Zombies vs. Unicorns
Anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
What is it about:
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?
What did I think of it:
Because this is an anthology I will tell you a little bit about each story, but first I will tell you about my overall reading experience.
This is a very cool anthology. It is meant to settle once and for all which creature is cooler: the zombie or the unicorn.
I myself don’t need to read a book full of zombie and unicorn stories to know the answer to that question (team zombie all the way), but this anthology sounded cool enough that it had been on my wish list since it was published in 2010. You can imagine how happy I was when Aurian gave it to me.
Overall I loved this anthology. Out of all twelve stories I enjoyed (if not loved) nine of them. There were just three stories that I didn’t much care for (all three were unicorn stories coincidentally enough).
There was one thing that was off for me though. Before each story Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier are discussing the stories with each other. Justine Larbalestier is a lot snarkier than Holy Black, which made her seem a lot less likable than Holly Black. I think they should have tried to keep their banter at the same levels of snark, now it felt uneven.
But in the end this book is about the stories and not about two editors snarking at each other, so I didn’t mind that too much.
On to telling you a little bit about what I thought of the stories:
The Highest Justice
By Garth Nix
A young girl and a unicorn are on a journey to fulfill the dying wish of the girl’s mother.
I wasn’t too impressed with this story, even though it had a kind of zombie next to the unicorn. It didn’t feel like a complete story, more like it should be part of a larger story.
Love Will Tear Us Apart
By Alaya Dawn Johnson
A zombie discovers he might still have feelings after all.
I really liked this story. It was moody and atmospheric. And it was named after one of my favourite songs, so how could I not like it? ;-)
Seriously: this is a beautiful zombie love story. The one thing I can say against it, is that some things were kept too vague in my opinion.
By Naomi Novik
A unicorn asks a ‘virgin’ to help him rescue baby unicorns from an evil wizard.
This was a really funny story. The heroine is a modern day woman who doesn’t believe in fairytales, so she is reluctant to help out the unicorn who asks her for help. There’s more banter than action in this story, but I enjoyed it none the less.
By Carrie Ryan
This post apocalyptic story is set on an island that is supposed to be a safe haven for the relentless zombies.
This story is beautifully written and has a heroine who starts out unlikable, but I ended up rooting for her. The story switches from Before to Now to show you how Iza used to be and how she changed over time. I really liked the ending: it really showed how much Iza has grown. There’s also some really cool zombie mayhem in this story.
A Thousand Flowers
By Margo Lanagan
A story about people witnessing the relationship between a young girl and a unicorn.
I didn’t much care for this story. There were several view point changes that were unclear, so I was confused who was telling the story at times. The first view point character was also very coarse and that didn’t help getting into the story.
The Children of the Revolution
By Maureen Johnson
A young woman has to baby-sit some unusual children.
A really cool zombie story. The lead character has to take care of some creepy children, and you just know what’s going on. Still I was grabbed by the story and was creeped out it.
The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn
By Diana Peterfreund
A girl rescues a baby killer unicorn and tries to raise it.
This was a really cool story. The unicorns are the proper kind of goaty unicorn, and they’re lethal killers! The world that’s set up in this story was intriguing and cool. I understand that Peterfreund has a series that is set in this world, and I’ll definitely am going to get my hands on the first book in that series to give it a try.
By Scott Westerfeld
In a post apocalyptic world it might be the children and teens who will adapt the quickest and find new ways to survive.
This story was both beautiful and strange. The adults in this world are trying to hold on to what was, while the younger generation is longing for change. The way they set this change in motion was original and a bit creepy.
By Meg Cabot
A teenage girl gets a unicorn as a present for her sixteenth birthday.
Another really funny unicorn story. Cabot manages to take all the unicorn clichés and puts them in this story in a way that had me snickering. The story was fun, sweet, and very entertaining.
By Cassandra Clare
Adele’s fiance gets killed, but in Lychgate that doesn’t have to mean the end, because the dead don’t stay dead.
I loved this story. It’s a beautiful and touching story about love that reaches beyond the grave. The setting was really intriguing, and I’m a bit sad this is a standalone story, because I’d love to read more about Lychgate and its inhabitants.
The Third Virgin
By Kathleen Duey
A unicorn is trying to find a special kind of virgin.
This wasn’t a bad story, but it was very depressing. The lead character in this story is a unicorn, and I didn’t much like him. He’s both moody and unlikable.
By Libba Bray
In a post apocalyptic world only teens survived and they try to keep their town running.
A very disturbing story. It was well written and I was totally engrossed in this depressing view on the zombie apocalypse. Not much happens, but the mood and the world building were so well done, I didn’t miss the action.
All in all this a very cool and entertaining anthology, that I can recommend to everyone who loves unicorns and/or zombies. I will check out the bibliography of several of these authors.
Why should you read it:
It's a really cool anthology full of zombies and unicorns