By Ekta R. Garg
September 16, 2015
Genre: Young adult fiction
Rated: Bookmark it!
A young teen finally manages to solve the mystery of his parents’ disappearance, only to find that mystery hiding another one. As he embarks on one of the greatest adventures of his life, his plucky grandmother and several friends will accompany him halfway across the world to rescue his mother and father. Young adult author Cynthia Voigt brings readers the conclusion to her delightful Mister Max series in the commendable third book Mister Max and The Book of Kings.
For the last four months Max and his Grammie have worried and waited. Worried about Max’s parents and waited for word from them. In April his mother and father boarded a ship from their town of Queensbridge in the good faith that they were traveling to India for stage performances. As the founders and principal actors in the Starling Theater Company, William and Mary Starling would normally take Max with them. A last-minute schedule mishap, though, prevents Max from boarding the ship with them.
When William sends a cryptic message after their departure, Grammie considers the schedule mishap a blessing in disguise. Using the clues in William’s subsequent messages, Grammie and Max finally figure out that his parents have somehow ended up in the tiny South American country of Andesia. What’s more, in a fantastic turn of events William and Mary have been crowned king and queen of the fledgling country. But they’re in trouble, and they need Max to help them.
Now, in the month of July, Max has begun narrowing his options for a rescue plan. With Grammie backing him up and the support of Ari, the next Barthold Baron, Max thinks he knows what he needs to do. The problem is that he doesn’t know how to go about executing his plan.
Help comes in the form of an unexpected source; before Max knows it, he, Grammie, Ari, and several others have boarded a ship for South America. What they find there will require all of their knowledge, smarts, and ingenuity as a group, and Max will need to draw on everything he’s learned as his town’s “solutioneer” in order to bring William and Mary home safely.
Following the setup in the first two books, author Cynthia Voigt brings her impish tone to this third book in Max Starling’s story. Unlike the first two books, however, Voigt gives Max more room to brood over his parents here. The sole case that comes Max’s way goes to his assistant, Pia, and it’s clear Max has taught her well. She follows Max’s footsteps and his methods, making her own mistakes and solving the case in her own way all in one fell swoop.
Part of the charm of the first two books came in the intriguing cases Max needed to solve as a solutioneer, the name he adopts as his job description. In order to bring the entire series to its end, Voigt must move Max’s story away from his cases. Readers will definitely miss Max’s innovative ideas to offer resolutions to those who come to him for help. By the same token, however, the story comes full circle as Max gets to go back to being a son.
Voigt also gets full credit for the number of ways she describes Max’s eyes, a color that seems to change depending on who he meets. For that, if nothing else, Voigt deserves any accolades that come her way.
An ending that hints at some other follow up may make readers scratch their heads, but in the end I highly recommend readers Bookmark Mister Max: The Book of Kings.