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The Cartographer

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Melbourne, 1959. An 11-year-old boy witnesses a murder as he spies through the window of a strange house. God, whom he no longer counts as a friend, obviously has a pretty screwed-up sense of humour: just one year before, the boy had looked on helplessly as his twin brother, Tom, suffered a violent death.

Now, having been seen by the angry murderer, he is a kid on the run.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by HarperCollins
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Sam Honestly I would say no. I set this for my Teen Book Club to read and well not many of them liked it (though parts "were interesting"). We all pretty …moreHonestly I would say no. I set this for my Teen Book Club to read and well not many of them liked it (though parts "were interesting"). We all pretty much came to the conclusion it was written for baby-boomers wanting to reminisce about their childhood. (less)

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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  418 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned
The Cartographer is a very looooong book and in lesser hands I would have struggled to go the distance. But what really got me through was the lead character, known only as 'The Cartographer' (and various other superhero identities) who is just so extraordinary that he makes every part of the book fascinating.

Set in 1950s Melbourne (which alone is a great place to be) we are dragged kicking and screaming into adventures that most people only dream of (or fear) as the eleven year old Cartographe
Literature is filled with children trying to understand the complicated world around them. 'Oliver Twist', Scout Finch in 'To Kill a Mocking Bird', Holden Caulfield in 'Catcher in the Rye'. All have a distinctive voice that will carry you through the novel. 'The Cartographer' follows in that grand tradition. Does it succeed, hmmmmmm not quite, but bloody close, and bloody good for a debut novel.

We meet our young adventurer in Melbourne late 1950's, nearly a year after his twin brother's funeral.
Alison O'Keefe
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not anything at all like what I was expecting. Really enjoyed the voice of this story - I never felt that it wavered, it was consistent the whole way through which is very impressive. This may however have contributed to my one problem which was that it was a little long and seemed to have too much happening. I liked the tie-ins at the end, but we seemed to have one too many things happen before getting there.
I enjoyed the story itself. Every character was put together so well, and the voice of
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Like sitting at your grandfather's feet listening to stories.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Whoa, that was a wild ride. I'm exhausted from reading this book. I thought I was going to get bored with the exploring but it all wound together nicely as the story progressed.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Don't be fooled, it's not about photographing carts
Ian Laird
Imagine the appeal of a story set in your home town when you grew up. In this case it’s ‘Melbourne, 1959’, so I got pretty excited. But it didn’t work out quite as well as I expected.

I grew up in the 1950s and 60s, in Williamstown, a bayside suburb of Melbourne: playing in the cobblestone lanes; blowing up wooden letterboxes on Cracker Night; skidding my bike round the gravel paths of the Botanical Gardens and racing past the jam packed pubs to get home before the six o’clock swill. We snuck thr
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Aside from the fact that T thought it would be a good idea to blow up the Collingwood grandstand ( and we didn't get to that revelation until page 347 - you hate us cos you ain't us baby) this was a book full of twists and turns and connections that existed in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne 50 odd years ago. Your business was everyone else's and vice versa. I imagine kids today wouldn't be able to comprehend the atmosphere of freedom and (mostly) benign neglect that T was accustomed to. Thi ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
fantastic! a unique narrative voice - great for book clubs and anyone who liked Jasper Jones. Set in Melbourne 1959, The Cartographer (our main characters superhero name - I don't think we ever learn his real name come to think of it) has "become the boy to knew too much"...part Ginger Meggs, part boy-reporter and part comic book hero.
Book Bazaar
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
A wonderful new voice in Australian fiction. This book evokes the streets of Melbourne beautifully and takes us into the world of kids running free all day during the holidays, a time long disappeared for most of us. We meet great characters in The Cartographer and it will strike a chord with people who remember the heady days, full of possibility, when you were finishing primary school.
Julie Twohig
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this debut novel by Peter Twohig. A rivetting and moving story. Looking forward to reading the sequel, just published: The Torch.
Kelly Callaghan
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I am not at all sure how I feel about this book. It has some great aspects and some not so good. So..... middle of the range for me.

We are told that this tale takes place in the late 1950s, a year after Tom's death in a playground accident. Tom is the protagonist 's twin brother who is called at various times The Cartographer, the Outlaw and Railwayman. After witnessing a murder The Cartographer decides to map his neighbourhood experiences so he can avoid returning to the negative ones. He is pa
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars. Set in 1950s Melbourne Australia, it's a coming of age story about a boy learning to figure out how the pieces of his life fit together. He's exploring his neck of the city, and pinning all of his laneways and adventures onto a giant map he's creating.

The city itself is a character here, as are a tumultuous series of Aunties and Uncles and a confusing landscape of general adults who the protagonist isn't sure how they fit together himself.

