Published by Greenwillow Books on February 16th 2016
Genres: young adult, fantasy
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Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.
Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.
In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.
When you have to write a book review that you really don’t want to write because you expected to love the book, but you didn’t. And the author is so awesome on Twitter that I really wanted to love it, but it’s kind of a “it’s not you, it’e me” type of situation. I am saddened.
This is one of those times where my reading experience was just kind of weird. I kept expecting to get into the book at some point, but it never went beyond the surface for me. The story was entertaining and I really loved the originality of the plot, but my enjoyment never want beyond that.
Here’s the thing: characters can make or break a book for me. I can love them, think they are odd ducks, or be completely infuriated by them, but I have to feel SOMETHING. And now that I am finally finished with The Girl From Everywhere, I can truly say that I didn’t feel a thing. Not for the protagonist, not for the romance (love triangle alert!), not for the father, not even for the villains. I felt maybe a little for Kashmir, but it’s not anything to write home about. And when there is no connection the the characters, everything else suffers.
As for the writing, I liked it. I thought the imagery was good, and the sense of place was also, and that’s surprising because of how fantastical the story was. But I truly felt like I was on a ship floating in Honolulu Harbor for most of the book. The only problems I had with the writing are some clarity issues. The transitions could have been better, and I got lost during some of the conversations and had to read sections over because I wasn’t sure what was being discussed.
Obviously this was a book about time travel, using maps to travel from different places in different time periods. I tend to avoid time travel books because they rarely work for me, and also I get confused a lot when trying to figure out how the system works. That happened here again, but at least by the end I knew what the author had intended. Still, I don’t like lacking a technical understanding of what is going on while I’m reading (I hate feeling stupid), so that part was kind of a fail for me. I realize that this is a very personal thing, and judging by the reviews, one very few had an issue with, but I did. I also know I am pretty intelligent. My brain may have degenerated a bit over the years, but not that much. But then again, my weaknesses have always been the physical sciences, so…
Still with all those criticisms, there was something delightfully intriguing about The Girl From Everywhere. It’s whimsical and romantic, and sometimes I wonder if young adult fantasy is going to run out of ideas for originality eventually. But with books like this still coming out, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon.