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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith and Jane Austen

August 12, 2010 1 comment

Oh, Jane Austen.  I’m so sorry that your good name is attached to this bad book.

Here’s the basic idea:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (by Seth Grahame-Smith) was SOOOO popular that the publishing company apparently decided to cash in on it and write a PREQUEL.

(There is also a movie in the works starring Natalie Portman as Elizabeth.)

However, this book has a different author than P&P&Z who: a) is not as clever as Grahame-Smith and b) has obviously never read neither Jane Austen’s beloved original OR Grahame-Smith’s mash-up masterpiece.

I REALLY wanted to like this book, but… I just didn’t.

So.

I’ve decided to write a letter to the author.  (Which I will, of course, not really send, but leave here as a substitute for my review.)

Dear Mr. Hockensmith,

First of all, you decided to name the Bennet parents Oscar and Prudence?!?!  Really?!  There is no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that their names are Oscar and Prudence.  And while I get that the whole book is supposed to be a joke, it’s supposed to maintain enough integrity of the original that you actually believe the characters are the same.

Which I do not, by the way.

Just drop the P&P&Z from the title and change the names of all the characters.  Let people think it’s an entirely new book– a horror story set in Regency England.  Historical horror– it could spurn a whole new genre.  As it is, this book only resembles Jane Austen’s in that the people and places have the same names.

EXCEPT for Purvis Lodge.  It’s Purvis in the original, but you kept referring to it as “Pulvis Lodge.”  Which, I have to say, bugged me way more than it should have.  Which is to say, a lot.

For the record, I really liked P&P&Z.  I liked it so much that I went out and bought it.  I recommended it to my friends, my mother…  I thought it was comical genius.  Seth Grahame-Smith did such an excellent job fusing Austen’s classic romance with monster horror that I believed it.  I. believed. it.  He sold me on the idea that yeah, sure, Elizabeth Bennet could have been a zombie slayer in her free time.

But Mr. Hockensmith, you didn’t write anything that even closely resembled that character.  And I get it, it’s a PREQUEL.  The Bennet sisters are young– Elizabeth is 17, Lydia is 12.  The girls only vaguely resemble their future selves.  You could excuse that by saying they haven’t grown up yet or what have you.  But they don’t even seem to be on the way to being those characters.

And the Bennet parents– they’re nearly brand new characters.  Mr. Bennet hardly laughed or mocked once in the whole book!  And say what you will about Mrs. Bennet, she’s utterly absurd of course, but she would never cheat on her husband.  ESPECIALLY not with a limbless Army captain.

(Which I have to say, was actually a really funny part of the book.  But you kind of went for the cheap laugh there.  I mean, how can you NOT laugh at a blustery, moustachioed captain with no arms or legs being pushed around in a wheelbarrow by a pair of soldiers he’s dubbed “Limbs”?! )

But the captain was really the only funny part.  And the whole book was supposed to be funny, wasn’t it?  I mean, it is a parody of some sorts, right?  I just spent most of the book thinking, “I don’t know these characters at all!”  and “Oh no, he didn’t!”

Fail, Mr. Hockensmith.  Actually, D+.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the zombie of Jane Austen is on her way to eat your brains right now.

One and a half stars for a great concept, poorly executed.  I mean, Seth Grahame-Smith made the first P&P&Z such a cultural phenomenon, he practically handed you a bestseller!  But you blew it, sorry.