Title: Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things
* Series: Mister Max #1
Author: Cynthia Voigt
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Content Screening: Nothing of note.
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy MG fiction with quirky main characters and mysteries.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / BookLikes
Max Starling's theatrical father likes to say that at twelve a boy is independent. He also likes to boast (about his acting skills, his wife's acting skills, a fortune only his family knows is metaphorical), but more than anything he likes to have adventures. Max Starling's equally theatrical mother is not a boaster but she enjoys a good adventure as much as her husband. When these two disappear, what can sort-of-theatrical Max and his not-at-all theatrical grandmother do? They have to wait to find out something, anything, and to worry, and, in Max's case, to figure out how to earn a living at the same time as he maintains his independence. This is the first of three books, all featuring the mysterious Mister Max.
Ah, Mister Max. What an intriguing young fellow he was. I have to tell you that, although most will list this as Middle Grade, I think it bridges the gap. It's true that our hero is a mere twelve years old. However he's wise well beyond his years and, I won't lie, his personality is infectious. Max Starling is one of those characters who is going to cause a lot of readers to smile, no matter what their age.
I'm sure you're wondering why, if I loved Max so very much, I rated this book as I did. Let me explain. The characters in this book are superb. Every single one, from Max's grandmother right on down to Pia, Max's would be apprentice, is well fleshed out. Each character has their own set of quirks. Each has their own distinct personality that makes them instantly likable, or unlikable, as the story calls for. I can't deny that I was impressed by Cynthia Voigt's characters. Max and his comrades were great fun to follow.
Sadly, it was the story line itself that fell short for me. Max's back story is fascinating enough. Raised by theatrical parents, left alone due to mysterious circumstances, and trying to manage all by himself at only twelve years old. I was excited by the prospect of what he might get up to. Still, as enjoyable as some of the situations he found himself in were, it all read very slowly. It takes a long time for anything exciting to happen in Max's story. When it did, I read eagerly. Then I'd be left waiting for the next bit of excitement. I can't say for certain, but if I was left wanting I'm sure that a younger reader would be as well.
The ending also threw me for a loop. There isn't so much a cliffhanger as there is an abrupt end to it all. I was happy to glimpse at least some of what was to come, but I really wish more had been tied up. Despite everything though, I know I'll come back for more. Max was able to peak my interest, and I want to see what happens to him, and his family, in the next book.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.