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

Picture from en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Sense_and_Sensibility_ and_Sea_Monsters

This week it’s Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters! As you will have guessed this book is basically Austen’s Sense and Sensibility with sea monsters if you can imagine. This is published by the same company who released the more well-known Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It seems that Austen’s writing fits well with the supernatural!

Unfortunately I haven’t actually read Sense and Sensibility yet so I have nothing to compare it to, although I have recently watched the film. I imagined it would be quite boring without all the nautical stuff, but I still found myself captivated with the story.

The book tells the story of the Dashwood family. Elinor, Marianne, Margaret and their mother, Mrs Dashwood. They’re forced to move from their home and live in a little shanty house on Pestilent Isle, which actually turns out to be a big sea monster. The book more or less follows the plot of Austen’s original except for the fact that something called ‘The Alteration’ turned all sea creatures against mankind.

They spend most of the book somewhere called ‘Sub Marine Station Beta’ which is like a big dome that contains an underwater city. They have everything that they need, banks, a shopping district etc. But since you can’t grow anything or cook anything as no fires are allowed, they have to eat a paste like substance that can be flavoured and made into loaves.

Fortunately for me, fantasy is one of my favourite genres and the classics come a close second so to find them combined is amazing. I loved the juxtaposition of Regency era England and the almost futuristic technology of an underwater dome and submarines. There’s one instance when Elinor and Colonel Brandon (the squid-man on the cover) are talking about something while everyone’s having a good time on the beach and then suddenly someone is eaten by a big jellyfish! It was interesting to see the contrast between the two talking normally and a huge jellyfish appearing on the beach. I liked that even though the two situations are completely different, they fit together somehow. The same goes for the book itself, the two very different styles of writing go together really well, even though you might not have thought so.

Despite that, I do have some problems with the book. Elinor is supposed to be in love with Edward, yeah? I mean (SPOILER ALERT) they get married in the end. So why does he spend the majority of the book away from Elinor? You could literally put their whole entire dialogue on about eight pages, maybe even less than that. It just seemed a bit wishy-washy really. Elinor likes this guy that she hasn’t really spoken to much and I didn’t really sense much of a connection.

Also, not much really happens to Elinor herself, the whole book she spends her time sorting other people out. It was almost like I was reading a book about Elinor reading a Jane Austen novel. I want to read a book about Marianne and her affair with Willoughby and about how Colonel Brandon fancies her. It felt like Elinor was just on the sidelines spectating sometimes. I realise now that this may be because of the fact that while Marianne shares so much of her emotions, Elinor is much the opposite, so we were not permitted much of an insight into how she felt for Edward, or indeed much of her feelings at all.

However, that aside, I did enjoy the book. Out of the other mash-ups I’ve read (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Slayre) I wouldn’t say that this is the best, but I really did like it. Definitely going to read the original at some point. I did the same with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, read that first then the original second and came to love them both so here’s hoping!

Next week, I’ll be finally jumping on the band wagon and I will be reading The Fault in Our Stars.

 

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