Science Fiction

Did Not Finish: Maximum Ride Forever by James Patterson

Maximum Ride Forever
Image from James Patterson

Title: Maximum Ride Forever (Maximum Ride #9)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science fiction

Warning: This book is 9th in a series, so this review will definitely have spoilers. If you haven’t read the previous books, proceed with caution.

Back cover:

THE NINTH AND ULTIMATE MAXIMUM RIDE STORY IS HERE! Legions of Max fans won’t be disappointed by this encore episode in the beloved series about the incredible adventures of a teenage girl who can fly. As Maximum Ride boldly navigates a post-apocalyptic world, she and her broken flock are roaming the earth, searching for answers to what happened. All will be revealed in this last spectacular “ride”- a brand-new grand finale featuring all of the nonstop action, twists and turns that readers can rely on in a blockbuster Patterson page-turner!

Read to: Page 26 (chapter 6)

Reason for Stopping: Not caring about plot or characters, character death

Review:

This book is described as an “encore,” which explains why I hadn’t heard of it until I saw it at the library. I thought Nevermore was the end of the series. The Maximum Ride series had honestly gone downhill after Max (Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports was the last of the fantastic Maximum Ride books), and I hated Nevermore. I picked up Maximum Ride Forever for two reasons – 1, I felt I owed it to my childhood favorite series to at least try to finish it, and 2, I wanted to give it a chance to redeem itself after the fiasco of book 8.

I made it through 26 pages before I totally gave up.

Admittedly, part of that is probably me. It’s been about two years since I last read a Maximum Ride book, so I didn’t remember much. Also I’m way older than the upper middle grade target audience. But I had hoped.

This book is best read in quick succession with Nevermore, because it jumps right into the action and emotion. And I was just too distant from these characters (who all suddenly seemed really freaking young) to get into it.

Yet another part of me not liking this book was also that I hated the ending of Nevermore, and Maximum Ride Forever is just a continuation of that. But I don’t really want to see my favorite winged bird kids in a post-apocalyptic world, I wanted to see them keep navigating the normal world as oddly-skilled mutants.

But the last straw for me was a death. The only people left alive in the world (as far as we can tell) are our bird kids, and killing one of them off was the last straw. That one was probably my least favorite, but still. Just no.

I was quite disappointed in this book, but I really don’t think I can blame the book. All my problems with the book (perhaps with the exception of killing a character) were 100% me. I think this is just final proof that I’m officially done with my favorite childhood series.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out–Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever

 

Science Fiction

Review: Max

Cover of "Max," featuring the word "Max" in silver letters in front of a picture of a blond girl in a red tank top and a dark-haired boy standing behind her, with a stormy sky in the background.
Image from James Patterson

Title: Max (Maximum Ride #5)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science fiction

WARNING: This book is fifth in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous books. If you haven’t read the previous four books in the series, I recommend not reading this review.

Back Cover:

Max and the flock have traded in Antarctica’s subzero temperatures for sunny Los Angeles, where they’re taking over the skies with their hair-raising air show. But a powerful enemy has them in his sights – and Max’s mom in his grasp.

When the flock learns that millions of fish are dying off Hawaii’s coast, and Max’s mom is being held in the middle of it, they are confronted with the most frightening ecological catastrophe yet.

While Max and her team comb the depths of the ocean off Hawaii’s coast, the ruthless kidnapper develops his own dark plans for the flock. Can the flock protect themselves from the approaching army – and save the world from utter destruction?

Review:

Yeah, I’d intended to read this directly after The Final Warning. We all know how that goes. Anyway, after finishing my reread of The Final Warning, I began to remember why I considered getting rid of the copies I own. The first three books were fabulous, and then it went downhill at book 4. I pretty much only read this one because I recalled some awesome scenes on an army base.

Max was still pretty fun, and she had some snarky comments that left me laughing out loud. The romance thing with Fang, though – I guess I’m used to them being friends and kind-of co-leaders from the first three books, because her actions around him just seemed weird and got on my nerves.

Like I said in previous reviews, besides Max, the rest of the characters weren’t jumping off the page. Except Angel – but Angel got on my nerves. (I seem to recall her getting worse as the series goes on.) She’s probably the most powerful of the Flock, and in Max, she’s figured out that nobody can really make her do anything she doesn’t want to.

The overarching plot was “get Max’s mom back,” but it was really the smaller details that the book focused on. The Max-Fang romance was a pretty big part. So was the changing Flock dynamics (I liked it better when Max was the undisputed leader). But the army base part I remembered? Awesome as ever. I absolutely love watching normal people react to the Flock.

I’m going to give up my copy of Max. I used to recommend that people new to the series stop at Max, but now I think for older readers, stopping at Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports is probably a better idea.

This series still has lots of nostalgia as one of my absolute childhood favorites (and starting a desire for being a winged person that I actually still have), but The Final Warning on didn’t really cut it for 17-year-old me.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out–Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever

Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Review: The Final Warning

The Final Warning book cover
Image from Hachette Book Group

Title: The Final Warning (Maximum Ride #4)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science Fiction

WARNING: This book is fourth in a series, so this review might contain spoilers of the previous books. Read at your own risk.

