Monday, August 16, 2010

Anthology Review - Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier vs. Holly Black (4.5/5 stars)

When I saw that an anothology was being released called Zombies vs. Unicorns I had to read it.  I am a big fan of both and wanted to see which lent itself to the better stories.  I got an Advanced Reading Copy of this book through Book It Forward ARC Tours.  It is a very fun and creative premise for an anthology and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There is a short preamble before each story in which the editors (Larbalestier and Black) take sides on debating the positives and negatives of each mythological (can you call zombies mythological?) creature.  These little mini-debates are hilarious and had me laughing out loud. There are six zombie stories and six unicorn stories.  They are labeled with a unicorn or zombie on the top corner of the page so that haters of either creature can skip the offensive stories if they want too.  I have to say that overall based on the stories team unicorn won this one.  There are a ton of creative unicorn stories in here.  There are also a couple very creative zombie stories, but most of the zombie stories tend toward the classic small group of isolated humans fighting against a mass of zombie with limited resources.

The biggest highlight for me in the zombie arena was "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson.  Loved this story it was creative and well-written.  The biggest highlights in the unicorn arena were "The Highest Justice" by Garth Nix (a very solid fantasy), "Purity Test" by Naomi Novik (unicorn story with a bit of an urban fantasy twist to it), "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreund (love this world and the dangerous unicorns), and "Princess Prettypants" by Meg Carbot (very ironic and fun).

I struggle a bit with this being a young adult anthology.  There is a ton of swearing in a couple of the stories and some bestiality in one of them (implied not explicit). 

Overall though I really enjoyed it and found myself tearing through these stories at a fast clip.  An above average collection of stories and I loved the way the book was put together, it was just so much fun.  The only thing lacking was a brief bio on each author at the end of the story to let us know what other books/stories they had written.  See below for a brief review/description of each story included.

- The Highest Justice by Garth Nix (4.5/5)
Great fantasy story about a young girl who gets the help of a unicorn to avenge her mother's death.  I liked it a lot.

- Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson (5/5)
Very funny story about a part zombie who falls in love with a zombie hunter and can't decide whether to eat him or love him.  This was hilarious and very well done.

- Purity Test by Naomi Novik (5/5 stars)
A story about a unicorn who takes an uncoventional approach to getting a young girl to help him solve the crime of some missing unicorn babies.  Again another very funny story filled with irony.

- Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan (3/5 stars)
A more conventional zombie story about a young woman whose father is dictator of a Zombie-free island.  Personally I found it to be a bit too serious and a little boring.  The main character is okay but the story is fairly typical.

- A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan (4/5 stars)
This was an interesting story about a Princess who is found ravished on the shore.  When a man is wrongly blamed for her condition, what we find out about the Princess's lover is disturbing to say the least.  This is mainly a fantasy story and overall it was well-written and I enjoyed it.

- The Children of Revolution by Maureen Johnson (4/5 stars)
This was also a somewhat disturbing story about a college student who is hired to take care of some...well...rather mentally strange children.  Kind of funny and a lot creepy, I enjoyed this story and the style it was written in.

- The Care and Feeing of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund (5/5 stars)
Loved this story.  Those of your who haven't read her book Rampant should because it is awesome.  This story takes place in the same world and involves a young woman learning how to take care of a killer baby unicorn.  Very well done, lots of fun, and a great story.  This is one to tide you over until you can read Ascendant, the next book by Peterfreund about killer unicorns.

- Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld (4/5 stars)
Another story about your typical man-eating zombies and a small group of humans surviving in the wilderness.  This story has a bit of a twist to is that makes it a bit more interesting.  Overall very readable and I enjoyed it.

- Princess Prettypants by Meg Carbot (5/5 stars)
This was a very fun story about a cloned pretty-princess-type unicorn who is given to the main character for her birthday.  Well, the unicorn ends up being more than just another pretty face.  This story was very readable, funny, and I enjoyed it a ton.

- Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare (4/5 stars)
This was a story about a town where the dead come back to life.  The main character is determined to follow through on her relationship with her boyfriend even though he is killed and comes back...cold.  I didn't like the characters much and the story was pretty serious, but the concept was kind of neat and it was overall a good read.

- The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey (4/5 stars)
This was a disturbing unicorn story about a unicorn who grows addicted to sucking years of life from the people he heals.  It takes meeting the right virgin for him to give everything another go.  An interesting look at unicorns as a sympathetic villain of sorts.  I enjoyed it.

- Prom Night by Libba Bray (3/5 stars)
Another story about an isolated group of people trying to survive world zombie infestation.  The only difference is that this time only teens survived and it's prom night.  This was okay, but not all that different from a lot of other "zombies taking over the world" stories that I have read.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Zombies vs. Unicorns

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