A dear friend of mine, knowing my love of mythical creatures and whimsy gave me the collection of short stories, Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. The start the anthology by asking the question “Which makes for a better story? Unicorns? or Zombies?.” Every other chapter is marked with a Zombie or Unicorn symbol. There’s also small dialogues of banter between the two editors vying for their side which I actually could have done with out, although it is really the whole point of the book. Also, even though its considered a YA book it has cussing, sex, and even hinted beastiality. So beware if you plan on handing this to someone younger then high school. The overall reading level is on par with YA books, but the content is a little heavy. Though it was kind of strange that all but one of the authors were women. The only male writter is Larbalestier’s husband. So the stories tend to be a little female heavy on the protagonists. (Not that I’m complaining! Its nice to see kick-ass female leads!) But recommending this to a teenage boy might be hard to do.
But as a lady and being one that probably will always consider herself a young adult so I can keep reading YA books, it was really quite enjoyable. My favorite story out of all of them was Carrie Ryan’s Bougainvillea. I could imagine it as a movie or a longer novel. Both beautiful and creepy I really just wanted it to be expanded and follow the protagonist into her future. I wont ruin it, but I think that was easily the best story in the collection. Of the Unicorn stories I thought The Care and Feeding of Your Killer Baby Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund was the best. It featured unicorns that weren’t fluffy and girly and it had some good humor. Turns out its actually a full series so I can get back to leaning about Killer Unicorns! Hurrah!
The only story I really did not enjoy was Margo Lanagan’s A Thousand Flowers, which also happens to be the one that hints at beastiality, although that wasn’t the reason I didnt like it. The writing was along the lines of “ye olde English” to place it in the time of knights and princesses, but it just felt so out of place with the rest of the book. Plus I found it to be kind of boring and skipping around from two many point-of-views.
Being a unicorn girl myself, I figured in the end I would enjoy the more fantasy geared stories the best, but I was pleasantly surprised by actually enjoying the zombie fiction more. Thanks to this book I am now team zombie. They just happen to make the best stories and impressively had untold zombie situations. Either team zombie or team unicorn, I would suggest this as a fun and light read. Plus you can always skip the stories that are boring or not on your team! Everyone wins!