Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


Yes, well.

I was actually looking forward to reading this. I thought it sounded clever and funny. From a quick browse through the illustrations -- Elizabeth kicking zombies in the head, Lady Catherine keeping legions of ninjas etc -- it sounded vastly entertaining.

It's not.

In fact, I'm not sure I can finish it. For one thing, at its heart the novel is an abridged version of P&P. Abridged = BAD. I feel as though the abridgement has been done by someone with little respect for Austen and the essence of the novel. It has slashed scenes to the bare minimum -- to the point that the BBC six-part TV series actually features more of the story and original dialogue.

Worse -- far far worse -- it has actually changed some of the dialogue tags. For example, instead of having Caroline Bingley expound on the various attributes of the truly accomplished lady, it gives this speech to Darcy. Oh, so wrong. Nor do I like the snide remarks inserted into the mouths of various characters. In the same Caroline/Darcy conversation, Darcy actually says all these rude things to Caroline, which she blithely ignores, keeping to her original dialogue. And in another scene Mr Bennett verbally abuses Mrs Bennett to her face, in a once-again one-sided edit.

And this is before I even get to the zombies.

Actually, I can forgive the zombie insertions more easily. They are, after all, the premise of the book. It's quite interesting to read the diversions in the story to accommodate zombie attacks etc. My main problem with them is an insurmountable one: they are simply too ancillary to the main storyline. Without tampering with the overall storyline (in the manner of Lost in Austen for example) the zombies cannot actually influence anything. They become nothing more than a backdrop to the main story of P&P.

I think I would have liked the whole book better had it started off in the true P&P manner, introduced zombies, and then diverged, more and more as the zombies actually had impact, caused characters to make different choices etc. I think it would have been more fun to write as well. As it is, it's little more than a editing job. Glimmers of creativity hidden like flecks of gold in a chunk of rock. Or maybe the reverse (pockets of impurities in a gold nugget).

This is actually our Page Turners book for this month. I don't think it'll matter if I don't finish it, although I would like to make it up to the Lady Catherine scenes with her ninjas. And I may skip ahead to read key scenes like proposal #1 and the delicious scenes at Pemberley. Hmmm.

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