Lacey Louwagie's Reviews > Zombies vs. Unicorns

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black
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Feb 29, 12

bookshelves: fantasy, paranormal, short-stories, survival, apocalyptic-postapocalyptic
Read from February 16 to 27, 2012

Before I begin my review, I just want to be clear that I definitely prefer unicorns over zombies, who have never held much appeal to me. Still, as a class, I felt that the zombie stories in this anthology were better than the unicorn ones, I think just because so many of the zombie stories involved post-apocalyptic scenarios, which I love. So that swayed my opinion more than the zombies did. Also, most of the unicorn stories seemed designed to shock or mock -- either flying in the face of the popular perception of unicorns by making them violent, evil, or possibly sexually deviant; or making fun of that popular perception by presenting them as rather silly creatures. None of the stories really captured what I feel is the compelling purity and wonder of a unicorn (you know, like Peter S. Beagle did ;)).

Still, this book is filled with high-quality stories all around, with a roll call of popular YA authors that do their reputations justice here and will certainly invite new readers to explore their longer works. My favorite zombie story was "Inoculata" by Scott Westerfeld, followed by "Children of the Revolution" by Maureen Johnson. Yes, the latter is quite silly, but it held my interest strongly nonetheless, and I loved the narrator's naive perception of the kids she was babysitting being "dumb," not realizing that they were actually undead. Although it wasn't one of my favorite stories, "Bouganvilla" made me excited about eventually reading "The Forest of Hands and Teeth," as I found Carrie Ryan's writing style beautiful and vivid. My least favorite zombie story was "Cold Hands" by Cassandra Clare, which relied too much on a romance that wasn't strong enough to carry it.

My favorite unicorn story was "A Thousand Flowers" by Margot Lanagan because her prose is so beautiful. The bestiality didn't bother me, either, although I am beginning to suspect that Margot has some sort of bestiality fetish, as it's appeared in both the stories I've read by her. Still, she's a brilliant storyteller capable of tapping into the deepest areas of our subconscious, to bring forth what is both beautiful and repulsive. My least favorite unicorn story (and the worst story in the whole collection) was "The Purity Test." Like Meg Cabot's "Princess Prettypants," it made fun of the unicorn motif -- but unlike Meg Cabot's, it didn't have the humor or characterization or even plot to redeem it.

So, although I still consider myself a member of Team Unicorn, this anthology did invite me to begin understanding the appeal of zombies.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Jenna Wow, my least fave stories were your faves, and my faves were your least faves! Interesting. Anyway, your first paragraph got me thinking about how it was pretty unfair to pit zombies and unicorns against one another, since end-of-the-world scenarios tend to be more fascinating. With that said, I'd like to see a post-apocalyptic unicorn story. *has ideas*

Lacey Louwagie Aw, now I feel like I inadvertently dissed your favorite stories. Sorry about that.

You should do something with those ideas! "Ariel" was kind of a post-apocalyptic unicorn story, but there's definitely room for more in that genre.

Jenna No, you didn't. Don't feel bad. I loved "The Purity Test," and I hated "Bougainvillea." That's pretty much where our differences are. I agree with you about "A Thousand Flowers," but my favorite story in the entire collection is "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn." My least favorite was "Princess Prettypants."

"Ariel" is definitely a post-apocalyptic unicorn story! I can't believe it slipped my mind. Yesterday I got a brand new story idea, and it's post-apocalyptic, but it does not contain unicorns (so far.)

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