Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns

Title:  Zombies vs. Unicorns
Editors:  Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
Authors:  Alaya Dawn JohnsonMaureen JohnsonCarrie RyanScott WesterfeldMeg CabotGarth NixKathleen DueyMargo LanaganNaomi NovikDiana PeterfreundLibba Bray, & Cassandra Clare
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry 
Genre: YA anthology
Hardcover: 432 pages
ISBN: 1416989536
Summary from Goodreads: 
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?
  • Overall rating: 8/10
To buy this book: IndieBound | The Book Depository Powell's | Amazon
Add this book to your: Goodreads | Shelfari Library Thing Visual Bookshelf

Zombies vs. Unicorns is a fantastic YA anthology!  If you love zombies, unicorns, or any of the authors featured in this anthology, you are going to want to pick up a copy of Zombies vs. Unicorns as soon as possible.  With funny introductions from Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, this diverse collection of zombie and unicorn stories by a wide assortment of talented YA authors is highly entertaining.  It has something for everyone - romance, intrigue, sci-fi, fantasy, tragedy, violence, heartbreak, and humor.  

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix
It seems fitting that this book starts with a story that features both a unicorn and a zombie.  This is a tale of deception and revenge about an unfaithful king and a dead queen.  It has a scheming sorceress, a touch of romance, and a unicorn who helps dispense justice.  Hard not to like that.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson
This author was totally new to me before reading the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology, but I look forward to searching for more of her work because Love Will Tear Us Apart turned out to be my favorite story in the entire book.  This darkly funny, romantic, and intense story is about a teenage boy who finds himself hungering for a handsome lacrosse player (in more ways than one).  I'm a sucker for stories about broken boys, and this angsty love story features two broken boys who may just be perfect for one another (so long as one of them can control his cannibalistic urges).

The Purity Test by Naomi Novik
Hilarious!  This is probably the funniest story in the anthology.  Team Zombie may have my undying allegiance, but between The Purity Test and Princess Prettypants, Team Unicorn definitely deserves the prize for funniest story.  This story is set in modern day New York, where a teenage girl who is down on her luck unexpectedly finds herself helping a unicorn on his quest to rescue baby unicorns from a conniving evil wizard.  So funny!

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan
I liked this story a lot.  I love the way Carrie Ryan's zombie stories feature people pushed past their breaking points.  Plus, the idea of zombie pirates is just plain awesome.  Bougainvillea is set in a fully-imagined world in which the zombie apocalypse is upon us, and it cleverly brings to mind questions about how much of your humanity you'd be willing to lose in order to stay alive.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan
For me, this was the weakest story in the anthology, and it definitely features the strangest human/unicorn relationship.  There are three different narrators, and unfortunately all three narrators are too disposable and too far removed from the emotional heart of the story for my taste.  I really wished that at least one part of the story had been narrated from the princesses' POV.  Since I didn't particularly care about the princess and thought her connection to the unicorn was very tricky to believe in, this story wasn't particularly compelling.

Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson
Hilarious and disturbing all at once!  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This story is about a teenage girl who spends every penny she has flying to England to work on an organic farm with her boyfriend for the summer.  Once her slacker boyfriend ditches her, she finds herself miserable, broke, and stuck in dreary rural England.  So when an Angelina Jolie-esque celebrity (who lives in a secluded manor nearby) offers her a job working as a nanny, she quickly jumps at the opportunity.  But there is definitely something very odd about those children...

The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund
 Set in Diana Peterfreund's world of killer unicorns, this story is a must-read for fans of Rampant and Ascendant.  It offers a view of the unicorns as both predators and an endangered species in need of compassion and protection.  This story also features an angsty best-friend romance that will resonate with lots of readers.

Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld
An excellent dystopian story about a small community of people who have found temporary refuge from the zombie-infested world by barricading themselves inside an old marijuana farm.  When one of the teens survives something that would normally have been fatal, it opens up a new world of possibilities.  I really liked this unique take on the zombie apocalypse, and I wish it had been longer because I wanted to see what happened next.

Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot
First of all, can you even say the name Princess Prettypants without smiling?  I don't think that is possible, and I also don't think it is possible to read this story without laughing aloud.  This cleverly funny unicorn story is about a modern seventeen year old girl who is understandably shocked and mystified when she receives a unicorn for her (very disappointing) birthday.  This story features a boy-next-door romance (love that!), a unicorn who farts rainbows but goes all demon-eyed when facing down sexist jerks (hilarious!), and a Zack Efron birthday cake (even more hilarious!).  Major kudos to Meg Cabot for this totally entertaining unicorn story.

Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare
This is a zombie story that touches on one of my worst childhood fears - being trapped in a coffin.  It is also a love story and the tale of a corrupt leader of a village in which the living and the dead spend their days side by side.  It feels like a bittersweet fairytale, with zombies.  :-)

The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey
This was definitely the most haunting and thought-provoking of the unicorn stories for me.  I loved it and was impressed by the way it dealt with the concepts of suicide, loneliness, and addiction from the perspective of an immortal unicorn who has the ability to heal people or steal their lives.  

Prom Night by Libba Bray
This haunting story about a town full of teenagers who outlived their parents in the zombie apocalypse is quite sad, but it is also told with a lot of humor and heart.  The teens are all survivors who have tried to stay optimistic and to maintain a sense of normalcy as they've dealt with the tragic deaths of their parents and classmates.  An excellent conclusion to the book, which will make you want to hug your loved ones while you still can.

Zombies vs. Unicorns is an awesome anthology.  If you have any interest in zombies, unicorns, compelling short stories, or any of the fabulous authors featured in this book, I highly recommend you pick up Zombies vs. Unicorns immediately.  Some anthologies have one or two gems in a sea of mediocre stories, but this one is full of great stories.  If you would like to learn more about this anthology, you can visit Simon & Schuster's Zombies vs. Unicorns page or click any of the contributing author's names above to visit their websites.


Lu said...

Great review! I'm so excited for my copy to arrive :D

brizmus said...

Adorable review! Sounds like all the stories were great!

Anna said...

What amazes me is how this could totally be my review too. Our take on each story is almost exactly the same.
This was an awesome book that came to me at a moment where I really needed the laughs.

Candace said...

I want this book SO bad! Every time I go to the bookstore I stare at it and wish I could buy it. It's just such an awesome cover! And I'm so anxious to read the stories within it!

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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