Thursday, July 7, 2011

Discussion: Classic/Monster Hybrid Fever...will it last?

Hot on the heels of the vampire revival thanks to Twilight was the monster/classic hybrid genre kickstarted by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith. For those of you who perhaps have been living under a rock or ignore that side of the book store, PPZ took Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice and threw in a bunch of zombies. OK, so it's a little more sophisticated than that, but that gives you the basic gist of it.

I think the book did far better than anyone expected it was possible for it to do, and as a result more of these hybrid texts have sprung up all over the place. Sense and Sensibility was merged with sea-monsters, Abraham Lincoln became a vampire hunter, Anna Karenina was really an android and War of the Worlds now comes with more blood, guts and zombies. The quality between the titles seems to vary greatly when you read the blurbs and reader reviews on GoodReads, but I guess that can be expected when people attempt to churn out books quick enough to stay on top of the trends.

So what I really want to discuss is whether this is a genuine genre or just a bit of a gimmick?

I read PPZ last month and thought it was pretty good. I'm not exactly what you'd call an Austen fan so it was the inclusion of zombies (and the positive reviews I'd heard) that finally pushed me to finally try and complete this book. I thought that Grahame-Smith managed to weave his zombie bits into the original text really well without sacrificing Jane Austen's famous prose, and while it felt gimmicky at times I thought it actually added an extra layer of depth to the characters and the central message of the novel.

I enjoyed it and it did get me to read a book that otherwise probably would have remained unread until my death but I didn't enjoy it enough to run out and buy any of the other hybrid texts. I guess it was a bit of an experiment in creativity and hybridity but it doesn't really feel like a genre that "has legs" if you know what I mean. I think it beautifully exemplifies life in the 2000s and the "vintage revival" that has been going on in clothing, architecture and interior design lately but I don't think it's got enough variation or room to evolve to last more than a couple of years. I mean what are they going to do, simply rewrite every classic work in existence? I simply can't see how they could keep this current trend of books new and fresh and original.

That said I don't want to knock the authors. After reading PPZ I really appreciated how much work Grahame-Smith must have put into making sure his writing matched Austen's and that the zombie segments didn't stick out like a sore thumb. I'm sure many of the other authors went through similar trials to make sure that their writing blended with whichever classic author they were emulating and for that I respect them greatly. I just hope none of these authors put too much of their energy into this one basket because I think it's already beginning to wane and is unlikely to be revived once it nears death.

What about you though? Have you read (m)any of these hybrid texts? If you have what did you think? If you haven't, will you get around to it or are you avoiding them? Will the last the test of time or will they shrink out of existence in a few years time? I know PPZ has a film adaptation in the works but will that be enough to keep it alive as a genre or will it merely prop it up for a few extra months/years?


  1. I read PPZ when it first came out. It was quirky and fun. At the time it was also original and I did like it. Whilst I did like it I don't feel the need to read more. The first few titles were funny but now we are inundated with them. It's now just a gimmick and I think it will die off eventually. It went from being amusing to 'not another one'.

    I actually passed a few on to my sister who loved the idea and got a kick out of it. She doesn't keep up with book releases or enters bookshops every week (unless it involves art) so she is still enjoying the quirky side of it. When I mentioned to her a couple of other titles that were out she did say she probably wouldn't read them. She imagines she would get bored of it quickly.

    In saying that I love War of the Worlds and I can see myself considering that one (not hypocritical at all) :)

  2. Yeah I have a friend who loves them and reads as many of them as he can get his hands on. He's a big fan of any kind of monsters and wouldn't normally give the classics a go so I guess it's good he's getting into them that way. I suppose in that sense it's kind of like all the teen movies in the 1990s which were revisions of Shakespeare.

    I think I could possibly make my way through a couple more, I've had Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer recommended pretty highly to me, but overall I think it's a defunct 'genre'. I can see all the titles in the $2 bin within the next couple of year, which makes me a little sad for the authors but I can't really imagine any other outcome unless the idea morphs greatly



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...