Monthly Archives: July 2013

Weekly Haiku 21



Dull and changeless world;

Memories of youth bring me

Comfort in the dark.


The City

Mist hangs like a shroud

Above the sleeping city;

Who dares brave this hour?


After the Rain

Sunshine and hot air

Contrast the still dripping tree;

Rain passed so sudden.



Cicadas roaring;

The air alive with the sound

Of nature’s lusting.



Youth, who long for age;

The old, still clinging youth;

Mad, those caught between.


All haiku copyright © 2013 by Michael Vest



Maximum Ride: FANG Spork Part 4


Chapter 14

I’d suspected the doctor had an agenda–’cause nothing was ever given to us just because we were swell. Now I knew that it was sitting across from me, looking like the cover if People magazine’s Sexiest People issue. (pg 47)

Okay, Max? We get it. Dylan is hot. You don’t have to remind us of this fact every time you mention him.

It’s brought up that Max should “teach” Dylan things. She asks what sort of things, and Dylan asks to see her wings. Apparently this is an answer to her question.

Max shows him her wings and then decides she wants to leave. But before she can…

In a smooth movement, the doctor stepped between me and the tent’s entrance. Reaching into his shirt pocket, he whipped out a syringe. “Just a minute, Max. It’s not that simple.” (pg 49)

Who wants to guess that he isn’t actually threatening her and this was just an attempt at suspense?

Chapter 15

“Max–wait,” Angel said. “He doesn’t mean us harm.(pg 50)


The doctor injects himself with the syringe, containing a virus, and gets sick before healing rapidly. Max says how that could come in handy.

The doctor smiled. “You’re getting the picture, Max. Because in an apocalypse, there are no doctors. …”

He pulled out a meat cleaver. (pg 52)


Chapter 16

Before I had a chance to disappear–fast–Dr. Gunther-Hagen had hacked off the tip of his left pinkie finger. (pg 53)


I don’t think there’s anything I can do but laugh and shake my head.

The doctor puts the now cut-off finger bit against where it was cut off, and it reattaches. Apparently there was no bleeding.

The doctor wants the flock to work with him to prepare for the “coming apocalypse.” What they would be doing is not mentioned, but Max declines anyway.

…This book is really silly.

Chapter 17

Did I ever tell you how much I hate needles? Bad childhood memories. It’s a lab-escapee thing. The meat cleaver was a mere annoyance in comparison. (pg 57)

Okay, let’s look at how Max reacts to the syringe getting pulled out.

I smiled my evil itching-for-a-fight smile, wishing I hadn’t stuffed my pockets with bacon. This could get messy. (pg 50)

Yeah. Max really hates needles. So much that she isn’t even afraid of a needle when it’s pulled out in front of her.


“What did you think about Dylan?” Angel asked.

“Poor sap,” I said briefly, and tried not to think about him too much in case she was in mind-reading mode. (pg 58)

In other news, Angel’s mind reading still has no set rules or consistent portrayal.

They get back to the flock’s tent:

“Listen up,” I said urgently. “It’s time to round up your gear. I’m gonna check in with Patrick, and then we’re getting the flock out of here.” Ha-ha. (pg 59)

…JPatterson, you do realize that you just made Max talk about her  group in the third person to the group for the sake of a cheap joke, right?


But, yeah, between the fifty different plot developments JPatterson crammed into as many pages, Max has decided that she wants out of the refugee camp. Their destination is now “home.”

Book Two: Home Is Where The Heart Breaks

I still can’t get over how JPatterson can’t even stay consistent for his book parts. I don’t even have a clue as to why he’d want to name his parts “books.” It makes no sense!

Chapter 18

Less than a week later, Iggy was working his magic in the kitchen, with real groceries that we’d bought from a real grocery store. (pg 63)

…This book’s pacing is going to be even more ridiculous than I thought it would be, isn’t it?

The flock are now in a house that was built by the CSM near where their house in the first book was. Last I checked, 500,000 odd dollars for a house in the mountains isn’t a particularly easy price for a (presumably) non-profit relief charity, but hey, this is the flock! They’re special!

