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The Girl from Everywhere Hardcover – February 16, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Nix has spent all of her 16 years with her father as a time-traveling pirate aboard a physical ship, navigating into the margins of historical maps to reach his ultimate goal—returning to Honolulu in 1868, the time and place of Nix's birth, to save her mother, who died when Nix was born. Nix's home is the sea and her family the ship's crew, and while she adores traveling and dreams of navigating on her own, she fears the end of her father's journey. If he can save her mother, Nix will no longer exist. Can she find a way to strike out on her own and reunite her parents? History and mythology fans will love this fast-moving ride through time, where mythological maps take Nix and the crew to real places with items and creatures true to the map's design. Nineteenth-century politics involving the Hawaiian royal family and control over the islands create mystery and danger as Nix endeavors to discover her mother's identity, reconcile with her father, and accept her feelings for Kash, the Persian thief who has become her closest friend on the ship. VERDICT This must-have fantasy adventure will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan's "Kane Chronicles" and Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's "Starbound Trilogy," (both Disney-Hyperion).—Kerry Sutherland, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH
“History and mythology fans will love this fast-moving ride through time, where mythological maps take Nix and the crew to real places with items and creatures true to the map’s design…This must-have fantasy adventure will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan’s ‘Kane Chronicles.’” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“One of my absolute favourite reads of 2016, Heidi Heilig’s debut captured me completely from the first page. A lushly written time-traveling adventure with an imaginative magical twist, real heart and real heartbreak, and a major dash of swoon.” (Alwyn Hamilton, author of Rebel of the Sands)
“A skillful mashup of science fiction and eclectic mythology, enlivened by vivid sensory detail and moments of emotional and philosophical depth. …A nonstop time-travel romp.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“With time travel, fantasy, Hawaiian history, mythology, cute animals, and a feisty female protagonist, romance and fantasy readers will find much to enjoy.” (Booklist)
“[A] time-travel adventure…Heilig’s writing is richly immersive, and a mature exploration of complicated love, both familial and romantic, underlies the story. A riveting and far-reaching fantasy that crosses seamlessly across the centuries, posing questions about fate, loyalty, and belonging.” (Publishers Weekly)
“This thrilling swashbuckler-steeped in history, myth, and legend-finds a solid anchor in its colorful characters. …Fascinating, thought-provoking and wonderfully imagined, The Girl From Everywhere will spark the adventurer inside every reader.” (Shelf Awareness)
“The world Heilig has built is a creative blend of actual history and fantasy elements grounded in ancient and modern myths. Her novel is simultaneously an adventure story, a love triangle, and a meditation on big topics like the idea of home and the tension between fate and free will.” (BookPage)
“Heilig presents a dizzying array of intermeshed events, dates, and maps. The plot is rooted in actual Hawaiian history, and redolent with realistic details and Hawaiian folklore. …The reader may ultimately be surprised at how smoothly the fantastical elements here mesh with the real.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“This debut catapults delightfully from one map to the next, offering a fresh and captivating approach to time travel.” (NPR Books)
“A truly exciting book, brimming with adventure, history, and sinuous potential. … “The Girl from Everywhere” is a bewilderingly good book. …Heidi Heilig is one to watch.” (Christian Science Monitor)
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A major strength of this novel is the author's facility with language. The descriptions are vivid, brimming with vibrancy. She is just as adept at the depictions of the core of this YA novel - the constantly changing relationships with adults for this coming-og-age girl.
This novel may not be every YA reader's cup of tea with its historical and literary references. However, Heilig has constructed an enchanting and powerful tale set in a wonderfully fantastical world that addresses the underlying theme for all adolescents - Who Am I?
But there were some aspects of this novel that really made it hard for me to stay engaged with the story. I'll just focus on the 2 biggest issues here:
1) How the romance was handled - so much effort was spent on building up Kash as a character and love interest that it was frankly a massive let down that the heroine herself seemed to pay him so little heed, right up the the end. The scenes that were meant to be romantic were handled laconically, almost as if the author didn't want to write about it, or as if the heroine herself just didn't feel a strong attraction to one who was clearly meant to be a love interest.
