She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).

- Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I didn't mean to turn this blog into a book review place, but since books make up such a huge part of my life, I suppose it's only natural.

This week I am reading (before I have to go back to school tomorrow and start on Shakespeare) a delightful novel called 'Pride and Predjudice and Zombies' by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. And it is precisely what it sounds like: the complete text of Austen's Pride and Prejudice with every fourth or fifth speech having an insertion of zombies into the original text. Genius.
Someone gets paid to do this.

Now, I am enjoying it tremendously, all the while being an Austen fan, a fan of the book by itself, and a hater of zombies in general. So in consideration of all these facts, this book is pretty remarkable to have kept me so amused. But I think it is the very ridiculousness of the thing that is so attractive.

However, I do have a few problems with it. First of all, re-writing Austen is all very well and good, but when we do it (I'm going to use a snooty tone of voice for a little while, because it's lots of fun), we should always take care to remember to use our prepositions correctly. Incorrect preposition usage is one of the first things that tips you off that someone doesn't really get the language they're aping (even if it's their own language), por exemplo:

Mr. Grahame-Smith uses the phrase, "dispense of" when usually we would say we dispense with something. And there are many more. This isn't a biggy, most likely the editor either didn't care or didn't know, or a combination of the two, and for an enjoyable sort of book about zombies, who really cares? Not me. Anyway, it's not as if I've never used a preposition incorrectly on my life; I'm quite sure that it happens all the time over these parts. But there's simply no use beating on top of the bush, is there?

The second thing is these strange illustrations which seem to depict all of the characters dressed about a hundred years later than the book is set. The women wear spats, boots, Victorian looking jackets and corsets, whereas the men are dressed relatively correctly to period. I wouldn't make a fuss over this either, except that someone must have realized something was amiss (or so one would think) when they saw that the illustration for the cover of the book (a highly creative re-working of a zombie version of a period portrait) is not at all the same period as the illustrations inside the book. How did this escape us? Oh, well. I mean, it's not as if they made a recent movie adaptation of the novel with a huge budget and big name actors like Kiera Knightly that are actually mainstream and that most people might go to watch becuase the romance has been revamped with an injection of extra-sappiness. If only. If only.

And third, what is with these ridiculous fight scenes? It's true that perhaps an Austen affecionado might not be up on his or her martial knowledge, but a zombie expert (or a zombie writer) ought to know a little something about the 'deadly arts,' right? Take this example (or don't), from the 21st chapter, in which the sisters, out for a country walk with their muskets (circa 1799-ish, if we go by the original) come across a herd of zombies (which must mean more than two) which they dispatch with ease and rapidity. First of all, even late 18th century muskets are notoriously slow to load and inaccurate. Even with five of them they would still have to load and re-load on a staggered basis in order to adequately shoot all of the zombies. It's not as though they have a volley of fire from a milita, or the accuracy afforded by later guns. I can understand Lydia's waiting to fire her musket until the zombie bride was close enough to have its head catch on fire - the proximity allows for greater accuracy in the shot - but if the zombie is already that close, how is Lydia expected to reload in time to shoot something else? Tsk, tsk.

It seems to me that zombies, in general, are not as cool as vampires and werewolves. They are just, unless I am very much mistaken (and I haven't read up on them at all, so this is entirely possible) animated dead bodies. They seem to be killed quite easily. Where is the fun in all of that? Is it because there are a lot of them? Maybe they are like the perfect enemy foot soldiers in war - droves and hordes of them swarm you, and you get to relish hacking your way through all of them without guilt over their being alive or hurt. It's like a dream come true for the hack and slash rpg-ers... I begin to see the winsomeness of zombies, I suppose.

Anyway, I highly recommend the book.

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