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.

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