A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that prolific, best-selling phenomenon David Baldacci's first young adult book, The Finisher, is a big bite at around 500 pages, but it's a bite that tweens and teens will really sink their teeth into. Think The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter. Vega Jane, 14, is a strong heroine and worthy successor to THG's Katniss. The novel's set in a fantasy world with frequent peril from scary monsters, and blood is mentioned a lot without being described in detail. Blows and injuries from tournament fistfighting duels are described in some detail. There are two or three quick kisses mentioned briefly, not too yucky for younger tweens. The fantasy village parallels British villages in a lot of ways, and the strong language is all in British slang, including "bloody," "arse," "git," and "prat."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Vega Jane, 14, lives in the village of Wormwood, and, as everyone knows, Wormwood is all there is. Everyone also knows that Wormwood is surrounded by a terrifying wilderness called the Quag, home to every horrific beast imaginable (and more that aren't). When one of her coworkers disappears into the Quag, Vega starts to wonder if there might not be more to the world beyond. And the more she starts to question the ruling Council's policies and wisdom, the more determined she becomes to find out the truth for herself by escaping Wormwood and trying to cross the Quag herself -- that is, if she can survive Duelum, where she'll have to fight to the finish against Wormwood's biggest, strongest warriors, who are capable of killing with one blow.
Is it any good?
Author David Baldacci's young adult debut is a winner. It's an exciting fantasy that combines elements of the Hunger Games-style dystopia with Harry Potter-type magic in a unique, engaging world. Vega Jane is a compelling action heroine who's loyal and cares deeply about family and friends. A large cast of colorful and well-developed characters round out Vega's world, which is richly imagined and vividly realized. The ending is exciting and satisfying but still likely to leave kids hoping for a Book 2.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why fantasy books are so popular. What do we enjoy about them so much?
Are Vega Jane and Wormwood similar to Katniss and Panem of The Hunger Games? How are they different? If you've read The Hunger Games, which did you like better?
In what language do you think the chapter numbers are written? Why aren't they in English?
- Author: David Baldacci
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: March 4, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 512
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.