"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."That's how it begins. And that's pretty much how the whole book is written. You will excuse me for delaying the reading of the third part of His Dark Materials, but I just could not help myself falling into this rewritting of Pride and Prejudice when I got it as a Christmas gift. This book features Jane Austen's original text, to which the co-author Seth Graham-smith added violent and bloody battle scenes including brand new zombies and even ninjas.
It begins in Meryton, a small village in the zombie-infected England. A strange plague has been transforming people into brain-eating creatures for years and it is no time for piano playing and fancy drawing. In this novel, ladies a renowned for their fighting skills and their ability to behead creatures with their Katana swords. The Bennets are a family of five daughters (all of them being great warriors although only the two elder got brains) whose mother truest whish is to have them all settled with rich husbands. When news are spread that Mr. Bingley, a young and handsome rich man from London has rent rhe neighbouring property of Netherfield, Mrs. Bennet immediatly fancies about marrying him with one of her daughters. Indeed, her eldest Jane and Mr. Bingley seemed to be very attracted to each other. The same cannot be said for Bingley's friend Mr. Darcy and Jane's sister Elizabeth who despise each other. Follow an intricate story about love, pride and prejudices framed into scenes of zombie fighting and defense of the crown.
Of course, you encounter the very good story of Jane Austen. As in many of her books, her main characters are sweet girls very good-tempered and smart. They are independent when they need to be and have wit. Pride and Prejudice also includes the famous inversion of characters. Those you thought were good often end up being mean, and those you thought were bad often are the nicest and the smartest. It is a good lesson about not judging people before knowing them and only according to hearsay. Plus, it is, according to me, her funniest novel. The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet often leads to laugh and there are some quite good-humoured ideas.
That being said, let's talk about Graham-Smith's adding. At first, I was a little unhinged about the changes in the story. You have to get used to Elizabeth encounters with zombies once in a while. But once you did, they are very funny and entertaining. Plus, they make many references to Japanese arts and philosophy which add an exotic side to the story. Then, there are also some alterations to the story which at first made me uneasy. An example would be Charlotte's catching the plague and being half a zombie. My mind would at first stick to the original story and say "That's not what's supposed to happen!", but once you get over it, you realize that the alteration respects the essence of the novel and add nothing but more fun to the story. I would say that for people who have never read Jane Austen, this novel will probably be very entertaining. For Austen's fan, it might take a little adaptation and openness. To conclude: I am sincerely looking forward to the movie starring Natalie Portman may the rumors be true!
Verdict: Definitely to read if you like Austen's stuff and fantastic, and enjoy parody. To avoid if you really like Austen's style and would not tolerate variations and/or dislike zombie stuff.
Further readings: if you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you can also follow with Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters