Book Review: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
On Sale Date: February 16, 2016,
Juvenile Fiction \ Action & Adventure \ Pirates
Ages 13 And Up, Grades 8 And Up
Greenwillow Books, 464 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars
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It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.
Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question...
Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.
She is myth. She is history. She is gone.
THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE takes the concept of time travel but puts a unique and exciting spin on it. The travel occurs by means of a pirate ship and through the use of maps; not just any ordinary maps but maps found in dusty rooms long forgotten, private collections, and museums where they are sequestered for safety. Fabled maps of long lost places such as One Thousand and One Nights and historical places such as such as 1868 Honolulu. There are adventures trips to modern day New York and as far off as ancient China. Trips to the historic and the fantastic; each held me breathlessly in anticipation.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Nix's father has the ability to time-travel through the use of maps which he and his motley crew use to pirate across both real and fabled places. If there's a map that has not been previously used, then it's navigable. This concept becomes a bit muddled in the story, but I just went with it. The real problem lies in Nix's father's unrelenting quest to find the one map he needs to get back to Honolulu 1868, which just happens to be before Nix was born and her mother was still alive. This poses some dangerous gray areas into question about just what would happen to Nix, and just how far her father is willing to go to be once again with his wife. I was not of fan of the Captain in the least.
One of my favorite aspects I really enjoyed from THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, besides the use of (real and fabled) maps for time-travel, was the entertaining and diverse cast of characters. Just as any pirate ship worth its reputation, its crew should be varied and diverse and author Heidi Heilig accomplishes this by giving readers a motley crew to love.
Nix, our heroine, comes from a mixed Chinese heritage, then there's Kashmir, her best friends and the ship's first mate, is a thief who may be straight out of a Sinbad story, and of course, there's Bee and her wife, Ayen (a ghost who likes to play tricks) who hail from the Na'ath tribe of Northern Africa. There's the cook, known as Rotgut, a former monk who now delights in culinary art aboard The Temptation and finds endless joy in all aspect of food much to the crews delight and horror at times. I don't want to forget to mention that there's a dragon, an adorable dragon on board. Each seems to play a unique role in this fantasy adventure and their little nuances and personalities really added to the feel and vibe of the story. Together, they pulled the story into something fun and special.
Now, as far as a heroine goes, I liked Nix. She's independent, smart and daring. Unfortunately, her father's quest and the death of her mother have also left her with feelings of self-doubt and guilt. There are moments I loved when she takes charge with the ship or on the quest for the Honolulu map, but other times it was frustrating to witness her acceptance of her father's treatment of her. Still, Heidi Heilig writes a heroine whose likable and easy to sympathize with.
For fans of romance, Kash proves to be very charismatic and I couldn't help but picture him as a blend of Aladdin and Sinbad - wrapped up in YA swooniness. There is also a surprise triangle that shows up that I felt just wasn't needed. A gentleman that holds some interest at a point for Nix, but I had my heart set on Kash.
THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE boast plenty of action and adventure, maps and pirates, a touch of swoon, and most of lots of entertaining moments by a diverse cast that made this debut something special.