Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw; Spiegel and Grau; 2010; 318pgs; Fiction/Historical/Asian/Family Drama
Map of the Invisible World tells the story of orphaned Adam, a fifteen year boy who is trying to etch out an identity for himself while still trying to remember a past that haunts him. He keeps having images of a life he once knew and of a boy, his brother, who he is longing to find in some hopes that he will be complete somehow if found. His search takes him across Asian islands, whose scenery is well described by Aw with added historical and political events of the early 1960's. The journey is the highlight of the book and catalyst for the story line, however the beginning lags with various character development which continues throughout the novel. Johan, Adam's brother, makes interesting appearances throughout the book in his own narrative which could be the most captivating element as his chapters are shrouded in mystery not only as to who he is but what life he leads. Overall, the story's themes of loss and identity are clearly identified, the characters are intriguing, the scenery is beautiful, yet there seemed to be potential for Aw to do more.
Final Thoughts: It was hard to get into, the several story lines seemed more distant from each other which for me did not add to a whole cohesiveness for the book. I found it dragging on more often than not which deterred me from wanting me to continue on to the elements that I found exciting. I wanted to like the book but ended feeling disappointed.