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The only previous Maximum Ride book I've read was When the Wind Blows, which was a very different beast indeed. Confusingly, although Maximum Ride uses the same basic idea and character names, it's actually nothing to do with the earlier title, but part of an on-going series aimed primarily at the younger reader.
Maximum Ride is a bird-child hybrid; essentially a (relatively) normal child with a number of special powers, including wings that provide the ability to fly. Max and her fellow avian-children were (of course) developed in a lab, but escaped and are now on the run. In this latest adventure, Max and friends seek sanctuary on a research ship in the Antarctic, helping a group of scientists research the effects of global warming. Needless to say, it's not long before a group of bad guys track them down intending to kidnap them and sell them to the highest bidder.
In recent years, Patterson has been churning out the novels at a ridiculous rate and there has inevitably been a reverse correlation between quality and quantity. The end result is that Maximum Ride is really lazily plotted stuff. Even by his own (increasingly low) standards, character development is weak, plot lines shallow and the story lacking any sense of depth. You could forgive this if it was full of exciting action, but it isn't and it all feels deeply unsatisfying.
The ending is particularly week and feels like Patterson couldn't work out a way to his extract his characters from danger - so he just doesn't bother. One minute they are in extreme danger, the next they are safe over the other side of the world with virtually no explanation of how. If you'll pardon the pun, this really is taking the reader for a ride and frankly, is just not good enough. Promoting something as a novel for "young adults" doesn't give you the right to dumb things down and treat them like idiots.
Worse still, Patterson uses the book as an excuse to bang the drum for global warming and everything has a decidedly preachy tone. An excruciating final chapter is little more than one long sermon about the dangers of global warming, how it is everyone's responsibility and the things people can do to tackle it. If I wanted a lecture on global warming disguised as entertainment, I'd watch Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. I don't want to be preached at in a fiction book. I don't mind the book carrying a message, but it needs to be done subtly so that it feels like an integral part of the book. Here it's so artificially inserted and awkward that even if you support what he is saying, you are likely to disagree just on principle!
You could argue that I'm not the right reader for this book. After all, it is really aimed at younger readers and it's a long time since I could consider myself one of those. There are two counter-arguments to this. Firstly, in an interview at the end, Patterson says his book is aimed at "anyone who loves reading", not just kids; secondly, even if you are writing for kids, that's no excuse to patronise them. The best children's books are ones that can be read and enjoyed by adults and children alike.
There are a few things that save the book from being a total dead loss (although only just). First of all, as ever Patterson has a very readable style so that his books appeal even to people who are not keen on reading. He also keeps chapters very short - often as little two pages. This means that you will get through the book very quickly and, even though the story is not great, you will want to carry on reading. Thanks to the short chapters, there is always a temptation to read "just one more" when you reach the end of the current one.
The other positive is that whilst the book itself is quite weak, the characters are good fun. The banter between them is light-hearted and amusing and they really feel like a close-knit group of friends who have stuck together through thick and thin. Yes, the "teen speak" ("Cool!" "Awesome!") of the bird kids feels a little forced sometimes (as though this is how Patterson imagines teens speak), but on the whole it adds to the sense of fun. It's just a shame that the storyline isn't anywhere near as good as the characters.
On the whole, James Patterson is an author I normally like. Yes his books are shallow and superficial, but they are also readable and enjoyable. Here though he's really lost the plot (in more ways than one) and The Final Warning feels like something that was churned out without much thought or care. Even if you're the most avid Patterson fan, there's not much to enjoy here.
Maximum Ride: the final warning
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Patterson is a number one international bestselling thriller writer. Since starting his career back in 1976, Patterson has wowed audiences with clever thriller fiction, chilling readers to the core, and being known for his outstanding suspense and twist writing.
ABOUT THE SERIES
2005, brought his first teen fiction novel, 'Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment'. The book spawned a series, focusing on the lives of Max and her flock of human-bird kids, known to readers as the flock. They returned in 2008 with their fourth adventure; 'Maximum Ride: The Final Warning'. A fifth book was released in 2009, with a six potentially up for release in 2010.
