Middleworld by J & P Voelkel

Max spends his days playing video games while his parents excavate ancient Mayan ruins. They spend little time together, but he is looking forward to their trip to Italy together. So when their family vacation gets ruined thanks to another dig, Max is furious. They leave him behind as they go to Central America to do a dig that they suddenly get permits to. Max is summoned to join them shortly after, only to discover that his parents have gone missing, his Uncle Ted seems to hate him and is not what he seems, and ancient Mayan traditions may not be as dead and irrelevant as he believed.

Lord 6-Dog and his jealous brother Tzelek fought when they were alive, during Maya’s golden age. But their battle is about to come to a head in modern times, thanks to the five Jaguar Stones that bestow great power upon the user. Can Max find his parents and protect the world before Tzelek can gain power and destroy the world?

Like Percy Jackson and the Red Pyramid, the Voekels blend modern times with mythology, this time the Gods involved are Mayan rather than Greek or Egyptian. Though they do not write as fluid and clean a story, they do a pretty good job. Though this is a story of mythology in modern times, the story mostly takes place in such an isolated location that the only intrusion of modern times is really Max himself.

The story started a little slowly, but once it picked up (around when he meets Lola, a Mayan girl who leads him away from Uncle Ted), things moved more quickly. The names are a little ridiculous (Lord 6-Dog, for example), making it almost hard to believe that that is what they were truly called in ancient times, but I suppose that you can’t blame the writers for that.

I liked that Max felt three dimensional with real issues (anger in particular). Lola felt a little less well-rounded and perhaps a little too perfect. I don’t they did a good enough job of showing how inappropriate Max was behaving when he met the Mayan people (he may have overreacted but you could hardly blame them for most of it).

I’ve always wondered how you co-author a book. Who wrote what? Who came up with the idea? Did one person write it and the other edit it? Did one person come up with the idea and the other write it down? Either way, the Voelkel’s do a good job. It doesn’t feel like a disjointed book, written by two separate people. This isn’t the most unique of story ideas, and isn’t the best in its are of myth meets reality, but it is still enjoyable.

One thought on “Middleworld by J & P Voelkel

  1. Nice review!

    Looking on their website, it says that the husband writes the adventure parts of the book and the wife takes care of fleshing out characters and their feelings. Co-authoring a book is definitely an interesting idea.

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