My Jane Austen book club picked the perfect Halloween read with this one. Personally, the film is my favorite of the two, but I hadn’t read the book, and I’m glad that I now have.
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The summary, from Amazon:
The New York Times best seller is now a major motion picture starring Lily James and Sam Riley, with Matt Smith, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey.
Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an audacious retelling of English literature’s most enduring novel. This expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem begins when a mysterious plague falls upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. It’s the perfect read for literature lovers, zombie fans, and anyone who loves a reanimated Austen.
Buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies here.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a unique twist on the original stories. Plus, it’s from Quirk Books, a publishing house I absolutely adore. (They’re based out of Philly – my hometown – and put out some hilarious parodies.) With much of the original text, it adds even more the story: the titular zombies.
The story is exactly the same, except the Bennet sisters have been trained to fight off the walking dead, as have many other characters. Darcy is a master zombie hunter, Wickham is in the militia to fight against the undead, Mr. Collins is incompetent, and Lady Catherine is a renowned warrior. While the original story plays out largely the same, it’s impacted by the presence of the “unmentionables” and there are some really fun additions based on this.
I do have to note that this book was published in 2009, and I’m not sure all of the twists and jokes aged well. There’s some blatant fatphobia, but I think that could be adjusted for modern tastes. This is a world where people have to be physically fit, but in 2020 we know being fat doesn’t mean you aren’t fit. There’s also shame and even a punchline towards disabled folks. Again, the characters live in a world where on needs to be very fit and able to survive, but I don’t think disability should be featured as a punishment, and I would have loved to see Anne de Bourgh’s character subverting the trope and being a badass disabled warrior. I would like to think a 2020 version of this book would feature her kicking ass. On the other hand, I love the film, but Lady Catherine isn’t elderly in it. She is old in the book, and is a kickass warrior because of her age and experience, which is awesome. There’s also the whole calling people of Chinese and Japanese descent “Orientals” – totally racist and offensive, though one could argue this is probably phrasing English people would have used in that time period.
I’ve seen takes that this is a great book to get kids who aren’t into the classics engaged, but I don’t know about that. I think this is more for folks who are already fans. So much of the text is the same, and it’s fun to notice what was changed and how so.
I think this is a must-read if you’re an Austen super-fan like myself and my book club friends. But if you’re not, I encourage you to watch the film at least. It’s like the book, but at a faster pace, sexier, and with some actors I really love! Overall, this was a 3 star read for me. It probably would have been more if I hadn’t seen the film, which I adore, first.
Find out more about how I rate books here.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have to give this one three stars simply because I saw the movie first and enjoy it more. 😂 This is still a really fun read, and I think will be best appreciated by someone who has read Pride and Prejudice since some sections of text are the same. Also, I’m not sure all of the jokes aged well since this was first released. It’s not super PC. I do think it’s a great read for fans though, but if you’re on the fence I recommend watching the film at least.
Book Club Questions
- Does adding zombies to the story of Pride and Prejudice enhance it in any way?
- How is the book similar to the film? How is it different?
Interested? Buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Or at least rent the film! It’s so fun!
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