It may seem a bit odd to post a book review on Destructoid, but I actually found out about this book because of Podtoid, when someone (I believe it was Aaron?) mentioned that they were holding off reading the book until he had read the original.
Also, it's about Zombies, and anything featuring zombies whatsoever automatically falls under the category of "ZombieToid", thus is relevant.
The Concept: Would you like some brains with your tea?
The immediate draw of OPPZ is of course the juxtaposition of Jane Austen's incredibly dry, boring comedy of manners with the most fun, silly B-movie-level-schlockfest concept ever: Hordes of zombies. Or that's the theory, anyway; there's a problem, and it's a pretty substantial one.
Of Pride and Prejudice
is the LEAST boring of Austen's novels. Good ole' JA had a lot of boring tales in her-- I can barely remember Persuasion
, and I usually remember books to the exclusion of everything else-- but the story of Elizabeth and Darcy is not one of them. I can understand people being skeptical about this claim if you haven't read it, given Austen's reputation, however I am emphatic on this point. In the story multiple locations are visited, people are abducted, people get deathly ill, and, most importantly, people insult each other to their faces whenever they feel like it. In other words, there's a strong plot, and the character interaction extends far beyond the niceties of the drawing room, and Mr. Bennet rules. Don't question it, he just does.
A particularly memorable scene in the original takes place when Darcy first proposes to Elizabeth. Not only does she turn him down, but she verbally eviscerates him on a level that seems harsh even to a 21st century reader, and nigh-unthinkable for a woman of her time. In OPPZ, this scene gets the addition of Elizabeth and Darcy physically sparring ( since they're both zombie-slaying warriors), but the dialogue remains almost exactly the same. The combat doesn't really add anything; if anything, it's LESS vicious than the original scene because Darcy is allowed to fight back. The fact that all he can do is stand there and make vague protests while Elizabeth tears his ego to shreds is what makes the original scene so memorable.
And that's pretty much the way most of it goes: Elizabeth and her sisters going on a trip? They have to kill some zombies on the way. Going to a party? Zombies attack! Ironically, the regular zombie attacks are the most boring part of the entire book.
It's not all bad; Seth Graham-Smith does add a few nice touches. Some of the more subtle changes to the prose are funny, and several fight scenes get more interesting than routinely dispatching the undead. He also does a good job portraying Elizabeth as a badass ninja. But I can't help but think that this would have been a lot funnier with different source material; the idea of Elizabeth being skilled in combat isn't funny, because she's such an ass-kicker in the original that it doesn't seem terribly absurd, and this book trades in absurdity. If it's not absurd enough, something is broken.
Bottom Line: Should you read it?
I'm at a loss here; it's almost worth reading just because of the concept, and if you collect books like I do, it's worth buying just to see people do a frightened double-take when they see it on the shelf. However, it's difficult to recommend wholeheartedly. I did enjoy it, but then again I enjoyed the original Of Pride and Prejudice
; for me it was basically just an excuse to read the original again, albeit with a fresh coat of paint. If you haven't read the original then the experience will be more novel for you, but of course, you'll miss a lot of the jokes (such as they are.) So on the whole I recommend it, but obviously with many reservations. It's entertaining, but not as much as it should be, really.
On another note, I didn't know this sort of thing was Kosher-- you can rewrite famous books any way you want, and produce a freakin' bestseller? That's hacking! That is just totally unfair! If I ever publish a book it will be TOTALLY ON MY OWN MERITS, okay? Okay?
...Crime and Punishment and Cupcakes
. I have to admit, it's catchy...