The Finisher by David Baldacci. Scholastic, 2014, 497 pages.
Reading level: Young Adults, 15-18
Maturity level: 6
What do you get when you blend a medieval town with a bit of magic and science fiction, then add a small dose of dystopian bleakness? A place like Wormwood. Vega Jane is a teenage inhabitant of Wormwood. Early in the story, she witnesses something strange: a person leaving Wormwood. But why? There is nothing beyond Wormwood, only certain death in the encircling Quag. Unless…everything she has been told is a lie.
Soon Vega’s search for the truth has her under suspicion from local authorities. Her quest for answers unfolds into a long and rambling tale. When, after almost 500 pages, the book ends, readers are left with many questions unanswered. (Making me cynically wonder if the whole purpose in this book is to suck readers into a series!)
As is often the case in today’s fiction, readers are introduced to a strong female character and find few male characters of comparable value in the story. While Vega respects her good friend Delph, it is evident that Delph is not her equal except when it comes to brute strength and fighting. Yet, even there, Vega soon finds a way of proving herself.
In The Finisher, Baldacci has created an intriguing world full of personality as well as interesting words that are partly his own invention and partly borrowed from British vocabulary. While magic is real, faith is not a factor—apart from the village priest who serves as an irreverent caricature of religious authority.
While an avid, fantasy-loving teen will probably enjoy The Finisher, I would not highly recommend it. As a best seller, there is a long list of requests from the library. I was number 40 on the hold list. Was it worth the wait? Not really.
Cautions: sensuality (protagonist bares midriff), character issues (female character does a lot of fighting), supernatural (various supernatural creatures), worldview issues (religious authority mocked), violence (intense situations)
Audience: boys, girls
Recommended use : entertainment