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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary anarchy!
Some of the negative reviews here seem to be because of the varying expectations of the reviewers: so I guess it's worth saying that this isn't an `introduction' to Jane Austen - this book relies completely on a fairly close acquaintance with the original. In fact it is Austen's original text, intersected and broadened by the interpenetration of the `horror'/SF/imperial...
Published on 1 Nov 2009 by Roman Clodia

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever But Unsatisfying
I picked up Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters (S&S&S) mostly out of curiosity. I had read Quirk Book's first 'Austen Mash Up', Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance-now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! (Quirk Classics), and found it to be, as my review said, a 'A Disjointed, One Joke Effort' that just about scraped two stars. I was interested...
Published on 18 Feb 2010 by C. Green


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever But Unsatisfying, 18 Feb 2010
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C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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I picked up Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters (S&S&S) mostly out of curiosity. I had read Quirk Book's first 'Austen Mash Up', Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance-now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! (Quirk Classics), and found it to be, as my review said, a 'A Disjointed, One Joke Effort' that just about scraped two stars. I was interested therefore, to see if trying the same trick with a slightly less well known Austen novel, a different sci-fi genre and a new co-author would result in a more successful outcome.

It turns out that it does, but only just. S&S&S is certainly a better written book than P&P&Z was. The original Austen text and Ben Winter's aquatic mayhem are far better integrated this time around. Whereas P&P&Z felt like Austen's novel with chunks of zombie related action sort of 'tacked on' here and there, the old and new parts of S&S&S are more closely and cleverly intertwined and Winter is far better at aping Austen's style of writing so that the additions are less jarring. S&S&S is also funnier than P&P&Z, although its by no means a work of comedic genius. The latter took essentially what was a single joke and stretched it to breaking point, whereas S&S&S riffs on a variety of genres such as monster movies, pirate adventures and steam punk. It also makes more successful use of the humour that stems naturally from the odd juxtaposition of Austen's writing with attacks from giant fish monsters. Whilst never subtle S&S&S is a far more cleverly written book than P&P&Z.

What it isn't however, is a very satisfying book. S&S&S is certainly not an improvement on the original novel or a particularly good tale of monsters and mayhem in its own right. Winters additions weaken many of the strengths of Austen's original work. The changes made to Austen's text mean that you know longer really care about the fates of the characters and much of the social observation and commentary is lost. Equally the compromises needed to fit the new parts of the book around the existing plot mean that the book doesn't work as a straight horror or comic-horror story. Its amusing in place and gory in others, but not to the extent that it can be recommended for either its horror or comic credentials alone.

All of which leaves me wondering what the purpose of these books is (Quirk have a third on the way). Die hard Austen fans will probably hate them for the changes made to the original text. Sci-fi and horror fans will find the new additions rather insipid. Those who dislike Austen's unaltered novels will be put off by quantity of the original text and plot that remains. For everyone else the sheer ridiculousness of both the concept and events on the page will prevent the book from being anything more than a midly humorous diversion. Its interesting to see what changes Winter's has made to the original novel but at the end you don't feel like you've read a proper, emotionally satisfying tale. Instead its more like you've witnessed an interesting but rather uninvolving literary and comic experiment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, 17 Nov 2009
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Suzy Shipman "suzshi" (Mid Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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I think if you enjoy Jane Austen and have a sense of humour you'll enjoy this book. However, as it is written in a style very true to Jane Austen, you might find it hard going, as I did. The idea of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi and two-headed sea serpents interacting with prim and proper 18th century characters is a funny one, and there are laugh out loud moments. The illustrations are also an amusing addition to the book. But it's a long slow read, I found, and I'm a voracious reader. So I'd recommend it if you do enjoy Jane Austen's style of writing, but you need to have a sense of humour about it and not be offended by her work being turned into "tentacled mayhem"! If you normally find Jane Austen heavy going, then this probably isn't the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not brilliant, not bad, 22 Nov 2009
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T. J. Turner "Northerner" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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Coming out of nowhere, `Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' achieved an almost sublime level of Pythonesque silliness, combining slapstick horror with buttoned-up historical romance and social comment. Apparently constructed entirely for commercial purposes by a different author, `Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters' comes off as a bit pointless. The surprise element of the format is gone, the writing is not quite as good, and while zombies have huge currency thanks to George Romero, Shaun of the Dead and the fantastic Max Brooks books, sea monsters are nobody's favourite bad guys.

