“The age of exploration is long over, amira. Now it’s the age of globalization. And once everyone agrees something is one way, all the other ways it could have been disappear.”
—The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig
Sixteen-year-old Nix has lived most of her life on the Temptation, the time-traveling caravel captained by her father, Slate. For years, her work as the ship’s navigator has made her indispensable to him, but achieving his ultimate goal may actually result in Nix winking out of existence…and he doesn’t seem to care.
That’s hard knowledge to live with—and it certainly makes Nix a reluctant helper—but in the meantime, the Temptation is home, the crew is her family, and adventure awaits in every port. As long as they have a map to get there—each map has to be hand drawn and dated, well-detailed, and is only usable once—Slate can bring them to practically any time and any place, even if the place only ever existed in the mapmaker’s imagination.
While Nix’s if-he-saves-her-I-will-cease-to-exist logic never quite tracks—Slate has access to any number of healing items, some from the future, some mythological, so it seems entirely possible that he’d be able to save her mother WITHOUT preventing Nix’s own birth—the rest of the premise and the plotting is so much fun that it shouldn’t be an issue for most readers. The worldbuilding incorporates both history and myth, and Heilig’s descriptions of Hawaii—most of the story takes place in Hawaii toward the end of the monarchy—are colorful and lush and vivid and loving. It’s a fast-paced adventure with plenty of action, but it also deals with empire and colonialism, with class and racism—personally, as experienced by Nix, whose mother was Chinese, and other members of Slate’s very diverse crew, as well as part of the larger picture—and with guilt and grief and addiction.
It raises questions about whether or not fiction can also be truth, and about whether knowledge trumps belief or vice-versa. It deals with privilege and judgment and worldview, and shows that black and white statements don’t always work in a world so full of grays:
“You know, if I had your morals, I could solve all my problems.”
He shrugged one shoulder and slipped the watch back into his pocket. “If I had your problems, I could afford to have better morals.”
Heilig plays with opposites a LOT—reality vs. fantasy, desire vs. truth, dreamer vs. pragmatist, delusion vs. belief, fate vs. free will—and again and again, she brings the reader back around to the importance of perspective, to the strange realization that depending on the circumstances, opposites don’t always have to cancel each other out. That they can both be right, and that they can co-exist.
Be sure not to skip her Author’s Note—she talks about the history and mythology she incorporated into the story, which is entirely fascinating, but even more interesting is what she has to say about character creation and back story. As I read an egalley, the maps weren’t included—I’m VERY much looking forward to seeing them in the finished copy.
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.