Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson

James Patterson has described Maximum Ride as his favorite series, and possibly his best. We totally understand why these books are his favorites, as the first installment in the series, Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, is an thrill-a-minute rollercoaster full of Buffy-esque quips and butt-kicking—but we shudder to think of the quality of his other novels if this is as good as his writing gets.

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride is the leader and oldest member of the "Flock", a group of six scientifically-engineered bird/human hybrids with the ability to fly. Max and her friends escaped from the lab that created them, but they live in constant fear of discovery. When Angel, the youngest member of the group, is kidnapped and sent back to the lab, the Flock is determined to rescue her, even if that means braving the “Erasers”: werewolf-like beings built to defend the lab and the evil scientists who run it.

Maximum Ride isn’t the best-written teen series on the planet. Patterson uses the same tired adjectives over and over (sometimes twice in the same paragraph!), and he’s way too fond of short, terse chapters. (A two-page chapter about a brutal fight might have had some dramatic impact... if previous two-page chapters hadn’t featured stuff like the characters eating breakfast.) Patterson’s writing style isn’t bad enough to totally ruin the series, but it detracts from some of his books’ over-the-top fun.

But picky readers shouldn’t give up on this series just yet: Patterson’s writing skills aren’t as remarkable as his storytelling ability, but the powers that be are planning to turn Maximum Ride into both an animated film and a manga*. These fast-paced, visually dynamic forms will emphasize Patterson’s strengths (amusing dialogue and suspenseful plot twists), and downplay his stylistic missteps. So if you’re in the market for an action-packed sci-fi/coming-of-age story, we suggest thinking of Patterson’s novels as promising first drafts. They might need a bit of polishing, but they've got what it takes to become seriously awesome entertainment.

*As we previously reported.
Posted by: Julianka


20 Dec, 2007 06:23 AM @ version 0

I love this series, crappy writing or no... but I do wish Patterson didn't ALWAY have his characters in life-threatening peril. They just go from one disaster to the next. It would be cool to see them experience a little teen life that wasn't a government plot or whatever, you know?

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