Jane Austen's classic Regency tale of love and honour is brought back and given a peculiar and interesting twist as Miss Elizabeth Bennett and her trusted friends (along with Mr. Darcy) find out from village gossip that the whole of England has become plagued by the living dead uprooting from the ground causing havoc and other zombies to appear from place to place, known as unmentionables or dreadfuls. Miss Bennett is known as the Defender of Longbourne, the heroine of Hertfordshire, and has killed plenty of these evil things to be awarded that title.
Even when our heroes are dealing with the likes of the undead, they never leave their manners or morals - self-respect is still certainly on the agenda even when a flesh-eating zombie comes their way and spoils their fun, social ettiquette and tea parties.
Mr. Darcy, however polite and gentlemanly, is also not one to be toyed with either as he is skilled with both sword and gun, both of which he uses to great effect. The rest of the characters refuse to be outdone though…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a thrill ride of a graphic novel, one that Jane Austen herself couldn’t have seen coming over a hundred years earlier. Seth Grahame-Smith and Tony Lee have kept Austen's writing style and injected humour into it along with zombies, ninjas and kick-ass moves in this one-off story of survival, death and finding time for romance.
Never have Elizabeth and Darcy proved to be such a formidable pair in the face of zombie adversity. Cliff Richards has had the sole task of actually bringing the characters out in the graphic novel itself, his style is both sketchy and detailed using a mixture of ink and pencil, it is striking enough to will the reader on to the exciting story's conclusion.
Review by Sandra Scholes
Catherine from USA
I'm back, and this time, to finish. Pride and Prejudice- y’know what would make it better? Zombies. Such must have been the thought process for the production team of this book. Take a much-beloved classic piece of literature, add something to change the background a bit, and presto! A new book to market, and jump-starting an entire mini-genre in the process. Frankly, I hated the thing. I chose it as my book for a high school project and found myself regretting it within the first fifty pages. Now, I'm not one to give up on reading a work because I don't like the beginning- with the notable exception of Twilight, I enjoy, or at least don't despise, what I choose to read. This book was an exceptional example of bad writing, poor characterization, and a faint grasp at an idea that could have been so much more interesting than it turned out to be. In this riveting novel that spans way too many pages, we see the characters we all know and love from the original book follow what amounts to more or less the same plot: Mr. Bingley, a rich bachelor, rents a house close to the Bennets. At a ball given soon after, Bingley is taken with Jane, Lizzy’s older sister. His friend Darcy, on the other hand, doesn’t like dancing, and refuses to dance with Lizzy, upon which she decides the only acceptable course of action is to kill him. Before she can, zombies come shambling through the windows and picking off guests. Seeing the Bennet sisters form their ‘Pentagram of Death’ makes Darcy see Elizabeth in a new light… Sort of. Over the coming weeks, Lizzy and Darcy dance around each other and deliver some polite snark, but we can see that this relationship is not going anywhere. Jane and Bingley, on the other hand, are getting along fine! They have some excellent bonding time when Jane almost gets killed by a zombie and must recover at the Bingley household. Lizzy shows up too, in less than perfect decorum (much to the horror of Miss Bingley), and she and Darcy get a bit of time to maybe not hate each other. But by then end, neither has made any attempt at friendship. The sisters get home and- surprise! There’s their cousin, the clergyman Mr. Collins, who is going to inherit their house! He is also taken by the sisters (shocker), and proposes to Lizzy, who turns him down. He eventually marries Charlotte Lucas, Lizzy’s best friend, who is (very, very slowly) succumbing to a zombie bite. No one ever notices, of course. In the meantime, the girls meet some nice militiamen, the lovely Mr. Wickham among them. He tells Lizzy about how Darcy cruelly cheated him out of an inheritance, and Lizzy is, understandably, mad. But, the Bingleys and Darcy are gone from their house before she can act, leaving Jane quite gloomy and worried that perhaps Bingley never liked her at all. Going to visit the rapidly deteriorating Charlotte, Lizzy encounters Darcy again, at the house of his aunt and fiercest zombie slayer in all of England, Lady Catherine. He calls on the Collinses several more times before eventually proposing to Lizzy. She yells at him, and they get into a fight with fire pokers, because… love? Needless to say, she didn’t accept. Darcy later gives Lizzy a letter explaining himself on the two things they argued on: 1) he didn’t steer Bingley away from Jane, only he did but it was because he thought it wasn’t a serious thing. 2) Wickham is a liar and tried to elope with his sister, among other things. This causes Lizzy to reconsider, and she decides to believe Darcy over Wickham (for reasons) and once she gets home, acts coldly towards the latter. Elizabeth spends some time back at Longbourne before leaving for Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners. They spend some time at Pemberley, Darcy’s estate styled in the ever-fashionable Japanese manner. She doesn’t want to see Darcy, but is told that he is away for the moment. Until zombies start attacking and guess who shows up? Darcy, not wanting to get his head mashed with a fire poker or mantelpiece again, leaves the marriage topic alone but asks the Bennets to come to Pemberley. Lizzy accepts, but is cut short by the news that her youngest sister, Lydia, has run off with Wickham. Obviously, the Bennets will be ruined by this! So Lizzy hurries home, where everyone is in crisis mode. Lydia and Wickham are eventually found in London, and married after Wickham is in a nasty “carriage accident.” When Lydia comes back to Longbourne to visit, she mentions that Darcy was at her wedding. Elizabeth discovers that Darcy paid Mr. Wickham to marry Lydia- oh, and he was responsible for beating the guy into a pulp, not a carriage. How… romantic? So, Bingley is back in the neighborhood, and he proposes to Jane, who accepts enthusiastically. Lizzy thanks Mr. Darcy for everything he’s done, and he confesses that he still loves her, apparently guessing that fire poker time is over. Elizabeth returns his feelings- she feels more strongly for him than she does about killing zombies (which was really the only thing she had going for her, but oh well), and accepts his proposal to her. Jane and Lizzy married after that, and everyone lives happily ever after. So through death, destruction, and violence, everything has turned out a-okay for the Bennets! Joy! Before I begin tearing into this book, I have to be fair. If you look deeply into it, you can see something. By this I mean the effect of marriage on a woman for you to make of what you will, and themes of class and wealth, women and feminity, marriage, and, obviously, pride and prejudice, that are all touched on with varying degrees of intensity. It’s by no means beating you over the head with its themes and motifs, but they’re there. They’re just… muddled by Grahame. And with that, let us begin. Much beloved classic + zombies = automatic bestseller. Yeah, sounds great, doesn't it? Not really. Like any fictional trope, they can be incredibly annoying if used the wrong way. And Seth Grahame Smith couldn't have done anything worse. For having a titular role, the zombies are used sparsely, and often only come up when it's time for a character to show off their warrior skills (which are often unrealistic at best, impossible at worst, but more on that later), or kill things for some bits of cheap gore. They do nothing to advance the plot, and while they could have been used to do that, really they pop up for maybe a page, often less, kill some people we've heard mentioned in maybe a passing sentence (certainly no one we care about- heaven forbid!), get killed, and leave. Yeah, sounds riveting, right? Imagine a Walking Dead episode, but with maybe three minutes of zombies, zero tension, and basically the characters talking about who will marry whom, and who will be braving the infestation of “dreadfuls” to come and visit. In fact, the premise for the outbreak of zombies is never actually mentioned (all we have is that it was a disease of some sort), which irritated me. Maybe, just maybe, a logical explanation would have quelled that. But we didn’t get one, did we? The fact that this has been an epidemic for 55 years also bugged me a lot more than it should have. A dead body can survive against the elements for two months, tops, before all flesh disintegrates, and in terms of how long a disease can last, the Black Death lasted only three years, and killed more than four times the amount of people in Britain at the time period of the novel. The ideas that (a) Britain would have survived as a country for 55 years and still has zombies and (b) there are people still alive to feed this plague if they’ve already figured out that beheading a dead person is the way to stop it are completely preposterous. From what I hear, the actual Pride and Prejudice has relatable, human characters. I would like to know what happened to them. From the beginning to the very end, the only person in the book I wasn't ready to push off of a bridge was Jane, and that was because she's kind of given NO negative traits (aside from perhaps being too nice, too generous, etc.). I hated both Lizzy and Darcy, though I must admit, I hated them both equally. Really, Darcy is rude, prideful, arrogant, and basically an insufferable jerk for the whole book. He does little to redeem himself, other than beating an old maid of his and Wickham to a pulp in order to save the honor of the Bennet family (It’s a two step forward, one step back kind of thing). And that’s to say nothing of Elizabeth Bennet. At least half the book I wanted to kick her into the stratosphere, I was so frustrated with her. She was mean, violent, prejudiced (though, it’s against Mr. Darcy, so I can forgive her that. He’s unbearable.), and snarky. Suffice to say, neither was a person I would want to meet in the real world. In the original, Darcy and Lizzy fight each other with words; in this rendition, they simply slap each other around when they’re left alone. I lose any respect I could have had for a character I already dislike when I’m shown that their modus operandi is hitting their problems until they die. It is said that the characters never leave their manners or morals. And that's exactly the problem! There's. No. Tension! Ever! It's one long, boring blah fest until the end! Aside from the half a page Lizzy mentally wavers about killing an already dead (now zombie) baby, which nobody should have a problem with since it’s dead anyway, nobody ever has to confront any morality issues, nobody abandons stuffy mannerisms to actually do something about the zombie problem, and no one. Ever. Gets. Killed. Part of the reason that zombie movies are interesting is because anybody could die at any moment! If you take that away, then you remove a large part of what makes it appealing as a genre! The action sequences- to even call them so is generous- were highly flawed, as Seth Grahame-Smith told the audience what was going on instead of showing them. This is something you can’t do with action!!! I don’t think I can emphasize that enough! To write is to get a reader to feel as if they are in a scene- immerse their senses, use short sentences and strong verbs. But, to be fair, Grahame-Smith is a television writer, so maybe he was just doing his best. Either way, the “action” bits were most definitely lacking. I read them in the same way I might read about someone making a coffee: without interest and certainly without emotion. To be frank, the writing as a whole was boring and bland. And that’s just as much Austen’s fault as Grahame-Smith’s, I’m sorry to say. Austen is a master or writing like a candle burns: long and slow. And, I can take that, really, I can! I’ve finished Les Miserables, for goodness sakes, and I loved it! But monsieur Hugo does one thing that Austen doesn’t manage to pull off for me. He makes me care enough about the characters to actually take the time to read it all, as closely and carefully as he wants me to. And Grahame-Smith’s writing… well, refer to the paragraph above. The many unrealistic scenes of the book put me off greatly as well. The zombies and all I could deal with- that’s not what I’m talking about. What made me upset was the seemingly complete disregard for physics and common sense when it suited the author. In the scene where Lady Catherine and Elizabeth have their big showdown, Lizzy literally kicks a seventy year old woman into the ceiling (she broke two rafters in their dojo). And yeah, she’s a-okay: “...and a final kick which drover her so high as to break two of the rafters overhead… Then Elizabeth felt herself fall to the ground, brought down by Lady Catherine’s legs. (Grahame-Smith, 290) Because it was so preposterous, I found myself upset with it. Instead of focusing on what the author might have wanted me to: Lizzy’s physical strength and fierce fighting ability, I was just mad. Mad that this could happen, mad that it wasn’t immediately struck down by an editor, and mad at the author. The actions of the characters reminded me of an episode of The Big Bang Theory I watched once with my sister: Sheldon Cooper rolled dice to make all of his decisions, and followed them no matter how ridiculous the outcome was. But since