Author: Seth Fishman (Twitter)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publish Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish has always been afraid of the dark. After all, she’s baby Mia, the one who fell down a well. That was years ago, though the darkness still haunts her. But when her classmates and teachers at ritzy Westbrook Academy start dying of old age from a bizarre and frightening virus that ages its victims years in a matter of hours, Mia becomes haunted by a lot more than the dark. Their deaths are gruesome and Mia worries she and her friends may be next. In order to survive, Mia and her small crew must break quarantine and outrun armed soldiers in hazmat suits who shoot first and ask questions later.And there’s only one place to go—the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia knows it’s somehow connected and hopes her dad, Director of Fenton Electronics, who has always been strangely secretive about his work, has the answers she needs, and more importantly a cure to save everyone before the whole town succumbs to the mysterious virus. Unfortunately, it’s not answers Mia discovers, but something far more treacherous and impossible than even the virus itself.
The Well's End is the type of story that readers will undoubtedly read long after dark, riveted and unable to put the book down until it's been finished in a single sitting. I knew from the start that this would be a book for me, blending the most powerful aspects of horror, mystery and cinematic-style adventure into a novel that is both gripping and alluring in its darkness. Author, Seth Fishman, doesn't shy away from the drama, but rather embraces and draws you in with a novel that is so full of action, drama and adventure that it is fairly impossible to simply stop in the middle of the novel to put the book down.
The setup of The Well's End, while exciting, didn't sound entirely original to me, immediately bringing to mind thoughts of Contagion or other such mystery stories, but I was surprised to see that while, yes, the story embraces that concept, it also goes far beyond it. The quarantine and mystery elements of the story are the bones and framework of the novel, but the characters and the deeper, more sinister mystery in the background are the meat and muscle of the novel, pumping a vibrant and electric life into the book from start to finish. This isn't the type of novel that you can read for pure escapism. Rather, The Well's End pulls you into a mystery so very multifaceted that its nearly impossible to extract yourself and find the source of it all until the third act illuminates it all and leaves us reeling.
Mia was an excellent main character for a reader like me. To create an avid swimmer, the author definitely did his due diligence in researching swimming terms, practice methods, equipment and drills. As a child, Mia fell down a well and was trapped for days, leading to a deep-rooted and inherent fear of darkness and cold. Swimming, however, embraces both of these things, and Mr. Fishman's use of two polar opposites cements a sort of vulnerable power in our main character, making her both appealing and relatable. The supporting cast of characters including Jo, Odessa, Jimmy, Rob and Brayden were quite solid, as well, each playing their part to their fullest potential. That said, it must be noted that I did feel the romantic setup in the novel was a touch too convenient, and I think if the characters had been given more of a chance to evolve together, it would have been more believable. The only character I felt lacked a bit of true depth in the first half of the novel was our antagonist, Blake Sutton. We know that he's bad, and we understand there is more to him than meets the eye, but we're kept in the dark for much of the novel until the big reveal.
The true beauty of The Well's End, however, is most definitely the whirlwind plot, which simply doesn't stop. While I felt that, at times, the characters weren't entirely rooted in reality, the plot takes center stage. For example, when I though the mystery was brought to light and we were going to understand the root cause of the virus and The Cave, Mr. Fishman throws readers a curveball. Thrusting us headlong into a town that's riddled with mystery and darkness, we're helpless but to watch and hope as the events unfold with painstaking care. It's exciting to see an author take such care in setting up surprising elements to a story that might have otherwise fallen quite flat. Furthermore, the author has an incredibly easy tone that makes it fun and engaging to follow, and he embraces the modernity of language, which brings our teenage cast alive.
In the end, I read The Well's End in one sitting, riveted from start to finish. When I thought the mystery had unfurled by the second act, I was surprised to see more action, adventure and mystery in the third. It's the type of novel that asks you to simply put aside your reservations and plunge in headfirst with abandon...do it. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy science fiction, thrillers and mysteries.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.