My third book of the year wasn’t one I picked out on my own. Instead, it was a birthday present from my Aunt Shannon. She sent me the first and second book in the Vega Jane series, and while at first I was reluctant – the blurb reminded me too much of The Giver, one of my favorite books – I quickly realized that while there are hints of other books, The Finisher is its own thing. Dystopian, yes, but also fantasy – and since those are some of my favorite genres, I ended up really enjoying this book and I look forward to reading more of the series.
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.
With (alleged) dangers encroaching on their village, the
government council declares that a wall must be built to provide protection. While this seems absurd to many people in the village, the council insists that foreigners “outliers” – which they know absolutely nothing about – are out to get them. This frightens the majority of people so badly that the wall gets built in a hurry.
Vega Jane, almost 15 sessions old, realizes this for the sham it is. She goes off in search of answers, discovering that her village of Wormwood holds many secrets and lies.
If it wasn’t for all the magic – fantastic and terrifying creatures, objects with special powers, hidden rooms, and cryptic messages – one might think this story was politically motivated. This book was published in 2014, so I’ll give Baldacci the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard not to read through our current lens in 2019.
This YA fantasy – a first for author David Baldacci – hits on a lot things right:
– Tough, cool heroine who is insanely brave ✔
– Characters with moral ambiguity: are they good? bad? I can’t decide yet ✔
– Tons of magical twists and turns and suspense ✔
– A quest that seems daunting to complete ✔
There were just a few cons for me:
1) The people of Wormwood – called Wugmorts, or Wugs – think they’re the only village and only people. Really? How do any of them believe this? Their history has a lot of holes. How can Vega be the first to question this?
2) The creatures are so terrifying, but also, incredibly difficult to picture. I couldn’t quite “suspend my disbelief” for some reason. They felt forced and too over-the-top.
3) Vega never gets an answer about anything. Just riddles or more questions. This makes for frustrating reading. I hope the next book will provide more explanation (but I’m worried that it won’t).
Overall, this was a fun and fresh read. While it will remind readers of other books they’ve read, it holds its own because it sort of combines the feel of a dystopian book – teenage rebel on a mission to learn the truth and overthrow the status quo – with fantasy elements.
Also, it may seem like I’m rating all the books the same…but that is a coincidence! I’ve been lucky so far this year to be reading books that are pleasantly enjoyable. I promise that not every book I read gets a 4 star rating!