if you saw something in the middle of the night that made you question
everything you thought was true about your world? Vega Jane has led a
conventional life in the village of Wormwood, but when she witnesses a
friend do the seemingly impossible, she begins to suspect that her
community is being held together by a pack of lies.
I was dozing when I heard the scream. It pierced my head like a morta round, doing terribly befuddling things to my mind, as loud and terrifying as though it were all happening right there and then.—The Finisher by David Baldacci (Scholastic Press, 2014, p. 1)
After the sound came the vision: the blue, the color blue. It was in a mist like a cloud on the ground. It enveloped my mind, pushing out all other thoughts, all memories. When it finally disappeared, my befuddlement cleared as well. Yet I always believed there was something of great importance that had simply not come back to me.
- Setting: village of Wormwood; an isolated community
- Circumstances: When Vega Jane starts questioning the rules and traditions of her village, she discovers surprising things about herself, her family, and her community leaders. Just how far will she go to find truth and freedom?
- Characters: Vega Jane, a fourteen-year-old living on her own; John, Vega's younger brother; Daniel Delphia, Vega's friend; Vega's co-workers; community leaders; neighbors
- Genre: fantasy; young adult with adult appeal
- Themes: family, finding truth, freedom, power, independence, good vs. evil
- General thoughts: I was hooked on this fantasy almost from the first page. Vega's world was familiar enough that I could easily relate (she worried about her little brother, tried to be a good friend, cared for her sick parents) but different enough that I was transported to a new realm. The magical elements drove the plot rather than being the point of the story. The characters were complex and well developed, and it wasn't always easy to tell friend from foe. There was good action, an intriguing mystery, and a satisfying end (although there will be more books in this series).
- Note on the title: Vega works in a factory that makes various items (useful and ornamental). She applies the decorative finishes to these objects and is highly skilled at her job.
- Recommendations: You'll like The Finisher if you like fantasy, strong female leads, good action, deep history, and secrets to puzzle out. There is a dystopian feel to Vega's world, which makes us want to learn more about Wormwood's past.
- Miscellaneous: Although Baldacci is known for his adult spy thrillers, The Finisher is not his first book for younger readers. It is, however, his first fantasy, and he promises several more titles in the series. I had the opportunity to interview David Baldacci (click on the link), and he noted that this book took years to write and research.