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4.4 out of 5 stars
A Map of Nowhere
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 July 2013
This is a very unusual read. The main character is David, an artist and part time support worker for Pete, a psychiatric out patient. It is not an easy book to review without giving away anything of the storyline, except to say that once David meets Pete strange things start to happen and it becomes clear that all is not as straightforward as it should be in their relationship. Then again, it all soon becomes apparent that not all is as it should be in his relationship with his girlfriend Sarah either. It is a story in which everyone seems to be keeping secrets from each other.

I really wasn't struck on Sarah at all, there didn't seem to be anything appealing about her and in fact she turns out to be a bit of a schemer in the book. There just didn't seem to be that spark of chemistry between them, and they were more like flatmates than boyfriend and girlfriend. There is quite a side story involving Sarah and her sister Clare and I did feel that maybe this was going off on something of a tangent a bit, although admittedly it was good reading. It just didn't seem to add anything to the main story of the complex relationship that builds up between David and Pete. I felt as if I wanted to know what the effects would be on David's relationship with his father, but that seemed to be dealt with in a very rushed way, to be honest. I have to say I did guess the hook of the book some way in, but only a short time before it was revealed anyway.

There were a few editing issues, most noticeably the words flash and flashing always seemed to come out as fash and fashing, so maybe another proof read would be beneficial?

On the whole though, it is a good story, but just not quite hitting the mark for me although I have to say I absolutely loved the first third of the book. It is well paced and dialogue between the characters is realistic. Amazon review ratings suggest 3* for an OK read and 4* for a read you like. I am stuck somewhere in the middle here, but going for a 4* because on the whole I did enjoy the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2013
I was hooked from the start by the voice of the narrator, David Price. He is an artist by trade, making a living by selling his work, but his life takes on new meaning when his girlfriend talks him into taking on a part-time job as a mental health support worker. David enjoys this new challenge, and feels that he is getting along well with Pete, the man he is assigned to support. The story then begins to twist and turn, sometimes mysterious, sometimes on the edge of sinister, as David begins to realise that the strings of his life are being pulled in ways he can't quite fathom. Compelling to the end... a really good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2014
The author's empathy and connection with the subject matter shines through at all times. It's a compelling story and intriguing glimpse into a world of which I had very little knowledge - but by the end I felt i had a better understanding of it, or at least a notion of the challenges people face.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2014
I really enjoyed this book and for the most part it was an easy read. It's about things that were, things that are and things that might have been. The characters worked well and the observations of human nature and its frailties were very good. It is a powerful story of lives and deaths in which it could be said that very little actually happens however don't let that put you off. If family lives and mental health issues interest you I'd be surprised if you didn't get something out of this narrative. I confess the twist in the middle did surprise me (pleasantly) and made the tale even more interesting.
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on 19 July 2013
I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end! The ending however for me was sad, I started to really like Pete and felt a new re newed relationship would evolve but it was also almost fitting and fairy like the way it ended on a beach flying kites beautiful and poetic, it was sad but this book is also very funny! The way Martin writes you could hear the way he thinks and speaks and writes I can almost hear his voice talking the parts and that to me is a sign of a real writer. What I loved about this book is knowing the place names and spotting places in my local area made this book even more special for me! It felt contemporary real true to life and this made the book really come alive! I think more people should read this book because it is both touching and complex, revealing and at the same time touches on universal values about family and betrayal. I just can't believe we've waited so long to read this book it should have come out sooner and I'm glad it's finally published! Well done and congratulations! This is my kind of book someone that I feel has experienced and understands the true complex nature of life and humans and an honest account. It was also interesting and inspiring for me to read another writer write and the way we see things individually. I love the way it was set out in I, II and III sections. The very simple drawings at the front and end of the book I loved, simple and very compelling at the same time with the titles. I almost felt Pete and David were almost one person towards the end of the book. I look forward to the next book! My favourite line in the book is `the errie connection we have with our mothers' the next day the name Alexander McQueen popped into my head and I googled him and read about his life and career and how he committed suicide 9 days after his mum died from cancer, a day before her funeral..a true mummy's boy at heart? I found towards the end Pete's character is an intelligient human being and I thought he was in the process of getting over his major traumatic event but the conclusion is heart felt and real and sad. Good luck on the next book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I rarely find a book that I literally can't put down but this was certainly the case with 'A Map Of Nowhere' The books main character David is a slightly flawed and unlikely hero who intrigued me from the first chapter and kept me turning the pages to find out more about him.
Bannister's dialogue is punchy and authentic and the plot is allowed to develop in an organic way which seems lacking in many modern novels.
I highly recommend 'A Map Of Nowhere' it's certainly one of the best novels I've read this year.
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on 30 August 2013
I really enjoyed reading this. I love the title especially, which to me, speaks volumes as to the insight that the novel has to offer. To point towards an organised system, in this case a map, but then to disrupt the safety of the logic of that system, by calling the book 'A Map of Nowhere' is a great teacher about the human condition in general. By this I mean that as much as we try to organise, box things up, and to create patterns to make us feel as though we understand the order of things, when emotions and relationships are involved, there is always an element of the unpredictable, the unharnessed, the disordered.

