Monday, April 6, 2009
I don't often do book reviews for Fringe. I leave that to my colleagues who are down with the learnin'. But guys, as a hardcore interweb nerd, I cannot help but force my bookish opinions on you when it comes to Quirk Books' Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If you've been living under a non-nerd rock, then maybe you haven't heard how awesome it is. The original text by Jane Austen is melded with added scenes and twists from Seth Grahame-Smith, who I am now stalking on Twitter (@sethgs).
What you might call an exercise in ridiculous pop culture trend-huffing is probably the best book ever made. Let me repeat that: THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER MADE.
The book itself is pretty self-explanatory. I will leave other, more powerful bloggers to tell you what the reading experience is like. (Here's a hint: it's awesome, and also, there are ninjas.)
Fans of Jane Austen might balk at an old, beloved story being turned into mindless entertainment complete with explosions and Kill Bill-esque swordfights. But those fans can go to hell. You had your chance, Austen fans. You took the original story and turned it into a thousand and one incredibly boring movies with an unending stream of women with big hair playing Elizabeth and chiseled-jawed dudes playing Darcy. For the last few hundred years, we've done it your way. Now it's time to do it our way.
"Our way" is the internet's way, of course. One of the longest standing rules of the online world is that anything plus zombies is bound to be better. (Ninjas help too.)
Why do you think, months before this book even pubbed, geeks were already frothing at the mouth? Because we knew it couldn't lose.
Everything that makes Pride & Prejudice is still intact. The delicate play of relationships, the unspoken code of honor that doesn't seem to exist in our time, the pomp and circumstance of high society: it's all still there. But it's been augmented just a tad. The zombie threat does something magical here. Not only does it serve to help us through the duller scenes (I thought that ball would NEVER end!) but it steps in to inform the characterization. What had previously been merely Elizabeth's dry wit and keen intelligence is now fashioned into a killing machine. What was originally Darcy's aloofness and haughtiness is now the burden of a lone samurai warrior. These aren't parodies of Austen's characters; they have only grown to strange new heights.
The real brilliance is that the story begins well after the zombie threat has emerged, which gives our heroes ample time to adjust to life amid the undead. Being trained to kill zombies is the norm, and life can continue on despite the frequent attacks. So the original plot has plenty of space to develop with just a sprinkling of crazy violence throughout.
And, oh, did I mention there are ninjas?
Look, you're going to want to buy this book. The hope is that Quirk Books continues in this vein with other classic novels remixed with a little zombie. Can you imagine A Tale of Two Cities...and Zombies"? "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and oh wait, did I mention the zombies!?"