Published by Berkley Books on August 11, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Thanks so much to Brittanie from Berkley for inviting me to take part in their 2020 Romance blog tours. Today I’m excited to share my thoughts on K.C. Dyer’s new novel, Eighty Days to Elsewhere with you.
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K.C. Dyer’s new novel, Eighty Days to Elsewhere, is an entertaining romp around the globe that reads like a mash up of the Jules Verne classic, Around the World in 80 Days, The Amazing Race reality TV show, and Eat Pray Love. The novel follows Ramona (Romy) Keene, a young woman who lives in New York City and works with her uncle in his bookstore in the Village. Although Romy dreams of being a photographer and of traveling, she instead sticks close to home, the charming bookstore a safe haven from the world. When an evil new landlord arrives on the scene, jacks up the rent on the bookstore, and threatens to evict them, Romy is desperate to do whatever it takes to save the bookstore.
She applies for a job at a company called ExLibris Expeditions, an unusual company whose mission it is to create custom adventures for clients based on scenes from their favorite books. (How cool does that sound?!) The custom trips involve a great deal of research, including actually traveling to each destination being considered to figure out transportation, things to see and do, etc. When Romy applies for the job, as part of her application process, she is tasked with doing the legwork on a custom trip that follows the route taken in Around the World in 80 Days. There’s a catch, however, a few of them actually: 1) Romy is given significantly less than 80 days to complete her task because of the timeline the client has given ExLibris, 2) Romy is not allowed to travel via commercial airline since that mode of travel didn’t exist at the time of the novel, and 3) Romy is competing against another applicant who is also applying for the job. Whoever successfully completes the trip first and by the stated deadline will win the job and a $10,000 bonus.
It’s best to watch the adventure portion of the book unfold for yourself, but I did want to share some highlights.
5 Reasons You’ll Want to Read Eighty Days to Elsewhere
- It’s a book of journeys. We follow Romy on her actual physical journey around the world, which is perfect for readers like me who love to travel but have been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Romy’s trip takes us through London, Paris, Mumbai, Singapore, and so many other incredible destinations. Even though Romy couldn’t stop at any destination for very long because of the contest, I still loved reading and learning a little something about each place she visited. In addition to the physical journey, we also follow Romy on a psychological journey. Romy has been grieving the loss of her parents and that grief has been holding her back from fully living her life. This trip gives her the opportunity to really live, learn, and grow as a person. The Romy who comes back to NYC after her journey is definitely not the same Romy who left.
- Romy’s misadventures. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’m just going to say that Romy must seriously have the worst luck of anyone on the planet. If something could go hilariously wrong at any of her destinations, it absolutely did. It got to the point where I couldn’t wait for her to get to the next country just to see what went wrong next and how she was able to recover from it. All I kept thinking the whole time I was reading these misadventure scenes was that this book would make a very entertaining movie or series.
- Serious topics are tackled as well. It’s not all fun and games on Romy’s trip. The author also takes on some serious and thought-provoking topics as well, as part of Romy’s journey of growth. Romy learns about the plight of Somali refugees, racism on a level she has never seen it before, her own privilege, and she even has an encounter with Greenpeace and whale hunters, just to name a few. These encounters make it a very eye-opening trip for Romy.
- Show stealers. Romy meets an adorably sassy Somali teen named Sumaya on her trip. When Romy meets her, Sumaya has lost both of her parents and is trying to make her way to find her aunt, who emigrated several years earlier. Sumaya is a force of nature, determined that no one and nothing will stand in her way, and she also has a pretty mean stand-up routine, as she wants to be a comedian when she grows up. Sumaya not only steals the spotlight once she joins Romy on her travels, she will also steal your heart.
- Romance. Speaking of getting your heart stolen, there is romance in the book as well. Be forewarned that it’s a slow burn and definitely takes a backseat to Romy’s psychological journey, but it’s still really nice to watch Romy finally let her guard down and let someone in. I’m not entirely sure what trope it falls under so I’m going to call it a mix of enemies to lovers and rivals to lovers.
Now I will confess that there were a few times along the way when I had to suspend disbelief. Seriously, no one could have the kind of consistently bad luck Romy has. Also, a few of the places in Around the World in Eighty Days are probably not places that Americans would be advised to travel to at this point in time. That said, I finally just told myself that this is fiction and that I needed to stop nitpicking unlikely scenarios and just enjoy the ride. Once I did that, I enjoyed Eighty Days to Elsewhere immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining adventure.