A Map of Days - Ransom Riggs

Review :

My reaction, when thanks to Tahereh Mafi tweeting about it, I knew this book existed and all I could say was: I. AM. DECEASED.

The fourth book in Riggs' signature series plays out a bit like Iron Gold for me in that it's long and a little bit on the slow side sometimes, but it does a great job of expanding the world as built in the original trilogy too. Though Riggs doesn't do the four-POV route like Pierce Brown did - once again, Jacob's our sole POV character. But since he's about as new to the expanded peculiar world - and especially peculiar America - as the rest of us, it's to be expected that he remains our main window.

Peculiar America didn't get any exploration in the original trilogy, and now that we're getting a glimpse of it at last, it's not hard to see why. Not unlike America in real life, it's an enormous place, but unfortunately still suffers from a certain Wild West lawlessness too. Sharp sectarian divisions among America's peculiardom also reflect the bitterness of the political landscape, especially today. It's not unusual, of course, for Riggs to draw on history to shape his story. After all, the very premise, going back to Book 1, is rooted in a nightmarish metaphor for the Holocaust turning out to be the actual monsters all along. Now that we're on US soil in several times and places, Riggs doesn't waste much time putting both peculiar and non-peculiar America on blast for a long, ugly history of racism and colonialism and subjugation of anyone remotely different. On a more positive front, though, we get a very diverse and international cast of characters, even if most of them are minor at best - but at least this book is nowhere near as predominantly white as the previous three, or the movie, for that matter.

It's a heavy book, hard to digest at times, but Riggs does keep things light a lot of the time too. Jacob and Emma's relationship, for instance. Early on in the book, Emma ribs Jacob a bit for his lack of love experience - he's barely been kissed and is a virgin, which is par for the course given that he's always been kind of a loner (more than ever, in this book, I code him as a fellow autistic dude.) Jacob, in his internal monologue, talks about how much he knows he shouldn't internalize his virginity as a failure, and yet he can't help himself. But at least Emma knows the right thing to say to him, complimenting him for being careful with his heart.

I won't spoil anything about the developments in the plot or subplots, except to say that not unlike the very first book (and to a lesser extent, the second), there's a particularly diabolical weapons-grade cliffhanger.

As the peculiar world grows, everything explodes, and we're all guaranteed to never see anything about any of our faves the same way again. A Map of Days is Ransom Riggs' most timely novel yet, and I'll be eagerly awaiting the fifth book in the series - though remembering the long gaps between books in the original trilogy, it'll be an unbearable wait.

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