My first blog review ever... but here it goes!! Right down to business...
ZOMBIES VS UNICORNS published October 2010 OVERALL RATING: 5/5
A TIMELESS BATTLE IN THE FORM OF A NEW ANTHOLOGY WITH
STORIES BY... Garth Nix (Abhoren Trilogy, The Ragwitch), Diana Peterfreund (Rampant, Ascendant), Cassandra Clare (the Mortal Insturments), Kathleen Duey (Skin Hunger, Scared Scars), Scott Westerfeld (Uglies Trilogy and Leviathan to name a few), Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries, Airhead series), Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Going Bovine), Maureen Johnson (Little Blue Envelope books), Carrie Ryan (the Forest of Hands and Teeth), Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels), Naomi Novik (His Majesty's Dragon), and Alaya Dawn Johnson (Spirit Binders Trilogy). *gasps for breath*
Edited by Justine Larbalester and the phenomenal Holly Black-- team leaders for Team Zombie and Team Unicorn, respectively.
'SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME ONE QUESTION HAS DOMINATED ALL OTHERS: ZOMBIES, OR UNICORNS?' (1st line of the introduction)
Zombies vs Unicorns has been on my Books-I-Must-Have-Right-NOW list for a while. Just by scanning the cover--beneath the slip cover-- any zombie and/or unicorn fan can tell they are in for a treat. OBSERVE:
The twelve authors each chose a side and battled it out via short story.
Myself I am firmly on the side of Team Unicorn... but you'll have to read this circa 400-page anthology to make your own decision!
THE HIGHEST JUSTICE, BY GARTH NIX
Nobody could expect anything but brilliant from Garth Nix, national bestselling author of Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, and the Keys of the Kingdom series. This is also the ONLY story in the collection to feature both zombies and unicorns. (Irony much?) Young Princess Jess has a major problem in the form of her newly-resurrected and zombified mother. The story opens with Jess taking her mother to her father, the King,'s private castle to fulfill her mother's last wish of seeing him again before she lapses still further into...un-death, and gives into her more... brain-consuming urges. Luckily Jess is a virgin with the assistance of the unicorn Elibit. The climax involves a clever and somewhat amusing showdown with Jess's cold father and his witchy mistress... but I'm not giving anything away. RATING: 8, great but not the best in the book
LOVE WILL TEAR US APART, BY ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON
I've never read any of Ms. Johnson's books, sad to say. 'Love will tear us apart' is definitely the most romantic zombie tale here-- that's right, I said romance and zombie in the same sentence. I love reading M/M and F/F pairings in YA, 'cause they're rare in the genre. Philip has a crush on Jack, a guy at his high school... the only problem is that Philip's a wanted zombie on the run and he'd also like nothing better than to take a bite out of Jack's delectable hand...or possibly brain. This story is romantic, sweet, funny, with just a little bit of brain-devouring gore thrown in for good measure. What more could you ask for? RATING: 9, definitely brilliant
PURITY TEST, BY NAOMI NOVAK
Forget chalices, kings, and ye olde-unicorns encountering dainty virgins. Alison is a teen who recently moved out on the streets...and she's definitely not a virgin. One hungover night, she is awoken by an honest-to-god unicorn poking her with his horn. Belacazar-- that's the Unicorn's name, hee hee-- doesn't care that Alison's no virgin; he just wants to enlist her help in saving a gang of super-adorable, super-aggravating baby unicorns from the evil wizard Otto Penzler. This is a unicorn-satire, with more than a few corny jokes that will make you snort with laughter. 'The correct name is actually Land of the Faerie', Belacazar said stiffly, somehow managing to squash in a whole bunch of extra vowels'. (from page 67)
RATING: 8, pretty great
BOUGAINVILLEA, BY CARRIE RYAN
I've been a die-hard unicorn fan from age six... but Carrie Ryan is enough to make anyone consider switching over to Team Zombie. Her phenomenal books The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-tossed Waves are two brilliant zombies books no zombie or unicorn fan should miss. ' Bougainvillea' is set in the same post-apocalyptic-type world as her two novels...basically Iza is the daughter of the self-made governor of a Belgian island which is secluded from the Mudo (zombie)- infested outside world. Keeping the zombies away is a full-time job for her father's personal army, and there are bound to be slip-ups... coupes and attacks. That's about all I can say without spoiling anything. Iza is an intriguing if selfish heroine-- very different, I thought-- from the heroines of Ryan's novels. This is brilliant stuff, and I love the twist ending. Perhaps the best of the collection. RATING: 9, definitely brilliant
A THOUSAND FLOWERS, BY MARGO LANAGAN
WOW. What to make of this intriguing, engrossing, if utterly bizarre and a touch disturbing, story? Personally, I loved it, but I can see many people skipping to the next story in disgust after they figure out the story's strange twist. The kingdom is in uproar after their princess is stolen into a flower-ridden wood and raped. Her kidnapper is apprehended, but the princess swears the man is innocent...and what of the supposed kidnapper's strange tale of a beautiful white stallion with a spiraled horn whom he observed leaving the grove where the princess lay? This is a story which will keep you pondering long after you finish it.
