Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Julie Larbalestier

Published: 21st September 2010 (print)/21st September 2010 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books /Brilliance Audio
Pages: 415/11 hrs and 45 mins
Narrator: Ellen Grafton, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Anthology
★   ★   ★  ★ – 4 Stars

It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

What started as a discussion on a blog between Black and Larbalestier turned into an anthology where the merits or zombies and unicorns are discussed and explored. Both sides are given weight as the authors explain the good of their own choice and the bad of the other.

I listened to this as an audio and it was an amazing experience. The introduction alone was a delight as a serious, dramatic voice over explains how this anthology came into existence. Before the stories begin each author of the anthology is introduced with their side of the debate and I have no doubt wrote their own introductions because they sound exactly on point for each person. I loved the serious tone the introduction took because while the content was less serious the discussion was Very Important. The author introductions also add why each author likes their chosen subject: Scott Westfield invented the Zombie proof cravat, Kathleen Dewey brought up on a unicorn farm and learnt you can’t trust them, while whose unprecedented career as a land pirate could not have been achieved without her unicorn drawn pirate ship. The sound effects are fantastic and the fact that between each story Black and Larbalestier offer their opinions on the upcoming stories and the previous information provided add some great banter. There was even a sound effect to warn listeners that a story was coming so no unwary zombie fan will start listening to a unicorn story, or vice versa.

Even though Zombies vs Unicorns doesn’t seem like a theme, these authors have interpreted these subjects in incredibly creative ways. What is actually a zombie? What is a unicorn, really? Are they both as innocent or a menacing as we’ve led to believe? There’s stories that take a scientific approach to what constitutes a zombie, as well as the effects of having a unicorn in the modern day. I loved the modern zombie tales and I loved how there were dystopian stories that weren’t horror, but were still wonderfully creepy and zombie suited. The same can be said for the unicorn stories; they are often in the magical realm, though a few are in the real world and seeing the two collide was intriguing.

My favourites had to be Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot, Purity Test by Naomi Novik, and Children of Revolution is such a Maureen Johnson story it’s hard not to delight in reading it. From the start I assumed I would be Team Unicorn because I have never quite enjoyed zombie stories but after seeing the unique ways that these authors have interpreted the concept, I am coming around. Looking from a stats perspective based on the stories I enjoyed and ones I didn’t, I am in a stalemate. I enjoyed four unicorn stories, four zombie stories, didn’t enjoy three and one I was undecided about. Where does that leave me? The ones I didn’t like were two zombie stories and one unicorn story. Does that make anything more solid? I really don’t know.

You can purchase Zombies vs. Unicorns via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

 

November Book Haul

I went on a slight buying spree recently. There were new releases out that needed buying, a few series I had to finish collecting. I’m usually quite good in the book buying department. The main contributors to my bookshelves are book sales, writer’s festivals, or gifts. Occasionally books get through that I buy simply because they’re books I have to have. This is the reason seven new books have made their way to my shelves, plus it was fun when each new one arrived in the mail! I have yet to read them but they are all very high on my TBR list the moment I have a chance to enjoy them.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Scarlett

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Cress

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Winter

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Fairest

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I have read Cinder and with the release of Winter I felt I needed the collection before continuing my read.
I had been warned to have all books before reading because you will want to pick up the next one immediately.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

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I love the podcast by these guys so naturally the book was a must have.
If you haven’t heard it you can still read the book no problem.

 

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

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This was very much a “Garth Nix has a new book, I must buy it whatever it is” thing.

 

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

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The Thursday Next series is probably Fforde’s most well known, but the Last Dragonslayer is quite good as well.
This is the third in the series.

11th May: Sabriel Day

Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series is a brilliant series that consists of SabrielLiraelAbhorson, and now the prequel Clariel. The 11th of May marks the 20th anniversary of Sabriel being published in Australia and for the past month on Twitter (and in part on Facebook) Nix has been discussing how to celebrate.

From deciding Sabriel Day should be on 11 May he has also been going through his storage and numerous boxes uncovering amazing things about the beginnings of Sabriel and the final print. Below are some of the great discoveries Nix has made such as the original handwritten five book manuscript!

There are more amazing things being uncovered from storage including the original printed manuscript

A gorgeous ARC print

And Nix has even tried to get a Google Doodle organised.

