You can check it out over at defan's translations. That just leaves chapter 23, the epilogue, and the prologue to be translated. Will defan's manage it before the anime reaches that point in the novels? The race is on!
Realistically, I think the book will be translated before the anime animates the content, but it's pretty ridiculous that the contest was even close. The book has been out for years. We shouldn't have had to wait until the anime just animates it all anyway, making the whole book series pointless.
The end of the fight is pretty ludicrous. The battle mechanics in Underworld have devolved to 'whatever you imagine becomes true,' so they're having Ranma 1/2 type mokotakabishan ki blasts where the more confident you are the stronger the beam becomes, and if you lose confidence the beam becomes weaker. That's fine for a gag manga's fight scenes but totally unacceptable for a shonen action style conflict.
To make matters worse it totally rips off Goku's spirit bomb attack in the end to win the day. I guess the author couldn't think of his own way to overcome the last boss so just borrowed the idea from someone else.
Volume 18 has been pretty awful throughout, full of sappy, corny, unrealistic scenes. Alicization is definitely ending with a whimper, complete with the spirits of dead people reemerging to give one last encouraging speech/action etc. All is permitted in this new, fake world, which simultaneously means nothing has any meaning or significance attached to it anymore.
Clearly the author was much better at creating the problem than solving it, a typical problem writers everywhere face down against every day. Just look at the horrid conclusion to the chimera arc in Hunter x Hunter -- oh but then Gon grew his hair out long and one punched his opponent down! Oh but there was a bomb hidden in the chancellor's stomach, kablooey! Oh but Gon was wished healthy again by a sibling of Killua's who had never been mentioned as existing in the story before! Whaddyaknow! How convenient!
Stories need endings, though, however bad they might be. I need to see the resolutions to the questions posed and the decisions our characters make in the end about how to lead the rest of their lives. I need closure. So volume 18, no matter how bad it gets, is vital to the entire SAO experience, which just so happens to be the best story of all time, even with this volume in mind.
Meanwhile, I added 'I've seen it all' by Bjork to my music hall of fame. The new total is 5267 songs. If I suddenly start yearning to hear a song that's not in my hall of fame, that's a good indicator that it belongs in my hall of fame. This summer anime season has a lot of catchy tunes so I expect my hall of fame isn't done expanding. There's still the music of Valkyria Chronicles 4, Soul Calibur 6 and Inazuma 11 Ares no Tenbin on the horizon as well. There's no upper limit to how great my music hall of fame can become.