About Me

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was sold to gypsies as a small child for half a tank of gas and a kitten. She was quickly, if not easily, retrieved by her mother after the kitten was revealed to be an Eldrich horror looking for a ride into the nearest metropolitan area to begin wreaking havoc. It's been a bone of contention between Maria and her family ever since, whether the Horror-kitten would've been more or less trouble than she grew up to be.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book Review: Zombies Vs Unicorns

In February of 2007, the YA world was rocked when writing rock stars Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier got into the mother of all absurd arguments. Lines were drawn, sides were taken, the YA community was ripped in half as everyone rushed to proclaim which team they were on in the epic battle to decide which was cooler: zombies or unicorns.

Since then, fans have eagerly awaited the release of the Zombies vs Unicorns Anthology, a book which would, hopefully, settle the matter once and for all. Holly(Team Unicorn) and Justine(Team Zombie) spent months collecting the creme de la creme of YA authors to their sides. And on September 21, 2010, readers will at last get to see the final battle in print.

But I've got an ARC sitting all nice and tidy and signed on my shelf. Why yes, I am pretty darn smug about it.

I struggled with this review for a bit, trying to decide how I wanted to go about it: did I want to review each story individually or the book overall? Of course, I've decided to do a little of both.

The Good:

There are no bad stories in this anthology. None. Readers are free to discern which stories to read based on interest, author, and team preferences. Of course some stories shine more than others. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson seems to be a Team Zombie favorite, while Diana Peterfreund's "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" - a spin-off of her Rampant series - is raking in the praise from Team Unicorn. When I said that Holly and Justine had used the creme de la creme for this anthology, I wasn't kidding. Sure, the individual stories have trip ups - Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea" has some pacing and organizational issues, while Meg Cabot's contribution to Team Unicorn irritated me (though I consider that a reflection of my own personal tastes since I haven't liked anything by Meg Cabot) - but the anthology starts strong and finishes the same.

The Bad:

Sadly, the only part of Zombies vs Unicorns that consistently detracted from the book was Holly and Justine's introductions of stories. In the forward, their bickering was amusing. It set the tone, and reminded readers that this was done in fun. But from the first story on, I noticed a trend: Holly would talk about the merits of the story while Justine would toot her proverbial horn in favor of Team Zombie and leave it at that. This was still funny for the first few introductions, but three stories in, it lost it's charm.

If Holly had mirrored Justine's behavior once or twice and simply said "Team Unicorn" over and over again, or better yet, if Justine had talked about the merits and pitfalls of a story beyond 'it has unicorns, it sucks' or 'it has zombies, it rules', - I think there would have been a much stronger sense of equality between the anthologists. As it was, I began entering each story wanting to hit Justine with something or hoping that Holly would on my behalf.

The Left-overs: 

Maureen Johnson, "Children of the Revolution" has MORE than made up for my disappointment with "Law of Suspect" in the Vacations from Hell anthology. Congrats.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Mushrooms

Team Unicorn Forever,
Maria D.