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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 91 reviews
VINE VOICEon November 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
I really should rate this book a five, but it is not as good as the Homecoming series, but then again, Homecoming is one of my all time favorite books and in a different age group genre than this one. Also, I read Homecoming as a pre-teen and it gave me so many emotional ups and downs that still resonant with me today which is me trying to say that I am probably so biased on Homecoming that I am not truly able to star Cynthia Voigt properly on anything else. She will always be worth reading... ALWAYS. Do not ever doubt that picking up a Cynthia Voigt book is one of the best reading choices you can make.

Now with that disclaimer out of the way, let me say I adored this book and Max. Cynthia Voigt wins high praise for me because she is one of the best authors at making you love her main character, narrator usually. Right off the bat, they're flawed and ridiculously high-minded and during the span of the story, she makes them develop into layered, smart-thinking but changed for the better as they become more open-minded and realize the world doesn't work within the confines of their idealistic worldviews. It's such a gift to see this sort of character development, especially in middle-school aged characters.

Maximilian Starling is darling, and only twelve, but he has skills. The keen eye of observation and hard true-boiled logic of a detective, which is helpful considering his parents have disappeared and left him behind with only a cryptic note for him to find. He has no idea what to think. Have they been kidnapped or forced away against their will or are they just up to some odd prank because granted his parents are very strange.

So Max gets a job because he's going to need an income to live while looking for his parents. And finds out he's quite good at following people, tracking dogs and overall listening when others do not -- a solutioneer is what he calls himself. The tasks start easily enough, but he quickly finds himself in need of help and acquires it in the forms of many people, and usually of the female sort.

He might not be shy but Max has been sheltered more than he thought despite his parents' actor-ly livelihood. This turns out to be disadvantage until he meets some guides who help him learn and navigate all the sides of his city. Again through his interaction with his own peers, an elderly lady and clients, Max's transformation as a sort of stuck in his ideals thinker grows into a I want to see the world in all its glory even if it means walking the seedier sides of town.

This book definitely has a cozy, old school charm like it says in the introduction. Such a beautiful cover and the details of the illustrations (we only get one full illustration but it reminds me of the Series of Unfortunate Events b&w sketches) and the accents, the background on black pages have Baroque-styled designs you would find in old classic books and there will be maps. I received it wrapped in brown paper and tied up with twine so it looked like a parcel from the early days it is set in. Such care and detail and catchy cover makes this book an overall package that would work as a lovely gift for any reader on your list.

The mystery is good too. It isn't an easy thing to figure out, but it is heavily foreshadowed as a mystery for this age group should be. If I had to make a comparison, I am reminded heavily of Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes series. Both these series are wonderful and brilliant for the age group they are aimed, without anything... plot, setting, tone and issues of story kept age appropriate but smart, witty and historically-accurate for learning beyond the act of comprehension. They are a vocabulary lesson and history lesson and a social lesson in how to mature into an independent thinker.

But I have now gone from reviewing just Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things to reviewing it and the Enola Holmes series... so back to topic. If you need a book for a boy or girl reader who wants to be pushed into more critical thinking and comprehension, this book is amazing for that. If you need a book to entertain you... this book works great for that too.

So what am I saying... This book can be enjoyed by everyone. Really... Truly... that is the gift of Cynthia Voigt. She writes stories that no one can really put boundaries upon because they're so good, everyone wants to read them.
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on October 2, 2013
Please understand that all my reviews focus on the interests of my middle school students. I never do a full plot synopsis in a review and try to give as little away as possible.

I found this book to very engaging, and I was happy to see Voigt author a book that is so obviously meant to appeal to middle school boys. For some reason, my students tend to think of her Tillerman Cycle series as primarly targeted toward girls, and I have been unable to change that thinking. I'm hoping this book will prove to be my ally.