That's not to say that the book isn't entertaining. Austen deserves much of the credit for the compelling romantic twists and turns, but Winters picks up the nautical theme and attacks with gusto. Despite being a bit pointless in comparison to the sheer novelty of its predecessor, it's clearly the result of a lot of hard work. The watery horror-comedy is tightly stitched into the historical milieu, and actually fits quite well. Enough of the jokes hit home to keep you going, and some of the set pieces are great - the sequence where Margaret is tortured by revelations from her love rival while fending off a seaborne horror is particularly inspired.

This is no classic (the climax is very clunky) and, if you only read one of these mash-ups, you should really read `Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. However, this keeps you reading and makes you laugh - it won't change your life, but it's enough to fill a few train rides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pride and prejudice and prawns, 8 Nov 2009
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Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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The works of jane austen, just like sherlock holmes stories, are now in the public domain as the copyright on them has long since elapsed. That means with both that new writers are at liberty to produce their own homages to them.

So here we have a quirky tale on the jane austen tale sense and sensibility, which has a lady and her three daughters forced into a new life and new housing whilst the latter are looking for love. This book follows the original in so far as possible but it sets the tale in a britain of several centuries ago which is rather different to the one jane austen knew. This britain has seen 'the alteration', an unexplained event wherein sea levels throughout the world have risen and flooded many places and now strange sea creatures will prey on humanity.

There's also a colonel who has tentacles all over his face.

Beyond that this strives to follow the plot of the original as much as possible and the writing style. Thus the prose could well have been of jane austen's time. There are also occasional illustrations of scenes and there's some dicussion questions for readers at the end.

I've never read the original sense and sensibility. And perhaps therein lies a problem. Because whilst the world depicted here was quite a fascinating creation and the illustrations are delightfully well done and very quirky, the writing style wasnt the easiest of going. And by not being familiar with the original I couldn't help but feel I might have been missing the joke at a few points.

The style of the illustrations is good, though. Perhaps this would have worked better for me as a graphic novel.

But all in all a bold and rather inventive effort. Although probably more for broad minded jane austen readers than me
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The novelty does wear off..., 18 Feb 2010
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While this novel is, at times, extremely funny, it is ultimately just a bit of silliness that wears sort of thin after a while.
The general story is Sense and Sensibility - not much you can say about that - only the classic tale has been outraged with the odd addition and/or alteration to the plot by including denizens of the deep... It shouldnt work, and it sort of doesnt. Providing you dont take it seriously though its pretty good fun.

At times this integration of sci-fi horror/comedy does make for genuinely laugh out loud and completely ludicrous imagery (such as where in one scene, set in the drawing room, one of the lead males conducts a very meaningful and heart rending seperation from his lover... which is then revealed to have been done while hes wearing a full diving outfit complete with brass helmet. Or where the mother while sailing home, fends off an attack from a sea serpent by breaking an oar in half over her knee and ramming home the sharp end into the monsters face - its all very silly)

However, the school-boy humour does become a little repetative and increasingly (occasionally unsuccessfully) random. Thats not to say the book isnt enjoyable - for a wet afternoon read, or cheap giggle, it really delivers: theres something deliciously immature about the flowery "Bronte" writing style peppered with characters fresh from Pirates of the Caribean - but dont expect a work of literary genius - its just daft, tongue firmly in cheek fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Okay Read, 3 Oct 2009
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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After the phenomenal success of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ comes a follow up with this new title. Sense and Sensibility was in fact Miss Austen's first published novel although the second that she wrote and has always been a favourite of mine. I must admit that I was a little bit dubious whether this would be any good, after all we don't like to see our treasured books mutilated and messed about with, but on the whole it made an okay read.

When the Dashwood sisters with their mother leave their home they are found a place in the Middleton Archipelago, off the South Devon coast. Due to a mysterious happening called the Alteration sea monsters lurk in the vasty deeps waiting to prey on unsuspecting humans. Ben H Winters has interwoven his humorous horror tale with Jane Austen's classic and has come up with something that is quite enjoyable to read, and hopefully may introduce newer readers to actually reading the classics. The biggest noticeable difference that hits you immediately with this is that Colonel Brandon is a mutant with a tentacular face making him rather unpleasant to behold. Illustrated throughout by Eugene Smith surely the publishers have another little hit on their hands. More importantly though is whether love shall be found and will the reason for the Alteration be discovered. With a city under the sea and human experimentation there is something here for those who love a bit of sci-fi.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary anarchy!, 1 Nov 2009
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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Some of the negative reviews here seem to be because of the varying expectations of the reviewers: so I guess it's worth saying that this isn't an `introduction' to Jane Austen - this book relies completely on a fairly close acquaintance with the original. In fact it is Austen's original text, intersected and broadened by the interpenetration of the `horror'/SF/imperial adventure genre epitomised by authors like Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle (The Lost World rather than Sherlock Holmes), Jules Verne and later `B' movie spin-offs. And it's precisely the fact that this is written in Austen's measured, balanced formal prose that makes it so funny.

The text investigates the borders of genre in an insistently post-modern way, and finds them to be far more permeable than we might expect. It's not just the Austen romance, we find, that can be hijacked by early horror/SF, but that romance can completely hold its own: the shape of the genre may be bent and distorted but never eradicated completely. By mixing such seemingly-separate genres, this actually serves to draw attention to both their similarity and dissimilarity: refusing to play by genre rules serves not to make genre irrelevant but to actually re-impose its rules.

The eco-message gives this a contemporary edge that taps into C21st anxieties, but at the same time encodes the fragility beneath the ostensible confidence of Austen's own society which had witnessed the French revolution, the American revolution and was in the middle of the Napoleonic wars which take place unnamed in the background to her romances.

So overall I loved this and while it can certainly be read as light and frothy fun, it's actually quite literarily knowing and sophisticated, and requires us to simultaneously recall the original and forget it at the same time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sense and Sensibility . . . but as you've never seen it before, 17 Nov 2009
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Silverfrog (Leeds UK) - See all my reviews
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I should admit that I'm a big Jane Austen fan, but I'd like to think that I'm not the sort of fan who can't bear a well-crafted literary parody. I'd heard interesting things about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and was quite keen (if somewhat fearful) to have a look at his new version of Sense and Sensibility.

In many ways, this was much better than I thought it might be.
Winters' additions to the story are often well-timed for comic effect, choosing moments of emotional crisis in the original novel to stage dramatic sea monster attacks. Yet, it never quite came together for me. This is possibly because I didn't fully appreciate all of the sea monster references, but I'm not sure how many other Jane Austen fans would either. I enjoyed reading this, but I would rather read the original. However,if anyone wants to write Emma with Werewolves, I'm sure that I'd be willing to give tht a try as well!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different, but highly forgettable., 20 Jan 2010
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M. R. Jones (Plymouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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Ok I did choose this purely for the cover and the prospect of quoting lines from an absolute classic.....with sea monsters thrown in.

What did I get....a book that in all honesty is so poorly re-written that it hardly deserves praise, but is entertaining enough for the casual reader.
Don't expect anything incredible or highly excitable and you will be ok. If you love the classic with all your heart and soul then avoid this, avoid it like the plague, or the prospect of a world filled with sea monsters with good dress sense.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jane Austen's Classic mixed with Deep Sea Monster Mayhem..., 10 Nov 2009
By 
Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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Following on from the instant cult success of the tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel with `Pride And Prejudice And Zombies' (with adaptations by Seth Grahame-Smith), came Philadelphia-based publishing house, Quirk Classics' second such literary adaptation, this time with `Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters'.

Utilising this newly fangled concept of carving up a classic piece of literature to make way for a more B-Movie-esque style of writing, Quirk editorial director Jason Rekulak struck absolute gold, with an eager audience ready to lap up the next Quirk instalment into this imaginative new genre.