Bannister writes pain into our everyday lives in a way that seems healthy. As a way perhaps to prevent the kind of invasive cancer that some of the characters experience, having never, or instead just too late, attempted to dissect their emotions. I do sniff a classic here. The work is simple in a way, but it also acknowledges complexity. Like people, I find the book incredibly straight forward and completely unfathomable at the same time. Of course, like the map, the book is an illusive secure container, a way to give boundaries to a boundless story, mainly so that others can be articulately introduced to ideas that are in fact very abstract.

Buy it. Read it. Ponder it.
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on 14 July 2013
I read A Map of Nowhere - Martin Bannister's debut novel - in a day and a night. It is a story of secrets, friendships, family and betrayal. The subjects that are discussed are rarely easy or comfortable things, but the author approaches his plot and characters with a clear-headed, honest intelligence.

David is an artist and care-worker for Pete, an adult with learning disabilities. They cook together, watch TV, talk about things, build models and later on in the plot - when other truths surface - embark on a journey.

What I love most about Bannister's writing is the dialogue: it is strong and real, and I could hear the characters in my head, as if they were talking to me. For me, dialogue does so much of the explaining and carries the plot without the need for lengthy descriptions of feelings and situations.

Dark subject matter does not have to be serious all of the time - life is simply not like that, and Bannister appreciates and knows this. There are moments of great humour, and I find this really important and true to life.

I really recommend that you read this book if you enjoy novels that are rooted in the real. It is a great debut, and Martin Bannister should be proud.
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on 20 July 2013
From the beginning, the title of " A Map of Nowhere" had me thinking. Ideas and perspectives emerge throughout this novel which is one of the aspects I enjoyed the most. I imagined how David Price, the central character, would interpret a situation and in addition I felt challenged to consider his take on life. Aside from David Price, I was involved with each of the characters as they where introduced by Martin and evolved in a similar way with their own perspectives. An enjoyable aspect of this novel for me was the locality. As the characters became more familiar, I could visualise them and imagine each situation unfolding in the places I had been. I couldn't have anticipated the events when I began the story which made it all the more compelling. I admire Martin Bannister's ability to write in such a unique way. The addition of a small selection of drawings, with their observational quality, added a further dimension to the realness of the novel. Occasionally, when I come to the end of a story, I feel that I have just ended a wonderful experience which I can't repeat in the same way. This was one of those moments. More please Martin Bannister.
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on 20 July 2013
I was instantly gripped by the narrators voice and particular perspective, which felt deeply personal and honest, as well as healthily curious and objective. The structure allows the story to unfold at a pace, and I was interested in how quickly I was engaged by the narrator and appreciated his incisive observations on relationships and life. His references to particular south London locations offered a welcome sense of familiarity, and then the road trip takes us to a different world with yet more fascinating observations of people and place.

There is something about this book, the narrator, the author that gets under your skin. It's a 1st novel from an author who, I suspect, is writing about what he knows, and is all the better for that. It's a refreshing, unique voice, perhaps born of experience, some of which was close to my own, which may explain why I was so gripped. It will be interested to see where he goes from here. I will certainly be waiting to find out.
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