Monday, 3 November 2014
Review: The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan & John Parke Davis
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: November 4th, 2014
Series: Pirate Stream #1
Source: Publisher ** I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.**
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Wherever you need to go--the Map to Everywhere can take you there.
To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it's her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere--but they aren't the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can't beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear!
In Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis's first installment of a fantastical new series, adventure, magic, and hilarity collide in the treacherous skies and dangerous waters of the Pirate Stream. Heart-pounding escapades and a colorful cast of characters will have readers setting sail through this wholly original and unforgettable tale.
I'm quite a big fan of Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. So when I saw she was coming out with a new book I, of course, had to get my hands on it. I was even more excited to see the cover. That's a fantastic middle-grade fantasy cover! I was also antsy to read her first jump into middle-grade fantasy. I love me some MG fantasy. I actually find it can have some of the most unique worlds. With MG there doesn't seem to have to be a certain structure that an author sticks to. There's a bit more freedom with their world building and fantastical creatures. Of course, sometimes this can go horribly wrong and become to bizarre. For me, The Map to Everywhere was in the middle. There was a lot I liked about it, but I also found it was trying to hard to be different. The first 150 pages were really hard for me to push through. There really wasn't any set up for this new world. You're just thrown right in and I was confused. It took me those first 150 pages to find my barring and just grasp what was going on. I was still enjoying the book, it was just taking me a little to long to get to the point where everything just clicked. That being said I'm glad I pushed through, because once everything started to flow better I started to really enjoy The Map to Everywhere.
The Map to Everywhere is told in alternating POV chapters. There's Fin, an orphan and thief. Ever since he was 4 any one he comes in contact with seems to forget about him within minutes. For a thief it's a great trait to have, but as a boy it's a very lonely life to live. Marrill is an adventurer. But right now she's stuck in Arizona well her parents deal with her dead aunts estate. Until even worse news is dropped on Marrill when she's told her mom is sick. This is when Marrill happens upon a ship hanging out in a parking lot. The ship is following the Pirate Stream, a body of water that connects all worlds and realms. By accident Marrill hops aboard the ship when the wizard on board mentions he can cure illnesses. Once on board Marrill becomes an accidental stowaway when her world disappears and she gets thrown into Fin's. It takes a few chapters, but eventually Marrill and Fin meet, and lo and behold Marrill can remember Fin. Fin is both shocked and excited. Fin decides he's going to board the ship Marrill is traveling and see where that takes him. But as the coincidences keep coming it turns out that the pieces of a map Marrill and her companions are searching for is also the map Fin is looking for. Thus embarks their adventure together to find the pieces of the map.
As so happens in a lot of adventure, fantasy books, even though the main characters don't seem like the likeliest of friends, they still become friends and than find out they have a lot more in common than thought. For Marrill and Fin it's finding a way back to their moms. Clearly for Fin having Marrill remember him time and time again gives him the social security he's been lusting for. Of course your heart goes out to him. Poor guy doesn't have anybody Not even a pet. But it was still hard for me to connect to him. His chapters were definitely the weaker of the two for me. Although as the book progressed I did find myself enjoying them more and more. Fin's a strong, unlikely hero with a bunch of room for growth. I did really like Marrill. She's a true adventurer. Her parents have traveled the world(our world) with her, so she's not easily scared of new situations. She kind of just roles with it. Anything to get her home to her sick mom. I thought their friendship was a strong point to the book. Strong friendships are what draw me in to MG books. These kids really could teach us adults a thing or two about how friendships work. There's hardly ever an ulterior motive.
Like I mentioned earlier, MG fantasy books are really able to incorporate unique and weird creatures that add a fun dimension to the story line. These creatures can usually be sassy and smart; like Marrill's cat or the pirates(get it? rats that are pirates). The Map to Everywhere did an excellent job with fun creatures thrown throughout. The weakest point for me was the world building. I liked the idea of traveling the Pirate Stream that could take them anywhere(depending on how the Stream was feeling). I love pirates and fantasy books where a a good portion of it is spent on water. So that part was all great. There was a bunch of whimsical elements. But unfortunately that first 150 pages just stand out as being too confusing and just trying a bit to hard to be different and unique. Of course coming into a new world the reader has to be introduced to it. But I don't want to realize I'm being introduced to it. You know what I mean? I want it to just flow easily into my imagination. Like I can't imagine not having been to said world before. Everything just fits and makes sense to me. Still, the Pirate Stream is still a cool concept and where it didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for everyone else.
I'm happy to finally have another Ryan book in hand. And I can't wait to check out the finished copy with all the illustrations throughout. I'm thinking those could bring a totally different aspect to the reading experience. I will definitely be picking up the second book in this series because I enjoyed The Map to Everywhere overall and I could definitely see the second book being much stronger.