Maximum Ride: A New Kind of Superhero

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment . New York- Little, Brown and Company. 2005

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“Meet Max. Welcome to her Nightmare”: so begins the reader’s adventure with superhuman teen Maximum Ride!

Maximum Ride, a fourteen year old superhuman, has anything but a conventional life, she and her flock of five siblings live without parents and can fly! These children- fourteen year olds Max, Fang and Iggy, eleven year old Nudge, eight year old Gasman and six year old Angel- have rather mysterious pasts; all they know is that they were raised in a laboratory called The School, and they have wings! At The School the kids were treated like lab mice, and gained their flying abilities when the scientists experimented by crossing their DNA with avian DNA, the result: super kids. Although they are not all biological siblings; their experiences have given them the bonds of brothers and sisters, they call themselves the Flock. After escaping with the help of a rogue scientist, Jeb, the kids get to live in freedom for the first time in their lives.

The story begins four years later, when Max and her family are living peacefully, but alone far away from The School. Jeb has disappeared two years earlier, and the children assume he is dead. Jeb’s absence has put Max, as the oldest, in the position of caregiver and leader to the whole flock. The primary concern for these kids is staying away from The School, and the mutant wolf-teens, called Erasers, created by the School. Erasers, “usually armed, always bloodthirsty,” as Max describes them, have one mission- to kill Max and the flock. An unfortunate and unexpected turn of events leads to the Erasers kidnapping Angel, the baby of the flock. This sends Maximum and her brothers and sisters on an unimaginable journey to save Angel and learn the truth about themselves and their mysterious pasts. Max is challenged to the extreme when she is told , “you were created for a reason…Max, that reason, that purpose is: You are supposed to save the world.”
Her ability to fulfill this purpose is shown as she proves to be a natural leader and strong role-model for her siblings. Her quick thinking, determination to stay positive and do what needs to be done as well as her superhuman abilities serve as her tools on this challenging journey.

Maximum Ride is like X-men for a new generation. The strong and brave female protagonist, Max, is a character that any reader can learn to love. Max's narrative style allows the reader to better understand her personality and gain a personal investment in her story.

Although Max is a captivating character, the literary value of this book seems to end there. The high-powered adventure is used to mask a serious lack of depth in the story. The excitement leads the reader to believe that there is more to the story, but in truth, what is seen on the surface is all that Patterson gives his audience. This book proves to be disappointing to any reader anticipating character development and a plot climax. Max and her siblings fly from event to event with minimal resolution and even less connection between events. The characters, Max in particular, do not undergo the expected and beneficial development of a lead character. Instead, Max ends the story at the same emotional state she began in; this leaves the reader with the same questions they have as they begin reading.

Just as character development, the use of themes in this book is a disappointing state for a reader. The few themes presented in the text seem to be thrown in only to help hold together this loosely connected collection of events. This exciting pager turner will likely leave the reader with a multitude of unresolved quandaries. In spite of its downfalls, this book is full of intense entertaining excitement, and in spite of a critical view, Maximum Ride proves to be thoroughly entertaining. The cliffhanger end will make you hungry for book number two!

Why teach Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment? This book is an excellent addition to the English classroom curriculum as it contains such thematic ideas as: survival at whatever means possible, the benefits/repercussions of genetic engineering, etc.

Additional information on the book:How to order it, comments from teachers who have used it in the classroom, etc.

Some activities to consider:
Journal Writing: Consider having students journal write every time they come in for the day. They can discuss their opinions about what they read, make future predictions about what might happen, or put down questions or concerns they are having while reading. Having this written account, will help students prepare talking points if the teacher decides to form small reading/discussion groups.

Small Group Discussion: Every few days, you might consider breaking students into small group to discuss the following topics: character development, thematic concepts, literary concepts, personal feelings, etc. Students can use their notes from their journal writings to help generate ideas for small group discussion. After each small group has generated a list of ideas for each topic, the teacher can lead a full-class discussion. These small group discussions could cover small reading sections of the text or larger chapters.

Jeopardy Review: Create a Jeopardy review game (use PowerPoint) to generate questions you want students to answer. They can simple recall questions or more thought-provoking ones. Break the class into 4-5 groups with 5-6 students in each group.

Survival Activity: This activity places students into the story and helps them to conceptualize the actions of the main protagonists.

(Adapted with use from Nick Angel, Blissfield High School English Department, Blissfield Community Schools, Blissfield, MI)

Current Events: Bring in current newspapers/magazines with articles concerning the latest trends in genetic engineering. Discuss the validity of these tests, the benefits, repercussions, etc. Consider sending a note home to parents ahead of time to inform them of the nature of the discussion.

The Author: James Patterson

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James Patterson is a notable author in both the children’s and adult realms of literary works. In the past three years, he has sold more books than any other author. His books have won many awards, such as The Reader’s Digest Reader’s Choice Award, The International Thriller of the Year Award, BCA Mystery Guild’s Thriller of the Year, and and a Children’s Choice Book Council’s Children’s Choice Awards “Author of the Year” (2010). To date, Patterson has had 19 consecutive number one New York Times best selling novels.
Patterson’s first steps into the realm of writing children’s novels were met with enormous praise, as his Maximum Ride series debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list and stayed there for twelve straight weeks and has made 94 total appearances so far on the same list. His adult series include popular detective mysteries as well as romance, fantasy and thriller novels; of which Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls have been adapted to big-screen movies. His Women’s Murder Club series have also been translated to a TV series.
A retiree of the advertising business, Patterson designs all of his book covers himself and he once shot his own commercial to get the word out about Along Came a Spider, as his publisher didn’t think it was a good investment. Patterson’s instinct and knowledge of the business helps him sell so many books, and Harvard Business School even teaches a course on his marketing techniques.
James Patterson is actively working to develop the love of reading, his James Patterson Pageturner Award which rewards those who find new and exciting ways to spread the joy of reading and he recently founded the website, which helps teachers and parents find great books for their children. He also donates thousands of books yearly to troops overseas. For more information you can follow the James Patterson Facebook page.

An Interview with James Patterson

Follow James Patterson on Facebook!


There is a rumor going about that there may be a Maximum Ride: Angel Experiment movie. The movie was originally going to be shown before 2013 but according to squidoo the movie may not be appearing on the big screen until 2013. It is said that the screen play is being written by Don Payne. Maximum Ride: Angel Experiment will be produced by Avi Arad and directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The cast however is currently unknown. The video above is a clip produced by a Maximum Ride fan. In the interview, under our About Author section James Patterson reveals some of the following movie information: producer, director, and the studio that is working on the Maximum Ride movie.

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Review By:

-Laura Brower

-Patrick Brown

-Carly Seyferth

-Melissa Vanzee