Back Cover:

In one of the world’s most extreme environment – the freezing South Pole – Max and the flock are in serious trouble. The grotesque Uber-Director has put a price on their heads, and a worldwide auction for the genetically modified kids is about to begin. His mutant army is heading down south to track down the winged gang, and with no function for mercy, the soldiers aren’t about to take pity on anyone. Oblivious to the Uber-Director’s evil plans, the flock is on a special government mission to save the Earth. But in a brutal environment like the South Pole, being able to fly isn’t always an option for escaping your worst nightmares.

Review:

I was going through my books a long time ago and realized I owned the first five Maximum Ride books but hadn’t read them in a while. So I started rereading them to see if I still wanted to keep them.

I had intended to read The Final Warning in pretty quick succession after Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports…but yeah, that didn’t happen. It got shoved between a backlog of books that need read and books that need to get back to the library suddenly. But one Saturday with nothing happening, it made its way to the top of my pile.

I still loved Max, but she seemed a little more serious in this book. Her sarcasm and cynical wit made me love her in the first three books, but it didn’t seem to show up as much. She still had her moments, but her whole mood seemed darker.

All the other characters disappointed me a bit. I remembered them as much more vibrant than they seemed this time. (I even had a minor crush on Iggy at one point.) But this time around, they all just kind of felt flat.

I got to a point where it’s pointed out that the oldest three Flock members are 14, and I went, “That’s it?” I feel like this far along in the series, they should be older. I don’t recall this bothering me when I read it for the first time at 14, but at 17, they felt far too young.

I did enjoy the plot. I remembered almost all of it, so there weren’t really any surprises (except a few things that I didn’t realize happened in this book). But I enjoyed the confused almost-romance thing between Max and Fang, and Angel’s love of penguins, and Total’s complete obsession with Akila the dog. And there’s still some butt-kicking, even if it isn’t as much as the previous books.

The one thing that actually annoyed me (and I didn’t notice it at all as a 14-year-old) was the whole global warming thing. It got preachy. That especially annoyed me because Max was all championing this cause, and then it never comes up in the rest of the series again. I do think not harming the planet is a good thing, but please, let’s not use a preachy plotline to get your message out.

It’s not that I didn’t like The Final Warning – it just doesn’t hold the same magic as it did when I first fell in love with it. I don’t think I’ll be keeping this one. But, since I own Max and I seem to remember some hilarious scenes on an army base, I may reread that one before donating it.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out–Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever
Science Fiction

Review: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports book cover
Image from Kidsmomo

Title: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (Maximum Ride #3)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science Fiction

WARNING: This book is third in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous books. If you haven’t read The Angel Experiment or School’s Out-Forever, I recommend not reading this review.

Back Cover:

Max and the flock are clearly destined for greatness. But now our six winged heroes are being hunted around the world by a new kind of enemy that is both spectacularly frightening and horrifically perfect. Some obsticales they’re facing this time around: Flyboys (arrogant bruisers with wings, even stronger than Erasers), a genocidal plot (the most terrifying human experiment imaginable), the unthinkable (there’s a traitor among them), romance (a major problem – Fang never was one to take a hint), and the impossibility factor – they can’t even save themselves! This time, it’s inevitable: they will get caught. So they might as well have some fun.

Review:

Going into this book, I remembered this being the book with ter Borcht, and the book with ter Borcht being the funniest of the series. (It is also the book with the line, “I vill now destroy de Snickahs bahs!” which has become famous in my house, even though I’m the only one who’s read the book.) So I was super-excited to reread this.

Once again, Max was hands-down the best part. I loved her snark and her kick-butt skills and her sarcastic sense of humor and everything. She was hilarious and cynical and awesome. To sum up: I loved Max.

The others weren’t quite as great as Max. Fang, the strong and silent one who actually has opinions, he just chooses not to share them; Iggy and Gazzy, partners in explosives; Nudge, the diva and chatterbox; and Angel, the sweet one with a scary side. They weren’t bad, but next to the awesomeness that was Max, they didn’t seem quite as great.

Ter Borcht, who I mentioned earlier, is actually one of the whitecoats. But he’s memorable because of his German accent and the bird-kids’s ability to get him riled up. Sometimes his reactions were funnier than the flock’s quips.

The plot was as brilliant as I remembered. It focused more on the why-Max-needs-to-save-the-world-and-other-unanswered-questions than the kicking-butt plots, which meant more whitecoats than Erasers. But watching the flock hassle the whitecoats was so hilarious, I didn’t mind. Plus, there were a bunch of questions answered and more questions raised, and I didn’t remember the answers to all of them.

It wasn’t all fun and angering scientists, though. There were darker moments, hopeless moments, and moments where they wanted to give up. And there were some situations where I couldn’t figure out how they were going to get out of it, and I’d read the book before.

There was only one itty-bitty detail that I had an issue with. The flock is hiding out again, this time in a vacation cabin, and when they raid the pantry Nudge makes an off-handed comment that she was glad they weren’t vegetarian. Which made me go, “wait a minute. Didn’t Nudge go vegetarian last book?” If something changed with that, I missed it. It wasn’t a big issue, I just caught it as an inconsistency.