I looked around at my family, the six of us, Total, and now Akila, all sharing a meal together. We were here, far from everyone else. Far from anyone who could hurt Fang. Far from Dylan and Dr. Gummy-Haagen-Dazs. I felt almost like weeping for joy. (pg 65)

Remember in the last book when Max was so against the idea of settling down? I think JPatterson needs a reminder.

Chapter 19

Later in bed, Max reminisces.

They’d [Erasers] attacked us, destroyed our house, and kidnapped Angel. (pg 66)

Um. When did the Erasers destroy the house? I’m… pretty sure that never happened.

The door to Max’s room is opened by an Eraser’s hand, but then turns out to be Fang. Max is rather confused about this. I’m hoping that this will somehow relate to the way Max saw herself as an Eraser in book two, which was promptly forgotten, like most things in this series.

Max and Fang talk a bit about stuff that isn’t important.

Chapter 20

Max presents a plant to the flock: to learn history. She’s all of a sudden rather insecure of the fact that the flock don’t really know anything and have to rely on possibly untrue information from others.

Nudge was staring at me, and now she threw a couch pillow at my head. …

“We’ve had so many chances to go to school!” she wailed. “But noooooo! You always hated school! You didn’t want us to learn stupid boring school stuff!” (pg 71)

I really like Nudge.

Max says it’s different, because her plan relates to using the internet and whatnot to fill in the gaps in their information. Which apparently means they never really sought out information when they were living with Jeb/in that house after he left. (We still don’t know why he left, by the way.) Which makes me wonder where all of Max’s knowledge of random dated pop culture comes from.

A mystery for next week, I guess.

Weekly Haiku 20


Well, a little late in the posting, but still technically on time…



Gray light dims the world;

Beads of rain glitter on the

Bright flower’s petals.



Thunder echoes still;

How calm the rain-drenched world when

Viewed through a window.


Still Air

Madness in the sound

Of silence settled over;

Dark, all thoughts now feel.


Rainy Day

Birdsong heard afar,

Lyrics to the drumming rain;

Slow, this dreary hour.


The Painting

The painting draws me;

Summer caught and fixed in frame

Long since its passing.


All haiku copyright © 2013 by Michael Vest.


Maximum Ride: FANG Spork Part 3


Chapter 11

Fang asks Dylan where he comes from. Dylan says he comes from a test tube in a lab. And then he and Dr. [whatever I called him last time] leave.

I’m seriously confused as to what JPatterson is doing here. Over the course of 36 pages he’s introduced three large plot elements, then proceeded to completely ignore them to move onto the next large plot element. It’s absolutely bizarre pacing.

You know, I actually do know what this reminds me of: when I’m writing and find myself not sure of how my characters should react. Usually this results in awkward dialogue and whatnot, and it seems like JPatterson had a similar situation here. Then, rather than try to put some time into it and write a good scene, JPatterson went “I don’t know what to do so MOVING ON!”

And, yeah, I’m making some big assumptions, but with how lazy every other aspect of these books are… well, it’s a possibility. I dunno.

She [Angel] practically glued herself to Gazzy, and twenty minutes later, everyone was already settling down for the night in our tent. (pg 37)

Seriously though. Does JPatterson really expect us to think that Max spent the twenty minutes after two large reveals thinking nothing relevant to the situation? This is so lazy it hurts.

Iggy, a famously restless sleeper, was in a corner by himself. (pg 37)


Finally, though, the characters address what’s going on.

“Don’t think about what Angel said,” Fang whispered next to my ear. “You have to remember–she’s still just a little kid.”

“A weird little kid,” I whispered back. We were holding hands; our feet were entwined. (pg 37)

This is an example of JPatterson actually showing rather than telling. I don’t think he conveys the intimacy of this situation, but at least he’s trying.

Anyway, Fang says that if Angel is right, he’s glad, because he wants to die before Max, and then he tells her to get some sleep and falls asleep himself. Max then thinks about how terrible it would be if Fang died.

