Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (James Patterson)



Max isn't an ordinary fourteen-year-old. She can fly. Avian DNA grafted into her own human DNA, she has wings and can soar among the clouds. Five other kids, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel, join her. They hide far away from the School, a lab where all six were experimented on, given wings and their own special powers, like mind-reading and night vision.

But when the Erasers – humans modified to be able to change into super strong humanoid wolves – find their hideout and kidnap Angel, Max and her little Flock set out to rescue her from the School while avoiding capture themselves. And along the way, they discover things about themselves.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment is a fun, action-filled story. It seems to be written as a kind of introduction for the rest of the series and their overall plot, so we get a good look at the Flock. Aged fourteen to six, they're all charming in their own ways. Sometimes the dialogue of Angel or Gazzy (the Gasman) makes them sound older than they are, but they're still kids, and they're adorable. 

The plot, or at least the plot that was introduced for the series, seemed to have been introduced in an almost cliche fashion. The goal for the heroine was, literally stated, "save the world." It didn't feel very unique or an interesting twist to it, simply save the world. It seemed very standard with few details on the how or why. There were times when aspects of the story weren't explained when they perhaps ought to have been. Some of them were, but they seemed to be acknowledged much later than might be expected.

Max's wings and the wings of the rest of the Flock were rarely made mention of unless they were flying. We're told Max's wings have a good thirteen foot span, yet she is easily able to tuck them in tightly and successfully hide them under a windbreaker. How these wings work didn't seem to be explained well to let readers understand how it's this easy to hide them. Their concealment and their maneuvering when not flying wasn't often described, even when they're safely away from the public eye, as if they didn't have them unless flying. Even when fighting they make no use of these huge, powerful wings (if you've seen fan art, you can tell those things would be strong enough to whack an Eraser senseless). Clothing also seems to present a problem not addressed besides cutting slits in them, which may not be enough to fit the wings through.

The POVs contain a lot of humor that can make a reader smile and laugh. Max and the Flock have a good sense of humor, and they are no stranger to sarcasm. The love they have for each other is really nice. Only Gazzy and Angel are related by blood, but all six are as close as any family. Max plays oldest sister and mother to the rest, and her affection for them shows through. An interesting aspect with the POVs is how the viewpoints are handled. Max's is in first-person, but we also get Angel's, Nudge's, and Gazzy's POVs as third person for a short time.

***

Violence/Gore: Fights with the Erasers can get violent, but not terribly gory. One of the Flock is cattle-prodded to keep running. One character is shot after a nasty fight.

Profanity: Instances of taking God's name in vain. Referenced swearing a few times.

Sexual content: A very brief kiss is shared between two characters.

Other: The flock steals a few times (money, a car, food). One character manipulates someone via their mind to buy them a toy.

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