Monday, June 21, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: 2007 by Warner (first published 2001)
Format: Paperback, 422 pgs
Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "Flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time--like when Angel, the youngest member of the "Flock," is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were genetically engineered by sinister scientists. Her friends brave a journey to Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare--this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb--now her betrayed and greatest enemy--that her purpose is save the world--but can she?
I had a hard time getting in to this one. So let me address why first: I like the premise.
I know, right? Why is that a problem? Because I liked it even more when it was a TV show called Dark Angel starring the lovely and young Jessica Alba back in 2000. In Dark Angel, there was a girl named Max (gasp!) who was a genetically designed super-soldier (gasp!!) that escaped from her lab (okay, seriously?) in a post-apocalyptic world with 11 other kids when she was 12. This Max doesn't have wings, she has feline genetics mixed with her own, but ultimately she's trying to stay out of the lab that's still trying to hunt her down years later, and she's tired of running (oh the similarities...). So she stays and fights the other mutants they send after her (another gasp!). It was a wonderful show, and it's always been one of my favorites.
Now then, I'll cut James Patterson some slack, because the book was first published in 2001 and the show aired in 2000, but we all know James Patterson cranks books out like nobody's business. So for the first 50 pages all I could think about was Dark Angel and how incredibly similar the two are.
Let's move on. One thing I didn't care for that really distracted me was the fact that almost every other page was a new chapter. Literally. There were over a hundred chapters in that book, and it pulled me away from the story, especially since, to me, there was no need for there to be a chapter break or I thought there should have been a chapter break where there (surprisingly) wasn't one.
I know some people like super short chapters, it makes it easier to remember where you are or gives you lots of places to close the book if you need to. I have friends who really liked that aspect. Personally I don't care for it.
The characters are okay. There's a little depth to them, but it took half the book before I really started to get a feel for them and started to care about their situation. The point here is that eventually I did start to care for them and the things they were going through.
As I said before, I love the concept. Genetically altered kids running from the people who created them and using the gifts they were given to defeat those people. Love it.
I really like Fang. He's my favorite character in the series, which I find amusing because he says the least of all of them and yet he seems to have the most personality and depth to him. I think Fang is what ultimately saved the book for me and kept me reading. I cared about him. And because he cared about the others, I cared, too.
It is part of a series, but one thing Patterson does fairly well is the ending: the bigger story arc isn't finished, but the threat of the moment has passed, so there is a small sense of closure when you finish it. It's not as clean an ending as the Harry Potter books, so you may want to have books 2 and 3 on hand, or easy to get to, just to be on the safe side.
I did enjoy this book once I got passed all the little things that I didn't like. They were ignorable. If you like the premise, you like action and/or scifi, I say go for it. Give it a shot.
Over all, it was a decent read, and I did continue the series. For those who care to know, they do get better and I'm glad I kept reading.