The really, truly horrible thing was, Angel had never been wrong. Never, ever. (pg 38)

…WHAT? Max, Angel has never made a statement of this type before. There hasn’t been anything for her to be right about!

I really don’t think JPatterson remembers his own writing. He just says whatever and hopes nobody will notice.

Chapter 12

On the one hand, this book is SO BAD. On the other hand, I’ve got way more material to work with than any of the other books. Though I guess that really isn’t much of a plus.

Max is still awake when she hears a noise (we’re not told what it is) and turns her attention to a silhouette outside the tent. She leaves the tent, and finds the silhouette to be Mr. Chu. She is confused as to why he would be there. Apparently he didn’t get arrested? And heck, what ever happened to Brigid?

I bet JPatterson will never bother to cover it.

Max overhears Mr. Chu talk into a cellphone, saying he’s collecting new subjects. Max apparently has no thoughts about this because the next thing the prose says is that over the next fifteen minutes young-looking refugees enter the first aid tent that Mr. Chu went into and don’t come out.

So, uh, is it just me or does this chain of events make no sense? Max isn’t one to just stand by and watch as a villain she was fighting against say he’s collecting subjects. I’d expect her to, you know, assume the new subjects to be the flock, since Mr. Chu is right outside their tent. At the very least she’d attack him or something. Not just stand and watch as he says something mysterious and goes inside a tent.

Well, actually, she’s not standing and watching: she’s flying and watching. Mr. Chu apparently neither sees nor hears this.

My curiosity got the better of me, so I left the tree and quietly crept behind the tent. No sounds inside. Not even a breath. WTH? (pg 41)

This is not in line with Max’s character. Max rushes in, she doesn’t cautiously investigate. JPatterson isn’t even trying anymore.

Max goes inside the tent and finds nothing. She theorizes that she was either hallucinating, or there’s a tunnel under the tent. She says that she “wasn’t quite ready to accept either option right now” and decides to go back to bed.

He [Fang] blinked sleepily, awakening at the slight touch. “Everything okay?”

“Mmm,” I grunted. “Go back to sleep.”

I couldn’t lie to Fang. (pg 41)

????????????????????????? This makes no sense to me. Is she saying she wasn’t able to lie, and thus “mmm” was just a deflection? Is she regretting lying to fang as “mmm” was a confirmation that everything was okay? Does JPatterson just have no idea what the hell he’s writing and chooses to put in random dramatic lines whenever possible?

Chapter 13

Picture a shantytown made of ragged nylon tents, like, for acres. Then picture making a left and finding yourself in front of the big top of the Big Apple Circus. That’s what Dr. G-H’s crib was like. It was an ornate, beautiful tent, complete with screened windows, a covered porch, and a strip of green carpet leading across the sand to the front entrance. (pg 42)

Well, it’s a good thing he’s humble.

Max tells the reader that for now, she’s going to pretend that what Angel said had never happened. Which really makes me think that JPatterson just wanted to try to up the tension without actually doing anything that could change the dynamic of the flock.

The tent door was pulled aside by a… a guy in a white uniform who opens the tent door. What a job description. (pg 43)

It’s called a doorman, Max. And I’m still amazed at how Dr. Whatever seems intent on living as lavishly as possible while surrounded by what the book describes as very poor people. I’m guessing JPatterson is purposefully trying to make him seem like a not-great guy, and I gotta say, he’s actually succeeding here. If it’s what he’s doing.

A servant came in with a silver tray piled high with food: pastries, a pitcher of fresh juice, sliced fruit, eggs, bacon! I thought of the mush the rest of the flock was eating, not to mention the mush that the entire refugee camp was faced with day after day, and tried (unsuccessfully) to feel guilty. (pg 43)

Max is so likeable. So empathetic. So caring.

