Jane Austen's delightful, carefully wrought novels of manners remain surprisingly relevant, nearly 200 years after they were first published. Her novels -- Pride and Prejudice and Emma among them -- are those rare books that offer us a glimpse at the mores of a specific period while addressing the complexities of love, honor, and responsibility that still intrigue us today.
So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen 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. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to listen to.
Austen's England is overrun with "unmentionables." Etiquette and polite society still reign, but they do become strained when, for example, the ball at Netherfield is interrupted by an attack on the household staff. In this parody, Grahame-Smith maintains the structure and language of the original while strategically inserting zombies into the story. The surprise is how little changes. Elizabeth Bennett is still known for her beauty and intelligence. Here, she is also known for her expertise in the "deadly arts," abilities that only make her a less-desirable marriage partner. There is the constant physical peril that echoes the menace underlying the original. In addition to a life of homeless spinsterhood, the sisters fear having their brains eaten, or being bitten and turned into zombies themselves (a fate to which one character does unfortunately fall prey). The unmentionables also magnify the satirical aspects of the story. A few key arguments, such as the final confrontation between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine, become all-out brawls to the death. (Lady Catherine is famous for her fighting skills and army of ninjas.) And of course Darcy is a renowned swordsman, known for his gentlemanly ferocity. The concept alone is worth a chuckle. The undead are popular at the moment, and teens will be attracted to this clever version of a frequently assigned classic. However, they should be prepared for a somewhat slow read. The author has not accelerated the pace or created suspense in this mashup.-Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City