Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (graphic novel) by Austen, Jane, Seth Grahame-Greene & Tony Lee, 2010

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (graphic novel) by Austen, Jane, Seth Grahame-Greene & Tony Lee - Book cover from Amazon.co.uk

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A few years ago a guy named Seth Grahame-Smith came up with the contemptible idea of rewriting a classic of literature, Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice with a zombie apocalypse as a background element. The Bennett family dealt not only with the innumerable social issues of moderately comfortable Victorian life, but they also had to deal with a plague of "unmentionables" that roamed the countryside outside of their dwellings. As horrible an idea as it was, the thing appeared to sell like hotcakes. After spawning innumerable imitators, someone decided that the original would make a great graphic novel. And so, here you are, reading my impressions of it. Such as they are.

The real Pride and Prejudice (without the Zombies, by Jane Austen is a story of a mother's attempt to marry off her five daughters. It is a thoughtful, charming and high-energy story about Ms. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, two stubborn and thick headed young people who are fated to be together, but just cannot see past their own opinions of themselves and others. The two spar with and irritate each other constantly, until they realize that their hearts are truly alined with one another, they profess love and contemplate marriage.

This graphic novel (and the fanfic novel that it sprung forth from) relied on the same concepts and attitudes, but with a different spin. In Austin's novel the characters were concerned with social status, the attitudes with which one should treat those of lower status, and the prejudices that they had towards others of higher birth who lorded their status over others too much. It was all rooted in a complex and rather convoluted nineteenth century English social system, but it was mellowed a bit with some rather heartfelt pleas for fairness. In Grahame-Smith's work the attitudes prejudices that the characters worked through had entirely to do with prowess with a blade and the oriental fighting schools at which the various characters were educated. If one female character was educated in the Shao Lin methods of China, her rival would more likely than not be an older woman of higher social standing who was educated in Japan. Elizabeth, who was educated in China, had little tolerance for breaches in social etiquette. She bantered with Darcy over his smug attitude, and her superior martial skills, defended those whom she thought worthwhile, and took offense easily to any slight. She met Darcy at a party, took an immediate dislike to him due mostly to a few mistakes about his intentions, stood up to what she believed to be his superior attitude, but took the time to listen to her friends about what he was really made of. Darcy went through much of the same, and in the end they fell very much in love.

Other than that, there was a lot of zombie mayhem, which I rather liked.

The physical images of the graphic novel were complex line drawings. In the early chapters the artist (Cliff Richards) stuck entirely to depicting social scenes, only zooming in for an occasional facial expression, usually to show some secret thing between two of the characters, such as a wink or a sly smile. Later on, as the extent of the unmentionable apocalypse was depicted, true scenes of horror were shown with more frequency. Its only in the latter chapters that the characters faces are used to show their inner emotions. The effect in the latter chapters is passable, but could have used some refinement. Otherwise the characters were drawn way, way too beautifully. This isn't the WB Network, after all.

This thing is great for toilet reading. It's big enough to last through several visits, and the sections are brief enough to get you through one apiece.

Reviewed by GTT · Rating Rating of 1.5 star(s)

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