Maximum Ride #5: Max
Maximum Ride is an unforgettable 14-year-old girl with a way-out-of-control, hilariously sarcastic attitude. But who can blame her with everything she has on her shoulders, including a pair of 13-foot wings?
Max spent the first part of her life locked in a cage, undergoing cruel tests and horrid experiments after evil scientists fused bird DNA onto her human genes. The results produced a super-human hybrid that can soar high into the clouds. Then, with the help of a sympathetic scientist named Jeb, Max and the other bird hybrid kids escaped the evil organization. On the run ever since, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman and Angel look to Max for leadership, protection, guidance and even a bit of affection. All of them miss not having real parents to love. All except Max, who recently discovered the identity of her biological mother.
Max is thrilled with her mother and half-sister, and loves the chance to visit in between running from evil bad guys and trying to save the world under extreme conditions. When Max’s mom asks her and the flock to do an air show to promote a new environmental group called Coalition to Stop the Madness (CSM), the flock is glad to help. Even though security is hired for the event, how can mere humans protect six amazing bird/kid hybrids? During the show, a sniper takes a shot at Max. Thanks to Angel’s sensitive receptors for danger, she pulls Max out of the line of fire just in time. But in the process of retaliation, they discover a new threat of robot/human soldiers, one with a pistol connected to his arm instead of a hand. And Mr. Chu is the evil scientist behind it. To get Max’s attention, he kidnaps her mom.
A video message from Mr. Chu reveals a clue that leads them to believe that Max’s mom is being held hostage on a submarine. The flock rushes to Hawaii to request the aid of the Navy. Aboard a Navy submarine, they face new fears (extreme claustrophobia) and new monsters (humongous, unidentifiable creatures in the ocean depths). It’s hard for Max to wait patiently for the Navy’s help to rescue her mom, but what else can she do? Only Angel has gills and can breathe underwater, and no one can survive the crushing pressure of the ocean floor, so the Navy is the flock’s sole hope. Or is it?
Amidst all the craziness, the flock is getting a bit older. Nudge announces she wants to stay behind and go to school. Max feels she has to allow Nudge to follow her dreams, despite the split in the flock. Angel is getting more and more headstrong, defying Max’s instructions at every turn. Max and Fang grow even closer and begin to fall in love. Max wishes she could just have some alone time with Fang without having to rush around saving the world. But after all, that is her purpose in life. And otherwise, things might get a bit dull, right?
MAX is James Patterson’s fifth adventure with Maximum Ride, and it never, ever gets boring. His feathered-kid series is stuffed full of nonstop action, high-flying thrills, hand-to-hand combat, and unexpected twists and turns. He also has a way with description that brings the action to life and bursts from the printed page. Then he cleverly mixes his descriptive gifts with his hilarious, side-splitting sense of humor that jazzes up the entire story: “The sight of dawn breaking over the horizon, slowly dispelling the darkness with tendrils of pink and cream, literally the start of a brand-new day --- you know how that fills people with joy and hope and a will to somehow go on? Those people are nuts.”
This is an awesome series and an amazing book. Long live Maximum Ride! Fans of Patterson will be thrilled to know that he is working on a new series called Witch and Wizard, due out in December 2009.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on March 16, 2009