Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen

Release date: March 4, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.
The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is intriguing. I don't know that I've read another YA that tackles reincarnation (aside from David Levithan's Every Day, which I wouldn't say is about reincarnation), and the way Alex Wayfare does this is interesting, inserting the concept into a decades-old corporation run by a man power-hungry semi-maniac. And while it's not a perfect read (Alex engages in some kind of annoying gender stereotypes and there's really not a ton of plot), The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is certainly an entertaining and engaging novel that will leave you begging for its sequel (that cliffhanger ending was just kind of cruel!)

Alex Wayfare is a really interesting character. She's quiet and stays away from others, thinking engaging with her peers will only lead to more mockery than she already experiences. With a nickname like "Wayspaz", it's hard not to blame her. Alex never knows when one of her visions will happen and she has a tendency to get back at those who wrong her. Generally, I liked Alex. I thought she was dealt a situation that is hard to cope with, not to mention that she doesn't feel she can really share her problems with her family, since they have enough to deal with. I liked that Alex really comes to like herself throughout the book, as she learns the power she has with her abilities and experiences living differently. It was nice to see her realize, since she's spent a lot of time wishing she could be like everyone else previously.

The only problem with Alex, though, is that she has the tendency to generalize other girls. There are several instances where she says things like she's not "one of those girls" who thinks about dating and boys.... But she does think about those things. And there's nothing wrong with thinking about dating and boys, but it's kind of annoying that she has to spout that. It's so nice seeing Alex really figure herself out and come to really like herself that it's off-putting to see that. There would be no loss in her character to change those lines.

And while there's not necessarily a lot of plot, especially all through the middle of the book, the entire book is still interesting. Instead, we get to see long glimpses of a few of Alex's past lives (which, admittedly, are much more exciting than her real one). The ending, though, is certainly action-packed and leaves you on a cliffhanger that's just cruel. I called the big twist from the beginning, but that didn't bother me.

While The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare isn't a perfect novel, it's terribly intriguing to follow Alex as she gets to know her abilities and explore her past lives. I will be waiting with bated breath to read the sequel, especially to see a few more of those 56 past lives.

About the author:

When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director. She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website, a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is her debut novel. M.G. lives nestled away in Michigan pines, surrounded by good coffee and good books, with her husband and son and their three furbabies.

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