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Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters Paperback – Sep 1 2009
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“A fine addition to an international fiction collection.” (Booklist )
“Esterhazy’s prose is jumpy, allusive, and slangy. . . . There is vividness, an electric crackle. The sentences are active and concrete. Physical details leap from the murk of emotional ambivalence.” (John Updike, The New Yorker ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jane Austen is coauthor of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has been translated into 17 languages and optioned to become a major motion picture. She died in 1817. Ben H. Winters is a writer based in Brooklyn.
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Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters continues the same ideas of the previous novel in the "Jane Austen and monsters " series, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but goes a step further. Instead of relying on some overdone paranormal element, like vampires or werewolves, the editors at Quirk Classics decided to be a little more original and create their own element -- "sea monsters." The sea monsters aspect of this novel is taken from all kinds of influences, ranging from Pirates of the Caribbean (evidenced by the Davy Jones-like look of Colonel Brandon), Jules Verne (thanks to a detour trip to a station on the bottom of the ocean), classical mythology and others. Some of the best things here don't even seem to be part of any specific genre, like giant jellyfish attacks, giant fighting lobsters and pet orangutans. In fact, my favorite scene is when the dashing Willoughby comes to Marianne's rescue. Instead of twisting her ankle and getting caught in the rain, Marianne is attacked by a giant octopus, which Willoughby harpoons, and is rescued -- but not after being drenched in octopus blood and guts first, of course.
I began reading this book while hanging out with my boyfriend by the pool one afternoon. I kept laughing aloud so much that he had to ask what I was reading. After having to explain far too many scenes of over-the-top violence and insanity to him, I ended up reading several passages aloud, which sent both of us rolling in hysterics. Even my boyfriend, who isn't a big fan of Austen or classical literature, liked this.
This book was hilarious -- even better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The ratio of silly to serious (sea monster to Sense and Sensibility) content has been amped up since Zombies. Instead of 85% Austen and 15% quirks, Sea Monsters has 60% Austen and 40% quirks, which opens the door for even more original adaptations of the classic.
While some hardcore fans of Austen's novels will continue to decry this line of books for altering classic literature, they have to admit that it's gotten better this time around. I'm a big fan of Austen's original works, and I found this revised version of Sense and Sensibility to be fresh and fun while still keeping true to original concepts and ideas in the original. Sure, Sea Monsters is even further away from the original than Zombies, but it allows for the sea monsters aspect to come alive instead of feeling like a pasted on afterthought to the original plot.
If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, than you will love Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It's filled with the same creative zaniness that readers have come to expect from this line of Quirk Classics, but taken to a whole new level. Readers who were not particularly impressed by the zombie version of P&P, but thought it had potential, should try out the sea monster version of this other Jane Austen classic. It won't disappoint.
Instead of just adapting passages of the original and throwing in regular detours via monsters (although the Pentagram of Death in P&P&Z was superb), this includes a whole new landscape while putting much of the original through a strange process ... monsterification, or some such.
The books has about 20 or so drawings in, which help bring the daft scenes to life. Some of them are quite a stretch of the imagination, so this helps a lot. There's some quality stupidity on offer here and it's written with erudition and wit. I enjoyed it and it is very funny.
Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys
It is a bit slowly paced in some areas, but the plot and action move much quicker here than in "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies". I found this book a more satisfying read than that one, but I look forward to reading other literary mash-ups in the near future. The book is very funny when read aloud, and the illustrations only add to the amusement of seeing familiar characters out of Regency England engaged in battles to the death with seagoing monsters. A terrific, fun read, and highly recommended.
Unfortunately, wrong. It stayed just the same amount of awesome. I should have remembered that I don't normally like parodies. The sea monsters did absolutely NOTHING, in my opinion, to add to the story. Luckily, the story stuck pretty closely to the original, so I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience, as if I was reading Sense and Sensibility all over again. The monsters, I found, just got in the way of the actual story. The biggest change for me was that I was disgusted throughout the entire thing by Colonel Brandon, whereas in Sense and Sensibility I was just slightly annoyed by him.
I also found myself getting bored with the bits that were devoted to the monsters, wishing they would hurry along so that I could get back to the actual story line of Sense and Sensibility. The added stories about Margaret and Lucy Steele were also both totally uninteresting to me, and it just seemed too obvious that they had been someone's attempt to add something unnecessary to an already fantastic story.
Still, I'm one of those crazy people that has been known to get bored from too much action, and I am sure that those that find Austen's original stories lacking in action will love these added changes and find that they help speed up the pace of the story while adding humor. I will say this for Ben Winter's added sea monsters - they did make me laugh. I enjoyed his lack of boundaries with the sea monsters he added. It seemed like anything and everything, as long as it involved water, was fair game, and this added spirit.
So, if you enjoy Jane Austen, chances are, you'll enjoy this, as I did. Whether or not you will appreciate the added sea monsters, I think, totally depends on your enjoyment of superfluous action and your sense of humor.
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