This is my first Book Review for MotherTalk and I'm so happy to do it. I had no idea James Patterson was writing for young adults, but now I know, and now I'm hooked and I bet there are many more young readers out there that are too.
Maximum Ride is just as the title promises... an absolute Maximum Ride. Of course, Patterson had lots of reasons for using those words in the title. It's the 3rd in a series of the same name, so that was an easy one. Maximum is also the name of the lead character, Max for short. And the Ride - oh the Ride Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel take us on. This book moves as fast as these bird-kids can fly. It was nearly impossible to put down, but necessary if only to be able to take a moment to catch my breath. This group of strong, vulnerable, smart, and always brave feathered fighters truly take the readers along for the ride of (and for) their lives - not to mention saving the world in the process.
This series should easily fall in line with young readers who have been inspired to read by the amazing imagination of J.K. Rowling. Personally I think this might be even better for those readers because the books are more accessible (read: not over 700 pages) and a bit more "realistic". Patterson even has Max mention Harry Potter in the book - which at once tells the reader this is happening in real time, to real kids, in the world we live in. Fang's blog is the best touch of all. In the time of bloggers (of which I am still new) it was fantastic to be able to read along with his blog and know that so many other kids are doing the same. It's a brilliant touch and another way to keep fans interested, in-touch and reading.
My favorite theme of the book is having a strong female lead in Maximum. She's the reason I'm a big fan of this book - and now the series. Max is confident, strong, hates being beaten by a boy, but like any other teenage girl, has a soft spot for her boy - Fang. She demonstrates perfectly the push/pull involved when you're a girl on a mission to save the world, but just got your heart broken by your best friend.
This is targetted perfectly at young adults and it really speaks to that audience. It's all about teen angst, but for a great and noble cause. Patterson does quite a bit of grownup bashing to accomplish his teen focus, but he does a decent job of balancing that with displaying the kids' need and desire to find parents who love them AND are good people. This reminds me a bit of the Lemony Snickett series where the grownups are generally inept or evil, but when the three siblings work together, they're able to get through anything. In the Maximum series, the adults are generally evil or un-trustworthy, but when the kids stick together, they're able to overcome all odds. They might even be able to save the world together. They've certainly made a believer out of me.