Part of the fun of the ‘zombie craze’ is that authors who wouldn’t usually write a zombie story are getting on board and adding to our culture’s overall entertainment value. This includes authors of young adult books. And this is also how an anthology called Zombies vs. Unicorns comes into existence. Only an awesome, completely ridiculous world could spawn such a wondrous thing. And yes, I’m going overboard. I think you like it.
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?
Holly and Justine are like competing Most Extreme Challenge (MXC) moderators. And by that, I mean they’re taking potshots at each other, each other’s choice of mythical being, and at the individual contestants (err…stories), all while being dubbed over in a foreign language. The result is hilarious, and the book is worth reading if only for their ‘introductory’ comments. BUT! Let me highlight my favorites for you and convince you to read this for yourself....
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Alaya Dawn Johnson
A dark, music-heavy zombie story featuring two misunderstood young men. One is struggling not to become a monster, the other already is – can they change? Is there hope?
“Purity Test” by Naomi Novik
Made of hilarious, in all sorts of ways. Combine a snarky heroine, a unicorn who can’t be too fussed about particulars, and five baby unicorns addicted to chocolate milk – what could go wrong?
“Bougainvillea” by Carrie Ryan
A seriously haunting story that draws from the true horror inheritance of the zombie canon. It’s a magnetic tale, set in the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, very shortly after the Return, on the island of Curaçao.
“The Children of the Revolution” by Maureen Johnson
Is the protagonist TSTL (too stupid to live) or just unlucky? Maureen Johnson crafts a hilarious and slightly horrifying zombie story that manages to do make fun of both celebrity adoptions and celebrity cults. Funny + frightful = fantastic.
“The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” by Diana Peterfreund
Tragedy, teenage angst, a freak show, and a baby killer unicorn make for an out-of-the-ordinary story. Fans of Peterfreaund’s Rampant and Ascendant will be pleased, and newcomers to killer unicorns will probably be both confused and entertained. But what’s not to love about a boy named Yves?
“Cold Hands” by Cassandra Clare
Wow. Stunning story that takes the zombie trope and turns it on its head. Weird, wonderful (if you can use that word in conjunctions with a zombie story) and chilling. I think I may scream the next time someone with cold hands touches me.
“The Third Virgin” by Kathleen Duey
Mix a sociopathic unicorn in with a scarred young girl, and you have a disturbing story in an extremely well-written sort of way.
“Prom Night” by Libba Bray
What better way to close out the anthology than with a chilling, absorbing, but not so gory or violent that it’s painful sort of tale. One word? Haunting. Explores how people cope with loss, inevitable mortality, and what the law really means. Big themes for this magnificent (and oddly funny) little tale.
Recommended for: fans of zombies, unicorns, anyone not sure about either but willing to dip a toe in and test the waters, and those who like a little bit of horror with their comedy (but only every once in a while). Silly, suitable fun for the older teen set. Enjoy!
This is my final entry in the September Zombies event. Yay!