Zombies Vs. Unicorns
by Holly Black
Published: September 21, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Short Stories, Young Adult
Format: eBook (432 pages)
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?
Reading Zombies vs. Unicorns taught me that short stories and I don’t get along. At all. Or maybe reading too many short stories in a row is bad for my mental health. It took me a long time to get the characters and the world straight in my mind (and that applies when I read anything) so by the time I’ve finally figured it out for each of these the story was over! Because they were short! It was very frustrating and made me feel like I wasn’t making much progress. It took me an insane 6 weeks (!) to read all these short stories even counting the fact that I skipped or skimmed most of the zombie stories. Lesson learned – I will take short stories one at a time and then move on to something longer. Never again will I read so many in a row. I think my brain melted.
That being said, I did enjoy seeing some of my favorite authors do interesting things with the short story format. Short stories have the ability to be a little more edgy since they don’t last too long. Something that would tire you in a novel is fascinating in a short story. I loved the unique mythologies and origin stories that the authors came up with for the zombies and unicorns.
Here’s my thoughts on a few of the short stories that stood out to me.
The Highest Justice by Garth Nix was a zombie story that had a setup similar to Twilight. This boy loves this other boy but he also wants to eat him. I didn’t finish this one because I found it too vulgar and gross for my taste with a cheesy villain on top.
I adored Purity Test by Naomi Novik. It played on the stereotypes of unicorn stories. The unicorn was male and snarky yet pretty and had a modern New York accent. It just got better and funnier from there with fun pop culture references which I love! 10 points to this short story for the Harry Potter reference!
Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson was the only zombie story I liked in this entire collection. It was hilarious and unexpected. THAT was definitely an origin story for zombies that I have never heard before.
My favorite story in the entire bunch was The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn By Diana Peterfreund. I think it was perfect for this collection because it had a zombie element to it because the unicorns were dangerous.
Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare was probably the most boring and unmemorable story of the bunch. There was a castle somewhere in the story. Maybe. That’s all I remember.
There was commentary at the beginning of each story between Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier “arguing” about which team was better. I found every thing that Justine (Team Zombie) said to be tedious and annoying. I didn’t connect with her humor at all.
Overall, this was a fun collection of unique spins on zombies and unicorns but you might find yourself skipping the other stories if you are more partial to one team or the other. I was Team Unicorn, you could say, and I didn’t enjoy most of the zombie stories. Also, I might have enjoyed these stories more if I had taken breaks from it instead of reading them all in a row.
Content Rating: High, for strong language, violence (some of which was kind of disturbing) and one mention of partial nudity.
This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.