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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

I have been given the honour and pleasure of reviewing the above book, a fiction novel for young adults.

Maximum Ride: Saving the World, etc. is the third book in a series about young "mutant" teenagers who can fly (a result of avian DNA) who are being hunted down and are slated for "retirement" by their creator and nemesis "The Director". (Shades of Dark Angel, the series which had me interested right away). They are continually chased by and engaged in combat with "Flyboys" (also known as Erasers) throughout the novel, which makes for some pretty intense fight scenes. The flock does not always escape unscathed and are captured once or twice, but usually manage to prevail under the direction of their leader Max and her "co-pilot" Fang.

Without having read the first two novels, I found it relatively easy to slide into the story and figure out most of what was going on. I appreciated the fact that James Patterson, the author (Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls), did not retell the previous stories. There were allusions to earlier events, which left me wondering a bit, but it has motivated me to buy the first two books and catch up. There were no significant references that were too complex to figure out.

Another appealing factor for me was the short chapters. It kept you interested and wanting more, especially since the narrative changed from first person Max to third person Fang, almost from chapter to chapter. It was two stories being told simultaneously that were the same, yet different. I think this style would appeal to young readers as you have two perspectives of the same events for the most part.

Throughout the book, realizations are made by the characters, some very surprising and rewarding, while an underlying theme about saving the environment and ultimately the earth is threaded through. I did not find it to be preachy or sanctimonious and the message was clear: kids need to take an active part in keeping this earth liveable.

Though the characters are all children, aged fourteen and under, the language was quite adult and there were some slightly adult themes (such as the characters having to deal with children dying and being hurt). This indicates to me that James Patterson feels his readers can handle this sort of thing, more than we adults perhaps give them credit for. It's a glimpse into the "real world" if you will. The message is also there that adults can make (big) mistakes.

I enjoyed the random blog entries and was grateful for the fact that it was not a permanent writing style for the story. Speaking from an adult perspective, this kind of format can become tedious, but interspersed as it was, it helped the story along considerably and provided variety for the reader.

All in all, the story was entertaining, exciting and kept me captivated until the end. A good read that I will recommend to the young (and old) people in my life.

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