Monthly Archives: January 2014

Maximum Ride: ANGEL Spork Part 1

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250px-Angel_A_Maximum_Ride_Novel_CoverYou can’t see it in this image, but the photo quality for Max’s face is really awful. Also, that tagline is awful. My copy says “Angel knows how it all ends” instead, which is boring, but better. Really, this cover is pretty boring, though at least it’s not ninety percent text. The jacket blurb, by the way, never even mentions Angel. I wonder if she’ll actually be relevant to the plot? (The answer is probably no, knowing JPatterson.)

Book One: The Sky is Falling

Oh, great, we’re still at it with the “book” thing. What a great start.

Chapter 1

Max is trapped in a dog cage, expecting Fang to come for her. There’s also a lab assistant who smashes the cage with a club every time Max gets near the front of the cage because that makes sense. Apparently this cage is frail enough that the lab assistant’s smashes weakens the hinges and lets Max kick the door open. Personally, I’d think that if the hinges are weak enough to get destroyed by that the door is probably just going to dent from kicking it, but none of this makes sense anyway so who cares. I mean, just a moment ago Max was wanting Fang to help her and now she’s getting out on her own? I get the impression JPatterson just started writing with no idea what he was doing and didn’t bother to do basic editing.

Max escapes the cage and immediately roundhouse kicks the assistant in the head. I wonder why there would be enough distance between them for that. JPatterson’s answer to that would probably be “Max is Chuck Norris!”

Max hops onto a table, swings on a pipe hanging from “a low section of the ceiling,” and kicks the assistant.

This was the perfect time for me to run to the end of the table, jump off, and spread my wings.

That’s where the “mutant freak” part comes in. (pg 4)

Max, please only use definite articles to refer to items you’ve established as existing. Or, in simpler terms: WHAT MUTANT FREAK PART?????

I shot upward, flying toward a small window high in the wall (pg 4)

Okay, so as far as I can tell, this is what the room Max is in looks like:

Room

WHAT THE HECK KIND OF ROOM IS THIS????

Max sees Fang outside the window and proceeds to use the term “have my back” approximately twenty times. She tries to break through the glass but fails.

I bounced off it and dropped hard, like a brick. (pg 5)

Okay, JPatterson? Either use an adjective or a simile, but not both. Falling is not a difficult concept to understand and you’re destroying any semblance of pacing by overexplaining simple things.

Max gets shot with a tranquilizer dart and Fang just watches from outside and duh, it’s a dream. But a dream during the day, mid-flight!!! This fact is ignored even though it sounds like a pretty big deal. Instead we get a paragraph about how horribly awful it is that Fang is gone. Not anything of substance, mind you, just “it’s terrifying and makes everything bad and waaah.” And according to Max, Fang will never “have her back” again. And she says it in italics! I wonder how long it will take for the two of them to start working together like the jacket blurb says is gonna happen. *Eyeroll*

Chapter 2

Max is in Arizona, she tells us, with her mom and Ella and the rest of the flock. They’re there because Angel called Max’s mom since Max had been lying in bed in the fetal position for 24 hours. (Her overreactions to losing Fang are hilarious.)

Max continues to monologue about how she’s barely anything without Fang because what is Max if not with Fang and blah blah blah and then she interrupts her narration mid-sentence because someone says “boo.” Which is, uh, weird to say the least. I mean, when’s the last time you were telling a story and explaining your feelings at a particular moment and then suddenly you had to stop because the next thing in your story had happened?

Chapter 3

The unknown speaker is Dylan.

“What do you want?” I scowled at him.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. “Don’t know who you are without him?”

“I’m so sure!(pgs 10-11)

Okay, so according to Max, Dylan is sarcastic now so I guess that would explain him being goading right from the get-go. But I have absolutely no idea what Max’s response is meant to mean. Seriously, can anyone help me with this? Does it make sense to any of you?

Max kicks Dylan off the tree.

Dylan caught himself before he went splat, shooting out his fifteen-foot wings like sails, letting them fill with wind. (pg 11)

WHAT THE HELL

WINGS ARE NOT LIKE SAILS

(AND SAILS DON’T SHOOT OUT SO YOU CAN’T SHOOT OUT SOMETHING LIKE SAILS ANYWAY)

WHAT YOU ARE DESCRIBING IS CLOSER TO A PARACHUTE THAN A PAIR OF WINGS

ARE YOU KIDDING MEEEEE

Alright, I’ve decided that the flock don’t actually have wings, but broken accordions that sort of splay all over the place and work using magic. That makes more sense than what JPatterson describes.