`Pride And Prejudice And Zombies' was received incredibly well right from the start of its initial release. However, it became apparent to the publishers that the fanbase for these surreal re-workings wanted a higher percentage of new (monster laden) text. Whereby `Zombies' incorporated a mere fifteen percent of new text, `Sea Monsters' ladled in a massive forty odd percent of fishy frolics into the mix.

For those who don't already know the classic story by Jane Austen, here it is in a nutshell:

The whole story sets off with the unfortunate death of a Mr. Dashwood, whereby he leaves the entirety of the family estate to his only son and child from his first wife, John Dashwood. John is convinced by his greedy wife Fanny to rid their newly acquired property of its current occupants - his three half-sisters (Elinor, Marianne and Margaret) as well as his recently widowed step-mother. The Dashwood women soon take up residence with Mrs Dashwood's wealthy and eccentric cousin Sir John Middleton. Whist adjusting themselves to their new lifestyles, the two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, find themselves experiencing both joyful romance and utter heartbreak. Love and lasting happiness is eventually achieved for both sisters after they each find equilibrium between the two contrasting characteristics that are so predominant between the two sisters; Elinor guided by her sense (logic) and Marianne who in turn is guided by her sensibility (emotion).

With this overall storyline already in place, all of the basic elements and characters are kept completely intact with Ben H. Winter's mashed-up reworking. However, the surreal inclusion of his `aquatic imaginings' of often Lovecraftian proportions to the entirety of the storyline, brings a whole new angle (and dare I say `life') to the tale.

Instead of simply being too long in his years, Colonel Brandon is now not only a gentleman of fine wealth and good manners, but now he has been inflicted with a mass of tentacles that adorn his otherwise human face (as well as other regions). Throughout the novel Winters plays with the original text of the tale in similar such ways, as well as introducing his sea monster attacks during the moments when the character's emotions are at breaking point. This doubled-up approach of mirroring the emotional peril with a B-movie monster attack at each point in the tale, delivers a thoroughly entertaining but doubly surreal element to the book. On so many occasions, Winters valiantly tackles the character's altogether important dialogue with a gigantic aquatic attack at exactly the same moment. Hats off to the man, for each and every time he juggles these two dramatic elements with nothing short of an imaginative and truly inspired flare.

The novel as a whole runs smoothly throughout, with the light-hearted alterations never taking themselves too seriously. As the tale builds towards its traumatic finale, the inclusion of the `Captain Barbossa' style pirate `Dreadbeard', is brilliantly comical. With so much emotional turmoil crashing down on the characters, Winters throws in a litany of sea monster mayhem in these final chapters, bringing the aquatic menace to gigantic proportions.

The cunning change of setting from London to the underwater city of Sub-Marine Station Beta, created a whole new opportunity for Winters to weave in his chaotic deep sea devilry. Whilst Elinor and Marianne are suffering their individual emotional heartbreaks all those leagues under the sea, Margaret in turn is dealing with a much darker Lovcraftian-esque affair.

All in all this imaginative reworking has managed to successfully inject some satirical b-movie mayhem to a previously untouched classic. Ok, so the whole concept behind these re-workings will certainly not be to everyone's taste. But Quirk Classics have really found themselves a niche market to exploit, that as long as it never takes any of what it is doing too seriously (which is highly unlikely), then it has a rich new ground to sow many seeds of sheer imagination.

`Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters' is a brilliant way to spend a number of hours chuckling at imagination run riot. The re-working's not designed to be ripped apart, nor indeed analysed for its overall impact on the emotional ordeals of Elinor and Marianne. Instead, it's exactly what the title proclaims. Nothing more and nothing less. And I for one bore a huge grin throughout each and every one of the 340 tentacle infested pages.

The book also contains fourteen black and white illustrations interspersed throughout the novel, usually of the more dramatic (and therefore sea monster heavy) moments. A `Reader's Discussion Guide' is also included at the end of the book that includes ten purely tongue-in-cheek questions that could be used as discussion points on the novel's content. There is also a quick excerpt from `Pride And Prejudice And Zombies' over the last four pages of the book.

The final icing on the cake is the excellent cover artwork painted by Lars Leetaru that appears on the front of the book. This one painting truly captures the essence of what the Quirk re-workings are all about.
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