By David Baldacci
Published on 3rd March 2014
After her friend and mentor, Quentin Herms, escapes into the forbidden perimeter, known as the Quag, 14 sessions old Vega Jane questions life outside her poverty stricken village of Wormwood – a place she has only ever known, as have the fellow Wugs who live in it. Forbidden from entering the Quag by Wormwood’s rulers, the Council, and threatened with death from the beasts that lie within the Quag, Vega Jane can’t help but wonder why Quentin would put his life at risk to go through it, unless he knew what was on the other side. Maybe there is something out there after all?
The Sunday Times Number One Bestselling Author, David Baldacci, is back with his first novel for teenagers, and what a novel it is! At 506 pages in length, THE FINISHER is a tense, exhilerating teen fantasy thriller that I can best describe as M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village meets The Hunger Games, yet with its own very unique style and identity.
Baldacci’s protagonist is the fiesty teenager Vega Jane, who’s headstrong will and determination finds her tackling a variety of enemies, both human (Wugmorts) and beast, and becoming an enemy herself. Her best friend is the strapping 16 sessions old, Daniel Delphia, or Delph as he is known to Vega. Delph lives in a cottage with his father Duf, who trains various beasts for a living for those who can afford it, mainly Council members. These include cretas (elephants) and sleps (horses) who are just as much as a workforce as the Wugs who slave day in, day out for meagre coin.
By day, Vega Jane works as a Finisher, adding the final touches to pretty things such as silver candlesticks and porcelain, at the towering factory, Stacks. Vega Jane is the sole guardian of her brother John, aged 11, after their parents became ill and who currently reside in The Care – a place for the recouperating injured and terminally sick. Without a guardian of her own, Vega Jane has to grow up quickly, whether she likes it or not, after she becomes a piece in the puzzle of Quentin Herms’ disappearance.
As you can see from my previous paragraphs, author David Baldacci uses some different terminology for certain words in The Finisher. For the most part, the characters of Wormwood talk in plain English, even if it is phrased a bit ye olde. However, other words are completely replaced by their own, like sliver instead of minute, and sessions instead of years. With Wormwood being all that the Wugs (humans) have ever known, their own vocabulary is fully understandable. The use of language is a great technique used to full immerse the reader into Vega Jane’s world and is exciting to read, as well as understandable, which is the most important point.
Though the protagonist is female and her best friend male, don’t expect any luvvy duvvy Twilight nonsense weighing the book down. The Finisher doesn’t have to resort to that to create a story. This book is for the outspoken, adventurous type, with a gritty feel amongst the mystery and magic that lays within Wormwood. Vega Jane’s attitude is one to admire, with her courage and decency her most dazzling asset.
I’d say that The Finisher is definitely a young adult read with a stellar use of language and perfectly structured paragraphs and narrative, which reflects Baldacci’s wealth of experience in his trade. As an adult, I found it a fascinating read, one that I could not tear myself away from. I’d say that the book is suited to readers aged 12 and over, but certainly adults can get as much out of this as teenagers and still yearn for more after the final page is turned.
I heartily recommend you take on the thrilling adventure that Baldacci has penned in THE FINISHER, where you’ll be transported to a world alien from your own, and discover the truths with Vega Jane as she tackles the beasts, battles and magic that lay within the dystopian society of Wormwood.