February 24, 2016

Mini-reviews: The Girl from Everywhere + The 6:41 to Paris

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
pub Feb 16, 2016
by Greenwillow Books
YA Fantasy/Time Travel
received via Edelweiss
I really wanted to like The Girl from Everywhere. The concept was there, the characters were there. But unfortunately the writing and the execution overall were not. Within the first few pages, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to work for me (the introduction is rough!). But I pushed through because the overarching story was intriguing, I liked the heroine Nix Song and I was reading it with Alexa (though I was tempted to DNF around the 30% mark). Nix and her father are time-travelers but how or why is never explained. They, along with their crew, travel on a pirate ship and their destinations are determined by the old maps they find. These maps take them to a specific place and time and her father has been hunting down a map to Honolulu 1868 all her life. That’s the moment when her mother was still alive and her father is obsessed with the idea that he can change things. On top of the time-traveling, which was hard to picture, there are actually a lot of mythical elements in play as well. Despite the locations being real (or real-ish), Nix comes across and even captures magical creatures. Which again, aren't fully explained. It felt like a mishmash of a bunch of different ideas but they didn’t connect in a way that made sense. The highlight of the book was definitely Nix and Kashmir — one of the crew, her best friend (and more). I truly enjoyed their dynamic but it wasn’t enough to make me like the book.

Then after 400+ pages, the plot ends on a note that provided no catharsis. It really felt like their struggles, planning and scheming was all for naught.

Do I recommend? I always hate saying this but I don’t. I’ve read far more superior time traveling books with tighter writing and better explained worlds. (See: Passenger by Alex Bracken)

The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel
pub Dec 1, 2015 by New Vessel Press
Adult - Contemporary
The plot is simple, the book is short and yet The 6:41 to Paris managed to be an extremely thought-provoking and unique reading experience. It reminded me of Before Sunrise, except in reverse. Instead of two young and idealistic people meeting for the first time, it’s about two people in their 40s meeting again for the first time in 30 years and they give the word jaded a whole new meaning. But there’s a loud ring of truth to everything they say. It makes you think of the people who probably feel similarly or wonder if you’ll be in their shoes one day. Cecile is forty-seven year old wife and mother, who’s aged gracefully and found professional success. She’s just spent a tiring weekend alone with her parents and she’s ready to head back home to Paris on the 6:41 train (hence the title!). But once she sits down, the seat next to her is taken by Philippe Leduc, a man she dated thirty years ago and who dumped her in the most humiliating way. (Seriously, when you find out the details, you'll want punch this guy in the face; at least the younger version of him.) The entire train ride is spent in the awkward present, where both Cecile and Philippe internally debate whether to talk to one another and reflect on their lives. Plus we see flashbacks of their painful past, where both rehash the details of who they were at the time and how their relationship ended. I didn’t know where the author was going to go with this and that was a really good thing. Who knew sitting next to an old flame would feel so suspenseful. Was he going to let them speak? Were we going to spend the entire time in the characters’ heads? I won’t tell you the answer but even listening to their internal monologues and ranting was fascinating. It makes me you want to reflect on your own life. I can’t say that I necessarily related to their situations but I related to the feelings those moments induced. Moments of regret, wonder, insecurity and the desire for more.

Do I recommend? I do! It’s a book that will make you think and a quick read. (Not to mention, I really like the cover!)

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you wound up enjoying "The 6:41 to Paris"! I did find the cover intriguing, and after reading your review, I certainly do like the sound of this story. Perhaps (when I'm not drowning in books) I'll give it a read one day!

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  2. I had the same problem with Into the Dim that you mentioned with The Girl From Everywhere (right down to comparing it to Passenger and having Into the Dim fall short). That said, The Girl From Everywhere really worked for me. I liked the unique time travel concept, the characters and the historic detail. This book is interesting because the synopsis gives almost nothing away and it's hard to gauge where the plot is going based on the cover/title/plot summary. That worked for me and I found it exciting to see what would happen next but I could see it backfiring with some readers. I wasn't sure about the ending when I first finished the book because it was kind of anti-climactic after all of the excitement and action from earlier but I ultimately decided that my love for the rest of the story balanced that out.

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