Review: The Map of Bones
I read The Fire Sermon last year and I loved it so The Map of Bones was one of my most anticipated releases of this year, mostly because The Fire Sermon ended on a cliffhanger and I wanted so badly to know what was going to happen next in Cass’s story. So badly.
If you didn’t read The Fire Sermon, then firstly: why not? Secondly, the premise is pretty awesome. It’s a post-apocalyptic series described as The Hunger Games meets The Road and it’s set 400 years in the future, in a world that’s turned primitive following some kind of nuclear fallout. Every person is born with a twin, and each twin is either an Alpha (physically ‘perfect’) or an Omega. The Alphas rule society, and not in a nice way either. Omegas are ostracised and branded and the Alphas reign supreme. It’s all a bit shit. Oh, and the real sucker? When one twin dies, so does the other. Cass (who is an awesomely awesome heroine, although a little less so in The Map of Bones more on that later) is an Omega fighting for the resistance and with big dreams of equality; her twin, Zach (Alpha, obvs) is pretty high up on the Council and dreams of the opposite. Awesome, right? Right.
So, what did I make of Book 2 (catch up on my thoughts on book 1 here if you’re so inclined)
Oh, erm, SPOILERS PROBABLY.
I liked it. Mostly. It did feel a little slow to get going, but, I think perhaps because book 1 ended the way it did and that still feels so fresh in my mind (don’t talk to me about Kip please, I cannot) and I had unrealistically expected that momentum to carry over when it couldn’t really because you know, there has to be that element of reintroduction and setting things up for where the story goes next. So yes, it felt a little slow, but it didn’t take long for me to be reeled straight back in, hook, line and sinker etcetera and I guess it kind of had to be a little bit more ‘filler’ because, bear in mind that this is the middle book of a trilogy. What I mean is that if book 1 is the set up and book 3 is the grand finale it makes sense then for book 2 to be the ‘how we get from 1 -3’ and as such a little bit less. Which sounds like a bad thing. It’s not. I really really liked this book.
Let’s talk about Cass for a minute. Cass was awesome in The Fire Sermon. I loved her so hard because she was this excellent real flawed character and she owned those flaws you know; she was excellent because of them and not in spite of them. Does that even make sense? In my head it does. The thing about Cass is that she’s ultra relatable – she’s just a girl and you can see yourself in her somehow and you kind of love that she’s pretty terrified and doesn’t actually really know what she’s doing but she’s getting up and doing it anyway. I liked her a little bit less here though, because even though all of that is still true, she got just a little bit high and mighty. There was an element of self-righteousness about her that niggled with me, an attitude that suggested she felt her visions were the be all and end all, that she was the one with the most to lose, that it was ‘all about her.’ She has a bit of a nobody understands what I’m going through attitude that frustrated me a little bit because seriously Cass, look who you’re travelling with will you? Look around you oh my God. Anyhow, that said, she also has a new found sense of confidence, which was excellent, she’s not as tied to Zach – again, excellent, because that guy is a dick and she manages to hold her own in a way she didn’t quite manage in book one and that made me proud. She has morals our Cass, and she’s not afraid to stand by them and she will fight for what she believes is right no matter what. Cass is still pretty damn awesome. Also awesome? Piper and Zoe? Zoe, good gracious. I have so much love for that girl, so freaking much.
The whole world they live in terrifies me, no lie. The Council and their attitudes terrifies me, the way most everybody views society terrifies me, the things we find out about how they got to where they were and the events that led to it and the lives of the people from Before, it all terrifies me and that’s a mark of an excellent book in this genre I think. That and the whole social commentary, which in these books is mostly centred around body image and is really really fascinating and thought provoking and excellent. It’s not a fast paced book, but neither was The Fire Sermon and I think that works in it’s favour, the slow unravelling of the story, the slow unfolding of events and the drip feeding of information just works somehow, it paints a much more effective picture than if the story sped from one drama to another. It kind of makes you believe that this world actually really exists for Haig and so it kind of makes it exist for you too, and again with the no sense. I suck at this sometimes. The Map of Bones is deeper somehow than The Fire Sermon and darker too, Its slow pacing makes it detailed and that slow burn draws you in and holds you. The language is v pretty (a baby’s skull the exact weight of a nightmare and can’t you just tell that Haig is primarily a poet?). Also, I loved that the whole moral dilemma of the dual-death thing carried forward into this book, because that fascinated me in book 1: how can you win a war when a casualty for the other side results in a casualty for your own, when killing a Bad Guy also means killing an innocent. I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to come together in the last book and once again I am the most frustrated ever because I don’t want to wait.