Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat

The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: April 12, 2022
ISBN: 9781536204957

Twelve year old Sai is assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker. No one knows that she has been harboring a secret; her father is a conman. When they set out on a journey to chart the southern seas, she has no idea that the ship may actually be heading to the fabled Sunderlands, a land thought to be guarded by dragons. As Sai struggles to conceal her identity aboard the ship, she discovers that she is not the only one with a secret. 

This middle grade novel addresses themes of classism and colonialism. Sai is likable and complex as a main character. While the book is written for a middle grade audience, the plot is engaging enough to appeal to older teens as well. The setting and mythology are rooted in Thai culture. Soontornvat excels at world-building in this novel and constructs an immersive setting for the reader. 

This book is great for fans of Soontornvat’s other novel, A Wish in the Dark, as well as The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta. Older teens who enjoyed The Last Cuentista may also enjoy this novel. 

-Jillian Girardeau

Other Nominated Titles:

  • One for All by Lillie Lainoff
  • Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate
  • What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.