Book in Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, and More PART I

10:19 PM

Authors: Holly Black (Editor), Justine Larbalestier (Editor), Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Diana Peterfreund, Carrie Ryan, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Meg Cabot, Kathleen Duey, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maureen Johnson, Margo Lanagan
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Pages: Paperback, 418 pages

Summary (via Goodreads):
It’s time to decide: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? A must-have anthology with contributions from bestselling YA authors is now available in paperback!
It’s a question as old as time itself: Which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? This all-original, tongue-in-cheek anthology edited by Holly Black (Team Unicorn) and Justine Larbalestier (Team Zombie), makes strong arguments for both sides in the form of  spectacular short stories. Contributors include bestselling authors Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan.

Discover how unicorns use their powers for evil, why zombies aren’t always the enemy, and much more in this creative, laugh-out-loud collection that will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

I don't often read anthologies. This is one of the first ones I've ever read. Since anthologies are quite new to me, I don't exactly have a method on how to review them, but I thought that the best way to do so was to give a brief review for each story. This way, with all the stories laid out in front of me, I can objectively decide if this anthology in its entirety was a good one. However, my review ended up becoming incredibly long, so I decided to split this up into two parts. The first part is this one which has a brief introduction and reviews for the first six stories. The second part will contain the other six and my thoughts on the anthology itself.

Before I start, I'd like to tell you a little about how I came to read this particular book. I have actually  known about this anthology for a really long time but could never find it in bookstores. I recently went out with my friends and by some sort of miracle, I found this. I immediately bought it, and I am so glad that I bought the physical copy because the illustrations are simply gorgeous, and I don't think an ebook would carry the same feel. I love the aesthetic, the black cover, the font used for the names of the authors. I just really liked the appearance of the book. Of course, appearances alone are not enough, so below are the reviews for the first six stories. :)

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix

Being the first story in this anthology, The Highest Justice basically sets the mood of the book. Though I do not think it is the best work, it did a pretty good job of drawing the reader in, encouraging them to read more. The story in itself wasn't very special. It was the basic storyline of evil king and a mistress wanting the throne while the princess is on a mission to make things right. However basic the storyline might be, the element of a zombie queen and a unicorn gives it a wonderful twist. It had the right amount of thrill and originality to keep you interested, and its ending was satisfactory. Although I thought the motives of the princess and the zombie queen were odd, and I felt like the story was a tad bit rushed, I will cut it some slack, for it is just a short story and the oddness manages to solidify Nix's writing style.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson

I did enjoy the concept and the thought put into this book, which is what kept me reading it. Alaya Dawn Johnson shows a different kind of zombie to her readers, and I found this kind of zombie utterly fascinating. I was disappointed though because I had hoped for more explanation about Grayson's condition in the scientific side. The story was also highly improbable, or at least it seemed improbable to me, because I just couldn't wrap my head around the thought of someone being able to sacrifice their parents for someone who is not only a murderer but also someone who was never close to them in the first place. I felt like the story was too short for the concept it tried to bring to life. I wanted it to talk about what had happened to Grayson. I wanted it to talk about Jack's dad's job and motivation. I wanted it to give more of a backstory on who Jack was or what he had gone through. The plot was good, but the execution was lacking.

Purity Test by Naomi Novik

I liked this story. It wasn't a very serious one, and among all the other stories, this definitely gave off a lighter, more humorous vibe. Since the aim of the story was to be somewhat comical, I will judge it by its success in that area, and I do think Novik managed to achieve that. The story was different; the heroine, although she acted unrealistically and her backstory needed to be expounded upon, was funny and nice; the portrayal of the unicorn was cute. All in all it was a light and happy read that was more modern than old time-y.

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan

This was a story that really stood out to me. I thought that the story was not only unique, but also written really well. The heroine was given sufficient backstory, and the zombies were thoroughly described. I liked how in just a few pages, Carrie Ryan managed to create a world of her own, complete with 3D characters and interesting backstory. I really appreciated the ending as well because it could have gone another way, and I would completely hate the story, but it went the way it did, and I really appreciated that 'twist'. That statement would probably make more sense if you've read the book, but that's the best way I could describe it.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan

This was a slightly disturbing story. It was good and beautifully written, but also contains a topic material that is not often discussed in literature. I like the way she described the romance, the childbirth and more. I'll be honest about how I had to reread a couple of parts because reading it the first time left me quite confused, but as I finished the book, everything made perfect sense. The twist didn't surprise me, really, because I had already been expecting it, but the revelation was built up well, and the sequence of events plus the complex layers of writing complimented the story really well.

The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson
The Children of the Revolution was a story that really creeped me out, in a good way. It's a really memorable one as well. I liked the fact that the zombies were related to a certain religion which gives us the motive, however crazy it is, to create these zombies. Sofie was a character that I couldn't really relate because following your stoner boyfriend to go work in England, opening the gate and going near sketchy children, and trusting a crazy actress, are just things that I don't think anyone would do in a million years. Sofie came across as stubborn, shallow, and also quite stupid. Even so, I can't say I disliked this book because with the amount of stuff going on, and the constant action and fast-paced events, there was barely any room to think of the characterization. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and even if it's lacking in some areas, it's still worth reading and very entertaining.

The second part of this review will be up on February 10, guys! What do you think about this book so far? Have you read it before? Leave a comment below!

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Kimi has read 3 books toward her goal of 100 books.