The Finisher

David Baldacci. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (512p) ISBN 978-0-545-65220-9
Best known for his adult crime novels, Baldacci makes a detour into middle-grade with this wildly fanciful and darkly intriguing tale of a girl forced to fight for her life as she investigates the secrets of her tiny community. Fourteen-year-old Vega Jane works as a “Finisher,” creating goods she’ll never be able to afford and leading a hardscrabble life with her little brother. Like all other “Wugmorts,” they have never left the town of Wormwood, trapped there by the deadly Quag surrounding it. When Vega discovers a map leading through the Quag, she suspects there’s more to Wormwood than believed. Consistently using smarts, cunning, and improvisation, Vega proves herself a strong, admirable heroine as she’s thrown through time, uncovers lies and mysteries, and takes possession of magical artifacts. Her narration blends Wugmort slang with oddly formal speech and thought patterns, helping shape an enigmatic setting filled with unfamiliar terms, bizarre creatures, and memorable characters, as Baldacci pulls in elements of fantasy, science fiction, and myth. A cliffhanger ending leaves many explanations for future installments. Ages 10–14. Agent: Aaron Priest, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/20/2014
Release date: 03/04/2014
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