Jul. 21st, 2009

reileen: (reading - books)
So. Yeah. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The title is pretty self-explanatory; the book is a decent, enjoyable read (speaking as someone who liked the original), and I suspect this is going to spark a craze in the publishing world where authors take works of fiction in the public domain and fuse it with something that is completely, anachronistically dissonant with the tone and setting of said work. Grahame-Smith is apparently already working on Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I soon expect The Sound and the Fury and the Androids, or The Odyssey: Gotta Catch 'Em All!, or Treasure Island: With Extra Pirate Action!. (...wait.)

For the most part, Grahame-Smith does a commendable job of integrating such a ridiculous element with the refined atmosphere of late 18th-century England. The zombies are referred to as either "the unmentionables" or "the sorry stricken" or, well, "the zombies." Not much explanation is given as to the origin of the zombies; they've just been an ongoing plague to the Empire for a while already (dating back to at least the youth of Lady Catherine). Zombie attacks are more frequent in the spring and summer, when the earth is soft. Zombie attacks are also apparently the reason that there is a militia camped out nearby the Bennets. (I could be misremembering this.) Okay, that's fine. I can dig that.

Another thing I can dig: the Bennet sisters being trained in kung-fu. Yes, apparently the Bennets spent time in China, training in Shaolin for a couple of years under some martial arts master, with the result that they can now kick ass while being modest about it. While that would obviously preclude some interesting encounters with the zombies (the first appearance of which occurs at the ball where the Bennets first meet Mr. Darcy), I was a lot more excited about the showdown between Elizabeth and Darcy when Darcy shows up to first propose to her. That was classic, and I suspect many fans of the book (and perhaps some non-fans) have been waiting a while for something like that. (Spoiler: Also thematically satisfying in terms of the whole martial arts thing was Elizabeth's final fight against Lady Catherine de Bourgh.) A subtle but interesting touch that Grahame-Smith added was the clash, for lack of a better term at the moment, between Chinese-style and Japanese-style martial arts. In particular, Lady Catherine de Bourgh looks down on Elizabeth not just because Elizabeth is from a lower social class, but also because Elizabeth is trained in the "barbarian" arts of China, and not the "superior" style of Japan. There are other such instances of this in the book, but that was the one that stood out to me.

Still, even while hastily invoking the Rule of Cool every other paragraph, there were some things that I just couldn't get over. For example, if Lizzy was trained in Chinese martial arts, what the hell was she doing with a Katana (yes, capitalized like it was in the book), which is a Japanese sword? Shouldn't she have been wielding, like, a jian or a dao or something? I know, I know, such a nitpick, but that was seriously bugging the hell out of me.

Then there were some characterization problems I was trying to wrestle with. And here is where I get a bit spoilery, though I must admit that defining 'spoiler' for a novel like this is kind of...wyrd. )

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is worth taking a look at, at the very least. Just be aware of your own personal "Rule of Cool" tolerance, and you'll be well-equipped to deal with the zombies and their hunters.

-Reileen
men are mere mortals who are not worth going to your grave for

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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