The rear blurb proclaims, "Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read."
I found Seth Grahame-Smith's disdain for the original ironically amusing as the basically-intact narrative framework of the original Austen is what holds the book together. It's essentially a work of copypasta that became an internet phenomenon and apparently a "New York Times bestseller," but what book isn't these days? Apparently there'll be a follow-up called "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters." If you think that sounds bad, I have a friend who wants to write an opera of (Emily Brontë's) Wuthering Heights set in space. ;-) j/k
Some of the added twists arising from the zombie plague are interesting, but in the main they are needlessly grotesque and not terribly innovative. Most of the zombie scenes just occur when the major characters are on the road, and they contribute nothing to the story except perhaps a cheap thrill - further cheapened by the fact that in following Austen so closely, Grahame-Smith, with one admittedly delicious and ingenious exception, can only put the most minor characters in any real jeopardy. Sometimes the scenes are funny, but more often the changes miss the mark - I found Wickham's fate particularly unsatisfying and what transpired made me think considerably less of Darcy than what happens in the course of the original. I liked how Japanese training and ninjas were in fashion, and how one could bait zombies with cauliflower (they look a bit like brains) - yes, it's all funny by times, and I guess I'm painting myself the square by not enjoying these scattered laughs for their own sake. I did derive real enjoyment by noting the minor and sundry differences from Austen - I would enumerate some in this review, but in doing so I would spoil the point of reading the book, which I can begrudgingly recommend. And since there's probably going to be a movie, I'll have to go see it now.
Rating: Pride and Prejudice gets five stars, while Zombies gets a half star, so Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gets two-and-three-quarters stars. It's gripping, but since the pull is almost entirely due to the original, you might as well just read it. As the AV Club (their review has significant spoilers) puts it, "(W)hat begins as a gimmick ends with renewed appreciation of the indomitable appeal of Austen’s language, characters, and situations."