by James Patterson. Little, Brown and Company, 2007. This review is part of the MotherTalk blog tour. Patterson is the well known author of 17 bestsellers for adults, including the Alex Cross detective series, which is the inspiration behind the movies "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls".
Maximum Ride is a Young Adult title, the third in a series. Book four is scheduled to come out in January 2008. There is a movie in the works as well, to be produced by Avi Arad and Steven Paul.
The story centers around five characters; four are teens or children and one is a talking dog. They have all been genetically engineered in experiments, and in a series of adventures they escaped from the "school" where they were the subject of numerous unpleasant experiments. The four humans have some bird DNA, giving them wings that allow them to fly. They also have other super powers that are still being discovered and developed.
The "Flock", as they call themselves, are being hunted down by "Erasers", another type of genetically engineered beings that act as soldiers for the group that runs the program and calls itself the "Re-Evolution". The organization is planning to take over the world and destroy all their past experimental life forms. Their master race will then usher in an age of peace and prosperity.
Max, the oldest of the flock and their leader, is on a mission to save the world. She is fourteen, very intelligent and good at making plans on the spur of the moment. She talks fast and uses a lot of slang, with a constant stream of sarcastic asides to readers. This may be a draw for teen readers, but it dates the book and makes it appear shallow to older readers. Max is strong and opinionated, but as she progresses through the story she begins to come up against some of the more complex and confusing aspects of her relationship with Fang, the fourteen year old boy that is her closest friend and second-in-command to the Flock.
Fang writes a blog. The Flock also has a MySpace page. The blog links to the main site, articles and forums where fans discuss the books and the coming movie. Trailers and music from the movie are posted on YouTube and embedded in the blog. Wikipedia covers it. The book has taken on a cult following it seems, with teen readers accessing Max's world in the mediums they feel most at home. It's more than a print novel; it's a Web 2.0 phenomena.
I found the book to be an exciting, fast paced read. I stayed up late a couple nights in a row to finish it and found myself thinking about the Flock during the day, wondering what adventures they were getting into and what would happen next. I found some writing style a bit annoying at times, when the author threw in hip jargon. To my ears Patterson sounds a bit like a grown up trying to be cool, but I haven't seen any teens complaining about it. Maybe I am showing my age.
The ending comes together swiftly and a little too easily, with just enough left hanging to let you know there is another book coming. I enjoyed this volume enough that I will definitely look for that coming novel though - I need to know what happens to Max, Fang, and the Flock!