Today's guest post comes (after persistent pestering) from my daughter Monkey. I have been asking her to write reviews of books she reads for years, she has quite different reading taste and I hoped it might add some variety in content and style, and always before she has resisted me. We have had an interesting time discussing the relative merits of the original and the more recent zombie version of this classic text.
When I went into reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I expected nothing more than light entertainment, and in that respect I was in no way disappointed. I won’t bother going into a description of the plot because if you don’t at least know the basics of what happens in Pride and Prejudice then you must have been hiding under a rock for the last 200 years or something to have missed such a big part of culture so instead I’ll talk mostly about the Zombies part.The occasional inclusion of the undead walking in search of their next meal of brains added a kind of less subtle humour to the book (the subtle kind being already included by Jane Austen herself). So one could say it was funny, and if that is all you are looking for; a few laughs, then this is certainly a book I would recommend. However, being quite familiar with the original text that is derived from, Pride and Prejudice itself, I could not help but notice a great number of things that bothered me. As with any book you enter a new world and must accept the parameters of the story, first you take in the world set by Jane Austen 19th Century England, with then the added bonus that Seth Grahame-Smith has included the Zombies. In addition to the Zombies you get all that would be different in a world that includes Zombies, for instance the militia stationed at Meryton for a large chunk of the book is now stated to be there for the quelling of the armies of the undead. Also many young men and women (the Bennet sisters, whom the story centres around included) travel to the Orient to learn the art of death. I accepted all of this, however I did find it unclear since the idea of young women being skilled in battle seemed to be presented as being both an accomplishment such as young ladies were expected to have and, at the same time, was looked upon as improper as they were expected to give it up if they were married. So I allowed myself to enjoy the world that Seth Grahame-Smith created but I felt that in his laziness he perhaps did not bother to consider the world that Jane Austen had set it in, that he had not bothered to put research and thought into the non-Zombie related edits he made. I will give an example that stood out to me significantly (I know many might think me a ridiculous pedant for noticing and making comment on this but accuracy is important to me): in chapter twenty-one when the girls are making their usual walk to Meryton with their muskets at the ready they are alerted to the approach of the Zombies by a number of woodland creatures crossing their path to escape them, among these animals he mentions both a chipmunk and a skunk, being British this stood out to me immediately: we do NOT have chipmunks or skunks in this country, so this edit totally disregards the country in which the book is set. I appreciate that the author being American would not automatically know this as I did, but I do find it inconsiderate of him to not even bother to check, and you might hope that an editor or someone might have noticed and suggested it be changed but I guess not. The other major thing that disappointed me about the book was that the inclusion of the Zombies did not influence a lot of the story. I felt like all they were doing was popping up, being killed and then everyone just went along as they did before. Of course the events within the story, and the beginning and end points, had to be the same, but in my opinion the Zombies could have done a lot more to influence those happenings instead of just being a background feature. The one exception to this (SPOILER ALERT) is that Charlotte Lucas is infected with the strange plague and this becomes part of the reason why she decides to marry Mr Collins, I would have liked it if there had been more additions like this, the Zombies being the reason for why certain things happen.
All in all, as I said to begin with, I did still enjoy the book, and I am certainly looking forward to seeing the film adaption next week especially with the opinion that Zombies are much more suited to the medium of film, so may be even more enjoyable.