Thursday, June 7, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Zombies v. Unicorns -- Holly Black, editor

SOURCE: ARC provided by publisher

When I picked up this audiobook, I wasn't familiar with the online quarrel between authors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier that spawned an anthology from some of science fiction and horror's best. For listener amusement, the authors continue just a portion of their hilarious repartee between stories. Black defends unicorns while Aussie Larbalestier is a fan of zombies. For that alone, the collection would get at least three stars. The dozen stories themselves are fair to excellent and well worth more than one listen. Voicing for the story portions is well done and varied enough to keep me awake--the first audiobooks I listened to did not.

Here's a short synopsis of each of the stories.

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix is a fantasy tale which blends both mythical elements. When the Queen Mom is poisoned by her treacherous husband, the virgin Princess entreats a unicorn for justice.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson -- is the story of a young man infected with the zombie prion and the high school student he falls in love with. Serious complication is when the zombie discovers the object of his affection is the son of an ex-CIA agent who's obsessed with killing him.

Purity test by Naomi Novik -- this one totally debunks the unicorn/virgin connection when a unicorn entreats the help of a young woman to help him save baby unicorns stolen by a wizard who seems immortality.

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan -- the author of "Forest of Hands and Teeth" sets this story in the same world, but on a Carribbean island. Ista, the daughter of the self-appointed governor remembers the world before the infection and up to her own coming of age.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan -- a very disturbing tale that touches upon both the virginity and seduction myths associated with the unicorn. What does happen when a unicorn and a virgin actually connect? What are the consequences to the girl--particularly when she's a Royal Princess?

The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson -- this is another babysitter from Hell tale with quite a twist.

The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund -- this one totally sets the unicorn myth on its ear. I'm definitely finding "Rampant" and reading it.

Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld -- What happens to the children who've survived the Apocalypse who are stuck out in the wilderness.

Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot -- for all the little girls who've dreamt of getting a pony for their birthday. Liz gets one too late--at seventeen. Worse, it's a unicorn, but she finds out quickly that a unicorn might just be what she needs.

Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare -- Love has a second chance in a town where the dead come back to life, if the living lover can cope with one small problem....

The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey -- Another story that turns the unicorn myth upside down. What happens when a unicorn begins to take life from those it heals--and what can stop this vampiric price?

Prom Night by Libba Bray -- Only teens on their prom night survive a zombie infestation.

This was a different and enjoyable anthology in both the unicorn and zombie portions. Readers got a bit of the expected as well as some legend-tilting surprises. What I enjoy most about reading anthologies is that I get a good overview of a lot of writers' styles and I'm often introduced to some new favorite authors. I'm definitely going to be checking out Rampart by Peterfreund and Carrie Ryan's, Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, June 2012

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