Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Dust Cover Dust-Up 2015, Round One, Part One

The Dust Cover Dust-Up is back! For the third year in a row, I'll go through a lengthy process of figuring out my favourite books of the past year, putting volume against volume in head-to-head matchups! (It won't work out perfectly to a tournament format, because 128 books in a year is too few, and there's no way in hell I'm ever going to make it to 256. But I'll fudge it.) 

So, Round One. Every book I've read this year is still in the mix, soon to be whittled down!

Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson vs. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Winner: A Fine Balance

I enjoyed both these books very much. The complexity of areoforming that emerges in Robinson's book is intriguing, and satisfies the curiosity I had about the resistance after the first book. But it's hard to compete with the gut punch that is Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. It's not an easy book, with no easy answers, and subjecting its vulnerable characters to any number of violations. But it is the rejection of outright despair that most find that gives the book its heart, without dully any of its anger.

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson vs. Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

Winner: The Diamond Age

The decision on this one came down to an odd factor - which one did I remember better? I mean, we're back in January reads right now, people, and some of the books have quite frankly faded in my mind. Royal Assassin gets screwed because it blends too much with the first book in the series. I didn't love The Diamond Age, but it was provocative and interesting in the view of yet another corporate-dominated future.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald vs. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Winner: The Curse of Chalion

Screw it. I'm overlooking the classic, however well deserved it may be, in favour of the book I'd pick up if both were laid in front of me right this very moment. The Great Gatsby was a reread, which may also contribute it it going out in the first round, however much that may enrage the ghsot of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Curse of Chalion was the last book I read in the amazing Lois McMaster Bujold gift package my dear friend Nele sent me when I was having trouble tracking down her books in the local library system. It was as much fun as her science fiction, with an engaging hero and twisty supernatural aspects. 

The Magicians by Lev Grossman vs. Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughn

Winner: The Magicians

Melissa loaned me both of these books, and apparently I finished them back-to-back, so two of her favourites are going head-to-head in the very first round! Dramatic!  But although I love Saga, this was an easy choice. Saga's great, but I fell entirely in love with Lev Grossman's first entry in his trilogy. The language is beautiful, and it's a riff on Narnia, which makes it just precisely my kind of book. Beautiful writing, story, indelible (if not always likable) characters. It's a winner.

Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett vs. Scardown by Elizabeth Bear

Winner: Scardown

An even easier choice! I have not been a great Ann Patchett fan, although I liked Patron Saint of Liars more than the other books of hers I have read. And Elizabeth Bear is up there as one of my favourite authors currently writing. (And I just scored four more of her books at the yearly library sale here in London, so expect more reviews to come). Scardown is a middle book, but it's one that ends with a bang. Or a...but I won't spoil it. It's world-changing, audacious, Jenny Casey is amazing. So much fun, so traumatizing, and the end had tears running down my face. 

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