Goodreads: The Book of Kings
Series: Mister Max #3
Published: Sept. 2015
After the disappearance of his parents, Max has been supporting himself as a detective, or solutioneer. But now he and his Grammie have located his mom and dad as the new monarchs of Andesia–and they need his help to escape. Now it’s up to Max to convince the king to send him and his friends as an official embassy to Andesia, all so he can spirit his parents away from a nation they do not want to rule.
The previous installments of the Mister Max trilogy stretched my suspension of disbelief, the premise being that a twelve- or thirteen-year-old boy manages to convince multiple people that he is really anything from a university student to a middle-aged man as he solves mysteries around his city. The adventures were fun enough, however, that I willingly overlooked the laughable notion underlying the story. The premise of the third book proves so nonsensical, however, that I could barely drag myself through to the end.
I admit that I skimmed about a third of the book, that being the only way I could stomach the absurdities, so possibly the story possesses some more nuance than I give it credit for–but I highly doubt that. Everything from the explanation of how Max’s parents ended up the king and queen of Andesia to Max’s plan to rescue them is ridiculous–so ridiculous that it is almost embarrassing to read. This is simply not how international politics work.
I don’t want to ruin the story for any still reading this trilogy, so I’ll summarize briefly and, if you really don’t want to know, you can skip this paragraph and the next. Briefly, it seems that some general coerces random actors he once saw in a Shakespeare play to pretend to be monarchs all so he can figure out who assassinated the last monarchs. I’m not sure what his plan was. To hope the assassin strikes again so he can catch him/her? Everyone in the country accepts the random new monarchs and doesn’t question never seeing them while the general runs the country. If he does. It appears that Andesia has one rich family and the rest live in squalor. I guess it’s just that small.
Meanwhile, Max decides to organize a fake embassy to Andesia. A real one if he can convinced the king to send a random future baron and a random boy and his grandmother as said embassy. The king amazingly agrees that sending a boy in a fake embassy to rescue his parents is a good idea. He adds a random business owner to the group. Then they all march into Andesia with no rescue plan, but it works out after the general attempts to hang Max’s father for a murder everyone knows he didn’t commit because the general wants to establish the rule of law?? I still don’t get it.
With a premise this flawed, I simply could not get into the story. I was almost insulted I was expected to buy it. I realize that the book is written for a younger audience, but surely even middle schoolers don’t think that spies are sent to foreign countries just so a king can kindly send aid if the wheat crop fails; or that an embassy would be composed of a housekeeper, a businessman, and a man who doesn’t even have a title yet; or that anyone would kidnap some actors to masquerade as monarchs as part of a great political scheme. What a disappointing ending to this trilogy.