I am a failure as a feminist English major, I must admit. I have never read the original Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I have never read a single Jane Austen book, though I have seen several of the movies, including the one starring Keira Knightley recently.
I enjoyed that film, but after reading this book, I think it might’ve been improved with a few zombies.
After all, we’ve seen Keira running around with varied weaponry and impractical clothing in Pirates of the Caribbean and King Arthur and Domino. We know she can kick ass–why not zombie ass?
In all seriousness, though, I don’t know if the Regency classic would’ve been quite so addictive without the zombies. I zoomed through it, swooning over Mr. Darcy and giggling at the vomit jokes, cheering for Elizabeth when she’s beheading zombies, battling ninjas, or sassing Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
In all seriousness, the zombie-battling probably made the book less annoying to my 21st-century sensibilities. After all, who wants to read a book where the heroines’ sole employment is wafting around annoying men and being annoyed by them? Zombie-killing gives them something to DO, while not removing the still-compelling love story across class lines. Grahame-Smith inserted a background of Shaolin kung fu into the Bennet sisters’ backstory and for laughs, plays up the class/racial discrimination against the Chinese training from the more posh neighbors, who prefer Japanese fighting styles. It oddly serves to make the snobbery more apparent and understandable.
Elizabeth’s rejection of Darcy comes much better with a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-style battle in the drawing room to underscore the politely pointed barbs. Who can resist scenes like this?
“His misfortunes!” repeated Darcy contemptuously; “yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed.” With this, he swept her feet from beneath her and sprang to his own. Elizabeth was too quick to allow him the advantage, for she was soon upright and swinging the poker at him with renewed vigour.”
Maybe if I’d read Austen before, I’d have had an easier time knowing exactly what Grahame-Smith added, but it’s to his credit that sometimes the seams in the story were hard to pick up–obviously, the zombies, vows to eat a rival’s heart, etc. But he’s good enough at mimicing Austen’s style to make this literary mash-up really flow.
Updating Austen to a modern setting would be nearly impossible–the nuances of class and social interaction would be lost nowadays, though class certainly isn’t gone from our problems. So why not update it instead with something completely ridiculous like zombies? I’ve said it before: everything’s better with a zombie apocalypse–even a posh British wedding.
You just know that someone’s going to chop scenes from Pride and Prejudice into scenes from 28 Days Later or Dawn of the Dead on YouTube. But what I want to see is this movie done from the beginning–with the same cast.
Also, comics. Like, now.