"Christmas came early for me this year - Wheels is an incredible sci-fi adventure novel! And I enjoyed reading it. A lot! It’s just so amazing! Well done, Lorijo. :)" – Ara of My Book and My Coffee
I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to read this book. It’s a really great read. I didn’t know that it was possible but the author was able to make every detail and scenario very interesting. I just love it!
The story is about McKenzie Wu, a young teenager who loves to play basketball and a star player at that (mind you, she’s in a wheelchair!). And apparently, she has a superpower; she can manipulate matter (or particle-weave). As you know, superpowers can be a bit tricky especially if the one who has it doesn’t know how to use it properly. One may end up with an unfavourable result – or probably something weirder than what was expected. With McKenzie, she was experiencing things that weren’t natural. Since she doesn’t know how to control her superpower yet (and at first, she didn’t really realize that she’s the one rearranging those molecules), she’s a bit, let’s just say, overwhelmed with the whole thing. Who wouldn’t be, right? She even thought that she’s going bananas but something happened that made her realize that she wasn’t going crazy at all. Everything is real and she has a lot to learn along the way especially since later on, she will find out that she’s supposed to save another planet, Circanthos. How will she do it? Is she really the “One”? Or is the “One” already in the said planet? Will she be able to control her power? Can she really save Circanthos? Super exciting!
Let me talk about the characters in this book. McKenzie is the main character here and I love how she handled everything. One thing that I liked most about her is that she’s very real – believable. You will realize that she is, indeed, a teenager with lots of emotions and as usual, she can’t always control them.
I love Rudy Hayes! For me, he’s amazing. He’s McKenzie’s friend here and he's included in this whole adventure. He’s one curious boy, as expected, and he’s smart. He has his own story to tell and I just love how he was able to remain her friend till the end. Hopefully, when their characters "grow up", they can finally admit what they really feel for each other.
I think H. G. Wells is so full of himself. Of course, I am referring to the character in this book and not the famous H. G. Wells who wrote The Time Machine. Although in this book, he’s also a famous writer. Tee hee hee! :) In this book, this character is just plain annoying. You know, he’s one of those people who uses knowledge to manipulate every person around him. That everything he does is justified. Argh! So irritating!
The rest of the characters are so great as well. The author has created a fantastic bunch! One more character that I want to mention though – the FBI agent. Although he’s just doing his job, it’s just so funny coz it’s hopeless. You will know what I am talking about when you read the book.
I love how the author ended the story. It’s perfect and I want to say more but I’m afraid I’ve given out some spoilers already. :)
The world building and imagination that went into the creation of this book is astounding. The author creates a whole new planet with two alien races and a whole host of colourful characters! There are alien foods, alien sports, alien foliage, alien customs and even an alien religion. The aliens believe in the Great Creator who, instead of living in the sky, lives in the Lapis Sea. They call their creator 'Concentric' which was quite funny because instead of saying 'Oh God' they say 'Concentric help us!' and invoke Concentric when in distress, how we would with God. It was fascinating to read and I loved the world the author created. I especially loved the 'poonchi' which is similar to a dog but shaped like a bowling ball with spikes. It sounds adorable and I want one. I also really loved a food they had- a kind of berry which taste nice or horrible depending on your mood. I thought that was very Harry Potter-esque and something you would get from Honeydukes!
The way the author writes about time travel and travelling through space is really original and not cliche, and is very unearthly and unusual! It is rare to find a new way of describing time travel as it has already been written about so much before, so I thought that was really interesting. I also loved the concept of 'particle weaving' which is being able to move particles into new shapes using your mind. I would love to have that power, and have always wanted something along those lines since I read 'Matilda' as a child! I think Green Lantern also does something similar so maybe he comes from Circanthos too!
I loved the main characters. McKenzie is really likeable; even more so because she is quite flawed, especially at the beginning, and matures throughout the novel. She starts off very independent, feisty, obnoxious and bossy and she becomes a lot more soft, vulnerable and more of a team player. Her strange mixture of looks also make her stand out; she is Chinese with bright red hair and emerald eyes. The boy she travels with, Rudy Hayes, is quite adorable. His lop-sided grin and cheeky banter with McKenzie made him a believable love interest and their flirtation is very cute and not over the top. I probably would've liked more of it, but I was glad the author didn't make it overly smushy or cheesy.
