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The Finisher (Vega Jane Series #1)

The Finisher (Vega Jane Series #1)

3.5 77
by David Baldacci

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#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci as you've never seen him before.

Why would Quentin Herms flee into the Quag? There was nothing in the Quag except certain death.

Vega Jane has never left the village of Wormwood. But this isn't unusual -- nobody has ever left the village of Wormwood. At least not until Quentin Herms vanishes into the


#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci as you've never seen him before.

Why would Quentin Herms flee into the Quag? There was nothing in the Quag except certain death.

Vega Jane has never left the village of Wormwood. But this isn't unusual -- nobody has ever left the village of Wormwood. At least not until Quentin Herms vanishes into the unknown.

Vega knows Quentin didn't just leave -- he was chased. And he's left behind a very dangerous trail of clues that only she can decode.

The Quag is a dark forest filled with terrifying beasts and bloodthirsty Outliers. But just as deadly are the threats that exist within the walls of Wormwood. It is a place built on lies, where influential people are willing to kill to keep their secrets. Vega is determined to uncover the truth -- but the closer she gets, the more she risks her life.

With The Finisher, master storyteller David Baldacci conjures a thrilling, imaginative world where things are as wrong as wrong can be -- and introduces us to an unforgettable heroine who must think fast, look close, and defy all odds in her fight to do what's right.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This vividly described tale takes readers to an original fantasy world full of strange creatures, intriguing relationships, and long-lost secrets. Baldacci knows how to deliver thrills.” – Brandon Mull, New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven series

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 5–9—Thriller writer Baldacci here ventures into the world of middle-grade fiction with lackluster results. Vega Jane's world consists of one village, Wormwood. She's never left it. As far as she knows, no one has. But when she catches a glimpse of her fellow worker disappearing into the woods, she's soon caroming from one near-disaster after another as the story snowballs to a calamitous finale. She must deal with the Morrigone, a group of misogynists who may or may not be her allies, and the ever-present threat of an Outlier invasion, all while trying to keep her brother safe and solve the mystery of why so many people are suddenly having "events." Too many plot threads turn what could have been an action-packed page-turner into a sprawling, fantasy-trope-filled muddle that leaves listeners bored and frustrated. This work is overambitious and unresolved, especially given how long listeners must stick with the story just to get to the end, only to find that most of their questions remain unanswered. The only redeeming factor is Nicola Barber's stellar work voicing the clever impudence of Vega Jane. The sarcastic insults delivered so freely by Vega contain the perfect balance of frustration and wit that will cause the most reticent listener to chuckle. Fantasy lovers will pick this up eagerly, but only the most die-hard will return for future installments.—Michaela Schied, Indian River Middle School, Philadelphia, NY

Fourteen-year-old Vega Jane had a very clear sense that no one would ever leave her village. Wormwood, after all, is surrounded by a dark forest teeming with monsters. But then one day, the unthinkable happens: Quentin Herms, her teacher, disappears into the woods after Vega witnesses a disturbing sight, and leaves behind a message that alerts her to the secrets he tried to leave behind. Bound to be a runaway bestseller; editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
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. (Mar.)
Publishers Weekly - Audio
Crime novelist Baldacci detours into middle-grade fiction with a dark and wild mixture of fantasy, science fiction, and myth. The story begins as 14-year-old Vega Jane realizes her mentor, Quentin Herms, has gone missing. Vega knows there is danger about and her magic skills are not enough to handle it. Her world soon begins to crumble as she discovers the lies of her town, Wormwood, and it’s council, but she has a long way to go before she is safe. Barbara narrates in a charming and vibrant voice that captures Vega’s personality and guides listeners through this magical world. Her soft delivery and English accent are inviting. She creates clear and distinguished voices for the characters that stand apart from Vega’s first-person perspective. Equally important, she balances timing, projection, and tone to create some fantastic moments of tension and excitement throughout the book. Ages 10–14. A Scholastic hardcover. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Tweens and teens have a new female champion in Vega Jane, an unprepossessing Wug from Wormwood who finds herself fighting for her life in the combat ring. At first, this freshman children’s book by acclaimed adult mystery writer, David Baldacci, seems to be mired in a created fantasy language of monsters that live in a netherworld, “the Quag,” and count time in “slivers” and “lights.” It’s a rookie fantasy writer trap that requires a Wormwood lexicon to keep all the invented terms and entities straight. The world that Baldacci has created has more in common with Middle Earth than, say, Hogwarts. It takes nearly a third of the book for Baldacci to settle into his story and grow Vega Jane as a character, a competitor, and a highly perceptive heroine. Baldacci honors fantasy tradition by following the rule of three. Vega has three magical weapons to assist her in combat and three competitors against whom to prove her mettle. There is also a wonderful female villain, Morrigone, who has Maleficent vibe about her that will fit in nicely with this summer’s blockbuster movie. At one point in the book, Vega Jane questions, “what comes after,” for a Wog, as the book seems to briefly stray into C.S. Lewis’ religious allegory. Is there an afterworld for human-like Wogs who attend Sunday “steeple” services? What actually happens to the members of the Jane family who suffer “events” in which they burst into flame that totally consumes them out of existence? Clearly there are sequels planned because Vega and her shy, stuttering boy-who-is-a-friend, Delph, go into the Quag looking for adventure while Morrigone, in a final contradictory act, waves them a benedictory farewell. Despite the book’s rough patches, Vega is a winning heroine and is sure to draw fans to her legend. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 11 to 16.
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Jan Chapman
This new dystopia from best-selling novelist Baldacci has all the elements needed to create a devoted teen following. Fourteen-year-old Vega Jane lives in a tightly circumscribed world—the small hamlet of Wormwood—where everyone is expected to work hard and never venture outside the village limits. But Vega Jane has seen a fellow villager enter the forbidden and deadly Quag forest adjacent to Wormwood and begins to wonder if leaving her frustratingly constrained world is actually possible. The only things keeping her in Wormwood are her brother John, and her best friend, Delph. But Vega Jane was born to question authority, and her desire to know more about her world keeps landing her in dangerous situations, including a fighting competition called the Duelum, where combatants are often killed. Baldacci’s world-building is vivid and exciting, drawing the reader effortlessly into the story. The characters are carefully and richly drawn, with a very sympathetic and appealing female protagonist in Vega Jane. The plot, although filled with the usual dystopian tropes, is complex and fast paced enough to keep the reader eagerly turning the page. The author also includes a tantalizing backstory that deepens and enriches the plot. The ending is fairly predictable, but Baldacci’s skillful expertise in creating a riveting story elevates this beyond a mere retelling of The Hunger Games. Teen readers who cannot get enough of dystopias will embrace this one enthusiastically and eagerly await the sequel. Reviewer: Jan Chapman; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Vega Jane Series , #1
Edition description:
Library Edition
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

