Review: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (The Girl From Everywhere #1)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Time Travel

Publisher: Greenwillow Books on February 16, 2016

Source: Publisher

Rating StarRating StarRating Star

My thanks to Greenwillow Books for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

YA Review Icon Special Snowflake Review Icon Historical Review Icon

 Sixteen year-old Nix has spent her whole life aboard The Temptation, a 19th century era sailing ship captained by her distant father, Slate. As a member of the crew, Nix is responsible for cleaning the decks, hoisting the sails, and other duties she shares with her other crew mates. But Nix also has another, special responsibility: she finds things. Procuring rare artifacts, some with mythical powers, falls under Nix’s purview. None of the items she locates are more important than the maps, however.

For The Temptation is no ordinary ship, and she has no ordinary captain: Slate is a Navigator, someone with the ability to sail a ship to any place and time, so long as they are in possession of a map depicting the place and drafted during the time that they wish to arrive. As far as Slate is concerned, all his Navigating and all his maps are leading to one thing: Honolulu 1868 – and the weeks before Nix’s other died giving birth to her. But what will happen to Nix if they ever reach their destination? Will her life as she knows it remain unchanged? Will Nix herself continue to exist?

While THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE does feature elements of time travel, the vast majority of the book takes place in 19th century Honolulu. Heidi Heilig does a wonderful job describing the island’s natural beauty and its people and I felt transported to Hawaii while reading. Not exactly a hardship on my part!

Heilig’s deft hand describing the island isn’t surprising given that – according to her author bio – she is a resident of Hawaii. Combining personal experience with historical research, Heilig creates a compelling vision of an island paradise poised on the precipice of a colonial takeover. Contrasting the culture and politics of Hawaii’s Aboriginal peoples with those of the white, mainland colonists, we see a version of Hawaii torn between two identities. Similarly, Nix herself feels torn between her desire to stay aboard The Temptation with the only family she’s ever known and her awareness that if she must leave them behind if she wants to live a life unfettered. The parallels between Nix and the land she comes from were by far my favourite aspects of the novel.

As Nix and the crew slink about Honolulu searching for the final map they need, she encounters young artist Blake Hart. Blake teaches Nix about the culture, myths, and legends of Hawaii’s native people (although he himself is white….hmm). Nix’s friendship with Blake doesn’t sit very well with Kashmir, Nix’s Persian best friend and fellow crew member. Love triangle alert! It was fairly mild though, thank goodness.

It’s the myths and legends that Blake and Kashmir impart – along with countless others from countries across the globe – that lend THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE its fantastical elements. Despite the importance of Navigation for the story, very little of its mechanics, rules, or consequences are discussed. Of course, this is largely because Slate refuses to tell Nix much of anything, but still. I definitely wanted more from the world building on the fantasy side of things.

I found THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE very difficult to read at times because of Slate’s selfishness and his substance abuse. As a long-time opium addict who – apparently – doesn’t care whether his daughter is wiped from existence, Slate is hardly a sympathetic character. Heidi Heilig writes him remarkably well, and I found myself getting quite riled by his actions. While I liked Nix, I also wanted to shake her and scream at her to wake up. Her relationship with her father is left in a very interesting place at the end of the novel and I confess that I’m very curious to see how it plays out.

It’s also worth noting that THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE features a diverse cast of characters, highlighting interesting and nuanced people of colour and queer characters. If you’re looking to read more diversely and don’t mind fantasy novels that are a little light on magical world building, then you’ll probably enjoy THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE. Despite my gripes, I certainly did!

Do you have any diverse SFF recommendations for me? What YA fantasy novels are you reading these days? Have you read THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE? Let me know in the comments!

Related Posts

  • I read the first sentence of the synopsis and I was like Hell Yeah! Then I saw the Special Snowflake emblem (these are awesome by the way) and was like urgh:(. 19th century Hawaii sure sounds like a tempting setting however and unique…. Also diversity.

