Holly Black Zombies vs. Unicorns


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  • Zombies vs. Unicorns

    Zombies vs. Unicorns


    07. April 2014 um 18:29

    If I had to describe the anthology “Zombies vs. Unicorns” in one word, I would say “fun”. In the book Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black endeavour to answer not the question who would win an epic fight but whether zombies or unicorns make better for fiction. In order to settle their debate Justine (Team Zombie) and Holly (Team Unicorn) mustered up many big names of the Young Adult Genre to contribute with stories and ultimately convince the reader. Each story is introduced by comments of both editors and even if the story cannot convince entirely, their bickering makes it worthwhile. Above those, the reader finds a little zombie or unicorn icon so that one immediately knows what to (roughly) expect. The stories itself vary greatly in length, style and approach so I will comment on each individually. As might be expected, the protagonists are usually teenagers and there are a good deal of (usually non-cheesy) love stories to be found. The anthology consists of: “The Highest Justice” by Garth Nix (Unicorn) The first is also the shortest story with an interesting idea that could have done better on more pages. The abrupt beginning reads a bit like mediocre fanfiction and the equally abrupt ending leaves the reader somewhat unsatisfied. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Zombie) I enjoyed Alaya Dawn Johnson's story a great deal since we do not get a full-on zombie apocalypse but focus on one individual as much as part of an explanation of how the whole thing came to pass. She manages to make me care about their characters and convinces with her style. “Purity Test” by Naomi Novik (Unicorn) “Purity Test” tells of an short adventure in New York City that isn't that interesting because of the unicorn but more because of his companion who isn't impressed at all by supposedly imaginary creatures. It made me laugh. “Bougainvillea” by Carrie Ryan (Zombie) This is probably my favourite story as it shows an almost complete world of which I would love to read more. It is beautifully told in short sections of “Before” and “Now” (although “Before” does not refer to the time before it all went down), features both zombies and pirates (yay!) and has an ending that makes everything feel well-rounded. “A Thousand Flowers” by Margo Lanagan (Unicorn) Margo Lanagan reminded me why I usually find unicorn stories a bit ridiculous or even off-putting. Again, I got the feeling of reading very weird fanfiction that left me with a “What did I just read?!”-feeling. “The Children of the Revolution” by Maureen Johnson (Zombie) Another non-apocalypse zombie story that inspects the whole issue from a different angle. It was great to read of Maureen Johnson's idea that she narrates intriguingly with a well-rounded ending that isn't as dark as others. “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” by Diana Peterfreund (Unicorn) I'm with Justine Larbalestier on this one when she says: “I will confess that I like Diana Peterfreund's killer unicorns. Frankly, they're the only interesting unicorns in the entire book. I can trust an animal that's out to kill us”. Peterfreund has a clear image of her unicorns and universe of unicorn hunters that does her story good. The reader gets a great insight into her protagonist while questions such as “Is something born a monster?” are raised. “Inoculata” by Scott Westerfeld (Zombie) Of all the zombie stories this most reminded me of “The Walking Dead” but it takes an interesting turn that makes it truly unique. Both setting and writing style make me wish it lasted longer. “Princess Prettypants” by Meg Cabot (Unicorn) As ridiculous as the title is the story itself, but in a funny way. Princess Prettypants proves to be a great pet that can help solve a lot of problems. Don't take it serious and you will enjoy it. “Cold Hands” by Cassandra Clare (Zombie) Cassandra Clare's take on zombies is quite different as they live peacefully side by side with humans; no brain eating involved at all. While the set-up did interested me a lot, it was pretty clear where the story was headed and thus lost some of its appeal. “The Third Virgin” by Kathleen Duey (Unicorn) Here we finally have a story with the unicorn as the first-person narrator – and let me tell you something: unicorns are douche bags. It is a dark story that follows a quite similar pattern once it has started and left me a bit frustrated with its lack of change. “Prom Night” by Libba Bray (Zombie) The last story of the anthology got me utterly convinced. Locked in a town in a post-apocalyptic world without adults a couple of teenagers try to keep it all together. It is a dark tale without much hope but beautifully told and it shows how much of world-building and characterisation can be done on a couple of pages. All in all, I liked the zombie stories much better as they are more diverse and usually show more of a complex background story. “Zombies vs. Unicorns” is a very enjoyable and humorous read for fans of zombies, unicorns and Young Adult readers that invites to rethink certain imaginations of fantastical prototypes – or just have some fun.

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