Dylan returns and and knocks Max off the tree, then catches her.

“Get your hands off m–” I started to say, but in the next second, he pulled me close and kissed me–hard. (pg 12)

Wow, in the space of two pages JPatterson managed to turn Dylan from a sort of nice, vaguely intriguing character into an absolute jerk. NICE JOB.

Chapter 4

I surged upward, deciding that killing Dylan was an appropriate response. (pg 13)

I’m with ya. Too bad he’s a main character and obligated to be the Jerk Bad Boy Love Interest in the love triangle JPatterson decided fit his action series.

Dylan mocks and insults Max as she prepares to attack him. She kicks him in the chest, he hits her with his wing (in midair? suuuure), etc. She wonders where he’s been learning to fight and then realizes that he’s learning from her. I… don’t think that makes any sense. They fight a tiny bit more, then Max tells him to leave, and Dylan says he can’t. They both stop fighting to talk, Max’s blood rage all gone because it was convenient to the plot.

“Never, Max,” Dylan said. “I’m programmed to imprint on you. You know it. I can’t fight the urge to be with you, no matter what.” (pg 16)

HOW ROMANTIC.

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Thoughts On Maximum Ride: FANG

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I had a dream a few weeks ago that I finished sporking this book and it just randomly ended in the middle of the climax with no resolution. While the book didn’t actually do that, it did manage to utterly fail to resolve any but one of its plotlines. No, seriously. Angel is being subordinate and ends up ditching Max for an evil scientist? Whatever, ignore it. Iggy wants to regain his sight and Dr. Gunther-Hagen can do it? Forgotten. Dr. Gunther-Hagen has some cryptic prediction about a near-extinction of the human race or something? Never elaborated on. A new bird kid comes out from nowhere and seems to have some sort of secret? No explanation. Mr. Chu is a disguise worn by a green-skinned being? Nothin’. The only thing we get resolution for is Angel’s prophecy of Fang’s death. He does die, and then gets revived fifteen minutes later with a shot of adrenaline to the heart, with no consequences. Contrived, check, and cheap writing to boot. Also entirely predictable. Protip: when the only thing that actually happens in your book involves a character who the audience knows won’t die being under threat of death, you’re doing it wrong.

But let’s start from the beginning. Well, actually, that’s pretty difficult because there’s no real plot to follow. There are more or less three sections to the book, though: the first one is set in Chad, where Fang’s imminent death, the bird kid (Dylan), and Dr. Gunther-Hagen are set up. Oh, and Mr. Chu, who just sort of exists in an attempt to increase the tension. He never really does anything and his motives are never explained and then he pulls off the mask that is his face and he’s a green-skinned person. ???

The second part puts the flock in a house that the non-profit organization Coalition to Stop the Madness (can I bring back up what a hilarious name that is?), which, sure. The flock sort of putter around and go to a museum and have a birthday party and get attacked by the returned Erasers. I guess this was intended to be dramatic because ooh, who’s making new Erasers, except that it’s never really explored or explained. I’m not even sure if was intended to be Dr. Gunther-Hagen or not. Quality Writing. (It’s not particularly exciting, either, since the flock have previously beaten up 70-odd robots without a scratch and are now being attacked by five of last year’s grunts. Oh, I wonder what’s going to happen!) Then the flock kick out Max and Fang because they’re neglecting the flock, thereby putting the flock in danger, so obviously the solution is to send them away for good. Max and Fang gamble in Vegas while the rest of the flock go to a party in LA and get poisoned by Mr. Chu and everyone ends up in a safehouse (owned by the CSM I think? Which makes no sense but ha, what is sense in these books). All of that could be cut from the book and literally nothing would change.

The third part sees Angel leaving the flock to work with Dr. Gunther-Hagen because she believes his spiel about how the flock have to get altered further in order to survive… or something… and then later she doesn’t believe him because he apparently lied to her about something and she couldn’t tell despite her mind reading powers. You know, the usual. (Nudge, by the way, still has that power to read an inanimate object’s history by touching it. I don’t believe said power is mentioned once in this entire book.) Fang then leaves as well and ends up captured by Dr. Gunther-Hagen, dies, comes back, and then Dylan (who’s been hanging around with the flock for some reason) tries to kill himself and we skip forward to Total and Akila getting married and Fang leaving again.

