You don’t have to know me long to know what some of my key interests are: pirates, time travel, and history are pretty high on the list. This book has all that and more, so it’s not surprising that it’s been on my various TBR lists and wishlists basically since it was announced. I finally got it as a Christmas gift this past holiday season, and I tore through it like it was the first novel I’ve ever read.
In some ways, it really felt like it was.
Most of Nix’s life has been lived aboard a ship. Her father is the captain of the ship Temptation, a ship far more interesting than a mere pirate ship. Nix’s father is a Navigator; he can sail the Temptation to any place or time, real or imagined, as long as he has an authentic, hand-drawn map. Nix is especially skilled at spotting these authentic maps, and her keen eye for detail keeps her father and their crew on course.
But her father has his sights set on a destination that frightens Nix more than any other place they’ve been: Honolulu, 1868. The year Nix’s father left her mother, unaware she was pregnant. The year everything changed. The year her mother died. The captain is convinced if he can just get back there, he can unite his little family, but Nix worries … can that family include her?
The Girl From Everywhere is probably one of the best works I’ve read in a long time, no kidding, and no puns intended. Heilig’s writing is beautiful and poetic, easy to get lost in. Her worldbuilding makes the book feel more like a film, and to be honest, if this isn’t developed into a movie in the next five years I’ll actually be disappointed.
I adored every character in this book, even at the moments when I hated them. Heilig crafts real people, characters who are not perfect, not in the slightest, but you get so caught up in them. You cheer for them, you ache for them, you fear for them. I enjoyed the complex relationships Heilig builds, especially between Bee and the ghost of her late wife, Ayen. Adorable, hilarious, perfect.
Even the basic concept of the novel is perfect. Time traveling pirates? SIGN ME UP. But on top of all that, Heilig tosses in just the right amount of historical fiction, giving you a glimpse into the political, cultural, and even religious history of Hawaiian and Chinese cultures, all without making it feel like you’re attending a collegiate lecture. There’s just enough romance, just enough comedy, just enough of everything to take this book from ‘good idea’ to GREAT IDEA. I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner, and the second I find a copy of the sequel you can believe I’ll be fighting for it if I have to.
How I found it: A holiday gift 🙂
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Content warnings: None
Does it pass the Bechdel test? Yes
Is it a standalone? No, currently the first of two
So what worked? Character development, humor, romance, TIME TRAVEL, history
What didn’t work? I … omg this book is perfect, I really don’t know of anything I didn’t like about it.
Overall: The Girl From Everywhere is probably the perfect book. It’s an easy enough read for younger YA fans, but it’s got deep enough themes to captivate older YA readers as well. There are some dark moments that might be mildly frightening or confusing for young’uns, but I think reading this with them could provide some great conversation starters and teachable moments. While there is some romance, there are no sex scenes, and the coarse language is minimal and mild. There is PLENTY of diversity among the characters, though none of it feels forced. HIGHLIGHT FOR MILD SPOILER: There is a happy ending, too, so fear not! It is a bit stressful in places, but things will even out. If you are in any way a fan of time travel, pirates, fantasy, or fun in general, you should definitely, 100%, without a doubt read this book. You should be reading it right now.
Have you read The Girl From Everywhere or its sequel, The Ship Beyond Time? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations for what I should read next week? Drop me a comment below or find me on Twitter!