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Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant

Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant

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Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant

3/5 (2 valutazioni)
252 pagine
4 ore
Apr 26, 2011


Max Quick is a pickpocket, a vagabond, an orphan, and a thief. Even so, nothing about him seems particularly special . . . until one day when time mysteriously stops. Suddenly, nearly everyone in the world is frozen in time—except for Max.

Now Max must journey across America to find the source of the Time-stop. Along the way, he meets others who aren't suspended in time, like Casey, a girl who's never been on her own until now. Together, as they search for the cause of this disaster, Max and his companions encounter ancient mysteries, magic books, and clues to the riddle of stopped time. But relentless and mysterious villains are hot on Max's heels and will do everything in their power to prevent Max from ending the Time-stop. And the closer Max gets to the answers, the more it seems that his own true identity is not what he once believed.

Racing against a clock that no longer ticks, Max must embrace his past to save his future—and the world—from being altered forever.

Apr 26, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Mark Jeffrey is an internet entrepreneur and author who originally published max quick as a digital audio book. You can also follow him on Twitter (@markjeffrey).

Correlato a Max Quick

Anteprima del libro

Max Quick - Mark Jeffrey



The Day without Time

On March 14, at exactly 1:59 in the afternoon, the world stopped.

Flags that once snapped happily in the breeze now hung impossibly still, like crumpled paper. Lightning stretched from ground to cloud like a rope of light. Airplanes hung suspended in the skies, untroubled by gravity.

People froze into curious living mannequins. A thousand million conversations stopped in mid-sentence, a thousand million mouths still full of words.

There was no roar of planes or cars or computers or phones or televisions. The everyday frantic din, the warp and woof of the world, was muffled as if with some cosmic cotton.

On March 14 at exactly 1:59 in the afternoon, the world stopped. That is to say, except for a few people . . .

Chapter 1

A Very Strange Boy

Max Quick hunched forward as he walked along the sandy seaside road. He looked as if he were trying to smuggle his heart through the world.

It was exactly 8:15 a.m. on the morning of March 14.

He was angry.

For lots of reasons.

His tangle of dark hair bounced with each step, partially covering watery eyes.

He was on his way to the center of Starland, California. Under a sky dabbed with creamy clouds, Max forced his burning legs forward.

Just. Keep. Walking.

He was headed to the center of town because there was nowhere left to go.

Behind him was the Starland Home for Boys. Behind him was Mr. Blistierre. He couldn’t go back.

The Home was where they sent the bad kids and the misfits.

"This one’s trouble," Blistierre had snarled when Max first arrived at the Home. He’d shaken his head and tsked while reading Max’s file.

Pickpocket. Vagabond. Thief. You’ve caused a lot of misery, haven’t you Master Quick?

It was true, Max had to admit. He was an amazing pickpocket. It was one of many such skills that he did not recall ever learning. He seemed to just . . . know how.

Prior to the Home, Max had been living on the streets for as long as he could remember. He’d survived by eating out of garbage cans, mostly. But when he could find nothing, and he was so hungry it felt like his belly would eat itself, he’d fallen back on his skill at picking pockets.

And of course the police had eventually caught him at it.

During his hearing in juvenile hall, the authorities had tried to work out exactly who Max was. But there was no record of his birth. No photos, no fingerprints. The boy Max Quick seemed to have been conjured from nowhere.

And Max couldn’t help them. He didn’t know who his parents were. His memory was simply blank.

In the end, the court had placed him in the Home.

"Well, we’re going to change all that. My name is Mr. Blistierre. That’s French. It’s pronounced Bliss-tee-air."

But Max soon learned that everyone called him the inevitable Mister Blister.

And for good reason.

Mr. Blister saw nothing wrong whatsoever with tough love. It’s not the boy that is bad—it’s the behavior, Mr. Blister would say with his best Genuinely Concerned face.

But it was always the boy who got the beating.

Max sighed. No, he couldn’t go back to that place. He would be in trouble again for missing the school bus this morning. It hadn’t been his fault. The resident bully of the Home, Jack McNulty, had prevented Max from boarding. The bus driver had simply popped her minty green bubble gum and looked at her nails, ignoring the entire incident. And then they left—without him.

