In this offbeat anthology, editors Black and Larbalestier embark upon a literary throw-down to determine which is superior: zombies or unicorns. To that end, each assembled a six-person team of writers and set them loose. Each story is prefaced by editorial banter as each editor (hilariously) makes her case. Highlights include Diana Peterfreund's Rampant tie-in, "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn"; Libba Bray's postapocalyptic tale of teens trying to maintain a semblance of civilization in "Prom Night"; and Maureen Johnson's pointed take on celebrity fads in "The Children of the Revolution." Meg Cabot's "Princess Prettypants" skewers the image of unicorns as sparkling, rainbow-farting "symbols of pure happiness, hope, and awesomesauce," while Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea" acts as a prologue to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Scott Westerfeld's "Inoculata" examines what happens when the zombie hordes finally win, while the zombie in Alaya Dawn Johnson's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" isn't nearly as far gone. Without a clunker in the bunch, this anthology more than lives up to the potential its concept suggests. Zombies or unicorns? There's no clear winner, unless it's readers. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Forget vampires vs. werewolves; the hottest feud is between fans of the fiercely magical horses and the shambling, brain-eating undead. . . . Who is the victor in this epic smackdown? Readers, of course!" - Kirkus Reviews
* "In this offbeat anthology, editors Black and Larbalestier embark upon a literary throw-down to determine which is superior: zombies or unicorns. . . . Without a clunker in the bunch, this anthology more than lives up to the potential its concept suggests. Zombies or unicorns? There's no clear winner, unless it's readers." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Who ultimately wins? To reuse an old joke: everyone." - Booklist
* "This is a must-have for fantasy collections.” - School Library Journal, starred review
Children's Literature - Heather Kinard
This imaginative anthology joins the lively debate about which is better: the unicorn or the zombie? Editors of the book lead the debate with Black defending the unicorns and Larbalestier the zombies. Each side has six entertaining stories written by impressive authors, including Garth Nix, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, and Meg Cabot, that try to sway readers into joining a side. Each story is separate and distinct, but the bantering dialogue between the editors helps to tie one story to the next. Some selections are stronger than others ranging from light and funny to dark and sinister. In the beginning, readers may think they have made their choice, but after reading all the selections, some may be tempted to change sides. Fantasy lovers will find much of this book entertaining, but this is definitely written for a more mature audience as there are graphic scenes of violence and sex, as well as strong profanity in several selections. Reviewer: Heather Kinard
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier have gathered 12 stories about zombies and unicorns by well-known and lesser-known authors in this collection (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010). There are lots of surprises in terms of subject matter and authorship (who would suspect Meg Cabot of writing a unicorn story, "Princess Prettypants"). The editors play up the competitive nature of the collection, with Black a definite unicorn fan who feels zombies have nothing to offer but rot and death. Larbalestier considers zombies a part of our very nature, impossible to deny. Because the full cast—Ellen Grafton, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Julia Whelan, and Phil Gigante—do such a masterful job of realizing the characters in each story, the banter between the editors in between each story is sometimes distracting. In addition to these introductory remarks, music signals whether the story is about zombies (heavy music) or unicorns (light, sparkly sounds). There are no holes barred in terms of language (cursing) and subjects, including zombie homosexuals. Among the tales are Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea," Dawn Johnson's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "Prom Night" by Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld's "Inoculata," and Garth Nix's "The Highest Justice." An imaginative, entertaining collection.—Edie Ching, University of Maryland, College Park
Forget vampires vs. werewolves; the hottest feud is between fans of the fiercely magical horses and the shambling, brain-eating undead. Adopting tones from humorous to haunting, tender to terrifying, and settings ranging from the fairy-tale past to modern suburbia to dystopian day-after-tomorrow, twelve YA authors (both up-and-coming and superstar) explore the mythic potential of each otherworldly creature. Team Zombie offers up both sweetly creepy romances between the living and not-quite-dead and chilling examinations of adolescence after the Zombie Apocalypse. Standouts for Team Unicorn include an inspirational tale of the reluctant heroine born to slay monsters and the baby maneater she loves and a poignant, piercing analysis of the corrosive price demanded by the power to heal. A healthy dose of graphic gore and plenty of love and lust (including same-sex and different-species pairings) push this collection into the older teen range. The editors chime in with wonderfully snarky cheerleading and a bit of insightful commentary along the way. Who is the victor in this epic smackdown? Readers, of course! (Fantasy/horror/short stories. 14 & up)
Read an Excerpt
Zombies vs. Unicorns
“The Highest Justice”
Holly: Legends of unicorns occur all over the world throughout recorded history. From a unicorn in Persia, described in the fourth century as having a long white horn tipped in crimson, to the German unicorn whose single horn broke into branches like a stag, to the fierce Indian unicorn, black-horned and too dangerous to be taken alive. There’s the kirin in Japan, with a deerlike body, a single horn, and a head like a lion or wolf. And there’s the medieval European unicorn, with the beard of a goat and cloven hooves.
No matter the origin, the unicorn is usually thought to be a solitary creature whose very body possesses the power to heal. The legends describe it as elusive and beautiful, fierce and strange.
In fact, such is the mysterious draw of the unicorn that originally the story that follows was meant to be a zombie story. Somehow the power of the unicorn caused the story itself to switch sides.
Garth Nix’s “The Highest Justice” draws on the association between unicorns and kings. The Chinese qilin presaged the death of Emperors. The heraldic unicorn shows up on coats of arms, including the Royal Arms of Scotland and England. And in “The Highest Justice,” a unicorn takes an even more direct interest in a royal family.
Justine: That is so unconvincing. Emperors and kings. Noble families. You’re just saying unicorns are stuck-up snobs. Zombies are the proleteriat. Long live the workers!
Also, your global list of genetic experiments gone wrong (deer with the head of a lion? Talk about top heavy!) prove nothing about unicorn variation. Everyone knows unicorns are all-white or rainbow-colored. Ewww. Zombies come in all races. There is nothing more democratic than zombies!
It’s an outright lie that the power of the unicorn caused the story to switch sides. Garth Nix has always been a unicorn lover! He was supposed to write a zombie-unicorn story. But he messed it up, didn’t he? (Dear Readers, you will notice much messing up from Team Unicorn throughout this anthology.)
Holly: Zombies represent the workers? A seething mass out to get us all, eh? That doesn’t seem so egalitarian.