(Spoilers below for Heidi Heilig’s The Girl From Everywhere)
Following the seemingly recent trend of popular books with “girl” in the title (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, Girl on the Train) is The Girl From Everywhere. The girl in this title refers to Nix, who lives on a ship that can travel anywhere in time, space, and imagination – as long her father, the captain, has a map to that place.
This premise drew me in quickly because the idea of being able to travel to fictional lands was so wonderful to imagine. I looked forward to the book whisking the reader away to faraway places all over time – but then was quickly let down when the majority of the plot centered around Hawaii in the 1960s. Aside from the brief mystical setting in the beginning, as well as the (strange) interlude towards to end to Ancient China, there is actually very little Navigation in the plot.
Instead, the plot focused on obtaining a map in Hawaii, which seemed straightforward at first, but then devolved into a convoluted mess of plans, inconsistent characterization, and unnecessary plot points. When I put down the book, I was just left with many questions.
For example, why wouldn’t Nix tell her father after she discovered the map wouldn’t work? She didn’t want them to go through the risky plan of robbing the Treasury in the first place, so why hold on to this secret and make everyone go through with it?
Why would Slate suddenly change his mind at the end about the map? He spent the entire book obsessing over getting back to the love of his life, but in the end, he just cast the map aside like it was nothing? Yes, Nix got abducted in front of him, and that might have triggered a change of heart, but the writing wasn’t convincing at all.
Most annoying, why the sudden love triangle? Blake seemed like he came out of nowhere, and his sole purpose was literally to be the third corner in this triangle. Kashmir was probably the most developed character in the book, which made a relationship between him and Nix (who isn’t that complex herself) more believable, but Blake had no characterization beyond “has a crush on Nix.” Why do all YA books insist on shoehorning in a love triangle?
What I wanted from this book was more about Navigation and more travel to fictional and fantastical lands, but instead, the book was mostly flat characterizations and confusing plot points. There is a sequel though and I’m inclined try reading it to see the world of Navigation is more expanded. I’d like to see more exploration into the concept of time traveling using Navigation, which was touched upon in this book, albeit in a confusing manner.
Overall, this book had a great premise and built a potential world of imagination, but got dragged down in the characters and the plot. I would recommend it as a light beach read, but not to take it too seriously (like I tried to here).