If you’re reading this, you probably know the deal, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be starting here anyway, so let’s jump in with the plot.
The Final Warning starts off with Ari’s funeral, because he died, but given that it took me a moment to remember this fact, I think you can tell how insignificant it is. The flock go on to be courted by the US government, but Max declines because reasons. Then the flock nearly get blown up by a pizza bomb.
Now, this poses an interesting question: who made the bomb? The villains of the book intend to capture and sell the flock; killing them poses no advantage. In fact, the bomb is completely forgotten soon after it goes off. The only point to it is to propel the flock out into the wilderness, something that lasts for a couple of chapters before being dropped in favor of heading to the Antarctic.
See, the flock are going to the Antarctic with a team researching the effects of global warming. In fact, the plot of this book is ostensibly “global warming is bad!!” That’s right: this action series for kids is suddenly about global warming. Now, I think it’s bad enough to craft fiction to make a political point, but to take an existing series and abruptly make it about climate change? It’s just ridiculous.
It doesn’t help that it’s terribly written. At first, Max is skeptical of global warming, thinking (but not saying) points against it as it’s explained to her. This seems to be intended as a plot point: Max doesn’t believe in global warming, but then she does! The problem is, she makes points that are never refuted, and then changes her mind because there’s a hurricane.
No, seriously. Max is in a really bad hurricane, Angel says that the people on TV say it’s bad because of global warming, and next thing we know in this plotline Max is giving a speech to Congress. Not only did JPatterson decide to make the book about global warming, but he didn’t even bother to refute arguments against it.
The rest of the plot is similarly bad, with super-convenient happenings, zero tension, terrible prose–you know the deal. The characters mostly stay the same from their previous incarnations, but oddly Nudge goes through a complete change: whereas she was previously talkative and somewhat resourceful, Nudge in The Final Warning is a pop culture machine, and kind of vapid to boot. Why JPatterson decided to make this change, I don’t know, because Nudge being resourceful were the most interesting character moments in the first three books.
The worst part of The Final Warning, though, is definitely the villains. JPatterson seemed to think he needed to up the ante this time around, because rather than a tortoise woman we get the Uber-Director, a cyborg of sorts whose body is in a series of connecting boxes. Like all of JPatterson’s villains, he’s supposed to be competent and frightening, but also like all of JPatterson’s villains he’s silly and easily enraged by Max’s bad quips. His motivation is never clear; he intends to sell the flock, but to what end is not explained. He clearly doesn’t need money, as he develops a line of robot soldiers to capture the flock, and yet the only thing he stands to gain from selling the flock is… money. He’s also helped out by a robot named Gozen, who is most notable for his terrible, terrible name.
Overall, I’d say that The Final Warning is the worst of the books I’ve sporked so far. Personally, I hate School’s Out–Forever more, for its utterly pointless plot and irritating-to-type title, but The Final Warning is just so wholly insipid I can’t really give the title to anything but it.
Stay tuned for my spork of MAX, in which JPatterson decides to completely change his naming scheme for no good reason.