Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a parody novel that reworks Jane Austen’s chick lit classic into a fanboy tale of fights, gore, and mass terror. The romance elements of the original novels remain. 85% of the writing remains the words of Jane Austen.
Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the other 15% of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. He turns the book into a mash-up of Regency-era romantic plots alongside ninja fights and undead zombie attacks. The book got a lot of buzz when it first came out in 2009. It received a second printing before release.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been adapted into a graphic novel and a video game. The story is going to be turned into a movie. Natalie Portman was supposed to star, but now she’s only going to be a producer. A whole series of other parody novels came out in its wake, such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a pop culture phenomenon, but is it any good?
The reviews were mixed. Anyone skeptical will find a lot more people liked this mashup than you would expect. When my book club read the novel, I decided I’d have to give my analysis. Here it is.
If you go into this book hoping for great literature, you’re going to hate it. Jane Austen wrote feminine romance stories, but she was a first class writer. Her insight into human eccentricity transcends time and culture. To combine this with a modern author trying to deliver a punchline is going to offend a lot of people.
Anyone who loves Pride & Prejudice is familiar with the scene at the ball early on where Mr. Darcy slights Elizabeth’s beauty. Lizzy is offended, but only so much to dislike Mr. Darcy and to think ill of him. In the revision, we get a different version: “…her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat.”
Lucky for love, the zombies interrupt before this happens. This passage should be enough to convince you to read further or not. If it offends your sense of romance or literary tastes, read no further.
I was no fan of Mr. Grahame-Smith’s writing, but I have to admit I chuckled in places. Take the captain that reads, “The smoke from Mr. Darcy’s musket hung in the air around him, wafting heavenward through his thick mane of chestnut hair.” Reading that caption made me laugh pretty hard. This novel is supposed to be a mockery, so let it have its fun.
My big wonder about this book was who the audience would be. Women who want to read romance stories aren’t going to like the ninja action. Guys looking for action are going to be turned off by the romance. Literary types are going to be offended by the schlock fiction. It was a smash hit, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies falls between two chairs in my book.
I’m not offended, but I wasn’t as entertained as I should be. While the joke was funny at first, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies told the same joke over and over. That’s joke has worked, though. The successful book has spawned a prequel: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.