Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Finisher

The Finisher

David Baldacci
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
Scholastic, 2014   ISBN: 978-0545652209

Vega Jane has spent her entire life, all fourteen years of it, in a community called Wormwood. The town and its environs are surrounded by the Quag, “an impenetrable barrier that circled Wormwood like a noose.” Thanks to the Quag, and the deadly beasts that live within it, no one leaves Wormwood, and no one visits Wormwood either. Vega and the other Wugs who live in Wormwood have been told that there is nothing beyond the Quag, and therefore Wormwood is their life.

Vega Jane and her young brother are, to all intents and purposes, orphans. Their parents are technically alive, but both of them are in a care facility and they cannot communicate or connect with their children in any way. Vega therefore takes care of her brother. She works as a finisher in the Stacks, a factory of sorts, and she makes sure that her brother has food to eat and a place to live. She does the best she can, but their life is not a happy one. They are almost always hungry, and the lodgings were they spend their nights is a dreadful place.

To get away from the mean world that she lives in, Vega has built a tree platform for herself where she can have a little private time. She is on her platform early one morning when she witnesses something that changes her life. Her friend and m ntor, Quentin Herms, is being chase by the Council and attack canines. The desperate man flees into the Quag and is seen no more.

Vega denies seeing Quentin, somehow knowing that she should not admit that she was a witness to the desperate chase. When she goes to work later in the morning she finds a note from Quentin waiting for her at her workstation. He tells her to go to her tree in the night where she will find something that may “set you free from Wormwood, if you so desire.”

When Vega returns to the tree later that day, barely making it there because she is attacked by a ferocious garm, she finds out that Quentin has left her a map that shows the way through the Quag. She cannot believe her eyes. Why does he have such a map and does its existence mean that there really is a way through the place, that there is something beyond it after all?

Vega begins to seek out the answers to her questions, and though there are those who want her to remain ignorant, she does not give up. She decides to investigate the forbidden upper floors of the Stacks, where she encounters terrible beasts, a waterfall of blood, strange visions and more. Each time she goes there she comes away with more information and a magical tool that helps her in her quest.

Vega comes to understand that she has been lied to all her life. All the Wugs in Wormwood have been lied to. There are dark secrets being kept by members of the Council, and somehow Vega’s own grandfather, who is now gone, is connected to the truth.

With her friend Delph at her side, Vega dares to challenge the establishment. Even worse she dares to fight back against their rules, their lies, and their deceptions. Most important of all, Vega realizes that she has to leave Wormwood to find out what lies beyond and perhaps find the answers to many of her questions about the world and her place in it. She never imagines that she, like her grandfather before her, is special. That she has powers that will make her a formidable force for truth, one that the Council members will want to extinguish if they have to.

In this remarkable novel we watch as a young woman questions everything that she has been told since she was little. It is fascinating to watch Vega grow and change as she gains confidence, and as she acquires an inner strength that allows her to do extraordinary things.

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