The Jaguar Stones: Middleworld, by J&P Voelkel
Young teen Max Murphy is disappointed when his parents cancel their trip to Italy for an archaeological dig in San Xavier. Worst of all, he is left home alone with only his housekeeper. But suddenly Max is sent to San Xavier, thinking his parents have sent for him. But when he arrives in the small country, near his parents’ Mayan excavation, Max discovers that his parents are missing. With the help of a young local girl and the mysterious Jaguar Stones, Max embarks on a journey to find his parents and rescue them from the Mayan Underworld.
Max is an average American boy, self-centered and addicted to video games. But along his journey through Central America, he learns several lessons and begins to slowly grow up and become a more likeable person. Max’s mysterious companion Lola, on the other hand, is wise but harsh. Though I am curious about her past, I found myself more annoyed by her brash personality than anything. I’m hoping she softens more as time goes on.
Among the highlights of this book, is the creative integration of ancient Mayan culture and religion. The story is educational, fascinating, and fun. The series is marketed to young readers, but people of all ages will enjoy this fast-paced adventure through the jungles of Central America. With plenty of mystery, adventure, humor, and magic, Middleworld is an exciting start to a promising series.