I must be a glutton for punishment. I wound up being the final judge in the Battle of the Broken Hearts earlier this year. Seriously, how does this happen? It's not an easy task to decide between two titles in the last round. I have to pick between Room by Emma Donoghue and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
I find this task nigh on impossible. They are both absolutely about survival but so completely different. It's like asking me if I like Chris Hemsworth better than Chris Pine. Or asking me if I like apples or oranges. The answer is I like them both for different reasons. Now if you ask me if I like Gala apples or Fuji apples that's a fair question. But, how do I decide between these two books that are so dissimilar?
I didn't want to like Room. It's such a disturbing plot, but it's well written. I thought Jack's perspective would be tiresome after the first chapter, but it was so skillfully done. I listened to the book, and I was deep in this story. I raged at the grandmother for her lack of patience with Jack. I cried for Ma's pain. It was a beautiful story of survival.
Ready Player One is funny, and Wade is so likeable. As someone who was a teen in the 80s, it resonated with me and I enjoyed the pop culture references so much. I couldn't put it down and inhaled the book when it came out. I happily re-read it for the Battle of Survival. It held up for me.
So who wins the Battle for Survival? If I had my choice, I'd honestly say neither title. I see survival fiction more as a man vs nature type situation (Hatchet by Gary Paulsen) or survival in some dystopian universe (The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi). Have you ever thought about that? How do you define survival fiction? Does it have to be man vs nature - or does man vs his own nature also count? What titles would be on your short list?
In the end, I'm making my decision based on the fact that one title is something I can, and did, re-read, and made me laugh. Ready Player One wins the Battle for Survival.