An enjoyable wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey tale. 4/5 stars.
After seeing several blogger’s recommending this book, I requested it from Netgalley. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an e-copy in return for an honest review.
The blurb: Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…
Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.
I’m about to go on a tangent. Stay with me…
There’s a moment in the movie Austin Powers 2 when Austin and Basil Exposition (best name ever) are talking about time travel. Worrying about time loops and the like, Austin goes cross-eyed with the effort of puzzling out the complications of there being different versions of himself existing simultaneously at different points in time. Basil helpfully suggests that Austin not worry about that sort of thing and just enjoy himself. And then Basil turns to talk directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall to tell the viewers, “That goes for you all too.”
This is the spirit in which it’s best to approach The Girl from Everywhere. There’s some serious wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey (Hello Whovians!) stuff going on here and if you stop to try to figure it all out, your experience of this book will most likely be spoiled. Best to just let it wash over you and concentrate on:
- the characters. A well-drawn, likeable and laudably diverse lot, especially Nix and Kashmir, although I started to develop a soft spot for Slade too.
- the settings. It’s not surprising the author is originally from Hawaii because the descriptions of the island of Oahu are wonderful.
- the research that went into this, particularly into the history and mythology of Hawaii and ancient China.
- the plot. Sufficiently complex, plenty going on and character-driven.
I took off a star because I felt there were moments in the narrative when we lingered and I would rather have skipped ahead; and moments when I would have liked to know more and hang around, but events were skipped over. For example (and being as vague as possible to avoid spoilers) there’s a moment quite near the end of the book where two characters go off to engage in some exciting and risky business, and leave Nix on the ship. Now, as Nix is the first person narrator this means we miss a bit of risky excitement which I would have liked to see!
Overall: fans of adventure sci-fi who won’t get upset/distracted by some not entirely watertight or explained time-travelling shenanigans should definitely check this out.