“Holy [Insert your choice of a swear word here],” said Fang stunned.
I always want to scream a little bit in frustration whenever I see James Patterson’s name on anything and it’s all because of this stupid book. Over the years, Maximum Ride has kind of stuck with me as an example of precisely how to eviscerate a genuinely intriguing premise with poor writing, shell characters masquerading as people with depth, and general word-vomit. It truly feels as though Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment exists basically for Patterson to announce to the world that he thinks teenagers are idiots. And what’s depressing is that this isn’t even the only poorly written drivel that Patterson has put out there. In my experience, that’s almost all that he ever writes.
To Destroy a Decent Premise
I remember the first time I found Maximum Ride, I was actually really enamored with the idea behind it. A group of kids who were experimented on and escaped? Experiments that resulted in the kids having bird characteristics, wings included? This book sounded great. I was so excited to read it. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Patterson knew his premise was worthwhile.
What I think he also thought was that if he just word vomited a terribly written book with a decent plot idea behind it, he’d make a lot of money off young readers. You see, that’s exactly what he did. This book is both terribly plotted and terribly written. But the idea that started it? Yeah, that was pretty good. And guess what: Patterson made a lot of money.
Perhaps it was easy for Patterson to pump out a batch of novels by putting minimal efforts into giving it any depth. But it left us with some of the most painful writing I’ve ever seen in literature. He never really put any intelligence or development into anything and this always bugged the hell out of me. This book and series always felt like a way of saying teenagers didn’t deserve thoughtful, profound, or intelligent fiction. It seemed as though he just wrote it with the sole purpose of making money.
If you’re looking for anything worthwhile in this novel, you’re not going to find it. Maximum Ride is very clearly written by an old man who doesn’t remember what it’s like to be a teenager. His main character, Max, is meant to be an interesting and edgy heroine. Instead she reads more like a little girl trying too hard to be cool and never really succeeding. There’s no depth or dimension to any of the characters. Rather, they exist as painted boxes, a creation with some surface appeal but completely empty inside.
Often, instead of following an actual plot, Patterson has a habit of spiraling off into random pointless events that add absolutely nothing of substance to the novel as a whole. I can’t believe the number of instances where we are subjected to the most random and useless scenes in the lives of these characters. And it all seems to be solely for the purpose of padding the novel with extra pages. You could skip multiple chapters and still not read anything pertaining to the overall plot. Skipping even more chapters takes nothing away from anything you read.
The plot, itself, isn’t bad. I actually really liked the premise when I first picked it up. I also kind of liked the world that Patterson built. Barring those initial concepts, though, there’s not much to applaud about this book. Nothing he ever writes really does anything impressive with these themes and ideas. You get bare-bones plots and characters, leaving you feeling like you read an empty shell. Though the blurb enticed you to pick it up in the first place, promising you so much more.
This book series is the sole reason behind my absolute distaste for anything with Patterson’s name on it. It genuinely bugs the heck out of me that he’s getting other authors published with his James Patterson Presents. I know first hand how vapid his novels are and hate that he’s putting his name on the works of others. Granted, I would never judge an author’s writing capabilities by another author’s books, but I can’t help the grating feeling I get whenever I see his name on a cover. Maximum Ride made it incredibly difficult for me to take this author seriously at all.
The story as a whole amounts to what is basically power-written drivel, devoid of any substance at all. And it’s a real shame, because I truly do believe that the premise had a lot of promise. And it sucks that it all turned out to be a pitiful waste. I think, ultimately, that I’d love to see a similar premise written by a more competent author who actually cares enough to spend the time and effort the premise deserves, to really develop both the plot and characters.
tldr; Maximum Ride is a desultory waste of time and money, despite sounding interesting on paper.