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With his first novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith invents a genre: In an undead Jane Austen adaptation, there must be brains, and there must be braaaaains. Unfortunately, Grahame-Smith is already breaking the rules. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a perfect storm of nerddom—the title alone is irresistible to fans of both the classic Georgian English romance and of reanimated corpses that feast upon the ripe gray matter of the living. In Grahame-Smith’s interpretation, England has been riddled by a mysterious zombie plague for half a century, and the five Bennet girls are still unmarried. Society balls are interrupted by hordes of “unmentionables.” The feminine diversions of piano-playing and letter-writing have been replaced by the dark arts of musketry, swordsmanship, and Chinese star-throwing. The sisters’ matrimonial pursuits are matched only by their obligation to routinely behead the zombies that roam the countryside. Those who have endured 200 years of Pride and Prejudice costume dramas, BBC miniseries, and Bridget Jones books will again be satisfied—Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy still hate each other, until they love each other. Zombie aficionados, whose page-turning is chiefly concerned with discerning which of the central characters have been damned to Satan’s army, will be less impressed with Grahame-Smith’s retelling. Grahame-Smith employs his satiric license to introduce polite vomiting into the gentry’s social activities, administer comical beatings to the novel’s most reviled characters, and draw Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together over jokes on the word “balls.” What he can’t seem to impose on Austen’s story are zombies. Those eager to consume a zombified version of a Darcy, a Bennet, a Bingley, or even a Wickham will be disappointed. In a novel entirely concerned with revelation of true character, only one minor player is revealed to have fallen to the mysterious plague. For the most part, Grahame-Smith’s zombie story is merely a low, wretched moan that holds little consequence in Austen’s classic tale—zombies appear, are unceremoniously disposed of, and appear again. By the book’s end, Grahame-Smith seems to have switched satirical genre mash-ups entirely, abandoning the zombies for a samurai-themed retelling. For all his heavyhanded mockery of Austen’s love story, Grahame-Smith’s version still proceeds automatically to a happy ending concerned only with married bliss, and not at all with consumption of human flesh.In his dire misuse of the zombie element, Grahame-Smith’s book is almost too dissimilar to the original—it is all decoration and no substance. Sure, the zombie thing is just a joke, but it’s one that grows slowly more undead over the book’s many pages. If only the vanquishing of zombies were as vexing to Elizabeth as Darcy’s character! If only Lydia’s insufferable nature could finally be attributed to being compromised at an early age by a zombie’s bite! If only Elizabeth turned into a zombie and ate Darcy’s brains!