This book is a spot-on middle-grade story that does a fantastic job incorporating action, adventure, and mythology. I could definitely read it again and get even more out of it.
Middleworld follows the life of Max Murphy, a typical fourteen-year-old who would rather be in front of his electronics all day than have to squint in the sunlight. But his ideal sit-on-the-couch life is made difficult by the fact that his parents are archaeologists and do nothing but go on digs outdoors. Max’s dreary summer starts when his parents leave him at the last minute to go on a trip to Central America. But the dullness ends when Max discovers that his parents have mysteriously gone missing, and he’s got to help find out what’s happened to them.
The authors do a great job of creating kid characters that are at once realistically annoying but appealing and interesting. Max manages to learn his lesson of making something more of himself, without feeling preachy or boring, and the action that takes him through his lesson makes for a great adventure. Add to that the mystery and magic of Mayan mythology (which the authors have awesomely managed to make understandable for middle-grade readers), crazy monkeys, a bit of gore, on-going action, and creepy-crawlies, and you’ve got an exciting series that’s ready to take on Percy Jackson.
My only real complaint is that the adult characters are too cartoony and unrealistic compared to the job-well-done with the kid characters. Otherwise, Middleworld is packed full of humor, action, thrilling mysteries, magic, and fascinating mythology-come-to-life. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys the middle-grade level–with enough fun to satisfy the kids and enough meat to keep the grown-ups captivated.