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

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. BuehrlenThe 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen
Series: Alex Wayfare #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 410
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe 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.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should all know that the author of The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is a dear friend of mine. We’ve met in real life and everything. However, as ever, I stand fully behind my opinion of the book itself and don’t consider the author of the book when I’m reading. Can I just say how glad I am when I legitimately enjoy the books of author friends? I always end up wanting to throw a party in honor of awkwardness averted. Right, focus! M.G. Buehrlen’s debut novel is a strongly-plotted, intricate time travel novel which takes the reader on epic journeys to the past.

I bonded with Alex Wayfare in the first chapter. She’s talking to a psychiatrist about why she pranked her teacher. Though I was about as rule-following as they came in high school, Alex’s story of a teacher not listening really resonated with me. While I’ve had a ton of amazing teachers, there have been quite a few real stinkers too, and this snippet of struggling with the academic portion of high school isn’t something I’ve seen too often in YA. Alex is, as this suggests, a bit of a rebel. When pushed, she’s strong and fights for herself. She’s also skilled with electronics (thus able to rig the teacher’s phone to buzz like in an episode of The IT Crowd – I see your reference, Mandy). In fact, Alex took refuge in electronics as a safe space away from people, who cannot be understood by taking them apart and seeing how the wires connect. Alex is prickly, a lone wolf, who’s never been close to anyone outside of her family and has the idea that pretty much everyone sucks. Some readers won’t like Alex, but I’m betting there’s going to be a major character arc here and I’m looking forward to seeing Alex open up to friends and overcome her prejudices.

For all of her life, Alex has been having these rare but traumatizing moments where she fades out and is somewhere else briefly before returning. She doesn’t know why it happens or what it means, but avoids a lot of objects as a result. Turns out that she’s a time traveler who’s lost her memories. Pretty sweet, right? I’m not going to get into this in too much detail, because Buehrlen explains it much better than I could. Suffice it to say that I am really picky about the logic of my time travel books and The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare actually works for me. Everything ties up nicely and is clearly explained, despite the complexity.

Readers who struggle with flashbacks or time jumps are, by necessity, going to have difficulties with Alex Wayfare. Personally, I don’t mind a good flashback. In fact, several of my favorite scenes are when Alex descends into a past life. Buehrlen has obviously done a lot of research into her historical time periods and has peppered them with fun references and jokes. Alex goes to the 1920s, the 1960s and into the old west. I’m not usually a fan of Westerns, but that part was so great because train robbery and spoilers.

The romance in The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is fairly minimal thus far, but I’m curious to see how it develops. There are a couple of possibilities for Alex’s affection, but it’s still early days. Though he’s not in much of the book, I currently like Jensen the best, because he has a couple of great speeches. He’s all for being open and honest, ideals of which I very much approve. Plus, he seems smart enough to realize that he needs to be Alex’s friend first, because she’s so not ready for a relationship yet.

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is one of my favorite time travel novels. It balances between light-hearted and heavy; it’s got a logical sciencey background but it is easy to understand too. I’m most definitely looking forward to Buehrlen’s follow-up, especially to see where in time Alex will go next!

Favorite Quote:

That is the only rigid thing about Destiny.

It changes.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

In honor of Alex and her nerdy glasses

In honor of Alex and her nerdy glasses

2 responses to “Review: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen”

  1. A well done time travel book always intrigues me. It is also refreshing sometimes to read a story where romance takes a back seat. The in limbo worries me a bit but if the story is well done, I am just going to have to add it to my TBR.
    Ashley @The Quiet Concert recently posted…Thoughts for Thursday (24) – BEA 2014 RecapMy Profile

  2. Gillian says:

    Oooo, you have made me VERY INTRIIIIIGUED. Sometimes I need a good timey wimey read, even though they can often hurt my marshmallow brains. But Alex sounds like an awesome main characters.
    Gillian recently posted…Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate RorickMy Profile

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