Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Zombies vs Unicorns

Synopsis: It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

My Review:Zombies vs. Unicorns was the first anthology I’ve ever read.   I discovered I have a love hate relationship with them.  Love the fact that I get a lot of wonderful stories!  Hate the fact that they are all so flippin short!!! It is such a win and lose deal.  ZVU (not quite the same ring as AVP) is an epic battle between what creatures are better.  Zombies?  Or Unicorns?  Who came out of the battle on top? Well you’ll just have to continue reading to find out.  Since this is an anthology there is only one way to even begin to review this.  I’m gonna do short little reviews on each individual story.  The ones I loved, liked, and ones that just plain creeped me out. 

Team Unicorn(1)-The Highest Justice by Garth Nix: Oh Garth Nix how I love thee.  I love how he made a unicorn story epic by making it a unicorn/necromancer.  The irony alone was epic.  I love how subtle Nix’s writing is, and he did well with the short plotline.  I have to agree that Nix is secretly on team Zombie on this one.  Sorry Holly.  I would have liked to see this story extend a bit further.  Alas this is the problem with anthologies!  Curse thee!  I have a feeling I would have loved it as opposed to just enjoyed it if it was longer. 
Team Zombie(2)-Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson: I absolutely love, love, LOVED this story.  I wanted more!  I would happily read a five hundred page novel about this story.  What makes it so amazing is the fact that it is through the POV of a “zombie”.  A zombie who has been partially cured and retains his higher brain functions, but is still plagued by the desire to feast on human flesh.   The psychological aspects alone are drool worthy, plus I though the romance was just amazingly sweet.  Plus there was some awesome music mentioned.  ^.^ If you have an aversion to strong language and some M/M(very PG) then I would stay away, but I absolutely adored this one. 
Team Unicorn(3)- Purity Test by Naomi Novik:  Okay I just have to get this off my chest.  What is with Unicorns and virgins?  Like huh?  Why are they always connected?  I just don’t understand.  If you read this book then you’ll totally get what I’m raving about, but it is just weird.  Why would a magical horse with a horn be at all interested in virgins?  *shakes head*  I still don’t understand.  While I found this story rather entertaining and light-hearted it wasn’t anything special.  Just a solid okay.  A unicorn needs a virgin to lead him to missing baby unicorns whom have been stolen by a wizard.  Definitely a few hysterical moments, but overall just kind of eh. 
Team Zombie(4)- Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan:  The Queen of Zombies of course delivered an amazing story.  Set in the same world as Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth the entire world has been overcome with mudo.  A young girl who lives on one of the few mudo free places on earth has to make tough decisions to overcome her circumstances and do what is right for her people.  I really enjoyed this one.  While the girl kind of annoyed me because she was such a spoiled little brat, I loved her at the end.  Talk about bad ass.  I was totally cheering her on.  Amazing as always Miss Ryan!
Team Unicorn(5)- A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan:  Okay so this story creeped me out.  I mean I went bug eyed and literally wanted to stop reading it.  The story was just so… (for lack of a better word) F***ed up!   I will never, ever, EVER think of a unicorn the same way now.   Just gah.  If it turns out Unicorns are real and they are anything like they are in this story, I will be running to get the F out of there.  If you read this book.  Please just do yourself a favor and skip over this story.  Trust me.  Nightmare worthy. 
Team Zombie(6)-The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson:  I really rather liked this one.  A poor American college chick, drug to England by her ever high boyfriend, gets stuck on an organic farm that makes Alcatraz look nice.  Eventually abandoned by her BF she jumps at the opportunity to earn a baby sitting gig to get the heck out of there.  Too bad those children are the undead.  An interesting combination of modern alternative religion and zombies.  Though can anyone tell me who the heck the “famous actress” was that the chick babysat for? I’m thinking Angelina Jolie (well because frankly I could so see her raising undead children) but someone should really fill me in here. 
