Thursday, January 05, 2012

Review: A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Title: A Map of the Known World
Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Publisher: Scholastic Press                     
Release date: April 15th 2009
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Cora Bradley dreams of escape. Ever since her reckless older brother, Nate, died in a car crash, Cora has felt suffocated by her small town and high school. She seeks solace in drawing beautiful maps, envisioning herself in exotic locales. When Cora begins to fall for Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, she uncovers her brother's secret artistic life and realizes she had more in common with him than she ever imagined. With stunning lyricism, Sandell weaves a tale of one girl's journey through the redemptive powers of art, friendship, and love.

First sentence:
Somewhere, things must be beautiful and vivid.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was really excited to read A Map of the Known World - it's right up my alley. And while I did enjoy this one somewhat, there was just something missing.

The writing is right on the border between beautiful and melodramatic, and it kept going back and forth between the two, for me. Sadly, I think the melodramatic side won out in the end.

On the one hand, Cora is easy to relate to, and you can't help but feel for her tragic situation. But the melodrama made it hard for me to like her in parts - in lots of situations, she is incredibly whiny, making way too big a deal out of everything, which is something that always annoys me.

The secondary characters are great. I loved Damian and his relationship with Cora - the slow development is realistic, and I was rooting for them throughout the book. When the romance is so slow I want to scream at the characters to kiss already, then the pacing is just right. The family situation is described really well, too. It's so tragic, and it broke my heart to see how Nate's accident tore the entire family apart. However, I found the situation at school somewhat exaggerated - would people really think Cora's a freak and stay out of her way because her brother died? Can people really be that cruel? And Rachel... Wow, what a bitch - I couldn't believe how she treated Cora.

I loved the art references in A Map of the Known World. Cora's, Nate's and Damian's art all sound amazing. I really enjoyed reading about art as an outlet for Cora, and how art brought Cora, Nate and Damian closer together.

I'm split on what to say on this book - there are things I loved, like the art references and the romance, but the melodramatic writing and Cora's whiny side really annoyed me. I'm not sure whether or not to recommend A Map of the Known World - I guess it just depends on what's most important to you. If you can't stand melodrama, this one probably isn't for you, but if you're looking for a well-developed romance storyline and something tragic, you should give A Map of the Known World a try.


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