17 January 2012

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Zombies vs. Unicorns
Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Obviously, with a title like Zombies vs. Unicorns I had to read it.  It did not disappoint, though it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be either.  Of course, I went off of the assumption that it would be a scholarly debate based in fact and research (ahem).  It isn’t.  It’s actually a collection of stories by various YA authors who are either “Team Unicorn” or “Team Zombie”.  The banter between editors Black and Larbalestier at the beginning of each story was the only debate throughout the book, and it’s snort-out-loud funny.
The book started because of a twitter war between Black and Larbalestier about which was better: zombies or unicorns.  Larbalestier is Team Zombie and Black is Team Unicorn.  When I first heard about the book, my I’m-too-much-of-a-wussie-to-watch-scary-movies side immediately agreed with Black that unicorns kick undead hiney.  But when I saw the authors’ that made up Team Zombie, I decided I’d have to give the walking dead a chance.  After finishing the book, the debate still has not been settled: there were excellent zombie and unicorn stories, but there were also crappy/weird stories from both teams as well.  Here’s my favs and my least favs.

Scores for Team Unicorn:
The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund – in a world where unicorns are actually savage beasts, a girl saves a baby unicorn from certain death at the hands of a creeptastic  carnie and raises it in spite of putting herself directly in the path of danger.  And razor sharp unicorn teeth.
Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot – I swear I didn’t like this book just because of the author.  It’s Liz’s birthday and her aunt sends her the most interesting present ever: a for realsies unicorn.  Little does she realize that unicorns aren’t actually my pretty ponies, and Liz must learn how to take care of Princess Prettypants while also trying to win back her friends, all of whom she ticked off on her birthday.

Scores for Team Zombie:
Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare – Adele and James are a young couple in love in the town Lychgate, aka Zombietown.  But when James dies in a car accident, everyone assumes they will not live happily ever after, since Luke will probably come back as a zombie.  Did I mention Luke was supposed to be the Duke of Lychgate?  Yeah, Adele is out to prove that he was murdered.  It’s an awesome story.
Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan – the island of little CuraƧao is a safe haven against zombie – mudo – infestation, and Iza’s father runs the island with an iron fist.  Iza feels stifled and isn’t sure that the way her father runs things will actually keep them safe.  Then one day a mysterious stranger appears on the dock.  Iza should report him, but for some reason she doesn’t, and…well…all hell breaks loose.

Strikeouts in general, regardless of team:
A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan – princess makes it with a unicorn, gets preggers, goes downhill from there.  Way too weird for me, and I can handle weird.
Inoculata by Scott Westerfield – this kills me to say because I heart Scott Westerfield.  I was so excited to read his story and it totally left me feeling meh. In a zombie infested world, there is a group of people living in isolation beyond a fence.  One kid figures out how to get zombie-fied w/o going crazy and then all the kids want to.

This is definitely a book for anyone who likes short stories and stories that present interesting twists on old topics. Even though there were a few misses within the collection, in general, it was a very fun read, and if you find yourself bored with the stories, spend a few minutes looking at the book cover - it depicts an all out battle between zombies and unicorns and is, well, hilarious.

In the end, I’m totally team Unicorn: I’ll take rainbow farts over rotting flesh any day of the week.

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