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I have had The Last Mapmaker on my “gotta read it” list since I first found out it was being published. One look at the cover and I immediately knew it was going to be something I had to read. Well, that and the fact that it is written by the amazing Christina Soontornvat. She has been a favorite of mine since reading A Wish in the Dark to my kiddos. So, when Candlewick Press asked if I would like an Advanced Readers Copy…well, let’s just say I responded with a resounding YES! I am so thrilled to be sharing this book with you today. The Last Mapmaker is High Seas Adventure at it’s finest! Let’s check it out!
The Last Mapmaker
Set in a Thai-Inspired fantasy world, The Last Mapmaker is the story of 12 year old Sai. Sai is a mapmaker’s apprentice who lives in a world where status is absolutely everything…and she has a bit of a secret. You see, she is not well-bred young woman that she claims to be. She is the daughter of a con-man. Sai dreams of a life away from her past, but where she lives that is almost an impossibility. Every day she pretends to be someone she isn’t, hoping that her secret won’t get out…and dreaming of a way to leave her past behind.
As luck would have it, Sai learns of an expedition and ends up landing herself a place on a boat headed out of town. She jumps at the chance and soon finds herself sailing the high seas headed for adventure, danger, riches, possible dragons, and hopefully…freedom! Can Sai keep her secret from getting out? And, is she the only one on board with a secret? No spoilers here, my friends!
5 Stars from this Book Worm
I can remember SO vividly being in 6th grade and having my teacher read us The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I remember so many details. I remember how the book made me feel, I remember feeling like I took that adventure right along with Charlotte. The Last Mapmaker brought back SO MANY of those feelings. That is the amazing thing about books, isn’t it? They can elicit so many memories and feelings! Maybe it is because both books take place on the sea, or maybe it is because they both feature strong heroines, or maybe it is just because they are both so beautifully written. Whatever the reason, I am so glad that I had the chance to read The Last Mapmaker. This would have been a book that I would have LOVED to have read in middle-school!
Adventure and Heart
I will forever be a fan of a book that takes me on an epic adventure. A book that transports me away from reality and into its pages. The Last Mapmaker is the ultimate adventure story. It is so full of twists and turns, fast-paced action, a lush and vivid world, and something that some adventure stories can miss the mark on…heart. I was absolutely sucked into this story from the very first pages. Author Christina Soontornvat is the ultimate world builder. She transports her readers right into the story. I could smell the salt air…I could hear the hustle and bustle on the streets of Mangkon…I could imagine what it felt like wending my way through The Fens…fully immersed.
I mentioned above that some books that are packed with action and adventure can sometimes miss the mark when it comes to heart. Christina Soontornvat seamlessly wove together an action story with one that dealt with integrity, family, and identity. It is also a book that really gets you thinking. In Sai’s society, where you come from matters more than who you are or the goals you have. Your destiny can be determined by who your family was. It makes you think about the different ways in which WE let society dictate all sorts of different things!
What an incredible cast of characters. From the very beginning there were characters that I adored…looking at you Paiyoon…and characters that I wasn’t crazy about…ahem…Mud. But regardless of whether I loved them or wanted to hurl them off the side of the boat, they were all so real and so well written!
Now I can’t talk about characters without mentioning our heroine, Sai. She is the ultimate heroine…I was cheering for that young lady from the very first pages! So brave and so determined. She is up against all kinds of odds in Mangkon. To know that no matter what she does, she will never be anything just because of who her family is and where she is from is just so heartbreaking. The amount of bravery it takes to not only decide to take off on a dangerous voyage, but just to live her day to day life pretending to be someone else…pretty incredible!
I hope that we will get to read more about Sai and her adventures. I wasn’t ready for the story to be over!
For More Information
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of Christina Soontorvat’s books, I can’t recommend them enough. A Wish in the Dark is one of my all-time favorite middle-grade novels. It is a Newbery Honor book, a title that is so well deserved. It was an absolutely incredible read aloud…was loved by all 4 of us!
For more information on author Christina Soontornvat you can head to her website here.
Here are a few of the other amazing titles written by the author!
Sending a huge thank you to Candlewick Press for sending this my way for review. A new favorite! For more information on Candlewick Press and their amazing books you can click here.