The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl From Everywhere #1
Rating: 3.5 star
Version: ARC Paperback
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear.
Nix travels through different time periods on her father's ship. For 16 years, Slate has been searching far and wide for a map that can lead him back to his beloved wife (and Nix's mother) Lin, in 1868. Maps have either not worked or been faked. However, going back to 1868 may mark the end of Nix's existence, as her mom died when she gave birth to her, so Nix must work against time to save herself.
The story opens in the middle of the action, just as Nix and her father's crew have finished their plans to get the map that will lead them to 1868. While certainly an exciting way to start a novel, there isn't much explanation over who is who (Bee, Rotgut, Kashmir, etc) and what exactly is happening until some chapters later. The pacing of the novel is off, with Navigations taking place within a few days, while the rest of the novel is slowly moving through Hawaii.
What I did like was the complexity of Nix's relationship with her father. It is clear that Slate is taking advantage of her abilities, and Nix acknowledges this, but knows that it's hard to leave the only home she's ever known. This complex relationship is brought out through the course of the book, as the central conflict - does Slate pick to have his wife back or keep his daughter?
"I'm not abandoning you," I said. "I'm letting you go."
"I don't want you to leave."
"But you want the map, and you need my help." My claim sat in the air between us, and he did not contest it. "You said it yourself, Slate. Sometimes a person has to let go of something to make room for something more important. You have to choose."
Romance wise, I didn't really see the connection between Kashmir and Nix - I saw them more as really close friends really. There also wasn't a need for the love triangle with Blake Hart; it was clear who Nix would choose. I liked both Blake and Kashmir, but Kash struck me as a more complicated character. I also I didn't really see much point to the romance in this book, if only to serve as a similarity between the love Slate has for Lin.
The story itself is full of history's jewels. Rarely do we get a book with Hawaii pre-annexation and the Qin Empire terracotta army. Combining both is something I never would have thought of. Yet Heidi Heilig came up with a time travel adventure. I look forward to reading the sequel, The Ship Beyond Time.