The Time Travel Project is a new regular feature in which Ana reads Time Travel novels, new and old. More on the feature here.
Title: The Girl from Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Genre: Speculative Fiction, YA, Time Travel
Publication Date: February 16 2016
Hardcover: 464 Pages
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.
Stand alone or series: First in a series
How did I get this book: Review copy via netgalley
Format (e- or p-): eARC
Nix Song is a time-traveller, one of the crew members of The Temptation, a ship that travels the world – and times – under Nix’s father and Captain, Slate. With tales of daring-do and many tales of adventures to tell, Nix’s job is to track maps that will allow them to set sail. But not just any map will do: it is only those hand-drawn, signed maps that can be used once, although fairytale maps work too. The latter, a bit more dangerous because of the perils of imagined creatures in faraway lands.
There is one special, single map that has eluded the Captain for far too long but the crew of the Temptation is now very close to it. The map that will take them to Honolulu, 1868, the time before Nix was born, so that Slate can save Nix’s mother. The problem is: if they save Nix’s mother life before Nix is born, does that mean that Nix will cease to exist? With that in mind, Nix refuses to help but then her father threatens the life of her best friend Kashmir and Nix finds herself in a very difficult position. Nix just wants to stay alive and perhaps one day learn to Navigate herself so she can one day leave the Temptation…
To say I was super looking forward to The Girl from Everywhere would be an understatement. It is not only a time travel novel (catnip!) but also one that is driven by the fantastical. Conceptually, the elements of time travelling are interesting – especially with the introduction of the fairytale maps. As such, this book is much more grounded in Fantasy than in Science Fiction and that is pretty cool. Add to that the imagery of a ragtag group of time pirates (found families are the best!) travelling on a ship, a fantastically multi-ethnic cast of characters, a strong protagonist in Nix and The Girl from Everywhere has a lot to offer.
Further, it’s a story that constantly asks questions about ethics and morals, about belonging, and how far would you go for love. It takes Nix’s secluded life and makes her wonder about other possibilities. Does she really belong in the Temptation, out of time? Or should she stay where she was born, in Hawaii, in her own linear time? Should she not want to save her mother, even if that means losing her own life?
On the downside, elements of the world-building are confusing: WHY exactly would you need only certain types of accurate maps if fairytale maps work perfectly well? WHY exactly would Nix disappear if her mother is saved? She exists – her very existence proves it. The fact that Kashmir himself is there – he comes from one of the fairytale lands – proves that anything is possible in this world so in many ways, the main point of conflict in the novel almost feels forced. The middle lags a bit too, too much time spent on a love triangle and not enough on time travelling shenanigans which is what I signed up for. In fairness, I am not usually a fan of love triangles and I found the third wheel here to be particularly non-descript but at least I appreciated how Nix voiced her choice of indulging in romantic adventures simply because she wanted to experience that kind of rush.
The last few chapters of the book though are filled to be brim with time travelling paradoxes, adventures back and forth in time that satisfied my thirst for exactly that type of story. Plus, an emotionally rewarding ending between Nix and her father. I shall be back for more.
Rating: 7 – Very Good