He also witnesses a murder. So staying away
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it

Set in Melbourne, in the inner suburb of Richmond in the year 1959, Twohig creates an uncomfortable but alluring world of uncertainty and intrigue surrounding a young boy coming to terms with loss, striving for meaning and redemption in this curious and colourful coming of age story. In one sense this is a love letter to the area he grew up in, tapping into a rich world of excitement and adventure of childhood and in another it celebrates all the joys and horror of growing up. Like all good chil
Jeremy Epstein
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I struggled to finish this book, I found it quite a tedious read. Too often, bits of action happen one after the other, with no lead-up, not enough context, and not much explanation. I realise that the idea is that the narrator embodies his "reckless kid" persona more, but in my opinion it's unclear writing style. I wanted to like this book more, particularly because of its rich depiction of the suburban landscape of yesteryear in Melbourne, both of its geography and of its colourful vernacular. ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
This rollicking boys-own adventure set in 1950s' Melbourne is recounted by the Cartographer himself, a working-class boy with no name but many identities. Took me a little while to get into the story but, once there, I was engrossed. The adult world seen from a child's perspective is not a new idea, but this is a resoundingly authentic and endearing version with a great deal to make the reader reflect on. I loved it!
Cel Jel
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is set around the streets of Richmond in the early part of the twentieth century. Richmond, Victoria, Australia. It includes a murder or two, and may be therefore thought of as a mystery, but it also includes lots of detail of the sorts of businesses that may have been seen. I found it interesting, and have yet to get to research some of the areas shown in it.
Ruth Gilbert
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I totally loved this book. So cleverly written, so much of its time and setting. Poignant, funny, exciting. Brilliant.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very enjoyable book, funny, sad and fascinating. I may need to read it again to pick up all the nuances.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: aussie-authors, 2019
3 1/2 stars.
A fast paced ride through the crime and corruption of Melbourne in the mid 1900's as seen through the eyes of an adventurous 11 year old.
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Life looks different through the eyes of a child than it does for us adults! Grown-up challenges, disappointments, responsibilities gradually dilute that magic view of our childhood lives and the things that were so important to us at the time. Isn't it strange how the street you grew up in looks so much smaller and narrower when you revisit it years later. Just imagine how much stranger it would be if you found the map of your neighbourhood that you so scrupulously and carefully crafted when yo ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Richmond 1959: a seething underbelly of crime, if you believe the narrator - an 11 year old boy whose family is in turmoil after a tragedy. He names himself the Cartographer, because he draws a map of everything that happens around him as he explores, above ground and in the tunnels and drains under Melbourne. Everything he sees and hears, he maps. And because he's only 11 years old, his version of what happens is sometimes vastly different from the insight of an adult reader. At other times he ...more
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
It's 1959 and the suburb of Richmond in Melbourne is a colourful mix of characters; many of them shady; where the local cops are as likely to be commiting crimes as nicking the villains who perpetrate them.

It's in this neighbourhood that our hero, an un-named 11 year old boy is growing up. He is a troubled soul. The year before he witnessed the death of his twin brother. Left to his own devices by his still grieving mother, the boy begins to explore the area and witnesses a murder.

It's through h
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Melbourne, 1959. An 11-year-old boy witnesses a murder as he spies through the window of a strange house. God, whom he no longer counts as a friend, obviously has a pretty screwed-up sense of humour: just one year before, the boy had looked on helplessly as his twin brother, Tom, suffered a violent death. (falling from some monkey bars and he was unable to lift the weight off Tom before he died). Now, having been seen by the angry murderer, he is a kid on the run. With only a shady grandfather, ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very different book. Very humorous at times but also a bit hard to believe the adventures, robberies, murders, forgeries, and other misdemeanours the hero of the story experiences. But probably this does not matter because it is a good fun book.

A young 11-year old (unnamed) boy narrates his adventures in the streets of Richmond in 1859. His twin brother has recently been killed in a playground accident which the narrator was the only witness.

The boy tries to come to grips with the world he liv
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Set in Richmond, in Melbourne, this book has many local references that will appeal to Aussie readers. Written from the perspective of an eleven year old boy, we see how he perceives himself, his family and others. This superhero is a mix of comic book characters that seem familiar - Ginger Meggs, Dennis the Menace, Smiley (if you go back that far), full of heart and hope. In the colourful mix of characters, we are likely to see goodies who are just as likely to be baddies and baddies who are of ...more
Charmaine Clancy
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: If you liked 'The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Nighttime'
I can see how this will be a love it or yawn at it read. I really enjoyed the fragility of the characters and loved the protagonist's voice most of the time. I liked the idea of identity the author played with, I got to know the names of many of the characters, except the protagonist, if it was mentioned, I missed it. But I think that was the point, he was losing himself. My only negative with this novel was it painted a bleak view of Melbourne in this era and there wasn't a trustworthy person i ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This is an enjoyable, but unusual book of the adventures of a boy in 1950s Melbourne after he witnesses a murder. There are lots of interesting and quirky characters and situations in his life which all connect with the original murder. Running through the book is how he deals with the death of his twin brother and the separation of his parents, each of which get intertwined with the events of the story. As the boy meets new people, has new adventures and discovers new places, he is building a m ...more
Kerri Jones
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
A delightful book set in Melbourne in the 1950's. We follow the adventures of an 11 year old boy known as The Cartographer (and a couple of other insane superhero titles) who witnesses a murder. He creates maps to save him the trouble of going back. I loved the narrative which has lots of child-like insights. He is dealing with the loss of an identical twin and his emotive descriptions about this are heart-rending. He also has a great relationship with his grandfather and it's one of the best th ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It's set in Richmond around the 1950's and is about a young boy who has a lot of freedom and is wandering the streets, sometimes seeing things he shouldn't. He becomes worried about the consequences of what he has seen and so creates maps of where he has been walking. This is to make sure he doesn't go back to the same place and possibly confront the perpetrator of what he saw. There is also another thread of the boys twin brother who has died. The details are revealed ...more
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Peter grew up in Melbourne in the Fifties and Sixties and attended a series of very nasty Catholic schools. One night, during an air raid he escaped - no, wait, I made that up. What really happened was a very ordinary life, punctuated.

By the age of nine Peter was an accomplished raconteur (‘Dear Mrs Twohig, Peter tells stories,’ was his first and fairest review). His mother, a journalist and peer

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