Zeke Battle: Earthquake Boy by Dr Doug Wilson
The Ring of Fire, the necklace of earthquakes and volcanoes around the Pacific, has suddenly become hugely active. New Zealand is shaking - so too is Chile, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.
Zeke Battle, a homeless orphan, has an answer though. The unsung genius is revealed to be a mathematical genius. At first, his work on proving an unsafe building is rejected, but ultimately he is proven right.
His wildly dramatic solution to the seismic activity unfolding below the surface is risky. He plans to blow up the trigger points for the earthquakes - by drilling deep into the ground to get there. Along with his girlfriend Rosie and his close friend Skitsy, he embarks on a global campaign to fight the Ring of Fire.
He is eventually approved to drill deep below Wellington, Chile and Japan and the world holds its collective breath.
Zeke Battle: Earthquake Boy is an interesting read. Author Dr Doug Wilson said the story arose as "more and more earthquakes and volcanoes were appearing, and in one situation in California, my work job was disrupted as the factory supplying products was destroyed".
He has flown over Mount St Helens in the USA and seen the impact of its huge quake, and the Taupō resident's own house was covered in ash during Ruapehu's eruption in 1996.
It is clear he has a strong interest in volcanoes and earthquakes. Wilson is able to fill the book with interesting facts and figures (although I have no idea if the 'Zeke Experiment' is even remotely feasible in real life) and makes it interesting and accessible.
Zeke is a lovable rogue and while his tale may seem far-fetched, Wilson writes his story with conviction.
Wilson himself always wanted to be a children's writer when he was younger, but dyslexia cramped his competence. Modern technology, such as diction and spellcheck, freed him up. His story echoes that of Zeke's - a child desperate to do something but limited by circumstances until technology plays its part.
There are parts of the book that needed a little more polishing. Gwendolyn, Zeke's guardian, and Skitsy are abducted at one point and it's just dropped into the story as a simple aside at first. Zeke's reliance and friendship with the pair makes that seem unrealistic, although the plot line is tidied up by the end of the story.
Overall though, it's an interesting read that will capture the younger readers attention and imagination. Zeke is a flawed, yet well-rounded, character who proves you should never judge a book by its cover.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Erkel-Erkel Publishing, RRP $19.99