Maybe zombies DO make everything better
While preparing this post, I soon realized I would have to review the source material right along with the zombies for some of our readers, such as Mr. Rosenthal. So if I start to get a little too gushing, please do tell me. This is, after all, my favorite book with my all-time favorite character, Elizabeth Bennet.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Most everyone recognizes this as the opening line of Pride and Prejudice. As a 10-year-old, you may read it and believe you've cracked open a romance. Wait a couple of years, and you'll realize you've got some biting satire on your hands.
Now just replace "man" with "zombie;" replace "good fortune" and "wife" with "brains." Not only have you got satire, you've got heroines armed with fast wit and crushingly good manners, slashing undead throats and kicking zombie heads in!
PPZ is at least 100 pages longer than the original book, and those 100 pages go a long way toward creating some clever new plot points and martial arts action. It seems Mr. Bennet has spent his days preparing his daughters for the zombie war, going so far as to gain them tutelage under Master Liu during trips "to the Orient."
Now they are warriors first, women second.
Jane Austen gives you a window into Regency-era caricatures: the scheming wives and daughters, seeing payday instead of a gentleman in front of them; the scheming men looking for the easiest way to fortune; the men and women you know and love who just won't. keep. quiet.
And the actual characters you grow to love and root for? They're still so modern, it's sometimes hard to imagine them in ascots and petticoats. They're well-rounded, they make mistakes and they learn, without becoming villians or damsels in distress.
The most surprising aspect about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is that Seth Grahame-Smith keeps the caricatures and characters separate, despite the Unmentionables, as they are called, popping up to ruin a ball or two. And the zombies actually help explain a couple of plot points that always seemed a bit weak to me, in this post-Modern world.
Mrs. Bennet being a crazy hypochondriac? Well, I'd be continually nervous, too, if a fresh rainstorm meant there'd be brain-eating creatures digging their way out of the graveyard.
Jane having to stay in bed for an entire week after catching a simple cold? Not so simple when you add in a few wounds she received while battling walking corpses.
And everyone falling over backward to keep from insulting Lady Catherine? You'd be nice to someone with a house full of ninjas and hundreds of slayed zombies under her Regency-equivalent-of-a-belt. Corset, maybe?
Of course, there's still romance. What kind of Austen book would it be if the heroine didn't find happiness by the end? In my mind, the zombies just bring out the Bennets' naturally heroic tendencies.
They didn't just find men, they found a way to protect their country from the evil scourge of Unmentionables. What's not to love?