RATING: 9, definitely brilliant (for the writing and the sheer mad genius of the concept)
THE CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION, BY MAUREEN JOHNSON
If you know Maureen Johnson, you know that most anything she writes is a laugh-a-minute. 'The Children of the Revolution' was no exception. A teen stuck in England for a summer of 'fun' on a work-and-travel farm ends up babysitting for an eccentric and famous actress. The actress's five children live in a playpen and have their mysterious meals delivered to them on a bizarre conveyor belt. They're an unhealthy bunch, our heroine thinks...and, guess what, they're infectious. Just like this hilarious story. Does for zombies what 'Purity Test' did for unicorns. RATING: 8, pretty great
THE CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR BABY KILLER UNICORN, BY DIANA PETERFREUND
This is definitely one of the best unicorn stories in the book. Diana Peterfreund is the author of Rampant, a novel about Astrid Llewellyn, teenager descendant of Alexander the Great who discovers she has an affinity for attracting (and slaying) unicorns. Serious Buffy similarities here, for me, but Diana makes it original. This story is set in the same universe-- one where unicorns have recently been discovered as being not, in fact, extinct. Our heroine Wen is of an unusual breed: spunky, but steadfastly religious (Christian). She saves a newborn unicorn from being euphanizing via drowning at a carnival (long story) and proceeds to take it home, where little Flower proceeds to tear apart her garage and devour her family's meat supply. (What, you didn't know unicorns are carnivorous??) Funny, utterly original, altogether excellent. RATING: 9, definitely brilliant
INOCULATA, BY SCOTT WESTERFELD
Scott Westerfeld is one of today's best YA sci-fi writers, without a doubt. 'Inoculata' is a brilliantly-told, awesomely-imagined story about a group of teenagers who live fenced in by zombies... and who find a surprising immunity and the courage to attempt to escape their safe prison. I love that the main romance pairing is F/F (girl/girl), which is very rare in teen writing. I'm always amazed by Scott's ability to get inside his characters (present, future, boy, girl, gay, straight...) and tell their stories with such blunt and convincing reality. One of the book's best for sure. RATING: 9, definitely brilliant
PRINCESS PRETTYPANTS, BY MEG CABOT
The title alone made me laugh out loud. This is indeed a unicorn-farce, even funnier than 'Purity Test'. The characters are mostly shallow stereotypes, which is probably a combination of both irony and typical Meg Cabot. However...Liz is pretty ticked when her weird commune-aunt sends her a real-live unicorn for a birthday presents. A unicorn who farts rainbows, shimmers, glitters, and bears the name Princess Prettypants none-the-less. (Sort of like a lifesize My Little Pony with a horn.) The plot is pretty typical, with few surprises, but the unicorn herself was so hilarious I had to like it. RATING: 7, very decent
COLD HANDS, BY CASSANDRA CLARE
Cassandra Clare is a talented writer...99% of the time. With this story, I think she fell a little short of her usual mark. Now, I liked 'Cold Hands'. But I didn't love it; it didn't stand out in this superior collection of stories. Adele is in love with the heir to the Dukedom of Lychgate, an odd little town where half the inhabitants are zombies. She's going to marry her boyfriend James and become the next Duchess... until her boyfriend dies. It's up to Adele to decide if she wants him to rise again, and what she will do to end the reign of his murderous uncle, the Duke. This story was well-written, but had no twist whatsoever. Not much excitement, besides the fact that Cassandra's zombies are intriguing and deviant. RATING: 7, very decent
THE THIRD VIRGIN, BY KATHLEEN DUEY
Yeah... I was so sick of freak'in virgins by the time I reached this story. The unique thing about 'The Third Virgin' is that it's told from the unicorn's point-of-view. The unicorn is alone in the world, both revered and isolated from everyone and everything she has known throughout the centuries of her life. Until she meets the third virgin, a horribly scarred girl with a tragic past and a secret burning desire. The idea of a masochistic unicorn is an interesting one...but this story came a little too late in the book for me. RATING: 7, very decent
PROM NIGHT, BY LIBBA BRAY
Leave it to Libba Bray to close the curtains on this brilliant anthology with a bang. She is a fool-proof author, consistently WOWing with her novels and short stories. 'Prom Night' is no exception. This story is a glimpse-- a snapshot, rather than an actual story. A snapshot of a small Arizona (?) town where the adults have turned zombie and it's left to the kids to clean up the mess they've left behind. Tahmina and her friend Jeff are self-declared cops in this strange new world, trying to reclaim order among zombie-wrought madness. Still, it makes for one hell of a Prom Night. Libba Bray has created a world that begs for a novel to take place within its boundaries. RATING: 9, definitely brilliant
A Myriad of Books