I love the premise of this book; I really do want to read a story about a reincarnated time travelling young woman. And I did enjoy most of the story, but I do have a few issues with it.
The beginning is great; it sets the scene and tells us upfront that the character can travel in time. We also know straight away that this narrator messes up somehow. There’s this lovely list of things to come, which include ‘a kiss, a promise, a death, a broken heart, and an end to life as you and I would have known it.’ I think this is gorgeous and intriguing. After this start we dip back to learn more about the person talking to us: Alex.
Alex is in a heap of trouble at school for pulling a prank on her worst teacher Mr Lipscomb. She’s also struggling at home, with one sister who is very sick and another who is a bit of a brat. She’s isolated herself due to the visions she has had periodically since she was 4 years old, so has no friends to turn either. Her main outlet is in fixing thing, taking apart and reassembling all things mechanical and electrical. To understand what’s happening with her she is seeing a psychiatrist at the AIDA Institute, a major research unit where her parents work.
The descriptions of Alex’s visions are gripping. As she slips from the ‘real’ world she’s consumed by a blackness that feels like death. As this fades Alex finds herself some place and time else. She’s had a handful of these disturbing episodes during her childhood and they’ve left her with a huge sense of fear. What she wants most is to be normal, which I’m sure so many people can relate to, but as Alex says ‘Normal is never easy.’
Her next vision is more intense than ever, and at last leads her to someone who can supply some proper answers about what’s she’s experiencing. It’s here that the story gets both more exciting and frustrating! Porter, the man with the answers, is irritatingly vague with Alex. He does those explanations that miss out the most crucial pieces of information and Alex does storming off. However, we do also get to the good stuff, with dastardly plots and daring schemes requiring bravery and chutzpah – I enjoyed these ‘heist’ sections very much.
Two aspects of the book left me liking rather than loving it. I am a bit of a jaded cynic when it comes to soulmate themes in YA; teenage years are the beginning of a journey not the end. The story skirts perilously close to having a ‘destined to be together forever’ plot, but it does have enough wriggle room for me to give it the benefit of the doubt for now. Although that does lead me on to my second thing – so much is left unresolved at the end of the book! I enjoy series and trilogies but I do need a whole story in each individual book. I think The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare gave me a smidgen less.
This is one of those times when I’d still recommend a book despite my reservations. The premise is great and so is the writing. It’s easy to get caught up in the story and I liked the way her history/histories are revealed. I’d like to understand more about who and what she is, as I still have many questions about how it all works. I guess I’d better look out for the sequel!
The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is out now from Strange Chemistry. My thanks to them for my review copy.