Alex is a freak. She’s nerdy and likes to tinker. She gets in a lot of trouble at school, despite being way smart, because she doesn’t read. She has no friends, not since she threw up on the cutest boy in church. Oh, and she has deja-vu induced visions of her 56 past lives.
I like Alex a lot. She’s selfish and impulsive and can be rather frustrating, but she’s also vulnerable and seems like she’s really trying to make sense of this crazy power that’s been dealt to her. She makes some massive mistakes, but I liked her anyway.
Alex can Descend into Limbo and use the markers of souls that have passed through to travel back in time. But while there are many Descenders, she’s the only Transcender. Her soul has lived 57 lives and she can visit her past as often as she likes. (Descenders can only Descend once per soul, but they can use any dead person.) This power is the key to unlocking a massive conspiracy involving Alex’s last life and her former...employer.
Like a lot of time travel fiction, it’s probably best not to dwell on the actual time traveling. There are a few holes and I’m still not sure how they arranged for Alex’s lives to be at every important point, but for the most part it’s well thought out. (Except the last mission. One of those typically twisty, “you changed history because you were supposed to and we can’t correct this error because you didn’t correct it in the past that you’re creating now,” paradoxes. I don’t know if it’s really a problem but it was kind of eye-rolling after Parker going on and on about not changing the past.)
The best part of the book is the love interest. I freaking love Blue. The first date is beyond romantic and I fell head over heels for the boy along with Alex. When Parker took that world away, I wanted to cry too. Blue = Amazing. The worst part is integrating the contemporary elements with the sci-fi conceit. I feel for the nerdy loner, but too much time was taken up with the bitchy mean girl and the sweet jock and Alex’s sister’s cancer treatments. I wanted more time in Limbo, not a jealous girlfriend side plot or movie night with the fam.
The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare has some problems. There’s a ridiculous metaphor that really jumps out and some of the word choices are awkward. (Did we need to call Alex a wayfarer to drive the name home?) The blending of everyday teenage life with the sci-fi concept wasn’t smooth. The revelation halfway through that Alex can just bring skills back with her from the past felt awfully convenient. Still, I like this book a lot. It’s quirky and fun with surprising tension in the climax. The love interest has me following him like a lovesick puppy right there with the MC. I’m really excited for a sequel that will hopefully delve deeper into the few things I thought were missing.