Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Max Tilt: Fire in the Depths

Lerangis, Peter. Max Tilt: Fire in the Depths
October 3rd 2017 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Max Tilt (short for Trujillo, as his father is Dominican. His mother is African American) is having a number of problems. He is "on the spectrum", and one of the ways this manifests itself is that he has synesthesia-- emotions have smells, and fear always smells like fish. This becomes worse when his parents want to talk to him. His mother has been ill with cancer, but it had been successfully treated. Now, his mother and father are going far away to seek more treatment, and leaving Max with Alex, a cousin he has never met who is not much older than his 14 years. When Alex arrives, she finds the house is a huge state of disarray-- a broken window has leaked rain water onto the carpet, there's little food, and the power is cut off. Not only that, but she goes through months' worth of mail to find that the family is being evicted from the house in three weeks. She uses her savings to pay the utility bills, and she and Max decide to sell items from the house to get money for everything else. One item that draws some interest is a chest supposedly owned by his great-great-great grandfather, Jules Verne. He and Alex take the clues to a treasure out of the chest, but a man named Niemand shows up and gives them a hard time. Realizing that the treasure is most likely real, the cousins embark on an adventure that takes them to far flung corners of the globe and gives them a taste of their forefather's adventures.

It's good to see a diverse cast of characters, with different ethnicities and Max's realistic struggles to navigate his world while managing his synesthesia and other challenges. Alex is very capable and understanding, but young enough to embrace the adventure.

Neimand is a formidable bad guy, and characters and settings brought in from Verne's work make this a fresh, new fantasy world.

Reminiscent of Nix's Troubletwisters, Salerni's The Eight Day or Korman's Masterminds, Max Tilt will please readers who like implausible adventures in amazing fantasy worlds. Lerangis delivers a solid action and adventure books that works in elements of Verne's works in a way that will entice avid readers of speculative fiction to pick up that author.

This wasn't my cup of tea, but will do fairly well with my fantasy adventure readers, so I will buy a copy. It is going to be a series, with the second book, 80 Days or Die, expected out in May 2018.

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