2) PLOT HOLES - There were at least 2 plot holes that bugged me enough to mention here, because they REALLY affected my reading of the story. I imagine this would only be an issue for you as well if you're the sort of reader who needs logic in the story to remain intact in order for you to continue to suspend your disbelief and remain engaged. Obviously, SPOILERS are ahead so stop reading now if you haven't read the book yet! (And if you've read the book and feel that the following aren't plot holes at all, I'd love to hear your explanation on them. God knows I can't stand it when a story trips over the logic it established itself.)
* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *
1) "54" as the solution to waking the terracotta army simply doesn't work if you happen to know how the Chinese numeric system works. When Nix figures out that the number 54 is the answer to waking the army, she inscribes the Chinese characters for "five" and "four" onto the general to denote "54". Problem is, the number "54" in Chinese is NEVER expressed by just combining the characters for "five" and "four". "54" is always expressed as "five-ten-four" and this "five four = 54" is a mistake that no native Chinese speaker (such as Joss) would ever dream of making. This is akin to someone trying to write "five-four" instead of "fifty-four" when trying to express the same number in English. There are other issues with how the Chinese is used as a key part of the plot within this story but the above was just the gravest mistake of them all that unfortunately killed my suspension of disbelief. For a story that tries so hard to be clever, this semantic issue is just that much more jarring since it was supposed to be a key point in the story. Again, this is probably only something that would irk someone who knows how to count in Chinese.
2) Time travel: time travel as a concept has always had the potential to break logic, so when introduced in a story it needs to be explained clearly so we know how it works within that story's universe. As another reviewer already mentioned, with the rules of Navigation laid out in the book, a very fundamental problem is that the characters are essentially just sailing into parallel worlds and getting further and further from reality with each turn of navigation they make. In Inception terminology, everyone is essentially going deeper and deeper into the next dream level, with no hope of ever going back to reality. The premise of a ship that can sail into any point in time - including mythical worlds - is cool if you don't think too hard about it but it gets trapped by its own rule, making all the events of the story just a shadow of reality and not reality itself.
All in all, given that it's a debut novel, I'd say it's worth 4-stars because clearly some serious effort went into it and I still enjoyed it as a whole despite the plot holes.
Heidi Heilig's The Girl From Everywhere whisks readers through myth and time, from India to America, straight to the heart of a fraying familial bond. Nix Song, the daughter of the Temptation's captain, feels at home on his ship; the crew is her family, and any map is their road to a new destination. But every day, the end looms closer for her. Her father is bent on finding a map that will take them back to 1868 Hawaii, just before Nix's mother died while giving birth to her - and going there could erase Nix's very existence. What's a girl to do when she feels powerless from stopping her father from saving his beloved?
It was hard to deny The Girl From Everywhere's pull the more I read it. Heilig's smooth, eloquent writing immerses you in each setting, especially the still-untamed tropical wilderness surrounding Honolulu. The amount of historical research shines through, too; and the questions raised about family, friendship, and loyalty lend a more thoughtful, mature angle to this YA story. The characters are engaging, and Nix's obsessive, unpredictable father was my favorite. Heilig has said that her experience with bipolar disorder informed Slate's character, and her careful yet candid portrayal of his disorder made him believable and sympathetic.
At the same time, I struggled with the overall premise. Nix spends most of the book reluctantly helping her father, instead of thwarting his attempts to find the map. If a character is faced with her demise, wouldn't she try to prevent it from happening? If Nix had put up more of a fight, I would have given The Girl From Everywhere a higher rating. Otherwise, this is a richly imagined, reflective tale that should satisfy most fans of time travel, pirates, and fantasies that blur the lines between myth and history.