Friday, July 24, 2009

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment - James Patterson (audio)

The Maximum Ride series has been all the rage in my daughter's class and at the Book Fair. There are a total of five books in the series, written by the ever-popular James Patterson, in his first foray into Young Adult Literature. It seemed like the perfect recipe for a good audio adventure with the kids this summer.

The premise has a science fiction flair: There are secret laboratories located on both the East and West Coasts. The labs create genetically engineered creatures with both human and animal attributes. We are not yet privy to the agenda of the lab - is the creation of these creatures for the good of humanity or for ill gain? Most of the "experiments" fail and the creatures die quickly. But the lab has had two astounding successes...the Erasers (human/wolf hybrids), which are the bad-tempered henchmen of the lab, and the Flock (human/bird hybrids).

In this first installment of the series, we are introduced to the Flock. Max (short for Maximum Ride, a name she gave to herself) is the leader of the group, and is 14 years old. There is also Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gassy and Angel, ranging in ages from 13 to 6. They look like normal kids, but have wings and can fly, plus a few more cool tricks up their sleeves. They escaped the lab four years prior, to avoid the painful and cruel experiments to which they were subjected, as well as imprisonment in dog cages.

They found a safe place to live as a family, until one day some Erasers crashed their party, kidnapped Angel and took her back to the West Coast. When the Flock retrieves Angel from the evil clutches of the "white coats", questions start to arise about their origins, paternity, their potential "expiration date", and the purpose of their existance. They travel to Manhatten in search of the second lab to find their answers, after multiple run-ins with those nasty wolf boys.

I was mildly entertained by this audio. I would not put it in the class of The Hunger Games, but would liken it more to the Pendragon series. The skirmishes between the Flock and the Erasers seemed to happen ALOT and got a bit old for me. However, the character of Max is a positive, strong one...a girl who knows the difference between right and wrong, and stays strong for her family. While the main character is female, there are plenty of boy characters in all their boyish glory as well, so this story would certainly appeal to all kids. There is some language ("crap" and "sucks" seems to be the most used), and a chaste kiss, but otherwise is clean for the 9 and over crowd.

The kids had similar feelings. They were entertained, but often became bored with the predictability of the constant run-ins with the Erasers. They were a bit more ambivalent about Max...Emma even thought she was a bit of a martyr. They actually were drawn more to the younger members of the Flock. Despite their reservations, they still are interested in listening to the rest of the series.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The kids' rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Melody said...

I almost pick up this series... now I'm glad I didn't. :P

Unknown said...

I didn't realise he had branched out in children's books. It sounds as though he should stick to what he is good at!

Serena said...

I really enjoy this series on audio, though bouts with the various bad guys does get a bit old...perhaps not for kids though.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - who knows,it may pick up as the series progresses. It isn't bad, but who really has time for that?

Jackie - I didn't know either until I started running the book fair, and noticed this series was all the rage. But I agree though, he should stick to his day job. I didn't recognize anything of him in this story.

Serena - You are right, the kids are much less discriminating. The premise is intriguing, but could have lost about a disc-worth of scuffles with the Erasers.

Beth F said...

I haven't tackled this series. I am reading the Pendragon series with my niece, and that's enough for me -- Pnedragon is okay and gets better as the series moves on, but I'm happy to pass on the Patterson series.

Anna said...

I liked Patterson's first winged kids book for adults. But I haven't been interested in the YA ones.

Diary of an Eccentric

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with your daughter. The book gets boring and old after a while. I am just glad there is a person who thinks the same way as I do, since all my friends seemed to like it.