Friday, 11 May 2012

YA Book Review and Author Interview: 'Wheels' by Lorijo Metz



Wheels
by Lorijo Metz

Published: April 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Self- Published
Genre: YA/ Science Fiction
Format: E-Book
Pages: 329

Cover Art

I would have actually preferred this cover if it didn't have the purple outside bit to it but was just the inner rectangle...if that makes sense! I love the planets and the wheel but not so much the maroon outside bit which looks amateurish.
Plot Synopsis

McKenzie Wu doesn’t know her great-great grandmother married an alien or that her great-great-great uncle is alive and systematically eliminating a race of beings on a tiny planet light years away—she has enough to worry about. Molecules keep rearranging themselves to suit her slightest wish, but only at the most inconvenient times. If that weren't enough, she’s been dreaming about an accident; one she’s had no memory of until now and, if true, means McKenzie is responsible for her mother’s death.

When McKenzie stumbles upon a portal, transporting her and her friend Hayes to the tiny planet of Circanthos, she learns the inhabitants believe she is the “One” destined to save them from H.G. Wells, a name that sounds strangely familiar, and his Tsendi warriors. But while her newfound ability might give her superhero status back on Earth, halfway across the galaxy it’s commonplace—all Circanthians can particle-weave—and if they can’t stop H.G. Wells, what can she hope to do?

With the portal closed and no idea how to get home, McKenzie must learn to use a power she does not want and accept her mysterious past, or risk losing everything—her father’s love, her new alien friends and the boy.


My Rating:

First Lines:
'The words I entrust to your honourable pages must remain a secret between you and me; my beloved's life depends on it. Even now I tremble, fearful, lest my words fall into the wrong hands'  
Pocket-Size Review
Seriously, this book is so awesome. The second self-published book I have read this year and, like the first, it has been gripping and brilliantly constructed. The story is vast, the characters are all wonderful and the world building is top notch. 


Highs: ALL the characters, the new planet, the format. 
Lows: I got a bit confused with the terminology at times and had to check back.

Review

I know a lot of reviewers don't accept self-published books, and I think this is a mistake. If a self-published book has had good reviews on Amazon/Goodreads, and has a plot synopsis that interests me, I am more than happy to give it a go. 'Wheels' just proves how good they can be, and what a lot of readers are missing out on. This book is fantastic. Seriously. 


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 I got confused between cortexes and gates. I 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, the characters are believable (even though some have wheels!) and the dialogue is well written. 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.

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: More Sci Fi!
Three Words to Describe this Book: Fast Paced, Unique, Wheel-tastic!




Interview With the Author: Lorijo Metz


Love this picture!


Interesting Factoid:

  • She became a writer because an old gypsy woman told her mother that she would be! Read the full story here: it's a good'un.




The Interview


In which Lorijo discusses other planets, C.S Lewis and why she would choose a boring super power!

1. What inspired you to write a sci-fi novel in which a lot of the action takes place on another planet?

Superheroes are, by definition, beings with extraordinary powers, which, as heroes, they use to save the world. Now, imagine if you took Superman, dropped him on Krypton and told him everyone was depending on him to save the planet. As we all know, Superman isn’t super on Krypton (Yes, I know, Krypton was destroyed. This is an alternative Superman universe.) That’s what I wanted to do. Since the power McKenzie possesses is extraordinary by Earth standards, I had to get her to a planet where her power was plain old ordinary. The truth is, even though Wheels is a science fiction novel, at heart, it’s just a story about a 14-year-old girl coming to terms with her own baggage.

2. The main character is a schoolgirl. Did you base McKenzie's school life on your own experiences? Were you very sporty and feisty?!

 LOL. I was a band, choir and drama kid. McKenzie’s love of basketball can be attributed to my son, who lives for the Chicago Bulls. The feistiness comes from my daughter—enough said!

3. Did you have a Hayes when you were at school? Someone who took your breath away with one lopsided grin?! :-P

I like to think of Hayes as a combination of my best friend in high school (a boy), my husband (also a boy) and every daydream I’ve ever had. If you watched the TV show Gilmore Girls, Hayes is a happier, more laid-back version of Jess: a bad boy with a heart of gold, who turns out to be extremely intelligent. (Hayes also has a great sense of humor.)

4. If you found yourself in McKenzie's position- on a strange planet and being lauded as their saviour- how do you think you would react?

I would be embarrassed. I would probably do my best to help out, all the while hoping that someone—meaning, the real hero—would show up.

5. You have used a lot of made-up terminology in this book for objects and places on the other planet. Did it take you long to come up with it, and were there reasons why you choose certain words?

In high school, I read C. S. Lewis’ science fiction series about Perelandra. I still have the typed (‘cuz I didn’t have a computer!) copy of the glossary I made for it. I loved that he made up a language for his aliens. (And, yes, I wish I could speak Klingon!) Even though my aliens had learned to speak English, it just made sense to me that some words wouldn’t translate. Also, even before H.G. Wells arrived on Circanthos, there was a connection between the two planets, which I won’t give away here, so even though there are alien words, they have Greek and Latin roots, making them similar to Earth words. And finally, it’s just fun to make up words!

