The Finisher by David Baldacci (2014)

THE-FINISHER-cover-277x415Fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian elements combine in this thick, tantalizing adventure with a kick-butt heroine.

Recommended grade level: 6-10

Pages: 497 (for ISBN 9780545652209)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, dystopian, mystery

Tone/Style: mysterious, dark

Pace: moderate

Topics: mysterious communities, untrustworthy leaders, monsters, magic

Themes: questioning authority, finding confidence, deciding whether to venture beyond borders, responsibility to family

Summary: Why would Quentin Herms flee into the Quag? There was nothing in the Quag except certain death.

Vega Jane has never left the village of Wormwood. But this isn’t unusual — nobody has ever left the village of Wormwood. At least not until Quentin Herms vanishes into the unknown.

Vega knows Quentin didn’t just leave — he was chased. And he’s left behind a very dangerous trail of clues that only she can decode.

The Quag is a dark forest filled with terrifying beasts and bloodthirsty Outliers. But just as deadly are the threats that exist within the walls of Wormwood. It is a place built on lies, where influential people are willing to kill to keep their secrets. Vega is determined to uncover the truth — but the closer she gets, the more she risks her life.

With THE FINISHER, master storyteller David Baldacci conjures a thrilling, imaginative world where things are as wrong as wrong can be — and introduces us to an unforgettable heroine who must think fast, look close, and defy all odds in her fight to do what’s right. (Source)

Who will like this book?: This is a great one for the fantasy fan who blows through books like tissues on a sick day. Mystery and dystopian fans will also like it, as well as action and adventure fans who possess a bit of patience.

Who won’t like this book?: If this book were shorter and had fewer subplots, it would have quite wide appeal. As it is, I wouldn’t suggest it to reluctant readers since it is large and a little weighty (as in complicated, not as in heavy; though it is also pretty heavy).

Other comments: Vega is a great heroine: tough and resourceful, but also caring and occasionally vulnerable. I found this book to be fast-paced for the most part, but it did also have some unnecessary padding. Still, it’s a page-turner with a mystery driving it forward, so getting through the slower parts isn’t a challenge.

Sequel(s): The Keeper (2014)

Readalikes: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (though it skews younger) and The Giver by Lois Lowry feature similarly secretive insular societies. For something a little more sci-fi but equally dark and mysterious, try The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.


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