The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare (Alex Wayfare #1)

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The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare (Alex Wayfare #1)
Author(s)
Age Range
13+
Release Date
April 14, 2015
ISBN
1908844930
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For as long as she can remember, 17-year-old Alex Wayfare has had visions of the past. Visions that seem so real they leave her breathless, feeling as if she really was onboard a ship bound for colonial America, or rising to the top of the first Ferris wheel at the Chicago World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history are not simple jaunts back in time, nor do they come without a price. Alex’s visions wrench her from her life in the present without warning, returning her with mysterious wounds and inexplicable, lasting effects. Desperate for a normal life, Alex wants to discover the meaning of her visions and get rid of them once and for all.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who seems to know more about her than she knows about herself, that Alex learns the truth: she is a Descender, capable of traveling back in time to her fifty-six past lives by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife.

With fifty-six lifetimes to explore, historical secrets to unlock, and hidden treasures to unearth, descending back in time becomes irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with blue eyes keeps showing up in each one of them. But the more Alex descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever. And will stop at nothing to make sure her current life, her fifty- seventh, is her last.

“Beautiful prose, an intelligent plot, and a heroine as fabulous as she is unique—I couldn’t put it down!” ~ C. J. Redwine, The Defiance Trilogy

Editor reviews

6 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.8
 
4.8  (6)
 
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Brilliantly exciting and action-packed read
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Alex keeps having visions that ruin her life. When someone named Porter leaves a mysterious message saying he can provide answers, Alex takes a chance and meets him. Through him, she learns that she is a Descender, someone who can access their past lives (and in her case, there are 56 of them). There is someone who doesn't want her traveling though, and she will have to figure out what's really going on before it's too late.

My favorite thing about this book is the imagery. It's never lengthy, but the descriptions are so original, and they paint the perfect picture of the scenes. Alex goes through several different time periods in history, and it was so awesome reading all the different descriptions about them. I love the whole concept behind the Descender idea, and it made for such an intense read.

The romance(s- depending on how you look at it) is swoony and sweet. There is so much going on in the story, and the romance fits perfectly alongside the action and adventure. The author does a remarkable job of weaving all the big ideas and concepts going on in the book while keeping Alex relatable and awesome.

The ending did leave me wanting more. It cuts off in a kind of unsettling way that didn't work for me, but for those who love to be kept on their toes, they will definitely enjoy it.

M.G. Buehrlen crafts a brilliant, wonderful, and exciting novel with The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare. I can't wait to read the sequel and find out what happens next to Alex. Just like the best authors, Buehrlen creates a world and set of characters of which readers won't be able to get enough.

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Wibbly Wobbly Wonderful
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
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.

What I Loved:
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.

What Left Me Wanting More:
Alex Wayfare hasn't gotten me emotionally yet, but I am entranced with the world and hope for that in the future.

The Final Verdict:
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!
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A fun, energetic, timey-wimey romp through history
(Updated: March 08, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
THE FIFTY-SEVEN LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE does all sorts of things I don't see often in YA, and especially in this kind of intricately-plotted, genre-bending, world-building-heavy YA.

It gives our main character, Alex, an entire intact family unit, complete with parents, grandparents, and siblings, that is not dysfunctional in the slightest.

It puts at the center of the book a relationship that is in no way romantic, and a male lead who isn't even kind of swoony (unless you are about 40+ years older than the book's target audience, in which case 1) GOOD FOR YOU, and 2) go right ahead and swoon).

It presents three possible love interests for the main character, but at no time ever resembles a love triangle, square, hexagon, dodecahedron, or any other geometric shape. And of those three, not a single one is an obviously terrible choice.

Yet at the same time, Alex is not a She's-All-That-esque swan-in-ugly-duckling-clothing. When she takes off her nerd glasses, she is -- shockingly -- still a nerd. She never becomes magically popular. She isn't stunningly beautiful underneath her rumpled appearance. And she actually turns out to be less of a Chosen One than she originally thought.

