Max is the 5th book in the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. The series was originally a trilogy, and the first three books show that really clearly. They are really, really good and a complete story in themselves. I can only assume that the series was continued because Patterson realised he could make even more money with them. The fourth book was terrible. It was basically a rant about the dangers of global warming. The kids didn't grow up or anything, they all developed odd new talents that really did nothing, Fang kissed Max and Max flew away, again. So really nothing much happened.
"Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy and Angel, six extraordinary kids who can fly, are back for another wild adventure as they try to save the world ...and themselves. Maximum Ride and the other members of the Flock have barely recovered from their last arctic adventure, when they are confronted by the most frightening catastrophe yet. Millions of fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii and someone - or something - is destroying hundreds of ships. Unable to discover the cause, the government enlists the Flock to help them get to the bottom of the disaster before it is too late. While Max and her team are exploring the depths of the ocean, their every move is being carefully tracked by Mr. Chu - a criminal mastermind with his own plans for the Flock. Can they protect themselves from Mr. Chu's army of mercenaries and save the ocean from utter destruction?"
So I picked up Max with no real expectations. And it's still nothing on the first three, but it was better than The Final Warning. There is finally some development between Max and Fang, and not just her flying away. Nudge isn't seen much, she shows a little independence and a desire to be 'normal', which is kind of interesting, but even when she's around, she's not mentioned much. Total, the flying, talking dog, is talking about marrying the Malamute he loves, may be the most ridiculous thing I've read, and it's not even funny, just ridiculous. There isn't a real flow to this book. It is a bit stop/start instead of flowing from one scene to another, Max will say something like 'and that's when it went wrong' and then it jumps to something later on, or half way through a fight or something.
Also, the idea behind these books was bird kids, 2% avian DNA and 98% human. So why do half the group now have gills too? If this is part of some plot where they have no idea that they have fish DNA too or something, then why has it not been explained? Because at this point, it just seems more like they wanted to do something different and have an excuse to have them be in water instead of in the air. They barely spent any time in the air at all, which despite Max talking about, was a shame. It felt like there was something missing, and that was it. I don't like the big involvement of adults either. Through most of the first three books they were on their own, coping without adults and I liked seeing that independence, now they're really reliant of adults and what they can offer, and can basically do anything they want instead of living a mostly hidden life.
However, on the plus side, there is a much better plot here again, and it actually has leads for what could be an okay 6th book. Despite my complaints on this book, I did enjoy it, and I am looking forward to the next one this time. Yeah, it wasn't great, but it was an improvement, and after the last one, I wasn't expecting this much. There is enough reason to keep reading the series. I like Max showing a little more vulnerability here and her anxiousness about being with Fang, combined with her determination to take care of the Flock and strength to keep going no matter what.
James Patterson has his good and bad books, and plenty of middle ground. So far this year I've read all three of his new releases: Run For Your Life, the second Michael Bennett book was great, 8th confession terrible and I could barely finish. And now Max, which I'd give 4/10. All over the place. You can never really know with his books until you read them. I'm glad this one was better, but I hope that the next is better because this series could be really great again with the right care and attention. 4/10