I received this book for free from blog tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
Let me tell ya, you learn a LOT when you write a book: a lot about yourself, your friends, your family, and the world around you. Here are just a few things I learned while drafting The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, my debut novel releasing March 4th from Strange Chemistry. Thanks for having me, Book Nerd Canada!
At the beginning of the book, the main character, Alex, wishes she were normal and just like everyone else. Eventually, throughout her journey, she comes to understand that normal is subjective, and no matter how normal you may seem, you can never be immune to ridicule or bullying. We all experience it in one form or another, either at school or at home or at the bus stop. There will always be something about you that others won’t like or understand, so why waste your time trying to be someone you’re not? I wish I had owned that as a teen. I wish I had been proud of what made me different (writing day and night, and making up crazy stories) rather than hiding it and trying so hard to be just like the other kids at school. I wish I had seen my talents as a gift rather than pretending they weren’t there out of fear of being teased. I was teased anyway. 🙂
Before I started seriously pursuing a publishing career, I was the only one in my social circle who wrote stories obsessively, who had characters running amok in their head, who saw every social interaction as “research,” who turned everyday errands into adventures, who sat holed up at their computer in week-old pajamas. Once I started meeting other writers and authors, I realized there are a lot of weirdos out there, just like me. Now we get together for the express purpose of being weirdos together. It’s probably my favorite part about this gig.
Growing up, history was my least favorite subject. Memorizing dates and bold words in the textbook wasn’t exactly a thrilling learning experience and seemed pretty pointless (outside of test scores). It took a brilliantly engaging Humanities professor to open the past up for me and turn me into a true historyphile. Now I can’t get enough of documentaries, History Detectives, and learning about other cultures and how they evolved across time. Much of my love of history is woven throughout The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, and I can’t wait to travel back in time to more fascinating eras as I write the sequels.
Books don’t write themselves, no matter how much of the story you have planned out in your head. You have to sit down and write the darn things. You have to overcome the day’s obstacles, whatever they may be, and get your word count in. Don’t let the little things – like losing your laptop power cord, not finding any clean underwear, or finding out your favorite coffee house is closed – defeat you. You can always use pen and paper, go commando, and brew coffee at home. (Words to live by.)
For all you aspiring authors out there, remember: Writing a book takes time. For me personally, it’s not the typing that takes so long, but rather the world-building and plotting. If I got paid for the sheer hours I spent just staring into space and thinking about my stories, I’d be richrichrich. And then once you sell that book? It takes years to finally see it on the shelf in a bookstore. Being an author means you’re a professional Hurry-Up-And-Waiter. You have to be OK with that. You have to simply move on and write the next book you’re meant to write.
While drafting a book, I stock up on lots and lots of coffee (Starbucks Cafe Verona), espresso (Nespresso Roma), and plenty of sugary snacks like peanut butter cookies and Nutella. If I’m very naughty, I’ll sneak some jelly beans or Sour Patch Kids and a few cans of Coke into my stash. Even though my stomach always regrets it the next day, the brain needs its fuel. AmIright?
It’s really hard for me to step away from a manuscript once I get rolling, but it’s so vital to the process. Yes, the book needs to get written, and those word-count goals need to be met, but there are so many changes I made to the original manuscript that directly resulted from an experience I had away from my keyboard. In order to write about life, you mustn’t forget to live it.
Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory. The official author uniform.
No matter how supportive your family is concerning your writing career, their needs will always come first. Always, always. They will always be a distraction, but at least it’s the best kind. While you’re occupied and consumed with your writing world, typing away with earbuds in, life still goes on all around you. It doesn’t stop, as much as we’d like it to. As an artist, you don’t have fixed workplace hours, and it’s hard for friends and family to relate to your crazy, flexible work schedule. The interruptions are inevitable. Take them with a grain of salt, enjoy your family in the moment, and get back to your desk later on.
When you’re writing a novel, it belongs to you, the author. When you’re going through your edits, it belongs to your editor. When the book is being formatted, the cover designed, the pages printed, it belongs to your publisher.. And then, once it’s printed and placed on the shelves, it belongs to the reader. The final resting place of every book is in the reader’s hands. The characters, the setting, the mood, the perceived themes and allegories, they all belong to the individual person reading the words. I’ve heard it said that no two people ever read the same book, and it’s true. Each book is uniquely and entirely yours. I think there’s something infinitely magical about that.
Alex is a descender, someone who reincarnates into other lives and can move back and forth in time, traveling wherever she may please. She thinks she’s a freak and her classmates bully her for being different. When she starts to see a psychiatrist and she tells her information to the places she has seen and been, she realizes that it might not be such a good idea. The moment she meets Porter, he tells her what she truly is and the danger that she’s in. So begins Alex’s 57th life and journey into stopping the man who wants nothing but to use her against his own criminal wishes.
As for characters, I thought Alex was a wonderful character who wasn’t trying to be perfect. She knew the limits to her responsibilities and even did whatever she wanted no matter what her consequences were. In return, she learned from her lessons (as most teenagers do) and became such a reliable teen character. I love how in depth we get into her personality and her thoughts. She felt like she stepped out of the page and became a person you know and love. Even all the secondary characters were such fun to read about. I loved how close Alex was to her family. The fact that they had movie night and everyone had a say into which movie to watch was too adorable. I also liked that real issues arise, like her sister being sick and what kind of effect it had on her and her family.
This is one book that has everything in it. Teen angst, romance, action, adventure, historical fiction, mystery, time travel, science- fiction, it has it all! I pretty much devoured this, and it kicked my reading slump out of the way. I just loved the mini twists and turns and the journey that M.G. has taken me. I didn’t want this book to end, and I was trying to read slower because of it. I cannot wait for the next one!!