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Sea monsters attack Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility

Banned from the reading list. This twisted aqua-themed romantic parody isn't exactly recommended reading—but it's still a lot of fun. Jayme Emerald Gatbonton.
To begin with, Jane Austen will probably be classified as an “acquired taste" among today’s readers. Set in the 18th century, her stories tackle the mating rituals of the era. They usually involve seemingly spirited women and stern heroes who go through a tumultuous courtship. In short, it’s period chick lit. It’s the best of its kind though. Twisted tales Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is about the formerly-rich sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood who have to live a cottage on a distant relative’s property. They experience both romance and heartbreak there. Elinor has a thing with a guy named Edward Ferrars. Marianne has Colonel Brandon, who is 20 years her senior. Needless to say, the plot takes many twists and turns before the inevitable happy ending materializes. When Quirk Books asked Ben H. Winters to write a follow-up edition to the monstrously successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they only had two requests: that the novel not feature vampires and that it should retain approximately 60 percent of the original text. The resulting book, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, delivers on this mandate by drastically re-locating the story of the romantic triumphs and travails of the sisters Dashwood from Devonshire and London to the monster-infested waters of Pestilence Island and the underwater urban enclave called Sub-Marine Station Beta. Wet and wild creatures Sea Monsters introduces the existence of carnivorous aquatic creatures matter-of-factly. The lead characters have to deal with a giant jellyfish, killer tuna, and the like. All this is well and good—considering that Winters had to supply 40 percent original material—but situations featuring sea creatures literally steal the thunder from the quiet emotional scenes that endeared the original novel to fans, especially when they have no relevance to the development of the characters whatsoever. Slimy romance To be fair, the descriptions are exquisite, and reminiscent of the proto-science fiction novels written by the likes of Jules Verne. A curious exception is the novel’s depiction of Colonel Brandon’s key affliction, and Marianne Dashwood’s initial misgivings towards him. Instead of being just a graying 35-year old bachelor, Colonel Brandon is now depicted as having slimy tentacles for a beard. These “new" appendages make Marianne’s initial derision quite understandable; after all, who wouldn’t be uncomfortable being in close quarters with those? It is her sister Elinor’s more accepting mien that becomes suspect and begs the question: does she have an unconscious tentacle fetish? Inside joke Whether one likes Sea Monsters or not, readers must always keep in mind that it is a deliberate Austen parody and must be read with a grain of salt. After all, the author wrote a lot of comedy into her novels, and would surely appreciate the tongue-in-cheek homage that the novel pays her. If you don’t get that, perhaps it is best to skip to the end pages of the book for a discussion guide that will “deepen your understanding and appreciation of this towering work of classic sea monster literature." You could also attempt to answer one of the question posed in the faux book club discussion in the book's added pages: “Which would be worse: being eaten by a shark or consumed by the acidic juice of a sand-shambling man-o’-war?"-FVI, GMANews.TV