Blister would find out, of course. When Max turned up absent, someone from the school would call. In fact, it had probably happened already. And thus, he was in trouble again.

Now as he walked, Max saw to his dismay that the weather was rapidly changing. That sort of thing happened in Starland.

Black clouds brimmed to a mad boil, a raw volcano chewing the sky. Wind gusted. There was the first growl of thunder. Then: Flash flash flash! And the heavens let loose. Cold rain poured down in sheets.

Max put his head down and picked up his pace. He aimed his stride squarely at the Starland Oval, the direct center of town.

Then just as quickly as it started, the slashing rain stopped. Clouds melted and blue sky peeked through. Buttery sunlight warmed Max’s cheeks once again. Gasoline rainbows shimmered in puddles.

A billboard advertisement ahead read:


Yes, Max thought.

He was missing most of his life. It must have been a rough life, judging from the extraordinary number of scars he had for someone his age. And once, when he’d been X-rayed, a doctor had whistled in amazement: Nearly every bone in Max’s body showed evidence of mended breaks.

Beyond the billboard, Max could now make out a lighthouse perched on the rocky shore. Starland, California, was one of those run-down coastal towns between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Farther along the beach, an amusement park had been built on a pier sometime in the early 1900s. There was an old Ferris wheel with glittering lights that winked like fireflies. It turned like a pinwheel in the crisp ocean breeze. And just beyond that, an antique wooden roller coaster groaned and creaked. Max could hear distant screams of delight on the wind.

Besides the boardwalk park and the historic town center, there wasn’t really very much to Starland at all.

In Starland Center, Max passed a gas station. The attendant’s television blared, Well, George, today’s solar eclipse will be a rare spectacle. From about two twenty-three through two thirty, much of America will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun. This won’t happen again for another ninety-nine years, so you’ll want to be sure not to miss it . . .

Just past the gas station was the Starland bookstore, and in the front window was the new book about Max’s favorite rock band, Planet Furious.

Inside of a minute, Max was flipping through it. Still, some part of his mind remained tuned in to his surroundings. This was an old habit; it was how he’d survived the streets.

And this was how he knew that someone was staring at him.

Ice filled his veins. Blister?

Terrified, Max looked up.

But it was merely an old woman. She stared at him quizzically from across the store. He returned her gaze steadily.

The woman was easily in her nineties. Golden spectacles adorned her face. Max got the sudden impression that she was someone important. She carried herself with a dignity that lots of people like to think they have, but which very few people actually do.

Without warning, she gasped aloud. Her hand flew up to her mouth, and a lone tear streamed down her cheek.

Uh-oh. Max’s stomach zinged with panic. His eyes darted around, looking frantically for the nearest exit.

The old woman shook her head and laughed a little bit, as though she knew exactly what he was doing and found it amusing.

Oh, Max, she said quietly.

Max’s heart jumped a beat.

She knew his name?

The old woman approached slowly, smiling. Please don’t run, Max. I’m not going to get you in trouble.

Something about the woman held Max rooted to the spot: He didn’t run.

As she approached, her face brightened with amazement. I knew it was you, she said, shaking her head. "But how can that be? I don’t understand . . . yet I have no doubt: It’s you all right. She paused and looked down at him. You don’t recognize me, do you?" she said.

Um . . . Max said, perplexed.

The old woman laughed. No, I wouldn’t expect you to. I look a bit different now than I did then.

Max stared into her face. He was certain that he had never seen this woman before in his life.

"Why, I’m Petunia!" she whispered as if she’d just let him in on a great secret. She grinned from ear to ear.

Max only shrugged in bewilderment.

Petunia! Oh, c’mon, Max, I used to be your best friend! Remember? When we were kids, back in New York! Oh, it was a long, long time ago, but even I still remember!

Max’s face sagged. This woman was completely crazy.

Oh, I see . . . , Petunia said, peering at him thoughtfully. You really don’t remember, do you? Max shook his head. Well, there must be a reason for it. Something very important, I’m sure of it.

She’s senile, Max thought. Sure, that’s it.

