Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: Middleworld by J & P Voelkel

The Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld by J&P Voelkel
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication date: April 2010
ISBN: 9781606840719

Source: Review copy from publicist
(Guest post and author interview with J&P Voelkel)

The Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld

All Max Murphy wants is a fabulous vacation to Italy, where he can devour pizza and relax.  But, when his archeologist parents cancel the trip in order to go on a dig in Central America, his dreams are shattered.  They aren't even planning on bringing him there, but he gets sent down there shortly after.  Once there, he becomes embroiled in a battle for power centered around the mysterious Jaguar Stones.  Now he's in a race to save his parents, and his own life.  Not a very relaxing summer vacation.

Things I Liked:
This was an exciting and action-packed adventure that also managed to teach me about Mayan culture.  I love a good archeological tale - I used to adore Indiana Jones movies (and this felt like a middle grade friendly version of them).  At one point I even thought it would be awesome to be an archeological astronomer and study ancient cultures' astronomical beliefs.  So this had a definite appeal to me.  However, I think it will be perfect for kids who love action, adventure, and humor all wrapped up into a neat package.  The story is interesting and scary, exciting, or humorous things seem to happen on every page.  Some favorite quotes:

Among the tangle of mosquito netting and old socks, his fingers closed on something unnaturally hard and dense. 
The granola bars.
It had come to this.
Miserably, he unwrapped a bar.  He brought the compacted brown mass to his lips.  With a heavy heart, he opened his mouth and prepared his tongue to receive the foul-tasting grunge.
Then, in the nick of time, he recovered his fighting spirit.
Things were bad, but not that bad.
He still wasn't desperate enough to eat a granola bar. p 112
Once there was the terrible sound of rock scraping on rubber as they wedged under a particularly low overhang.  Then they had to try not to scream and calmly maneuver themselves to the left or the right, to find a place where the raft could squeeze through.  (By unspoken agreement, Max did the trying not to scream, while Lola did the calm maneuvering.) p 136
"It's just that some crazy girl made me shoot the rapids in an underground river and then she got me trapped like a hair ball in an underground sink.  Oh yes, and some cape-twirling psycho is trying to kill me."
"Don't take it too personally," said Lola.  "He's trying to kill me, too." p 144
Things I Didn't Like:
I think as an adult, I struggled to find the story at all plausible.  Some of it was rather impossible in my head, but didn't really stop me from enjoying the ride.  Some of the humor didn't quite tickle me either, but I assume that's also the adult in me.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The 39 Clues series by various authors

s-factor: !
a very few

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
some scary parts and some fighting, not gory though

Overall rating: ****

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I agree-this one has geat adventure and tween appeal, but as an adult I found it somewhat over the top. But I'm sure adventure fans would love it!

  2. Thanks for the review. It's really hard to get a MG book right. It seems like it's either too mature or too "perfect" for reality. But the Mayan aspect in this book does sound interesting.

  3. GreenBean, I think lots of adventure for kids books can be over the top in their desire to entertain.

    Alison, so true! I think it will be quite interesting for some kids, though.


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