The Final Warning: A Maximum Ride Novel is the much-anticipated fourth book in James Patterson’s young adult/tween Maximum Ride series. The series has attracted a large following as it puts the reader into the lives of a flock of six children who have been genetically designed to be 2% bird – they have wings and can fly! Before I launch into a review, NO – this is not going to be the final book. (That was my daughters’ concern when they heard the title.) I reviewed the first three books, and have been excited about this book for the past year. It’s hard for a book to live up to readers’ expectations, but James Patterson has written a fourth book that has no problems living up to the reader’s excitement and enthusiasm; I literally could not put it down, and finished it in one sitting! Keep reading for a sneak preview of Maximum Ride 4 – The Final Warning, without spoilers…
If you haven’t had a chance to read the first three books (or if you didn’t re-read them right before starting The Final Warning), Patterson does a great job of introducing you to the characters without overdoing the explanations. Max (as the narrator and the leader of the flock) catches us up on what the flock has been doing since the end of Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, Angel, and Total (their talking dog) are planning to testify to Congress about what has happened as they tried to save the world from the School, the Institute, and Itex, the company which controlled everything. Once they have spoken with Congress, though, what will happen to them? Do they go to a new school, or is there another mission to save the world?
What will happen next? Well, the book includes a blog post from Fang that discusses that…
“The big news of today is that we’ve all decided to settle down and go to regular school and stuff, and Fox is going to make a reality TV series out of it, called Bird Kids in the House! They’ll have like a hundred cameras all over the lace and they can film Iggy cooking and Angel doing her weird stuff, and Total listening to his iPod.
They can film Max leading.
Nah, I’m just kidding. No reality series. Our lives are probably a little too real for most people, if you know what I’m saying. … We’re not sure what’s going to happen next.”
Of course, the the Voice in Max’s head leads the flock to find a new way to save the world after their defeat of Itex. Max and the gang might be tired of cold weather, in The Final Warning they learn that sometimes you have to suffer for a cause. The flock goes to Antarctica to study the effects of global warming, and the cuteness of penguins. Like any other 6 year old girl, Angel wants to adopt a baby penguin… This is a perfect example of the wonders of James Patterson’s writing; he has created 6 human-avian kids, and while they have extra strength, speed, and some special skills, they are still kids. Nudge chatters endlessly like a certain child in my house, Gazzy and Iggy conspire on practical jokes and explosions, and there’s the growing tension between Fang and Max who have grown up together, and now at 14 are experiencing attraction to each other.
While reading Maximum Ride series, readers are instantly transported into the world of the flock. Part of the reason the reader is sucked in so quickly is that the story is told in the first person, from Max’s perspective. Add in Fang’s blog and Patterson’s skill in creating characters and situations, and you have characters who feel incredibly real and that everyone will love. Patterson was brilliant in creating kids who can fly – who hasn’t wanted to fly? As soon as I started reading the series, I couldn’t read it fast enough. Now that I’m sharing the series with my kids (9, 7, 4), and they are begging for “just one more chapter” constantly. We’re torn between savoring these experiences we’re sharing with the flock and wanting to know what happens next!
If you are a reluctant reader, or you’re the parent of a reluctant reader, pick up the Maximum Ride series, and pre-order The Final Warning. It’s impossible to stop reading once you’ve started reading about Max and the flock. There’s a fine line for an author to walk when dealing with a “cause” – in The Final Warning Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel are saving the world in a very different way than in the earlier books. This time they are trying to defeat the evil scientists, but also let the world know about global warming. Patterson does a great job of integrating characters, plot, excitement, and a cause in The Final Warning, and I hope it helps kids pay more attention to their world.
I highly recommend The Final Warning for any reader age 10+, and kids younger than that will enjoy The Final Warning and Maximum Ride series as a read-aloud book; the chapters are only a few pages each, which makes it very easy to cave in to the “just one more chapter!” request! Parents should be aware that there is quite a bit of violence, though the flock only acts in self-defense. If you’re an adult, don’t dismiss these out-of-hand as kid’s books. Just like some other young adult series, these are books that can be enjoyed by people of any age. In fact, The Final Warning and the earlier books are great books to read with your child and discuss together. If you like science or fantasy, flying kids or evil corporations, everyone will find something to love in The Final Warning!