The Finisher by David Baldacci is an odd middle-grade story placed in a village called Wormwood where the citizens call themselves Wugs and have been convinced that there is nothing in the world besides Wormwood and the dangerous Quag surrounding it. At first I thought The Finisher would be an exploration story about Vega discovering the secrets of the Quag and what the world really is. The Finisher instead barely touched on those aspects and instead took place nearly entirely within Wormwood while Vega reacted to various adults trying to manipulate and kill her. While The Finisher managed to greatly excite me about the second book, I don’t think I would have actually read the first book if I knew what I was getting into.
Note: I received The Finisher from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Finisher by David Baldacci
Published by Scholastic Press on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 512 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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In The Finisher, a 14-year-old girl named Vega Jane lives in a village called Wormwood where the citizens have been told that the forest surrounding them is full of monsters. When Vega's mentor disappears, leaving behind a secret message, she begins to realize that Wormwood is a village built on dangerous lies.
- The writing in The Finisher is fast and easy to read, with a definite middle-grade feel to it. While The Finisher measures in at a whopping 500 pages, it didn’t really feel like that and I actually read it in one day.
- By the end of The Finisher, I quite adored the main characters Vega, Delph, and Vega’s faithful “canine” Harry Two. I’m still getting a read on Vega since she doesn’t act like your typical middle-grade main character, but I think that many readers will love her as much as I do.
- By the end of The Finisher, the Quag is finally looming as a major plot element and book two promises to be the book that I wanted book one to be. Therefore, I’m really excited for book two!
- The blurb of the book implies that the Quag is going to be a major element and given the setting I very much expected Vega to start exploring outside of her town quickly. However, she doesn’t even try to explore once she is perfectly capable, and this caused me to lose interest. The plot of the book ends up being about Vega trying to win this fighting competition and I was just left wondering why she didn’t take off since she could have at any point really.
- The Finisher has some really strange word choices. If you couldn’t tell already, there is a lot of middle-grade style word choices, such as the people of Wormwood calling themselves Wugs. There are a lot of evil monster species introduced that have names like “jabbit.” However, The Finisher also heavily relies on British slang and swear words, such as “bloody.” If I really thought about what those swear word equivalents are in American culture, they didn’t seem appropriate at all to this level of book.
- Vega’s friend Delph has a severe stutter and seems to mildly mentally handicapped due to a traumatic event. There is a really disturbing scene where Vega is yelling and physically shaking Delph because she is trying to get him to remember this traumatic event. I was honestly just horrified that this was the presentation of how to treat people with a mental disability and really wouldn’t want my kid getting that impression.
- In the end, The Finisher is just much longer than it needed to be. There are entire subplots that really didn’t do anything besides get Vega into the next sticky situation that she would need to get out of. I honestly could have done without the entire tournament plot line anyway, but I’ve already discussed that ;-).
The Finisher has created an interesting world that could lead to a fun middle-grade series. However, some of the content of The Finisher really didn’t seem appropriate for the age group that the rest of the book implied. I’ll be interested to see where the series goes, however I’m having trouble thinking of what kind of reader would really like this one.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Finisher by David Baldacci
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.