Friday, November 5, 2010

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters (unabridged audio book read by Katherine Kellgren)

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters was the followup to the hugely successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, yet you rarely hear about it. This is unfortunate because, as far as I'm concerned, it's the vastly superior product.

Co-author Ben H. Winters primarily changed the setting to a set of island villages surrounded by murderous maritime monsters of every stripe, and then added the necessary details for color. In addition, the book is a trove of deadpan humor, that dry British wit that doesn't tell you when to laugh and that I enjoy so much. (Hint: most mentions of horrific ocean denizens rate at least a chuckle.) Audiobook reader Katherine Kellgren is especially adept at this style of delivery, leaving the sublime and the ridiculous to fight it out between themselves, while also managing to occasionally wink with her voice.

Though Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is a continuous source of amusement, there is a constant sense of dread from ever-present ocean threats and the many past deaths caused by the sea-borne killers. One occasionally occurs "on screen," as it were. A particular highlight is the struggle of Edward Ferrars and Mrs. Dashwood against a vengeant tuna. Also added is a thread of mystery: What is the significance of the five-pointed star that troubles Elinor with its continued presence in her mind?

I do recommend a basic familiarity with the story of the original Sense and Sensibility — even if only from having seen the Emma Thompson–scripted film adaptation more than once — just so you can appreciate the changes Winters makes to Austen's original story and how well he incorporates them, staying true to the tone, language, and characters while giving them a twist. Examples: Edward Ferrars' lighthouse-keeping ambition; Colonel Brandon's rather squiddy-looking visage; Marianne's rescue from an attacking octopus by the dashing, wet-suit- and diving-helmet-wearing Willoughby; young Margaret's increasing disturbing preoccupation; the secret of Miss Steele; and the reason behind Mr. Palmer's ever-ill mood.

The sheer number of laughs makes Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters a great book to unwind with. I recommend it far and above its inferior predecessor.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails