Double book review! My reading kind of fell apart in March, mostly because 1) it was crazy-busy month and 2) I was participating in a buddy read of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I ended up quietly dropping out during Brisingr because that book doubles as a doorstop, and I just couldn’t keep up. I’m still working my way through… on the side.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen: 4/5 stars
Firstly, I need to brag a little because I got my copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for a song. $1 to be precise. I bought it (along with the rest of the pictured stack) from the local library shop in my parents' town. I got this entire haul for less that $20! Pro-tip, you guys. If your library sells old books, CHECK IT OUT! It supports your local library, and you can get so many books! Secondly, this is going to be kind of a short review just because of the nature of the type of book it is. You'll see what I mean later on.
Anyway, so I started reading PPZ in March, which also distracted me from Brisingr, and I kind of saw that coming because I freaking love Pride and Prejudice. PPZ, though, was… a different kind of experience.
So it’s a weird thing to read a book that’s only been slightly changed from the original. Literally, that’s all Seth Grahame-Smith did. He just added and changed a few bits and pieces here and there, couching it into the original text. And for the most part I think it worked. You might think something like that would read really awkwardly, but it doesn't. He did an excellent patching his changes into the original book*.
*There was one part that was a HUGE change, though. I was reading in bed and legit shot up, scaring the hubs, and just gaped at the page. WHAT?! What what what?! And then the story just moved right on because this enormous shock just got shoehorned in. I can’t tell you what it was because that would be a spoiler, but GAH! So that was the only really jarring thing.
Here’s where I think it didn’t really work. While the main meat of the story is the same—Elizabeth/Darcy’s and Jane/Bingley’s journey to romantic bliss—but, because it’s the zombie apocalypse, the story (for me) loses some of the romantic charm of the original. I don’t think it’s the violence itself, of which there’s a bunch more because, again, zombie apocalypse. In fact, that part of it is kind of fun because we get this new, alternate history segment where the Bennet sisters are all these kick-awesome warriors, but life is kind of cheapened because of said apocalypse. Like, Elizabeth actually fantasizes about cutting off Lydia’s head because she won’t stop prattling on. I know Lydia’s an annoying idiot, but she’s Elizabeth’s sister. So dreaming about killing her willy-nilly seems really harsh. And, yes, I know life would be indescribably difficult in an apocalypse, but cherishing life is what makes us human. Zombies, Run! also takes place during a zombie apocalypse, and they still treasure life. Our humanity is our only hope in bad times, so I didn’t love that piece of it.
Nevertheless, it was a fun read, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
Twisted by Bonnie M. Hennessy: 4/5 stars
Okay, onto the second review. I read this book in the space of about twenty-four hours as a power-buddy-read with the fabulous Jessica aka @litnoob of Instagram. I adore Jessica and her account and bookish commentaries. She’s really funny and kind, so you should definitely follow her if you’re a fan of awesome people.
If you know anything about my book reading habits, you know I’ve read a lot of fairytale retellings. Some fairytales get more attention than others, though. Beauty and the Beast retellings are frickin’ everywhere! Rumplestiltskin retellings, not so much, so I was really curious about this one.
I recently heard a YouTube film reviewer's commentary (on the Hobbit films) that mentioned how a lot of fantasy is based on history, and history is patriarchal, so a lot of fantasy books are too, which is 1000000% true. That always makes fairytale retellings set into a similar frame a little difficult for me. I have trouble relating to/rooting for story-dudes who fit into the patriarchal mold because, while accurate to most (not all) of the folks of ye olden times, F that S. As the creator of these characters and this world, you can subvert that nonsense. So that part was more than a little troublesome for me, mostly because, while the guys do get better, they never completely lose their crappy viewpoints. Even at the end, there’s a “Oh, your poor female brain” comment from a guy. Thus, there’s a huge asterisk sitting next to how I categorize this book in my mind.
I did appreciate, however, a curve ball this same issue threw at me. I didn’t know who to root for, who was going to end up being the villain, for most of the book. I really liked that it kept me guessing. And there was some really good secrecy/intrigue woven into the story too. On that same subject, story-wise it was really well written and constructed. Really good details and history and whatnot. The dialogue was pretty good too, which I know can be a challenge when you’re dealing with historical-type settings, so well done there.
As for characters, honestly, Maeve (a side character) was my favorite. She’s so in charge of herself and over people’s judgment. She’s the Madame of a brothel, by the way, which also makes for an interesting situation. The MC was fine. I have nothing against her. Again, though, the dudes…
Here’s the thing: when I read a book, I put myself into it. I look at the characters as if they’re real people and I think to myself, “Would I want to be friends with this person? Would I enjoy hanging out with them? Would I trust them?” Nope. The love interests, the father, etc., all of them fall into this patriarchal trap that automatically makes me dislike them, so bye Felicia!
All in all, as fairytale retellings go, this one was pretty solid. Interesting take on the original story, and it’s a tale I’ve rarely seen tackled before. It’s a fairly quick read too, so there’s that. If you’ve got an afternoon free, give it a go.
Currently reading: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible (Stories) by Jonathan Goldstein. And so far really enjoying it! Thanks for reading!