I have always loved maps, ever since I was a little girl. I would get the map out of my dad’s glovebox and sit for hours, “reading” the names of cities out loud that I had never been too, but wanted to visit. I would even highlight the ones that sounded interesting.
When I started reading “21 steps” I had a similar feeling. Each bit of narrative connected to a place on the map, and at any given time, I had no idea where the next stop was. I thought this was a very interesting way to tell a story- the idea of visually following the narrator to the specific places detailed in the story was very mysterious and exciting.
The story had a mysterious feel to it– the narrator was forced to go on an unknown mission, and the reader got to literally follow along. From flying to rowing across unknown waters, I think that the use of the map really made the story even more interesting and mysterious. Following the plane to Edinburgh was one of my favorite parts, as well as the detail at Heathrow airport.
I have never read a map story that was similar to this, but it reminded me of a story I would make up in my head as a kid when playing with maps (minus the guns and deaths of course)
If the story did not use the map, it would have been much less effective- the reader would have to picture going to each of the places in their head, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but would make the experience much different.
Seeing how many blocks the narrator had to go, watching the plane “fly” to Edinburgh, and his boat row away from the police made for a rich experience. Although this was my first experience with this type of story, it was pretty memorable.