Zombies Ate My Semifinalist

As in any other game, when you play The Morning News Tournament of Books, you win some and you lose some. And I've lost quite a few this year - I never thought Bats of the Republic or A Spool of Blue Thread (both books I like!) would make it as far as they did.
Aana fared better than I did, correctly predicting one more match to my selections. But I think we're both happy because 3 of our favorite books have made it to the semifinals. And we're moving into predicting those rounds. 
Before we do that, I must caution you that the zombies are about to attack. No, I haven't been drinking - it's part of the fun of this tournament. WAAAAY back before the tournament even began, people were able to vote for their favorite books, just in case any of them were knocked out early. And the most popular books will be able to "rise from the dead" to compete another day.
The winners of this week's semifinal rounds will each square off in head-to-head competition against a zombie, so I hope they have their best zombie weapons (whatever those are). The judges have already let us know that Spool won't be one of them, but Aana and I think we know who the zombies will be, so read on.

Semifinal Match #1
The Competitors: Bats of the Republic vs. The Turner House
Our Pick: The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
Why this one? We both liked Bats of the Republic, we really did. We both thought it was innovative, unique, creative, and engaging. But neither one of us thought that it was developed enough to compete with some of the other heavyweights in this competition. The fact that it beat The Sympathizer still blows Aana's mind. She says: "I'm bitter! Bitter enough to vote against it - I pick Turner House." While I agree with her selection of Turner to win, I actually chose Turner House because I think it really is the better book. Both of the competitors are complex, but Bats relies a bit more on flash and tricks, and Turner is a more mature and resonant story. If you want two great books to read, though, you can't go wrong with either one. It still astonishes me that they are first books for both authors.
TOB match to be decided March 25.

Semifinal Match #2
The Competitors: The Tsar of Love and Techno vs. The Sellout
Our Pick: Split decision by the judges!
Why this one? Okay, this is one of the toughest matches in the competition for both of us. These books are two of our favorites in the entire tournament and choosing between them is like selecting a favorite child. The differences between them are interesting: One is about a culture very different from our own, and the other is about specific aspects of our own culture that cause us the most strife. One is a subtle interweaving of stories from different characters' intriguing perspectives and one hits you in the face with its blatant messages on racism. Aana predicts The Tsar of Love and Techno will win because she found it enthralling, but she also says she would be happy no matter which one wins. I deliberated for a long time over this match, and I have to say that I think The Sellout has the edge. Maybe it's how resonant it is to our current political and social issues, but its razor-sharp wit and almost-too-uncomfortable spotlight give it a win by just a hair.
TOB match to be decided March 28 - and we'll see which judge is a better judge.

Zombie Predictions
Aana Says: 
1. The Sympathizer - this was easily my favorite book out of all of them, and I still can't believe Bats of the Republic beat it.
2. The Whites - this book was so intense and I felt like it didn't get the chance it deserved.
As long as John Irving doesn't come back, we'll be okay. That would be like the "hideous bloated zombie in the well" scene from The Walking Dead.
Cheminne Says: 
1. The Sympathizer - I really couldn't believe this book dropped out of competition in the first place. It was one of my favorite books of the year.
2. Fates and Furies, although I want it to be A Little Life - I was NOT a fan of Fates. As I said in my initial review, reading it felt like I was watching a couple pick and bicker for an hours-long dinner and I literally threw it down when I finished. But I suspect there are a lot of fans out there who voted for it. I actually voted for A Little Life. It hooked me from the first word, and I was surprised by the vehement reaction of the judge who knocked it out of competition.
And ditto Aana's John Irving diss. 

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