Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

The cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies calls out from the shelves.  An elegant young lady in three-quarters profile gazes at the viewer, her red eyes, decomposing jaw, and bloodied lace presenting the intriguing mix of  Georgian society and the undead.  
Attributed to both Miss Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies uses much of the original novel.  The parts Grahame-Smith has added pertain (as one might expect) to zombies, the Bennet sisters training in the the fighting arts, and the plague, which has resulted in the forming of the zombies, also called unmentionables.  This does not change the story line nearly as much as one might think, yet Grahame-Smith's additions are confusing; some of his additions contradict each other.  The portions of narrative dealing with the undead would have been much more amusing if Grahame-Smith's back-story were solid.  While we are told the Bennet sisters spent ten years in China learning the fighting arts, it is not known how this fits in with their other accomplishments nor to what extent training in the fighting arts is expected of accomplished young women.  
The interior illustrations do not live up to the cover.  The foreshortening is off and the anatomy skewed in a manner that does not appear purposeful.  Furthermore, the costumes are not Georgian nor of Oriental derivation, and are difficult to place in any category but vaguely historic.  
While an intriguing premise, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does not live up to expectations of comedy and satire.  It might be seen as beach reading, but only if one's stash is rather depleted.  It may be the medium that prevents Pride and Prejudice and Zombies from reaching satirical heights; it would make a very good bad movie.  With romance, period costumes, and witty dialogue for the chick flick lovers and zombies, blood, guts, gore, and Katanas for the action crowd, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies could be next summer's block-buster.  

Monday, May 4, 2009

Patricia C. Wrede

My mother read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles aloud to my brother and me when I was in second grade.  We adored them (to the dress up like a fire witch for halloween level adore them). Her regency era magic series, written in a letter writing game with Caroline Stevermer, was enjoyable, but didn't win its way into my heart as easily as The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.   

Wrede is not an author who I keep monthly tabs on, like Marillier and Pierce.  So, I was extremely excited (the extremely is necessary as seniors in college aren't good at excitability during finals week, they're mostly dreary) to see a Wrede post on Tor's blog.  

Her new book is entitled Thirteenth Child and is a combination of magic and pioneer America.  As I haven't yet read the book, look here for more information.  It is now the first book on my de-stressing after school list.  I promise a review once I get my hands on a copy....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Resisting Crossover Tendencies

A recent article from BBC covers a recent move by publishers to put age bands on books.  These bands would be given an age plus recommendation prominently displayed on the book jacket.  After the Crossover phenomenon of His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman, Mark Haddon, Garth Nix, and many others (during which publishers found their sales rocket from the dual purchase power of adults and children), it seems retroactive to begin age banding books.  

If a parent can't take the time to skim a book to see whether it is appropriate for their child, there are other options to age branding (besides, do you really want publishers to decide the age range of a book?  These are publishers who wouldn't believe that Coraline was intended for children).  Librarians, authors, and independent booksellers are more than happy to give parents book lists and advice.  Librarians especially can gain a better understanding of what your child enjoys and their level simply by talking to you or your child- something publishers cannot.  

Furthermore, how to you age rank something?  Complexity of language?  This makes older books for older readers.  Issues?  This makes older books for younger readers.  What about the fact that few children of the same age actually read at the same level and are of the same maturity?  How do you rank Rushdie's Haroun & the Sea of Stories? (the only answer can be crossover)

Perhaps we should  remove age-est views from books, as they already exist in so many other facets of our society.  This can only help children relate to those other than their schoolmates.