Monday, March 21, 2016

The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

From the publisher: 400 hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire. For some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. One is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

The Map of Bones is the second book in Francesca Haig’s Fire Sermon trilogy. The Map of Bones is easy to get into and easy to read, and it has a strong female lead. I will read the final book when it is published.

Still, The Map of Bones didn’t really pop for me. A surprise reveal toward the end seemed a bit pointless and dispassionate, as did the secret Zoe, an Alpha fighting for the Resistance, has been carrying. I have no emotional investment in the characters and I don’t sense any real commitment and feeling between them. Narrator Cass again makes some idiotic decisions, like insisting on burying an acquaintance found hanged even though her party is in an enormous hurry. The language is sometimes a little overwrought (“We trawled those dusty rooms for hours. Walls with a tracery of rust and damp. A baby’s skull the exact weight of a nightmare.” p. 275 of the digital advance reader copy)

I do recommend The Fire Sermon trilogy for those who enjoy dystopian fiction and strong female leads, and I look forward to seeing how the trilogy wraps up. I read a digital advance reader copy of The Map of Bones. It will be available at the Galesburg Public Library starting May 3 in print and as an ebook. The library also owns the first book, The Fire Sermon,  in those two formats.

Postscript: One thing that bothered me was that while the book is called The Map of Bones, the phrase “maze of bones” was used over a dozen times in the book while “map of bones” was only used once. I found this very distracting. As I read a digital advance reader copy; maybe the text will be changed before the final book is printed (although I think The Maze of Bones would have been a better title, and the cover could still have used an Alpha symbol as the A and an Omega symbol as the O).

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