Embassytown vs. Myths of Origin
Winner: Myths of Origin
This is a weirdly difficult one. Two books by authors of whom I am a huge fangirl. Neither was my favourite among their works, although I enjoyed both. Embassytown just didn't have that sweep of giddy-but-grim imagination that I've come to expect from Mieville, although the meditations on language, signifiers and signified, was fascinating. Myths of Origin is obviously an early work, and while the seeds of the style I love are there, they're as not fully developed as they will come to be. Maybe it's the mythology that is swaying this one in Catherynne Valente's favour. I am a sucker for a good myth.
Mirror Dance vs. Reckless Eyeballing
Winner: Mirror Dance
Easy. Science fiction that I thoroughly enjoyed vs. literary fiction that I barely understood. Not a difficult choice. I was baffled by the point of Reckless Eyeballing, while Mirror Dance was a much more accessible book about family, duty, and screwing up. Also, it had one of the best eavesdropping scenes of all time. Not the most dramatic, but I would argue, demonstrably the best.
The Shadow at the Gate vs. Maus
Another easy one. The Shadow at the Gate was merely passable young adult fantasy, hampered by the fact that its adult characters are far more interesting than the two children characters. People keep arguing with me about this one, saying it's "just" young adult, don't be so critical, but I'd argue that there's nothing "just" about young adult. Kids and teenagers deserve the best written books they can get, and so it does not get a pass. At any rate. While Bunn's book wasn't terrible, Maus is a classic of graphic noveldom, and has the heft of the holocaust behind it. This isn't a difficult choice. That may come in future rounds.
The Cuckoo's Calling vs. Nausea
Winner: The Cuckoo's Calling
Screw you, Sartre. I'm going J.K. Rowling.
Moscow But Dreaming vs. Black Swan Green
Winner: Black Swan Green
Not a difficult choice, although saying that may make Moscow But Dreaming sound less worthwhile that it was. It's a very good collection of stories, with some that truly blew my mind. That they were accompanied by a few that were not great is neither here nor there. The decision, however, is not difficult, because I deeply enjoyed Black Swan Green. In this one, Mitchell has a way of writing about young adulthood that is not trite or forced, and the stories that make up this wheel of the year are difficult and mundane, in the very best ways.