Release date: February 16, 2016
Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…
Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever
I have a soft corner in my heart for time travel books; it’s a genre that opens up into so many others – it ties up into historical and futuristic, fantasy or sci-fi depending on how the author wants to explain the jumping – basically a story made in a universe with time travel has a lot of potential. Heilig’s universe incorporates fantasy into history in a dimensional travel (yep, its not just across time) story. Nix and her father are time travellers, who can Navigate into different ‘times’ using maps created during that ‘time’. Since cartography and exploration was a big thing until the last couple centuries, it is obvious most of it is historical. The settings take us from the shores of Ganges in Calcutta to New York in the present era, to Hawaii in the 19th century, to the Chinese Dynasty’s necropolis. It’s all very fascinating, vivid and mystical.
What I really loved about Nix was her tenacity, and her loyalty. She knows helping her father could mean her own existence might disappear, but she does it anyway because he is her father and she feels his pain. She doesn’t completely understand it, and most days resents him for loving her mother more than her, but she hopes one day he will get over it. She is smart, though, with a back up plan at hand, and maybe the only thing keeping her on the ship is the bonds she has with the crew, particularly Kashmir (this handsome charming young thief straight out of the Arabian Nights stories). When she arrives in Hawaii, the need to settle somewhere wars with the explorer in her, and it is more interesting to read how she figures out her heart. There is also a love triangle, but the book is not so heavy on the romance. Also, Nix is a serious history buff, something her father is proud of, and even shuts up others who look down on her because she is a girl. The dimensional travel was a delight for me, and while the explanation of the Navigation came much later in the book, I think the wait was worth it. I loved the concept of worlds created into being simply by belief, and the fact that we are never sure what version is the real one.
In short, it is an amazing dimensional travel book, with a good protagonist, and an ending that (thankfully) was not a cliffhanger. I am, however, still very eager about the further travels of the crew of Tempation.
Received a free galley from Greenwillow Books, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
P.S. The ARC did not contain the maps, which I really want to see in the finished copies now. So eager for the release!