The basic premise of the plot is that the hero, twelve-year-old Max, has been left behind with his grandmother while his parents, who are famous actors and have their own theater, go on an exotic trip to India. Max's father has been emphasizing that Max is turning 13 and is very nearly a man and should be ready for some independence. There is great mystery surrounding his parents' departure; there is reason to think foul play might be involved and that they had lied to him about their destination. The rest of the book revolves around Max's struggles to earn enough money to live in his own house and provide for himself apart from his grandmother.

The time setting for the novel is crucial, and seems to be late nineteenth or early twentieth century. At this time, people were only just beginning to come to the belief that older (tweens and up) children are not simply property of their parents and deserve special attention and protection under the law. There were still children in the U.S. who had been "bought" overseas and were serving out their purchase price as indentured servants. Add to these facts that Max looks much older than he is and, being raised in the theatre, can act out parts as an adult, and much of what seems incredible to twentyfirst century readers becomes believable. (We currently have an eighth grade boy, aged 14, in our building who could easily pass for mid-twenties.) Despite his ability to appear an adult, the narrator makes it clear he is always an uncertain and scared twelve-year-old in his heart, though he gains confidence as the story progresses.

The plot follows a very consistent moderate pace, which seems right for the type of action depicted. The narration is an odd form of the British semi-sarcastic humor. I think of it as Pratchett-Adams Lite. Where the book shines is in character building. You can't help but come to love Max for his compassion and persistence. The main female character, Pia, and the adults in the story are all brought to life in charming fashion.

If you're looking for a warm, light read with wonderful characters and an interesting story line, you should enjoy this book. My students are already checking it out of my in-class library based on a waiting list.
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on September 5, 2015
This is the book of the year for me! Earlier this year (2015), I was in the public library browsing around, and saw the audio CD version of this book. In fact, it may have been in the wrong section of library. I'm an adult, and thought it should have been in children's section, oh well, but something made me borrow it. In fact, it's a book I may never have read had I not seen it that day. OMG! I immediately fell in love with Max and his story. How he was "left" behind by his parents. I also love Grammie, Pia, the Baroness. Of course, I had to go buy my own copy of this WONDERFUL story....

This story is so SPECIAL to me, and so close to my heart, and I am so glad to be acquainted with this series. I love Mister Max!!!!
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on December 30, 2013
I always like to read children's books, first when my children were small so I knew what was going into their minds, now for our nieces and nephews, for pretty much the same reason. We have a nephew just 7 now and his mother reads with him nightly. They have been reading the Harry Potter books a chapter at a time, then watch the movie once they finish the book, and discuss. As the books are advancing, she wants to wait until he is older to continue the series so is looking for something in the meantime. I read about Mr. Max in the LA Times and downloaded to my Kindle. Wonderful story involving problem solving and not giving in to one's fears, conquering them and empowering oneself. I have purchased the hard cover for Christmas for Mom so they may start a new adventure together. Always happy to find great and interesting books for boys. Used to be pretty hard but getting much better these days:)
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on March 27, 2016
A bit slow to get started and an improbable scenario. A boy whose parents have disappeared doesn't seem to be terribly distressed about it. Bought it for an 8-year-old grandchild who needed it for a book club. He and I both had a little trouble staying awake in the early chapters. Gets better in the later chapters.
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on October 6, 2013

I found this book, ""Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things," on It is surprisingly well written and highly literary. Engrossing from the first word, imaginative, full of intrigue, and utterly enjoyable. I'm happy to recommend it to people of all ages! Regina C.
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on February 25, 2014
The many adventures of Mister Max kept me reading this delightful older elementary or young adult read. Max solves multiple problems with a wisdom beyond his years. Voight has written a sequel and I can't wait until it's out!
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on December 27, 2013
Filled with adventure, friendships and family; "Mister Max" is one of the best books of 2013. Max's adventures teach amazing life lessons. This is a must read for all the family.
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on July 24, 2014
A fun young adult introduction to Steam Punk. Also a good beginning to a fun series.
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on February 26, 2014
I gave this to my grandson as a gift. He liked reading it. I can't wait to give him the sequel.
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