David Baldacci is the author of twenty-seven books for adults, each of which has become both a national and international bestseller. His astonishing career started with ABSOLUTE POWER, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood. David's books have sold more than 110 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than forty-five languages. Together with his wife, Michelle, David established the Wish You Well Foundation to promote family literacy. David and his family live in Northern Virginia.

Brief Biography

Northern Virginia
Date of Birth:
August 5, 1960
Place of Birth:
Richmond, VIrginia
B.A. in Political Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1982; J.D., University of Virginia, 1986

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The Finisher 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm 13 and I loved this book it took me longer to read this book because because its written in old english but its a great read I love Vega jane and Delph I hope they get together they kiss a couple of times in the book there is no sex so it good for younger kids . Veg a jane brother John turns into a jerk . This is a good book .
rainbowlightstar More than 1 year ago
I like this book very much but at first it was a little boring but if you hang in there you can see the upcoming surprises and everything starts to click together. For me this book had an normal pace my during the middle it escalates it a new world. You guys should read this book. It may be boring at first but when you finish reading the book you just can't wait what would happen next and that is what a good book it. No never mind what a great book is. This thrilling adventure with Vega Jane and Delph growing throughout the story is astonishing in my eyes, when you think something might happen but it changes your whole idea when you know what happened.,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book ranks up with the greats. I have read soooo many YA books, and this one is one of my absolute favorites! It has a very detailed world, interesting characters, and a complex plotline. If you like simple short stories, don't read this. It has an extremely twisty and complex plot that can be hard to follow I guess if you are not a strong reader. I don't understand how anyone could not like this story though! It is fantastic and an all around great read! Can't wait for more Vega!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My girlfriend and I keep passing this book around our high schools. Freaking great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I can see this place in my mind and I hope that its just the beginning of a series.
Anonymous 13 days ago
Good book. Although it can be confusing and I feel like the author left too much unresolved at the end of the book. Needs a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I could give it less than one star I would...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please tell there is a sequell
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It start off a little slow but the mystery picks up just few chapters in and i love vega shes one strong girl
EWM More than 1 year ago
Not a usual Baldacci,don't let the beginning full you. It is a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book. The only bad part about it was the the author made up so many words that were unfamiliar and that made it less enjoyable. I love Vega Jane and Delph! It took a while for me to get into it, but I loved the ending.I hope that the author continues this series, but that they use less words like "sliver" and "quag" so that it is more understandable. Good for ages 10-14 I would say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When at first, i was super bored with the slowness. I mean i have read a great deal of boring books, but many had never gotten quite as great as this book was. The whole language was even different, as were the creatures. And thats why it has such a boring beginning is because some of the stuff in the beginning came back tslap you in the face in the end. If there does happen tl be a sequal, ill be first in line to grab it and start ack into the fantastiworld of vega jane
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just got this book from my classroom, havent started. Looks like my type of book. Adventure, suspenxe, and mystery. Cant wait to get started.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a read! I loved it and can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the imagination it took to create a world!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Billcamera, You are aware that this book was written for children between the ages of 10 and 14, right?
Anonymous 14 days ago
Anonymous 4 months ago
A bit confusing for me in the beginning, but amazing for everything else. A wonderful mix of fantasy and magic got me hooked instantly. Details were very descriptive, I wanted to read the second book right away, but I couldn't. Only this book and preorder 3rd book.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author brought so much insight to the book but I would only recommend it for people with overactive imaginations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi, so i know i havent written in a while, but im back now. So now I want to introduce myself. Im a girl and I guess I just w
saintGS More than 1 year ago
Save your money. I didn't think anyone could write a book so childish and dumb Living in a tree, chased by beasts that breath fire, really!!! What happened to the English language that I use? Who publishes such tripe. I was ripped-off $10 for this junk, can I get my money back?
Mauz_Mom More than 1 year ago
I realize I'm not the age demographic normally associated with this type of book but I've enjoyed many, many such books before. I was very disappointed in this book and I believe it was poorly written. Mr. Baldacci tried to use a new language with the hope of drawing the reader in but it comes off as being simplistic and contrived. I couldn't finish the book and I try to read everything I buy even if I'm not particularly impressed with the content.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book can't what for the next one