Early 19th century, England: A strange plague has befallen the land and the dead are rising. In the middle of all this confusion is the Bennett family. Mr Bennett went to China with his daughters to train them in the deadly arts. After their return to England, their mother tries everything to get them married. So it is just as well, when two new young men enter their social lives – Mr Bingley, amiable and sweet and Mr Darcy, arrogant and proud. Will the Bennett sisters find their perfect guys and not get eaten by unmentionables?
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is fun. Grahame-Smiths changes don’t always occur seamlessly, but that’s alright. I got a huge kick out of the illustrations in the book and in general, I enjoyed reading it a lot. I was surprised by a few things, which I will discuss in more detail below.
[SPOILERS for both the classic and this version]
You can’t imagine the looks I’ve gotten when I read this book in the subway. [Once I had it lying on my desk during class and my teacher stopped dead, looked at the book and the muttered something about “sorry, this is just one of my favourite books” before she could go on.]
Anyways, as I said before, the changes made were not always seamless, which shows you again just how pitch-perfect Austen’s writing was. If you’re just a little off, it will be noticed. But that’s okay, I mean, I didn’t read this book for a perfect Austen novel, but for the hell of it.
The changes made were interesting. I mean apart from including zombies, G-S also included dirty puns (he refers to Darcy’s balls and more than once mentions “the most English of parts”), some barfing and generally more violent behaviour between the characters and in their behaviour towards servants. This all accumulates in an actual fight between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennett.
Another interesting point was that the Bennetts went to China for their training and Lady Catherine and Mr Darcy got their training in Japan – which ultimately ends in a rivalry there, as well. This could have been explored more. Also, the general situation in England could have been explored a little more. London is divided into sectors, girls are apparently allowed to fight, the dead have risen, for crying out loud! What does all of that really mean for the society?
But the most interesting point for me was that G-S gave the whole thing a much stronger moral message than the original had. I mean, all the same people end up together, but Charlotte Lucas, who was always good and gets really a bad deal in P&P, is stricken before the wedding and grows less like herself by the minute and much too dumb to realise how bad her situation is – which in this case is quite a blessing. Mr Collins on the other hand, after realising his wife’s condition, comits suicide.
This changed moral message is most apparent in the treatment of Wickham and Lydia – for her folly, Lydia is not only punished by having to stay with Wickham, without having any money or anything she ever dreamed off, but Wickham gets savagely beaten by Darcy and is paralysed from the neck down and needs constant care from his wife. [A big point is made from the fact that Wickham is also incontinent after this beating.] Which is quite harsh.
I have to say that I prefer the ending of the old one, where Lydia and Wickham both have to live with the consequences of their foolish actions, without any physical meddling by Darcy.
But altogether, it’s quite an enjoyable read.
BTW: *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal* There’s going to be a movie adaptation.