Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict
Who would have ever thought that adding zombies to a classic novel like Pride and Prejudice would create the literary mash-up phenomenon? It started in 2009 when Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s original work and mashed it together with flesh eating zombies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has since spawned a graphic novel, a prequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, soon to be released sequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, and a movie adaptation is in production.
The storyline in the graphic novel edition has been adapted by Tony Lee from the Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith original. Regency England has become overridden with zombies, or unmentionables, and Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters have each been trained in the “deadly arts,” a combination of both ninja skills and martial arts training, to fight off the maraudring hordes. Due to their father’s previous training in the “deadly arts”, the Bennet sisters are well known for being the fiercest and bravest zombie warriors in the Meryton area.
Following the classic plot of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley, a single man in possession of a good fortune moves into the area sending the Bennet household into an uproar. Mrs. Bennet has five unmarried daughters and has designs upon him marrying one of them. Bingley is introduced along with his sisters and good friend Fitzwilliam Darcy to the Bennet family at a local Assembly ball. Bingley dances several times with Jane Bennet, encouraging Darcy to enjoy the ball and dance with her younger sister Elizabeth. Darcy, not wanting to mix with the local gentry, tells Bingley that Elizabeth is “not handsome enough to tempt me.” Elizabeth overhears Darcy’s reaction and instantly decides that he is the most arrogant man she’s ever met and that she must kill him to revenge her honor. His life is saved only by the zombie attack that occurs at the ball. Elizabeth and her sisters save the townspeople by forming their pentagram of death and killing all of the attacking unmentionables. As Darcy sees them fighting, he notices Elizabeth’s stellar skills and begins to look at her in a different way.
Throughout the rest of their acquaintance in Meryton, Darcy continues to look at her more and more in a positive light and begins falling in love with her. This is all unbeknownst to Elizabeth who still looks upon Darcy with contempt. The plot continues to play out similarly to the original with Darcy separating Bingley from Jane due to her inappropriate family, cousin and heir to Longbourn Mr. Collins arriving, Elizabeth rejecting his proposal, Charlotte in turn accepting him, Elizabeth’s trip to Kent, and Darcy’s failed proposal to her, etc. The elements of Austen’s story are all still there, only the added in zombie-killing action sequences have been added.
While the illustrations in the graphic novel are well drawn, it was a bit confusing trying to figure out who was who. The artwork is in black and white, so in scenes with lots of dialogue, it was confusing to figure out who is saying what. As the novel progresses however, it’s easier to follow since the character list drops to just major characters only. I would have liked to have seen color illustrations in this graphic novel edition. I think it would have brought a different element to the zombie attack scenes. The lack of color made me feel like I was reading a newspaper comic rather than a graphic novel.
The difficulty in following the character dialogue caused me to dislike the first half of the graphic novel. Once the plot picked up, and it was easier to follow the action, I found that I actually enjoyed it more. The mashed-up plot is an incredibly creative story that is a really interesting juxtaposition between ninjas, zombies, martial arts and Regency England. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the Graphic Novel is an imaginative way to get more people to read classic novels, albeit not in their original context. Regardless, it is still making people check out the classics, which is very exciting.
This book is definitely not for the Austen purists out there. The story is liberally changed to make Lizzy an intense warrior, Lady Catherine the foremost zombie killer in all of England, and Charlotte Lucas into an unmentionable, just to name a few. For those willing to see a creative change in Jane Austen’s classic work, check it out, but do prepared for some gory, bloody bits!
3 out of 5 Regency Stars
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, adapted by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards
Random House Publishing Group (2010)
Paperback (176) pages
2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose