Zombies Vs. Unicorns

Publisher: McElderry Books

Page Count: 415

Rating: 4/5

It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths—for good and evil—of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

I’ll be the first to admit, this is an odd book. I’ve never really even thought about zombies and unicorns being in competition with each let alone having a whole book devoted to the ‘rivalry’. The book is an anthology and the work of fourteen different authors, and of course with two different types of stories. It’s set up the same as most anthologies but the subtle differences make the book easier to manage. There are short introductions before each story by the editors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier which give you some background or info on the story you about to read, plus they both place their opinions which of course are goofy. The twelve authors who have written at story have also taken sides, Team Zombie or Team Unicorn, and have written stories according to that affiliation and to make sure you don’t confuse what type you are about to read they have placed tiny silhouettes of zombies and unicorns in the top corners for the appropriate stories. This has a wonderful selection of authors as well and a great way to introduce you to their writing styles, they are as follows: Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naoini Novik, Diana Peterfreund, Libba Bray, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld, Carrie Ryan. I’m sure a few of these are familer to you, so if you enjoy their work you might enjoy these short stories.

I took some small notes on each story to help with this review so I’ll list my impressions of each story, hopefully without spoilers of any kind.I won’t put the titles of the stories either because some might let you know what to expect.

The first story by Garth Nix, is the sort of typical unicorn story with a slight twist, and I thought it was a wonderful way to open a zombie/unicorn book. There wasn’t any thing terribly fantastic about this one but it was a nice read and hooked me enough to pull me into the next story. The second story by Ayala Dawn Johnson, a zombies story, however comes with some warning for the rest of the book, there is a serious usage of curse words as well as graphic scenes, conversations, and thoughts. Both of violent variety as well as the sexual. Don’t let that scare you though because this has an interesting concept that I haven’t really heard of before and is very thought out. The third story by Naoini Novik is, of course, unicorn and has a very goofy feel to it. It’s not terrific but it’s funny and kind of makes fun of the unicorn ideals. The fourth story by Carrie Ryan (zombie) is one of the best stories in the book and the writing is awesome, and I will seriously look into more of Ryan’s work because of this. This is a true zombie story and it’s so thought out and has a unique twist to it. The main character really gets you to feel the situation. The fifth by Margo Lanagan is a unicorn story that is sort of…odd. I liked it but I wasn’t sure what had happened in the end. I didn’t like POV usage in it at all. The sixth by Maureen Johnson is pretty good. It’s kind of funny because of who some of the characters are meant to be but it’s also kind of creepy. And the way it ends really amps the anxiety that zombies brings but in a different way. Seventh by Diana Peterfreund at first glance seems like it’s going to be extremely goofy but it was surprisingly serious, and in a way dark. I thought that it was a pretty cool take on the unicorn and made it very different then the image we typically have of them, predator like in away.  Scott Westerfeld does the eighth story and this is also an interesting concept, similar in some ways to the movie 28 Weeks Later but different. I really liked the explanation of how zombies ‘see’ people who are alive. The ninth story by Meg Cabot was not my favorite at all, it’s ironic because of her ‘princess’ writings of the past but overall I found it kind of annoying to read. It was almost far too goofy for me. The tenth story by Cassandra Clare is one of the more unqiue zombie stories and it was almost normal. It’s an interesting comcept but it didn’t really scream zombie at me. Still really good though. The last unicorn story is by Kathleen Duey, and is one of the coolest unicorn stories I’ve ever read. It is a very sad kind of story though, but the concept is really cool and I’ve never thought about unicorns like this before. I doubt I’ll think of them the same after it either. The last story is a zombie story and is by Libba Bray, and thanks to this I’ll definitely look into more work by her as well. I like the teenage survival concept and how normal everything tries to be. Overall it’s a very touching but sad story, and it has very rich writing.

So a few warnings about this book: There is a significant amount of gore, blood, cursing, and blunt phrasing. Also, though I don’t feel the need to ‘warn’ you, there is some homosexuality…so if you are uncomfortable with it I suggest not reading it. There is some odd moments where there is a lingering question of whether or not bestiality or necrophilia has occurred…it’s not as gross as that but it’s there so be warned.

So at first I started out as Team Unicorn because I don’t like the idea of being on a ‘team’ with Zombies…but by the end I realized that I enjoyed the zombie stories so much more then the unicorn ones. So I’ve switched sides, I’m Team Zombie now. Unnnghh

What team are you on?

This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2011) and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Zombies Vs. Unicorns

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday #6 | In Libris Veritas

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