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on 5 July 2013
It has long been my fervent belief that there can't be many great works of literature which would not be significantly enhanced by the addition of giant octupi, marauding armies of swordfish forming themselves into attack forces and man-eating molluscs and this book has just completely confirmed my opinion in this.

I loved this book - what's not to love? The classic tale of the Dashwood sisters and their adventures and misadventures through polite society and in love melded perfectly together with a fishy accompaniment. Winters never misses a beat in his oceanic additions and I was laughing pretty much all the way through the book. There are some really clever twists here - transforming the fashionable heart of society into Sub-Station Beta was inspired, and the addition of the Fanged Sea Beast of Devon into the scene where Lucy Steele makes her devastating relevation to Elinor concerning Edward Ferrars adds a further dimension to the drama and action.

I couldn't quite get why there were so many negative reviews of this book, but I do suspect that it is appealing to a very particular type of reader. You have to love Jane Austen to appreciate it(as well as sea monsters). Indeed, the author gives it away in his dedication at the beginning of the book. This book is aimed at people who love both "great literature and great silliness". If you don't like both, I suspect this isn't going to tick many boxes for you.

I'm not a big fan of authors including "reading notes" or "guidance for reading group discussion" at the end of their works - readers don't need to be told what to think, but I'm prepared to make an exception in this case. Winters' suggested discussions throw up some fascinating insights and questions to consider, such as "Have you ever been attacked by giant lobsters, either figuratively or literally" and "Which would be worse: being eaten by a shark or consumed by the acidic stomach juice of a sand-shambling man-o'-war?" The latter led to a very heated argument between my 7 year old son and myself, with he arguing for the shark and myself leaning towards the sand-shambling man-o'-war. We had to declare a truce in the end and go onto the subject of sea witches. We failed to think of any books featuring orangutan valets in Western literature.

Cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2009
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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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 November 2009
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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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on 26 April 2010
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OK so as previous reviewers have stated, it is Jane Austens original idea with the addition of sea monsters and hilarity. I was never a fan of the original, couldnt stomach it in all honesty. But this one did have me laughing - unlike the original.
The sea monsters are a wee bit predictable and as someone else pointed out 300 pages worth is a just a bit too much but for the most part I did enjoy it. It was an easier read than I anticipated and carried the story start to erm, well ok half way through!

The idea itself is brilliant, sea monsters slotted in to the original classic, and works well in the mash up but as someone else said, it is a bit forgettable. The cover and the title are probably more catchy than the book itself.

Good for a read when you are needing a quick fix of humour but it probably wont have you glued to the pages and turning them furiously to find out what happened. Its ok, but it really is just "ok".
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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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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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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2009
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Pride Prejudice and Zombies was inspired, original and was guaranteed to engender a slew of lookie-likey's... We have Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Queen Victoria as a Demon Hunter, and Mr Darcy, Vampire.. where will it all end? Shagging with Shakespeare? (now there's a thought to ponder... "Alas poor Yorrick, I knew him Horatio - now drop thy breeches and let's been having you!")

To really appreciate the fun of the book, it's essential to have more than a nodding acquaintance with Jane Austen's original, otherwise a lot of the textual cleverness just slides right over your head. For a Jane Austen afficionado, these books are a must - if only to engender squeals of outrage at the sacreligious references.

For those of us less well acquainted with the originals - it's an interesting read but Pride, Prejudice & Zombies is probably the best of the pack.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 November 2009
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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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on 23 January 2015
This runs out of steam real quick. The basic idea is enough for a short story or comedy sketch, but in full novel form, the single joke becomes stretched way too thinly. It doesn't work and the incursions of sea monsters into polite regency society become tedious and irrelevant. It is not actually done with any craft or humour and the fishy bits are just crunched into the narritave resulting in an uneven read with crude and visible joints showing.

I was fully prepared to like this as I do like Jane Austin as well as HPL and Verne. Bad research and bad jokes abound. I don't know what a "Craw fish fry" is, but I'm sure they didn't have them in Devon 200 years ago. Bad illustrations too.
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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2010
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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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