This all brings me to the main reason I loved this book: It put characters first. A lot of time, even in good books, when there's this many EVENTS that have to happen on the pages, writers almost seem to run out of room to develop the characters. But with ALEX WAYFARE, the thing that kept me turning pages well past my bedtime wasn't the thrilling missions through time or the looming menace of the ever-nearing villain -- though those were fun too -- it was the heart in the characters. It was the fact that the characters rang true.

They reacted illogically. They made mistakes. They carried unfair prejudices. But these weren't just quirks. They weren't a laundry list of imperfections so that the characters could be more interesting. They gave the characters depth and history, even when I didn't agree with them.

Take Alex herself. At one point, she tells a boy that he should know that most girls are "shallow, shallow creatures." At first glance, a reader might be turned off by that line. That's an awfully sweeping statement to make about half the human race, isn't it? Isn't she a girl? Isn't her sister, who she adores, also a girl? Why does Alex think she's such a special snowflake?

But then you realize, Alex literally has no friends. Her only encounters with other girls are with the couple popular girls at school who bully her and gave her an ugly nickname. Everyone else seems to pretty much ignore her. She's under the impression that the entire school is constantly whispering about her, but in reality, they're probably not. It's just her perception of reality. As a result, she closes herself off and tries not to interact with anyone. Ever. So of course she thinks all girls are awful. Her only encounters with them have been negative, and as a coping mechanism, she's made sure that the only way she will continue to have contact with girls is if they seek her out. And who seeks her out? The bullies.

Vicious cycle.

This isn't the only example where Alex, or the other characters, rang true in their shortcomings. It's just one that stood out, because I remember going through a whole circuit of reactions when I read that line. Plus it's toward the end of the book, so it's fresh in my memory. I liked that MG Buehrlen didn't shy away from the less appealing aspects of her characters, but instead explored them and allowed me to see why they'd come to think or act the ways they did. In addition to being a bit prejudiced against her own gender, Alex is impulsive, naive, and kind of shockingly short-sighted at times.

But then these moments of weakness are balanced with strengths. Alex is also clever, inventive, brave, caring, and loyal. Her good points really do outweigh the bad, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her develop and mature throughout the story. And she's not the only one. I loved her family, and how involved they all were in each other's lives. I loved Porter, her middle-aged mentor who teaches her about herself. And I loved Blue, the boy she meets over and over again in each of her lives, and Jensen, the boy on whom she blames her social misfit status.

Outside of the characters, though, I loved the story itself. I loved the creative spin on a reincarnation story, and how each journey into Alex's past highlighted a different point in history. The narrative weaves seamlessly through different eras, jumping from the modern day to Prohibition-era Chicago to a train heist in the Wild West. It kept me constantly on my toes, wondering where I'd be transported to next, and opened the door to endless possibilities in the future. And I followed the logic of the time travel pretty easily, with most of my questions being answered just a few pages after I asked them.

All in all, I loved the timey-wimey goodness that is THE FIFTY-SEVEN LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE. It was a fun, energetic romp through history with characters I enjoyed following on their various (mis)adventures. It helped me rediscover my love of the genre, and made me excited for what's to come in the series. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and when I turned the final page, I was left simultaneously satisfied and yearning for the next chapter in Alex's story. If you're a fan of time travel and adventure and history and heart, I highly recommend this one.
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Gripping Tale
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
What's to love?

It's part Quantum Leap, part Dr. Who,and even some Somewhere in Time mixed into one gripping tale.

I'm a huge fan of time travel novels but this one is a little different. Alex can travel back in time by accessing Limbo(a really cool space in between Life and Afterlife). Alex's adventures have some twists and turns that at times take her off guard like the 1960s skinny dipping one. Also she feels an intense connection with one stranger she keeps 'bumping' into. The intensity of each encounter drives Alex to want to know more about this stranger. This reminded me of Chris Reeves character in Somewhere in Time when he first bumps into the Jane Seymour character.

