“Sometimes a person has to let go of something to take hold of something else. You always have to choose what’s more important.”
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.
The Girl from Everywhere is a richly imaginative tale that not only offers thrilling adventure of time travelling but also likeable characters to sail along with the readers.
The story introduced us to Nix as she sails to different time and place with her navigator father, Slate and the whole crew of the ship, The Temptation. They can travel to any place and time, both real and imagine as long as they have a map for it. They’ve visited a lot of maps except for 1868 Honolulu, the one map that Slate is obsessing. It’s the place and time where Nix’s mother exist before she give birth to Nix and then died. Slate will do anything to get his hand on this particular map that will bring him back to the woman he love dearly and save her from death. But Nix is worried that if Slate try to save her mother before Nix was born, it may change the past. And changing the past may have effect to Nix existence.
Heidi Heilig used a lots of ideas and concepts in this book. Not only she combine time-travel with fantasy and history, she also throw a diverse cast of characters, pirating, and creatures from myth and legends. It’s a very promising mixed which if done well could have been an epic read.
The main character Nix is easy to sympathize. Right from the start I feel sorry for her. She has a father but it feels like she doesn’t have one. Slate is more of a ship Captain and navigator than a father to Nix. And with Slate obsession to save his wife without considering what will happen to Nix, Nix is not sure if her father love her or even care for her. The other member of the crew is more concern to her than her own father.
Just like Kashmir, the Persian guy who clearly care for Nix. Readers will be glad this thief is on board. Not only he took care of Nix but mostly because he provide the most needed entertainment to the story. Kashmir is easily charming who will surely make readers notice him. He is witty, smart, cunning and smooth talking. And did I mentioned that he is a thief? Oh yes, I did. He is a thief which is a weakness of mine, especially those smart-mouted and wise one like Eugenides of The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen-Turner. Here are some memorable lines from Kashmir.
“I never knew you had such a fine eye for fabrics,” I said as we continued up the street. “You should have been a tailor instead of a thief.”
“I have a fine eye for all things, amira, which is why I’m a thief and not a tailor.”
“The last thing we need is for you to go to jail.”
“For treason?” he said, running a comb through his touseled hair. “We wouldn’t go to jail.”
“We’d be shot.”
“When I was young, I learned to expect loss. Every time you slept, something disappeared. Whenever you woke up, someone else was gone. But . . . I also learned that every day, you created everything anew. And whatever you had, you enjoyed as long as it lasted.
Spend money when it’s in your pocket.” …“Eat fruit while it’s ripe…“Paradise is a promise no god bothers to keep. There’s only now, and tomorrow nothing will be the same, whether we like it or not.
This book is not without flaws – there are some plot holes or intricate concepts that I think didn’t really work smoothly, particularly the time traveling part. I’m not sure if I’m just over analysing things or what, but I don’t think it was explained better or justified how really Slate and his crew can travel in different times and places, both real and imagine. Basically it said that they only need a map that is completed on the date they want to travel, and for some vague reason only Slate can navigate those maps. When it was revealed in the end how can he do it, I’m so disappointed. I wish Heidi explained that one better or put more thoughts about it.
Also, there are dates of Slate’s travels that didn’t fit (or I just misunderstand them). When Slate is teaching Nix how to navigate, it was revealed that he was in New York public library and the year is 1981 when he first time travel, but there’s also a reference that say 2016 is Slate’s “native time and place”, which can be translated to Slate’s origin right? But then it was also mentioned that Slate in 2016 is fifty one years old which means he was actually born in the year 1965, and if we compute from there, it means his first time-travel was when he sixteen years old. I’m not exactly sure how time flows when he was time traveling, but lets assume that time flows the same fluid motion as our regular time, so my question is, is Slate and his crew time travel to the future when they landed to May 2016? If that’s the case, where Slate did get a map of the future, if the map isn’t even made by then? I’m not sure if I’m making sense here, but it just really confusing to me.
And for the imagined places like legends and myths, the only restrictions that I remember is as long as the maker of the map believe in the places he/she drawn in the map then Slate and his crew can time travel there. So let say, I draw a map today which I set in the past and Slate will use that map, what date will they actually land? The date I made the map or the date I set in the map of the imaginary land, which I also believe is real? Also, in the book it said that maps can be only use once, thus it means that Slate has tons of maps at his disposal? Where and how did he acquire all those maps? And assuming that he can acquire those maps easily how come 1868 Honolulu map is so hard to find, while legends and mythical land seems easy to obtain and travel?
Also, the main conflict of the plot doesn’t work for me. Nix doesn’t want for Slate to travel back in 1868 Honolulu, the year before her mother died because of the possibility that it may erase Nix very own existence. But if that’s the case, why they can’t recreate Nix? Kashmir is from an imaginary world but manage to exist like a real person, so why Nix who is real cannot exist like Kashmir? I’m sure, if Slate can bring an imaginary character like Kashmir he can also pull his own daughter from some of his time travel right? Is it too much for him to create a map where he believes that her daughter, Nix exist and alive?
Despite the few drawbacks with regard to the time travelling part, The Girl from Everywhere is an imaginative, utterly gorgeous, and mesmerizing tale. There so much promise that we can only hope to be develop more or explain better in the next installment. I hope Nix next time-travel sailing will be more smoother than this one.