- Page Count: 443
- Release Date: February 16, 2016
- My Rating: 4 stars
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love. Or she could disappear.
This is one of those ratings I want to put a bunch of asterisks after because this book had some serious problems, yet I still ended up really enjoying it!!
First off, time traveling pirate ships + the historical Hawaii setting were pretty much what made this book so awesome. Nix and her fellow pirate-ish folks can travel anywhere in history (but also to fantasy worlds too??) if they have a map. But once they use a map, they can never use that same map to return to the same place again. They were initially after a map so Nix’s dad could go save her mom from dying and the story seemed to be about Nix’s own existence possibly being negated since that was in the book description… but then that all kind of got put to the side as they jumped through a bunch of random hoops to get to the map.
I could NOT for the life of me figure out what this book was doing half of the time. Most of the story was like “wtf are you doing now and why.” They got wrapped up in the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy, some powerful sketchy guys started plotting with them and a gold heist became the main focus (although I couldn’t figure out exactly who was in on it or who they were trying to double cross), Nix met a cute Hawaiian guy, and suddenly they’re taking the ship to some Chinese terra cotta soldier tomb with a new random map and then making the soldiers come alive and then returning with that army back to… oh yeah, the whole gold heist plot. Ok that actually sounds like a coherent plot now that I say it all but it did NOT have the chain of events or cause & effect feeling that this sounds like.
Basically there were several small mysterious storylines or characters and interesting side plots, but nothing felt like it was part of the SAME story or fully tied together. Like there was the creepy lady who had known Nix’s mother and had some maps and could see the future. And they went somewhere in time to save her but didn’t but also did?
There are a LOT of plot holes. Like they technically don’t need the ship to travel through time… the dad just likes it? The time travel stuff isn’t really fully explained and the added element of being able to go fictional worlds added too many questions.
So just roll with it, I guess! I’m still a bit confused about how the details of crossing your own time stream or going between fictional and real worlds works… (like when they’re concerned that the map that Blake drew might have been his interpretation/story of Hawaii instead of the real one — would that make the Blake that exists in the version of Hawaii they returned to the REAL one she met or whaaaaat)??
AND WHY DO THEY NOT HAVE MORE MONEY. I’m sorry but if they’re jumping between an ancient country, a fantasy world, and then 2016 New York and are able to plan ahead and choose where they go next… THEY SHOULD HAVE MONEY. They can sell literally ANYTHING because they can take objects with them! They can bring objects through all of time (and apparently space/reality)?! Use the freaking TARDIS ship to make some money first.
The pacing and character development could’ve been better, but it wasn’t bad in the end. Like most things, you just need to hang in there a bit until it works out. Nix’s appearance wasn’t described until 100 pages into the story and some other characters weren’t described until the end. I didn’t mind Nix as the MC, but she also fell pretty flat compared to other characters. Her ship had picked up her friend Kashmir long ago in some other world and there’s sort of a romance there, but it’s barely touched on. They’re mostly just friends and that relationship is really fun!
But what was up with her mini dragon thing she got from the creepy lady? It disappeared and showed up in the tomb randomly and I thought it was going to be that lady as an animagus or something buuuut no it was just an irrelevant dragon? SO MANY ELEMENTS, SO LITTLE CONNECTIONS.
The beginning was super, super slow moving and the end was majorly rushed and confusing, so the pacing could have been better. I really thought the map Blake was drawing was going to get them to the time period in Hawaii where they were planning to go at the start, but then they wound up in China? The end was such a mess… I’m halfway certain I understood it and even less certain that I cared.
There was a sort of relaxed feeling to the whole book that was nice, though. I really did love the setting!! The history and politics of Hawaii was probably the strongest bit of the book and I loved it. And the writing was well done — there were SO many good lines!
I did love the overall feeling of the story and was never bored… like everything was still intriguing despite any confusion. So I would recommend this if you can handle fun adventure stories where you just kind of go “whatever” and let them do their thing!