Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 403 - Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

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

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Release Date: September 2009

Publisher: Quirk Classics

Pages: 344

My Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Copy provided by publisher

Synopsis [from]:

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest-and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!


I haven't read many classics unless someone made me in High School and I just don't remember. I do know that I have yet to read anything by Jane Austen. However, I have wanted to her books for a while now. I enjoyed the movie version of Emma (with Gwyneth Paltrow) very much and have been interested in reading the book. I haven't seen Pride and Prejudice but that one is on my TBR list as well. So when I first saw that Jane Austen's classics were getting "re-vamped" I just had to laugh. Naturally, the idea made me curious but I felt I should definitely read the original versions before embarking on what could be someone's interesting idea gone horribly awry.

I received an email back in November asking if I'd like to review SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS and I was hesitant at first. I really wanted to read the original versions first but I eventually gave in and accepted the review inquiry. I had no idea what the book was about but I admit the blurb of the sea-monster version intrigued me. I knew if I liked this one I'd most likely enjoy the original so there was no need to worry about which I read first.

If you haven't already seen my rating then let me just say I have very mixed feelings about this book, so the rating was hard for me to pinpoint. In the beginning I was literally struggling to read it. Now, I know that the original text was put in the book and Ben Winters expanded on Jane Austen's writing with his "re-vamping" skills. So I don't really know if I had a tough time with Jane's writing or with Ben's... All I know is that I wanted to put the book down numerous times because I found myself confused while reading. I know a lot of has to do with Jane Austen and the way she writes. I think the classical style she used just didn't sit well with me. I had to re-read passages several times in order to fully understand what was going on. And the "re-vamping" wasn't helping my situation. I found myself not very happy with the sea monster feeling. Although I understood the snarkiness of it, I just didn't feel it meshed well.

About 2/3 into the book my feelings changed, NOT dramatically mind you, but I noticed I was actually enjoying the story and I think I finally had somewhat of a hold on the characters and their personalities. But I admit, the characters were hard to relate to and again I have no idea if it was the writing or the "re-vamping" of the writing that got to me. But back to what I was saying, the Dashwood sisters end up going to a Sub-Station underwater during the story and I think that is where I started to enjoy the book more. I also think I got used to the writing style of both authors by this time in the book. In the classic version I believe this is the part of the story where the Dashwood sisters go to London for a short while.

At the beginning of reading this book I was afraid to even think about reading the original version. But after completing it I'm much more confident that I will enjoy and hopefully come to better appreciate the classic SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. And a funny thing is the movie actually came on HBO a few days after I finished the book. I was so totally engrossed in the film and I definitely liked the fact that I knew who the characters were already. So I'll be reading the classic version, along with Austen's other novels. I will also be reading Quirck Classics other books which include PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and DAWN OF THE DREADFULS.


Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

I love Austen sequels but there is just no way I could read this one! Well done for getting through the whole thing.

Beth F said...

I want to give this a try.

cathikin said...

I love Jane Austen, although I think I struggled with it a little back in high school. Now I really appreciate her style. These revamped books pique my curiosity, but I'm not sure if I want to try them or not. I didn't know this particular title existed. I have a feeling I wouldn't like this guy messing with the original story, even though I used to be a big fan of MAD Magazine. In any case, I appreciate your review.

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