that was comedy, it was funny. When I’m being asked to take it seriously, it’s rather annoying and I find myself hating characters I’m not supposed to. And while I realize that their personalities and the time period factor in, I refuse to disregard normal human thought processes in order to comprehend a book I don’t even like. A reader should not work for the author. The author should work for the reader. They made the world, now show the person stepping in what it looks like. And decide in the beginning whether or not you’re disregarding physics! And the final sentence: “And the sisters Bennet… were now, three of them, brides of man, their swords quieted by the only force more powerful than any warrior. (Grahame-Smith and Austen, 317)” What on earth? Yeah, yeah, it’s supposed to be about the power of love and all that, but it gets it completely wrong! Love doesn’t have to nullify other traits, and when it does, it loses its magic. Especially when it prevents a character from doing something they love to do (in this case, murder things). The fact that Lizzy, whom we know as a warrior, first and foremost, must put away her sword for the sake a marriage is one last kick in the shins after a rollercoaster of disappointment. As a final note, I ask you, the reader, to take this review with just a grain of salt. Pride and Prejudice is supposed to be two things: a romance and funny. Both are subjective. Neither clicked with me. The very few jokes I cared to understand were about genitals (yeah, classy, right? But Shakespeare did it, so I won’t whine), and nothing about the book made me smile, even the Austen parts. The romance part… Ouch. I know love is messy a lot of the time, but I don’t want to read about it! Especially if you’re going to fall in love with someone I hate (yeah, looking at you, Darcy!). I don’t really care what your love life is like unless you are (a) a person I care about, which is nobody in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or (b) me. So I guess you can say that this book and I were on the wrong foot before I opened the first page. My overall rating? One star out of five, and it’s given in pity to poor Miss Austen for having her original work put to shame like this. To my understanding, though I’m sure it isn’t my type of book, Pride and Prejudice is actually quite good. Seth Grahame-Smith just happened to accidentally set it on fire and drop it off of a cliff into a spike pit, reader and all. The addition of zombies to it was a completely irrational idea, that was turned into a train-wreck of a novel; one more example of a book you either love or hate. And much to the annoyance of those of us on the hate side… it had a lot of success.
Catherine from USA
Frankly, I hated the thing. I chose it as my book for a high school project and found myself regretting it within the first fifty pages. Now, I'm not one to give up on reading a work because I don't like the beginning- with the notable exception of Twilight, I enjoy, or at least don't despise, what I choose to read. Let me enlighten you to some of the (many) pitfalls of this book: The Zombies: Yeah, sounds great, doesn't it? Not really. Like any fictional trope, they can be incredibly annoying if used the wrong way. And Seth Grahame Smith couldn't have done anything worse. For having a titular role, the zombies are used sparsely, and often only come up when it's time for a character to show off their warrior skills (which are often unrealistic at best, impossible at worst, but more on that later), or kill things for some cheap gore. They do nothing to advance the plot, and while they could have been used to do that, really they pop up for maybe a page, often less, kill some people we've gotten maybe a sentence about (certainly no one we care about), get killed, and leave. Yeah, sounds riveting, right? Imagine a Walking Dead episode, but with maybe three minutes of zombies. The Characters: From what I hear, the actual Pride and Prejudice has relatable, human characters. I would like to know what happened to them. From the beginning to the very end, the only person in the book I wasn't ready to push off of a bridge was Jane, and that was because she's kind of given NO negative traits (aside from perhaps being TOO nice, TOO generous, etc.). I hated both Lizzy and Darcy, though I must admit, I hate them both equally. Really, Darcy is rude, prideful, It is said that the characters never leave their "manners or morals." And that's exactly the problem! There's. No. Tension! Ever! It's one long, boring blah fest until the end!
3.3/10 from 3 reviews
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