237. The End of the World Club by J & P Voelkel
Publication: EgmontUSA (December 28, 2010), ARC version, 368pp / ISBN 160684072X
Genre: MG Urban Fantasy
Rating: Borrow it
Read: ?-December 25, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
With the end of the Mayan calendar fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Max Murphy and his new friend Lola, the modern Maya girl who saved his life in the perilous jungle, are racing against time to outwit the twelve Lords of Death. Following the trail of the conquistadors, their quest takes them back to the wild heart of Spain – a forgotten land steeped in legend, superstition and ever more bizarre tourist festivals. With a pack of hellhounds on their heels and the cape-twirling Count Antonio de Landa in hot pursuit, the teens must face madness and betrayal, bluff and double-bluff, to uncover the terrible secrets of the long-lost Yellow Jaguar. But no matter where they run, all roads lead to Xibalba. There, in the cold and watery Maya underworld, we finally discover why only Max Murphy can save the world from the villainous Lords of Death.
The good thing about this book is that it moved very quickly, almost more quickly than Middleworld. I devoured most of it in one afternoon sitting on my bed, and by the time I got to the end I was itching for more. I really want to know how the whole thing ends!
I also think the Jaguar Stones books are interesting because Max and Lola are very much teenagers. They may have a mission to save the world, yeah, but they can also get distracted by romance and jealousy and being hungry and tired and by being overall really hormonal and emotional. It’s sort of irritating to have to read about Max complaining about Lola having a love interest for, like, five chapters, but it is more “realistic.”
On the other hand, none of the characters really have any growth. Max, in the first book, seemed to really have a handle on the whole “don’t be selfish, don’t be a jerk, listen to what the Maya royalty-stuck-in-the-bodies-of-monkeys tells you to do because they know better” thing, but he lost all that by the time the story really gets going in this book. He does a big ol’ landslide back into Terrible Teenager again, and that’s disappointing. He does all the same stupid stuff he did in the first book, including making fun of another character for his Spanish accent, and this time at the end of the book I didn’t even really see where he learned anything, if he did at all. He acknowledges that he screwed up, yeah, but I don’t really see any self-awareness of why he keeps screwing up.
Lola, unfortunately, was missing for much of the book, and when she did show up she spent her time alternating between babying Max and telling him off. Lola herself never got any character growth, either! She’s stuck inside of her matronly role, and while in the first book I was sure she was an important character, only slightly second to Max, it was made clear in this book that Max is the true hero and Lola is just the woman behind him. Really? Why can’t Lola play a bigger part? Even the baddies got more screen time than Lola did!
There’s also a few plot holes lurking around, most especially the fact that to get married in Spain you need a lot more paperwork and time (and AGE) than what was presented in the book– so Lola getting married to the baddie would have never been legal anyway. The ending, too, was abrupt and sort of read like “we realized this plot point wouldn’t work so now we have to retcon a better one.”
So here’s the thing: this series is fun and full of interesting history about the Maya, and I do want to read the last book to see what happens. But I really and truly wish that a) characters would get some more depth and self-awareness of how their actions affect the course of the story (even if they ARE teenagers, who are by definition emotionally stupid), and b) Lola gets more of a prominent role. I honestly don’t give that much of a crap about Max at this point: I want more Lola!
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