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Zombies Vs. Unicorns
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Book Club Discussions > January 2011- Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Holly Black

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message 1: by Jennifer W, WT Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jennifer W | 1289 comments Mod
Happy New Year, everyone!

For January's group read we'll be reading Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black.

Please mark spoilers.

Paula (pauldajo) I'm half way through listening to 'Zombies vs Unicorns'. There are some good stories, good and creepy!

Angelena (drimagirl12) I initially picked this book up because I saw that Meg Cabot had a story in it. Then I realized that a lot of my favorite authors had their own included. Some of the stories, for some reason, I just couldn't get myself into. I think my favorite was Libba Bray's Prom Night. That story really gave me a creepy feeling. I must say that I am totally Team Zombie. I enjoyed those stories more. After reading this anthology, I am an even bigger fan of zombies. Not that I didn't like the unicorn stories, I did. I'm just wierd and like zombies more. : )

message 4: by Aurora (last edited Jan 05, 2011 06:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aurora Celeste | 10 comments I'm gonna post my review wholesale:

This was a really good, entertaining anthology. The banter of the editors is great reading alone! "The Highest Justice" by Garth Nix was a story about an invisible unicorn who kills bad people. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson, about a person with a prion disorder who is driven to murder and cannibalism (from the point of view of the murderer, yet amazingly sympathetic) was probably the best story in the whole book. I am going to look up more of her work. "Purity Test" by Naomi Novik was funny:

"What does being a virgin have to do with opposable thumbs?" she said.

"Nothing!" The unicorn said. "But will anyone else in the herd listen to me? Of course not! They go off and grab the first thirteen-year-old who coos at them, and then it's all, 'Their purity will lead the way,' blah, blah, blah. Lead the way to a whole bunch of dead baby unicorns, maybe. I want a little more competence in my heroine."

"I'm drunk and sleeping on a bench in Central Park," Allison said. "That meets your criteria?"

"Bougainvillea" by Carrie Ryan is about a girl whose father rules Curacao after the zombie uprising, keeping zombies off the island and everyone safe. Not everyone appreciates his rule, though. This was another favorite, with a great ending that I didn't anticipate but loved all the same. "A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan was rather unremarkable, and, in the end, rather icky, and I'd really rather not think more of it. "The Children of the Revolution" by Maureen Johnson was just as unremarkable and icky, but with a funnier ending. "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreund was the reason I bought this book. It was great, but to me it really read as a tag for her series. I am not certain it would function well as a stand-alone to someone who had not read the books first. However, there was talk of it over on the [info]hugo_recommend, so it had to speak to someone (also, talk of a Campbell Award, which confused me, since Peterfreund's first book came out in 2007 so I thought she'd be ineligible). "Inoculata" by Scott Westerfeld was good but not great. I think it really spoke to how kids are always selfish in the end, which is something I just don't believe. It was well-written, though. "Princess Prettypants" by Meg Cabot was another fave. About a girl who gets a unicorn for a birthday present and how it changes her life for the better. "Cold Hands" by Cassandra Clare was a really good story about a town cursed with zombies and thus cut off from the rest of the world contained within a murder mystery. I am rather torn over "The Third Virgin" by Kathleen Duey. It was not pleasant, but I don't think the author meant it to be. It was, however, a bit too long to sustain the uncomfortable feeling and at times got draggy and, at other times, confusing. I am still not certain what the feelings and intentions of the narrator are, which is odd for a story told entirely in the head of one person (being?). "Prom Night" by Libba Bray closes out the anthology, but I am not sure it is on a good note. The story felt like a small part of a much larger world that I just didn't get. It may need to be more of a novella to really get the "how" and "why" information in there, or some editing so that the reader no longer cares.

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 183 comments I've never liked zombies, but then I've never read zombie stories. I've only experienced them in games and movies. So I was pleasantly surprised by the zombie stories in this collection.

The second story in particular was very appealing to the senses. He talked about eating people like it was a favorite meal. I was impressed with the authors sensual language, and I liked how the author interspersed 2nd-person perspective with the 1st-person point of view.

But in the end, I am still Team Unicorn. Not that I particularly like unicorns. However, so far my favorite story in this is How To Raise Your Own Baby Killer Unicorn. I really liked that one.

Paula (pauldajo) Aurora, Thanks for mentioning all the stories in the book. I'm listening to Zombies vs Unicorns and I haven't really paid attention to the story titles.

I'm Team Unicorn, mostly because zombies totally and absolutely freak and creep me out. I have one more story to listen to and it's a zombie one. Oh joy (sarcasism)!