As part of this newly founded Sabriel Day and in celebration for the 20th anniversary, Garth is giving people a chance to win a range of amazing things. From bell charms to signed copies, even a signed photocopy of the original manuscript! To take part in this amazing celebration there are a range of things you can do.

According to Nix:

To be in it, you just need to post something to do with SABRIEL *on May 11th* in your timezone. It could be a review, some memories of reading the book, cosplay pics, your artwork inspired by the book, how you met someone reading it, any thoughts, observations, memories, creations. Post it anywhere you like: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, your blog, a review on Amazon or an indie bookshop site, whatever you like. Include the hashtag #SabrielDay

 Then make sure you comment on *this* original post with a link to whatever you posted. If you aren’t on Facebook, get someone else to do it for you. On May 12th I’ll use my old D&D dice to randomly pick some recipients.

The full details and instructions are here.

If you want to learn more about Garth Nix, you can check out his details in the bits and pieces below, or Epic Reads has a great video you can watch so you can get to know the amazing author that is Garth Nix. In the meantime, I am off to start thinking of something I can post on Sabriel Day!

All Your Garth Nix Bits and Pieces Needs

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Series

Old Kingdom | Keys to the Kingdom

Trouble Twisters UK | Trouble Twisters AU

 

Garth Nix Interview (via Kate Forsyth)

Forever on the prowl for interesting things by or about my favourite authors, I saw that Kate Forsyth recently posted on Goodreads an interview she had with Garth Nix. In the interview Nix talks about his new book “A Confusion of Princes” and talks about where his ideas came from, and what he has going on in the coming year (lots of new books in the works!). Granted it isn’t an overly long interview, but that is not an issue, it is Kate Forsyth interviewing Garth Nix, and anything Nix related is brilliant.

This book has been on my To Be Read list for awhile and I must find the time to read it soon. You can read the interview here – http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/3867623-interview-garth-nix-author-of-a-confusion-of-princes

Shade's Children by Garth Nix

★    ★    ★    ★    ★ – 5 Stars

Seeing as Australia Day is upon us I thought I would post a review of an Australian author and I am choosing Shade’s Children by Garth Nix. Another goodreads steal, originally from Sep 19 2012, this story gets us as far from WA and Melbourne as we can, with a story where the human race has been overtaken and enslaved by the Overlords.

This story is set in a dystopian future and begins right in the middle of the action as we are introduced to this strange new world piece by piece. Fifteen years prior a mysterious Change has occurred causing all the adults to vanish, and creatures now roam the city and all the remaining children are essentially raised for their parts and no one is allowed to live past their fourteenth birthday.

The story follows Gold-Eye, Ella, Drum and Ninde as they work for the revered, yet mysterious Shade to fight in this war. Their missions revolve around trying to help the children still trapped and under Overlord control and those who have managed to escape and are fighting for their lives on the streets. Nix has written this in segments, and each segment focuses on following the different characters around. By doing this Nix gradually reveals certain information, and certainly only as it is required, never more than he has to. There are the occasional report and archived transcripts placed throughout, along with comments and stories by various characters. I think this helps to piece together the world really well and you manage to see it from all angles so by the end of the story you know a lot, but somehow you still only know as much as you need to.

It is certainly very cleverly written and I think even though it is a known archetype of the dystopia, Nix takes it in his own hands and makes it something fantastic with such unique and appealing characters. Not everything is revealed in clear terms which I thought was part of the charm, and Nix is smart enough not to make everything sunshine and lollipops. It is still a war zone and casualties are to be expected. The honour, bravery and innocence of these kids is shown through Nix’s writing and expression of these characters. Because there are so many mixes of kids and histories you get to see those who have known nothing except these Dorms where they are raised and know of nothing else, but you also get to see the odd few who remember what is was like before the invasion. With no adults and their own lives in their hands, these young kids follow instinct and whatever training they have or have not had, guided entirely by Shade. There is a lot of suspense in this book, and you do find yourself always guessing and trying to jump ahead because it gives the impression that everything could change suddenly and change everything you have been trying to grasp. Those kinds of books are always a winner in my eyes. Once again Mr Nix has not failed his readers and produced another great story to add to his collection.