Zombies vs. Unicorns: That is the question

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier; published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, New York, 2010; 415 pages.

According to the editors, it’s an age-old question: Brain-eating zombies or healing-killing unicorns?  In a battle of the blogs dating back to 2007, the authors debated which creatures are better fuel for fiction.  Well, in this anthology of short stories, the strengths (good and evil) of both are explored…and, dare I say?, fully fleshed out.  A dozen of the best and brightest young adult authors have taken sides in the argument, each providing a story that attempts to convince readers of the superiority of one of the mythical creatures.  Holly Black’s Team Unicorn is represented by Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik and Diana Peterfreund.  Justine Larbalestier’s Team Zombie consists of Libba Bray, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld and Carrie Ryan.

I don’t have a favorite story.  Or, more accurately, I can’t pick just one.  Each story stands on its own as very readable, thought provoking, and entertaining.  Each story convinced me that zombies…no, unicorns…no, zombies…no, unicorns…were better.  I am still recovering from whiplash symptoms after changing sides with each story.  Some disturbed me to the core of my humanity.  Others had me laughing out loud (rainbow farting unicorns! zombies in love!).  All of them wishing there were more to read as I closed the back cover.

To help remind you which character you’re reading about (as if you couldn’t tell), each page has a zombie or unicorn icon (as on the cover) in the top corners.  Each story is brilliantly introduced by the editors, and be prepared for more sniping and strong opinions!  The colors and varying fonts used on the cover and used for the contributors’ names are fully intended to appeal to teens.

More information can be found on the blogs of the editors and from the publisher.  Links to all can be found here: http://promo.simonandschuster.com/zombiesvsunicorns/.   Whose side are you on?

5P     4Q     Grade Level: 10-12+

Cover Art: Oh, it’s wonderful.  There is a colorful cartoon image of unicorns and zombies playing together (not always playing nicely, by the way).  But wait!  It’s wrapped in a black jacket that’s not quite big enough to cover the whole book and the zombie & unicorn icons appear to be punched through the black.  The names of all the contributors are printed on the back in a variety of hand-drawn fonts in wild colors which match the hardcover.  This cover was deliciously designed to appeal to the target audience.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)


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