Sort of. I have to do a little finagling and one three-way to get it down to eight competitions, but we're getting close to the end!
Invisible Man vs. Hyperion
Winner: I don't know!
I seriously don't know. I'm going to have to write myself into an answer. I'll write it above when I figure it out, but I'm starting to write this trying not to twist myself into physical knots as I try to puzzle it out. Invisible Man is a classic in the best sense of the term. It is difficult, it's beautifully written, there's this sense of dread that pervades the pages. It knocked me for a loop. The problem is, so did Hyperion. Hyperion is a science fiction classic. It's also beautifully written. The Canterbury Tales feel, the great variety in the short stories, the death of the universe as the backdrop - it's amazing. They're both the sort of books, to quote my favourite author, that ought to be served with a whisk brush, to dust yourself off after you pick yourself up off the floor. I can't choose! I must, by my own silly rules!
So, so, so. I'm going to fall back on my identity as a nerd. I truly think both these books will last, and Invisible Man is probably the more important of the two. But if I had to pick one of the two up this very second to read again, it would be Hyperion. Followed closely thereafter by Invisible Man. I guess this is how you can tell a good book battle - picking either one would leave me metaphorically feeling like I'd torn one of my limbs off.
The Beautiful Mystery vs. Deathless
So, after an incredibly difficult battle, there's a relatively easy one. I've been clear about my love for Deathless from the beginning, and while The Beautiful Mystery is a really excellent mystery novel, there's no way it can come even close to the other. If you like mysteries, check The Beautiful Mystery out. Well, read the whole series. In order. There's this amazingly good throughline that is just paying off in the last couple of books. But winner? What Catherynne Valente does with Russian folklore. No question.
The Lies of Locke Lamora vs. Pandemonium
Winner: The Lies of Locke Lamora
If you read every book I knock off from here on in, it'd be hard to go wrong. This is truly down to choosing between excellent books. And of the two, The Lies of Locke Lamora is the one I've been raving about more this year. I've been telling people about the demon-infested world of Daryl Gregory as well, but my first taste of Scott Lynch's work has made me eager for more. (Yes, I know there are more books out, I just haven't gotten to them yet.) Why aren't there more con men fantasy worlds with swearing and serious fucking consequences? And could anyone else write them quite this well?
Joyland vs. Kushiel's Dart vs. Luka and the Fire of Life
Winner: Luka and the Fire of Life
In this three-way battle, it's relatively easy to lose the Stephen King. I liked Joyland quite a lot, but didn't love it. It's one of the only books I didn't love left in the competition. It's harder to knock out Kushiel's Dart. But Luka and the Fire of Life quite frankly, moved me to tears. It's not a neat, tidy book. I keep describing it as messy, and it is. But gloriously so. I get the feeling it might not be for everyone, but it was definitely for me. And the underlying theme of losing a parent made it particularly poignant.