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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies"

Okay. This was one of my stranger reading experiences.

Seth Grahame-Smith's additions to the classic Jane Austen text were, in a word, odd. There are many intellectual and thought-provoking responses to this book out there, ranging from an appreciation of the humorous absurdity of it to an outspoken disdain at the perceived defamation. My personal opinion, however, is far less marked by extremes than by the absence of them. I was kinda...bored.

I know, I know. How could this be true? I mean, there were zombies (or, rather, "unmentionables") roaming the English countryside and attacking my all-time favorite literary couple: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Under these circumstances, it seems wrong of me to plead indifference. But that's the way it is.

I will admit to having been Very Surprised by the story's premise when it was first catapulted upon the pubishing world. Intrigued. Curious. Some of my fellow Janeites expressed a tremendous animosity toward Mr. Grahame-Smith upon encountering the "changes" he inflicted on the original text. But I was too busy with other writing commitments to skim beyond the first chapter or two and, thus, I remained detached and mostly amused by the resulting uproar until I read the book. And then...nothing changed.

I think I should be more upset than I am. Or more amused. Or just more passionately any emotion. On the level of pure logic and rationality, I'm impressed by the marketing genius of the novel. Truly, it's an idea that NEVER would have occurred to ME, so I have to give it points for originality. But I still don't feel anything when I read the altered scenes. Whereas, when I read Jane's novel, sans the undead, I do. Every time. (And there have been many readings. :)

So, I'm here in Chicago, staring at the front cover and shrugging. Maybe someone else out there can get more out of this book than I did... Does anyone who hasn't read it want my copy? I'll give it away this weekend to one random commenter on this post, along with an ARC of my debut novel According to Jane, and will look forward to hearing someone else's thoughts!

**p.s. Anyone still interested in my Starbucks coffee taste test (free VIA Ready Brew!) has until THIS Saturday to sign up. Go HERE!!

28 comments:

Tiffany said...

I will admit that i was amused by some of the additions. I liked what happened to some of my least favorite characters -- one of those -- hmm this is oddly fitting things -- but the book got a little repetitive in the theme. All the zombie attacks were the same. The resolution was the same. It lost its novelty and amusement about 2/3 of the way through for me.

Melanie said...

I'm surprised. I've yet to read this, and although at first I was sort of disgusted by the idea, I now think that I should at least read it. When I do read it, I hope to feel something. It's kind of sad that it didn't evoke some amazing emotion. The premise definitely gives that opportunity.

Stephanie said...

I just tweeted about your giveaway. Hope your next read for Everything Austen is more satisfying!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Oh, boy- wild. I had no interest in reading this-I feel like it is a total marketing ploy...still like you, I have to give it points for originality.

Cheers!

Marilyn Brant said...

Tiffany~LOL, yes! You're right about some of those "strangely appropriate" things ;).

Melanie~I hope you'll feel more passionate about it (in any direction) than I did. Maybe it would've helped if I were more inclined toward zombie stuff outside of this book. I tried watching a zombie movie once and didn't quite get it either...so I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience!

Stephanie~thanks for the tweeting!! P&P&Z was probably too tough a sell for me personally, but I'm such an Austen fan, I have no doubt I love almost all of my remaining challenges :).

Thanks, Nancy~And, yeah, it DOES have that!!

Bridge said...

I also re-tweeted your giveaway. I have mixed feelings about this novels: on the one hand, zombies, yuck ~ but it's still Austen in a way, so it's strangely intriguing...

Deb said...

I think you're brave for just reading it! I just can't get into the whole zombie thing at all! And certainly not with my Elizabeth and Darcy!

Aramena said...

After having a discussion about whether or not it would be sacriligious to read P&P& Zombies with my mom and sister, my mom and I decided that we do want to read it, though my sister probably won't!

Marlyn said...

I've not yet read P&P&Z, and I've heard so many varying opinions that I will have to read it for myself.

celi.a said...

I've already read this book, so don't include me in the giveaway bit (though I'd LOVE to have a copy of your upcoming book!). I just wanted to say that I thought it was completely hilarious. But maybe I was just in a good mood the day I read it? At any rate, I hope you enjoy the rest of the items on your challenge list!

Marilyn Brant said...

Bridge~thanks so much for re-tweeting!! And, yeah, that's one of the things I kept telling myself as I read: it's still Austen (mostly)...so if it'll get people to read her...

Deb~LOL! I don't know if it's bravery or just density :-). BTW, thanks for your other note, too. I'm so relieved the weather where you are has cooled a bit. That was really some crazy heatwave you all had up there!!

Aramena~How fun it must be to have a sister to share Austen with, even if she chickens out of reading P&P&Z ;-). I have one absolutely wonderful brother, but I'm not sure even the zombie action will entice him to touch a Jane novel...

Marlyn~Yes!! I think it IS one of those books you just need to form your own opinion on. Would love to hear yours after you've read it!

