let me first say that I, too, thought it sounded like a fun idea. I admired Grahame-Smith’s balls for taking on what is arguably the greatest novel ever written. Then I read (listened to) the book.
I think Grahame-Smith should be hunted down and placed under lock and key. And twice a day every day he should be dragged onto the village green of some small town in England and flogged mercilessly. This should continue until every single paperback, hardback, and audio version of this “book” is gathered together into one giant pile and torched into a blazing heap of excrement. Then, when that’s done, the ashes from that bonfire should be gathered up and taken to a crematorium where they can be burned in an even hotter fire so they are reduced to grey dust particles. Then the dust from the crematorium should be gathered up and shoved into a metal canister that would then be shot into space. Once in space, the crematorium dust should then be released to orbit the earth as a nebulous cloud of excrement-dust that floats until the end of time constantly bombarded by naturally-occurring space radiation. After all that is accomplished, and not one molecule of Grahame-Smith’s work remains on the earth, the public flogging could stop I suppose.
But every single dime Mr Grahame-Smith earned from this outrage he calls a book should be seized and used to fund some sort of monkeys-in-diapers-in-a-room-with-typewriters program. I feel certain that in a very little time several of the monkeys could surpass Grahame-Smith and produce a work that is superior to his in every particular. If nothing else, the monkeys would probably at least read the work and try to understand it before they got busy attempting to cash in on Ms Austen’s popularity — something Grahame-Smith clearly couldn’t be bothered to do.
Speaking of Grahame-Smith, he should be kept under close watch for all the remaining days of his life. As a simple nod to justice, he should be required to write, “I’m so sorry, Ms. Austen, I don’t know what I could have been thinking… please forgive me” three thousand times every day. It should also be made quite clear to Mr. Grahame-Smith that if he is ever caught “writing” even one page of “fiction” in the future his fingers will be bound together and super-glued to his naked butt cheeks.
I hated it. There aren’t even words for how much I hated it. I suppose it may not actually be the worst book ever written, but it is without a doubt the worst book I’ve ever read and I’ve read thousands. No… wait… I’m just going to say it… based on all currently available information it is in fact the worst book ever written.