    • HA! I’m glad you like them, I have had a lot of fun with them…they make me laugh. 😀

      If you’re intrigued, I say give it a go. The setting really was incredible, and diverse SFF is always a good thing!

  • Love the premise of this, and the cover is definitely drawing me in!

    • Isn’t it a great combo of premise and cover? Definitely a money-maker, haha.

  • I am not really sure about this one…though is sounds interesting

    • That’s kind of my feeling on it too, haha. If you think you’d enjoy it, you probably will…if you’re on the fence, it’s skippable in my opinion.

  • Time travel novels aren’t really my thing, but this one keeps catching my eye. It sounds interesting, even if the main character is a little frustrating.

    • I haven’t read a lot of time travel books actually, but I do enjoy them as long as they don’t spend too much time angsting about “changing the timeline” LOL.

  • Great review, Danya! 🙂 I like this one okay. I disliked Slate so, so much, but I think Nix’s actions are understandable if you think that she’s lived with his influence her entire life and has had little other meaningful relationships, given the fact they keep travelling around the world.
    And yeah, I wished for more mechanics on travelling, too. We’ll probably get to see more of that in Book 2. I felt Hawaii was (were?) represented in a too-idealized, way, that’s what bothered me a bit, like it was one of those “pure” societies that industrialization hasn’t spoiled yet. But I’m eager to read the next part, I just hope the love triangle won’t be the center of the plot, that would really be a pity! 🙂

    • Thanks Kaja! Urgggh I know, Slate was awful but sometimes you just can’t quit your parents. I understood Nix’s position, but I really wanted her to stop whining. Is that too harsh? Haha.

      Oooooh excellent point about the depiction of Hawaii as an idyllic paradise. I didn’t even think of that. I wonder what the setting of the sequel will be? Hmmm. I kind of got the impression that things were settled with Nix’s love life, but now I’m worried about a more dramatic love triangle!

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    hmmm… Slate doesnt sound like a very fun character.

  • This is a great review. I didn’t even think about the parallel between Nix and her origins in Hawaii. I did spend the entire book wanting Nix to give up on her father, but family connection is strong and it’s hard to cut off someone who you have a bit of a toxic relationship with, especially when you’re related. I’m intrigued to see how things will change between the pair in the next book. It’ll be interesting as I’m hoping for Nix to be a lot more independent and act for herself.

    I think I liked the fact the book had very little going on in terms of fantasy elements. The most fantastical part of it was the time travel through maps. I liked the subtlety of the magic. I really want to know more about how it works, but hopefully that will happen in the next one.

    • Thanks, Becky! I’m glad it wasn’t too rambly and nonsensical. I totally agree with you on Nix’s relationship with Slate – I understand why she didn’t want to give up on him, but I couldn’t stand her indecision. Make a choice and stick with it! Now that Nix has stood up for herself I’m hoping that Slate will give her more respect in the future.

      I’ve heard some people say that they liked the subtlety of the fantastical elements, so you’re not alone! I just want to know more details right away. I am not a very patient reader, unfortunately.

      • Please, I am the worst for rambly nonsensical reviews, yours always come across really well thought out. I know what you mean, Nix did need to grow a backbone and make a choice for herself. I’m hoping now she’s put her foot down with him and shown she’s willing to go her own way things will progress.

        I was surprised at my love for the subtlety in the fantasy, I like to think I’m growing as a reader but that may be a bit much. I normally hate waiting for things and I’m so impatient but I’m getting better about it when it comes to reading. I won’t wait too long, but I can appreciate not throwing everything out there all at once.

  • Lynn Williams

    I’m sitting on the fence with this one for now – also I’m trying to be good and not go overboard with books at the moment. I need a fairly clear June to try and clear up a little.
    I love the cover though!
    Lynn 😀

    • Totally understandable, I definitely need to slow my roll with requesting ARCs and buying books until I can get more on top of things. Haha yeah, Heilig clearly made the cover gods happy! 🙂