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The Finisher
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The Finisher
Vega Jane Series, Book 1
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Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but a forest filled with danger and death. And she always believed it — until the night she saw...
Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but a forest filled with danger and death. And she always believed it — until the night she saw...
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  • Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but a forest filled with danger and death. And she always believed it — until the night she saw Quentin Herms run away.
    Vega knows Quentin didn't just leave — he was chased. And he left behind a trail of clues that point to a dark conspiracy at the heart of Wormwood. To follow the clues will attract the attention of influential people willing to kill to keep their secrets. If Vega wants to stay safe, she just needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. There's only one problem — Vega Jane never walks away from a fight.
    Master storyteller David Baldacci introduces an unforgettable heroine who must think fast, hit hard, and defy all odds to uncover the truth.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books snicker9 - I am so glad I read this book again, because I had forgotten how much I loved it. This book is about Vega Jane, a girl who is almost 15 sessions(15 years), and has been taught that her world and community is the only one. Then everything changes. She sees her mentor running into the Quag, the most dangerous place , freely. Then her brother is taken away, her hospitalized parents vaporize in front of her eyes, and she finds that much of her life is comprised of lies. It did take a chapter or two in order to get to the language. The use different words, for example wugs mean people, sessions means years, and slivers means minutes. But the unique words really differentiate their world. I loved re-reading this book again and picking up on some of the little things. I loved how every little piece fit together at the end. David did a fantastic job of making up a whole new world. I would only recommend this story to older kids as there are violent scenes, and moments that would be scary for younger kids, but anyone older than 13-read this book! I can guarantee it won't be disappointing! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 20, 2014
    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.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2014
    Baldacci takes a late and none-too-nimble leap aboard the children's-fantasy bandwagon with this tale of a rebellious teenager in a town surrounded by a monster-ridden forest. Vega Jane gets by putting the finishing touches on high-quality manufactured goods (which, she later discovers, are thrown into a pit). She gets inklings both that Wormwood has a hidden past and isn't the world's only settlement after the town's other Finisher flees into the deadly Quag, leaving behind a map and a bestiary that catalogs its creatures. Before she finally follows him, hundreds of pages later, she is forced to compete in the town's Duelum, which is a regular round of previously males-only bare-knuckle fights for which there is no clear rationale. In labored efforts to create a sense of otherness, the author trots in a host of invented animals (garms, adars, jabbits and so on) and uses British cant ("The niff that bloke sent off..."). He also replaces all mention of "man," "woman," "human" and "dog" with, respectively, "male," "female," "Wug" or "Wugmort," and "canine," as in: "a male had killed his female for no cause other than he was a vile Wug" and "I didn't like my stuff male-handled." Despite these efforts, this is all familiar territory, from the isolated town with secretive leaders bent on preserving the status quo to violent visions, hidden rooms and libraries, characters with ambiguous agendas, a hot-tempered teen protagonist with nascent magical powers and three magical tools that practically fall into her hands. There's even a ring. With some perfunctory martial training from her boyfriend, Vega Jane improbably defeats several ravening monsters as well as a string of much larger and more experienced males, then flies off over the town walls to have future adventures. Like many crossover efforts from name-brand authors: overstuffed and underinspired. (Fantasy. 11-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2014

    Gr 6-9-Wormwood is full of secrets, known mostly by members of the Council. The rest of the villagers live oblivious, regimented lives. They've been told there's nothing outside of the village except for a forest inhabited by deadly creatures. Vega Jane, 14, is understandably alarmed when she sees her mentor, Quentin Herms, running straight for the Quag. If Council members find out that he left her a note and a map of the forest, who knows what would become of her? Frustrated by the prescribed secrecy that shrouds the village, Vega takes matters into her own hands, embarking on an adventure to investigate the mysteries surrounding Wormwood, the Quag, and Quentin's departure. She grows in confidence and knowledge with each clue she uncovers and makes more than a few enemies along the way. Vega's investigations reveal that little in Wormwood is as it appears. Fans of action-packed fantasy will enjoy her mystical adventures. At almost 500 pages, with sophisticated vocabulary, the book is best suited for strong readers. The pace is occasionally uneven, with redundant descriptions of Vega's daily life in Wormwood, and the large cast of minor characters can be challenging to track. The imaginative and multilayered world is the novel's strength, with the bleak, ancient village serving as a stark contrast to the fantastical adventures and challenges the teen faces in her quest for the truth. Readers will be rooting for her but will not find much resolution in The Finisher, as the last chapter seems to set the stage for the next installment.-Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from February 15, 2014
    Grades 7-10 *Starred Review* What happens when an international best-selling crime novelist tries his hand at a youth fantasy? Well, in this case, success. Baldacci, best known for writing thrillers, also has a talent for creating magical worlds. At first glance, though, Wormwood seems mostly depressing. Like most other Wugs, 14-year-old Vega Jane is dirty, hungry, and deprived. The few things that keep her going are her friend Delph; her brother, John; and a tree where she goes to ponder. (Pondering is in short supply in Wormwood.) She also has her job at the Stacks, putting the finishing touches on pretty objects. But everything changes one morning when she spies her mentor, Quentin Herms, heading into the Quag, the terrifying forest that surrounds Wormwood. There are beasts inside the Quag, and supposedly nothing past it, so why would Herms run? The cryptic note he leaves behind raises more questions, and despite danger from many directions, Vega is a girl who wants answers. Baldacci gets several things just right. He offers readers a smart, tough heroine worth rooting for; provides enough hints of a mysterious backstory to keep them wondering; and builds each chapter to a cliff-hanger that pushes them to turn the page. There is also head-spinning action, which is sometimes a bit too repetitious. How often can Vega be chased by a monster and run faster than she has ever run in her life? The ending is predictable, but it leads seamlessly into the next book, where, perhaps, some of Vega's answers await. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: As with Rick Riordan and Ridley Pearson, among others, the interest surrounding a high-profile author writing children's books should garner this a ton of attention.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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Vega Jane Series, Book 1
David Baldacci
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