Series: Vega Jane #1
Published by Scholastic Press on March 4, 2014
Genres: Crime Fiction, High Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult
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Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but a forest filled with danger and death. And she always believed it—until the night she saw Quentin Herms run away.
Vega knows Quentin didn't just leave -- he was chased. And he left behind a trail of clues that point to a dark conspiracy at the heart of Wormwood. To follow the clues will attract the attention of influential people willing to kill to keep their secrets. If Vega wants to stay safe, she just needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. There's only one problem—Vega Jane never walks away from a fight.
Master storyteller David Baldacci introduces an unforgettable heroine who must think fast, hit hard, and defy all odds to uncover the truth.
David Baldacci is an author I’ve long been meaning to read, as I’ve a few friends who love his crime novels. But incidentally, this, a young adult fantasy novel, is the first I’ve read by him, and I’ve got to say, I really, really loved it.
My love for The Finisher was one of those slow burn kind of affections. When I started out, I was a little disoriented by the strangeness of the world Baldacci had created and how readers were immediately thrust into it. But as I got to know Wormwood and our heroine Vega Jane, I grew more and more fascinated by them both.
First off, it was clear very early on that there were secrets about Wormwood and the world beyond it that were being kept from the town’s citizens. These are secrets Vega learns by accident or through her own investigations, and they throw everything she knew, everything she has ever heard or been taught and taken as gospel, into shadowy doubt.
Second, discovering how Vega Jane fit—or rather didn’t fit—into the whole scheme of things was an adventure in itself. More than that, seeing her journey from the typical keep-your-head-down-and-don’t-ask-questions kind of Mugwort into someone who questions everything she’s told and eventually risks everything she is and owns and loves is both fun and inspiring.
Of course, there were some things I’ve grown to accept as staples of modern young adult fantasy: the best friend who stays steady through all the main character goes through, the gruff yet kindly mentor who opens the heroine’s eyes to the truth, and, just for added fightsome fun factor, a grand tournament where the heroine must fight her way through ranks of warriors bigger, better trained, and stronger than she is.
All these make for a winning combination, if you’re looking for a great YA fantasy adventure, and I am definitely curious to see how it all comes together onscreen, given that the novel is now being developed for film. Something I hope they’ll be able to retain somehow is the distinct narrative voice Baldacci uses in the novel, which is rich and textured and just a little bit on the cheeky side. His descriptions and language are creative and lyrical, and if it’s a little on the heavy handed side of the spectrum, this only adds to the mood set by the town of Wormwood.
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