By James Patterson
AR level: 4.6
AR points: 11.0
Word count: 74,752
I suggest: 4th grade+
Rarely do you find a 14-year-old character these days in books. The split between the middle grade and young adult genre has really seemed to grow the last few years, placing characters in a range of 10 to 12 years old (MG) and 15 to 17 years old (YA).
I now understand why my daughter’s fifth-grade teacher recommended the Maximum Ride series to her. The series has a perfect mix of adventure, science fiction, intrigue, and the inklings of romance. The story focuses on children and young teenagers who have been turned into flying mutants, and it gives the X-Men franchise a run for its money–or it at least fills in a reading gap for kids who want more science and thrill in their reading.
The series has clean language, smart writing, and interesting characters who pull on your heartstrings. In some ways, the plot seems to take into account the fact that readers are hungry for the story and don’t want to get too deep in the weeds of relationships–although enough character development keeps the action from dominating the book.
In James Patterson’s blockbuster series, fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it’s like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the “flock”—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time…like when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the “School” where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs.
Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare—this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf “Erasers” in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb—now her betrayed and greatest enemy—that her purpose is save the world—but can she?