As promised, here’s my review
As promised, here’s my review of the Wheels book! (As I had mentioned before, it takes place shortly after Wheels’s parents died in season three.)
The opening chapter was pretty strange, to say the least. A few days ago I shared some screencaps from the preview that was on Amazon with you guys. There was some TMI about Wheels “taking a leak” (yes, it actually said that) and popping a pimple. Some funny lines here and there, too. Naturally I thought the rest of the book was going to be peppered with the kind of bizarre, unintentionally funny moments that Degrassi High is known for… however, the book quickly got more serious in tone.
After Wheels comes back to school, he finds himself at odds with Joey. In the show, it seemed like Wheels just wasn’t really in the mood to hang out with Joey, nothing personal, but in the book, it’s revealed he literally hated him for a time. Joey is trying desperately to get in touch with him, but Wheels ignores all of his calls. Nothing much is said about Snake; I know in the show, Snake was deliberately ignoring Wheels because he “didn’t know what to say to him” and all that jazz. I feel like if he was gonna be mad at anyone, he should’ve been mad at Snake. Oh, well.
Pretty soon, Wheels finds himself skipping school on a regular basis in order to hang out with some new friends, Barry and Tami, in downtown Toronto. (They aren’t Degrassi students.) And not only is he stealing money from his grandmother’s purse so he has money for pizza and video games, but his friends eventually convince him to shoplift with them, too. And if Lucy and Voula taught us anything, we know that ain’t gonna end well. Long story short, Barry and Tami end up “pulling a Claude” (AKA: running away like a weenie and leaving their friend to take all the blame) when Wheels is caught stealing a jacket.
Wheels has a bit of a love interest in Tami, but as she and Barry are already a couple, it’s clearly not gonna happen, and as the book goes on, he sees her true colors. But speaking of love interests, earlier on in the book, it was mentioned that Lucy had asked Wheels to the fall dance— he’d said no because he thought she was just doing it out of pity. Can you imagine Lucy and Wheels going out? I sure can’t; I feel like she’d get sick of his sh*t after, like, five minutes.
But this isn’t just a run-of-the-mill “Wheels getting into trouble” story; there’s a lot of deep stuff in here, too. His parents and their death are discussed at length, and what I found saddest of all is how many times in this book Wheels wishes he’d died with them.
I liked that they gave Wheels and Joey’s friendship a little backstory; apparently they’d known each other since nursery school, and he’d always felt much closer to Joey than he did to Snake. And indeed, Joey is a really good friend in this story— even as Wheels is shutting him out, Joey still does whatever he can to make it clear that he’s here for him.
The continuity, for the most part, is really good, but there’s some slight inconsistencies with the show towards the end when the events of “Taking Off” are retold… while in the show, it seems to take place in the springtime, in the book, it happens shortly after Christmas break. And in the show, what set off Wheels and made him want to go to Port Hope to begin with was some spat he had with his grandmother over dishes or grades or something relatively petty… in the book, it’s because he’s been arrested for shoplifting and she is making good on her threat to call Children’s Aid. Also, he is clearly on speaking terms with Joey and Snake by this point in the show… they come to say goodbye and see him off… but in the book, though they do come and give him a couple bucks for his troubles, they aren’t exactly happy to do it. I can see why these changes were made, for the sake of the book’s pacing and all that, but it also unfortunately means that this book isn’t really canon.
Aside from that, I think this book was otherwise very well-written, not only with regards to the show, but by itself— that is, I think even someone who has never seen or heard of Degrassi in their life could really enjoy this book. While it was fun for a big fan like me to read, the story isn’t wholly dependent on you knowing all about the show’s universe and whatnot. And I also appreciated, and I know many of you guys will too, that it wasn’t written in a “kiddy” sort of tone. And at roughly 200 pages, it was a pretty damn substantial read.
Anyway, I wound up ordering the Maya book on Amazon as well. I’m a few chapters in, but I’ve not gotten the chance to finish it yet… when I do, I’ll be sure to post a review of it here.
*** And sorry if I ramble… I’m not really used to writing book reviews. I’m a TV major, not an English major. xD ***