I really loved the format of the book. It is written from many different perspectives: we have third person from McKenzie, Revolvos, Hayes and Provost, then we have Julianne Well's diary, Well's diary, Krumm's log, and the interview transcripts of Krumm interrogating the characters. I'm sure I've missed some out too! This book has so many different elements and I absolutely loved that- I like it when authors do something different with the way they present the story and it made me want to keep reading.
It's funny that this the second book I read this year that featured H.G Wells as a main character! The first was 'Map of Time' by Felix Palmer which I absolutely detested...it was awful. I'm happy to say that this book was so much better, even though H.G Wells is very villainous in this one! He is very aggressive and is definitely working along the principles of the Great British Empire in the way he tryies to civilise the primitive Tsendi people. Other characters provide the comic relief to balance the meanness and cruelty of Wells and his henchmen: McKenzie's father travelling with Revolvos and Provost (two aliens) is hilarious- they all bicker and banter and vie to be the most pompous!
There are not many downsides to this book but there were a few negatives. I did find the time travel stuff a bit too confusing at first and got confused between cortexes and gates and felt things got a bit blurred and my eyes started glazing over! It all gets heaped on pretty quickly too so my brain couldn't process it. It does feel like a bit of a sci-fi info dump at times, where names and places and character names all sound the same and I found it an information overload. However, this is a very small part of the novel and, as the book goes on, it became a lot clearer in my head! However, all this is probably more the fault of my brain than the author and because I don't read very much sci-fi!
Overall, I loved most aspects of this book and thought it was brilliantly written. It is well-paced and interesting and the characters and dialogue are believable (even though some have wheels!) The world building and imagination is intense and an impressive feat! It is one I know I'll re-read, which isn't something I say about a lot of books.
So many "Wheels" pulling this story! When I started this book, I was expecting your average YA novel, especially when I found a female main character. However, this book is far from your average book.
McKenzie is a tough, vulnerable, frustrating, willful character. She has a good counterpart in Hayes, and a good mentor in Pietas. This world was extremely well thought out; maybe too much so, in spots. Some parts are unneccesarily complicated, and some info comes in too heavily and too fast. This is something I blame on the depth of detail the author is using in her narrative. I'm usually a fan of detail, so I think maybe it just needed to be spread out a little more evenly to keep folks from getting lost. There is an extensive glossary at the end of the book that helps offset this (which I'd be more likely to notice before the end of the story in the paperback version, but I read this on my Kindle).
Within this huge alien world (planet) full of unusual sights and sounds, fierce predators and puzzling inhabitants, you will find the unlikely character of H.G. Wells. This was completely unexpected. Metz wrote Wells to be a complete pain in the rear, but if you step back and think about it, it's easy to see how a 19th-century Englishman surrounded by what he considers savages COULD be a complete pain in the rear. Wells makes a pretty good antagonist. I also like how the inhabitants of Circanthos aren't just a team of good guys and a team of baddies who need to be defeated. The story arc of the Tsendi is a lovely example of how details can bring not only understanding and empathy to the reader, but can change the face of a race, whether they're good or bad or naughty or nice.... they're simply sentient beings with a story. If anything, I think that the story of the Tsendi is better portrayed than the Circanthians, which is interesting, because so many Circanthians have been singled out and put into solo portraits, with storylines and backgrounds, and the Tsendi were mostly lumped together in that big panoramic shot.
As other reviewers have pointed out, this story jumps around to different points of view in places. Occasionally, it's a little too often, but for the most part, it's interesting. Most of the main and supporting characters featured have a backstory, with details that shape their personalities and behavior. McKenzie learns and matures as she is exposed to these characters, and grows to the point where you start to believe she may be the right person for the job after all.
As a parent, I don't see much in this book to warn a teen or even a pre-teen against. Mostly I'd recommend based on reading level, genre preference, and whether said child can handle all the details as well as the length. This story definitely needs a kid that will pay attention and is capable of sticking with the story all the way through.
--Katherine X, Kindle Book Review