I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1) by Heidi Heilig
Published by Greenwillow Books on February 16th 2016
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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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.\r\nNix’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.\r\nIn The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.\r\n
The last book I five-starred that I read (not including audios) was Little Peach by Peggy Kern…seven months ago. Those who know me know that I don’t dole out 5 stars all willy nilly. I have become quite stingy with the five-star rating. But The Girl from Everywhere by debut author Heidi Heilig wins all five hard-earned stars from me without question. Folks, put this one on your pre-order list because you will not regret anything other than not having gotten to read it sooner! I SOLEMNLY SWEAR ON ALL MY BOOKS THIS TO BE TRUE, AMEN!
*heavy excited breathing*
Now where in the hell do I begin? Ah yes, world-building.
Heilig has crafted a world beyond imagination. From 2016 NYC to 19th century Hawaii, to the myths and legends of Chinese lore, we get to travel the world as a passenger on The Temptation alongside Nix, Slate, Kash and the rest of The Temptation crew. Heilig is generous with her descriptions: Hawaii is lush and tropical, and it’s easy to get lost in the dirt roads of the market and shops, as well as the not-so-beaten paths through the mountains. You can hear the waterfalls and see yourself standing next to magical ponds. Likewise, NYC is bustling and noisy, with its skyscrapers and ships in port. I’m not sure I need to describe NYC to anyone, because even if you haven’t been, you know.
But the majority of The Girl from Everywhere takes place in Honolulu, and so Heilig focuses much of her descriptive prowess on that place and time. Having lived there myself, I found the cultural and visual representations to be so accurate, it was like being back there again (but you know, in the 21st century), although it was difficult to picture Waikiki without its trademark hotels and restaurants lining the beach.
The plot for The Girl from Everywhere was unique and exciting.
Beginning with a purchase and theft in a 1700’s Indian marketplace, we speed off with Nix and Kashmir for the ship, and ultimately, their next port of call. Slate, the captain of The Temptation and Nix’s father, is on a long, 16-year quest to get back to Nix’s mother, so he can save her life. His dedication to rescuing his love does not come without a price, and that price happens to be his relationship with his daughter, who is tired of chasing what she thinks is a lost cause. But Nix has never loved anyone before, so how can she understand how it feels to have something, and then have it stripped away from you before you are ready? The Girl from Everywhere is like a big, beautiful scavenger hunt, where Nix’s mother is the prize as they search for the items that will lead them back to the year of her death. To do that, they rely on hand-drawn maps and legends, folklore and myths, that help them sail from place and time to place and time. Heilig weilds her words expertly, so that the gray fog that envelops the space surrounds the reader as well. Now, I did spend about 3/4’s of the book confused as hell. The plot is fairly complex, especially for a YA novel, so my head spun at times, but in the last quarter of the book, it all comes together in a way that just makes your mind explode, much in the way JKR does with the Harry Potter series. I was like, oooooooooh! And then I think I clapped in glee.
The characters really round out this novel.
Generally, a book can get away with a weaker plot if it has strong characters; likewise, a strong plot will usually carry weak characters. But in The Girl from Everywhere, the plot and the characters are delightful and strong. Nix is a forward leading lady, uncompromising in her morals and wise beyond her years. Kashmir is charming and cunning, but not without his soft spots for the people he cares about. Blake is noble and loyal, almost to a fault and it’s impossible to dislike him because he’s all smiles and positivity. Slate, for all his flaws, is just a man trying to make it back to the woman he loves. His dedication to her drives the message home “anything for love.” Auntie Joss was mysterious and wise, and I had so many suspicions about her. She was easy to like, and easy to be suspicious of, which I just loved.
The relationships are complex.
Nix and her father; Nix and Kashmir; Kashmir and Slate; Nix and Blake, Nix and Auntie Joss….all of these relationships are well-crafted and believable. But I especially loved the relationship development between Nix and her father. I got the feeling that she always was second-best to him, like in his quest to return to his love, he lost sight of what he had gained from that tragedy. I think the author sends a very clear message to be thankful for what you have, and not necessarily dwell on what you desire. Oh gosh and Nix’s relationship with Joss was ever so lovely and fine-tuned. I had lots of suspicions about Joss, and I was right about some of them, which made me feel oh so good, like I was solving a complicated puzzle (because I was lol). There’s a budding romance in the story, but I won’t spoil it for you. Let’s just say that it developed at a nice, natural and credible pace so there was no insta-love or anything like that. There were hints at a love-triangle, but it never bothered me, because that, too, felt natural.
It’s a cross-genre novel.
It’s got everything: time-travel, romance, a little bit of steampunkishness, historical references, mythology. It has it all and then some! And nothing conflicts with the other. It all just works together to be this flawless fantastical contemporary historical novel with some legends intertwined, and also kissing.
I think The Girl from Everywhere can be read as a standalone because it wraps up nicely, but as I understand it, it’s part of a duo-logy at the very least, so I’m interested in seeing where The Temptation takes us next. This is an excellent story. I don’t think it can really get any better than this. My review cannot do it justice, but please just do yourself a favor and pre-order it right now!