Y's Reviews > Zombies Vs. Unicorns

Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Holly Black
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Dec 08, 14

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bookshelves: horror, anthology, fantasy, short-stories, zombies, unicorns, setting-multiple, dystopia, young-adult
Read from August 11 to 30, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Anthology, multiple authors and stories, tastes and feelings are very likely to be all over the place.

Zombies vs. Unicorns? I honestly have no real preference; I'd never gone out of my way to consume stories featuring either creature before. I do know that this collection has interested me in a number of authors, however, and I'd like to check out some of what they have to offer now.


Brief thoughts on each story to follow:


1. The Highest Justice (Garth Nix)

Barely remember it. It's the only one to actually have both a unicorn and a zombie in it, though? Points for that, really, and I could feel some humor beneath it all, but in the end it felt really "Who cares?"

2. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Alaya Dawn Johnson)

An interesting take on the "zombie infection", though the zombie boy felt too well-adjusted and too able to hide his obvious problems for me to really buy it. The band-name dropping felt too "Look at us; aren't we hipster" rather than actual character interaction that I felt we needed to see; I know this is a collection of short stories, but I think this one honestly would've benefited from being fleshed out into a full-length novel.

3. Purity Test (Naomi Novik)

This one was amusing. I liked the snarky unicorn; he reminded me of Rainbow Brite's talking horse Starbrite a bit, what with the overall indignant attitude. Still, the humor kind of petered out (it really wasn't that constantly hilarious) by the end. On the other hand, the baby unicorns were appallingly adorable (and all the really do is chant a couple lines at the very end.)

4. Bougainvillea (Carrie Ryan)

I'm currently reading through her The Forest of Hands and Teeth (thoughts on that later), and the stories are obviously taking place in the same world, so it's a nice view on how little cultures set themselves up amongst the zombie apocalypse, depending on where it is and who the head honchos are. That said, I really couldn't bring myself to like Iza or her father (though I doubt we were supposed to like him.) I felt sorry for the kid; he really didn't want to give up his game of Risk, dammit! Luckily, the ending at least did not end up like one of the romance novels Iza enjoyed.

5. A Thousand Flowers (Margo Lanagan)

Okay, reading through some of the other reviews here, this is the one that squicked everyone out (lol). I'm wondering what that says about me that I wasn't affected much by the whole mating of human girl with unicorn. (No, I do not care for bestiality in real life.) Honestly, I felt this could've been one of my favorite stories; I really enjoyed the unusual first protagonist we get (well, unusual for what you'd expect from a unicorn story), and in fact his experiences in the story is the only part in the entire book that made me teary-eyed. The switching of protagonists two more times, with no indications takes a couple of sentences to get used to, though, and I honestly didn't feel that what they had to say added much to the story.

6. The Children of the Revolution (Maureen Johnson)

My favorite zombie story. I don't...actually have a lot to say on it, though. It's obviously satirizing certain celebrities, with an overall humorous tone that doesn't try to go overboard, so it doesn't outstay its welcome.

7. The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn (Diana Peterfreund)

Interesting. Not much to say beyond that. The fact that religion actually played a role in developing the characters was...again, interesting. I guess it's just because most of what I read doesn't touch upon any of the characters being religious one way or the other (probably to avoid alienating readers of varying beliefs), though I wonder how important it actually was.

8. Inoculata (Scott Westerfeld)

An interesting (there's that word again; perhaps I need a thesaurus) concept on varying levels of...zombieness? Zombieocity? that doesn't really go anywhere, so this is another story that I feel could be helped tremendously by making it a full-length novel.

9. Princess Prettypants (Meg Cabot)

Aaaand this would be my favorite unicorn story. Focusing largely on the funny, but admittedly I probably wouldn't want to be friends with Liz either (the very mirror of "stupid teenage heroine"), had she not gotten around to "I have a mother-effing pet unicorn now; you will obey". Because that's more or less what I'd probably do if I had a unicorn in this day and age. (A threat punctuated by the sentence "Or my unicorn is going to smash in your face" is the best thing ever.) She should've given Alecia a ride home on the horse, though.

10. Cold Hands (Cassandra Clare)

Okay, so zombies come back to life to curse their loved ones, but they have zero ill effects? The heroine's BF dies, but he comes back to life and is as eloquent in death as he is in life? What's the point of people dying, then? Worst one for the zombies.

11. The Third Virgin (Kathleen Duey)

Essentially a story about an addict unicorn. Entertaining.

12. Prom Night (Libba Bray)

And finally, yet another zombie story that feels like it could've been considerably better had it not been a short story. There were some colorful characters and what felt like a promising premise to...something. Likely the demise of everyone left alive in the end, still, but it would've been a cool ride up until that point. We only get a very small glimpse of that, unfortunately.



Conclusion: Zombie tales don't really lend themselves well to shorter formats.
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