Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zombies Vs Unicorns

Either a book I've already read or a book of short stories is what I prefer on my nightstand, for reading right before I go to bed. For the last couple of weeks I've been enjoying one story each night from Holly Black's and Justine Larbalestier's collection entitled (pictorially) Zombies Vs Unicorns. I preferred the nights I could go to sleep after a unicorn story (go Team Unicorn!), but the zombie stories weren't that bad, either.

My favorite story is Naomi Novik's "Purity Test," about a unicorn who appeals to a skeptical girl for help:
"So there's this wizard--"
"Wow, of course there is," Alison said.
"--and he's been grabbing baby unicorns," the unicorn said, through gritted teeth.
"You know," Alison told her subconscious, "I've got to draw the line somewhere. Baby unicorns is going too far."
"No kidding," the unicorn said. "You don't think I'd be wasting my time talking to a human otherwise? Anyway, wizard, baby unicorns, where was I--Oh, right. Probably he's trying to make himself immortal, which never works, except wizards never listen when you tell them that, and we would really prefer if he got stopped before he cuts off the babies' horns trying."
"Let me guess,"Alison said. "Is his name Voldemort?"
"No, what freakish kind of name is Voldemort"? the unicorn said.

What happens when Alison asks where the unicorn comes from is fun, at least for a ailurophile:
"we're always here, you idiots just don't notice anything that doesn't shove itself in your faces. You've never spotted the elves, either, and they're taking up half the tables at Per Se every night."
"Hey, Belcazar," a cat said, walking by.
The unicorn very slightly flicked his tail. "Social climbers, cats," the unicorn said with a sniff after they had passed farther on.
"Belcazar?" Alison said...."So, if I help you get the baby unicorns back, this is all going to stop, right? I don't need to be hearing cats talking."
"Who does?" the unicorn said evasively.

The climax of the story, involving the titular "purity test," is great fun--such fun that I really don't want to spoil it by saying any more.

My second favorite story from this collection is Diana Peterfreund's "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn," which is set in a world in which unicorns are known to be dangerous creatures.

If I have to pick a favorite zombie story--ew--I think it might be Maureen Johnson's "The Children of the Revolution," which includes a celebrity caricature, or Scott Westerfeld's "Inoculata," in which he presents an interesting solution to a zombie "plague."

Truthfully, though, all of these stories are favorites in the sense that I savored the chance to read one--just one--each night. It was a nice little treat at the end of the day. I highly recommend rationing your reading of the Zombies Vs Unicorns stories so they'll last as long as possible.


Jenny said...

But I don't like zombies and unicorns. I never have. Zombies eat your brains and unicorns are too sparkly. #cranky

Karen said...

just added this to my wishlist based on your recommendation. :)

Amanda said...

I really wish I'd been able to go to the panel on this at the TX book fest! It sounds like such a fun book. I"m Team Zombie though.

edj3 said...

I'm sure you will be so shocked . . . but I'm Team Zombie too! Although the wiseass unicorn did pique my interest. BTW love the changes to the blog layout.

Jeanne said...

Jenny, the unicorns in this book are not too sparkly. Besides, you like Sparkly Snuggle Hearts.

Karen, I can't imagine you won't like it.

Amanda, of course you're Team Zombie! That's one thing that's fun about this opposition--it's so easy to tell which side a reader will line up on.

Elizabeth, yeah, I'm not shocked, like I said to Amanda. Glad you like the photos--I put Chester up there to show another blogging friend how much our cats look alike, but plan to rotate photos of the other cats in from time to time. Because the internet is made of cats.

Jodie said...

I'm pretty sure you know which team I'm on then :) Every time I see a review I'm reminded Naomi Novick is in there and I must buy it, but I can see how all the stories could be favourites as there are so many fab authors in there (so looking forward to Holly Black's contribution after reading a vampire short story by her last year).

Jeanne said...

Jodie, gee, since you just labeled something you said "uncomfortably sentimental" I think it's not going too far out on a limb to say you're on Team Unicorn right along with me!

Holly Black doesn't actually have a story in the collection, but she and Justine argue before every story, and those are fun to read.

List of authors in this collection:
Garth Nix, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Naomi Novik, Carrie Ryan, Margo Lanagan, Maureen Johnson, Diana Peterfreund, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, Kathleen Duey, Libba Bray

Care said...

These sound fun! Can't think of any unicorn stories I've ever read...

Jeanne said...

Care, that's part of the charm of the unicorn stories--they all have a twist, because what some people call "high fantasy" did unicorns to death in the 70s.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Looks like a funny book - I didn't know much about the Zombie vs. Unicorns thing until just about a month ago, but now I'm really curious about it.

Ana S. said...

Go Team Unicorn! I can't believe I still don't have this book.

Jeanne said...

Kim it is funny, but mostly the humor is in "everyone knows stories about zombies or unicorns, so how can I make this one different?" category. The book assumes previous familiarity with the two genres.

Nymeth, Yay Team Unicorn! You'll enjoy this one when you get around to it.

Jodie said...

I am indeed team unicorn :) I actually had the most unfantasy like unicorn cuddly toy for a few years (it was hoooge) bought by a well meaning, but wrong, boyfriend - it was really like the biggest sheep ever. In all fairness he did buy me a unicorn key ring and a smaller, more unicorn like toy that I still have (I know there was some kind of in joke that made this our 'thing' but I don't remember what it was).

Lots of authors to be excited about there.

Jeanne said...

Jodie, your stuffed toy sheep image reminds me that at least one story in here refers to the medieval and renaissance "goat with one horn through some sort of human interference" stories!

fakesteph said...

This is what I'm reading now! I love it so far :) All the stories are so good. Have you read geektastic?

And thank you for the books! :) I'm so excited to read Little Brother. You commented that you realized I already had a copy, but I thought it was clever to read my list and after reading all the good things you had to say about it I had a good holiday pick for my boss's son.

Jeanne said...

FakeSteph, I haven't read Geektastic. Maybe I should look it up.

I'm glad you like the secret santa gifts; those are two of my very favorite books!