Saturday, March 27, 2010
Cannonball Read Entry #18: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies - Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
[Ed. Note: Today's Cannonball Read Entry is dedicated to CBR co-founder Amanda "Alabama Pink" Amos, who a year ago lost her fight with Leukemia.]
It's a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen books are actually pretty boring. Unless you're a high school student or a middle-aged housewife in a book club, chances are you probably wouldn't need to read an Austen novel by choice.
It's not that Austen was necessarily a bad writer; actually, she was a pretty damn good one. Plus, she actually wrote for pleasure rather than profit, making her one of the first known example's of a true artist. That being said, her books just haven't aged well. The communication between characters is unbearably proper, the standards of feminism too antiquated and anachronistic. In short, it was a well prepared but ultimately bland serving; it just needed a little kick.
Enter Grahame-Smith and a legion of zombies.
The first rule of parody is that if you want a good spoof, you have to be in love with the subject matter, and it shows: the pieces that are Austen's and those of Grahame-Smith blend together so seemlessly that, if it weren't for the talk of ninjas and beheadings, it would be damn near impossible to accurately tell where one person's narrative ended and the other's began. There's a tender loving care to the story, so that the basic tone, style and sensibilities of the original are still ever-present, with the zombies playing an integrated, if somewhat jarring, part of the story.
For the most part, the plot remains the same: It's still the story of the five Bennet sisters trying to find a man before they're inevitably kicked out of their home due to inheritance law. Only now the London of past happens to be over-run by zombies, and the Bennet sisters aren't so much refined, dainty flowers as they are kick-ass wushu warriors with as much bloodlust in their systems as estrogen.
To be honest with you, the original Pride and Prejudice, though lacking in a gripping story, did offer a glimpse of a sort of feminism refreshing for its time, even if it doesn't really hold up to modern standards. For the most part, Austen was probably something of a ye olde Diablo Cody, in that she was an amazing writer who just needed a good story. The zombie bits are probably the better parts of the book, if only because they marry Austen's classic prose with a story-line that's far more appealing.
In short, for those of you who want to read Pride and Prejudice? You're better off just going with "and Zombies" addendumed version. Although considering that zombies are pretty much a pinnacle of the Pajiban way, I might be a tad biased.