James Patterson. Little Brown and Company, $19.99 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-316-00289-9
The fifth entry in Patterson's all-ages Maximum Ride fantasy/thriller series finds the teenaged title character facing her greatest challenge yet. Max, leading her flock of virtually indestructible part-human/part-bird hybrids, must rescue her human mom, kidnapped by a criminal mastermind with an elaborate plan to wreak worldwide ecological catastrophe. But in order to rescue her, 14-year-old Max and the five younger members of her flock (genetically developed by an environmental group) must team up with the U.S. Navy to determine why millions of fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii. All this, and Max is falling in love, too. Patterson doesn't spend much time on character development, opting to propel his wild story with quick action scenes, plenty of dialogue and chapters seldom longer than three or four pages; unfortunately, though, life-and-death situations are often solved by implausible plot turns. Max narrates with a precocious, snarky voice, but makes it relatively easy to jump into her complicated tale midstream. Not surprisingly, the open-ended conclusion begs for a follow-up; it's also little wonder that a movie franchise is in the works.
Reviewed on: 03/16/2009