Saving the World (Maximum Ride, Book 3)
Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Angel and Gazzy have spent the majority of their young lives in unbelievably sadistic conditions, the pawns of Itex Corporation and the Director. After years of testing and manipulation by the whitecoats, the entire flock has finally broken free and are continuing their mission to save the world. As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough, Max and the gang must contend with being genetic mutant bird children who have been betrayed by nearly everyone they have ever encountered. The kids rely upon their training and survival skills to stay one step ahead of Itex’s grotesque Erasers. As the flock’s surrogate mother and leader, Max is under a ton of pressure to find a haven for her brood. So far, her plan is to stay under the radar, but Fang’s massively popular blog and Itex’s uncanny ability to track them has proved to be an obstacle to anonymity. When Fang and Max go on a flight to find a permanent haven for the flock, they locate the home of an old friend, Dr. Martinez and her daughter, Ella. Max sees an opportunity to spend a few hours in relative normality and since Dr. Martinez is a veterinarian, she convinces her to remove the chip embedded in her arm. The results are less than ideal, but matters become more complicated when the two return to the bird kids’ hideout and find the others missing and signs of a struggle. With no other alternative, Fang and Max follow the clues and find their flock tied up and surrounded by a new breed of Erasers they quickly dub Flyboys. As if the situation isn’t dire enough, the entire operation is being led by their former friend and father figure, Jeb. His son, Ari, a young boy mutated into an Eraser, was recently killed by Max when he attacked the group, but miraculously, he is at Jeb’s side along with Angel. Has the flock been betrayed by one of its own? The entire flock is moved to a lab at the School where they come face to face with Jeb and others from their past and are told that everything they have experienced over the past six months has been a part of their training and nothing more. In addition, they learn that they are to be retired by the project immediately. Ari has been allowed to live because his expiration date is coming soon. In the meantime, he gives Max a tour of the facility and the two make amends. The flock is due to be exterminated soon, but first they are evaluated by Dr. ter Borcht as Itex gathers some final data. When the evaluation reveals little reason to keep the project, the flock is taken to a field to be exterminated, but Ari and Angel save the day and the flock escapes. Max asks Ari to come with them, much to the dismay of the rest of the flock. When Fang insists that Max choose between them, Max and the flock are torn. Ultimately, Fang and the boys head west, hoping to gain attention to the flock’s plight. Max, Angel, and Nudge head east with Ari. Without a clear plan, Max relies upon the Voice and decides her part of the flock should try to find the headquarters of Itex which leads them on a European tour. Meanwhile, Fang and the boys attempt to get the attention of People Magazine, but are instead befriended by a street gang and attacked by yet more Flyboys. In a German castle, the girls and Ari are caught Itex after they attempt to enter unnoticed as part of the marching Flyboys and clones including Max II. Though they are able to get a quick message off to Fang via his blog, they are caught by the Director and chained up in a dungeon. Jeb reveals himself as the Voice and the director tells Max that she is her mother. Ari explains to Max that he resented her for getting all of his father’s attention, and the two have a bonding moment. Soon after, Jeb reveals that he is Max’s father and her mother is not the director, but her good friend, Dr. Martinez. Back in the US, Fang and the gang utilize the skills of an old friend to get the word out to a huge number of teenagers. In Germany, the flock is brought into the exercise yard, and they learn from the Erasers and clones that more of them disappear every day. The soon to be retired experiments are ready to rise up, but first, they need the opportunity. That opportunity presents itself when the Director puts on a display of Itex’s creations for a group of “government wanks”. She requires Max to fight Itex’s greatest invention, Omega. During a series of tests, Max perseveres, much to Omega and the Director’s chagrin. When the tides start to turn, Angel uses her mind control powers to start the rebellion and in the confusion, the flock begins to take down the corporation. With the help of Jeb and a group of Fang’s blog readers, the flock rallies against the whitecoats. During the battle, however, Ari’s time comes and he dies in Max’s arms. The flock comes together and takes down the Director who confirms Jeb’s story about Dr. Martinez. All over the world, kids attack arms of the Itex Corporation thanks to Fang’s blog. Finally victorious, the girls return to the US and reunite with the boys where Fang promises never to break up the flock again. Max brings the flock to meet her mother, Dr. Martinez, and everyone gets to take a break, at least for now.
Patterson is well-known for his adult fiction, but his young adult titles show the real depth of his imagination. In Max Ride, he has created a spunky, endearing narrator that brings a lovable sarcastic wit to everything she does. Each bird kid has something special to offer the flock and readers of all ages and genders will relate to at least one of them. The antics of Gazzy, Iggy, Total (the talking dog) will keep male readers amused and the action never ends. For the girls, Angel and Nudge add enough girly fun to counteract Max’s most sarcastic moments. Plus there is a sweet little spark between Fang and Max that is too cute to miss. Patterson’s overall message of teens standing up to adults and making a change for the earth is easy to swallow because he uses kid-friendly language and allows the kids to explain their views without preaching. There is an excellent balance of evil white-coated adults and truly caring adults like Dr. Martinez. Most of all, though, I love the tender moments between the bird kids as much as I enjoy watching them kick butt. Patterson is not afraid to add a twist here and there, and the flock gets into enough scrapes to ensure that readers will keep turning the pages.