Dayla's Reviews > The Angel Experiment

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
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This review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson is the first book in the Maximum Ride series. Patterson weaves an adventurous story that shows the dark curiosity of humanity, while still celebrating the hope and determination of those affected by the hands of experimenters.

I was surprised to find how young the characters of Patterson’s book are, especially with how they are portrayed. Of course, if someone experienced half of what these kids did they too would be extremely mature. The story was a fast ride (as the name so coyly suggests) of adventure, after adventure. I have a suggestion however, if you purchase the paperback edition (the one that I’ve posted above) then don’t read the synopsis on the back. I don’t know how it is for hardcover editions, but the paperback has a list of everything that’s going to happen in the book. EVERYTHING. So, unless you enjoy having the element of surprise taken from you, then I suggest you skipping that part.

Maximum Ride is a girl with wings. She is a genetically engineered child who can fly and she’s not alone. She and her small family of other younger children have been living in hiding since escaping from the “school”; a lab that held them prisoners. When the Erasers, another experiment, find their oasis, Max and her family must flee and protect those they love. From the moment that these monsters find them, everything changes and Max is forced to guide the group through obstacles, upon obstacles to find someone she holds dear.

Somehow Patterson manages to make this seemingly quick-paced story feel like two novels, since once one objective is accomplished he immediately jumps into another scenario. This didn’t bug me much, it just confused me because it moved beyond what was originally expected when I read the synopsis (not the spoiler filled one). Oh, by the way, the Goodreads synopsis? Yeah, riddled with spoilers too.


Negatives:

1. I think one of the most interesting and unnecessary aspect of this novel is the way that Patterson utilizes chapters. I kid you not, one page is apparently worthy of its own chapter to Patterson. I know that in some novels this is a powerful and gripping stylistic way of increasing the tension of a climax, but this technique is used throughout the whole novel. Patterson’s choice to include a ridiculous number of chapters wasn’t such a nuisance that I absolute had to put the book down. What did bug me is that so many of these chapters could have been made into longer chapters. I found that such short chapters tended to take me out of the mood that the story was creating because all I could think was, “Really? A new chapter... to follow the same idea?” It’s like talking to a friend and s/he suddenly stopping to close a door in your face before continuing to talk to you through an opened window beside the door... about the same thing. The only novels where I’ve found this tactic of short chapters useful are usually thrillers that explore perspectives of different characters (for example, Jonathan Maberry does this with Dead of Night) in each chapter.

2. I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrative voice changes. Patterson kept jumping from first person to third person in between chapters. This made the novel feel disjointed. Though it offered an almost omniscient point of view of the story, it would have worked better if either Max’s point of view was the prominent voice, or if the whole book was written in third person.


Positives:

1. I loved Maximum Ride. She’s gutsy, mature, and caring towards her awkward family. Patterson hit the jackpot by naming the series after such a strong female protagonist. Sure, there’s a hint of the romance to come later on in the series, but for most of the novel it is all about Max trying to figure out who she is and why she was created. It was a nice change from the female protagonist who is barely in power, but manages to be the protagonist because: a) her voice is the storyteller and b) the fictional world revolves around her (and there’s a man conveniently waiting to save her).

2. I liked that even with such young characters, The Angel Experiment manages to have a mature, but fun feel to it. Anyone can read this book. Trust me, the adventure is worth it.

3. Despite its serious nature, Patterson somehow includes humorous moments that work to establish that though these kids are having a rough time, they are still kids who try to make the best out of a bad situation. Some lines were so ridiculous that all I could do was laugh. For example: “‘Tarzan!’ she yelled. Whatever that was supposed to mean” (Patterson 106).

4. The writing style was colloquial. I absolutely loved the way that Max spoke to me when I began reading the novel. I felt intrigued and was pulled instantly into her world. Here’s a blurb from the back of my edition: “Do not put this book down. I’m dead serious. Your life could depend on it. I’m risking everything by telling you--but you need to know” (Patterson).

I liked Patterson’s addition to the world of young adult fiction. It was a fun, light, and quick read that promises adventure, powerful characters, and kids who fight the ever-present threat of adults.
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