Daughter of Smoke and Bone vs. The Maze Runner
Winner: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
No contest, oh, dear lord, no contest. Two young adult books. One I really enjoyed. I thought it was complex, interesting, and the central tension exquisitely heartbreaking. The other was a steaming pile of ridiculousness. Ridiculous traps of mazes and scientific experiments vs. a moody Budapest with angels and demons and a main character who is difficult and wonderful, and a love relationship that is truly painful. Young adults deserve works like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. They do not deserve The Maze Runner.
Grass vs. Magician: Apprentice
I liked Grass more than I have some of the other Sheri Tepper books I've read in the past. In this case, the disease-ravaged universe run by the Mormon church hits first contact head-on, and it's an intriguing read. On the other hand, everyone tells me Magician: Apprentice was revolutionary when it came out, but the fact is that by the time I read it, it was all old hat to me. Sorry, Raymond Feist. It's all when you encounter it, I guess.
Memory vs. The Wise Man's Fear
This is a difficult choice. I liked both books quite a lot. I have read a lot of Bujold this year, and Wise Man's Fear was, at the time I read it, one of only two Rothfuss books in captivity. It meandered, though. The writing and characters are still marvelous, but it meandered. On the other hand, Memory was an amazingly good entry into the Miles canon, with meditations on responsibility, honour, and disability. That puts it over the top in this match-up.
Supernatural Noir vs. Vitals
Winner: Supernatural Noir
I am starting to write this paragraph without knowing which book won this battle, because honestly, I have no idea. There were some really great stories in Supernatural Noir. There were so not-so-great ones. It was an anthology. It's what I expect. On the other hand, Vitals was a thoroughly unthrilling thriller. The writing was fine, but the ideas were lacking. I don't know. Weirdly, I think it's going to go to Supernatural Noir because of those really excellent stories scattered in there.
The Devil in the White City vs. The Orenda
Winner: The Orenda
This is another difficult one, of the "two books I didn't love" variety. I liked both. I thought both had problems. Which had fewer problems? Or which, despite the problems, did I enjoy more? The Devil in the White City has two stories that never really intertwine, but one of the two is fascinating. The other is about a serial killer. The Orenda has characters that are a little thin, but great research and pretty good writing on clashes between natives and Europeans, and different Native groups in New France. I'm giving it to The Orenda. Just because.