Oh! And I’ve seen Roseblood! Petunia shouted.

Max winced and looked around nervously. Now this woman was drawing too much attention. If Blister or anyone else from the Home were nearby, he’d be busted for sure.

But she paid him no mind. He’s actually here in Starland! Can you believe that? I think he’s looking for something. He didn’t recognize me, of course. A realization crossed her face. "Ooooooh, that’s what you’re up to. Keeping an eye on him, just like in 1912."

Her eyes filled with sudden wonder and love as she was rapturously transported to that long-ago world.

Ah, back then the city was young and clean and marvelous. You were so very brave! And we had such fun, playing on the docks. Sparkling buildings, men in top hats with canes . . .

She snapped back to the present.

"But . . . you don’t remember those things. Do you? You’ve forgotten, once again. Well. You told me this might happen. So I probably shouldn’t tell you any more. Except . . ."

She ran her finger over his forehead lightly. Except that you are a lot braver than you think you are. There are many people who love you, and indeed, owe you their very lives. Including me.

Max fidgeted. He could not imagine having done something to deserve this kind of thanks.

Max Quick, a voice said nearby. A terrible voice. A familiar voice.

Max turned. Mr. Blister.

There he stood, his eyes vibrating in his skull like two orbs of pure fury.

You! Blister managed to finally splutter. And then, gargling with volcanic anger, he said again, You.

Blister pounced and Max managed to twist out of the way at the last second. But Blister was surprisingly agile. With a snarl, his bony hand shot out and snagged Max’s leg.

Max kicked and bucked, snapping Blister’s hold, then bolted for the door. Blister rose to follow, but he inexplicably lost his footing and went crashing into a nearby display of Planet Furious books. He vanished beneath an avalanche of flapping pages.

Max risked a look over his shoulder and saw Petunia smiling mischievously. Her foot was out. She had tripped Blister!

Their eyes met for a second; hers twinkled. Go, she mouthed at him. Go!

Max ran out of the bookstore. His heart pounded. His world had become a Tilt-A-Whirl of confusion. He ducked down a back alley, then he turned down another, and another until he was dizzy and lost and couldn’t run anymore.

As he stood panting, he realized that he was in front of a loading dock. The bay door was thrown wide open. A place to hide.

This was a pattern for him. Terrible luck, followed by wonderful luck. Followed by even more terrible luck.

This was his life.

This was his strange and lonely life.

He sighed and slipped inside the building. He knew all too well that the terrible luck was sure to return soon enough.

Chapter 2

Patchwork Girl

So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So angry. So

Casey Cole was writing in her notebook.

She was angry.

For lots of reasons.

She was a gangly girl of twelve. She had blondish brown hair that grew in spurts around her rather pretty and freckly face. Her eyes were glimmering green, like two emeralds. They were usually shy and averted. But right now, they burned hot and furious. She was angry because Liberty Johnson had just snuck up behind her and placed a tacky cowboy hat on her head and her vicious girl-clique had laughed at the sight.

Howdy, cowgirl, Liberty jeered.

Casey looked down sheepishly. She was wearing a hand-knitted yarn sweater that her mom had made for her. It had a crude design on it: a blocky sort of cowboy with a lasso or something.

Goes with your hick sweater, Liberty said.

Shut up, Casey said bitterly.

You shut up, Liberty said. You look like a rag doll.

Casey opened her mouth to retort—and then closed it, because she knew it was true. Her fashion sense was haphazard, slapdash. She had to wear clothes her mom made rather than brand names. Her outfits were often stitched together from random bits of yarn and patches of cloth.

Patchwork Girl.

What do you care what I wear? Casey asked.

Because we have to look at you, Liberty said. It must suck to be poor.

Casey’s cheeks burned. Humiliation of Casey accomplished, Liberty and her pack of nasties sashayed away, on to their next victim.

And this was why Casey was so angry.

At lunch, Casey wondered whether there were actually any people she got along with at all. She glanced up at Liberty Johnson and her pack. Not them, obviously.

