As I half-guessed, Zarr is a fan of realistic fiction. Which, as I read her decision, made me think, “oh no,” especially when her critique included critical analysis. And, honestly, when Zarr said, “There’s a major romantic element in the book. As the love heated up, I chilled a bit. This kind of all-consuming Romeo-and-Juliet-impossible-love romance has become what is to me a less interesting version of a greater question: Can love that is not romantic be powerful enough to triumph and change circumstances and people (or angels, or chimaera) in meaningful ways? That’s a question Gantos explores, to an extent, in his book.” I was half-nodding in agreement. Only half, because I didn’t read the romance in Daughter of Smoke and Bone that way. Also, this more than anything makes me want to read the Gantos book.
I resigned myself to this being another loss for more bracket, BUT THEN. Zarr considered both books — wasn’t all puppies and rainbows about either — just honest — and then went with Daughter of Smoke and Bone for being a “more wholly immersive reading experience.” Interesting, that the more immersive reading experience is what does the trick.
Four more matches left in Round 1!