Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dreadfully Ever After

One assumes that Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy lived happily ever after at the finish of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This is not quite true. After four years of marriage, Elizabeth feels unsatisfied and unhappy. Not with her husband of course, but with the fact that it's improper for her to remain the warrior she was in her unmarried days. After Darcy sees some of her old fervor when they defeat a horde of unmentionables together, Elizabeth confides in him, but their talk is interrupted. An unmentionable child bites Darcy on the neck, where amputation is impossible. Elizabeth dispatches the offending thing and takes him into their home. She calls upon her nemesis, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, who has a serum that will prevent Darcy from fully becoming one of the undead. Lady Catherine also enlists her to sacrifice her honor and her pride to seduce a doctor in London into giving her the experimental cure to save Darcy. Elizabeth has no choice but to agree and departs for London, meeting her father and her sister Kitty there to complete the facade and aid her in her quest. Can they obtain the cure before Darcy succumbs to this plague?

This is the final chapter in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies saga and I am very happy with its conclusion. Steve Hockensmith really expands upon Jane Austen's world and characters and makes them his own, while adding in zombies and ninjas. Elizabeth is entirely taken completely out of her element when she is forced into the role of seductress. In addition, she is thrown into the height of English society, which exemplifies all the frivolity and shallowness that she despises. The rules of society in general are completely ridiculous. They not only hinder her progress at every turn in London, but are at the root of her unhappiness from the start of the novel.

Other characters, such as Kitty, Mary, and Anne, actually develop personalities of their own. In the original Pride and Prejudice, Kitty and Lydia were practically interchangeable; Mary only stood out because she was more isolated and standoffish than her frivolous sisters; and I honestly don't recall if Anne was actually present or just mentioned. Lydia is completely absent, allowing Kitty to create her own identity. She retains some of her silliness, but she's also a very calculated and disciplined warrior. Her budding relationship with someone inappropriate to her social standing is a big part of her character development and one of the conflicts she faces. Mary is shown to be much more aware and sensible than I previously thought her to be. She faces problems head on, without much subtlety. Her direct approach sometimes gets her into trouble, but her intentions are always good. She is also shown to not be completely devoid of emotion like her exterior oftentimes portrays. Anne is an interesting character because I have no previous impression of her. At the beginning, she seems to be Darcy's creepy stalker that is constantly at his bedside. Later, her sweet, yet odd, nature made me like her and one of her actions in the end is the the height of awesome. The third person narrative that focused on the internal monologue of different characters in every chapter is absolutely instrumental to the fleshing out of these previously flat characters.

I had a few grievances with the zombie rules and some of the plot points. Zombies do not run away. Even if they are being hacked to bits or witness other zombies being destroyed, they don't retreat. They don't feel fear or have thoughts or have any instincts of self preservation. Zombies try to run away at least a few times and it makes me shake the book in annoyance. Another zombie annoyance occurred when dogs ate zombie flesh. They would either be zombie dogs or very very sick and probably soon to be dead dogs. The plague would turn them or kill them or they would die from eating disgustingly rancid, rotting meat. The only other aspect that bothered me is the modern language frequently used throughout the novel. They are Jane Austen characters in Regency England. The modern phrases and slang jarred me a bit and brought me out of the novel.

Dreadfully Ever After is the satisfying conclusion to a very enjoyable series. I really loved how Hockensmith created much more fleshed out characters than Jane Austen had originally written. The message about how society's arbitrary rules and constructs creates unhappiness and hinders love is very valid even today. I would recommend this to both fans of zombies and Jane Austen (if they have a sense of humor).

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Here is the awesome book trailer that was released a couple of days ago. I usually avoid book trailers because most of them are bad, but this one is exceptional. Enjoy!

No comments: