Thursday 31 March 2011

Book Review- Zombies Vs Unicorns, anthology

 Title: Zombies vs Unicorns
 Author: Lots of them. Edited by Justine Larbalestier (Team Zombie, hereafter known as JL) and Holly Black (Team Unicorn, hereafter known as HB)
 Series: N/A 
 Published: 21 September 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry Books 
 Length: 432 pages
 Warnings: references to sex, b*st**l*ty, homosexuality, profanity, gore, magic, violence, 14+ recommendation in the cover
 Other info:  The whole debate started on a blog. Click for HB's blog and JL's blog.  Links to authors individual websites included in review. 
 Summary  from blurb: Which is better: the zombie or the unicorn? Justine Larbalestier says that zombies are our own walking deaths. Funny, grim and terrifying, they cannot be escaped. Unicorns are sparkly and pastel and fart rainbows. Holly Black says that unicorns are healers, arbiters of justice and occasionally majestic man-killers, zombies drool and shed and probably carry diseases. Some of today’s finest writers have chosen their side, creating dazzling stories about both creatures. So read on and decide for yourself. Are you Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

 Review: The concept: love it. A straight out war between zombies and unicorns, fought by some familiar faces and other...I’ve never heard of.  This is an interesting, refreshing and funny break from the more popular Vampires vs Werewolves debate. And conveniently, it is set out in a unicorn story, zombie story, unicorn, zombie format. Let the battle commence.

Round 1:
Team Unicorn- The Highest Justice by Garth Nix. Its a unicorn who ends up killing a zombie and set in a medieval world of kings. I didn’t think that much really happened, it was just a this happened, that happened thing. I liked the detailed descriptions, but they slowed down the story a bit too much.
Team Zombie- Love Will Tear us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I think the whole idea was a zombie boy in love with a guy who’s father seriously hates zombies (Side note: yes, that is a homosexual relationship. If you have a problem with it, get rid of it, or at least keep it to yourself. Gay/bi/asexual/transgender etc people are just as awesome as straight people, if not more. Still not happy? Go away or be eaten by insane cannibals.). At times however, I couldn’t make out much of a plot. But it was funny, enjoyable, with a  little bit of brain eating thrown in.
Team Unicorn:0   Team Zombie:1

Round 2:
Team Unicorn- Purity Test by Naomi Novik. This one was interesting. It shoved a unicorn into New York, which is trying to find an entrance to somewhere that ends up being called Fairyland. This was funny, but there just wasn’t a plot at all.  However, I liked how it changed our perceptions of a unicorn and its virgin, into...something completely different. And don’t get me started on the baby unicorns and chocolate milk.
Team Zombie-Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan.  As the person who brought zombies to a young adult audience, I expected good things. And got them. While at times it was a little slow, I don’t think anyone else would ever put pirates into a zombie story.  Fun fun fun indeed. And the methods of destroying a zombie demonstrated in Bougainvillea are awesome.
Team Unicorn:0   Team Zombie:2

Round 3
Team Unicorn- A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan. I must confess, I never got through this. Its the one with the b*st**l*ty. Avoid at all costs is what I say. Team unicorn loses a point for this generally disturbing story.
Team Zombie-Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson. This highlights the dangers of horror movies’ suicide-at-five-pounds-an-hour (as termed by Grahme. This being a zombie story, our protagonist gets to babysit zombie babies! This was a fun story, with not too much happening, but still being entertaining.
Team Unicorn:-1 Team Zombie:3

Round 4
Team Unicorn-The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund. It’s a completely new take on the unicorn. It’s the closest we get to zombiefied unicorns. Nothing much happened, but the zombie unicorns mean I love it.
Team Zombie-Innoculata by Scott Westerfeld. Kids and adults living on a pot farm while everyone else on earth is a zombie. And then a few kids make plans to escape. This was extremely boring and whilst he is brilliant at writing Steampunk,  Westerfeld is no good at writing romance.
Team Unicorn: 0 Team Zombie:3

Round 5
Team Unicorn-Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot. This was immense fun. I never thought I’d enjoy Meg Cabot, but it was so funny and our protagonist ends up using her unicorn to  deal with her bullying problem. This is the girliest story in the book with some actual plot-rare for a zombie story.
Team Zombie- Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare. This is the one where a people simply don’t stay dead. It’s a full love story and the heir to dukedom or something like that (I’ve completely forgotten)dies and comes back. I liked this because normally, zombie romance does not work (main reason being the zombie should want to eat the brains of their partner. More on that another day), but Clare made it work. Tough deciding which one wins,.
Team Unicorn: 1  Team Zombie 3

Round 6
Team Unicorn-The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey. This was edging into the zombiefied unicorn team as well. Most unicorn stories involve the unicorn saving the life of the human.  In this story, this is very true. As long as the unicorn has taken a life as well. This was an interesting spin on unicorns, but there wasn’t a plot at all.
Team Zombie- Prom Night by Libba Bray. This didn’t have a plot either… I’m not entirely sure of the point, and I didn’t really like the characters and I didn’t understand the situation.
Team Unicorn:2   Team Zombie:3

Round 7
There actually wasn’t a seventh story for each side, this is more a bonus round for the banter at the start of each story. It’s JL and HB discussing various things, putting down the story if the  story is for the opposite side, and defending it if its theirs. HB’s fights go something like “unicorns are like this. Its good” and repeated “zombies shamble and bits fall off and that’s disgusting”. JL’s fights go “yes, but zombies are better because of this” and “unicorns are rubbish because *insert new reason* ”. I love this banter. JL wins.
Team Unicorn:2   Team Zombie:4

Total: Zombies win in terms of rounds. Of course, these are my own opinions and you probably won’t agree. Not my problem!
Just to let you know, I’ve always preferred zombies to unicorns. This doesn’t change my opinion. So, I say, Team Zombie wins. Add your opinions below.
Me and my book club WILL have this as one of our “open for discussion” debates. Enjoy when it comes.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea because its funny, and with some great stories, but at times very disturbing.

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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