Have you all heard about the Jane Austin zombie book? (It is so much fun to say “Jane Austen zombie book.”) My husband just finished it and agreed to write a review of it for you all. Prepare to have some fun:
My wife and I have developed a shorthand to describe certain kinds of restaurants we encounter: “It’s better than it needed to be.” That’s my hearty endorsement of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a clever and careful reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel by Simon Grahame-Smith, “with ultraviolent zombie mayhem.” A crafty publisher came up with the concept to marry a great novel in the public domain (no copyright infringement) with a classic horror movie antagonist. Grahame-Smith takes the existing story – and all of its memorable characters, especially headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr. Darcy – and looses a plague of “unmentionables” onto the English countryside. From a writer’s perspective – which is the way I read most books – it’s a dazzling experiment. In lesser hands, it could have been a mess, a one-note parody that would grow tiresome after a few pages. Give a lot of credit to Austen. She wrote such a sturdy tale that it easily bears up under the weight. After all, Elizabeth Bennet is surely the literary ancestor of those strong-willed heroines who survive their cinematic battles with Jason or Freddy or the aliens. Mr. Darcy – and, yes, it’s impossible to avoid picturing Colin Firth wielding a sword as you read along – fits in nicely alongside misunderstood antiheroes like Han Solo. Austen’s story chugs along toward an inevitable happy ending as the zombie corpses pile up. After I was through, I had to go find an online copy of the original, so I could marvel at how Grahame-Smith pulled it off. Of course they’re going to make a movie of this. And of course there will be more literary mash-ups after this one was a best-seller. Sense and Sensibility and Werewolves? Cathy and Heathcliff and Dracula? Little Women and The Robots From Mars? Why not?