October 5th, 2010

rotting doll.

Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier

Zombies vs. Unicorns

by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier (editors)

The origin of Zombies vs. Unicorns seems to have been an Internet debate between Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. But merely sniping back and forth across the blogosphere wasn't enough, so each woman assembled a team of top young adult authors to contribute stories to Team Zombie or Team Unicorn. The result was this anthology, with contributions from writers as varied as Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, Garth Nix and Libba Bray.

(Quick disappointment: neither editor contributed a short story, which was too bad.)

Coming into this book, I was definitely on Team Unicorn. It was mostly due to a lack of exposure to zombies; after, all they don't show up too often in 'girly' books. I was open to appreciating reanimated corpses, but could they really be better than silver-hoofed, dragon-impaling unicorns?

The stories are all wildly different. It seemed like every potential kind of unicorn or zombie managed to be included. You have your wild, fierce warrior unicorns and your glittery, rainbow-farting Princess Prettypants. Zombies can be basically normal teens, with a penchant for biting human flesh, or mindless automatons of destruction. Compared to many other anthologies I've read, where the stories really vary in quality, most of these short stories were excellent or at least better-than-average. Of course, with such an excellent theme, how could it not be a ton of fun?

My favorite story was probably The Children of Revolution,a zombie story that was also a pretty funny send-up of certain celebrities. A college student babysits the adopted children of a very famous actress, but what strange children they are. They're very low-functioning; none of them seems able to talk or communicate clearly. They're clumsy. They are kept locked up in the nursery, completely isolated, and are fed from Tupperware containers.  Clearly something is very wrong...those crazy celebs and their weird cults.

I thought it neat that the audio book had the authors introducing each story – bitching about the merits of flesh-eating zombies versus flesh-eating unicorns or whatever debate was relevant to the story - and included a 'unicorn' or 'zombie' sound effect before each story so you'd know which 'team' the story was written for. It looks like the physical book had an image to give this warning - I like it when audio books try to bring the signature quirks from the traditional book into the new media.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about Zombies vs. Unicorns, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.