Sunday, August 12, 2007

Maximum Ride provides Minimum Pleasure

It is very rare for me to completely hate a book. I read a lot, and I'm such a lover of words that I think cereal boxes can keep me enraptured. It's sort of sad how much I love to read. But, I did not love to read Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson. This is the first book I've ever read by Patterson, who is an extremely popular and prolific writer of popular fiction. To say that I thought his writing as poor would be kind. This was not a well written book. The storyline had a lot of problems that could have been alleviated if the prose were good. But it was not.

There were problems with the voice changing. The main character, Maximum Ride, or Max as she is called by her flock, is a female with a decidedly male voice. No matter how many times I was reminded that she was female, I saw her and heard her as male. Patterson evidentally had quite a bit of trouble writing her as a female because his dialog really rang false through the book. Additionally, Max often addressed the 'audience' of readers, which was odd, since we were only addressed occasionally, as an afterthought. It was unbelievable and a good editor should have caught this.

The storyline was almost silly. It is a tale of a world gone amok by a large corporation performing genetic experiments gone awry. Max and her flock of friends are bird kids that were an early genetic experiment. They are all able to fly and have wings tucked into their bodies. It was never described in this book exactly how that worked, but I assume that the other books in the series described it in more detail. Which was yet another thing that bothered me. This book could not stand on it's own. It referred to the other books in the series for backstory, that I found annoying since I have no plans to ever read the other books. It assumed that you were going to read the series in order, something that JK Rowling never did with the Harry Potter series. I feel that Patterson should have learned from Rowling how to provide continuity within a series.

The flock of bird kids have discovered that Itek, the international evil corporation, has decided to take over the world using a combination of death for anyone sick, weak, or elderly, and using genetically altered robot-people to provide order. Max has decided that it is up to her to save the world, and she goes about it using a systematic but often flawed plan. Max's biggest problem is that she isn't quite sure whom to trust, even within her flock, and her mouth which spouts sarcasm in every instance of danger. That dialog rang so false to me that it was disconcerting to read. It was if Patterson had an idea of what a young tween should sound like, and then wrote it as even more annoying. The final scene, where Max's flock comes together to destroy the Itek corporate headquarters hidden in a castle in Germany ends with a fight including rock throwing. It was just silly, and a disappointment to any reader hoping that there would be a logical ending.

This Young Adult novel was written for tweens and teens, however it was such a lame story, with such unrealistic characters and so poorly written that there would be no way I could ever recommend it any kid in my aquaintence. I was sorry to read such a haphazard mishmash of words, especially from an author who should have known better. To me, this book sounded like it was banged out in a weekend before a deadline. That's not good enough for my or anyone else's kids.

Reviewed as part of the MotherTalk book tour.


leendaluu said...

Thanks for your brave review. I tried to be honest in mine but wasn't quite as effective.....

Major Bedhead said...

I've heard that Patterson farms out his books to other writers - I wonder if that's what was done here. I don't think the guy can write at all either. My review of this won't be very flattering either.

utenzi said...

Patterson was a so-so writer years back but now it's seems to be just a paycheck. I've not read this book but the last few I did read were poorly constructed.