And the thing is, if she had more positive traits, this would be good and make sense. She’s lived her life scrounging for scraps and living on the run. She doesn’t have much reason to not be selfish like this. The problem is, JPatterson frequently makes her selfless in ways that contradict with this. So on the one hand, she’s nice and cares about others and helped Ella when she was under threat! But on the other hand, she doesn’t even feel guilty about eating food of presumably better quality than she’s been feeding people who have less than her.

Max could be an interesting, well-constructed character with realistic faults and strengths. But JPatterson wants to have it both ways and so that just isn’t so.

Then Dylan comes in.

I almost expected a photographer to leap through the tent flaps, telling Dyland to work it. (pg 44)

I try to be diligent about noting when I enjoy or like a bit of these books. And I must admit, I find the mental image of a spontaneous photoshoot quite funny.

Max asks Dylan some questions, and he says that he’s about eight months old. Wonderful. Then Max’s voice comes back. Yay.

Calm down, Max. Relax and enjoy this. This is a special occasion. You see, Dylan is for you. He was designed for you. He’s your perfect other half. (pg 45)

Max’s perfect other half is an eight-month clone.


Weekly Haiku 19


Apologies for posting a day late.


History Alive

Countless feet gone by,

Trodden on this ancient road;

Echoes of the past.


Summer Winds

Trees sigh in the wind;

The sun ventures in and out

Of the low, swift clouds.



Come alive again;

Feel the air within your lungs,

So vital. So sweet.



Stark bloom of color;

Rust and rot and tarnish, all

Beauty in decay.



Now and ever hence,

This sweet ache of tired bones;

Age comes with its cost.


All haiku Copyright © 2013 by Micheal Vest.


Maximum Ride: FANG Spork Part 2


Chapter 6

“All right, any second now…” The words were clipped, his accent thick. Mr. Chu leaned over his assistant’s shoulder, impatiently looking at a blank computer screen. (pg 20)


Well… I guess this spork will write itself now. Mr. Chu is such a terrible idea in every sense of the words.

Mr. Chu is looking at a computer screen, which flickers to life with biological information (heart rate, temperature, etc.) on Angel and Max. The healing-saliva girl, Jeanne walks in, and Mr. Chu says that she was successful in her mission. Her reward?

A lollipop.

Okay, so it’s not super ridiculous, because as it’s revealed she’s a proper test subject or something who’s getting regular injections to offset the side effects of her powers. But still. A lollipop.

Chapter 7

You know, I think that was one place where the villain perspective worked somewhat well. Going into the book, there was no indication that Mr. Chu would be back, and likewise I didn’t expect Jeanne’s encounter with the flock to be so directly tied to the villain. In theory, that chapter would have effectively increased the tension–the new experiments, the somehow-gained information on Max and Angel, are new details that raise a number of questions. Unfortunately for JPatterson, his writing is lifeless and Mr. Chu is even dumber than his previous villains, so the chapter failed to do anything.

We’re back with the flock in this chapter. They’ve finished “working” for the day, and it’s almost time for dinner, but Max and Fang head off to be alone. JPatterson takes this chance to write one of the more emotionless scenes in the series, as Max and Fang kiss and whatnot. I can’t exactly put into words what I don’t like about the scene (okay, page), though, so I won’t bother transcribing it here. Just imagine something boring that really doesn’t convey the connection between the two.

Chapter 8

Max and co. are eating dinner.

The fire leaped in front of us, looking pretty and feeling cozy and warm but smelling to high heaven, since its fuel was camel poop. Yes. I mean, a regular camel is no bed of roses, but its poop? On fire? The only one not wrinkling his nose was Gazzy. But as soon as the blazing sun had set, the desert temperature had dropped about thirty degrees, and the fire was welcome. (pg 26)

I think this quote is a really good example of how poor JPatterson’s writing is. He tells us a list of the qualities the fire has, with absolutely zero attempt to make the reader feel it. He doesn’t just let the reader imagine the details–he leaves it up to us to imagine the atmosphere, too. The reader isn’t the one who should be doing the work to make a piece of writing evocative of its setting, and yet this paragraph would imply that JPatterson thinks otherwise.

