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Books, Grimm, Top 10

Top 10: books with maps and road trips

23.04.09 | Comment?

Road trips are like a story waiting to be written: generally people embark on road trips in search of something (peace and quiet, enlightenment, the truth about yourself, someone), which is very classical and quest-like.

Maps usually suggest “fantasy” because of the whole alternate world thing needing explaining. I stuck the two together (road trips and maps) partly because my list of books with maps reached 5 and would go no further (for, like, two months), and partly because there is actually a natural connection (partly being quests are a big part of fantasy literature and partly in the form of the book Paper Towns).

  1. book coverPaper Towns, John Green – Paper Towns has both a road trip and maps. At least, maps are mentioned. Paper towns are towns that appear on maps but otherwise don’t exist; the product of overly hopeful developers or something. Quentin’s always had a thing for Margo Roth Spiegelman. After she enlists his help for a crazy, infatuating night of getting even-type pranks he’s determined to find her after she disappears. Cue the road trip, which involves one of the funniest scenes ever: “’Bro, I think I need another bottle.’”
  2. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green. He likes road trips obviously. That’s okay, because I like his books.
  3. book coverStolen Car, Patrick Jones – your classic road trip plot structure: it’s got unhappiness with current situation in tablespoonfuls, a pinch of revenge, and the call of the open road (to be undertaken with a best friend).
  4. Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd – Holly’s life involves foster parents and social workers, until she becomes Solace – complete with blonde wig – and hits the road in search of her Mam. Siobhan Dowd produced a prolific amount of excellent YA novels before she died in 2007, in fact so prolific that they’re still being published nearly two years later.
  5. Rose by any other name, Maureen McCarthy – a road trip with your mum: not quite traditional, and not what Rose has in mind. Family tension, anyone? But seriously, this is a story of restoring relationships and yourself, set to the backdrop of the Australian coastline.
  6. The Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien – the archetypal fantasy map book (have you ever noticed how much other fantasy maps look like Tolkien’s?), plus Frodo goes on a trip that sometimes involves roads (ones where it’s best not to be on them).
  7. Finnikin of the Rock, Melina Marchetta. This one has a map but maybe doesn’t really need one, it’s also a road trip, but in the medieval sort of sense (car-less). It’s very good.
  8. Dreamhunter, Elizabeth Knox – this is one book that really does need its maps. The maps, however, will only make sense if you’ve read a bit of the story already, so my advice: ignore the maps, read 50 to 100 pages then look at them. Dreamhunter and Dreamquake are truly excellent books: highly original fantasy (which is what fantasy should be, by name, but so often isn’t).
  9. The Chronicles of Prydain, Lloyd Alexander – if you haven’t read these then you should: Taran, assistant pig-keeper at Caer Dallben dreams of better things than minding the oracular pig Hen Wen (it’s dull and not at all heroic, see), but he has no idea that being a pig-keeper will naturally progress into something a good deal more interesting, challenging and perilous. Lloyd Alexander won the Newbery Medal in 1969 for The High King, the fifth in the series.
  10. The Adventures of Milo and Otis (children’s DVD) – don’t laugh; this is a classic road-trip type plot, involving unlikely travelling companions (kind of like Thelma and Louise but minus the car and the feminist overtones). If you’ve forgotten, Milo is the kitten and Otis is the puppy.

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