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 183 comments Aurora wrote: "It was great, but to me it really read as a tag for her series. I am not certain it would function well as a stand-alone to someone who had not read the books first."

Aurora, I hadn't known there was a series, but this story was my favorite. I think it would be easy for someone who hadn't read anything else by this author to enjoy this one.

And like Paula, I appreciated that you mentioned each of the stories in the book. I am also listening to the audio book version and missed the individual titles and authors.

Karis Jacobstein (yalitwit) | 419 comments Princess Prettypants (Meg Cabot's contribution)rocks! I loved Maureen Johnson's story too (The Children of the Revolution). Especially the overt references to Angelina Jolie and her brood, and the thinly veiled digs at Scientology (no offense to any crazy Scientologists out there). I liked The Third Virgin (Kathleen Duey), although it was quite sad. I was disappointed with Scott Westerfeld's story. He's my favorite YA author, and I expected so much more. I thought Cassandra Clare's story was good, but maybe a bit too cute for a zombie story. As always, Libba Bray was excellent. I'm still not sure which team I'm on. I started out, wholly on Team Zombie, my only unicorn experiences being Rainbow Brite, Harry Potter, and The Last Unicorn, but now I'm kind of torn...

Paula (pauldajo) I'm really not on any team, however those zombies better stay away from me!

I'm not saying that the zombie stories were bad, they were well written. I'm just saying that the ick factor is great. I'm glad that the unicorns weren't the unicorns of the rainbow variety. I've heard rumors for years that there is a dark side to unicorns.

Bougainvillea - typical zombie scenario. Zombie virus spreads throughout world, pockets of uninfected people. It's a good scenario. The story was well written. Plenty of unfairness and government injustice. Weak, spoiled girl gathers strength and becomes a devotee of her father's harsh rulings. Wasn’t a favorite because of the subject matter, but a good story.

The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn - Enjoyed the concept of unicorns with teeth who aren't afraid to use them. Girl raises and loves a baby unicorn. Said baby unicorn adores his adoptive mama. Girl starts to question the beliefs of her parents and the government where unicorns are concerned. Story has no ending which really bugged me.

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Didn’t like the story, but it was written well enough. There was a new twist on zombieism (for me anyway). Boy gets bit, but doesn’t become a mindless, brain eating, monster. He eats humans, but isn’t brainless. He is able to live by society’s rules, especially with the support of his new love. Why would a perfectly healthy, blood pumping human want a zombie boyfriend?

Inoculata – again the zombie virus has taken over the world except for a few pockets of uninfected human. I actually liked this zombie story. The kids of the post zombie apocalypse were different people from most of the adults in the camp. Their reality differed greatly from the adults who remembers the world as it was. As with most children they wanted to make their own way and they realized that the camp could not sustain itself for ever. As what often happens in nature, one of the kids was scratched by a zombie, but didn’t turn .. much anyway. A new mutation. She infects other kids and they go off exploring the world while the adults possibly shot each other or are eaten by zombies. But most of the zombies follow the kids, so maybe there was no zombie eating.

Prom Night – The story was like Inoculata. Zombies taking over the world, etc. No adults in this story. Just kids growing into adulthood. Pretty well organized. Some accepted the responsibility some did not. There was a cliffhanger, but most of these stories had them.

Princess Prettypants – I really liked this story. I like a modern universe where unicorns are rare, but accepted. I like that unicorn farts smell good. I like that a unicorn takes on the emotions of her owner and kicks ass. All good. Oh, and I really like the boyfriend revenge.

Cold Hands – more like a regular story with zombies thrown in. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. Glad the bad guy got his in the end.

The Third Virgin – Didn’t care for this story, well written though. The unicorn just sounded too human. I had to keep reminding myself that he was a unicorn. This unicorn also reminded me of a vampire.

A Thousand Flowers – really sad story. An innocent man is killed by the authorities. I’m pretty sure they knew he was innocent. A baby dies at birth. Unicorn and former virgin are reunited. Not a healthy story and I’m sure there’s a lesson somewhere.

The Children of the Revolution – I had to turn the audiobook off when I knew that the little zombie kids were going to eat on the babysitter. Just could not listen to it. Later I finished the story. Not so bad. The story was told by a girl as a human and then as a zombie. As a zombie she was more or less contented with her unlife.

Purity Test – Cute, funny story, save those baby unicorns!

The Highest Justice – I really don’t remember much of this story. Fairy tale like. Girl summons unicorn in order to get justice. Unicorn was vey powerful and helped girl revenge her mother’s death. Girl gets the throne, I think.

Paula (pauldajo) Zombies vs Unicorns has introduced me to the writings of authors new to me. I've seen many of the names, but haven't read their works. I'll have to do some investigation.

