Book Review: A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor

By Soyeenka Mishra

“For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.”

I had originally bought the hardcover on a whim since it was on discount (welp, hardcovers are seriously expensive otherwise when you just need to buy at least twenty or thirty books at once), and I can safely say it was a good decision.  The cover art is absolutely gorgeous and the serene blue hardback was a delightful surprise. Overall, I liked the book. I can’t say I ABSOLUTELY LOVED it (with wild abandon), but it wasn’t awful (on the very contrary, actually); I’m happy I got to read it. I have my complaints about certain traits of the characters, but the plot was way better than some I’ve read, and I loved the writing and character arcs.

The plot was definitely a gripping one; one which kept you on your toes, guessing what the next twist was going to be. It was so unpredictable that I couldn’t just put it down (it was yet another all-nighter read). The characters weren’t unnaturally perfect, and they had their flaws, a lot of them, in fact– I liked that a lot.

Let’s talk about the writing. I specifically loved the writing itself more than anything else. The alternate chapters– one from the past, one in the present? That really doesn’t work for some plots, but this book undoubtedly nailed it. The suspense kept you going as you rushed to learn what happens next. Other than that, I loved the bits when the main characters were on the island, which is pretty much more than half of the book. The imagery was just so lovely, and the details so profound, it took you to the island itself. Well, all books do transport you to their world (provided you’re capable of imagining that, obviously) but this one didn’t just do that, but also made you see all the tiniest minutiae that made up that world, those scenes, the natural beauty of an untouched land, the threat of nature. And there was never a point when it felt that surviving like that, how it’s portrayed, was impractical or illogical; it was perfectly believable.

Half of the book kinda took me a longer time than usual to read because of the sheer hatred I had towards Henri. I mean, she wasn’t entirely a bad person, but except just a few, her actions borne out of spite weren’t just justified. The author did an awesome job of casting her in that light. I’m just gonna say it: Henri was a biotch. I do understand why she did some of those things, owing to the family problems and her own issues, but the extent to which she went to do her own bidding was unwarranted. `She had so many toxic tendencies in the past but I’m more than happy that she changed for the better. What she did at the end was a good deed– a great deed in fact – but unfortunately she didn’t redeem herself in my eyes; I’m just not a very forgiving person. I mean the ending would have taken a turn for the worse (for some time at least) had she not intervened, but still she has a long way to go before I grow fond of her, or even just have neutral feelings for her. Her logic was seriously screwed up, and she needs to continue getting help.

Emma. Emmalyn Jones. Or simply Jones, as Alex called her. For most of the plot, her character was very frustrating to me. She’d been in the shadow of her sister for so long that she didn’t know what else to do. Her following around Henri like a lost puppy, getting manipulated by her, defending her even when she kept acting irrationally, still holding on to that silly childhood dream: all of it was annoying and very disappointing to me. She did step up eventually and became her own person, which makes up a great character arc, but still, she needed to do it earlier. I liked how she gradually shed her inhibitions one by one, though.

What Em did out of impulsiveness and misplaced jealousy was the most horrible thing. Yes, Henri’s actions needed to be shed light on, I admit, but Emma’s way was just so, so wrong. Poor Gavin Flynn was collaterally damaged; his entire life, his career was ruined forever due to just that little lie Emma thought wouldn’t bring on any serious consequences. All the pretense she had done earlier, tiny little lies here and there to Henri– all of those came back to bite her in the arse, which was a good lesson she had to learn the hard way. The repercussion, however horrible, was something that needed to be done (all the confrontations and difficult talks, I mean).

Now it’s Alex’s turn to be discussed. Alex Roth, cousin of Casey Roth. He was a brave fella who didn’t deal with grief in a wholly unhealthy manner, and stuck to his morals (with a few exceptions). He was a mysterious and suspicious character for like half the time, which didn’t make me like him instantaneously, but he did redeem himself for all his lies and secrecies and apparent betrayals. I liked how he saw things for how they were, and had all these mad survival skills (pros to you, dude!). When he actually revealed all his secrets, it wasn’t totally surprising since I was expecting something along the lines of those. He made a lot of bad decisions in his life that ultimately lead to Casey’s death (I’m not blaming him, just repeating some of his thoughts), but he paid for all those mistakes. When the authorities took him away and the Joneses couldn’t do a damn thing, it was a very hopeless moment since I couldn’t think for the life of me how he’d get out safely without any charges. Things worked out pretty well in the end which I am terrifically impressed about and grateful for as well. He went through a lot of pain and grief throughout the story, and it made me feel really bad for him… he didn’t deserve so much agony, especially considering his past.

I would recommend this book if you’re tired of your daily lives and want to escape to an unknown island to have this amazing, dangerous, and thrilling adventures with a bunch of teenagers who try their best to stay alive with nothing in their arsenal but a couple of things. Be prepared to be filled with questions for the better part of the book, some self-discovery, a shitload of survival, a hell lotta danger, a little bit of romance (some fluff, some not), and a snazzy escapade.

Find an edited version on The Ruskin Journal!

Image Courtesy: Soyeenka Mishra

Location: Bhubaneswar, India

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