Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t know what I expected from this book, but whatever I was hoping for, I didn’t get it. After the initial joy of “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains,” disappointment soon followed.

I love a good parody, and this one had such promise. It should have been a fun, witty romp, but instead it rapidly becomes an asinine slog through page after page of lame, juvenile humor.

This is the downfall of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Look, I know Austen isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but she is a genuinely intelligent writer with a wonderful dry wit who manages to wrap up a great deal of social commentary into her engaging stories. I guess what I’m saying is, Jane Austen’s books are smart.

Seth Grahame-Smith’s additions and revisions are considerably less smart. He seems to be trying to channel a Pythonesque sense of absurdity, but instead winds up with something more like Jackass. He can’t seem to rise above the banality of poop and puke jokes, and the book ends up drowning under the copious bodily excretions.

I’m not sure who the target audience is for this book. Janeites will miss the characteristic subtle irony Austen is known for. Readers unfamiliar with Austen’s work will have little appreciation for the ways in which Grahame-Smith plays with her stories and characters, or with the conventions of the world in which she is writing.

P&P&Z simply doesn’t work, at least not in the way I want it to work. Grahame-Smith has tried to, according to the book jacket, “[transform] a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read,” but in the process he has managed to destroy much of what makes Austen an enjoyable read in the first place.