Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dust Cover Dust-Up 2016: Round One, Part Eight

Uprooted by Naomi Novik vs. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It's hard to deny that Half of a Yellow Sun feels more like an important book, difficult and essential. But there were things that I found hard to connect to, and ended up enjoying Adichie's Americanah a heck of a lot more. Mostly, though, it comes down to the fact that while I haven't loved Novik's Temeraire books, she really knocked it out of the park with Uprooted.  It's a fairy tale that build on traditions without being beholden to them, and I loved it a whole lot.

Winner: Uprooted

The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear vs. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson 

I liked both of these books - Hopkinson brought a pleasing tactileness to her Toronto deserted by government and police, and the story was entertaining. Bear, though, took all the emotion up about a dozen notches, exploring pain so delicately and intensely that it took my breath away. She made me understand Cahey's pain in a way that I would not have, in the hands of a less skilled author.

Winner: The Sea Thy Mistress

California Bones by Greg van Eekhout vs. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

I had to sit and think about this one for a long while. I enjoyed both of these books, and particularly liked The Goblin Emperor for its twisty politics and insistence that not everyone is horrible and out to get you. Still, in the long run, the book that I initially read and wasn't sure if I'd go further in the series has stuck with me more. I've probably recommended it half a dozen times, and find that it lingers pleasingly. So, I recommend The Goblin Emperor, but this round's going to van Eekhout.

Winner: California Bones

Orfeo by Richard Powers vs.  Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia McKillip

This is a strangely tough match-up, as neither book makes me leap to my feet (metaphorically, anyway) and acclaim it the winner. I liked both, although the protagonist of Orfeo gave me flashbacks to my undergrad days, with classmates who insist on ideological purity at the expense of compromise. He's up against the variety of protagonists in McKillip's short stories, which play with gender and outsider status in fantasy and fairy tale settings. You had to have guessed the fairy tales would win out.

Winner: Wonders of the Invisible World

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown vs. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente 

I do not read a lot of self-help books, but I found much to like in Daring Greatly,  and some ideas that have been quite helpful. Still, it's never going to woo me the same way that a Snow White tale set in California and the American West, with an evil stepmother who has made a deal with dark powers, and a Snow White whose very past is hidden from the world. Plus, did I mention that it was written by Valente?
Winner: Six-Gun Snow White

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