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?
The Girl From Everywhere was one of those books that had so much buzz that I pre-ordered it without a second thought. The novel is narrated by Nix, a sixteen-year-old who travels the world with her father and his crew on-board a time-traveling pirate ship, and has a stubborn, scrappy personality that shines through every line. Even though this book is targeted at middle grade and high school-aged readers, I highly recommend that you give it a try even if you think you're too old to read it. I'm a big believer in reading across genres and age groups - simple writing and vocabulary don't detract from a good book! If you've been reading for school or just finished a hefty biography, this is definitely the right book for you. It's short, an easy read, and brimming with adventure! Here are the reasons I loved The Girl From Everywhere:
- Time traveling pirates.
- The cast is effortlessly diverse, including an African tribeswoman and the ghost of her murdered wife, a pickpocket from a fictional Arabian city, and Nix, the half-Chinese narrator and protagonist.
- The settings are the places your ten-year-old self dreamed of visiting: 1880s Hawaii, present-day New York City, ancient China, and more! The Girl From Everywhere is basically a fantasy atlas.
- Adventurous, fast-paced plots and subplots - you definitely won't be able to predict what will happen next.
- It features a realistic, but not harrowing description of addiction.
- Political intrigue.
- Kashmir. He's a pickpocket from the land of A Thousand and One Nights and he's endlessly endearing. Hilarious, witty, quick with a quip and his fingers, and always handy in a fight - I dare you not to love him.
- Navigation. The crew of the Temptation travels to different times and places by using maps. The only catch is, you can't use the same map twice. Because of this, the novel features descriptions of everything from hand-drawn maps of Hawaii to quick sketches of red-light districts and maps of places that never existed at all. By the time you've finished reading, you'll be itching to draw your own.
- Family drama. Nix and her father, Slate, have a very complicated relationship and their attempts to navigate it make for very compelling reading.
- Myths and worldbuilding. Nix loves myths and legends of all types - with an upbringing like hers, how could she not? - so the book abounds with mythological references. You might even learn about a new one!
- You would never be able to tell that this is Heidi Heilig's debut novel. Her prose is delicious. Even though this is aimed at a slightly younger reader, I still found myself savoring her descriptions.
- Although there is a lot of exposition, the pace of the story was still quite good. It takes a lot of thought to link all of the separate characters and locations into one overarching plot and Ms. Heilig's planning clearly paid off.
- There's going to be a sequel! And, since all of the worldbuilding is out of the way, I'm betting it's going to be an even better adventure than the first one.
The premise does have a lot in common with that of Alexandra Bracken's Passenger but the narrator and supporting characters were distinct enough to make this a worthwhile read. To be completely honest, I hope that time-traveling pirates become the trendy new YA genre because I'm tired of all the gritty dystopian and alien-invasion novels that have been flooding bookstores lately.
Final Grade: A-
Do you have a favorite genre or do you like to read a little bit of everything? What's been on your Kindle lately? Let me know!