The Cartographers

A Novel

Hardcover, 400 pages

English language

Published May 25, 2021 by William Morrow & Company, William Morrow.

ISBN:
978-0-06-291069-1
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3 stars (29 reviews)

What is the purpose of a map?

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable and exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence... because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey …

8 editions

Hit and miss

3 stars

The description of some of the things in this novel, e.g. academic life, large corporations and search algorithms seem a little off, as if the author didn't actually know how they work. Unfortunately, some play a bigger role in the story. If you can suspend your disbelief about those the hunt for the mystery is exciting once the pace takes up. I did guess the main villain halfway through, though. While there are some ponderings about the purpose of maps the project one of the characters is working on - a map of everything - only gets a cursory treatment. It could have merited a book of its own.

nothing about this is right

2 stars

I’ve already hooted and hollered about the many ridiculous things the book gets wrong about libraries and academia and I won’t rehash (although ffs if you’re going to write a book revolving around these key details, why wouldn’t you think you need to actually learn about them?!). But even beyond that, this just doesn’t work. Like, the premise of why the murderer wants to do the murdering? Nonsensical. I stand by my appreciation of the romance plot. And I do like the idea of magical maps etc etc. But those are the only reasons this isn’t a one-star review.

Review of 'The Cartographers' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I'm not sure why this book is getting so much praise.
The basic premise is good but the writing becomes increasingly cartoonish as the novel progresses and the dialog is stilted throughout.
The author drags out a murder scene (where the other characters react in way real people would not) that leads to an unsatisfying ending.
It's as though the author was the popular kid in her MFA program and now book publishing eco system feels compelled to praise her.
I asked a couple of other people to read this book to see if it was just me.
Neither of them made it past the third chapter.

Review of 'The Cartographers' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

”I thought we were going to be friends forever. I thought nothing could tear us apart.”

More like books-about-maps and not books-about-books, but similar? Kind of a mediocre story with a super fun premise. A weird intersection of thriller, maps, and the New York Public Library is where you’ll find this book hanging out, and honestly it’s a very tough book to rate because of it. I don’t have a lot to compare it to.Nell Young is an ex-cartographer, who once had her dream job working with maps in the NYPL, but was fired by her dad after a disagreement involving an old box of Junk and a gas station map. Now she produces fake replicas to hang on hotel walls, but dreams often about returning to her old job. That old gas station map comes back to haunt her after her father is found dead at his desk at …

Spannender Thriller mit interessanter Prämisse

4 stars

Für mich hat das Thema “Raum” schon länger eine besondere Faszination – und damit natürlich auch Karten. Daher ist Peng Shepherds Roman über eine junge Kartographin, die Familiengeheimnis enthüllt, wie gemacht für mich.

Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei eine einfache Karte aus den 1930er Jahren – eine der ersten, die für den aufkommenden privaten Autoverkehr gedacht waren. Die Hauptfigur Nell findet diese in einem Versteck ihres Vaters, nachdem dieser auf mysteriöse Weise umgebracht wurde. Schnell findet sie heraus, dass diese Karte viel wertvoller ist, als sie erscheint, und ein Geheimnis enthalten muss. Was dieses Geheimnis aber ist und wie eng es mit der Geschichte ihrer Familie verwoben ist, zeigt sich erst im Laufe der Geschichte.

The Cartographers ist in erster Linie eine Kombination aus spannendem Thriller und Familiendrama. Als solcher ist er genauso flott wie unterhaltsam erzählt und lässt sich wunderbar “weglesen”. Im Kern der Handlung liegt eine kleine Besonderheit aus …

reviewed The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

So much missed opportunity...

1 star

Content warning General spoilers within.

nothing about this is right

2 stars

I’ve already hooted and hollered about the many ridiculous things the book gets wrong about libraries and academia and I won’t rehash (although ffs if you’re going to write a book revolving around these key details, why wouldn’t you think you need to actually learn about them?!). But even beyond that, this just doesn’t work. Like, the premise of why the murderer wants to do the murdering? Nonsensical. I stand by my appreciation of the romance plot. And I do like the idea of magical maps etc etc. But those are the only reasons this isn’t a one-star review.

Review of 'The Cartographers' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

"the purpose of a map is to bring people together."

Very, very disappointing.

I love maps, I didn't love this book.
Although the premise is interesting, the story itself is slow and boring.
I only managed to finish the book because I hoped there was going to be an explanation for the weird magic system that was introduced. There was not.

Two stars because of maps, but don't bother and go read another book instead.

Review of 'The Cartographers' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

None of the motivation for anything made any sense. Wally turns into a murderer in search of a map because he's obsessed with Tam and "their" town? Tam stays behind to protect a secret town instead of raise her daughter? Her dad fires her and ruins her career to protect her from said previous murdering old friend? It read like a bad rendition of national treasure to me. Nearly a DNF.

I did enjoy the historical note at the end of the acknowledgements. But this just showed me how the idea for this had so much more potential than a group of PhDs acting like children and making dumb choices.

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