Sometimes I do this thing where I hold off on reading the end of a book until I can write my blog post, because it's the only way I can capture my actual response. In the case of Heidi Heilig's The Girl from Everywhere, I can tell that the last 10% is going to be closer to what I wanted than the 60% that came before.
This is one of the books that I read about ages before it was published and have been waiting for with excitement. In a nutshell, though, my feelings about it are that there's half a good book here, and half filler.
The premise is wonderful. Nix lives with her father and their crew on a ship that can travel anywhere. Really, though, the skill is her father's; he can study any accurate, hand-drawn map and create magic that takes the ship to that time and place. This is a marvelous premise, and the first part of the book, where we're being introduced to the characters and the world, is really wonderful.
But Nix's father has an obsession; her mother died when she was a baby, while he was away from their home on Hawaii. Since he returned and found out, he's been looking for a map that will lead him back to that exact window of time, after he left and before she died. Nix's life has been full of chasing down maps, schemes to make money to buy them, and failed attempts to go back to Hawaii in 1868. And Nix's father rides out the highs with hope and the lows with opium.
So this is the premise, and we meet the characters and the crew as they seek the latest map. The beginning of this book is lovely, as they scheme to get to Hawaii, and then find themselves there in the wrong time.
But the middle of the book, almost half of it, is them killing time on Hawaii. There's a plan falling into place, and a boy for Nix to meet, and her life for her to think about. There's worrying, and walking around Hawaii, and what's probably supposed to pass for shenanigans, but the plan is practically a McGuffin--I didn't care much about the scheme some Suspicious Characters cooked up--and the Cute Boy is clearly an object, and I just didn't feel it.
Then, at the end, we snap back into action. Nix decides to move forward in the only way she possibly could have--the only way that makes any sense to me as a reader--and we get back to the plot, which gets kind of convoluted, but at least interesting again.
Basically, I showed up for a time travel book, but I got a love triangle book. That's really what's supposed to drive this; Nix's relationship with her father and her sense of being "torn" between her dashing best friend Kashmir and the handsome lover of Hawaii, Blake. But there's no contest, really, so it feels like a waste of time that she spends so much time agonizing about it.
It's not really a terrible book, but I had very high hopes, and it turned out to be just...fine. Book Smugglers had a lot of the same criticisms in their review, though I think they gave it a little more love than I have. It's something to breeze through in a couple of hours; something with a cool premise and, if you like a good teen love triangle, you might be into it.
I will say, though--if there's a sequel, I will probably read it. It might be Joss's history, or Slate's, or even the continuing adventures of Nix--any of these would bring me back for more. So I guess on that level, it succeeded admirably.