Sunday, June 12, 2011

Zombies VS. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

This very well may be my favorite book I have reviewed on this blog so far. You all know of my love for all things supernatural. I also have a deep-rooted affection for short story collections. Some of my favorite adult books are books of short stories or anthologies. Every so often a YA anthology comes out where there is a bunch of authors who all write on various topics (like prom or half humans or summer vacation) and they are all put together in one big book without too much thought about how they link together except for the main focus. And normally, there are only a few authors I love and recognize. And I guess that is okay, because it introduces me to new people.  Zombies VS. Unicorns is so well put together. And maybe except for two authors, I have read the works of everyone in it.
The anthology is divided up into two teams: Team Unicorn and Team Zombie. If the story is on Team Zombie, there is a black and white picture of a zombie at the top, and if it’s for Team Unicorn, there’s a black and white picture of a unicorn on top. Pretty much that means the authors are either writing stories about zombies or unicorns. And in the introduction and in brief sections before each new story, Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier argue the merits for each supernatural character. And it’s really this bickering about fictional creatures that makes the book what it is. The bickering part also introduces the story in a comedic way, and it’s kind of like reading two teenage sisters simultaneously arguing about who’s wearing who’s clothes and also trying to MC an open mic. Add the supernatural quarrel to the beautiful layout, and even without the fantastic jobs of all the authors, you get one fantastic book.
The layout includes a beautiful mural of a zombie/unicorn war. The Table of Contents page is beautiful because of distinct (almost spray paint type) font for each author. And in case you ever forget, there’s a black unicorn or zombie on each page corner, reminding you what the story is about. 
Team Zombie (led by Holly Black) includes: Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, and Diana Peterfreund. Team Zombie (led by Justine Larbalestier) includes: Libba Bray, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld, and Carrie Ryan. Which team am I on? I’m definitely more of a zombie person than a unicorn person. I have always had a soft spot for zombie movies. And I love all the post-apocalyptic/ dystopian type drama they bring.
However, contradictory to my team standing, my favorite story in the anthology was Meg Cabot’s “Princess Prettypants,” a unicorn story. It was so absurdly funny, I was laughing out loud reading it. It’s about a girl who’s family doesn’t understand her at all. For her 17th birthday they throw her a High School Musical themed surprise party. And her aunt sends her a real life unicorn named Princess Prettypants.  I don’t want to say too much more about this story because it’s short, and I don’t want to ruin how awesome it is, but it is Cabot at her finest.
There were serious stories too. There’s one story about kids who had to kick all of the adults out of their town because in the zombie apocalypse, adults are always the first to get infected. There’s another about a serial killer unicorn. My favorite zombie one (written by Carrie Ryan) involved a teen girl trapped on an island during the zombie takeover. There’s pirates, sabotage, revenge, and all sorts of goodies in this story, including my favorite story ending/twist! There’s a story about hiding a unicorn in the garage and training it not to be a killer.  And there’s another very creative story (Clare’s) that involves a town of cohabitating zombies and humans. Westerfeld’s zombie tale involes hope in the form of a human/zombie half breed type immunity. There’s even a creepy story about a girl who mates with a unicorn…And there’s plenty more.
Because of the supernatural creatures being written about, the topics of the stories are vast and interesting, ranging from purity to survival, to love to understanding, to just living. There is some wonderful writing in here.
I liked certain stories more than others, but that tends to happen in anthologies. A lot of stories, in my opinion, ended too soon. Most of the stories could be books, if they kept going, books I would love to read! And it’s hard knowing that there won’t be more of them because I know what these writers are capable of. And I kind of wish Black and Larbalestier had their own stories in the anthology, but I get why they didn’t do that. I loved all the in-between bickering. I really enjoyed the majority of the stories. And it’s such a beautiful book to pick up and look at. I give it a 10/10. So, go pick it up, look at it, and enjoy the stories!

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