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Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 174237 839 8

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

I read this 350-page book in a little over two days – it’s a hoot. The authors have taken the premise that’s popular of late – a vampire in a high school – and made it palatable. Reasonable. Understandable.

I love the simplicity and sensibility of Team Human’s world, where vampires are a part of life though removed from it, as befits people – they’re definitely people – who do not age, do not eat and do not laugh. Vampirism is regulated, and becoming one carries the risk of death or being left a zombie if the transition fails.

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Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier (editors)

Allen & Unwin (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-74237-550-2

Reviewed by Mitenae

Zombies Vs Unicorns is not your typical short story anthology. It divides the authors into two teams (and thus the stories) and sets out to convince you that their team is better. But with a brilliant selection of fantastic writers trying to sway you it might be hard to make a decision.

Team Zombie, edited by Justine Larbalestier, has Carrie Ryan, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfield, Cassandra Clare and Libba Bray but my favourite here is Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “Love will Tear us Apart”.Each of these stories seeks to recast and expand the zombie, playing with our expectations of what a zombie is. Many of these could match or better many of the zombie movies.

Team Unicorn, under the command of Holly Black has managed a formidable attack with Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Margo Lanagan, Kathleen Duey and Diana Peterfreund, but my favourite comes from Meg Cabot with her hilarious story “Princess Prettypants”. On the whole, each of these unicorn stories seeks to recast the unicorn as less innocent and more threatening. More could have been done with the unicorn here as I feel the idea wasn’t pushed as much as it could have been, although they do play with what the unicorn traditionally is.

Neither side really convinced me, but that’s because I’m a long-time vampire fan.

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Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Simon & Schuster (2010)

ISBN: 978-1416989530

Syndicated from

This is undoubtedly the YA anthology of the year. The line up of authors is extraordinary, and the stories are consistently good. It helps that it’s a very meme-able anthology concept as well, with authors, editors and readers alike picking a side in the “war” between Team Unicorn and Team Zombie. I was rather pleased coming into this that I didn’t have a side – swinging voters always have more power! But in fact, Team Unicorn and Team Zombie is less about which fantasy creature you love and adore, and more about which one you think is totally uncool.

In essence, Zombies V. Unicorns is an anthology about prejudice. Unicorns and zombies are both fantasy tropes which tend to provoke strong reactions in people – of a yuchhhh variety. Apart from a few notable exceptions, I’ve generally been in Camp Zombies and Unicorns Both Suck, which makes this anthology extra useful as it’s a book for people who thought they hated one, the other or both, which is full of great, vibrant stories designed to make you change your mind.

Having said all that, counting the seven stories I really liked out of the anthology, I have four unicorns to three zombies, and three out of my top four are farting rainbows. Unicorns for the win!

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Justine Larbalestier

Read by Kate Atkinson

Bolinda Audio (complete and unabridged – 6 hours and 58 minutes)

ISBN: 9781742333892

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

I read How to Ditch Your Fairy in paperback in early 2009 and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive the audio book for review. I listened to it over the course of a few weeks in the car, and was amazed by what a different experience it was, and by how much I had missed in my first reading of the novel.

Firstly, the wonderful narration of Kate Atkinson lends a depth and enjoyment to the story. She captures the nature of the story beautifully, and reads with passion and verve. It’s a delight to listen to.

Secondly, I personally find that listening to a story is a far more immersive experience than simply reading for oneself. For me, it is a more leisurely encounter with the book, which can make a massive difference to way I understand the text. Read the rest of this entry »

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