These books have always played it fast and loose when it comes to actually having a plot, but… jeez. This book is awful for it. Nothing happens and what does happen doesn’t actually have an ending. At least there’s theoretically more character stuff, but JPatterson is worse at characters than he is at plot, so… Yeah. Gazzy receives absolutely no development, and Nudge only gets to cement her arbitrary change from “talkative and sorta resourceful” to “talkative and really into fashion.” Angel continues to be inexplicable and awful, and apparently now makes prophecies that have never been wrong, never mind that this book is the first time she’s ever done such a thing and she only does it once. JPatterson also finally remembered those chapters he wrote from Iggy’s perspective and so now Iggy wishes he could see. I have the uncomfortable feeling that will end up happening. As for Fang and Max… they’re definitely in love now. Not that they have any real chemistry or anything.

We also get a new character in Dylan. He seems to go through a bit of a character arc through the book, so it’s a shame he’s quiet and we never get to see what’s going on in his mind by, I dunno, a chapter from his perspective. It’s not like JPatterson doesn’t break from Max’s narration, but apparently it would just be too logical of a move for him to actually show us a character’s development rather than hinting at it. On the other hand, by barely involving Dylan he stays a somewhat likeable character.

I dunno… I’m not sure there’s anything else to say. This book was barely even there, so what there is to critique is mostly in the minute details that I cover in my sporks. (And it doesn’t help that it took me five months to get through the book, which makes my memory of it fuzzy.) Everything else is just a solidification of JPatterson’s existing writing flaws. So if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go headdesk a lot. I’ll start on the next book in a week or two.

Maximum Ride: FANG Spork Part 17

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ugghhhhhhhhh

Chapter 82

The green guy is ignored because Max is looking at Fang and reminiscing about moments they shared before the books started. I guess it’s not overly egregious since it’s small, normal interactions, but when JPatterson has done such a terrible job establishing the flock’s history and then randomly throws in bits here and there to up the drama of a scene… I dunno. It’s kinda annoying. This chapter isn’t even a page long in terms of the actual text, by the way. :/

Chapter 83

After being all sad in the last chapter, Max now gets angry and shouts at Fang and pounds at his chest. Given that she’s being unrestrained right now, it would follow that she hit him with enough force to break his ribs. Just pointing that out.

Max sees the hypodermic needle Dr. Gunther-Hagen injected into Fang’s IV in an attempt to save him. (Or at least filled with the same stuff he used.) Max takes it and plunges it “directly into his [Fang’s] heart” and narrates that this would either kill him for good or bring him back. Reminder that I did the math last spork and at this point, there’s no way Fang comes back without major repercussions. Using real-world logic, that is. We all know Fang will come back and be just fine.

Chapter 84

JPatterson drags it out for another half page before Fang’s pulse returns. How many words did this book waste on something that was never going to happen? Answer: WAY TOO MANY.

I’m pretty much of the stoical school of emotiveness, but everything I was feeling burst through me like a flood through a dam. I dropped my head back onto his chest, my arms around him, and sobbed.

Pfft. Max has spent the whole book being emotional, JPatterson, and saying “I’m not usually emotional but this made me emotional!” doesn’t really have much weight anymore. Especially after you just used it when Fang left.

Chapter 85

Dr. Gunther-Hagen suddenly decides to shout about how the flock should let him go. It’s, well, sudden, and weird. And for some reason it’s not until after he does that and exchanges a line with Dylan that he “[becomes] fully aware of Fang’s regained consciousness.” ??? Was he daydreaming or something?

“This doesn’t make sense!” [Dr. Gunther-Hagen said.] (pg 289)

I’m with ya, dude.

You don’t make sense!” I bit out through my tears. (pg 289)

laughter-gif

Dylan gets the flock to help him restrain the Dr. on a gurney and picks up another needle.

He readied the needle like a trained nurse. It was obvious that he’d been raised on injections. (pg 290)

Sigh. Is anything in these books ever going to be conveyed without a two-ton anvil?

Dylan readies the needle (which is presumably filled with something that will kill Dr. Gunther-Hagen) and the flock don’t seem to mind, except for Max who at the last moment tells Dylan to stop. He stops and then injects himself. I’m gonna guess now that Dylan’s not going to die since his character arc/backstory haven’t yet been explained, but who knows, maybe he was just a crappy plot device to shoehorn in a love triangle.

