Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review of The Finisher

Book 44. The Finisher, by David Baldacci. Unabridged audio.

David Baldacci is the latest in a long line of successful novelists who have entered the potentially lucrative world of publishing novels for the Young Adult audience. In other words, if it’s good enough for Patterson and Grisham, why not Baldacci, too?

Vega Jane is a teenager in the land of Wormwood. All her life, she has been told that nobody can leave the town, that there is nothing outside but a dangerous forest and malevolent forces. But she begins to believe that the land’s leaders may not be telling the whole truth.

And then about halfway through the novel, we get this world’s version of the Hunger Games. Or it’s Maze Running. Or it’s … well, you get the idea. It’s a regular young adult versus young adult battle series (not to the death, so that’s different), but this time females are eligible. And of course Vega gets drafted into the action. And things go from bad to worse.

There are a few moments when Baldacci tries way too hard to make this land seem unusual and fantastical, including strange words for common items. The factory is “stacks,” the church is “steeples,” a year is a “session,” and minute is a “sliver.” And the chapter numbers were all translated to this land’s tongue, as well. But these moments did not add to the mystery, they just added to a sense of silliness.

Although I think it’s fair to see that with this novel, Baldacci may not be a great writer of YA fiction, at least not yet. But I am a fan of his, and he is still a great writer of action, suspense, and high drama. Those basic elements of the plot worked well, and I anticipate reading the next novel in the series. I trust that Baldacci can successfully address the book’s weaknesses, delivering a stronger YA novel next time.

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