Tuesday, 29 December 2015

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

Phew! An easy one as we trek towards the end of this round of the Dust Cover Dust-Up. I'll explain in the next edition why it's going to be slightly truncated this year. But let's turn our attention to this particular match-up. I really didn't like All My Friends Are Superheroes, for reasons you can read in the review. I was, however, thoroughly enchanted by the brutal fairytale logic of The Uncertain Places. Fairy tales are something I"m partial to anyway, and it lifts Goldstein to a very, very easy win.

Winner: The Uncertain Places

Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer vs. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Interesting. I didn't really like either of these books very much, but I actively didn't like Kane & Abel with its heroes of capitalism, where I was merely not enthralled by Gail Carson Levine's feminist fairy tale. I don't expect to see it go much further, but the story of Cinderella cursed with obedience, and the wits to try to thwart it, is certainly more enjoyable to read than two people who would be friends if they merely spoke for two minutes.

Winner: Ella Enchanted

A Season in the Life of Emmanuel by Marie Blais 
vs. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

This does seem to be a day of the very easy choices. I read Marie Blais' book as a part of reading a Canadian Top 100, and was a little baffled by it. It's so over the top in its depiction of rural Quebec pre-Quiet Revolution. In the other corner, we have a book by one of my favourite authors, and if I don't think it's quite as good as the first set in this world, his depiction of an empire in slow decline is always gripping. No question, no contest, this round goes to Guy Gavriel Kay.
Winner: A River of Stars

The Woman Who Married a Bear by John Straley 
vs. A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

Now, that's a synchronicity in match-ups, isn't it? Not only do we have a book by a Bear, and a book with Bear in the title, we also have the connection of people becoming bonded to animals. In one case, however, it's metaphorical/legendary, and in the other, quite literal. There's a mystery set in Alaska, and a tale of growing up and fighting trolls alongside your wolf. Only one has a lot of sex, handled in a very interesting way. I liked Straley's mystery fine, but I liked A Companion to Wolves a lot more.

Winner: A Companion to Wolves

The Known World by Edward P. Jones vs. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Another interesting match-up! Two books about race, one written decades ago and only now published, the other a book of this century. One about civil rights in the States, the other about slavery. Both challenging in the ways they consider race, and often unsettling. However, despite all the hype, Harper Lee's book very much shows its unedited first novelness, whereas Jones' book is accomplished in every way. I enjoyed the ways both problematized matters we would like to think of as simple, but there's no question that Jones wins this round.

Winner: The Known World 

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