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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Juvenile Book Review - Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voight

Release Date - September 2013

Cynthia Voight
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

There's a bit of a Lemony Snicket feel to Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things.  Max is a pretty independent 12 year old, his parents run a local theater and are actors, so Max has learned through them the skills it takes to act like someone else. When his parents receive a mysterious invitation to travel to India, they first think about leaving Max with his grandmother, but quickly change their minds and decide to make sure he's invited on their adventure.

The day of the big voyage, Max arrives at the harbor after his class to find the ship they're supposed to sail on doesn't exist. His parents are gone, and Max has no choice but to go to his grandmother. The pair start unraveling the few clues they have to figure out what happened to Max's parents.

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things definitely had that whimsical feel at times that I loved in Lemony Snicket. That was certainly the book's strength, but I struggled with the characters and that made for hard reading. Max is a pre-teen and some of the situations he finds himself in seem to be too adult and no one stops things, especially not his grandmother who is really the one person who should be putting her foot down. Letting Max live alone in his home was the first thing that triggered my "what" response. No way would my 12 year olds been allowed to live alone in my absence. Granted that is an adult view in a book intended for 8 to 12 year olds, so it may not bother kids.

In the end, the story is okay, but I didn't find it compelling enough to make me feel an urgency to read the remaining two books in this series. It's good but not great.

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