Monday, March 07, 2011

Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier

Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier

Completion Date:
Reason for Reading: Fun!
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 thought this was a fun idea and I really should read more short story collections. Plus, the stories included are by some of my favourite fantasy authors, so how could I resist? Apparently it all started back in 2007 and this anthology is decide which is better once and for all. It is an interesting idea.

Team Unicorn:
Edited by Holly Black

Kathleen Duey
Meg Cabot
Garth Nix
Margo Lanagan
Naomi Novik
Diana Peterfreund

Team Zombie:
Edited by Justine Larbalestier

Libba Bray
Cassandra Clare
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Maureen Johnson
Carrie Ryan
Scott Westerfeld

Which side are you on?

'The Highest Justice' by Garth Nix (Unicorns)
The first story in the anthology and I thought it started off very well. This story actually includes zombies AND unicorns, but Nix is playing for Team Unicorn. The story is quick, but a lot happens in a short time. There is also a lot of things you can deduce without them being written down, so in a way the story is a lot longer than the page count. I thought that clearly represents a good story. Also, it has been a while since I read Garth Nix and I had forgotten how well he writes.

'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Zombies)
I have never heard of this author before, but she wrote an interesting story for the zombie team. It is a zombie romance to be more specific. It also officially makes this collection count for the GLBT challenge if you are participating. I was surprised. Not only is this a zombie romance, but it is a gay zombie romance. Not something I see everyday! It is written in a strange format, but it works. It also has lots of music references, like the title. Most of the bands I have heard of, but am not really familiar with, though.

'Purity Test' by Naomi Novik (Unicorns)
This was a fun story. It will make you laugh at times, actually. Naomi Novik is an author that I enjoy, but haven't read in a while. It was nice to visit with her, even if it was a totally different story than her famous series. Although, she did include that dragons exist and unicorns are, sort of, capable of killing them. This story also plays with the idea of unicorns only appearing to virgins. It was a good story.

'Bougainvillea' by Carrie Ryan (Zombies)
Yay! Carrie Ryan's trilogy is coming to a close very soon, but in the meantime this is a story set in the same world. The characters are different, but it still includes Carrie's take on zombies. The story jumps back and forth from the present to the past before the Return. It makes for an interesting story. I enjoyed how she mentioned things from the past that we use everyday. It was nice to have a main character that remembers what it was like before the Return.

'A Thousand Flowers' by Margo Lanagan (Unicorns)
I read this after just finishing Tender Morsels by her and I must say, she does nothing lightly. This was as much a troubling story as Tender Morsels was a troubling novel. It is a different take on the normal unicorn stories I read. It was horrifying, really. It takes the idea of innocence to an entirely new level and when you finish you will not quite be sure what to make of it. I think I liked it, but I haven't entirely decided yet.

'The Children of the Revolution' by Maureen Johnson (Zombies)
Well, this was interesting... I might be reading more into it than is there, but this sounded an awful lot like the author was making fun of certain things without actually naming them. Just she added in the zombies. I found this story a bit predictable, but very entertaining at the same time. You have to read it to believe it!

'The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn' by Diana Peterfreund (Unicorns)
Even though I haven't read Diana's recent book, I did really enjoy her first one about unicorns. Unicorns may be popular overall, but I haven't read a lot of books about them. It was fun to read something entirely different than the 'normal' stories. This short story is set in the same world, but has a different main character. This character could kill unicorns if she wanted to, but instead she saves a baby unicorns life and raises it. It made me really want to get around to reading her newest novel.

'Inoculata' by Scott Westerfeld (Zombies)
Back in 2009, I easily went through 'The Year of Scott Westerfeld'. I had never read him before, but that year I read several books by him. Despite meaning to several times, I have not really read him lately and really should. This was an excellent story by him, further proof that all those unread novels I still have by him should amount to some treasures. This story takes place after zombies have taken over most of the population, but it is not your normal tale. He takes the basics and then puts his own spin on them. It made for good reading.

'Princess Prettypants' by Meg Cabot (Unicorns)
Meg Cabot is another author I sort of lapsed on reading. This was a story about a very unlikely birthday present that turned out to be more useful than any one knew. It is also a story about standing up to bullies. I think it was a very fitting story for these times because bullying has been so much in the news the last few years. It is obviously not exactly how things would play out in the 'real' world, but many of the themes and messages still apply. It is a bit of an empowering story mixed up with a unicorn story.

'Cold Hands' by Cassandra Clare (Zombies)
Cassandra Clare is an author that I have heard of, but not actually read before. This was a good story. It was a zombie romance, of sorts. I enjoyed that the stories in here were not the 'conventional' ones. They made for good reading, but weren't too gruesome. They definitely had fun with it. This story made me want to read Clare at some point very soon because this was good and it says good things about her novels.

'The Third Virgin' by Kathleen Duey (Unicorns)
This story was... interesting... This takes killer unicorns to the next level for sure. The story is almost entirely about the unicorn and its experiences. It is only at the end of the book that things change. I am not sure what I thought of this story. It was my first experience with Duey. I had never even heard of her before this story.

'Prom Night' by Libba Bray (Zombies)
Libba Bray, how I love thee. You are what got me back to reading young adult books when I read the Gemma Doyle series, and I have enjoyed everything since. This was just another example of how great you are and I am very much looking forward to your new novel later this year. As to this story, it about the aftermath of a zombie infection. There are only children left and they have to survive in a very different world.

In the end, I enjoyed all the stories. There were none that I strongly disliked... That's very rare for short story anthologies and it was a lot of fun to read!


  1. I agree that there are no bad stories in this collection. The unicorn stories are better, of course.

  2. Oh, thanks for the detailed review - I want this, but haven't yet crossed over to Buy. Now a little closer...

    The story I want to read most is probably Diana Peterfreund's, and I've heard it's in the Year's Best SF/F anthology, so wavering between the two anthologies now...

  3. One of my 8th grade students had this book in her hand and I so wanted to knock her over and steal it!!!

  4. I think I am going to have to get this one. It sounds like a lot of fun, and there are a few authors I know I like, and a few that I think I will like in the anthology!

  5. Glad you liked this! I have it from the library so should hurry up and read it before it's due back. LOL

  6. This one has been on my list for ages. I really must get to it soon!

  7. *Jeanne: I haven't decided which I liked more. I think the zombies normally, but the unicorn stories weren't conventional ones...

    *Li: Yes, that would be a hard call...

    *Staci: It was good!

    *Marg: Yes, there were only two I had never heard of before and they were good!

    *Amy: You should!

    *Darla: Hope you enjoy!


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