Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: adding much-needed zombies to the Austen classic
Posted by Cory Doctorow
I don't often give books mixed reviews here on Boing Boing. If I don't like a book enough to wholeheartedly recommend it, I generally pass on it -- after all, there's no shortage of books that I love, so why make note of the flawed ones?
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the exception to the rule, because there's so much to like about this book, even if it didn't actually do it for me.
Here's the pitch: Seth Grahame-Smith has taken Jane Austen's classic, beloved novel Pride and Prejudice and, by means of cunning textual insertions and deletions, changed the story so that it takes place in the midst of a Regency England that has been plunged into chaos by a plague of the living dead. It takes surprisingly little work to do this, and the book ends up feeling substantially like the classic mannered novel that so many adore. Except with zombie mayhem. The execution is flawless, often hilarious, and just plain clever.
So, what's the problem? Well, the problem is Jane Austen.
Can't stand her.
Never successfully read Pride and Prejudice. Bored to tears by it. I'm not proud of the fact. Plenty of smart people have the utmost respect for the book, and I'm perfectly willing to stipulate that the problem is with me, not with Austen.
But P&P&Z has just too much Austen and not enough zombies. I found myself skimming, skipping larger and larger chunks of text to get to the zombie sequences, desperate to escape the claustrophobic drawing-room chatter of Austen's characters with a little beheading, disemboweling and derring-do.
I couldn't finish it. But I expect if you were the kind of person who loves both Austen and zombies, this book would just plain knock your socks off. And Quirk Books, the publisher of P&P&Z, was kind enough to give us an exclusive link to the first three chapters online for free, so you can make up your own mind. I understand they're planning on doing more books on these lines, and I'm really looking forward to them. It's a great way to celebrate the public domain, to bring classics to a new audience, and to undermine the gravitas with which we often approach "difficult literature." Which Quirk book would you like to see?