It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a potentially brilliant/interesting/funny idea, poorly executed, was probably done as an Emerson College senior project.

At least that is an inside joke that my sister, an Emerson alum, and I have had for years.  I was not surprised to hear that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was written by an Emerson alum.  Nor was I surprised that it is so popular.  The idea is positively hilarious.

I’m no Austen purist, as shown by my benign tolerance of other P&P “spin offs.” I think Ms. Austen had enough imagination to appreciate this humorous use of her work, and she had the kind of sensibility that would make her likely to enjoy a good zombie story.  Unfortunately I don’t think she would want to be given credit for this book (she’s listed as a coauthor) because it really isn’t a good zombie story.

A good idea does not necessarily translate well into a different media or genre.  Just ask the folks who created some ridiculously funny SNL sketches only to see the almost inevitable carnage produced when they were turned into full-length movies* (A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, and The Ladies Man to name just three).  Adding zombies to Pride and Prejudice is a funny idea.  Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy as zombie-beheaders who are also concerned with the niceties of British culture is genius.

For about 20 pages or so.

After that the joke gets old very fast.  Reading the rest (I didn’t actually finish, but I got more than halfway through) just makes you want fewer jokes about balls (oh yeah, picture Adam Sandler as Darcy in the film version — it’s an apt representation) and more actual Jane Austen.  The premise might have been sustainable had the author broken himself free from the work he was spoofing.   But, paradoxically, his adherence to the original is what runs him into trouble.  Pages of faux-Austen interspersed with snippets of zombies just don’ t cut it.  All it did for me was remind me how awesome the original is.

If it were a flash in the pan this book would be less offensive, but unfortunately this seems to be a growing trend.  There is Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.  There’s a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies graphic novel and a prequel of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for young adults.

Really?  They are all as totally unnecessary as Wayne’s World 2.

*Full disclosure: this metaphor was not my idea, it was Tim’s.  Even though he never reads this blog, I told him I would give him his requisite footnote.