Monthly Archives: February 2014

Maximum Ride: ANGEL Spork Part 4

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Chapter 14

Fang and the guy, Ratchet, are now in a diner. Fang asks Ratchet if he’s in. Ratchet says “I’m in, like I told you.” Even the characters know they’re repeating themselves! They’re waiting in the diner for another “contact” of Fang’s, and as they talk it’s revealed that Ratchet has super hearing and sight.

Chapter 15

I’m sure this viewpoint switching is meant to enthrall the reader because hey I have to find out what happens in this tense action scene but it keeps getting extended by being interrupted by other scenes! But it also completely kills the flow of the action scene. So. Not great.

Anyway, we’re with Gazzy. “To his horror” he sees Jeb in the doorway of the plane (not sure why that in particular is horrifying), so he goes to save him. He grabs Jeb, Jeb is too heavy though and after saying that “the human race will have to die to save the planet” he lets go of Gazzy and falls to the ground and dies.

You know what could have prevented that? Jeb jumping from the plane when it was nearer to the ground so he and Gazzy would be near the ground and not die from the fall. Just sayin’.

And if I made Jeb’s death sound pretty sudden and undramatic, well, that’s because it was. We do get this, though:

All he [Gazzy] saw was Jeb’s face, white and scared, as it got smaller and smaller below him.

Then Gazzy realized that was the last time he would see Jeb alive, ever again.

And it was his fault. (pg 51)

Which is basically just “CARE, DANGIT!!!!!!!” put a bit more fancily.

Chapter 16

Fang’s other “contact” (sorry, it’s too silly to use outside of quotation marks) is there, a girl called Star who’s the Uptight Icy Uber-Competent (and Super-Stylish, of course) Girl to Ratchet’s Rough-and-Tumble Guy. Boooring. She’s “fast” and got there by foot from twenty miles away, and ends up racing the guys. I wonder if JPatterson has a pseudo-science explanation for this superpower or if she’s just magic.

Chapter 17

This chapter opens with a particularly awful paragraph.

When the fuselage hit the ground and exploded, I saw my future right below me, just seconds away. (pg 55)

Max, there are simpler ways to tell us you’re falling towards the ground. Use them.

My wings were burning, as I gulped air, my muscles shaking from the strain of keeping us both aloft. (pg 55)

Are your wings burning literally or figuratively? And come on, let’s be a bit more sparing in our usage of present participles in an action sequence. Which is punchier, “my arms were shaking” or “my arms shook”?

We were going to land hard–and soon. (pg 55)

I know you’re going to land soon! You established that two sentences ago!

Max shouts at Gazzy to go help Nudge.

Angel focused on guiding Iggy down for what she hoped would be a less-than-fatal landing. (pg 56)

These random moments of omniscience would make more sense if these books were recognized in-universe as a collaboration between the flock, hence the third person. Though that would then bring into question the chapters from the villains’ perspectives. So, uh, never mind, sorry JPatterson because you’ve got more perspective issues than a kaleidoscope. (That comparison may not actually make sense.)

Meanwhile, Dylan races down out of nowhere and saves Jeb. Congratulations JPatterson, you made me think Jeb had died. I mean, the only reason I thought it had happened is because I expect bad writing from you, but you got me nonetheless.

The flock land and all survive, yay crisis averted I was so scared for them!!!

Chapter 18

The flock decide to get picked up by Max’s mom’s colleagues and go to her office to patch themselves up (including broken bones for Max’s mom and Jeb). Max’s mom, if you remember, is a vet.

That way, we didn’t have to worry about explaining the whole wing situation (pg 58)

Yeah, ’cause you know, when a bunch of kids with wings turn up and do public stunt shows, odds are most people won’t hear about it.

Max asks Dylan why he didn’t jump out of the plane after Jeb. Apparently the plane spiraled back “into” the wires and Dylan would have killed himself jumping out, but the plane didn’t get torn up anymore and spun back out of the wires in the fifteen-thirty seconds between Jeb jumping out and Dylan jumping out. Also, Dylan was described as having come from above Max, but the plane hit the ground before he passed her. MAKES PERFECT SENSE.

