WARNING — POTENTIAL SPOLIERS ALERT !!
Woa! Hold on to your hats…this is a wild ride!
Author M.G. Buehrlen drops the reader in on the life of 17 year old female, Alex Wayfare … a nerd who is incredibly adept at technology, but lives with a ‘spastic’ problem … she is often having deja vu flashback moments. What Alex and the reader discover together is that she isn’t just remembering a past life, she is actually living it, through what I think is one of the most innovative, creative methods of time-travel I’ve ever come across. (Even having given a spoiler’s alert, I don’t want to give away too much.)
The character of Alex Wayfare is bold, fragile, confused, self-assured, passionate, shy, defensive, aggressive, out-going … basically, she’s a fairly typical teenage girl. Buehrlen does an excellent job of letting the reader experience Alex’s maturing and self-discovery through the progress of the book.
And where Alex is a brilliant, well-defined heroic character, the secondary characters are equally well-established. And we have, esentially, three different sets of characters that Alex has to position herself to interact with. There is her ‘base life’ friends and family. From her parents, grandparents, and sister, to the school-mates and and new friends (with a potential budding romance thrown in for good luck), this is the reality that teen readers will identify with the most. And how refreshing to have a YA book in which the family isn’t the evil, repressive force!
Then there are the past-life characters, some recurring, that she has to find a way to interact with, which comes with some time-period considerations (a girl in 1880’s will act/react differently than a girl in the 1920’s, which will be different that a girl in the 2000’s).
And then there is another set of characters that somewhat time-less — characters with which she relates to both in base life, past life, and in her ‘between’ life. All of these are unique and well defined (even if somewhat predictable at times).
In addition to a brilliant main character, we also have a plot, that, once established, is full of intricacies — but fully managable and understandable. I often try to get ahead of a story, anticipating what will happen next, and this book had just enough surprises that I wasn’t always accurate in my predictions. A few times the result was obvious — almost telegraphed to the reader, but not in any situation which negatively impacted the story.
If there was one problem with the book, it is that it took too long to establish the plot. We spend a little too much time in one particular past, building a relationship which is important, but not in the way that is being established. And the reason for the historical trip is not part of the actual plot, but an establishing of some parameters. But because this took us almost 40% of the way through the novel, we’re still not quite sure where it’s all intended to go.
But once the plot, the purpose, is set down before us, we’re on a non-stop thrill-a-minute ride with some quick detours in our thinking necesary. I did not want this book to end, and will anxiously await the next book in the sequel!
Looking for a good book? This YA sci-fi adventure is a good book!
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The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare
author: M.G. Buehrlen
series: Alex Wayfare #1
publisher: Strange Chemistry
paperback, 416 pages