Authors Showcase: Into the Unknown
December 6, 2012
The book: Jaguar Moon
The Author: Martha Bourke
The Story: Sixteen-year-old Maya Delaney has survived becoming a shape-shifter, being kidnapped, and bringing the world into a new era at the end of the Mayan calendar.Maya hoped the worst was behind her, but troubling dreams still haunt her sleep. When a mysterious stranger appears, she suspects he may hold the key to her true identity. But to find out, Maya must decide to leave the ones who love her most.
Will the answers she seeks give her solace, or will they take her away from all she holds dear?
Review by Brooke Frederick: Ever been to the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico? Thick jungle, steamy afternoons, cockatoos and monkeys screeching unseen in the trees. Think Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan pyramid, one of the seven modern wonders of the world. Think strange and exotic languages and dialects, and the magic of ancient beliefs and customs.
Take a very special group of high school kids on Christmas break to this super exotic locale, and you have the makings of the new YA book by Martha Bourke, Jaguar Moon. Some of these kids have extraordinary powers, like the ability to shift and adopt an animal persona which also acts as a protector. Maya’s special protector is the Jaguar. Matt, her boyfriend-turned-mate, is a wolf in his alter-ego. In the first book in the series, Jaguar Sun, Maya and Matt and their friends came to this area because of a catastrophic event that happened on December 21, 2012, and Maya played a special role that day.
I really like Maya a lot. At 16, she is worried about her father’s workaholic tendencies, and about her grandmother being alone, but most of all she frets about the changes she sees in herself. As the book opens, the burn wound on Maya’s neck and chest miraculously vanishes during the night while she sleeps. And then there are those frightening images she sees in recurring dreams.
What I like best about Jaguar Moon is this group of friends gathered around Maya. Her best friend Lyssa, Lyssa’s twin brother Damian, and the young man Lyssa falls in love with, Cesar, form a dynamic support group. The dialogue between all these characters seems so real, it takes me right back to my high school days (seems like yesterday!). Each of the characters is thrown into a personal crisis of one kind or another in Jaguar Moon, and I got involved with them. The book was full of surprises that made my heart beat faster.
The shattering ending of Jaguar Moon came too soon for my liking, epic, beautiful, unforgettable. I read the second half of the book without once moving from my chair. When it was over, I was in denial. I couldn’t stand to leave this magical world. The book is a must-read for the YA set, but adults will fall under its spell, too.
The Book: Wheels
The Author: Lorijo Metz
The Story: For McKenzie Wu, discovering she has a superpower has been anything but super. 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.
WHEELS is a sci-fi adventure filled with mystery and romance—a coming-of-age tale that proves it takes more than super powers to save a planet.
Review by Anna Clare: 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.