Patrick (I have zero recollection of who Patrick is, sorry) asks the flock if they met Jeanne, and spouts off how her family is dead. The dialogue itself, however, is written with no emotion and the most we get prose-wise is “Patrick shook his head” and “Patrick nodded sadly.”

…You know, I’m noticing that JPatterson’s bad writing is extra pronounced in this book. There’s not even a point in pointing it out anymore. So I won’t. Just imagine everything being really, really boring as I describe it with more life than JPatterson.

I choked down another millet ball … and looked around at my beloved flock, safe in a circle around the fire. Iggy was staring straight into the flames, able to because he was blind. Gazzy was examining each and every bowl for any morsel that might have been missed. Nudge had her chin in her hands, looking at the ground, and I knew she was bumming about all the misery here. My life would have been incomplete without each and every one of them. (pg 27)

This is another bad thing! JPatterson just took a basic writing exercise (“what are your characters doing in X situation?”) and put it in his book. The intent is to put Max into the “thinking about how much I like the flock” mood as fast as humanly possible so that his cliffhanger will be slightly more dramatic, but it’s too rushed to really manage that. It would have been more dramatic if he had actually taken time to let Max ponder, maybe reflect on all that they’ve been through, but he can’t really do that because with zero character development there’s nothing to ponder and reflect about. Anyway, the cliffhanger:

“Nothing can last forever, Max.” It was Angel, eerily interrupting my thoughts. She was scratching at the dirt with a small animal bone. “And actually–I hate to tell you this, but Fang will be the first to die. And it will be soon.” (pg 28)

…Well, I’m glad I know that’s supposed to be eery.

Chapter 9

The flock are shocked, etc. etc.

“I’m just saying, Max,” said Angel, still playing with her bone. “You always want everything to stay the same. But it can’t. We’re all getting older. You have a mom. You and Fang are all googly eyed at each other. Nothing stays the same. (pg 29)

That’s actually pretty hilarious, because Angel just summed up all the real change in the flock with three, simple items. Well, two: the flock have maybe aged, technically, but only slightly and it’s had no effect on anything. So, uh, Max has a mom and she and Fang are an item? And that’s all that’s happened in the last five books that’s had any lasting effect. Wonderful.

Max asks Angel how she knows Fang is going to die. Angel doesn’t say, and Max grabs Angel and says she’ll cut off her hair if she doesn’t answer the question. The rest of the flock try to get Max to stop.

“Is everything okay?” Patrick’s concerned voice started to filter into my brain as I realized what I was doing. (pg 30)

Patrick. Patrick, that response is significantly less than is warranted.

Max lets go of Angel, then remarks that “this would have to wait” because two “people” are approaching the fire. Which is, uh… well, pretty ridiculous writing. Max should be given the time to really absorb this statement, but I guess JPatterson didn’t want to bother with that yet.

Chapter 10

The two people are a man, “Dr. Hans Gunther-Hagen,” and a “tall kid.” Hans is funding the CSM’s vaccines (presumably for this excursion specifically) and wants to meet with the leader of the flock for breakfast. Both Angel and Max answers, and Hans says they can both come. Then he introduces the kid as Dylan, who steps into the light.

I blinked, wondering what teen hearthrob magazine Dr. Haagen-Daz had swiped Dylan from. … Expressive turquoise eyes looked at us with guarded curiosity. … He was ready for a photo shoot–like, for the top twenty-five hottest guys under the age of twenty.

Of course, Fang would also qualify. (pg 34)

Seriously, though, this kid gets more description than any members of the flock have ever had. (Note that the ellipses mark areas I cut out.) And throughout this whole chapter (three pages or so), the previous chapter’s events have zero effect. There’s no tension from how Max assaulted Angel, no absent-mindedness from Max about how she’s worried about how Angel just said Fang was going to die. There’s literally no indication that JPatterson didn’t write this scene to be placed somewhere else in the story and then copy and pasted it in here.

Oh, and there’s more!

Dylan sort of shrugged his shoulders and extended his wings. All fifteen feet of them. (pg 35)