Love the twists and turns in this time traveling/past lives tale. The chemistry between Alex and Blue(especially the 1927 dance scene) pulsed with chemistry. The premise behind being a Descender is very intriguing and Buehrlen does a great job showing us in detail how Alex feels when she goes back into one of her past lives. There were times I was on the edge of my seat, wondering where Alex would go and what revelations she'd encounter. There is a big climax with a surprising twist.

I can't wait to see where Alex goes in the sequel!

A must read for time travel fans!
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Outstanding debut!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I had the absolute honor of reading this book a few years ago as M.G. was writing it, and I was completely blown away by it. I remember emailing her asking for the next chapter and she would say "I'm still writing it!" and I was all "hurry up!".

Fast forward a few years and here we are. My best friend's first book is published! I'm so extremely proud of her and I'm happy to say I've been reading her work for 25+ years and it's all amazing! That all being said, I didn't just love this book because my bestie wrote it. So, my sincere apologies if my review does not make sense. I swear it does in my head. I'm just so excited! Here's my review:

What I loved:

M.G. has an incredible way of painting a picture with her words. I (and this is embarrassing) have a hard time visualizing scenes, but with her writing, I'm able to do it no problem. Her words are lovely, and poignant and I did not want to skip a single one.

The characters. Oh my goodness. Alex is such a strong, wonderful female lead. She is loyal, family oriented, and super smart! She's also a bit awkward and has a hard time fitting in, which is completely realistic in my opinion. Plus, she has no idea how amazing she is! I love that Alex is a tech nerd. I also appreciate her little "pranks" on certain people who deserve it, even though that gets her into trouble. I love that she's willing to do whatever it takes for her sister, and her family. She's not your typical teenager, that's for sure, and my goodness is that ever refreshing! She's so strong and I loved how much she grows throughout the book! She is so selfless!

Blue. *sigh* A boy with manners, 1920's attire and he can dance?! Be still my heart. I swear M.G. wrote Blue just for me. Well, she probably didn't, but my goodness, he is one of the most perfect male characters EVER. I shall rank him right next to Mr. Darcy in my book, and that is saying A LOT. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but let's just say he gets better as the book goes on. I can't even. I want one.

Time travel. Not just any old time travel. But reincarnation time travel. Alex is actually seeing her past lives. I want to read every single one (yes, all 57). Can you please write about them all M.G? Pretty please?

Jensen. While I'm a total Blue fan, I love Jensen, too. He does not fit the typical "popular boy" profile. He is kind, thoughtful, and has enough pudding cups for everyone! It's so nice to see a teenage boy take notice of a girl that everyone else makes fun of. Gah. I adore him.

Alex's family. Movie nights, super couch, heart to heart talks, and a mutli-generational living arrangement? I LOVE THIS FAMILY. So many times in YA books we see absentee parents, or horrible parents, or non existent parents. It is refreshing to see not just a mother/father involved in their child's life, but a grandma/grandpa and siblings. Thank you M.G. THANK.YOU.

The ending. Oh my word, the ending. I need book 2 right away. This book will leave you wanting more and might even cause you to throw something at a wall, or a window. You've been warned.

What left me wanting more:

Um...I need book 2. STAT. I have not had the pleasure to read anymore of this series yet, and I've been dying to know what happens for YEARS. Years people.

Also, can I have more Blue?

Final word:

This is not just my bestie's book. It's a heart pounding, swoonworthy, fast paced book that you all should read. What a wonderful series. I'm so happy that the whole world can read it now!
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1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
4.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
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I liked it!
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I have to say of all the time traveling books I've read I have to say I really enjoyed this one more so than the others (granted it hasn't really been that many I have read, but still). I do have to say that I was not all that fond of the personality of the main character Alex Wayfare in the beginning of the book, she was pretty much one of those "mean girl" types that I went to high school with with a piss pour attitude towards everyone, however she was much more bearable in the end. With that being said I have to say it's a pretty good read if you like a little scifi mixed with humor, action, and a tad of romance. I will probably read it again in the future.
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