And by all means it looks like Dr. Gunther-Hagen was in the plane when it crashed, but this is never said with certainty so you know he’s still alive. Dylan wants to go to check the plane to make sure Dr. Gunther-Hagen is dead (gasp! That actually makes sense!) but for some reason is still waiting with the flock rather than, I don’t know, checking out the plane while they wait and then going with them to get checked out. Max suddenly feels drawn to Dylan and decides to go with him, which I guess is one way to make your protagonist stop hating another character: make her inexplicably attracted to him!

Chapter 19

The flock minus Max and Dylan get picked up and leave and Dylan says that the plane is probably about a mile away. I don’t think that makes any sense whatsoever but it’s hard to say for sure when the whole action sequence was described so vaguely. Dylan takes off.

His wings were a little shorter than Fang’s but broader–more like a hawk’s–wings built for power and lift. (pg 62)

Ew, two non-parenthetical em dashes in the same sentence? At least it’s contextually obvious how they’re being used, but… ew.

Max notes that Dylan’s wings are different from the flock’s.

For the first time, it occurred to me that the mad scientists who created us might have used different avian DNA to make each of us. (pg 62)

MAX. YOUR WINGS ARE DIFFERENT COLORS. OF COURSE THEY DIDN’T USE THE SAME DNA.

Max takes off as well and Dylan says

“There’s really nothing better [than flying].” (pg 63)

And then they both, at the same time, say “Except a white-chocolate mocha from Coffee Madness.” They are surprised by how strange that is. Which, it is pretty strange. I just hope it actually gets explained.

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Maximum Ride: ANGEL Spork Part 3

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There was no spork last week because I forgot. GUD BRAIN

Chapter 8

Where were we? Oh, right. Max has to have kids because of reasons or something. It’s all really more vague than it needs to be but that’s what happens when your characters are anticipating an apocalypse that you don’t have the details for yet. “Yeah, the end of the world is coming except some people will survive and you’ll need to have superpowers to live, and you need to create a dynasty to rule over your super-powered underlings, because something is going to happen. I can’t tell you what.”

Obviously, Dr. Gunther-Hagen wants Max “breed” with Dylan, and wants them to come to Germany with him. Apparently he’s forgotten that Max has established the fact that she won’t work with him. JPatterson also seems to have forgotten that DR. GUNTHER-HAGEN KILLED FANG. Why else would Max even listen to what he has to say oh yeah, because the plot demands it. Sigghhhhhh

Chapter 9

We’re with Fang, who’s been watching some guy. Said guy is a “candidate,” probably for a Super Secret Mission that’s So Shadowy and Mysterious I wonder what it could be!!!!!

Fang pounces on the guy but the guy isn’t there and the guy has a knife to Fang’s throat! And then Fang disarms him.

In the same instant Fang’s, other hand clapped over the guy’s mouth. (pg 33)

Was this book not copyedited? Jeez. How do you miss a stray comma like that?

So Fang pounced on this guy, but apparently they know each other as they share a password. Logic. And then the guy agrees to something.

And so it began. This guy made it into Fang’s new flock–of one. (pg 34)

That, uh, makes no sense. It’s as literal a contradiction as you can get.

Chapter 10

We’re back with Max. And we’ve seen a little timeskip as they’re now eating lunch with Dr. Gunther-Hagen what. And he and Jeb have another request for Max, to go to the Maximum Ride version of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and meet the super-powered kids so they can recognize her and vice versa.

I gestured at him [Dr. Gunther-Hagen] with my sandwich. (pg 36)

Nitpick: contextually, this “gesture” would seem to be her pointing at him, but if she had pointed at him, that word should have been used instead of “gestured”. So since the word “pointed” wasn’t used, it would indicate that Max made some other gesture, which leaves me wondering what kind of gesture can you make at someone with a sandwich other than pointing at them.

Max says she doesn’t want to go, and Angel and Dylan back her up.

It would have been churlish to remind Dylan just then that he wasn’t part of my flock. (pg 37)

What, so now Max cares about being polite? I just looove consistent characterization.

Max’s mom says that they should go and Max gives in to her authority, which as much as it’s just for the sake of plot movement, I think is actually in line with Max’s character. It also means a lot from a character standpoint, as while Max usually hates authority, she loves her mom and respecting her authority shows that and, as I said, means a lot. Not that it’s likely JPatterson thought that far into this.

Chapter 11

Max is flying next to the plane (both her and it heading to the superkid school), which is holding everyone else. Never mind the flock’s claustrophobia.

Angel telepathically points out the camouflaged school and Max speeds up and

I don’t know what made me look up at that moment, but I did, and suddenly, not fifty feet in front of my face, was a huge, clear–jellyfish? I was going almost three hundred miles an hour and I plowed right into that sucker. (pg 40)

So she saw it after looking up and it was falling and just happened to hit her as she was going forward? Or she looked up and then looked forward and it was there? The first is highly implausible and the second doesn’t seem to fit with what’s written. And, she’s going NEARLY THREE HUNDRED MILES PER HOUR?????

Chapter 12

So the “jellyfish” is some transparent balloon that bounces Max back sixty feet. There are a bunch of these things (Max says “hundreds” which is an implausibly high number) and they’re tethered to the ground by metal wires that cut through Max’s feathers when she tests them. She tries to warn Angel but it’s too late and the plane sucks one of the balloons into its intake. This causes a giant explosion, and then the plane’s wings are sheared off by the wires. So I guess the balloons are in neat rows or something? Who knows. But oh no, the plane has no wings! Max is keen to point out how bad that is, never mind that there was also an explosion that would have done a ton of damage to the plane anyway.

Chapter 13

So the reason why Max was the only one not flying in the plane is for this to be Scary and Dramatic because everyone is stuck in the plane! JPatterson, I see your transparent plotting that contradicts established character traits. I’d say nice try, but you didn’t even try.

The plane nosedives and Max says they “only had seconds” but then a good minute or two of action takes place. Iggy and Nudge get their wings torn up by the wires, but not cut off because that would be consistent with the way the wires were described, slicing Max’s feathers like nothing.

Nudge and Iggy were now totally out of control, cartwheeling through the air. The pain in their sliced wings made them want to close them, and the air billowing through their feathers was making their injuries worse. (pg 45)

Max. You are a first person narrator. Unless otherwise specified, you cannot be omniscient! That is not how writing works! Grrrrrrr

Max is conflicted because only her, Nudge, Iggy, and Angel are out of the plane and who does she save?! Well the flock of course. The next chapter skips back to Fang so I’ll go ahead and end this spork here. It’s not like you don’t know everyone’s going to get out alive.

Maximum Ride: ANGEL Spork Part 2

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The category for this spork has been “AMGEL” for a week and nobody told me aaaaaa

Chapter 5

Max infodumps about her mom, probably since JPatterson doesn’t expect us to remember her after not showing up in the last book. Then Max goes back inside and Nudge shoves a cookie in her mouth because we’re still not over the freaking cookies. Meanwhile, Ella is reading some Tarzan book to Iggy.

I’d been sharing her room at night for the past week, and the conversations we’d had in the dark, when everyone else was asleep, made me feel like a normal teenage girl. (pg 18)

But don’t show us any of these conversations or anything. Developing characters’ relationships with each other is entirely unnecessary! Oh and Ella has a crush on Iggy zzzzz

Of the five (formerly six) of us, they’re [Angel and Gazzy] the only real blood siblings. Which I suppose explains why I have brown hair and brown eyes, Fang has dark hair and darker eyes, Iggy is tall and fair and light-haired, Gazzy and Angel are both blond and deceptively angelic-looking, and Nudge is African American, with light brown skin, curly corkscrew hair almost the same color, and eyes like melted chocolate. (pg 18)

Why yes, Max, that would explain it. Also, if you’re going to pointedly not include Fang in one sentence, do try not to include him in the very next one. That’s pretty sloppy.

Angel says that Jeb and Dr. Gunther-Hagen are coming, and Max tells us about how Angel can “pick up on people’s energy and emotions, from a distance” and pretty much completely read their minds at close range. I guess we finally have an explanation of how Angel’s powers work after seven books, though it seems as if her mind control has been dropped. Also, uh, Dr. Gunther-Hagen? Why is he still around? Last we saw him he was in the middle of a lab in which he had against Fang’s will injected him with something that ended up killing him. And the flock just… let him go? I mean, come on. If a bunch of kids rioting was enough to take down Itex, there’s no way Dr. Gunther-Hagen couldn’t have gone down for his actions.