Having just saved the world from a group of mad scientists, Max and the flock, comprised of Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy and Angel, would do anything to sit back and relax and just be normal kids... but these are no normal kids, made up of 98% human and 2% bird DNA,, they're a living scientific phenomenon. It's not long before the flock are up to their old tricks, when Dr. Martinez (Max's mother) learns of a scientific expedition that is in need of the kids help, only too soon are they preparing themselves to save the world... again. The flock are off to Antarctica, ready to learn of the current climate crisis and how they are to help save the world from a global disaster; Global Warming. However, in the land of the flock, not all is as it seems, and very rarely does it go smoothly; there's a traitor amongst the pack, and it isn't long before they are hunted down. Will the flock be able to save the world, or be captured by an evil scientist. With another adventure, their lives hang in the balance.
THOUGHTS IN GENERAL (FOR NEWCOMERS)
I'm an avid fan of the series, with such an exciting concept, how could I not be lured into their adventures. We've had flying people before, but James Patterson brings to life the characters of the flock through a well written and fast paced novel. If you've followed the series you'll already be familiar with the gang, but what's great about this series, if you're a late comer you're not left behind. Though the stories do link in a time series of events, neither relies on it's predecessor. This book can be read alone, or part of the series, and the sense of excitement and enjoyment gained from the book is the same regardless.
The idea behind the books focal point is a theme close to my heart. I didn't realise the depth at which Patterson would dive into the idea of Global Warming, he takes a series look at the effects and how the flock slowly, Max more slowly than the others, come to terms with what out world faces. As a reader, if you are unaware of the climate crisis, you are overloaded with facts and figures that would bore you until the end of the earth. Patterson's writing is tested here, but he's got the wit and intelligence to put forward an idea to his readers in a 'reader-friendly' manner. I have to praise him for this, not only for his writing, but for actually deciding that the fourth novel would tackle this subject. It helps to broaden children's minds, those that will be most effected by our planets future.
This book is certainly an easier read, not only is it short at just 280 pages, but the events aren't too complex. It seems Patterson is widening his target audience, hoping to capture the minds of the children as young as his son at just nine years old. This could divide his fan base, but for newcomers, younger children get to dive into exciting adventures with a flock of bird kids.
Not only is this a teen novel, but with the adult version (as with most alternate versions, this consists of a more mature cover) he's allowing parents to enjoy the book with their children. Unfortunately I'm too old to have my mum or dad reading me a bedtime story, but if these were around when I was young, much like they are for those small children of today, I would have loved to learn of the adventures of the flock. I think if parents wish to engage their small children in reading, then this one is actually a good one to start at, it's the youngest read of the series, and doesn't contain any events that I think a five year old couldn't handle.
THOUGHTS FROM A SERIAL POINT OF VIEW (FOR FANS)
If you've followed the flock on there previous adventures, like me you would be expecting a lot from the next installment. Though this is an outstanding book, as part of the series, it's simpler, and less eventful. Since the original book, the number of pages has seen a dramatic drop, one would predict less excitement, and this thought sort of rings true with this installment. The first two books were up at 480 pages, this is a mediocre 280. Whereas before the plots exploded, just when you thought the end was in sight, you can see clearly where this book is going, and how soon it will be resolved. Little suspense is left, which I think is a key factor that makes Patterson's books so good.
We saw in the third installment, what some might say, is an idea in keeping with today's society and technological advances; Fang's blog. Personally I disliked reading page upon page that was littered with unimaginative and uneventful blog posts. It was from this point that I realised the age of the series was beginning to lower. This installment is no different. Expect blog posts that act as page fillers, it's as if Patterson couldn't possibly release such a short book, and so lengthened it with a few boring pages - I was disappointed.
I'm yet to decide whether I enjoyed the part where the flock were constantly realising that they had a new skill; a new special ability. What is good, is that this is well synced with the other books in the series. We saw little mutation as the start, and it seems the flock are mutating more irregular and at an exponential rate. It added excitement and intrigue to the novel, which kept me turning those pages. Whether this part of the book might have been over done, I'm yet to decide, but I think it was well written, and each was delivered with excitement and the air of mystery.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't find this book a fabulous read, and that was a delight to sit down for a few evenings and get right back into the adventures of my favourite fictional characters. James Patterson hasn't lost his abilities to write a good novel, and nearing a typical retirement age of 65, it's inspirational that he's still got what it takes, showing up the younger writers in the business. Again his books is fast paced and keeps you on your toes, with an exciting story.
To newcomers, I'd rate this an outstanding five out of five, it's got the workings of a great novel, and especially for the younger children, it's a reasonable length that is in tune with their developing minds, if they can't quite enjoy it yet, it won't be long before they can.
Unfortunately die hard fans such as myself might have been a little disappointed, I certainly was, and for this reason, based on a book in a series I could only give it a three, hence the final four star rating. In comparison to the previous installment it's lacked luster, I wanted to be taken on a whistle stop tour of adventure with my favourite bird kids. I didn't want a quick trip to Antarctica and back. Looking back, I wish it had been longer. With regard to Fang's blog, I just hope Patterson cuts this from the future books, unfortunately I have little faith, because I can see how it appeals to a younger audience.
There's no doubt that I will continue to lap up the pages written about Max and the flock, it's just a shame I don't think I'll ever be blown away like I was with the first book - that stands as one of my all time favourites.
The Maximum Ride books used to be one of my favourite series. They tell the story of a group of genetically-modified kids with wings and other "powers". Contray to popular belief, they are NOT sequels to James Patterson's other books, When the Wing Blows and The Lake House, but that is where he got the idea for the Maximum Ride series, which is for children.
The Maximum Ride trilogy finished with a few loose ends, and so I assumed this book, in which Max and the "flock" travel to Antarctica to try to prevent Global Warming, was going to tie up the series nicely. It doesn't. I used to be a great fan of the books when I was younger, but nowadays, the writing seems childish, and there are huge gaps in the plot. The fourth book is no better. In fact, its worse. The flock seem to gain new powers on a whim, and most of them have no relevence to the plot whatsoever (such as the dog suddenly growing wings or Angel being able to grow feathers all over her body). Powers that the children have gained in previous books get little or no mention, and the book itself seems to have been written simply to get money out of little kids who enjoyed the original trilogy. There are some interesting parts of the book that would have benefitted from being elaborated on, like the Uber-director and his robotic soldiers, but we never find out what happens to them [the soldiers], or really why they were in the story in the first place.
I suppose the book does have some good points, but I'm unable to find them. I found it disappointing, and I must admit it has put me off the original books a bit. However it will appeal to die-hard Max fans, and I do reccommend you read it, but don't buy it, get it from the library or something...
James Patterson is perhaps more famous for his character Alex Cross than for any other character, but the author has also produced a fine series of books targeting a younger adult audience with the Maximum Ride books, featuring a group of six kids who can fly as the result of a government experiment.
When the Wind Blows and Tha Lake House set the scene before Patterson started with the more toned down books in the series, all featuring one fo the six experimental kids as the title role of Max.
in this installment of the series, which is the latest to date, Max and the other 5 kids end up working with the a group of environmental scientists to help studies towards preventing global warming. Naturally, everything goes smoothly until the realisation hits someone that whoever controls the power of the Flock could also control the world!
What Patterson does well with in this set of books is give a younger audience a high level of entertainment in his own style, maintaining the high octane action normally associated with him, at the same time as it being appropriate for younger adults. nHis writing style does mean that you are unlikely to get any long descriptive passages, and the chapters are short, enabling you to have many stopping places.
However, the short chapters do make you want to read 'just one more' before putting it down, and as a result makes it even harder to put down. Also, Patterson's writing style doesn't really leave much room for charcaterisation, and this is where it is important to have read the previous books before venturing on this one.
I recommend giving this book a go. It is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £5.98.