Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Map of the Sky by Félix J. Palma

In The Map of the Sky, alien cylinders appear in 19th-century London, just like in H.G. Wells's book The War of the Worlds and Wells thinks that it's been staged by a man trying to win over a woman, who's reluctant to marry him. Even though Wells just recently saw some alien artifacts that were recovered many years ago in an expedition to the Antarctic, he still thinks it's a hoax. However, it soon becomes apparent that this isn't a stunt, but a real Martian invasion. Just when all seems lost, some of the survivors along with Wells himself strike back in an effort to save their city.

I loved this book! Absolutely loved it. Even though it was almost 600 pages long, I wanted this book to go on forever. I loved it that much. There are just so many wonderful bits to love in this story. It's so cleverly executed. Soon after I started this one, I remembered why and how much I loved the first book, The Map of Time (my review). I was happy to "touch base" with some familiar characters from the last book.

I don't usually read fantasy or science fiction, but for some reason I'm finding this series extremely compelling. I'm sure it has to do with the author and his writing. It's so well written and so skilfully constructed it's hard not to like. I also love that Palma acknowledges the reader by inserting brief interjections as if he himself were sitting before me telling me this story.

I loved that the characters interacted with real life people, like H.G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe. It gave the whole story some credence, even though it's fantasy. Palma created events in the book to coincide with events in the real life people's lives, so it looked like events in the book shaped their lives. For example, in the book Poe joins an expedition to the Antarctic. His experiences inspire him to pen The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. There are also a few other examples of Palma's clever imagination that are absolutely brilliant. Of course, I'd be spoiling the story if I revealed those.

This book is the second installment in a planned trilogy. Even though Palma's website says they can be read in any order, I would suggest reading the first one (The Map of Time) before this one. It's not absolutely necessary, but it'll make this book more fun to read. Palma fills in the story a little bit for new-to-the-series readers, but there are things that happen in this book that will have much more impact if you know the back story and a little bit about the characters beforehand.

While I haven't read any books by H.G. Wells, I think it would be really neat to read the book by Wells just prior to reading the corresponding one by Palma. I'm sure it would change the whole experience. While I didn't read Wells's The War of the Worlds, I did see the 2005 remake of the movie. That gave me the basics of that story and I believe it enhanced my enjoyment of this book. When I read the first book, The Map of Time, I had no inkling what Wells's book was about. I still enjoyed that book, but not as much as I enjoyed this one. I'm not saying you need to read Wells's book before these ones, I'm just saying that in this instance it helped me. I also think these books would be a real treat for those who have already read or are familiar with Wells's work.

While most of the story was light, amusing and fun to read, I was moved to tears by Charles's story in the internment camp. I felt so bad for him, but was consoled a little when Captain Shackleton gave him the peace he needed. I had to put the book down for awhile after that section. It was so sad that it haunts me even as I write this.

At first, I didn't really understand the ending. It was really good, but I didn't really get why Palma chose to end it that way. It didn't hit me until later when I was trying to write some notes for this review. Now, it all seems to clear. I'm totally in awe and can't wait for the next book.

Favourite quotes:
It was as though a tear had appeared in every book on the planet, and the fantasy had begun seeping out, engulfing the world, making it impossible to tell fact from fiction. (page 253)
...the most terrifying thing is sometimes not what we see, but rather what we are forced to imagine. (page 346)
The book contained a number of new-to-me words. Here's a sampling:
effrontery (page 3): nerve
excoriating (page 4): criticizing
jingoistic (page 6): fanatically patriotic
titular (page 39): supposed
obdurate (page 78): stubborn
petrels and skuas (page 88): seabirds
perorations (page 97): speeches
dissoluteness (page 155): depravity
pyrrhic victory (page 157): a victory that is won by incurring terrible losses
peripatetic (page 175): nomadic
grandiloquent (page 218): verbose, pretentious
entablature (page 225):lintel on a classical building
pecuniary (page 251): financial
temerity (page 301): nerve, gall
pusillanimous (page 425): timid
salubrious (page 470): hygienic

I really looking forward to the third and final installment in this series, which features The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. I haven't read that one either, but I'm hoping to, since I do have some lead time before the next book comes out.

Besides all of that, you've just got to love a book that comes with 3D endpapers and a pair of 3D glasses!!!! So very cool! I'm such a geek.

Highly recommended. This will definitely be on my "Best of 2013" list at the end of the year. It's also earned a spot in my top 3 all-time favourite books.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

For more information about this author and his other works, please visit Felix J. Palma's website. It's in Spanish.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster for this review copy.

The Map of the Sky by Félix J. Palma, Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) ©2012. ISBN 9781451660319(Hardcover), 591p.

1 comment:

  1. I had previously added The Map of Time on my TBR list. I have now moved it much closer to the top. Looking forward to it.


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