Max is angry with her mom for letting Jeb come and her mom says that Jeb wanted to talk with Max about something urgent. Let me guess, it’s “the world is in danger you have to save it that’s it bye.”

I looked into her warm brown eyes that were similar to mine. Her hair was darker and curlier than mine. We didn’t look much alike. (pg 19)

I saw a dog. I pet the dog. The dog ran away. I was sad.

Chapter 6

A small plane lands behind the house. The house is also described as small, which makes me wonder how eight people are living in it. Also, you know, why Jeb is arriving via plane.

Jeb and Dr. Gunther-Hagen enter the house. We get a bit of exposition about them, but at no point do we actually learn what happened between the flock and Dr. Gunther-Hagen in the last book. JPatterson almost gets there, telling us about Dr. Gunther-Hagen killing Fang, but manages to also fail to mention why this murder went unpunished. GOOD WRITING.

Jeb says that there’s something bigger than all of them going on (you know, like always). According to him, there are a lot of labs around the world making genetically altered kids like the flock in order to speed up the evolutionary process. Max is unimpressed by this despite having been driven to take down Itex in the first three books for doing exactly that because what is continuity. Jeb also mentions that the flock were the fifty-fourth generation of experiments, which makes little sense given that the six of them share four different ages. (As this is a scientific context, “generation” isn’t a grouping of people base on their age but rather something more akin to a version number for software). But the age gaps never made sense anyway, so.

The Erasers, meanwhile, were generation fourteen. The Erasers from the last book aren’t mentioned here for some reason, oh yeah, the reason is “what is continuity.”

Max is all “get to the point” and they go back and forth a bit more and then Dr. Gunther-Hagen cuts in:

“These children, this new generation, are the ones you’ll be leading, after you save the world. It’s time you start leading them. Now.” (pg 24)

Uhhh, what? Max is supposed to lead them, future tense, after she’s saved the world, except… she’s supposed to lead them now? C’mon, Dr. Gunther-Hagen, you’re a fictional character, your dialogue is supposed to actually follow a coherent train of thought.

Chapter 7

Okay, slight flicker of interest. I’d been doing the “save the world” thing for a while, and so far it had been mostly saving the world one small part at the time. (pg 25)

Max, you’ve completed three major plot victories over these books, and out of the two that actually affected the world, only one was saving a “small part” of the world. The other was saving two-thirds of the population.

These new genetically modified (well, some of them are described as having “spontaneous genetic evolutions” but, um, no) kids are called generation seventy-seven, and it’s “very likely” that a lot of them will be among “the human survivors of the apocalypse.” So, yay, Dr. Gunther-Hagen’s mysteeeerious apocalypse hasn’t been forgotten. Now if we could just be told what it is and how the flock are suited to survive it, why Fang needs to be away from Max to make them survive better, etc., I would be much obliged. Really, this all sounds a lot more like some sort of big war than a “universal or widespread destruction or disaster” as this usage of the word is defined. Unless Jeb and Dr. Gunther-Hagen are using apocalypse to mean a “revelation or prophecy” haha we never told you which definition they were using PLOT TWIST!

So these kids, who are all from the same generation, have incredibly varied powers like underwater breathing, telepathy, or thermal vision. Either we’re meant to believe they achieved all these different powers through the exact same form of modification, or Jeb and Dr. Gunther-Hagen’s scientific community is crap at using the term generation to mean anything useful.

As Dr. Gunther-Hagen said, he and Jeb want to lead these kids under Max. How Max is supposed to be a singular leader to the kids when by the sound of it there are dozens of them, I’m clueless. Oh, and Dr. Gunther-Hagen has some sort of surprise, but Jeb doesn’t want him to tell it and then Angel reads Jeb’s mind (but not Dr. Gunther-Hagen’s?) and puts her hands on her cheeks and says “oh, no. Not that!” (that’s a direct quote) and BRB, laughing at that hilarious image. And… I’ll end the spork here since it’s getting long. I won’t give you a cliffhanger, though: the thing is that Dr. Gunther-Hagen wants Max to have kids. Which is… yeah, but not really deserving of Angel’s reaction.