Thursday, July 22, 2010

Middleworld: The Jaguar Stones Book 1 by J & P Voelkel + Contest!

Published 2010.

Fourteen-year-old Max Murphy, video-gamer extraordinaire, is furious when his archaeologist parents cancel the family vacation to go on a dig in Central America. But things go from bad to worse when Max is summoned to join them, only to discover that his parents have vanished. With the help of Lola, a fast-talking, quick-thinking Maya girl, Max embarks on a quest to find out just what's going on. Soon Max and Lola are running for their lives in the perilous rainforest, as they unlock ancient secrets, meet mysterious strangers, and begin to understand that, in San Xavier, nothing is ever as it seems.

Fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to Max Murphy. But can a teen whose biggest talent is for video games rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save himself from the villainous Lords of Death?
(book back blurb)

For a middle grade book, this is certainly a long one! 400 pages plus a glossary of terms! Not that is wasn't compelling to read through but that's mighty long for YA let alone MG.

I found Max to be a rather unlikeable character for about 2/3rds of the book. He was whiny, bratty and self-centered and it was rather disturbing to watch him insult entire tribes with his tantrums. As with all good coming-of-age books, he does realize the err of his ways and starts doing things for the greater good as opposed for just himself but it's right on the cusp of too little too late for me. Once his character turned, he didn't show any signs of reverting but still, he was a right pain in the ass for a good chunk of the book.

Lola is such an awesome character. She puts Max in his place when he's acting like a spoiled brat (which is every other page), she can survive on her own, not to mention she's strong of character. Really I wish there were more characters like her in YA. In terms of this particular book, she added that female touch to the story that could draw girls into reading it (although girls will more readily read a book with a male protagonist than boys will read a book with a female protagonist). I really had no complaints about Lola at all. I could relate to her on so many levels and I really wished she was a more prominent part of the story. I'm hoping to see more of her in the sequel.

The story had some camp to it, like kind of stupid humor, and I'm not sure if that's sort of normal in MG books. I found it a little grating and sort of undermining but it wasn't really too prominent so it was easier to look over.

To me the best part of the book was the history. All of the Mayan stuff dripping throughout. And I swear I did not plan to read two Maya books back to back! It just worked out that way. Instead of being background information to fuel the story, all of the Mayan information in Middleworld was front and center. It was the story. It removed itself from history and became the present, combining the two in an action-packed river ride into a parallel world.

Middleworld certainly isn't short on action. There's never a dull moment as you turn the pages. I think the success of the book to the person hinges on how much the reader can tolerate Max. If you can make it through his rough patch where he's finding himself, you'll surely enjoy the ride after that. If you can't make it, I have to say you'll be missing some interesting twists. The liberties the Voelkels took with Mayan history were totally within believable parameters and had they not said anything, I would have believed The Jaguar Stones were real.

The glossary at the back of the book provides some great rounding information that puts some of the more foreign pieces of the story into a better context. Worth reading as well so don't skip it!

Contest Time!!!

Want my copy of Middleworld? Then fill out the form below for your chance to win! Open to US residents 13 years old and older only. One entry per person per email. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Ends August 12th at midnight, EST.


Bethie said...

Thanks for the giveaway.

miss cindy :) said...

The cover reminds me of the movie "Waterworld." Thanks for the giveaway, and awesome review :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Awesome cover!

Another reviewer reached a similar conclusion to yours, saying that it doesn't really have crossover appeal for adult readers of YA. =( I think I'd really love something like this if it were YA rather than MG--like something Rick Riordan would write.

Vidisha said...

Thanks for the giveaway!!

Elise said...


bridget3420 said...

I entered

Meredith said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Beverly said...

Thanks for hosting.

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