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Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

in a sentence or so: well...the title says it all really. the classic pride and prejudice with brain-gobbling
zombies tossed in for humor's sake!

with the same plot as Pride and Prejudice, PP&Z begins with a pretty darn fantastic opening line that sets the reader up with what to expect while on this literary journey - "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains" - a playful integration of the classic Austen writing with the silliness of zombies. Grahame-Smith experiments with acidity of tone with the dialogue from time to time more directly than Austen did. this helps match the overall witty and playful tone of the book, while keeping the demure and regent writing style. status, in addition to being denoted by wealth and family, is determined by one's abilities to slay the unmentionables. needless to say, the Bennet girls are quite known for their zombie-slaying techniques...and still known for their ridiculous mother and sometimes-noticeable lack of propriety.

since this is at it's core the same book as Pride and Prejudice, let me discuss what stuck out to me as i was reading. the characters, other than Jane, Elizabeth, Bingley and Darcy were all exaggerated for comedic affect. and well done too. from Charlotte to Miss Bingley to Mr. Bennet, the characteristics which Austen develops subtly are exploited (much to the joy of the reader) to enhance the satire. while Grahame-Smith does integrate zombies, brain eating, violence, and NINJAS, it is sometimes noticeably forced. but that's okay, because really, who would read this expecting anything shy of at least a bit ridiculous?

overall, Grahame-Smith does a solid job staying true to the original beauty and fantastic-ness that is Pride and Prejudice. his integration of the zombies as a theme provided a fun twist to the classic. even if you have less-than-zero interest in reading this book, at least flip through it to see the illustrations - quite worth your time! a zombie fighting Elizabeth Bennet was something i didn't even realize i was missing in my life, until i saw the illustrations. thank you Seth Grahame-Smith.

fave quote: "'Spoken like one who has never known the ecstasy of holding a still-beating heart in her hand', said Darcy" (directed at an overly-obnoxious Miss Bingley on pg. 44)

fix er up: just fine as it was. it wasn't taken too seriously, and kept true enough to the plot that i was pleased as a Pride and Prejudice die-hard.

title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
genre: Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Classic, Romance

Review: A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd

in a sentence or so: Shell's mam died a year ago. she and her brother, her sister, and her dad have been hobbling along ever since...until Father Rose comes to town and changes the way Shell experiences her life without her mam in the world.

Shell is 15 and raising her brother and sister on her own. sure, her dad is around, but he's either drunk or off collecting for the church's charity (and pocketing some for his booze). on the rare occasion that he is home, he orders Shell and siblings to pick rocks in the field (that he never plows), eats, and passes out. then, one Sunday during mass, Shell discovers a new priest in the pulpit. Father Rose is kind, warm, genuine, and fills Shell with a sense of purpose and love that she hadn't felt in a year.

things seemed to be going well for Shell - Father Rose giving her a new hope and purpose in life, her best friend Bridie and friend Delcan Ronan as solid school companions, and she was balancing being nice to her siblings while raising them at the same time. then, as soon as things become great, they turn sour. Bridie up and leaves without explaining to Shell why she's mad at her, and Declan (her eventual boyfriend) ditches, leaving Shell alone and feeling hollow. again.

i don't want to give anything away plot wise because things i expected to happen in a seemingly predictable coming-of-age-plot turned out not to be that way at all. in fact, there was even a real life gasp+hand over the mouth moment. no joke. this is still a coming of age in that Shell is 15, motherless, raising her sibs, and having to learn the hard (and incredibly awkward) way about periods, bras, and boys. even though i felt the plot was really solid and took some interesting and unexpected turns, it was the writing that really made this book shine.

the opening line -"The place brought to mind a sinking ship"- is vivid and set the tone of helplessness and struggle for the entire book. the writing style was crass and raw, yet tender and emotional. the overarching theme of emotional conflict and spiritual duplicity threaded the multiple plot points together to create a multi-faceted view of Shell and her community. ultimately, this was about Shell figuring out life in the midst of grief and loss, with hope and struggle, failure and success. the thoughtful choice of writing in the Irish vernacular to illustrate delicate and vivid images is icing on this cake. read it, you'll like it.

fave quote : "The place fell silent. Mrs Duggan led her down the aisle to the front. She saw a hundred fork-prong eyes, noses twitching, hands fluttering: like small animals salivating." (260)

fix er up: the resolution felt cyclical to me. like i wound up where i started...even though Shell was in a different place and the events shaped her.

title: A Swift Pure Cry
author: Siobhan Dowd
genre: Coming of Age, Hist Fic, Problem Novel

Review: Ironside (Modern Tale of Faeries Series #3) by Holly Black

(this is the third in a series. beware of spoilers for the first book, Tithe)

in a sentence or so: Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth about who she is - a big green faerie. in the meantime Roiben, Kaye's kinda-sorta-boyfriend and king of the Unseelie Court, is faced with constant battle and trickery by the rival Seelie Court. let the drama of the mortal world and the faerie world unfold!

Kaye is excited, yet unsure, with Roiben's coronation as king of the Unseelie Court. it wasn't too long ago that she lost a friend to the darker creatures of the world, and now her boyfriend is going to rule over them all. to make matters worse, she gets a little too excited about the faerie wine and makes a declaration to him that has deeper implications that she is aware of.

meantime, in Ironside (the mortal world), Kaye and her trusted friend Corny get into more trouble than they know what to do with. Kaye decides to tell her mother that she isn't really her daughter, that she was switched at birth. of course, that does not go well. Corny and Kaye are then on a quest - alone - to switch back the real Kaye AND try to make good on her declaration to Roiben AND try to stay alive in the meantime.

overall, the book takes place over a few short days...but it took me a few weeks to read it. i'm not sure if it was some reader's block or if it was just lack of interest in the story - but either way, i wasn't crazy about this one. i really did enjoy Tithe, so i thought i'd enjoy this one too. it felt like more of the same, but not as great.

fave quote: "Kaye wondered if everyone felt like there was a monster underneath their skin." (264)

fix er up: this just fell flat for me. i didn't care as much about the characters this time around - too many in general which meant that they didn't feel as developed or real.

title: Ironside (Modern Tale of Faeries Series #3)
author: Holly Black

genre: Fantasy