The Finisher (Vega Jane #1) by David Baldacci (2014)
Middle Grade/Teen Fiction | Fantasy
“Welcome to Wormwood: a place where curiosity is discouraged and no one has ever left.
Until one girl, Vega Jane, discovers a map that suggests a mysterious world beyond the walls. A world with possibilities and creatures beyond her imagining.
But she will be forced to fight for her freedom. And unravelling the truth may cost Vega her life.”
pooled ink Review:
Okay to start off I think this book would be better suited for younger readers who could better connect with 14-year old Vega Jane than I. As an adult you might find certain plot lines, characters, and moments that have you a bit frustrated, but I think as a younger reader you’ll be able to really get into the mystery and adventure of it all and just gloss over those pitfalls.
When Quentin, a finisher who trained Vega, disappears into the Quag where only death is promised, Vega’s life is turned upside down and sent on an adventure of mystery and fate lit by a garm from Hel. Her whole life there has been nothing but Wormwood but as her friend Delph points out there can’t just be Wormwood, there has to be others.
Baldacci writes an exciting book full of adventure with an ending that promises more. I think it’s always a good idea for authors to stretch themselves into trying different genres and age groups rather than settling in a little peg hole of comfort. I haven’t read any of his other books but this one I can say was a reasonably fun read (thanks Dad for the surprise book!).
The world building is rather unique but easy to picture and it’s full of suspicious secrets, grim challenges, bright magic, and strange creatures. I will say that the language can feel a bit odd at first but you get used to the way Vega narrates the story along with the unique slang used by the Wugs (although a glossary would’ve been a nice addition).
Vega Jane is a spunky intelligent girl and despite some moments of annoyance with her I enjoyed embarking on this quest to solve the disappearance of Quentin, the truth behind her grandfather’s Event, and discover what truly lies beyond Wormwood (although most of these answers are marked under “to be continued”). In fact, all of the main characters were easy to like. Delph was loyal, strong, and cleverer than people assumed, while John was sweet and even innocent before becoming a hollowed game piece for the Council. And there are several characters with surprise motives and secrets that just might surprise you.
Overall I felt that this series revolves around a pretty cool concept that was fun and different to read. It was full of mystery, political games, long buried secrets, tested loyalties, a race against time, and at the heart of it all was a world of fantasy.
Was this book for me specifically? Not really, if I’m honest. But would I have been enthusiastic about it ten years ago? Yeah, I really think I would’ve been. 🙂
Purchase here: The Finisher
Similar recommended read: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Meet David Baldacci!
David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, because “every mom needs a break now and then.”)
A lifelong Virginian, David graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.
David and his wife, Michelle, are the co-founders of the Wish You Well Foundation®, which supports family and adult literacy in the United States.