Thursday, October 29, 2009

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


It's official! Jane Austen has no doubt rolled over, and over, and over again in her grave. In fact, she's probably kicking and screaming, pounding the walls of her underground wooden solitude using words like, it is not merely this affair on which my dislike is founded!

Perhaps to make her works more appealing to MEN, her tales of love and romance have been mercilessly invaded by first, the brain-eating, the scab-forming, walking corpses of gray loose and rotten flesh. Now it's muscular green Stretch Armstrong sort of men with tentacles where they shouldn't be, and I have no doubt aliens will be landing with Anne and Captain Wentworth in Lyme by this spring.

I'm not the first to notice this modern manification, or shall we call it - the "Horrification of Jane Austen", Misfit Salon also has a great link on this here, and I really can't complain because I gave the first offshoot 4 stars for crying out loud, but this one...well, I'm sorry to say it was hard for me to finish. Painstakingly hard. Not because of the writing. Ben Winters is a good writer, by my standards anyway. Maybe my normal tolerance level to B Movie Austenite violence was breached like the hull of a sinking ship after Zombies.

Illustration by Shane Harrison

Maybe I just didn't find the idea of sea monsters, such as man-eating octopii, hammerhead sharks, giant clams, amoeba-ish creatures absorbing unsuspecting humans whole, etc., trying to kill all the main characters, again and again, interesting enough after the first 100 pages or so.

Maybe not enough of the original story was included in this sea monster dance of death to hold my attention throughout. I believe this was mainly the case. I've read the original novel numerous times, and although it's not my favorite, not even close to being as witty as her others, I still enjoy many elements of this story, and I absolutely love the movie versions. The romance, the betrayals, they play out well on the screen. Here, although initially fun, it got old after the first ten deadly encounters or so.



If you like this sort of thing, then this book is for you. For me, it just wasn't a good fit for this particular story.

Maybe it's because I don't like to eat sushi, or shrimp, or lobster, or any other poor sea creature! But I would love to learn to knit! That counts right? Maybe?
2.5 stars

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15 comments:

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I'm thinking this particular genre's ship has sailed, but it was fun while it lasted. And I love the pictures on this post!!

Nina said...

Thank you for your honest opinion. I think i do am going to give it a try, just because I adore Jane Austen. :)

Lula O said...

Amanda - Love the ship has sailed comment! How appropriate! Sigh, oh well. Onto the next hyped up thing!

Nina - I definitely think you should try it. I'm curious what you'll think!

Misty said...

I can't make myself want to read this. P&P&Z was not good, IMO, and I don't want to go through that again. Plus, shouldn't see monsters be in Persuasion, if anything, since they actually went to the sea?

Lula O said...

Exactly! I totally thought that too! It made no, ah..sense, no pun intended.

StephanieD said...

"Manification" - ha! Is this the only way that men would read Jane Austen?

Lula O said...

Probably. Why do you think I put up that action figure. By the way, does it remind anyone else of He-man and Skeletor? Or is it Castle Greyskull, whatever. My younger sister actually has the set. Maybe this was his nemesis. I'll call him Captain Merman.

Stephanie said...

How disappointing! I quite enjoyed The Zombie one, but I guess this is one of those things that feels original the first time, then rip-offish thereafter (like all the vampire books floating around now!).

Drat. I guess I'll scrap my plans for manifying Jane Eyre.

Lula O said...

Noooooo! Please still write one about Jane Eyre. Mr. Rochester would make one heck of a mummy! (Weren't you going to exploit that as yet untouched mummy franchise??)

TheBlackSheep said...

I've been wondering if I should read this or not since it's gotten some good reviews, but you've convinced me that I need to forgo. Thanks!

Lula O said...

Hey blacksheep. Hope you're feeling better. I had mine out late too!
I don't know. Some people like it. Try a few chapters and decide for yourself.

Laura's Reviews said...

Hilarious review - and I love the pictures. I think I'll definitely put this book on the backburner. . .I did love P&P&Z, but I have yet to read a good review of this book.

I agree with the manification. All my husband remembers about P&P now is the ninja fighting and whatnot from P&P&Z that I told him about.

Lula O said...

Thanks Laura! If I told my husband anything about any Austen book, no matter who the author, I swear he'd nod off by the second or third word out of my mouth! Unless there was deer slaying, then he'd listen for at least a minute..

Lisa said...

The publicist told me that they had cut back on the amount of Austen material in this book and added more new material.

I just could not make myself read this.

Lula O said...

Thanks for stopping by Lisa! That doesn't surprise me at all. Wish I would've known that before though. Might've helped with my expectations.