Chess Story vs. Young Miles
Winner: Chess Story
Oh, are you kidding me? How do I choose here? They are unutterably different books, and I don't know how to compare them. If I was going purely on which I'd rather sit down and read again, it'd be Young Miles. If it's the book that had an emotional impact on me, it'd be Chess Story. I really don't know which to pick. Emotional devastation or madcap science fiction? Am I thinking about picking Chess Story because I'd feel guilty if I didn't? Perhaps. But it still feels like the more consequential of the two, and in this particular battle, that matters.
Deathless vs. Angelmaker
Ooh, this is the match-up I was dreading. I loved both these books, for entirely different reasons. Crazy modern steampunk paired with octogenarian spies and their adventures sixty years earlier? Or Russian folklore and history in a beautiful meld? It's a killer to have to pick one. But it's going to come down to Deathless. The writing is beautiful, and it will always have particular resonance for me after our Cold City game.
A Good Man vs. Bleak House
Winner: Bleak House
Let's see, an epic tale of the Canadian West? Or a tale of law gone awry, fortunes squandered, meanness abounding. Sorry, Guy Vanderhaeghe. I liked your book, but it can't compare to my beloved Dickens. This might not have been my favourite of his novels, but it was still damned good. Even if the narrator was a little sickly sweet.
Half-Blood Blues vs. I Am Legend
Winner: Half-Blood Blues
Huh. Two stories about dehumanization, one science fiction, one historical. One vampires, the other, black jazz musicians in Nazi-occupied Paris. Strange the commonalities that emerge. I very much enjoyed I Am Legend, but I also really liked Half-Blood Blues, and the writing in that one lifts it above the competition.
The Ocean At The End of the Lane vs. The Lies of Locke Lamora
Winner: The Lies of Locke Lamora
We are definitely at the point where most of the books getting knocked out are ones I really enjoyed. I just enjoyed the other book a smidge more. And so it is in this case. I really enjoyed Neil Gaiman's most recent effort, but not as much as some of his other books (American Gods in particular). And Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora was one of my favourite discoveries of the year. This one was written just for me - swearing, con men, and devastating consequences? Sign me up!