Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Another Fad Missed

By Tracy Kiely
My first four mysteries were loosely based on some of the themes and character traits found in Jane Austen’s books. As such, the only request I ever got from an editor was to “add more Jane stuff.”
The very idea of adding zombies or any of the undead to an Austen inspired book was laughable. I remember when Pride Prejudice and Zombies came out. I thought it was a ludicrous concept.  That didn’t stop me from buying the book though. After all, it was Jane Austen.
Seriously. Who Knew?

I thought it was terrible. Horrible, really. Absurd. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, it’s basically the original story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (boy meets girls, boy is haughty and proud, girl thinks boy is a jerk, boy grows to love girl, boy finally convinces girl he is FREAKING MR. DARCY, FOR GOD’S SAKE and they marry).  The only difference is that in this version, Regency England is crawling with zombies.
I just stopped and re-read that last sentence. It took me seven times to get through it without giggling.
As the blurb on Amazon explains, Pride Prejudice and Zombies is “a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield.”
I will admit that some parts of the book were clever. Charlotte Lucas agrees to marry the insufferable Mr. Collins only because she has been infected with the zombie disease. Charlotte reasons that as a clergyman, Mr. Collins will ensure she receives a proper Christian burial when it is time for her to die (or have her head lopped off).
However, then we came to the part where Lady Catherine forces Elizabeth to battle one of her ninja guard. Elizabeth not only bests the man, but rips out his heart. From there, she proceeds to eat it; without the proper knife and fork.
That’s about the time when I lost it. Like Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellows, I am a firm believer the proper use of cutlery. (Go to 2.30 minutes in the clip if you are rushed for time: Julian Fellows and cutlery
I finished the book with a sneer and tossed it aside. Actually, I lent it to a friend and never asked for it back. I dismissed it as a gimmick and not a very good one at that. It would be nothing more than a flash in the pan, I thought smugly.
Fast-forward to today. The movie comes out next year, and the author, Seth Grahame-Smith now has more money than God (which begs a whole other question: do we need money in heaven? ‘Cause between saving for the kids’ college and our retirement, I don’t see how I’m going to swing it. But, I guess someone has to pay for all those roads paved with gold. Do you suppose there’s an EZ Pass system in heaven?)
"Welcome! That will be $4.50 please."

But, back to the topic. No, I never thought to add the undead to my books, nor did anyone ever ask me to. And you know what? Honestly? I’m a little ticked off by that. Had someone done so, I might have written this from a yacht in the Mediterranean rather than a desk off my kitchen. And I certainly wouldn’t have to worry about being homeless in heaven, because let’s face it; H.L. Mencken was right, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”


Meredith Cole said...

Too funny! Yes, no one asked for zombies/undead/vampires/fairies in any of my books--and I certainly didn't think of it either. Here's hoping heaven is free...

Susan C Shea said...

Love the Menchken quote - they knew a lot back in those days!

Alan Orloff said...

You heard it here first. The next trend: bawdy leprechauns.