by David Baldacci
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545652209
Date: 04 March 2014 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
David Baldacci is best known for his political thrillers and mysteries. The Finisher is his first YA Fantasy novel. Vega Jane is a standout main character -- she's barely fourteen, working full-time and trying to care for her younger brother who is still attending what passes for schooling in the village of Wormwood.
It doesn't take long for a reader to realize that things are not at all the way they seem in Wormwood. Once you think about it, the village and the surrounding area called the Quag don't make sense. Vega Jane is asking those questions -- to herself if no one else because she doesn't know who to trust, or even if she can trust anyone since she saw her mentor run purposefully into the Quag. No one ever does that unless they wish to die. And he didn't look like he wanted to die to her.
Witnessing that chase puts Vega Jane squarely in the middle of a council power struggle and it seems like both sides, or maybe more than two sides, are trying to use her -- but first they try to take away everything she holds dear.
The story appears to be a set up for a series but it is marketed as a stand-along novel. Either way, this story is one that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering if Vega will make the right choices -- and just what are the right choices when all your choices are various forms of walking a tightrope over a cage of starving tigers or ravenous bugblatter beasts.
For a first foray into fantasy, Baldacci scores with Vega Jane and her attempts to keep her family together and functioning under a society that sees her as less because she's female and opinionated and smarter than they think she should be.
It's definitely worth checking out, there's a link to an excerpt at the top of this review. Be warned you may find yourself hooked on the story -- it draws you in that fast.