Celi.a~I think it's great that you found it funny! LOTS of people have loved the book. (One guy friend we know ONLY liked the zombie parts, but he thinks Austen novels are "boring"...and, thus, needs to be slapped.) And I really thought I'd get into it more than I did. I will admit this, though, the discussion questions at the end of the book were a riot!! Those 2 pages made it almost worth it for me.

My favorite--question #6: "Some critics have suggested that the zombies represent the authors' views toward marriage--an endless curse that sucks the life out of you and just won't die. Do you agree, or do you have another opinion about the symbolism of the unmentionables?"
(LOL!)

Pamala Knight said...

I haven't read this book yet but now I'm reticent about getting to it. Our taste in all things Austen are astoundingly similar and so my take on it would probably echo yours.

I am curious now, seeing all the wildly varied opinions on it (my friend Rachelle LOVED it) but I suppose that anything that calls attention to Austen has some measure of good in it.

Thanks for the review!

Marilyn Brant said...

Hi Pamala! You're so kind to me, my friend :). Thanks for calling my perplexed little ramble a "review"! As Marlyn was saying, this is one book you've got to form your own opinion about... Would LOVE to hear your thoughts if you read it.

Caryn Caldwell said...

I downloaded the first chapter for free and read a few pages because I was curious. It was cute and better done than I expected, but it didn't really thrill me. Then again, I'm not that into zombies. I've only ever read two zombie books and hated both of them, so I could be a little biased.

Pamela Cayne said...

Sorry, Marilyn. Montana asked if I wanted a copy and my enthusiastic response was "Meh." Like you, I applaud the creativity and twist of thought behind the project, but I just haven't felt the desire to read it. There's a zombie book coming out in September I'm dying to read, but just not this one. I've heard he's doing another book but I find myself wondering if this one-trick pony has left the barn.

However, there is this *fabulous* Austen-esque gem I just read that I would *very highly* recommend! (And will, come my blog in September!!!)

Erica said...

Do you remember when Disney came out with their version of Hunchback of Notre Dame? If you watched it with Hugo's novel as a reference point, it was very, very bad. But if you viewed it as its own separate entity, it was entertaining, if a little dark. I am hoping I can read P&P&Z the same way -- independent from my beloved P&P. That being said, I'm not so big on zombies, despite their sudden popularity.

Ann Victor said...

I've never heard of this book but being somewhat of a literary traditionalist I don't think it's one I'll ever add to my reading list, not even in the interests of being open-minded! Why mess with a book that was as close to perfect as it is?

Marilyn Brant said...

Caryn~yeah, it's pretty clear I'm not much of a zombie person either. Good of you to try those first few pages though!

Pamela~I think *you* are the gem. Thank you ;).

Erica~you're right, you're right, I know you're right (hee!!). I did try to separate them. This is where my personally "not being that into zombies" caused a problem. Will be very interested in your thoughts!

Ann~great to "see" you :). All of this P&P&Z talk aside, your last line warmed my heart. Jane did create a near-perfect novel, didn't she? Love it, love it, love it...

Morgan Mandel said...

That is too strange a cover!
What an imagination to combine poor Jane Austen with zombies!

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
http://www.morganmandel.com

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL, Morgan! Quite so :).

L.A. Mitchell said...

I haven't read it and probably won't but the cover art is a little bit of genius. It looks just like one of those scholarly re-issues, with a few minor changes ;)

Marilyn Brant said...

L.A.~yes, I think the art department had some fun with this one... Wikipedia also has a post on the book and they show the original picture that was altered for the cover (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride_and_Prejudice_and_Zombies)

**Also, of the people who haven't yet read P&P&Z and wanted to...I drew a name: Congrats to Melanie! I'll send you a copy of both books :-).**

Marilyn Brant said...

The end of the link didn't show up. After the "and" it's: _Zombies

Vesper said...

Interesting review, Marilyn. Thank you! :-)
Maybe it has some merit in bringing people who like to read about zombies to Jane Asuten. :-)

Marilyn Brant said...

Vesper~that's proved true in at least one case, yes! A guy a know is really into zombies and wouldn't have read Austen otherwise...

Lindsey said...

I think the problem with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is that it relied too much on its gimmick. He simply rehashed all of the scenes and stripped away the cleverness of Austen's writing (and I say this as someone who is not as devoted to Jane as you, hehe). I did like the illustrations, though. The book seems almost like it should have been a lighthearted play rather than a published novel.

Speaking of novels, I wanted to let you know I just preordered According to Jane! There isn't much to do out here on the island, so I've been gobbling up books. I can't wait!

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Lindsey, thank you for preordering! (hug :-) Also, I agree with you completely with your comment about P&P&Z relying on the gimmick too much. Just as you said, it ceased to be clever after awhile and, so, I got bored with it... BTW, you've been missed at the library. Hope things are going well for you way out west. Would love to get a catch-up email sometime soon!! (hint)

Nadine said...

Thanks for that - I also recently saw this one in the bookstore and wondered what zombies mmight bring to the Elizabeth and Darcy experience.