Title: The Book of Lost Things (Mister Max #1)
Author: Cynthia Voigt (website)
Pub. Date: September 10, 2013
Source: e-ARC via netgalley
Summary: 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.
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
I’ve sat on this review for nearly a week, hoping that inspiration would strike at some point. Sadly my Ah-ha! moment never came and I’m left struggling to come up with something to say about The Book of Lost Things. This is a textbook case of a novel not living up to expectations.
Max Starling comes from a theatrical family – his parents own a theater and are very well-known. So famous, in fact, that they receive tickets to travel to India and perform for the royal court. Unfortunately, disaster strikes and Max discovers the liner never existed; his parents were abducted and now he’s the only one who can save them.
Left on his own, Max uses his acting talent to scrape enough cash together to get by. Looking the part is one thing, but actually convincing everyone he comes into contact with – both children and adults – that he’s actually a middle aged detective, a shy kitchen girl, etc. is entirely another. The baffling this is no one questions it. Because Max is tall for his age.
He manages to get along just fine while his parents are missing and quickly the story loses sight of them altogether. Instead of trying to solve the case of his missing parents, Max instead decides to take on more trivial cases: locating a lost dog, tracking down a missing serving spoon. What bothered me was that he never came across as sad or upset or worried or you know, any kind of emotion a 12-year-old would feel at having their parents kidnapped and suddenly being left all alone.
I had such high hopes for The Book of Lost Things! It sounded absolutely wonderful and just what I wanted out of a new Middle Grade series. Unfortunately, I was forcing myself to finish and toward the end I was doing more skimming than reading. Even now I’m still unsure what to say about this book. Despite my lackluster experience, I can easily see lots of reading having a great time with this series and I’m very disappointed to say I was not one of them.