Zombies vs. Unicorns is an fun-filled, diverse anthology of stories by some of the premier YA authors. They try to answer the universal question: Which is better? Zombies or Unicorns?
To start with, the cover is delightfully intricate–the best I’ve ever seen, I think. It’s a full mural of a battle between zombies and unicorns.
The book begins with a great intro, in which the editors Holly Black (Team Unicorn) and Justine Larbalestier (Team Zombie) defend their respective positions. Each story–either zombie or unicorn–is introduced by the two editors, continuing the debate and using the story as proof for their side.
There is a deeper level to the anthology, trying to explore the idea of “Which creature better symbolizes the human condition?” Read the introduction and you’ll be hooked, as it’s great and really drives home the points they’re trying to make. Plus, it’s hilarious.
I really enjoyed all the stories, but I’ll comment on the most memorable, in brief.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Alaya Dawn Johnson
This is an odd one, but really it’s memorable. All I can say is, what would a zombie eat that it might compare to macaroni and cheese?
“Bougainvillea” by Carrie Ryan
I read and reviewed Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth awhile ago, and this takes place in the same world. It was an enjoyable expansion, taking place before the events of the book, but in a different part of the world. This was solid, and I could read a novel with these same characters and setting.
“The Children of the Revolution” by Maureen Johnson
This was great! An Angelina Jolie-like actress with a dark secret, told from the perspective of a young adult in desperate straits. Also, something I’ve always been interested in: a zombie’s perspective. I loved this!
“The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” by Diana Peterfreund
While I have a predilection for zombie stories, this was my favorite unicorn story. I loved it. Unicorns aren’t just cute and cuddly, but are dangerous, and a Buffy-like character who, despite her ingrained hatred for unicorns, finds that a cute, cuddly, killer unicorn who she can’t live without.
“Inoculata” by Scott Westerfeld
I love this one. This is a completely unique take on the zombie story. It reminds me of when a Caesar would built up a tolerance to poison by taking small doses of it. Some kids try this with little bits of zombie.
“Princess Prettypants” by Meg Cabot
I’ve never read Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries book series, but this intrigued me enough to make me want to give it a go at some point. This is another unique take on unicorns: unicorns with a symbiotic, righteous vengeance. I greatly enjoyed it.
“Cold Hands” by Cassandra Clare
I’m a huge Cassandra Clare fan, and this is completely unique. These are still zombies, but different and more active. They exist in a slightly macabre, wonky universe.
“The Third Virgin” by Kathleen Duey
This is a short story epic. It spans over 500 years, and it’s quite complex, somewhat morbid, but effective.
“Prom Night” by Libba Bray
This could be set in the same world as Scott Westerfeld’s “Inoculata.” It’s “Children of the Corn” meets zombies, where the adults seem to carry the zombie virus and the adolescents run the world. And what do they do? Have prom. Really a great finale to a wonderful, memorable anthology.