By Alex Ringgold
So apparently, the biggest question on people’s minds right now is this: who is the better mythological creature; the zombie or the unicorn?
Thus we have Zombies Vs Unicorns, a book composed of short stories by Holly Black and Justine Larbalastier with six stories for the zombies and six stories for the unicorns. The two banter about which is best, since both are involved in modern pop culture, and provide the stories to prove it. In the end, it’s up to you to choose which side is better. The book isn’t biased, but personally, I’m with the zombies.
Jumping into the book with Team Zombie, I knew I would stay that way because, well, unicorns are not my thing. However, after reading this book, I saw unicorns in a new light. There are a few unicorn stories this book has that are dark, darker than most zombie stories, and some unicorn stories even include zombies in it.
These stories revealed to me that the authors of Zombies Vs Unicorns wanted to show readers that unicorns are not afraid to trample in other’s genres and make them their own. Like one story where a unicorn roams the Earth murdering people.
Which brings me to point out people who like unicorns may be turned off by the macabre imagery the book describes. I’ve never met a fan of unicorns. I’ve only had them described to me. And since television never lies to me, fans of unicorns are about as fluffy and soft as the unicorns. Then again, if you pick up a book with zombies in the title, and you do not expect blood and gore, you are just asking to be made uncomfortable.
The collection of stories are like any other book of short stories you may pick up: there are some stories that you don’t agree with, some stories are better than others, some stories are too long and you’d rather read the much shorter one behind it, and some of them are just confusing first read through; which doesn’t make the book bad, just fitting for a book of short stories.
There are a couple of stories with confusing transitions and perspective changes that may throw you off. The murdering unicorn I mentioned earlier, the way he kills people, may go over your head if you don’t pay close attention. As a guy who reads on the way home from school, this bothered me, if only slightly. For someone who may be overwhelmed by the length of each story, they may find themselves eating pages due to untimely skimming.
Another thing I found a little off were the zombies’ stories. I’ve read a lot of undead work, so I’ve seen zombies from many angles: from Lazarus to straight up cannibals. So, I was a little disappointed at some of the zombie stories. I know the authors were trying to broaden our perspective of both creatures for the sake of the modern era, but I felt cheated. At some point, even if you are trying to show us something new, you have to at least try to appeal us to something relatable. In modern times, a zombie apocalypse is the ideal zombie story. Overdone, yes, but it’s what we modern kids really think about. I was a tad upset to not see one gun fight with the walking dead. There was one story that was slightly relatable to the modern day, but it had a cliffhanger ending that could have possibly led to some undead action.
The unicorns got their modern day unicorn, why not zombies?
Cover to cover, the book as a whole was pretty good. It’s dark, yet humorous. Some stories take a serious tone while others go for the lighter side, and it is all brought together by the understanding that we will never truly understand zombies nor unicorns. They are both mysterious in there own way. Like, in one story it was speculated zombies only gather in huge groups because they’re bored. Or that unicorns may or may not fart musical notes. So much speculation.
I would recommend the book to young adults. It really does enlighten you if you’re pro- zombie or pro-unicorn or even pro-apathy, it’s just a good read.