Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment – by James Patterson
Well, I’m a little bit frustrated and a little bit pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking this. First I thought I’d like it, and then I wasn’t sure because I know James Patterson is very popular, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much, does it? And then I started reading and I was immediately irritated and very unimpressed by the quality of the writing, and that feeling continued for a while, but I kept reading and eventually I realized that the story was actually really good, and the characters were wonderful, and I started to like it in spite of myself. This may not sound like high praise, but the fact that I had decided not to like it and then couldn’t help liking it anyway says a lot.
Max is fourteen years old and the product of some very twisted genetic experimentation, which makes her mostly human but part bird. She and the rest of her flock have wings and are exceptionally strong and fast. Some of them also have extra superhuman abilities, and more abilities emerge as the story goes on (usually at just the right time to be extremely useful, which would annoy me more except that there appears to be an actual reason for it). They escaped four years ago from the School where they were experimented on, but now wolf-men called Erasers (there is no explanation for why they were given such a stupid name) are showing up and they kidnap Angel, the youngest member of the group. Determined to get her back, Max and the others set out to return to the site of their worst nightmares.
The dialogue occasionally felt unnatural, and I had a lot of difficulty in the beginning with the feeling that I was jumping into the middle of a series, even though this is the first book. I was very thrown off by the fact that the escape from the School had already happened because that seemed like it would have been an interesting story to tell. However, after finishing the book, it doesn’t seem so strange anymore, and a lot of the questions that frustrated me in the beginning were actually answered later on. I do think, however, that the source of much of my early irritation was the prologue. It is utterly pointless, since all of the information in it is explained again later, and it basically begs the reader to read the book, which is so obnoxious because, I am already reading it. I recommend skipping straight to the first chapter, which is actually pretty good, but it sort of gets ruined by the awful prologue.
I really appreciated that the plot makes a lot more sense than I originally thought it was going to. It takes lots of twists and turns and there is quite a bit of action, but also some great character moments. And I loved these characters. Max, Angel, Gasman, Iggy, Nudge, and Fang. Especially Fang. They are all unique and three dimensional and if they sometimes seem older than they really are, well, they have been through a lot more than normal kids so they probably should act older. I’m very eager to see how the characters and their relationships develop and where the story goes from here.