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Zombies vs. Unicorns Hardcover – September 21, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–This highly entertaining anthology contains 12 distinct stories brought together by two well-known YA authors. Though each tale has its own flavor, the snarky dialogue between the coeditors draws them together, in the end creating the feel of one long, continuous story. With Black defending the unicorn side of the debate and Larbalestier advocating voraciously for zombies, each team has six powerful stories to sway readers into joining one side or another. Though there are no weak selections in this amazingly well-put-together anthology, there are several standouts for each side. Queen of the Undead, Carrie Ryan, takes readers once again to the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte, 2009) in the commanding “Bougainvilla.” Though there is some graphic language, Alayna Dawn Johnson's “Love Will Tear Us Apart” takes place in another immensely intense and thought-provoking zombie world. Diana Peterfreund wows readers by delving again into the dark world of Rampant (HarperTeen, 2009) with “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn,” proving Astrid is not the only strong female hunter out there. Conversely, Meg Cabot provides a funnier view of the beasts in “Princess Prettypants,” in which a unicorn literally farts rainbows. The debate is wrapped up with Libba Bray's strong zombie tale, “Prom Night,” leaving readers with both hope and realism battling for dominance. This is a must-have for fantasy collections, though schools must be cautioned that there is strong profanity, a bestiality tale, and graphic scenes of both violence and sexual encounters.Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Can the chatter of the YA nerdosphere launch a successful book? This imaginative collection answers with a resounding yes. Beginning in February 2007, editors Black and Larbalestier debated zombies’ and unicorns’ strengths and weaknesses on Larbalestier’s blog, and the resulting interest roped in stories from a number of impressive authors, including Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, and Garth Nix. Handy icons make it easy to choose which stories each camp will want to read, but the book’s A-plus design—and the desire to know which team wins!—will have unicorn die-hards crossing over into flesh-eating territory, and vice versa. The standouts come from the authors who take their gimmicky mission the most seriously: Carrie Ryan’s “Bougainvillea,” in which she continues the mudo mythology she began in The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009); Maureen Johnson’s highly unsettling “The Children of the Revolution”; Scott Westerfeld’s propulsive “Inoculata”; and Margo Lanagan’s “A Thousand Flowers,” in which she writes about unicorns with such freshness and fire, you’d think she invented them. Who ultimately wins? To reuse an old joke: everyone. --Daniel Kraus

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; First Edition edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416989536
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416989530
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #818,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been looking forward to this one for awhile. I had read books by some of the authors, but not all - there are a lot of stories in this one! The running commentary from Black & Larbalestier was funny, too. I think I'd have to give it to Team Zombie, in the end, but I did find a few Unicorn stories that I liked.

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix - haven't read any Nix books before. This one has a unicorn and a zombie, so maybe its best that it starts the collection. I liked it, not spectacular but still a good one.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson - half-zombie boy falls for boy who has his own killer secrets; I liked this one, it drew me in and although the zombie-mind is not a happy one, I found myself rooting for them.

Purity test by Naomi Novik - Loved this one, very funny. A unicorn needs a virgin to help it on its quest to save baby unicorns, although capable warrior virgins are hard to find.

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan - set in the world of Forest of Hands and Teeth, although with different characters. I can't say that I liked the main character, but she felt very real (which was probably the unsettling part). I liked the end.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan - for me the most disturbing, about what happens after the unicorn and virgin meet up. Not sure how I feel about this one. The prose was well done, but the subject matter if you thought about it too much was icky.

The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson - this one was all right, taking its cues from entertainment gossip; a student on the vacation from hell finds herself caring for the children of a famous, mysterious celebrity. But something isn't quite right with those kids...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The premise of this anthology is genius. Some top young adult fiction writers all writing shorts stories about zombies or unicorns (a few had both). The way the book was laid out was clever. Justine and Holly introduce each story with a bit of back and forth about the story. Unfortunately, that was the best part of the book. (Other than the cover, which is awesome. If you're buying this book, buy the hardback copy!)

The stories just fell way, way short of my expectations. Not everyone can write a good short story. Short story writing takes a different kind of talent than some of these trilogy writers possess, sorry to say. Very few of the stories were even decent. They were, for the most part, lackluster stories. Which is so sad when the topic is Zombies or Unicorns!

Carrie Ryan's story was one of the better of the set. However, her story was simply an extension of her "Forest of Hands and Teeth" series. She wrote a short story into that framework.

Scott Westfeld's story was another one of the better stories. (Though it left much to be desired.)

Diana Peterfreund's story (The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn) was probably the best story of the whole book. Even in short story form, it told a complete story. (A story you found yourself wishing there was a whole book of to enjoy!)

I'll admit, even if someone had told me how bad the book was, I couldn't have resisted buying it anyway. You're probably like that, too. So go ahead and lower your expectations way, way down before you buy the book. Lower them to the ground, maybe a little below ground. Now that your expectations are so low, you'll likely enjoy the book. My expectations were way too high to enjoy it.

Parental blurb (since this is a young adult book): Gore!
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Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My biggest problem with this audio book collection is that it is rated for kids ages 13+ Now, I am either getting way too old or our society is really slipping. These short stories include vulgar language (think "I want to Fxxk him", "A finger right up the ass" etc.) Now all of this language is fine for adults. That I have no issue with. If I was to purchase this for my 13 year old I would be furious that the stories contained so much crude vulgarity! You have homosexual zombies, unicorns having sex with women, bad language, a lot of sexual overture.
Now if you are an adult & you get a kick out of stories like this then by all means this is something worth having. If you are getting this for your kids, then I guess you should use your parental discretion to decide what you feel is appropriate for your kids. If you don't have a problem with any of the above mentioned, then fine. For those who do, now you know.
I gave this 3 stars because there were some pretty entertaining short stories in this collection. Besides I was pretty much hooked at the title! Some were fun & silly. Some were dark, but still fun for the most part. It is nice that unlike some short story collections, these are just that - short stories. They are not parts of a much bigger story that might leave you a little in the dark trying to get a grasp on the characters.
Bottom line, entertaining listen for adults & worth having if you can get a good price on it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'll read anything with Holly Black's name on it. This was actually one my first short story collection purchases. 98% of the time I'm a novel reader. Lots of great short stories from lots of well known authors. It's a fun collection and worth a read!

I also have to say I am Team Zombie! :D
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