I should start straight up by letting you know that the list of authors is a little misleading. I apologise to all Jane Austen fans whose hearts palpitated at the thought that perhaps their beloved author had penned a manuscript that had only now seen the light of day. This isn’t, quite unfortunately, the case.
What happened is deceptively simple yet pretty smart at the same time: Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s manuscript for Pride and Prejudice and added – you guessed it – zombies to the story.
If you’re a purist, I’ll give you a minute to calm yourself down. If you aren’t, please proceed immediately with the next paragraph.
This isn’t a rewriting of the classic, as most of the original manuscript has been kept intact. As the parasitic author explains in the prologue, he kept track of these changes on his computer by typing them up in red – needless to say, quite an appropriate colour.
Neither is it a re-imagining of the plot, since everything comes to pass as Jane Austen dictated it must pass. Even Seth Grahame-Smith didn’t have the courage of changing the very plot of the story – then he would have most certainly incurred the wrath of Austen fans.
Rather, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an enhancement of the story – well, at least it is for those of us who like zombies and the such.
If you’re a purist, seriously, why are you still reading this review?
From the first pages, you recognize the words, and again from the first pages, you recognize the additions like parasites creeping into the text. The opening sentence is quite a reflection of the entire book: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains”. And while this puts the reader at the beginning of quite an adventure in more ways than one, this story isn’t for the faint of heart.
I’ll be honest – the first couple of paragraphs were a little shocking and unsettling at times. But once I accepted the change – and, most importantly, once I went back a page or two to read the prologue – it all made sense.
So my first piece of advice: read the prologue!
As for Jane Austen fans, don’t think that it is certain you will not like this book. Before deciding that this is a tome that will never be found anywhere near you, consider this. Dr. Allen Grove penned an Afterword analysing in three pages if Jane Austen would be rolling in her grave were she to hear about what was done with her classic. While the entire Afterword is fascinating, one part in particular stands out: “…although zombies has been popular only in recent decades, their presence in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies makes explicit what Austen constantly implies: Elizabeth Bennet’s world of aristocratic gentility was under attack not only by fortune hunters (…), but also by larger and sometimes more violent and terrifying social and political forces”.
Hard to imagine that brainless creatures such as zombies would give so much food for your own brain, did you now?
Last piece of advice: if you are certain you are going to love this story before even reading it, then you might as well go ahead and buy the Deluxe Heirloom Edition, which comes with 30% more zombies, a surprisingly beautiful faux-leather binding and new gory paintings by Roberto Parada.
In short, Pride and Prejudice And Zombies is a great read bound to attract a new generation of readers to Austen’s timeless classic, albeit in a more gory setting. Hopefully this will make them look for and learn the same lessons the original did. And if this is the case, I’m certain Jane Austen won’t be too miffed at Seth Grahame-Smith.
But just in case, Seth, do make sure to say some prayers before heading over to the other world. Just in case.
First published here on Blogcritics.