Weekend Ramblings: Tournament of Books (Part 1)
You may have seen Nook’s Tournament of Books that’s going on this month, where each day, two of the previous year’s top books go head-to-head until there’s only one left, which takes home the grand prize — The Rooster.
This year, I’m doing my own Tournament of Books, based on some of my top-rated fictional books of the previous year (Feb 2012 – Feb 2013). Each week, I’ll cover one round of battles, and on the 31st announce the overall winner.
How I picked the books:
First, I took all of the books I read over the past year and picked out the four- and five-star rated ones (over fifty total!). Since I wanted this to be a battle of fairly new books, I sorted by publication date to bring you our 32 competitors. To determine the face-offs, I simply sorted by title and paired them off.
Now, without further ado, I bring you…
1. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff vs. BZRK by Michael Grant
This is quite the apples/oranges comparison, pitting a sweet, Pollyana-type fantasy against the harsh, cruel, technological world of BZRK. In the end, though, Graff includes delicious cake recipes in her book, which tips her over the edge here.
2. Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan vs. Echoes of Titanic by Mindy Clark
Two mysteries here — one involving teenagers and questions of supernatural powers, the other involving a murder and the Titanic. Klavan’s novel wins out due to having a more unexpected ending.
3. Eve of Destruction (Dark Eden #2) by Patrick Carman vs. Every Day by David Levithan
Two great YA novels here — one a thriller and one a romance, but each with a strange ‘bodysnatcher’ element. In the end, Levithan’s wins out for me as the more unique premise — a person whose consciousness involuntarily jumps to a new body each day.
4. Feedback (Variant #2) by Robson Wells vs. Garden of Madness by Tracy Higley
When it comes to strange mental illnesses and confinement, it’s a close call, but Higley’s wins out with its multi-layered conspiracies.
5. Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli vs. If We Survive by Andrew Klavan
Boys vs girls or teens vs terrorists? For this match-up, I have to go with Spinelli’s middle-grade story, for a truly unique coming-of-age story.
6. Into the Dark (Legend of the Great Horse #3) by John Allen Royce Jr vs. Journeys Across Niagara by DK LeVick
Both of these fall under the category of historical fiction — one based on the history of horses, the other on the history of Niagara Falls. Though I’m not a huge fan of horses, Royce’s book includes time travel. Win.
7. Legend by Marie Lu vs. The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson
Now this is a tough one. I enjoyed both of these books a lot, but when it comes down to it, Johnson’s kept me on my toes and flipping page after page, so it wins for being more un-put-down-able.
8. Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell vs. Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Up against almost anything else, Ferrell’s mindwarping tale of time travel would win out, but Stiefvater had some pretty weird twists in her book as well, and the characters were far more likable.
9. Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis vs. Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
In this YA duel of strange new worlds, Rutkoski’s alternate Chicago barely edges out Revis’ new Earth, basically because of the strange twists and turns that get us there.
10. Spindlers by Lauren Oliver vs. Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
I loved Oliver’s Alice in Wonderland-esque middle grade story, but I have a soft spot for historical fiction, and Nickerson’s debut pulled it off so well.
11. Such Wicked Intent (This Dark Endeavor #2) by Kenneth Oppel vs. Summer Ruins (The Last Year #4) by Trisha Leigh
Creepy otherworldly creatures preying on humans? Check, check. Basically, this battle comes down to fantasy vs sci-fi, and in this case, I’m going to have to go with the fantasy afterlife world that Oppel builds in the Frankenstein family castle, as his creatures were slightly more terrifying.
12. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott vs. The Emperor’s Conspiracy by Michelle Diener
In these adult historical fiction novels, you’ll find danger, conspiracy, and secrets. I’m going to have to go with Alcott’s book, however, since I love reading about the Titanic, and this was a part of its history I had not heard much about prior.
13. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate vs. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
This was another apples and oranges match-up, but considering how much I loved
Morton’s WWII-era tale of murder and secrets, I have to give it the win.
14. The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom vs. The Thief of Auschwitz by Jon Clinch
Though both stories dealt with some tough issues, I felt that Clinch’s story of a family trying to survive and protect one another in Auschwitz to be incredibly touching and heartfelt.
15. Two and Twenty Dark Tales by Nina Berry vs. Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund
It’s hard to judge a collection of short stories up against a Christian historical fiction novel, but I really have to give props to all of the research that went into Hedlund’s novel, bringing to life a time in Midwestern history that few care to recall.
16. UnWholly (Unwind #2) by Neal Shusterman vs. Zelda Pryce: Razor’s Edge by J Llewelyn
As much as I enjoyed Llewelyn’s steampunk heroine in her daring adventures, Shusterman’s second book of the Unwind trilogy was darker, more daring, and far more intense.