Welcome to He Read/She Read.
The premise here is – a man and a woman read a book and write their reactions to that book.
I am particularly excited about today's reviews - because one of my personal blogging heroes, Captain Dumbass from Us and Them, and my personal wifey heroine, the Middle-Aged Woman from Unmitigated, have joined forces today in a special Halloween Horror presentation. Sensing that I could not sustain the blistering of pace of posting here on three consecutive weeks without some help from (semi-)professionals, these Juggernauts of the Blogsphere are on-hand to take this thing up to a whole new level - with their reviews of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the Jane Austen classic - with some good, old-fashioned zombification added by Seth Grahame-Smith). I promised that today's post would include (little or) no Jim Styro content - so without any further ado, let’s see what…]
A few months back Middle Aged Woman from Unmitigated asked if I would like to do a book review with her for Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I immediately jumped at the chance since I had been waiting for the book to come out and it gave me an excuse to go out and buy it. After setting aside everything else I was reading and quickly working through the book, I immediately ground to a halt. A book review? When was the last time I'd done a book review? Junior high? Elementary school? Panic set in, but it was quickly replaced by the relaxed absence of any thought at all. My mind is quite adept at making uncomfortable situations disappear. Tra-la-la-la-la. But then MAW kept emailing and Twittering and leaving troll-like comments on my blog. What the hell, woman? You're making it very difficult for me to ignore you. Sigh. So what can I say about this book? I think this one passage can best sum up Pride & Prejudice & Zombies for me:
She remembered the lead ammunition in her pocket and offered it to him. "Your balls, Mr. Darcy?" He reached out and closed her hand around them, and offered, "They belong to you, Miss Bennett."Early 19th century angsty love, the crossing of social boundaries, sexual innuendo and the walking dead, what more could you ask for? I'm sure it's a close rendition of what Jane Austen would have written if not tied down by the rigid boundaries of society in the early 1800's. If you've never read an Austen book or seen one of the multitude of movie adaptations but felt that you should, this is a good place to start. Seriously. Author Seth Grahame-Smith has done a fantastic job of adapting the original book into something very entertaining and easily read. Aside from the additions of a zombie plague, Grahame-Smith kept to most of original text but cleaned it up in a way to make it friendlier to readers in the here and now. Not that the minutia of two hundred year old pre-Victorian romance isn't riveting, but this adaptation makes things a little more understandable and humorous for readers who would never have thought of picking up a Jane Austen novel. The thing I admire most about this work is the simplicity and adaptability of the idea. You could do this to literally ANY story. Granted, rewriting an entire book is a serious amount of work, still, at the same time it sings to the laziness inside me. For example, The Odyssey by Homer
"Sing to me of the zombie, Muse, the zombie of twists and turns driven time and again by hunger, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy. Many cities of men he ate and tasted of their minds, many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea, starving once his comrades were but bone."War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy:
"Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than hellish estates of the un-dead. No, I warn you, that if you do not tell me we are at war, if you again allow yourself to palliate all the infamies and atrocities of this Apocalypse (upon my word, I believe it is), I don't know you in future, you are no longer my friend, no longer my faithful slave, as you say for you will join them. There, how do you do, how do you do? I see I'm scaring you, do sit down and talk to me."And, from the New York Time.com:
Fate of White House Counsel Is in Doubt After Bruising Fights
By PETER BAKER Published: October 21, 2009
"WASHINGTON — Every morning, Gregory B. Craig, the White House counsel, sits at the conference table of the Roosevelt Room with the president’s depleted senior staff. The one issue that does not come up? Mr. Craig himself. As President Obama’s top lawyer, Mr. Craig has been at the center of thorny decisions on halting the transfer of zombie plague victims (ZP's) to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, revising interrogation and detention policies and simply executing them, problems that have bedeviled the new administration and generated fierce battles inside and outside the White House. And for months now, he has endured a spate of speculation in print and around the White House about whether he himself has been infected by the plague."Song lyrics, commercials, children's books... once you start, it's hard to stop. I don't think I'm going out on a limb here when I say that as a book review, this would probably be handed back by the teacher with an awful lot of red ink and the sixth letter of the alphabet in prominent display, but you know what? That teacher can suck it. Bottom line, Seth Grahame-Smith has attached his name to a literary classic just by adding some zombie horror to it. I sincerely hope he's making a boat load of money off this.
If you have long loved Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, you may rest assured that Elizabeth Bennet is still a thoughtful, strong heroine, mortified by her mother, Mr. Darcy is still brooding and proud, and Mr. Collins is still an ass.
Seth Grahame-Smith's transformation of the Jane Austin classic is absolutely seamless. It's as if the novel was written this way in the first place by a precognicient Austen to appeal to the early 21st century fascination with the undead.
What's up with that, by the way? When did reanimated corpses in search of brains become hilarious? You can find knitted zombies on Etsy now, for pete's sake.
Zombies used to be scary. Now they are the butt of our jokes. This one is by Dennis Culver.
Back to the review. Austen's tale is about the Bennets, a family in 19th century England who, because they have five daughters and no sons, will lose their estate and income, upon the death of their father. Mr. Bennet is a bit of an absentee father, as he is a very sensible man who has found it easier to withdraw to his study than to argue with his very insensible wife. Mrs. Bennet is very eager to see the girls married well (and by that she means to someone wealthy). Pride and Prejudice is the tale mostly of Elizabeth, or Lizzie, the strong-willed second daughter, who is sensible like her father, and her relationship with the cold, proud Mr. Darcy. Of course they start off disliking each other very much, and end up in love against their will, paving the way for the plot of every Harlequin romance ever written.
In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, 19th century England is overrun with "unmentionables" whom Lizzie and her sisters have been trained to dispatch by Shaolin monks, at the insistence of the very sensible Mr. Bennet. In this version, the haughty Lady Catherine is admired, not for her connections at court, but for her martial abilities. The dreadfully absurd Mr. Collins refers to her this way as he proposes to Lizzie:
"...I do not reckon the notice and kindness of Lady Catherine De Bourgh as among the least of the advantages in my power to offer. You will find her powers of combat beyond anything I can describe; and your own talents in slaying the stricken, I think, must be acceptable to her, though naturally, I will require you to retire them as part of your marital submission."
There are occasional vignettes that are entirely added by Grahame-Smith. When the Bennet girls and Mr. Collins undertake the walk to Meryton where they will meet the villain Mr. Wickham, along the way they find trouble. The carriage of a young girl they know has been overturned in a gulley and set upon by zombies. To prevent the spread of the scourge, Elizabeth snatches the pipe from the mouth of Mr. Collins, "a gift from her ladyship," and tosses it down into the gulley, fire being one of the ways in which unmentionables are dispatched.
In a turn I found particularly satisfying, Lizzie's best friend Charlotte, who marries the insufferable Mr. Collins, is stricken, as she calls it, after having been grabbed and bitten on the ankle by a zombie trapped under the coach. Her words to Elizabeth, "I don't have long, Elizabeth. I only hope that my final months will be happy ones, and that I be permitted a husband who will see to my proper Christian beheading and burial."
What every girl dreams of.
With the successful transformation of Pride and Prejudice, one can only imagine the possibilities for other famous works in the public domain.
[Hope you were terrified by this special Halloween Horror edition of He Read/She Read. Please leave us a comment with your feedback including any suggestions or constructive criticism.
Special thanks to Captain Dumbass (from Us and Them) and the Middle-Aged Woman (from Unmitigated) for
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DON'T FORGET: Next week, Jim Styro returns - aided and abetted by
the lovely Pamela from the dayton time - to review
Yan Martel's Life of Pi
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