Kellyflower | 136 comments Paula wrote: "Love Will Tear Us Apart – Didn’t like the story, but it was written well enough. There was a new twist on zombieism (for me anyway). Boy gets bit, but doesn’t become a mindless, brain eating, monster. He eats humans, but isn’t brainless. He is able to live by society’s rules, especially with the support of his new love. Why would a perfectly healthy, blood pumping human want a zombie boyfriend? ...."

I hated this story. This short story was icky. The narrator (Philip) keeps talking about how good Jack smells..like Velveta mac & cheese. Soooo good he really can't wait to eat his brains, But wait! He really wants to "F" bomb here>him too.

I was on another YA group and they really liked this story. I guess because it was a zombie story & it had Two boys in love with each other. To me that doesn't make a good story.

Paula (pauldajo) Yes, Kellyflower I agree. The whole tone of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' was disturbing. I didn't want the guy experimented on,

**** Spoiler *****
but had he been killed in the barn it wouldn't have bothered me at all. And as for the zombie's boyfriend, he could have rebelled against his father's unreasonable authority in a less icky way.

Christie | 12 comments Going into the book I was hoping the unicorn stories would be better. I feel that the zombie stories kept my interest more. They seemed to have better story lines. However that could be related to the fact that I think that there was more of a chance to invent new ideas and stories about zombies. Maybe because zombies are written about more often there was more of a chance to expand from an idea or create one of your own.
I am disappointed that the unicorn stories were not better. I did like that all the unicorn stories were not stereotypical. Princess Prettypants started out with that stereotypical unicorn, but had that little evil twist in it that made it not a good story but a great story. I liked The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Unicorn because the unicorn was not stereotypical and was presented as a killer.
Inoculata seemed to me to be a great fragment of a story that I would love to hear more about. Where I would have to say Cold hands was one of my favorite stories. I like the basis of this story, a town that was cursed with zombies. Where loved ones and friends sometimes did not die but stayed with you forever. If you tired to escape the town, your zombie friends would follow you so no towns would let you in. I think that this story showed a new and interesting view on zombies. The story also had undertones of rich vs poor and how love will conquer all. Also the poor zombies that everyone ignored peacefully rose to a more upstanding place in society. I like how much was going on in this story that you may not realize till you reflect on the story afterwards. I will have to say that this is one of my favorite stories so far. Prom night was also a good story that had the same ideas as Inculata.

I did find that some of the book had a high ick factor. Some of it went along with the stories and in some stories it was a bit much. Overall I enjoyed the anthology. I reluctantly have to say team zombie won this one.

message 14: by Kellee (last edited Jan 21, 2011 07:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kellee Moye (kelleemoye) Well, I was torn between zombies and unicorns before reading this book. They are both so different, but I knew I had to choose a side. While the Unicorn side put up a brilliant fight with superb stories like Meg Cabot's "Princess Prettypants" and "The Care and Feeding of your Baby Killer Unicorn" bu Diana Peterfreund. While all the unicorn stories were good, I just felt that the zombie stories put up a better fight. I believe the Zombie team won *sorry Holly :(*

Every zombie story, for me, was exceptional. From Alaya Dawn Johnson's LBGT zombie story "Love will tear us apart" to Libba Bray's bleak "Prom Night"... just fantastic! I can't even pick favorites because I really did enjoy them all. I was most excited about Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea" because it is another story in the world of her novels and I loved the first 2 novels. Maureen Johnson's addition was funny, Scott Westerfeld's and Cassandra Clare's hopeful, in some ways.

The mix of the book overall was fabulous though. The banter between Holly and Justine between stories were always laugh out loud and the combination of romance, humor and, I guess, post-apocalypic stories were perfect.

Leigh (leighb) Oooh, I'm dying to read this book! Gotta add it to my list-it's supposed to be good.

Paula (pauldajo) If I had been reading rather than listening to the book, I know I would have skipped over some of the zombie scenes. I'm glad I was forced (in a manner of speaking) to listened, since the stories were well written as well as creepy, gross, and icky.

message 17: by Jennifer W, WT Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jennifer W | 1289 comments Mod
I only just got to this one. I have to say, I was mostly interested because while I've heard of almost all of these authors, I have only ever read Scott Westerfeld before, so I like the "snack table" (zombie pun intended) of authors presented.

I'm about halfway through the book and so far my favorite story has been Bougainvillea. I don't read many zombie stories (or unicorn stories for that matter), so while the premise isn't all that new, I really liked the pirate and trickery aspect of it. Though I have to agree, the editors snide comments and commentary in between each section is truly the best part.

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