Monday, September 27, 2010

The Final Warning by James Patterson

The Final Warning
(Maximum Ride #4)
by James Patterson

STOP RIGHT HERE if you haven't read the first three books in the Maximum Ride series and don't want any spoilers!

As the world warms up, the flock feels the heat.

The thrill ride wasn't over when Max and her flock of winged kids flew off into the sunset at the end of Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. Turns out retirement's kind of boring for the flock - especially when the planet still needs to be saved and they're the only ones capable of doing it. With the help of a group of environmentalists (who just might be trustworthy) and the flock's evolving powers, Max could even tackle a problem as massive as global warming - but a fes things keep getting in her way...

Max's Pet Peeves:
- Subhuman billionaires with floating body parts and a penchant for world domination.
- An army of programmed bullies who flex their muscles on little kids.
- Know-it-all older women who make Fang puppy-eyed when clearly Max is the one who should be making his knees weak.
- Being stuck in Antarctica surrounded by white, white, white.
- And the most annoying thing of all: being underestimated.

The world needs a wake-up call, and everyone is hitting snooze. But no one can ignore Max's final warning...

My review
As much as I have enjoyed the flock's adventures, I may be abandoning this series soon. The Angel Experiment was a fantastic start to the series, but the books have become progressively more focused on saving the environment. While that's not a bad thing in and of itself, The Final Warning read like an advertisement for (an organization which, no-so-coincidentally, has an ad in the back of the book).

With Ari's death at the end of Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, the story lost a key storyline. Was he really Max's brother? Does that mean Jeb is Max's father? Why does Ari hate Max so much? (etcetra, etcetra) It really feels like the series should have ended after the third book. The Final Warning changed focus entirely from the flock's original goal of discovering who they are and where they came from - now they are a six (bird) kid crusade against global warming. What happened to the original storyline? Does the author - and by author I don't mean James Patterson but his ghostwriter for this series - really expect the reader to believe that these kids are just going to give up on their original goal? That just doesn't ring true for me. As someone who worked for five years to find that information for herself, I had a hard time buying the idea that these kids would be fine with giving up that goal and going to Antarctica for someone else's mission, no questions asked.

The Maximum Ride series is a great, clean read for kids, but adults may enjoy the original story more. Although Patterson prefaces each book with a disclaimer that this series is not at all related to his adult novels, When the Wind Blows and The Lake House both feature avian-human recombinants, one of whom is named Maximum Ride. It definitely sounds like it's worth checking out!

The first three books in the Maximum Ride series are The Angel Experiment, School's Out - Forever, and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. The next two books - MAX and Fang, are also out. Make sure to watch out for the next two books in the series - Angel and Iggy - will be released in 2011.

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