I don't want to scare you, but here's the final part of Round One! Tune in tomorrow, when the shit starts to get real as we start Round Two. Expect tears and gnashing of teeth as books I loved are more likely to come up against each other!
Assassin's Apprentice vs. Storm Front
Winner: Assassin's Apprentice
I'm on the record as finding Storm Front amusing but not that great, so it's not surprise to anyone, I suspect, that when these two books entered the ring that is my brain, Assassin's Apprentice won. And it's not just because one is an assassin - you'd think Harry Dresden would see that coming from a mile away. No, in addition to its skills at poisoning and stabbing, Assassin's Apprentice has a really good story going for it, and that's what allowed it to take Storm Front to the mat.'
419 vs. Perdido Street Station
Winner: Perdido Street Station
Do I have to even write this one down? Yeah, it's not 419. It's one of the creepiest, most ingenious books I've read this year. It's language that just washes over me (and I might need a bath after) and makes me so happy (if a little grimy.) It's truly terrifying at times, genre-bending, and an all-around awesome book. It's Perdido Street Station.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer vs. Leviathan Wakes
Winner: Leviathan Wakes
I found Johannes Cabal the etc weirdly weightless, although not without occasionally charm. But that's not charm enough for me to sign off on selling my soul not to send it off to the abyss of Books Rejected In The First Round. While Leviathan Wakes seemed to me to be a bit Blood Music-lite, it was solid Space Opera, with interesting characters and a good story. That's enough, in this match-up.
Zoo City vs. Paper Towns
Winner: Zoo City
Sure, Paper Towns was fun, but it was only a town, after all. And did any of the inhabitants carry around animals that let everyone know they committed murder? No? I read two Lauren Beukes books right at the end of the year, and one blew my socks off, and one I "only" thoroughly enjoyed. This is the latter, but the tale of Johannesburg in a world where no one knows why sins have become visible, or animals is both flashy and depressing. Check it out.
Blackout vs. Moxyland
I really like Connie Willis. And I really liked Blackout. It's not as wrenching as The Doomsday Book but it is tense and interesting, and I look forward to the companion novel. But Moxyland blew my mind. It isn't fair that a debut book should be this good. And man, when this woman takes her novel in unsettling directions, she does it. The book is great, the ending stunningly dark. (Reviews for both these books will be forthcoming.)