Thursday, 21 January 2016

Dust Cover Dust-Up: Round Two, Part Six

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein vs. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

So, two fairy tale books come head to head, and everyone knows how much I love a good fairy tale. Luckily for me, this isn't a heartwrenching choice - I liked Ella Enchanted well enough, but I certainly didn't love it. Lisa Goldstein's book, on the other hand, gives us a dangerous fae who have been learning from their mistakes for millennia and aren't about to help us poor mortals beat them. It's a fantastic melding of the fairy tale world into the real.

Winner: The Uncertain Places

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay vs. 
A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

This battle, on the other hand, is a little bit harder. I quite enjoyed both these books, particularly how complex and nuanced they both were. It's a hard choice, given that these are authors I follow. I think, though, that Kay's second venture into a declining fictional Chinese empire, with all the elegiac sadness, is going to win out over a delightfully complex look at bonding with wolves, and where that might conflict with human patterns.They're both good, but River of Stars is a tiny bit better.

Winner: River of Stars

The Known World by Edward P. Jones vs. The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins

Interesting choice. Very strong fiction about the brutal and subtle violences of slavery vs. a book by a poet I really love. They're both excellent. I think, though, that The Known World has stuck with me in a way that this slim volume of poetry hasn't quite. It was a difficult read, but a powerful one. 

Winner: The Known World

The Scar by China Mieville vs. The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott

We're back in another mainstream fiction vs. genre fiction battle, and I think my well-documented predilections should make the outcome obvious. I liked The Jewel in the Crown, with its twisty story around the decline of the English in India, but it's so hard to top China Mieville. The Scar was enjoyable to read, and continues to grow on me. Like a fungus? Time will tell. But I keep coming back to my memories of reading this book, and it wants to be read again.

Winner: The Scar

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm vs. Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Two science fiction books written by women, but unfortunately, neither was among the science fiction that knocked my socks off this year. So do I go with the Hugo-winning look at cloning, or the adventure/romance in space with fearsome beasts and battlesuits?  Certainly Fortune's Pawn is geared to be more pure fun. However, although Wilhelm's book isn't breathtaking, her ideas about human nature and what can be lost in a crumbling world, they're more vivid in my mind. 

Winner: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

And thus we end Round Two. One to Round Three!

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