Granted, the idea has merit. A good parody can bring both laughter and new insight to an enjoyment of an old favorite. That's part of why I enjoy seeing classics in new time periods, or fairy-tales retold, or why one of my favorite musicals is "Kiss Me Kate."
However a poorly done parody/retelling is at best a farce and at worst a travesty and an outrage.
I picked up "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" first, feeling that would be less creepy to begin with as it didn't have Zombies in the title. I got about halfway through and was amused at some bits, but overall ended up being too bored to continue. The book relied entirely upon its shocking premise, and reduced Austen's wonderful characters to one-dimensional cardboard cutouts.
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" got off to an even poorer start. When I saw Lizzy Bennet reduced to a mere shadow of her brilliant self, I set aside the book in disgust. What's the point of retelling a story if you don't respect the original themes? Why use a character like Lizzy if you don't intend to actually use her? She has so much potential to make a story come alive, but these days people don't use her (or poor Darcy) for much other than selling power.
"Android Karenina" looked like it was heading in a slightly more interesting direction, but I have not yet mastered the ability to follow the complicated cast and naming systems of Russian novels and the introduction of robots called by number names only made the confusion worse. I gave that up too.
So after three strikes out, why did I even bother to pick up "Little Women and Werewolves?" #1 because our Borders was closing and everything was $1.99, #2 because the cover was kind of cool, and #3 because I was in a Little Women mode.
Now it need hardly be said that I'm a bit of a Little Woman buff. I've read the book countless times and adapted the first part of it for a film when I was in highschool. Needless to say, give me an adapted/abridged version and I can just about tell you which sentences were changed from the original novel.
I was prepared to be lax in my expectations and read the novel solely for amusement. However it became hard to sustain that amusement when the local werewolves started -- very graphically -- ripping apart their victims. And when I say graphic, I mean graphic. It was blood and gore in minute scientific detail.
Things went from bad to worse as Jo was revealed to be in love with Laurie, (who, along with his grandfather was a werewolf), Mr. March and Beth were both written not as dear and wise people, but as ones who are slightly addled in the head, and... (wait for it) Mr. March turned into a werewolf.
The crowning horrors were when Beth basically committed suicide and Amy allowed Laurie to turn her into a werewolf. And let's not even get into the absurdity of having Jo criticized for writing sensationalist stories when she is the heroine of an intensely sensational story!
The only thing that even begins to work in this adaptation is the creation of the werewolf hunting "Brigade." This is clearly a reference to the Klu Klux Klan and is part of the books message on tolerance (accepting werewolves). However I found this ultimately racist and disturbing. Werewolves in this mythology absolutely must consume human flesh or they will die. The Marches befriend werewolves under the thought that "other than one night a month they are just like us."
People of other skin colors than us do NOT go around killing under the guise of madness every month. That comparison is offensive.
Jo March and her family would never rationalize killing of any sort.
By all means, turn your leading man into a werewolf. But don't have him in any way still rationalize his acts of murder by the end of the book. Find a cure, or have him flee human society, or lock himself up every month or... something. There are plenty of ways to write a story that is accurate to the original characters and upholds basic human morality within the horror genre.
Unfortunately, that art seems to be entirely lost in this generation of writers.
I almost never post a review this scathing, but this book horrified me so much that I couldn't not post a warning. I plan to take my copy to the nearest Half Price Books and see if I can exchange it for something more worthwhile.