Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

After months of anticipation I was finally able to dive into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Most of those who have already heard of it made their decision to read it before reading any review, out of sheer curiosity. I was one of those people. A classic and beloved book "now with ultaviolent zombie mayhem"? How will Grahame-Smith do that, and can he do it well?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just as its title leads us to believe. It's the story of Pride and Prejudice except set in an England that has been ravaged by zombies for the last fifty-five years. Of course we have the normal rules of etiquette that were an important means of survival in regency times but this unfortunate outbreak has also caused the people of England to set some civility aside in order to destroy zombie brains. Elizabeth Bennet is not the same Lizzy Bennet we fell in love with in the original text, she is one of the most vicious and skilled zombie-slayers in all of England, second only to one...but I dare not say who. You will find Miss Bennet to be more of a femme-fatal than the average girl that Austen spoke of.

There will also be many occasions when you'll look up from the book and go, "That makes absolutely no sense! A middle class family of seven could not afford an expedition to China!" This can quickly be amended in the same way we watch cartoons, etc.; stop thinking about how historically inaccurate it is and sit back and enjoy how funny it is. After all, we all know there was no zombie attack on England in the early 1800s, I believe that happened in the rein of Queen Matilda.

However, I still had many questions that needed answering in terms of zombies. Since my expertise lies in history and art I sought out someone whose knowledge is primarily in the undead. Dr. Joel Townsend (although I am highly suspicious of how anyone could get their PhD in Zombie Studies) who can be found working mainly out of USC, gladly volunteered to answer some questions that give us insight into the world of Zombies and why they are so popular with a certain demographic.

[I'll state right now how bad I am at editing down and please excuse my sloppy instant message typing]

me: Are the martial arts of the Orient the only sufficient deadly art in vanquishing the undead?
I know you're a fan and apparently the author is too
Joel: oh no, no no
any art that can successfully remove the head and destroy the brainstem can be used
but clearly the most BADASS way to do it...which in my opinion is the ONLY way to do it would be with the martialest of arts
me: The girls (The Sisters Bennet) use muskets, kitanas, and daggers. Which of these weapons is most successful in vanquishing those of a zombified nature?
Joel: it really depends on the distance between you and the undead, as well as how much time you have to react. I mean, how long does it take to re-load a musket if you miss?
Blades don't need re-loading. I would opt for the kitana personally
me: and why is that?
Joel: well, it's the weapon of a samurai. who, as we all know, were merciless kill factories. Kitanas afford you a distance you don't get with a dagger, but don't hang you out to dry like a musket would. It also depends on the quality of the kitana, whether it's a 1 body blade or as good as a 7. But i'd prob still take a 1 body blade over either of the other two weapons
me: 7 being folded seven times?
Joel: 7 being able to cut successfully through 7 bodies stacked. True fact: they used to test them on convicts
me: zombies bodies I assume would be easier to slice through, being partially decayed
Joel: oh yeah. I assume you could advance the count very similarly to dog years
Joel: so a 1 body blade would easily cut through probably 8 or so zombies
me: I like that estimate
Joel: me too
I’ve put a lot of thought into it
me: I was gonna ask you something but maybe I’ll just ask you to describe your ideal zombie heroine first.
Besides the huge boobs of course
Joel: oh, dammit, those were my first 4 things. I count each one twice
Joel: so are we talkin' heroine who combats zombies...
me: yes
Joel: Well, she's gotta be able to think on her feet. If I'm with a chick and zombiegeddon goes down and she get's all "oh Joel, we're done for! We'll never make it" all she'll see is the bottom of my shoes as I book out of the immediate area and leave her as a noise distraction. I may even shove her into a pile of boxes and ring a dinner bell so she's gotta have brainzzzzz. Which, of course, puts me in the same boat as the zombies.
me: So you don't go for the testosterone loaded zombie babe?
Joel: Noooooo. At the end of the day I still wanna do her
I said survive
at the end of the day I still want to survive. So she's got to be able to learn how to keep herself, but most importantly me alive but look good at the same time. Asia Argento is a good mold
me: oh I believe it
Joel: unfortunately, her role was squandered in that cinematic abortion, "Land of the Dead"
me: Ah so she was in a zombie flick as well as an 18th century one? Here is where our interests combine, sir
Joel: like a double helix of awesome
me: and lethal hotness
Joel: BAM!
me: Ok so i will ask you then
Joel: Yes? yes?
me: Is the ideal zombie babe a super aggressive merciless killer or one born out of necessity- forced into killing sprees
Joel: Oh it's always better, and hotter, when she's thrown into the situation and actually becomes the zombie killer.
me: Ahhh interesting.
Joel: Yes, she has to still be human and deal with the undead as a human would. Not a McBain
me: Ahhh! So not a merciless terminater totally focuses on killing zombies and nothing more.
Joel: exactly, it's like the girl next door but if a zombie knocks on that door, BOOM.
me: That’s what i thought, oh how I know your sex.
Joel: Yes'm
me: or at least the nerdy ones
Joel: Well I do have tape on my glasses [He really does, this was an earlier conversation we had]
me: Ok so one last question that is probably ill suited to you.
Joel: hmmm
me: Can one find love during a zombie outbreak? Or would that just be the heat of the moment?
Joel: Ohhh, to quote the prophet Campbell from the book of the dead: that's just pillow talk, baby. People do crazy things when faced with their own annihilation by the lifeless husks of their former brethren
me: Well i could never question Campbell
Joel: while the zombie apocalypse may not spawn love, there's no reason that a little sh-boom boom can't take place. We're gonna need the repopulation
me: So you don’t believe in true love during zombie outbreaks?
Joel: Well...I mean, I don't believe in true love outside of zombie outbreaks either so...
haha...double negative, my old friend
me: Yeah that’s why I knew I was wasting my time with that question.


  1. Oh my goodness...too funny, I love it! I am going to have to try and find time to read this one!

  2. You'll zoom through it so fast, I assure you!

  3. I actually saw this book "in the flesh" today! (For me that was a big surprise, because I didn't think it was released in Canada yet, or that it would ever make it over to this middle-of-nowhere town, let alone so soon!) I might invest the $15. It looks interesting, and it has funny cartoons!

  4. I'm not sure about the Canadian Amazon but the book is dirt cheap on US Amazon, about 7 bucks and some change. I think it's worth it for sure!

  5. Holy Crap, that Joel guy sounds very handsome and smart. I wonder what makes him tick....

  6. Oh my friend owns this and i have been meaning to read it! i will have to track her down tomorrow and steal it :)

  7. I'm little disappointed that this asian fetish for katanas and martial arts completely eclipses the fact that europe has RICH and VARIED breeds of martial arts themselves and cache of weapons that would suffice to fight of zombies.