... ambitious, sprawling ... Mortimer’s writing is restlessly inventive. It includes different fonts, stanzas, visual arrangements, lists and playful definitions, without settling on a particular approach. Images are often both pleasing and convoluted ... The novel is most involving where the body is intensely present – as in the often ambivalent sex between Lia and Matthew – or painfully absent, as in an excruciating scene on a train where a man attempts to grope Lia’s breasts, only to find that they have been removed. Embodied experience is important to the plot, which turns on revelations about blood ties. The exploration of different kinship relationships is delicate and persuasive ... But the focus is easily distracted ... The capriciousness of this voice is sharply funny, frustrating and genuinely odd. Sometimes it seems to attack the body and sometimes to be the body; sometimes it channels fear and sometimes it is the cause of fear. Occasionally, I heard its heckling as an expression of the writer’s own understandable unease. The publisher’s press release includes a letter from Mortimer herself, outlining the book’s origins in personal experience and expressing a hope that readers will be'gentle'. This is unnecessary. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies sets its own terms, however strange and conflicted those terms may be.
... bracing ... The book is inspired by the experience of Mortimer’s mother, who died of cancer in 2010, and the dynamics of this family under unthinkable strain are carefully rendered ... Though the plot occasionally borders on the melodramatic, Mortimer has produced a contemplative reflection on what it is to be perceived from behind 'walls of skin', whether actions have embodied consequences, and the incomprehensibility of suffering ... It may move between different styles and moods, but underpinning it all is the book’s bursting energy and, in the face of death, its verve for life.
... playful and surreal prose ... Using word placement, font, and shape to create images on the page, Mortimer deepens the reader’s engagement with the story and characters ... Through breathtaking attention to detail, Mortimer crafts a stunning novel that touches on the expanses one life can contain.