First Lines: It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.
I received a copy of this from the publisher *cough* an embarrassingly long time ago. But I was super stoked to read it. When I finally remembered that I had to set aside time to get through my ARCs (because I tend to forget, believe it or not), this was the first I started on.
Because the plot is so complicated, I’m going to copy the summary from Goodreads: Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.
My initial thoughts going into this book was that it had an incredibly unique and intriguing premise, and that it was going to be amazeballs. History from random times and places that I didn’t know much about? Totally up my alley.
But the execution didn’t work for me. I did, generally, like the characters. Nix is smart, but she’s got a lot of bottled up anger, which is kind of understandable considering that her father’s dead set on essentially erasing Nix from his life if he manages to get back to 1868. Kash is charming in an exotic kind of way, a quick thinker, while Blake is more of the boy-next-door charming. And Nix’s father is just as lost as any teenager, constantly trying to decide what he really wants out of his life. (Honestly, I really liked that about him, even if it also comes across as uncaring or selfish.)
I was not so much a fan of the there-but-not-there love triangle. That was rather infuriating as Nix kinda-almost has feelings for two boys, but doesn’t ever like, do anything about it. The story kind of teased that there would be a love element without actually having it.
The history was really interesting. I knew a little about Hawaiian history going into this (from those bazillion diary books that are published about all kinds of historical events like Titanic, the dust bowl, and princesses. Know what I’m talking about?), but I certainly didn’t know a lot of this. There’s actually a lot of political turmoil and a great infusion of native myths. Those were fascinating.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the time travel that completely confused me. Many times, I’d be almost done reading a chapter before I realized that I kind of had no idea when we were and what was going on. There are some time travel “rules” that only seem to be explained after it’s already happened. For example, Nix will do something bizarre and after it works, it’s explained like, “Oh, it will always work when you do X.” I can’t tell if it was meant to enhance the suspense or if it’s some confusing attempt to show-not-tell. Whatever it was, it did not work for me. And there’s one big twist at the end that I’m still totally scratching my head over, completely clueless as to how Nix came to understand what happened. Because I don’t see it at all.
Something that didn’t exactly help the situation either is the fact that Nix and her dad can travel to fictional places as long as they have a map. (So theoretically, if they had a map of Hogwarts, they could go there.) While utterly fascinating, this point was A) never made very clear, B) was part of the rotating-door of rules I’ll never understand, and C) not well explained when they are actually in a fantasy world. One of the characters is even from a fictional place and I seriously had no idea until I read the author’s note after finishing the book.
I feel like this is the kind of book I might understand if I could sit and read it five times straight. But I didn’t like it enough to be that committed to figuring it out.