((This WAS supposed to get up on Tuesday, but then I forgot. Ack!)
And we’re back! After nearly two months of hiatus, it’s time for me to dig my teeth into the fourth Maximum Ride book: The Final Warning. This book is disliked even by fans of the first trilogy, so I think we’re in for something special. We’re going to dive in after a moment, but first I need to talk about scheduling. Personal life is going to be getting in my way from the 8th of December to the 15th, so I won’t be able to do sporks in that time; to make up for it, I’ll be doing two sporks this week, one today and one on Friday. When I continue, I’ll go back to once a week, but to anticipate for upcoming original fiction I’ll be posting them on Wednesday.
Got it? Good. Let’s get to the spork!
As is usual for the Maximum Ride paperbacks, this one’s got a whole bunch of gushing from critics at the beginning, and rather than include testimonials from random first names, there are quotes from internet blogs that I’ve never heard of. Weird. They’re also way too painful for me to get through, so I’m going to pretend they don’t exist and go right into the book proper.
Prologue: Catching Bird Freaks: Hazardous Duty At Best
Why yes, there are multiple chapters within the prologue.
We find ourselves in a state forest in Massachusetts, as an unknown team of specially-armored people are moving in on a cabin, which supposedly contains the flock. The 0bjective is to capture the flock by shooting nets at the cabin.
So, yeah. The goal is to capture the flock from afar, but they’ve got armor. MAKES PERFECT SENSE.
This chapter break literally serves no possible purpose. I am going to keep being irritated by this as long as JPatterson decides to do it.
The team leader says that the prey has been captured since the cabin is secured, and he gets this as a reply:
“No. Not quite,” said the Uber-Director, who was little more than a human head attached by means of an artificial spinal column to a series of Plexiglas boxes. (pg 5)
I’m sorry, what? The villain for this book is not seriously a detached head called the Uber-Director, is it? That’s–idiotic! Who could possibly take that name seriously?!
So, yeah. According to the Uber-Director, the cabin has not been secured because the chimney and skylight have not been covered by the nets. The team leader notices that his pictures of the flock have the tips of wings in them, and upon realizing his mistake the Uber-Director vaporizes the team.
Yep, you got that right. The team was not briefed that the flock had wings, the flock are apparently capable of flying out of a skylight in a “small” cabin with their thirteen-foot wingspans, and the punishment for not being briefed on a crucial detail about your targets results in death. The Uber-Director certainly lives up to his silly name.
Part One: Another Part of the Big Picture
A different forest. Not telling you where. (pg 9)
Keep in mind that the beginning of the prologue briefed us on the specific location. That is, Max is directly referencing the omniscient third-person narration that she couldn’t possibly have written due to its, ya know, omniscience.
Max then tells us that she’s at a funeral for Ari. She also puts quotation marks around “father” when referring to Jeb, says that those quotation marks can be believed, but doesn’t tell us what they’re supposed to mean. Is she saying that Jeb is her biological parent but that she doesn’t consider him her father? That it’s the opposite way around? That he’s a bloodthirsty demon from the 73rd dimension? I don’t know, because she doesn’t specify.
Max gives us info-dumping on Ari, and mentions that after his first death (at the end of book one) she had felt guilt, shock, regret, and relief. Though if I recall correctly, she never displayed any of those in the books. Heck, I don’t even remember her spending more than a paragraph talking about him before he turned up alive.
Actually, I just realized something about Ari that I never thought about before. He died because of his “time stamp” thingy that the Erasers suddenly had in book three, right? So… why did he have it? First is the confusion of how he got Eraserfied when he was already seven, but why would being given the Eraser genes suddenly shorten his lifespan? I mean, he got furry and fangy. Apparently this destabilized his very being or something and caused him to randomly drop dead with no warning? I mean, surely there would at least be signs?
The Abomination Character Whom I Will Not Name does stupid, horrible things that make no sense and are nothing but irritating and caps-l0ck rant inducing, then Max decides that she has to say something. Only…
I had no words for this, and I’m a word queen. I’ve talked my way out of more tight spots than a leopard has, but this? A funeral for a sad, doomed seven-year-old? I had nothing. (pg 12)
I’m sorry, what? Since when have you talked your way out of any situation? Are you talking about the time when you made ter Borcht angry with your fail snark? Or when you did that to the Director? Or basically anyone you decided you didn’t like?
So instead Fang says a quick bit, which Max apparently can only hear using her special bird-hearing.
Google search: “do birds have a better sense of hearing?” Result: Due to differences in how their ears and heads are shaped, they can hear better, and they also hear differently, able to hear things faster but in a smaller frequency range.
Conclusion: The flock having improved hearing as a result of their bird genes makes no sense. They should, however, have a different sense of hearing. This different sense of hearing is not evident in the books.
Evidently, my Google search is more research than JPatterson did.
Jeb says that the flock need to go, and mentions a trip to Washington with Dr. Martinez.
He sighed, not looking at Ari’s grave. (pg 14)
Really? You’re telling me that when talking to the flock, he’s not looking somewhere else? I would never have guessed! I mean, honestly, this is like saying “He sighed, not looking at the tree behind him.” There isn’t contextual reason for him to be looking at Ari’s grave when he’s performing an unrelated activity, and so this is just silly.
Max, apparently, paid no attention to this plan and so we get an infodump. Evidently, certain people in the government are interested in meeting the flock to help them or something. Max then describes the flock as “innocent test-tube babies whose DNA was forcibly unraveled and merged with two percent avian genes”.
Not how science works.
She also says that it’s a miracle that they’re not “complete nut jobs and mutant disasters.” On that note, anyone know why they aren’t just that? ‘Cause they really should be.
While this conversation is going on, the flock and Jeb are walking out of the graveyard and through a forest. Then they reach a landing strip “scraped into the forest like a wound.”
What a weird graveyard.
So, yeah. There’s a private jet there with two armed people that Max identifies as Secret Service agents. After a bit of stalling and exposition, Max agrees to go on the jet and I decide to end my spork here. See you Friday!