Team Unicorn(7)- The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund: Another story I absolutely ADORED!  It was probably by far my favorite of the whole entire book.  (Alaya’s is a very close 2nd) Killer unicorns?  Epic!  I mean do I need to say more?  Exactly!  The MC is born with the ability to tame /kill these killer unicorns and is basically the unicorn version of catnip, attracting the killer beasties like crazy.  When the opportunity arises to save a baby unicorn that is about to be drowned, she spirits him away and raises him herself.  She struggles with what she knows of unicorns and her growing feelings of love for the so called monster.  Is this seriously what Rampant is about?  I didn’t even make the connection until I saw someone else’s review on Amazon.  I am going to HAVE to read Rampant now because I am totally in love.  Utterly amazing!
Team Zombie(8)- Innoculata by Scott Westerfeld: Oh Westerfeld!  Another of my favorite authors!  Westerfeld did an amazing job (as always) and I loved this fresh idea as to how to deal with the zomie-pocolypse.  Innoculata (obviously from inoculate) is how a small group of teenagers in an all human settlement adrift in zombieland accidentally discovers a semi-cure to the zombie epidemic.  Basically making them carriers for the disease without getting any of the nasty brain eating side effects.  Very cool idea!  Absolutely loved it!
Team Unicorn(9)-Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot:  Haha!  Okay so I’ve only read one of Meg Cabot’s books but I adored it.  Princess Prettypants was pretty awesome, I have to say.  I loved Cabot’s utter pink, fluffy, farting rainbow take on unicorns.  So stereotypical, but that’s what made it funny.   The story was real life teenager drama with some magical rainbow and lavender farts thrown in for effect.  Very cute and refreshing in a surprising way.  After all these different takes on unicorns it was nice to have the truly modern day magical pixie horse version of one.  ^.^
Team Zombie(10)-Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare: Ya know what?  I honestly went into reading this without any pre-prejudice.  Surprising no?  I was being a good reviewer and all that jazz.  Too bad it kind of flopped for me.  I liked the setting of the story a lot.  Very cool idea.  The whole Zombietown idea where the citizens dead will always rise from the grave, and where zombies live side by side with regular people.  They’ve been integrated into society, and a major plus as well.  No brain eating.  Wonderful idea!  I really liked it.  Too bad I found the plot unremarkable.  Zombie love story?  So saw it coming.  And it was kind of boring too.  Girl and guy have been together since they were 9 years old.  Soulmates, going to get married, opes boy is murdered and is now a zombie.  Okay?  I mean it wasn’t bad by any means, you just read that I really liked the idea.  Extraordinary?  Not so much.  Just a solid okay. 
Team Unicorn (11)- The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey: See?  Here’s the virgin theme again.  *shakes head*  Does this mean I’m going to be bothered by unicorns?  So not cool.  Virgins aside, I found this story rather interesting.  Told through the perspective of a unicorn, it details its life over hundreds of years.  Always alone, always struggling to find some meaning in life, and most importantly always hungry.  Unicorns being purely magical creatures, don’t feed like normal animals.  A unicorn has a healing touch, but all healings come at a price.  Sucking the life out of people is the only way a unicorns appetite can be sated.  Struggling with its desire to feed and the over-whelming guilt from stealing others life force, the unicorn wants nothing more than to confide in someone and meet its ultimate death.  Kind of a very sad interpretation of a unicorn.  I really sympathized with the poor creature, and ultimately I really enjoyed the different take. 
Team Zombie(12)-Prom Night  by Libba Bray: A solely teenage society working against zombie-kind?  Can you say screwed?  Well… I would be in that situation at least.  When teens are the only ones left who haven’t been infected in a reinforced town, life is no longer normal.  Prom Night is the one time where they can relax and act like everything is the way it was before the shit hit the fan.  A little normal amidst a world of crazy, makes for one fun story.  Told through the perspective of one female “cop” and her spunky partner it was a pretty good story.  Just wish it was longer… *le sigh* 
So after this incredibly long drawn out review… what creature won?  Hands down the zombies.  Not just because most of my favorite stories in this book were from the Zombie Team, but because let’s face it, zombies are just epic.  Resident Evil, Sean of the Dead, Zombieland, the list goes on.  I can only think of one movie about a unicorn and well it’s animated and I think I was like 6 when I saw it.  Zombies are awesome.  Except for 28 Days Later zombies (okay well they are technically not zombies), but still!  Scary as hell!  O.O