Epilogue

Uh… That’s not a good sign, because last I checked none of the book’s plots have been resolved yet. Unless “WILL FANG DIE?!?!?!11/11” was meant to be the book’s main plot. If so… Jeez.

Max, Nudge, and Angel are all dressed up for something. They’re carrying flowers, but for what purpose we’re not told. So obviously Dylan isn’t dead, since that would’ve been made clear. JPatterson, your narrative tricks are utterly transparent.

Our various bruises and scrapes had healed completely, and Fang’s injuries were only a bad memory–as was Dylan’s pseudo suicide attempt. He’d suffered no ill consequences of the injection thus far. (pg 296)

Well, CALLED IT, but also, uh, bad word choice, JPatterson. The definition of “pseudo” in my dictionary is “fake,” and “almost, approaching, or trying to be” is only the second definition on Dictionary.com. So this sentence would imply that Dylan faked his suicide attempt, but that doesn’t exactly make much sense, but since the book fails to elaborate I genuinely have no idea. You know what would have gotten rid of that confusion? Using either “attempted” or “fake.” WOW! USING WORDS THAT CLEARLY MEAN WHAT YOU MEAN, WHO WOULD’VE THUNK.

Aaalso, what did Dylan inject himself with? That’d tell us whether or not it would be likely for him to be affected by it. Instead JPatterson is just being vague.

Plus, we hadn’t seen Dr. Gunther-Hagen again. We’d rolled him kicking and screaming into a giant lab cold-storage room before splitting that day, but I was sure one of his posse would revive and let the doc out of his icebox before he turned into a Popsicle. (pg 296)

Ummm, WHAAAT? Why would you just leave him? This is JPatterson land, there’s no reason it wouldn’t have been possible to get him arrested. That would have actually provided closure to that plotline! And while we’re talking about closure, we’d better get an explanation for that green guy. (Or even know what happened to him, since we were told about Dr. Gunther-Hagen.)

Max tells us that she and Angel haven’t talked about the animosity between them. There’s another plotline with no resolution. What even happened in this book?!

We’re at a wedding, BTW. Angel is the flower girl:

She walked slowly down the red carpet, strewing white rose petals everywhere. (pg 297)

And Nudge is a bridesmaid, I guess:

She gave me one last smile, then headed down the red carpet slowly, walking in time to the music. (pg 297)

That’s “slowly” used twice in as many paragraphs. Hrmph.

Max meets Fang halfway down the carpet.

His black hair had been cut, somewhat. (pg 297)

Is JPatterson absolutely determined to be as vague as possible or what?

Max and Fang link arms to go the rest of the way down the aisle, then go to their opposite sides. Angel also did this with Gazzy, and Nudge with Iggy. And for some reason JPatterson just had to use the word “separated” for all three times they split up. (And throws in an ellipsis for Max and Fang as if we were supposed to wonder what was going to happen or something.) It was sort of okay when he repeated it the first time with Nudge and Iggy because he was drawing a parallel between the two events, but would it have killed him to use “parted” or something for Max and Fang? I know it’s a major nitpick, but it’s annoying, and basic word choice should not stick out and be annoyin! That’s one of the most basic rules of writing. I try to be conscious about it in my sporks, which shows me I spend more time thinking about my own writing than JPatterson does his. How great is that?

Oh, the wedding is for Total and Akila, by the way. I’m… not sure that’s legal. And that’s all I’m going to say about it because is it the most ridiculous thing I have ever read.

The Other Epilogue

OH MY GOD.

This epilogue takes place after the reception and is narrated by Max. IT HAS NOTHING TO REASONABLY SEPARATE IT FROM THE FIRST EPILOGUE.

WILL YOU EVER STOP, JPATTERSON?????

Fang had left the reception an hour before the rest, and no surprises, it turns out he left again. And left a note again! JPatterson is just repeating himself now and that is hilariously awful. The note is just mushy stuff and “I’m putting you at danger still so I have to leave blah blah blah” and then the book ends. Well, there’s a collection of unpublished blog posts from Fang that I’ll look over later and if there’s anything noteworthy I’ll put it in the “thoughts on post,” but… yeah. That was a crappy ending, and there’s one final question I’m going to ask: Did the serum that was supposed to make Fang better work? We weren’t told! Because JPatterson is a terrible writer!

SIGGHHHHH