I think it is pretty obvious why I requested this book for review. I took one look at that cover and knew I needed to see what it was all about. After reading the synopsis that included buzz words like sailing, epic, mythic, imagination, fantastical, etc. I was all in!
There was something almost gravitational about this story that pulled me in from the very first page…
Author: Heidi Heilig
Genre: Young Adult • Fantasy
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing (February 16th 2016)
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear.
From 1774 India, to 2016 New York, to 1884 Hawaii, The Girl From Everywhere is a wild adventure that spans time and reality. Heilig fuses historical fiction and fantasy together drawing inspiration from historical events and folklore, creating such a unique read here. I was drawn into this action packed story and it held my interest from start to finish. The Girl From Everywhere is such a fresh new twist on time travel. I absolutely adored the concept of time traveling through maps. I don’t know about you all, but this bookworm is a sucker for a good map. I read an ARC eBook version of this book, so I am not sure what kind of maps are included in the physical copy of this book, but this did not take away from my experience. Heilig did an amazing job showing us the maps with her words, which I was very impressed by. She is clearly a talented writer.
I don’t know if the fact that I’ve been into the TV series Black Sails had any influence here or not, but I really enjoyed the descriptions of The Temptation (ironic name for a ship that belongs to a man with an opium addiction) and the details included about the sailing process. It was definitely giving me the itch to go travel, or “wanderlust.” This is very ironic since I have severe motion sickness, therefore could never step foot on a sailboat (made that mistake ONCE), but this is why I READ 🙂
Speaking of wanderlust, a good portion of this book takes place in 1884 Hawaii. Can you imagine? The author actually grew up in Hawaii, so who better to take us there? Heilig paints such a vivid picture, that I felt like I was actually there.
I know it must seem that this is a “pirate book,” but it really isn’t. There is no point in the book where the phrases “Walk the plank” or “Ahoy, me Hearties!” come into play, so if pirates are really not your thing, I think you are still safe here. Sure there is a ship and a crew, but they don’t go about raiding other ships or pillaging ports of call… well, not exactly. I really didn’t get the pirate vibe here, more like an “adventure” or “treasure hunt” vibe… if that makes any sense.
What a wonderfully diverse cast of characters aboard The Temptation! Nix, our leading lady, is half Chinese; Bee, the first mate, is from a tribe in Africa AND a lesbian; Kashmir, deck hand, compulsive thief, and Nix’s best friend, is Persian. For the life of me I cannot remember what the other crew member, Rotgut, was… Can I get a fact check on that? Did I mention that this crew was assembled from all different times and places, both real and fictional?
Nix, our main character, was a solid character in my opinion. Throughout the book Nix goes through a lot of inner turmoil. All she wants to do is control her own destiny instead of being under her father’s control. Slate, her father and captain, is so consumed with his obsession in finding Nix’s Mother and his own addictions, that he fails to see his daughter right in front of his face. I know many people may read this and think “why doesn’t Nix just leave?” but it isn’t that easy. At the end of the day, Nix is a girl who desperately wants her father’s approval and attention.
“For a moment, I could pretend I was captain of my own fate.”
A big portion of The Girl From Everywhere is the strained relationship between Nix and her father. Nix struggles with her sense of duty to her father, but if he is successful in his endeavors, he could end up erasing her from existence. Side note: Did anyone else find it ironic that the main character’s name was Nix? In the English language, “nix” can mean nothing (noun) or to reject (verb). I thought it was clever because if her father basically spends the whole book rejecting her and if he succeeds in stopping her mother’s death, Nix may cease to exist, thus becoming nothing. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I don’t think so. Anyways! I enjoyed watching the developing relationship between father and daughter, as well as the personal growth in each of them throughout the book. I can also say that I was satisfied with how it all panned out.
“Sometimes a person has to let go of something to take hold of something else.”
Let’s talk about my favorite character, Kash. I call dibs on Kash as my new book boyfriend. Even though Kash has questionable morals, he was so witty and clever. The friendship between Kash and Nix is everything. It is clear he worships the ground that Nix walks on, but she is too scared to leave the “friend zone.” Well that, plus her father’s obsession to find Nix’s mother regardless of the consequences has given Nix a bit of a complex…
“Love? The word was bitter as hemlock. It’s just another addiction.”
I appreciated that the romance was secondary to the main plot line, instead of the main focus like in so many YA books I’ve read. The romance enhances the plot, without taking away from it.
As much as I enjoyed this story, it was not perfect. There was a time or two where I felt like some of the fantasy elements were introduced to solve a problem and it seemed a little too convenient. Furthermore there was one “mini quest” that felt a little disjointed from the rest of the book. This isn’t to say that this part of the book was not well done, just that it felt a little out of place… It’s hard to describe. I also would have liked to get to know both Bee and Rotgut, the other members of the crew, a little better. What little glimpses we get, they seem like such interesting characters. I hope we will get more into their back stories in the next installment of this series. HOWEVER my biggest issue with The Girl From Everywhere comes in the form of a love triangle. Ugh! Why?! It was completely unnecessary. I will say that the love triangle isn’t the most annoying one I’ve read, so it did not hinder me overmuch in my enjoyment of this book. I do think the book would have been much stronger without it.
If you do get the chance to pick this one up, I encourage you to read the author’s notes at the end as they are packed with interesting info. Heilig did a lot of research to write The Girl From Everywhere, and talks about some of the historical events that she based the book off of as well as the fairytales and myths included in the book. I was fascinated in the politics of the Hawaiian monarchy and the ultimate overthrow of the monarchy that was spearheaded by the Hawaiian League, a group who worked towards the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. I’m a sucker for little known history.
I will definitely be continuing on with the sequel, The Ship Beyond Time, which is expected to release on February 28, 2017.
About the Author:
Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.
She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her son, and their pet snake. They do not own a cat.