Zombies, ninjas and Jane Austen

The classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” gets a massive revamp

Brains! Brains! Use your brains to read this book. PHOTO COURTESY QUIRK BOOKS

Ashley Goetz

Brains! Brains! Use your brains to read this book. PHOTO COURTESY QUIRK BOOKS

âÄúPride and Prejudice and ZombiesâÄù AUTHOR: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith PUBLISHER: Quirk Books PAGES: 320 PRICE: 12.95 âÄúPride and Prejudice âÄú is one of the most well-known and widely taught books in the English language. There are few students among us who were not at one time passionately hounded by their 10th-grade English teacher to read the illustrious novel and yet there are probably fewer who actually did it. Those that succeeded came away with an appreciation for Jane Austen , but the rest certainly didnâÄôt think twice about forgetting it entirely. Now, in an effort to hook the latter group along with fanboys everywhere, Quirk Books has released âÄúPride and Prejudice and Zombies,âÄù a ridiculous reimagining of AustenâÄôs novel loaded with oodles of out-of-place ninjas, musket-wielding heroines and, of course, the living dead, meant to trick haters into reading classic literature. The first sentence begins harmlessly enough, but from there the classic work is corrupted into an unusual zombie-horror-action-romance-fiction. Readers are introduced to the Bennet family, a quintet of fierce , young women whose father has trained them in the art of lethal combat. But Mr. Bennet also wants to marry them off to wealthy socialites. When a gentleman hailing from foggy London town decides to host a ball, he sees an opportunity for his daughters to mingle. Unfortunately a horde of flesh-eating âÄúunmentionablesâÄù crash the party and the women must save the day. And so begins the conflict-ridden relationship of the beautiful, fatal Elizabet h and the disagreeable Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, a legendary zombie-slayer. One would think the bizzare interjections could get repetitive, but for fans of zombie lore, the book never gets stale. The wit of co-author (heâÄôs billed alongside Austen) Seth Grahame-Smith, whose other notable works include âÄúHow to Survive a Horror MovieâÄù and âÄúThe Spider-Man Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual,âÄù ensures fresh plot supplements. Grahame-Smith clearly delights in his desecration, stocking the novel with completely outrageous horror elements that call out to the nerd-dom like a buxom siren dolled up in Princess Leia garb. The juxtaposition of comedy-horror ingredients and classic romance is enough for a laugh, but Grahame-Smith appears to have mastered pseudo-Austenian language, which makes the book not only funny, but weirdly plausible. The only fault is that the book doesnâÄôt really have a point other than making zany zombie references. ItâÄôs not satirical and it doesnâÄôt work toward a goal. ItâÄôs just a mash-up to make people laugh. Still, âÄúPride and Prejudice and ZombiesâÄù is at its core a niche book and wonâÄôt appeal to all readers. ItâÄôs likely that those who are not fascinated by zombies or at least camp value wonâÄôt understand the appeal. Austen loyalists and English professors might be infuriated as they see their beloved masterpiece reduced to a campy B-movie on paper. But zombie and ninja aficionados, on the other hand, will laugh heartily and possibly acquire enough of the actual plot to hold an awkward conversation with a girl that doesnâÄôt involve her borrowing their chemistry notes. 4 of 5 stars