6. Why did you choose to include H.G. Wells in this novel and why was he cast as the villain?

Honestly… I don’t know. I think, subconsciously, I wanted to pay tribute to him. He’s the king of Sci-fi. So why did I make him a villain? I like to think of my H.G. Wells as an H.G. Wells from a parallel universe—the universe where he’s not a good guy. I think our H.G. Wells would have liked that.

7. If you could leave Earth and could create a planet to go and live on, what would your perfect planet be like? Would it be anything like Circanthos?

I wouldn’t leave Earth. I love my home. I would love, however, to have the ability to travel (quickly) to distant planets. The reason I say this is that, when you think about it, every alternative universe has its problems, i.e. alien monsters, evil fairies and witches, and fluffy animals that stab you when you least expect it. At least on Earth I am minimally equipped to handle them. More important, my family is here.

8. If you were casting a film for this novel, who would you put in the lead roles?

First, let me put in a plug for a website called, StoryCasting.com. Wheels is on it and you too can cast your favorite novels with your favorite Hollywood actors and actresses. Back to your question…



  • McKenzie Wu: Karen Gillian from the BBC’s Dr. Who would be a perfect if she were only younger and a bit more Asian.
  • Hayes: Michael B. Jordan, who played Alex on NBC’s Parenthood, would be a great Hayes if, once again, he were only younger.
  • Principal Provost: Collin Firth, ‘cuz he’s Collin Firth and I want him in my movie!
  • H.G. Wells: Kenneth Branagh (What role can’t that man play!)



9. There are so many references to wheels in this novel (as the title suggests!)What inspired you to put in so many wheels!? Where did the idea come from?

I think many themes happen unconsciously. Frankly, there were just a lot of round, spinning objects in my story. Wheelchair wheels, basketballs, planets, aliens with spherical appendages… At one point there were even more references in the way of names. Principal Provost was Principal Circles and H.G. Wells was H.G. Wheels, but I feared it was becoming a distraction. The story is not about wheels, it’s about McKenzie.

10. I love the idea of particle weaving. If you could choose any special power to possess would you choose that one or is there another super power that catches your eye?!

Sigh… I shouldn’t answer this, but I will. I’ve always dreamed of walking into a house, and with one swift wink of the eye, it would be perfectly clean and organized. This sounds pathetic, but think of it, I could make tons of money and would be under no obligation to save the planet with my super power.

The Big Three:

1. Sum up the book in three words:

Superman Saves Krypton 

2. Name your three favourite books

Only 3? Not fair, but here goes. These are my current favorite sci-fi and fantasy books (I do read other genres).

1. Abarat, by Clive Barker. There are so many Clive Barker books I would never consider reading because I cannot read horror. However, I’ve read and loved his Abarat series and the Imajica books. Abarat, especially, has unique and colorful characters, and is so one-of-a-kind, you can’t even pin a genre on it.

2. Philip Pullman’s Dark Material Trilogy (especially The Golden Compass). Lyra is by far my favorite heroine of all time.

3. Dune, by Frank Herbert. I probably wouldn’t love reading it as much now, but I loved it when I read it. I read all the books in the series, even as they became increasingly bad.  

3. Name your three favourite authors

1. C. S. Lewis: Because he was my first inspiration

2. Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and Philip Pullman: Because I can only ever aspire to their vast imaginations. (And they are all equally my number 2)

3. Erin Morgenstern, author of the Night Circus: Because her writing is so beautiful, I want to cry!

Finally, will there be a sequel?!

Right now, I’m working on a different novel that I’m very excited about. However, I purposely left Wheels open for a sequel. I would love to hangout with my characters again. I really want to see what happens between McKenzie and Hayes. So, I guess the answer to your question is, we’ll see.

Buy a copy of 'Wheels' here:
Find Lorijo here:

Thanks Lorijo- I love Karen Gillan and think she would be the perfect McKenzie...with a few adjustments! I really hope that sequel happens, but good luck with your new novel, I'll be sure to check it out!

35 comments:

  1. I'm sad to say I'm one of those bloggers that doesn't accept self-published titles for review, but honestly I accept very few titles for review period. I WILL totally go out and buy a self-published book and read and review it if I hear good things though, and this one is totally tempting! It sounds like a lot of fun, particularly the time travel, particle arranging, time travel aspects. I'm a bit hesitant about the potential head-jumping narration, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, and also convoluted terminology. I totally agree with your cover thoughts though! Lovely review. =)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Haha I hope it didn't sound like I was attacking people who don't review self-published books- I just sometimes feel bad for self-published authors whose books are really good but people just assume they are going to be bad. I think you would like this one...although there is a lot of multi-perspective narrative so if you're not into that you might not! I got a message on Twitter yesterday from the author and she said she had taken my criticism on board and changed the cover which was awesome! I felt powerful. Lol x

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