Yay, finally a title short enough that I can fit the series name in too! Never mind that the book title is rather redundant, and that this book really has nothing more to do with Max than any other in the series.
I actually think the image portion of this cover is really pretty. It’s a shame, then, that the other 75% is some of the ugliest typography I’ve ever seen in a professional cover (it looks worse in person, trust me). Anyway, let’s get in to the book proper.
Prologue: The Madness Never Stops
We find ourselves “near Los Angeles Basin” in California, where somebody named Devin is up to something.
It took less than a millisecond to calculate the trajectory–he didn’t have a built-in computer, but his 220 IQ served him well. (pg 3)
JPatterson, I’m pretty sure that IQs don’t work that way.
It seems that our friend Devin is currently planning to kill Max.
Many, many others had already failed at this task. Devin felt utter disdain for them. To kill one bird kid–how hard could it be? They were flesh and blood, ridiculously fragile. It wasn’t like bullets bounced off them. (pg 4)
I’m with ya, Devin.
Devin lines up the shot, and…
Part One: Freaks and M-Geeks
Well, at least there weren’t chapters within the prologue? That’s a small improvement.
We’re with Max now, as she’s telling us about how the flock are doing an airshow for an organization that her mom started up, which endeavors to stop pollution, etc. The name of this organization? The Coalition to Stop the Madness.
Of all the melodramatic, ridiculous, horrible sounding names, JPatterson really picked the best. It’s just so silly! How could anyone take it seriously?
We’re an odd little band, my fellow flock members and I. Fang, Iggy, and I are all fourteen, give or take. So officially, technically, legally, we’re minors. But we’ve been living on our own for years, and regular child protection laws just don’t seem to apply to us. Come to think of it, many regular grown-up laws don’t seem to apply to us either. (pg 11)
Well, JPatterson definitely didn’t become a better writer between books.
And then Angel crashes into Max, and Total gets hit by a bullet! Oh noes!
Total only got hit on his tail! How convenient!
Fang swerved closer to me, big and supremely graceful, like a black panther with wings.
Oh, God. I’m so stupid. Forget I just said that. (pg 15)
Max, dear, there’s this thing called editing. I know JPatterson doesn’t bother with it, but you could at least pretend it exists.
Max saying “whole flotilla” twice in as many sentences later, Angel says that she “felt something bad about to happen” and that’s why she crashed into Max.
Oh, and now the flock are heading to get the sniper, who apparently hasn’t bothered to take another shot. I’m disappointed in you, Devin!
And why was I only giving Iggy instructions? Because Iggy’s the only blind one, that’s why. (pg 16)
That’s probably the most painful exposition I’ve ever read. God.
And now it’s three days later, with no resolution to the sniper stuff. Nice attempt at suspense, JPatterson.
So the flock are at an interview with a talent agency in Hollywood. Apparently JPatterson thought it was a good idea to interrupt the “action” with one of the inane “oh wow look at how smart the flock are and how they run verbal circles around adults wow!” scenes he’s so fond of. Unfortunately, all doing that does is make the terribleness of this scene shine through that much more since I’m waiting for the answers to his little cliffhanger.
“Max!” said Steve, holding out his hand. “May I call you Max?”
“No.” I frowned and looked at his hand until he pulled it back. (pg 20)
I think this is funny, though. It’s more evidence of how snotty Max is, but it’s funny.
The guy running the interview, Steve asks for the flock’s names, because apparently he didn’t know them already? I mean, in the real world he would, but this is JPatterson land, where people don’t know things they should so that JPatterson can write “humor.”
Fang had sat silently this whole time, so still that he was practically blending into the modern tufted sofa. He had drunk four Cokes in about four minutes and steadily worked his way trough a plate of fried something-or-others. (pg 24)
So he sat really still, or he ate and drank ravenously? Those are kind of contradictory.
So then the flock decide to walk out on the interview, which makes me wonder why it happened in the first place. And then this:
We’re just not cut out for all this media circus crap.
But then, you already knew that. (pg 25)
So then WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
A bit of infighting amongst the flock later, and Max tells us what happened with the sniper: he blew up when the flock got near. Not near enough that the explosion would kill them, mind you, just close enough that they’d get some scratches.
The infighting, meanwhile is about the airshows: Max wants to keep doing them, but Fang doesn’t. Then he agrees to, and Max narrates that she thinks it’s because he wants to meet with Brigid, the scientist from the last book. Then she goes into the bathroom and screams into a towel.
You know, the whole “normal life versus danger” aspect of these books actually has the potential for a good plot, and the last chapter actually touched on that a little bit. If JPatterson had dropped the inane humor, the attempt at action, the “saving the world” junk, got rid of the cartoonish villains, and generally wrote a completely different series, and was a better writer to boot, this could have been a really intriguing story.
Instead, we have gems like this:
“No, the chocolates before they were barfed,” Angel clarified. (pg 35)
Oh, and then:
(See book three; I can’t keep explaining everything. If I’m gonna take the trouble to write this stuff down, the least you can do is read it.) (pg 35)
Way to be inconsistent, JPatterson.
The rest of this chapter is about Max’s feelings towards Fang and that whole pointless, boring romance junk that I couldn’t care less about, so I’m not going to bother covering it and instead will end this spork here.