Unicorn Battle Squad by Kirsten Alene
A Bizarr0 Fiction/Fantasy novel published 10/1/12 by Eraserhead Press
There is a world where horses can be transformed into Unicorns and where an ordinary boy can be transformed into a Unicorn Rider. Carl is only a boy when his father disappears, leaving in his stead a scrawny horse named Yury. Together Yury and Carl must ready themselves for a war that threatens City 21, their home. Carl turns from lowly clerk to fledgling Unicorn Rider, battling through initiation tests, the Theklanian army, and his feelings for one important Theklanian Princess.
Unicorn Riders, Bizarro Fiction, Battle, Other-worldly, A Boy and His Horse, Adventure, Capture, Escape
At the first mention of ‘unicorns,’ I expected a fantasy tale full of magical creatures and wondrous realms but Kirsten Alene, the author of Unicorn Battle Squad, has a different take on what is meant by that word. Alene’s imagination is one that is not fastened down by fantasy literature stereotypes and she is able to create a world full of uniquely defined characteristics. Unicorns are not quite a magical creature but are the steeds of the Riders. Unicorns are horses that have been modified and outfitted for war, hence the battle-ready horn usually identified with a unicorn.
In what might have been a dystopian novel, Kirsten Alene instead focusses the book on something different, Unicorn Riders. Thank you for breaking from the end of the world, life-is-awful typical dystopian novels nowadays to give us something unique, while still giving us that bleak and sad world we seem to crave. The ironic view of the world, such as the kidnapper’s request, not for as much money as possible, but just to pay the bills created during the kidnapping, made me laugh.
Alene’s world is so familiar and yet so different. She only shows us a small portion, through the story of Carl and Yury, which is entirely aggravating because I never cared about Carl. Carl was only the instrument in which the author could spout wonderful phrases of prose. These descriptions were so beautiful and some of the dialogue so captivating, such as on page 55, ‘“Being a Unicorn Rider is about fighting in adverse circumstances, impaired by impossible handicaps, working in the most dire, hopeless conditions, overcoming the absurd unfairness of odds!”’ However, all these descriptions eventually piled upon themselves until they overshadowed any sort of plot in the novel. I found myself skimming hurriedly over the words in order to find the meaning of the story and to look for growth in the characters. I was left wanting. Alene does not dish out a beautiful or clever plot like she can dish out the beautiful and thought-provoking descriptions. Carl, the main character, has very little personality and does not win any favors with the reader. I have more sympathy and more in common with Yury, the horse turned Unicorn..
At times, even the descriptions would bore me with their redundancy and she overly-repeated the phrase ‘roared with laughter’ as if neither the characters nor the author had any other imaginative response to Carl and his actions.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoyed the irony of the world in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, the random intense imaginations of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll or any of the other Eraserhead Press Bizarro Fiction novels.
This novel was published by Eraserhead Press on 10/1/12 and is available on Amazon here.
TLDR Star Rating: 3
Links for more information:
On the web: http://kirstenalene.com/