Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austin and Ben H. Winters

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
2009 Quirk Productions Inc.

Apparently I missed a new genre in the last couple of years when I didn't read anything new. There's a new book in town in case you missed it: pairing a classic book with zombies and other monsters. Some titles I missed Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Vampire Darcy's Desire, The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, etc. I could go on and on but I wont. The point is; I am mad I missed these books. Based on SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS I would have enjoyed this entire genre and unfortunately, now I just don't have the time to fit them all in .

On August 31st I put the book trailer for SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS on this site. In regards to the other book trailers and book reviews that I have posted this is by far the most entertaining trailer that accurately captures the book. This book is Sense and Sensibility as read ad nauseum in high school and college lit classes but it is also the story of the Dashwood sisters and their love lives amid man-eating sea creatures. It takes a book that haunted me throughout college's and made the Dashwoods pleasurable again. I didn't think this could be done. All the original SENSE AND SENSIBILITY characters are there; Margaret, Elinor, Col. Brandon, Marianne, Edward Ferrars, etc. etc. However, there is a twist (and a pretty good one). Man is at war with all sea creatures. This is not FINDING NEMO.

Due to man's war with the sea creatures there is a sea witch that figures prominently in the story, poor Colonel Brandon suffers from an affliction that makes him even more undesirable than his age, and there are a great number of murderous octopus. (I LOVE WHEN THINGS GET DEAD! )

The problem with a lot of these Darcy revisited books is that the language is all wrong or the characters are too modern for their time. Mr. Winters does not seem to suffer from that problem. The Misses Dashwood are properly 19th century marraige market brides but with the edge that one would expect from those fighting for each day. Margaret is made much more interesting with her own storyline, which makes her seem like something more than a pre-teen brat. Marianne is still hopelessly romantic and foolish but it seems much more realistic when paired with the threat of immediate death via angry whale of cross-eyed puffer fish. The following is a sample of the properly Victorian language with a modern twist.
Elinor's office was a painful one. She was going to remove what she believed to be her sisters chief consolation, to give such particulars of Edward as she feared would ruin him forever in her good opinion, and to make Marianne, by a seeming resemblance in their situations, which to her fancy would seem strong, feel all her disappointment over again. But unwelcome as such a task must be, like the scraping of barnacles off a long-neglected hull, it was necessary to be done.

What beautiful and authentic language.

I wholeheartedly endorse this book. I wish I had more time to devote to reading more in this emerging genre and will try to cover more titles as they come across my desk. If any of you read any good new monster literature please send me the title so I can pick it up.

Other Reviews:
Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum
Lisa Schwarzbaum is a film critic for EW
Had Jane Austen observed waterborne horrors like giant octopi and monstrous jellyfish — not to mention the Devonshire Fang-Beast — there's no doubt she would have written prettily about them. As it is, the land-based 19th-century lady stuck to what she knew when writing Sense and Sensibility, leaving Brooklyn-based 21st-century wordsmith Ben H. Winters to provide the fish-tailed portion of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
And here we have a whale of a problem. It may be a truth universally acknowledged that a publisher in possession of a hit with the hipster mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies must be in want of a follow-up, pronto. But that doesn't mean the great Jane's novels can be grafted to any high-low premise, or her wry elegance improved by naughty-rude adjustments. Can it be that in the rush to turn a charming book novelty into a renewable resource, the whole Austen-and-monsters series has already jumped the shark? The second project strays much further from the original text than the first did. It's made goofier by the intrusion of a Jules Verne-inspired plot detour during which the Dashwood sisters descend to Sub-Marine Station Beta on the ocean floor. For no real payoff, courteous Colonel Brandon is now a gentleman with squishy tentacles dangling from his face. And suave Willoughby is now accompanied by a defecating pet orangutan.
There are plenty of menaces — androids, bugs, people who text while driving — still available for book packagers to mingle with other Austen masterpieces, but I'll second Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice when he says, ''You have delighted us long enough.''

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