I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read a book about unicorns, but knowing it was written under the Bizarro banner, I figured I’d give it a try. I’d heard that Kirsten Alene’s first book, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, was really good, but it wasn’t in front of me, and Unicorn Battle Squad was, so I read it. The story follows Carl, a clerk living a fairly structured life of work and boiled cabbage, but when his father dies (or goes missing), he ends up going down the rabbit hole. Before long, he has a unicorn, he’s living with a bunch of filthy, burly men, and his city is in danger. Carl has to pass tests, fight (sort of), and take care of his unicorn, Yury, a fortified dapple with thick skin and sand crab claws growing out of it. Oftentimes, I imaged the world and characters looking like something from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
When I began, I was sucked into the story pretty quickly, but the book itself isn’t as consistent as the earlier chapters. Unicorn Battle Squad loses steam as it chugs along, with Carl passing out or getting buried, and suddenly, everything’s been taken care of for him when he wakes up/climbs out. As everyone else says, the ending is abrupt. Really abrupt. Often, I like it when an author doesn’t really try to explain the logic of the world they’ve created, but in this case, there are a few instances in which I think some expanded explanations might have been nice (Nathaniel, for instance)- although, if we only really get Carl’s point of view, I suppose there would be a lot we wouldn’t know.
Despite all of that, I do think that Alene has a lot of potential as an author. She puts some solid ideas into Unicorn Battle Squad, I just think it needs a little more fleshing out. I give it a solid B. It’s better than just average, but it’s not quite as good as I know it could be.
Get it on Amazon.