Zombies vs. Unicorns
edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
Publication date: September 21, 2010
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – overall; each story has their own individual rating as well.
It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn?
Get ready for the battle of the century as two feuding teams use short stories to settle this controversy. You’ll see zombies and unicorns as you’ve never seen them before: the good, the evil – and the really, really badass. Are you on Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?
The Highest Justice by Garth Nix. Team Unicorn. 2.5 ♥ / 5 ♥
While Garth Nix may be on Team Unicorn, he cheats slightly by having a zombie in the mix (this is my first glimpse of the idea that Team Unicorn members secretly want to be Team Zombie members). I love Garth Nix’s writing style, but I wasn’t a big fan of the story itself. It had a good premise, a unicorn AND a zombie, and even a wicked stepmother, but I just wasn’t a fan.
Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Team Zombie. 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥
Loved this one! Alaya Dawn Johnson delivers a proper brain eating zombie – with a twist. Grayson’s zombiefication came about by a nicely explained disease (not unlike mad cow), and he can function normally outside of the canabalism. Until he meets Jack, who smells like the tastiest meal to Grayson, but is also perfect for him. There’s love, brains, death, fear and a healthy appreciation for music and poetry.
Purity Test by Naomi Novik. Team Unicorn. 5 ♥ / 5 ♥
Oh man, this one had me laughing out loud. You know that pesky idea that unicorns and virgins are like, BFFs? Naomi Novik takes that idea and throws in a ton of snark and mocking. Take some unicorns and a wizard, throw in a slightly inebriated teen girl in NYC and the snark takes flight. Alison is convinced she’s halucinating (talking unicorns? Of course she is) until she’s stone cold sober and still heading off to a wizards house. And for some reason the rude unicorn keeps mentioning virgins. This one is chalk full of humour, pop references and baby unicorns. So much fun.
Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan. Team Zombie. 5 ♥ / 5 ♥
This short story takes place in Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth universe. Set only years after the Return, Iza lives with her father on a “secure” island. I loved getting the backstory on the Return, and in this story is the only time I can remember the Mudo/Unconsecrated referenced as zombies. Iza is such an intriguing character. She’s impossibly strong-willed, and ruthless. The writing conveys the tension felt throughout the whole story so well; by the time the end hit, I was breathless.
A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan. Team Unicorn. 3 ♥ / 5 ♥
This one is…interesting. The story is told in three different points of view, with nothing to distinguish the switch except for characters voice. It threw me off a little at the first pov switch, but I was prepared for the second one. There is a bit more violence in this story (surprising, since it’s Team Unicorn), and a wee bit of beastiality (off screen). The premise was interesting, touching on quite a bit of unicorn lore, and the writing style was great.
The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson. Team Zombie. 3.5 ♥ / 5 ♥
Zombie children. Zombie children that watch Spongebob Squarepants and the news, and are locked in a room every kid would die for (pun not intended, but I like it =P). Loved the writing and the snarkyness of the main character, but I would have liked a bit more to the plot, more to the zombie lore in Maureen Johnson’s universe. There was a great religious aspect to this one that you don’t see too often in zombie stories, and I think it worked really well. Definitely entertaining, and yea…zombie children.
The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund. Team Unicorn. 4 ♥ / 5 ♥
I’m assuming this one takes place in Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant series. If so, I need to go read Rampant as soon as possible. Killer Unicorns, and the girls that hunt them…it’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but with unicorns. Wen is a unicorn hunter (not that she’s practicing) that suddenly finds herself caring for a newborn unicorn. The indecision that she feels comes through loud and clear. Clean writing and some awesome new unicorn lore and background makes this story of taming a killer unicorn an incredibly interesting one.
Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld. Team Zombie. 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥
Scott Westerfeld plays around with the traditional zombie in this one. We learn, through character Ally’s point of view, that she and many others live surrounded by a fence that keeps out the zombie horde – the 6 billion. It’s through Ally’s crush, Kalyn, that Ally realizes there can be more than just existing behind the wall. That maybe, the virus strain that made everyone zombies can be changed – can work differently. There are some tough personal choices and questions in this one, and the brief, stark imagery and sense of hopelessness makes it come alive.
Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot. Team Unicorn. 4 ♥ / 5 ♥
Bwahaha. This was amazing. A unicorn that literally farts rainbows. Cute story about a girl who gets a unicorn instead of a car for her birthday. She quickly comes to realize the unicorn is much cooler than she thought it was, especially since Princess Prettypants reactes to her owner’s mood and can become one vengeful unicorn. Great writing and characterization, and yet another author who is – in my opinion – secretely on Team Zombie. Why else would there be so much mocking of unicorns going on?
Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare. Team Zombie. 4 ♥ / 5 ♥
I loved the idea of a village where zombies are common place and expected. The universe Cassie Clare has come up with for this story is one that seems both modern and olden at the same time. Adele is dating James, the heir to the throne of Lychgate (or Dukedom, I suppose), when he is hit by a car and killed. Adele suspects foul play, and knows that if James was mudered, he’ll be kept from rising as a zombie. The story surrounded Adele’s certainty that James must come back to her as a zombie, and the question of whether the living and the walking dead can maintain their relationship. Loved Adele’s voice, and the whole imagery surrounding Lychgate.
The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey. Team Unicorn. 5 ♥ / 5 ♥
Favourite Team Unicorn story of the book. The Third Virgin is a dark look at unicorn lore and healing ability. Told from the unicorn’s pov, his voice is so distinct. You could feel the despair and longing, and desire for his next fix. Yes, the unicorn is quite like a junkie. There is some violent imagery of suicide and assisted suicide, and no happy endings to be found. Definitely a bleak tale, and very different from the idea of rainbows and sparkling unicorns.
Prom Night by Libba Bray. Team Zombie. 5 ♥ / 5 ♥
So much love, Libba Bray, so much love. This was probably my favourite Team Zombie story in the entire anthology, which is really surprising. Why? Because I couldn’t even get halfway through the first Libba Bray book I tried to read. But oh man, the imagery in this story. The hopelessness, and the idea that kids/teens had to shoot their parents, siblings, boyfriends or girlfriends who became infected. Just thinking about living in a world where you have no idea what’s going on outside your immediate town, and no one who leaves ever comes back – except as a zombie. This was everything I like about zombies – dark, bleak, a little funny and sarcastic, a bit of hope and such an ambiguous ending. Loved it.
The introductions to each story are hilarious. With Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier going back and forth like they do, the argument of Zombies vs. Unicorns will never be settled. But hey, that just leaves more room for another anthology!
This book was recieved from the publisher. Thank you so much to @SimonPulseCA and Simon & Schuster Canada.