If you mix six kids with wings, kick-butt skills, and smart-alecky mouths, and drop them in a mix of danger, narrow escapes, unanswered questions, confusing relationships, and people out to get them, and blend that with more humor than an action plot should reasonably be able to support, you might have something close to Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. In a word: Awesome. I’m looking forward to rereading the next book, The Final Warning.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out-Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever
Science Fiction

Review: School’s Out–Forever

School's Out-Forever cover
Image from Annie’s Blog

Title: School’s Out – Forever (Maximum Ride #2)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science Fiction

WARNING:  School’s Out—Forever is the second book in a series, and this review will probably have spoilers of the first book.  I recommend not reading this review unless you’ve read the first book in the series, The Angel Experiment.

Back Cover:

Max Ride and her Flock – five other bird-kids with the ability to fly – are doing just fine on their own.  But the FBI doesn’t seem to agree.  Now they’re being forced to face their worst nightmare…school.  A place where setting off explosives and stealing hidden documents are no-nos, even if the headmaster is evil.  A place where they learn everything except how to survive as winged fugitives hunted by killer wolf-human hybrids.  Somebody ought to make that a required class…

Review:

My whole purpose in rereading this series was to determine, since I hated the last three books, if I wanted to keep the first five, which I own.  After reading The Angel Experiment, I was pretty sure the answer was “keep them all!” but I wanted to read the rest of them anyway.

Once again, the hands-down best part about this book was Max.  I loved her snarky, sarcastic narration and her kick-butt attitude and her off-handed comments and practically everything about her.  She wasn’t technically perfect, but she made a perfect character, if that makes sense.

The other characters are a little more difficult to discuss.  For the most part, they weren’t much different than in the previous book.  Iggy and Gazzy set off a few less explosions, and Angel – well, I better not comment, since I know what happens with that and I might give something away.  But overall, the characters were pretty much the same.

Once again, the plot the book started with – the Flock ending up at school – wrapped up about halfway through, and they were back to the find-our-parents plot.  At this point, besides the whole save-the-world thing, there’s no major overarching plot, but I really don’t mind.  I love these characters so much, James Patterson can throw them in just about any situation and I’ll stay interested.

I only had one tiny problem with School’s Out—Forever.  At the end, the narration switched from first-person Max to alternating first-person Max and somebody else.  And sometimes it would take me half the chapter to figure out who was talking.  It wasn’t a huge deal, and it didn’t show up until the very end, but it still bugged me.

School’s Out—Forever is definitely a keeper.  Now I can’t wait to reread the next book, Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports.  If I remember right, that one was my favorite of the whole series.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out-Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever
Science Fiction

Review: The Angel Experiment

The Angel Experiment book cover
Image from mspaine

Title: The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science Fiction

Back Cover:

Max Ride and her “family” – five other misfit kids like her – have been perfectly safe in their hideout, thank you very much.  But when the half-human, half-wolf Erasers show up and kidnap six-year-old Angel, Max decides it’s time to come out of hiding.  To get Angel back, Max and her family will have to invade the evil School, the very place where the Erasers are made.  But they have one advantage – they can fly.  Literally.

Review:

I first read the Maximum Ride books just after Max came out, and absolutely loved them – so much that I bought them all.  But the books after Max, I didn’t like quite so much.  After reading the last book, Nevermore, and determining I didn’t really like how the series ended, I decided I’d better reread the first five books and decide if they’re worth keeping.

Now I remember why I fell in love with the Maximum Ride books in the first place.

I loved Max.  More specifically, I loved her voice.  The Angel Experiment was written in first person with Max narrating, and I think the narration was the best part of the whole book.  She was snarky and sarcastic, and seemed a whole lot older than fourteen.  I absolutely loved her off-handed comments and Notes to Self and pretty much everything about her narration.  You have to enjoy sarcastic humor to appreciate it, but if sarcasm makes you laugh, Max’s comments are laugh-out-loud funny.

Iggy and Gazzy were both great characters, especially when dealing  with bombs.  Gazzy reminded me a lot of my brother, if my brother had wings and a penchant for explosives.  I honestly think those two were more fun together – it resulted in bigger explosions.

Angel reminded me a bit of my little sister – sweet, innocent, and very, very cute.  She also had some dark gifts, but even when she was using them, she was so sweet and innocent about it.  Nudge was also sweet in her own way – a friendly, talkative way.  The two of them were actually very similar, personality-wise.

Fang was actually my least-favorite character.  He didn’t say much, and half the time, he was just kind of there.

The whole save-Angel plot wrapped up about halfway through the book, and then it launched into the what-the-heck-do-they-want-with-us plot that, if I remember right, stretches through the next two books at least.  Besides finding out all sorts of secrets, there’s also betrayal, evil plots, and wolf/human hybrids trying to kill them.  And between kick-butt action, sarcastic humor, and the Flock’s lack of skills when dealing with normal people, I loved every minute of it.

I’m now really looking forward to rereading the next book, School’s Out – Forever.  I think these books may have to stay on my shelf a while longer.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out-Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever