Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Authors: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Published: Brilliance Audio (2009)
Genre: Romance; Horror
It is fortunate that I received this audiobook as part of the Quirk Classics Prize Pack last month, as I must admit that reading the book was not a high priority for me. Oh, I appreciate the premise, and anything that can take the piss out of those rabid Jane Austen fans gets a mark in the plus column from me. But I had trepidations concerning the quality of the actual book. I've never read a mash-up before and the amount of hype afforded to this book didn't think this one was much more than hype.
I think my appreciation for the story and the effort put into its crafting by Seth Grahame-Smith can be heavily attributed to the narration of Katherine Kellgren. When it comes to audiobooks, I use them as a means to take in a story I would otherwise avoid. I wouldn't have dared read a John Grisham novel until the day I received an audiobook of The King of Torts, and I enjoyed it because of its narrator (I forget the voice actor's name). Kellgren brought to life through her voice acting Austen's world and the addition of zombies in an entertaining manner.
By now, even those with nary an inkling of desire to read the book are aware of its premise. The romantic world in which Elizabeth Bennett and her family resides is plagued by an onslaught of "dreadfuls" and "unmentionables" (aka zombies). The zombies are basically an additional subplot added to the existing Jane Austen novel. Grahame-Smith has essentially turned Austen's novel into a kind of satire or farce. It's not high brow, but it's not intended to be--at least I hope not.
I imagine that had I sat down to read this book I would have given up on it halfway through, if not before. I have never read a Jane Austen novel, nor do I care to. Nor am I a great fan of zombie fiction, as I find they are a finite resource for subject matter. It's the injection of zombies into the original narrative that gives this story enough of a spark to light my interest. Separate the two and I could care less, if I'm to be honest.
I think Austen's writing style has been adequately impersonated in order to keep readers from hitting speed bumps as they read, especially the Austen devotees. I have to admit that it became a bit tiresome through the second half, though. The final fight scene was fun and offered satisfaction for listening to all nine CDs--two weeks worth of nighttime listening. I can't say I'd recommend the book to anyone who isn't already a fan of Austen or the undead, but the audiobook was worth listening to overall--and like I said before--Kellgren sells it for all she's worth.