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Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

In Brief: Disappointing conclusion to the series. Fast-paced cartoon-style violent action with some casual references to scientific killing (of unwanted clones, hybrids etc). Redemption of a hated character. Continued loyalty of the winged youngsters to each other although with some rifts over the best course of action.

Author: James Patterson

Series: Maximum Ride

Publisher: Headline

Published in: 2007

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Contemporary

Setting: USA

Genres:  AdventureSciFi


Characters:

  • The series regulars

Synopsis:

The Flock splits up when Max & Fang visit Dr Martinez to have Max's chip removed and the younger ones are captured and taken back to The School, the lab they grew up in. Having escaped, they split up again when Max champions Ari's change of heart and Fang takes off with the other boys. There is a final showdown when all the answers are revealed.

Notes:

Well I was a bit concerned when I saw how quickly this final episode in the Maximum Ride story had come out, and sure enough it's somewhat disappointing. Certainly it's fairly packed with action, with interesting shifts in relationships and with 11th-hour revelations of who's who and doing what. But ultimately, the revelations are just too neat and don't really hang together; and the action doesn't really go anywhere in particular. It's almost as if the author were a film director who couldn't afford actors for any new parts and so made the existing characters fill the gaps and reused some existing fight footage to save more money there.

The point-of-view shifts around a little more this time, too, only slightly oddly. Hitherto we've always seen through Max's eyes or occasionally Ari's. Here we see things as Max, and then we shift to the God's-eye-view when focusing on Fang and the blog he starts to let the people of the world know about the Evil Plot being concocted by the Wicked Scientists. At first I wondered if this meant that someone was going to die (since you couldn't then hear their afterthoughts). But in fact it seems either to be sloppy editing, or a device which was supposed to work but didn't. Not terrible, merely disconcerting.

There are a few nice moments. At one point, the bad guys try to persuade our plucky heroine that everything we've been reading about in the last three books has been a dream. She doesn't quite buy it but does engage with the idea, pondering over the philosophical implications. Interesting for a few moments. Dr Martinez comes onstage again and Max's desire for a real family is to the fore just as she — under the effects of a relaxant drug — unwittingly declares her wholehearted love for Fang. Elsewhere the kids outface an incompetent Germanic evil doctor and some oriental would-be purchasers of their talents. Snappy if unrealistic.

The rest of the characters do their stuff, and there's a big showdown between Max and another engineered boy which Max loses but robustly defends the pointlessness of the competition. Finally, she resists the temptation to let the big boss die by falling from a great height, proving that she's one better than the big boss who would have had her killed. To round things off, she finds her real mother. And they all live to fight another day.

In spite of my mild scorn, I've enjoyed this series. I just wish that it had fulfilled its early promise. As it is, the three books could have been condensed into two or even one and left a lot of room for more interesting developments.

“We will destroy you,” the Flyboys droned. “You have no escape.”

That was the most imaginative, threatening thing the whitecoats had programmed these droids to say? “Talk about lame,” Fang muttered. Mechanical heads swiveled, laser-red eyes locked on to him, and a bunch of the robots split away from the main group to face him down.

Fang readied his aluminum baseball bat. A sudden whining, whistling sound made him backpedal hard. Fifty feet away, a ground-to-air missile flew directly into the mass of Flyboys. Its aim was off and it exploded too late, above them. But it still blasted 15 metallic heads off, and Fang had a moment to hope that the Gasman had enjoyed the display.

Wednesday 15th August 2007