Sunday 6 April 2014

GIF Review: Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

This book is a short story battle. Like a dance battle but with WORDS. So basically AWESOME. On one side, led by Holly Black, is Team Unicorn, featuring the skills of Meg Cabot, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix to name a few.


On the other side, led by Justine Larbalestier, is Team Zombie, with the talents of Libba Bray, Carrie Ryan and Maureen Johnson, amongst others.

The book alternates between zombie stories and unicorn stories, each trying to answer the question: which creature makes for a better tale? Now, when I began the book I declared myself Team Unicorn because, well, unicorns combine basically all of my favourite things: mythology, romance, pretty things, sparkles, rainbows, pretty smells, magic, and all that is good in the world. Zombies on the other hand are stinky and ugly and evil and GROSS. Ugh. Don't get me wrong, I love a zombie story as much as the next person. But give me a unicorn over a zombie ANY DAY.

After the first few stories I became a bit worried that I would turn Team Zombie. Because while I liked the unicorn stories, it was the zombie stories I was really blown away by. But, thankfully, by the end of the book I found myself still firmly on Team Unicorn - but also, strangely, ALSO on Team Zombie. Basically I can't declare a winner because both Teams were brilliant and both creatures are fascinating and compelling, for completely different reasons. In the end EVERYONE wins because what we got from this battle was a remarkable, entertaining and moving collection of short stories. Here are my brief thoughts on each one. With GIFS! Because that's a thing that I do these days apparently.

"The Highest Justice" By Garth Nix
In a sentence: A more traditional unicorn tale, in the sense it involves kings and queens, wishes and magic, but also MURDER and REVENGE, this was fun but the characters were quite flat and it was rather predictable, so it wasn't amazing.
In a GIF:

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson
In a sentence: Ah, the old zombie hunter falls in love with the zombie story - brilliantly told here with compelling characters and raw, powerful emotions.
In a GIF:

"Purity Test" by Naomi Novik
In a sentence: Unicorns meet urban fantasy when they take over New York City in a quest to defeat an evil wizard - a very funny take on the genre.
In a GIF:

"Bougainvillea" by Carrie Ryan
In a sentence: A dystopian zombie world in which a young woman dreams of romance and a normal life - until everything changes. I can't say any more except WOW this was awesome - gripping and beautiful.
In a GIF:

"A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan
In a sentence: Beautiful, poignant and more than a little bit twisted, this deals with the fallout of one magical evening in the forest.
In a GIF:

"The Children of the Revolution" by Maureen Johnson
In a sentence: This is basically what would happen if Angelina Jolie adopted zombie kids - a darkly hilarious send up of celebrity culture.
In a GIF:

"The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreund
In a sentence: Unicorns have come back from extinction, but they're not the nice healing creatures we think - they're man-eating monsters! Creepy and entertaining but the ending felt a little abrupt.
In a GIF: 

"Inoculata" by Scott Westerfeld
In a sentence: How do you rebel in a post-apocalyptic world? By becoming the thing your parents hate... I loved this take on growing up and being a teenager surrounded by zombies.
In a GIF:

"Princess Prettypants" by Meg Cabot
In a sentence: In which a unicorn is used to help with typical 17-year-old problems - like dealing with bullies and douchnozzle boys, and getting nice boys to kiss you. LOVE.
In a GIF:

"Cold Hands" by Cassandra Clare
In a sentence: In Zombietown, your boyfriend's death doesn't mean the end of your relationship... Gotta admit, this one made me a little uncomfortable.
In a GIF: 

"The Third Virgin" by Kathleen Duey
In a sentence: The first story I've read with an evil, suicidal unicorn as the protagonist - creepy and amazing.
In a GIF:

"Prom Night" by Libba Bray
In a sentence: All the adults have turned into zombies, leaving the teens to fend for themselves and do whatever the hell they want. So fun and yet surprisingly bleak - but, not surprisingly, fantastic.
In a GIF:

Overall this was an awesome read. What really struck me was just how unique and creative each story was, and how deep and varied the worlds of these two creatures can be. Team Zombicorn for lyf!

Rating: 4/5

Fine Print
Published: 2010, Allen & Unwin
Get It: Bookworld


  1. I loved reading those in a sentence reactions- that was a lot of fun! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this so throughly. I tried reading it but couldn't really get into it and only wanted to look at a couple of stories by authors I knew of already, and none really drew me in. I am, however, team unicorn, because as you say: UNICORNS are sparkily and (if I may) they poop rainbows. Magic rainbows. They're heroic and legendary and wonderful. Also, they're like a walking narwal.

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun, and I'm defo leaning more towards unicorns, but some of the zombie stories sound great, too. Also, I love the gif of Hannah, such a cutie!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

  3. I picked this up in the library around 3 years ago and I absolutely LOVED/REMEMBERED that story with the girl and how she wasn't a virgin (or was she? idk) and it was absolutely hilarious.

    I don't think I finished all of the short stories though.

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