BY RYDER KAPLAN
ARTS & ENT. EDITOR
“The Girl from Everywhere” marks young author Heidi Heilig’s debut novel, a sprawling epic about a girl who time travels across history with her father and a ragtag group of sailors from across time on a pirate ship that ultimately falls short of its ambitious plot synopsis.
The plot follows a teenage girl named Nix, who is the daughter of a swashbuckling pirate, Captain Slate. The ship that Nix and her father sail on can travel anywhere in history, so long as they have a map of the area at that specific time, which has allowed them to collect a very diverse cast of characters from throughout history to ride with them.
While diversity is always appreciated in young adult novels, there is a fine line between a realistic group of characters and pushing an agenda to appeal to as many audiences as possible, and “The Girl from Everywhere” certainly crosses it. There are characters here who are merely labels of subcultures in society, as their unique traits that make them diverse, such as their sexuality, are never used in the actual plot; they are merely mentioned when the character is introduced and described. This lack of importance to the story makes it seem like the author is shoehorning in character traits just to appeal to a wider market, rather than embracing diversity and acceptance.
Another disappointment in the book is the author’s failure to take advantage of it’s above-average page count. The book bears 445 dense pages, and while length itself is never something to criticize a novel on, the book really drags in the middle. This slow-moving second act makes the book seem even longer than it is, as both the plot and character development alike completely lose steam following the strong introduction.
In addition to the forced diversity and underutilized length, another major gripe with the book is how absolutely cliché it is as a young adult novel. A plot as promising and large in scope as the one in “The Girl from Everywhere” does not deserve the typical tropes in fiction geared toward teens, such as the unnecessary love triangle, in which Nix has to choose between brains and looks. This “Gossip Girl”-level subplot destroys the excellent development each character involved has garnered leading up to this point in the book, as their interesting backstories and traits play no part in this section of the story. Instead, Nix’s two lovers are simplified to the outdated stereotypes of brains versus brawn, which also detracts from Nix’s sophistication as a female lead character herself.
All in all, “The Girl from Everywhere” truly bites off more than what it can chew, as an extremely interesting synopsis and idea cannot be saved by boring characters and predictable plot lines. Although it is the first entry in a duology, the sequel to this book would have to greatly redeem the sinking ship that is “The Girl from Everywhere” to stop it from hitting rock bottom.