Sunday, October 10, 2010

Zombies vs. Unicorns
Posted by Tiffany at 10:32 AM

Title: Zombies vs. Unicorns
Editors: Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Authors: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Kathleen Duey, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, Diana Peterfreund, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare
Published: September 10th, 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 432
Price: $11.49 Book Depository $11.55 Amazon 
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: 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? (Goodreads)

Quick Review: This was a FANTASTIC anthology! If you don't have it yet, GO OUT AND BUY IT RIGHT NOW. Some stories are better than others, but they're all on the scale of Great to Freakin' Amazing. I wanted to be Team Unicorn, but I'm afraid Team Zombie has me. I'll do a quick story-by-story. WARNING: Do not read the blurbs at the beginning of the story. For Lanagan's story, Justine Larbalestier completely gave away the ending. I've never been so mad! I can't believe no one made her take that out. There is a quote by Cherie Priest, but no story. I would've loved to see her contribution! I also wish that Holly Black had put one of her stories in. I'm guessing there were just too many amazing stories.

1. "The Highest Justice" by Garth Nix. Girl tries to avenge her mother's death. If you haven't read Nix before, you are really missing out. He's one of my favorite authors of all time and I couldn't believe that he was in this anthology. The unicorn in this one is a real bad-ass. The story had the typical dark, dangerous feel of his Sabriel series. One of the best in the anthology.
2. "Love Will Tears Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Boy meets (zombie) boy. This was probably my least favorite, which isn't saying much. It was still great. If I had to sum it in two words, they would be: "cute" and "funny". My problem with it was that I didn't see what he saw in the zombie guy. I don't know why he would throw everything away for him. More insight into what the soldier was thinking would have been better. Also, tons of f bombs in this one.
3. "Purity Test" by Naomi Novik. Down-on-her-luck New Yorker gets drafted into rescuing unicorns. This one overturns some common misconceptions about unicorns. A smart-ass unicorn practically forces a homeless girl to help rescue some unicorns. The heroine was no nonsense, only helping to get the unicorn off her back. Novik's Temeraire series was fantastic, you should check it out. A funny story, but not one of the best.
4. "Bouganvillea" by Carrie Ryan. The daughter of a ruler in post-apocalyptic times learns that no one is truly safe. This one has the beautiful, haunting writing that I've come to expect from Carrie Ryan, and seems to be set in the same world, but that's where the similarities end. This just might be my favorite story, although it's hard to pick one. I loved the pace- everything was perfectly wrapped up by the end, nothing dragged. There wasn't the feeling that you were missing out if you hadn't read her other work, it was entirely self-contained. I don't want to give anything away, but the main character was great! So much stronger than her female characters usually are. I would love to see her reappear in Ryan's other series.
5. "A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan. A commoner finds a princess who has been attacked and is blamed for the attack.  One of the editors completely gives away the ending, which is meant to be a shock to the reader, before you even start the story. I'm not sure that if would've been quite so obvious if I hadn't read Tender Morsels, Lanagan's novel, but it's still  stupid. As in her novel, the writing is beautiful, some of the subject matter disturbing, the finished product a vague, beautiful, sad tale. Not really appropriate...for anyone. Why is Lanagan so fixated on that particular topic? I do not enjoy reading about it at all. Her stories are always a bit brutal, which (I suppose) is realistic for the time period. Don't let younger teens read this one.
6. "The Children of the Revolution" by Maureen Johnson. American student stuck without funds in England is hired to babysit some very bizarre children. I always enjoy Johnson's short stories and this one was no exception. The story would have been better if you didn't know from the start that it's a zombie story, but I suppose that was unavoidable. I love that they were poking fun at some of the crazy cult/religions out there right now. Very fun.
7. "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreud. Girl whose cousins were killed by a unicorn ends up saving and raising a baby unicorn.  Rampant has been at the top of my list for a while now. I love the idea, but I've been afraid that the execution would be a bit cheesy. After reading this short story set in the same world, I can't wait to get to it. Her family's strict religious beliefs made her story so much more interesting.  I would love to read more about her. There was a huge cliffhanger ending. I'm hoping that she appears in the novels, I need some closure! One of my favorites from the anthology.
8. "Inoculata" by Scott Westerfeld. A group of kids living on a farm in zombie-infested America long to escape their tiny world.  One thing that bugged me: it took me forever to figure out the sex of the main character. This one is different in that the main characters are all young, rebellious, basically idiotic teens who don't seem to take the zombie threat seriously. I would love to see where this one is going, I'm hoping that he continues their story. I have tons of other questions and comments, but I don't want to give anything away. A great story! I love Scott Westerfeld.
9. "Princess Prettypants" by Meg Cabot.  Stereotypical unicorn ends up in modern day America. I don't read a lot of her books, because they always sound so stupid, but when I do get sucked in I'm always surprised by how much I enjoy them. This story was no exception. The best thing about her writing is her cast of oddball characters. Best line: "You might want to rethink your decision to not hand over your cell phone to me, Spank. Or my unicorn is going to smash in your face." A great story with a unicorn who turns out to be not nearly as lame as she first appears.
10. "Cold Hands" by Cassandra Clare. Story of two lovers who live in a town under a curse that brings all the dead back as peaceful zombies. This was a crazy story. I loved the cursed town, the zombies who pretty much just walk around and watch, and the general creepy feel of everything. About the romance: I can't decide if it was very romantic or very creepy. I would love to see a series set in this same town. This was another of my favorites.
11. "The Third Virgin" by Kathleen Duey. Soul-stealing unicorn wanders the earth alone. This was a very sad story, with a crazy murderous unicorn. It was good, but I'm still left feeling that there wasn't a lot of resolution.
12. "Prom Night" by Libba Bray. Teens and children police and run a small town in the middle of the desert after all of the adults have been infected. This was another desperate, sad story. Everyone is striving so hard for normalcy, but you know that their days are numbered. I would like to know why only the adults were infected, and also why she decides not to address the problem that is revealed at the end of the book. Surely she should at least try?! A very good story.