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Book Review : Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

As the title suggests, this is a rewriting of Pride and Prejudice with added zombies. Yes, it's P&P meets D&D!

I enjoyed this very much. I'm a little surprised it's been so successful though. Are there really that many people who love both Austen and zombies? That's quite an A to Z. Still, it worked for me. The addition of the scourge of "unmentionables" infecting Britain works well. All the familiar characters are there and they remain surprisingly true to their original incarnations, even while battling the undead horde.

The book's a cheat though. It really only works because it is Pride and Prejudice. Ultimately you read it just to find out what happens to Elizabeth and Darcy and the rest. The zombies are just an occasional distraction. They're an amusing joke but they wouldn't, on their own, make this an interesting book. Towards the end I more or less forgot about them. I was just reading Austen's original again. But with more obvious "ball" jokes and some ultraviolence.

Zombie novels appear to be fashionable at the moment. There's a huge problem with them, though. It's hard to have an interesting, engaging zombie character. Because, you know, they're just reanimated corpses. Hard to identify with one of those (unless it's very early in the morning). Wisely, Grahame-Smith doesn't try. Only one of the original characters is zombified. I won't say which but it was never going to be one of the main ones.

Still, an enjoyable read. The zombies are well done and they do add some humour (although Mr. Collins is, of course, perfectly funny without them).

Book research footnote : Grahame-Smith could do better. England may or may not have been overrun with zombies in the 19th century. It certainly didn't have skunks and racoons. That's America you're thinking of ...


  1. Oooooh When I first saw this at Waterstones there was something so contrived about this novel's cover/title and blurb at the back!! I couldn't put my finger on it - I guess I kept thinking (unfairly perhaps) why ride the coat tails of an established classic?

    Anyway!! Thank you for this honest and succint review - maybe I'll borrow it from the library....!!

    Take care

  2. Old Kitty,

    I know what you mean. I quite like the cover but the reworked opening sentence is a bit much.

  3. Lots of people bought this book, but you're the only one I know who read it all the way through, so thanks for the review

    I think it's something of a "Pet Rock"--something from before your time--a gimicky product that is about marketing rather than intrinsic value. Zombies are fun in stoner movies and videogames, because they allow killing without guilt, but I do hope the publishing industry will get over copying mashups like this. I think we're getting a Jane Eyre one next. I suppose if they get you reading the classics again that's not so bad, but what was original (but dumb) the first time is now just dumb.

  4. Anne,

    I take your point about it being a marketing rather than a literary triumph. But I genuinely did enjoy it, if only because of Austen's contributions ...

  5. Yes, this is a gimick book that still somehow fascinates me. Not quite enough to buy it though.

    I agree with your assessment of zombies in general -- they're just there for colour and sound. And smell. They could easily replaced by marauding dinosaurs or aliens.

    Or racoons:)

  6. We are in agreement on these books. Blah.


I'd love to know what you think.