Reviewed by : Biru Cahya Imanda @birucahya
I am not really a huge fan of short stories compilation. And zombies-unicorns world is not the kind of genre I would usually read. In fact, I had never read one before. This book is so beyond my comfort zone. When I first started reading this book, to be honest I was a bit struggling. I would close the book and put it down just after I read every few pages. But, the more I push myself to finish the stories, I found myself enjoying them instead. It felt like I just stepped my feet into a newly opened theme park. And at first I would feel hesitated but once I got comfortable, nobody could make me go home. Because it turned out that the theme park wasn’t as odd as I thought it would be. It was very fun. And so did this book.
There are 12 short stories you would find in this book, and they were written by 12 different authors. So what made the zombies and unicorns seem like they stood against each other? It was the editors, Holly Black for the unicorn stories and Justine Larbalestier for the zombie ones. They wrote introductions to every story, and there were some debates between them over the benefits of zombies and unicorns. You would NOT want to skip those parts, because some of them were so funny they had me laughing out loud. I had also never read any writings of those 12 authors except for Maureen Johnson in Let it Snow before, so I literally had no expectations to what I was about to read. And it personally made the reading experience become more satisfying.
The book was started with a unicorn story called The Highest Justice by Garth Nix. The story was set in the medieval era and there was something about it that made me think about the zombie instead. At some point I even forgot if it was supposed to be a unicorn story or a zombie story. And because this was the first story of the book, I somehow lost my interest to continue reading. I was afraid I would not enjoy the book. But thank God the next story titled Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson hooked me back with its Twilight-esque story, except it was about zombie. We—well, I—had always thought that zombies were rude, disgusting, and mean. But this story gave me new perspectives about zombies. I got to know their feelings better, how it felt when they fell in love. And the descriptions of zombie virus as a psychophatic disorder were awesome. I loved the “I-love-you-but-I-also-want-to-eat-you” kinda thing.
Of course not all the stories got me hooked. This time, another one of my favorites was from the unicorn side. It was titled Purity Test and written by Naomi Novik. The story revolved around the unicorn/virgin mythology but the writer approached it in such a funny way. The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund also made me re-think about the image of unicorns I had known before, because apparently not all unicorns were kind. They also had this wild instinct to hunt human but still I couldn’t make myself hate them. The third and also the last unicorn story that became my favorite was Meg Cabot’s Princess Prettypants. See, the thing is, we’ve always known unicorn as this soft, beautiful creature who brings happiness with its colorful horn. But, what if one showed up on your doorstep? Would you still let it come into your house? Would you turn it away? Or would you use its magical ability to intimidate your ex-boyfriend? Meg Cabot really knew how to create such a cute and funny unicorn story.
Right before I read this book, though, I was so assured that I was more into unicorns rather than zombies. I was also very convinced that this book would only make me love unicorns more. But boy was I wrong. Of all 12 stories, my favorites consist of 3 unicorn stories and 4 zombie stories. LOOK WHO’S TEAM ZOMBIE NOW! Besides Love Will Tear Us Apart that I have mentioned before, my personal favorites from zombie stories were: Carrie Ryan’s Bougainvillea, it was about the zombie apocalypse and the twist at the end of the story really caught me off guard. It was just very angsty; Maureen Johnson’s The Children of the Revolution, a satire about celebrity-adopted children who were “saved” from death by zombie virus; and Cassandra Clare’s Cold Hands that talked about the sweet side of zombie’s love story. And the zombies in this story were not the brain-eater types, just “dead” people who returned from grave seeking out the company of their loved ones.
There were stories who shined more than the others, which I think was usual for a short stories compilation. But zombie stories just felt more intriguing for me, although the unicorn stories had some humor that the zombie stories did not have. So, yeah. Based on this book, I think I am team zombie. And also team editors because their introductions were—hands down—the best.