And she didn’t get along with the boys, either. Bruce Cody was sitting to her right now, oblivious to her presence. Originally, Casey had been sitting alone. She’d had an entire table to herself. But Bruce plopped his tray down within two minutes and said, You don’t mind, do you? and flashed a quick, dismissive grin. He had a perfectly white smile, like a toothpaste commercial.

In another few seconds, Casey’s previously empty table was mobbed with Bruce’s friends. They yukked it up and shouted at one another. In their world, Casey was just a weird loner. She was merely a placeholder, good only for saving a table during the lunchtime cafeteria crush.

None of them even made eye contact with her.

Sometimes, there is deep darkness even in the brightest sunlight, Casey thought.

After lunch came recess. The sound of screaming kids filled the air. The staccato noise of a kick ball launching off a sneaker startled Casey as she sat on the aluminum picnic table.

Oh, there were other girls that she knew. Girls just like herself. But they weren’t really friends. Of course they would nod to one another on the playground and in the halls. Yep, there you are again, Casey thought. You’re just like me. We drift through the world, unseen, unknown. Sure, we might sit down and have a talk about all this. But why would we? What is there to talk about, really?

Casey sighed. Her mom described her as elfin, which she supposed was good. But nobody else seemed to think so. Nobody noticed her.

And that would be okay, Casey thought quickly. Really, it would be. She was okay by herself. If only people like Liberty would leave her alone.

For example, she was fine playing on her computer. Or reading a book. Some of her most enjoyable times had been spent snuggled up in a warm sweater, reading and reading and reading, the long hours slipping by in a haze of sheer enjoyment. Even if the topic was complex. For Casey, complex things came easy.

It was people that were hard.

They were mean and weird and unpredictable and never what you expected.

When she was older, she figured she would be a creative hermit of some sort. She wouldn’t have many people around, at any rate. She wouldn’t be very social. Except for online, maybe. Other than that, she would keep to herself.

Suddenly there was a shrill whistle. Huh? Casey thought. Recess was over already? But when she saw the yellow buses lined up out front, it came back to her: today was a half day of school.

They were all going home.


Rolling her eyes, Casey left her room and went down to the kitchen.

Usually, her mom wasn’t home this early from her job at the bank. But it usually wasn’t a half day of school, either. It was all because of the stupid eclipse.

Casey plopped herself down on a squeaky stool in the cramped kitchen with an exaggerated sigh.

Don’t, her mom said.

What? Casey said.

You know what. Be overdramatic. Just stop.

Her mom had the tiny television on. It was all, Blah Blah Eclipse Blah Blah. The news guy was saying that you could even go blind if you looked directly at it.

There’s a jelly and lemon sandwich on the counter, her mom said. Casey retrieved it wordlessly, realizing that it was a kind of peace offering.

Casey’s mom did not like it when she shut herself in her room. She always insisted that Casey spend some time down in the kitchen when she came home from school. But Casey was eager to get back to the book she’d been reading. Her mom would want to talk about school. And that meant talking about Liberty Johnson. Then her mom would fret and worry. She’d ask if Casey had made some new friends, and Casey would have to report that she hadn’t.

And today was doubly bad: Casey was home early. That meant there were even more uncomfortable hours to consume. So Casey did something a little drastic, something uncharacteristic.

Can I see the pictures of Dad again?


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  • (3/5)
    I won a copy of this book on Good reads and received it just a couple of days ago. Oddly enough, I was just finishing Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I say oddly enough because, in many ways, Max Quick is like Snow Crash for kids. Both books deal with ancient Sumeria and the god, Enki, in both books, the bad guys are trying to control people by the use of a device based on Sumeria, in SC a virus, in MQ a pendant. SC is set in a chaotic America, MQ in a chaotic time pocket.Don't get me wrong, I quite enjoyed this book. It is fast-paced, the main characters are likable and the story is fun. max Quick is aimed at children between 8 and 12 and I suspect that it would easily appal to both boys and girls in this age group.
  • (3/5)
    Still reading this one ... Strange little book, but for some reason I keep reading it (actually, listening to the podiobook). The author keeps introducing new things that happen, but never seems to tie them together or flesh them out. I'm hoping he can actually bring everything together in the end.