Summary of "Maximum Ride" by James Patterson

by Ana Purna

Maximum Ride is an eight-volume series of young-adult novels by American author James Patterson. Part sci-fi adventure, part political thriller, and part social novel, Maximum Ride has developed a strong following among young readers.

Setting and Overview

The Maximum Ride books concern the adventures of a group of six young friends, collectively known as the Flock. They have grown up together without parents in a laboratory, where their human characteristics have been blended with those of birds. In the first few books of the series, the members of the Flock are persistently hunted by another hybrid species from the laboratory -- human-wolf predators known as Erasers. After establishing some autonomy from the laboratory, the Flock's efforts turn to protecting the Earth and its population from environmental damage and evil scientists.

The Flock

The main characters of Maximum Ride are the members of the Flock. There are several auxiliary characters, including laboratory scientists and Flock members who join in later books. The title character, 14-year-old Maximum Ride, is known as Max. A strong-willed tomboy, Max is often the main target of attempts to capture the Flock. Fang is the Flock's co-leader, under Max. He and Max are lifelong best friends and later have a romance. After a protracted falling out, Fang leads a separate Flock in later books. Iggy is slightly younger than Max and Fang. He is blind because of experiments done on him at the laboratory, but his special powers allow him to identify individuals without sight. Angel is a 6-year-old whose changing lineup of powers include deep-water swimming and the ability to change her appearance at will. Gasman, 8, known as Gazzy, is her older brother. He is an explosives expert, can create poison gas, and has power of mimicry and voice-throwing. Nudge, whose real name is Maxine, is an exquisitely beautiful 11-year-old. She has the power to sense leftover emotions and can draw metal objects toward herself.

Early Books, Fugitive Series

The first three books of the Maximum Ride series are known as the Fugitive Series. They follow the Flock's efforts to escape from the laboratory, known as "The School," evade the Erasers, and escape from twisted plots to capture them. The Fugitive Series includes the books "The Angel Experiment," "School's Out Forever," and "Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports."

Later Books, Protectors Series

The later five books of Maximum Ride are called the Protectors Series. These novels are "The Final Warning," "Max: A Maximum Ride Novel," "Fang: A Maximum Ride Novel," "Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel" and the final book of the series, "Nevermore," scheduled for release in 2012. In the Protectors Series, the Flock's focus turns to ridding the world of environmental and human threats. The group works on the behalf of the government in some instances. The relationships between the main characters continue to evolve. At the end of "Angel," Angel herself is missing after an explosion.

About the Author

Ana Purna has covered outdoor adventure, travel, health and fitness for a variety of publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on the websites FeministReview and PaperDolls. Purna is a writer and radio producer in Texas who graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in history.

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