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

Thursday, March 6, 2014
 Why I chose this book: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; I am a sucker for time travel. If I could go back in time, I would visit Renaissance Florence, the Lost Generation in Paris, and the lost library of Alexandria (and kill Hitler, duh). There is just something about not just reading about places in the past, but completely immersing yourself in it. While the idea is but a dream, for Alex Wayfare it is a reality. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by  M.G. Buehrlen
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publish Date: March 4, 2014
Format: Netgalley ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Buy: B&N || Amazon || Indiebound 

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. (Goodreads)

4 Things You Need to Know:

1. Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey Stuff.
     This book is hefty on time travel and the timelines and fixed points that come along with it. As a Descender, Alex has the ability to travel back in time to any of her 56 lives that she has lived. Although Alex has one soul and one “base life,” she still can access limbo; the space between life and afterlife. The one flaw Alex has is that she cannot remember any of her past lives, only flashes of memories—a deja vu like experience. I could explain a lot further about the intricacies of the plot and how much attention to detail M.G. Buehrlen adds to the story, but it would require just as much time as it takes to read the book itself. While I applaud the intricate plot, I found parts of it confusing and convoluted. 

2. Time travel plus reincarnation! 
     This was a twist I did not see coming. Most books that involve time travel have the characters living finite lives. While they are able to travel across the whole of existence, their existence is still limited. With this novel, Buehrlen takes two characters and makes them able to reincarnate into a new “base life”. I found it peculiar that questions of the afterlife and spirituality are never broached even though Alex attends Sunday School regularly. Perhaps it is too complex a subject for one single YA novel, or maybe it will be brought up in later novels. Either way, it is something that I hope is explained, for this world is too good to go without it. 

3. Good ole fashioned Good vs. Evil.
      At the heart of the novel is a standard good vs. evil plot. For as complex as everything is in this novel, I enjoyed that the plot had a simplicity to it. It was easy enough to follow while all hell was breaking loose around it. Bad guy trying to take over the world? We must take him down. How do we do it? Travel through time and through a series of timelines thwarting his plans over and over again. 

4. Super cool periods in time. 
     I loved, loved, loved the various places in time that Alex visited. Most books I read have characters visiting cliche and popular periods in history, yet Buehrlen chose unique places and characters that added such color and flair to the story. It made me excited to turn each page and want to see how Alex’s adventures in time played out. 

Final Thoughts:
This was an exciting and fun read. It was definitely not what I was expecting, but well worth the time.

I gave this book three stars on Goodreads. 

1 comment:

  1. I just finished this one. Your review came up on Goodreads. I liked it quite a bit (more than I've liked most of the YA stuff I've read lately). I hope the next book answers some more questions!


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