forum Maximum Ride: The Tragic Rabbithole (contains spoilers)
Started by @Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group
tune

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@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

(Disclaimer: If nobody reads this, it's fine. I'm writing for a niche community within a niche community: the people that read the series and hated it. If I'm the only one who feels this strongly, I wouldn't be surprised at all.)
It's past lunchtime. I'm sad. I feel the great need to spill my sorrows on the series that promised me so much, gave me nothing but disappointment, and keeps calling me back with fake promises that it'll be "better the second time".
I got into Maximum Ride because I love the idea of winged humans. Always have–maybe to an obsessive degree, I admit. Currently designing my own species for my books, and for many years I've researched birds, aviation, hypothetical anatomy, adapted clothing, even diet constraints. I won't say I'm a licensed authority on winged humans or anything, but suffice to say I know things.
Maximum Ride sounded cool! A dream come true. Diverse, colorful young characters, humor, adventure, and of course wings for all. I tried the manga first–was mildly saddened by the poor drawings of the wings in question–but not yet totally discouraged. I decided to give the books a shot.
That's how I realized that not only was the realism aspect very…..screwy…..but the plot. The plot was an absolute train-wreck that only got worse with each new book. Who is the enemy? What do they want with the Flock? Why all these puzzles and mysteries that ultimately lead nowhere? What about these side-plots that seem jammed in as an after-thought, only to be dropped after a few chapters?
At first I was willing to excuse it as intentional. The author wants to add conflict, intrigue, excitement. Not my thing, but okay. That works until an editorial slip-up forgets to correct the part where the so-called Ultimate Evil Corporation, the one the Flock are supposed to defeat, is suddenly posed as the people that created Max to save the world. And no, it wasn't a plot twist. It was a mistake.
I'm getting so angry just writing all this down. This is a highly popular series by an "acclaimed" author who has an entire bookshelf dedicated to his works at our library. I've read fanfic on the internet with more quality, depth, and consistency. This is drabble. This is mind-melting.
And I'm not done! Oh no. We haven't covered the massive problem of relationships in this series. The stupid romance arc between Max and Fang that should have been canonized by book 4 at least, only to be ousted by a god-forsaken love triangle. Now, I don't hate Dylan. He's a sweetie and none of this is his fault. But he never should have existed. The world is ending, and the only thing Max cares about is petty arguments with her family and snuggling with a cute clone. But hey, she is 15, so maybe that's actually realistic. No offense to 15-year-olds. Point is, the romance is dumb and vaguely toxic and makes me hurt.
Then there's the millions of tiny inconsistencies. Is Max blonde? Brunette? Yes. What color are her wings? Yes. What about Nudge, Iggy, and Gazzy, the famously forgotten members of the flock? What do they look like? Depends on which book you read. At least they couldn't get Fang's solid black color pallet wrong. Bravo.
Then there's the wings themselves. The arm-length, hide-under-jacket, highly-acrobatic, falcon/hawk/pheasant-esque, telescoping wings. I cry every time I read the new ways the author comes up with to butcher realistic flight. You can't hover when you're huge. You can't fly sideways. You can't carry heavy loads, particularly not people. You can't hide large wings under clothing in ANY CAPACITY. And you can't have TELESCOPING BONES.
I need to calm down.
The last two books broke me. They were so dark, so depressing, so fundamentally flawed that I couldn't tell what I was reading half the time. People died, but who cares? They'll come back in a few chapters. People kiss. So what? At this point I'm emotionally numb. Angel is a mentally shattered 8-year-old and Iggy and Gazzy don't seem to exist anymore. Why is the story even continuing? The world ended ages ago, and frankly that was a better finale. The entire experience Forever gave me was so surreal and ludicrous.
Honestly though…..I can deal with a bad story. I can shake my head and move on. But the problem with Maximum Ride is that…the potential is there. It had so many chances to be an amazing story, from the unique characters to the friendships they develop to the scope of the world they live in. Heck, even the final chapter, with Pheonix, is surprisingly sweet and hopeful. It's just all….twisted. Improperly handled. Turned into cliché. And every time I remember the series, I'm drawn back by the good parts, the stuff that could have been. It's so tangible that sometimes I think I'll find it if I go back. But of course, I won't. I'll just be reminded of the still-fresh emotional wounds that you can only receive from an unhealthy relationship. Thanks for the memories, Max. James Patterson, screw you.

(This broadcast was brought to you by a reader who saw HAWK on the shelf at Walmart and felt their heart drop into their boots. Please no more, please James, just let this die)

@GoodThingGoing group

I read the first book and felt thoroughly meh about it and heard horror stories about what ended up happening in the series.
I've heard that all of Patterson's stuff is ghostwritten (idk if that's true or not though) so that might explain the inconsistencies with what the characters look like

@GoodThingGoing group

Also I cannot believe that he did the "that wasn't the finale, whoops! have another book!" thing twice. For fuck's sake just let it die.
I read a lot of Patterson in middle school and a lot of his series follow this pattern where they have two or three pretty decent books but then get dragged out for three or four more and just get repetitive and dull, and usually have a hamfisted moral. And while I'm all for environmentalism and not bullying people, make the original books about those topics and don't try to cram them into the sequels. His Jacky Ha-Ha books are pretty cute and I like them to this day, and they carry a "don't bully people" and "use your talents to help others feel better" message way better than the six (seventh?) IFunny book did since it was baked into the story from the start and not just used as a cheap way to get conflict, especially since IFunny used the "Jamie gets famous and then becomes an asshole" plotline in like every book :/
Anyways tl;dr Patterson books tend to have seasonal rot, read Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan instead (it's one of his "James Patterson Presents" books)

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

I've heard that too, and I'm quite inclined to believe it, especially since Patterson openly confessed to being uninterested in the series at one point and there was an ad in the back of one of the books for a fanfic contest where you could write a chapter of the series. Like, if your standards are that low, nothing else will surprise me.

Also thank-you for reading my rant ahaha I feel much more listened-to now x'D

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

Also I cannot believe that he did the "that wasn't the finale, whoops! have another book!" thing twice. For fuck's sake just let it die.

PREACH

Anyways tl;dr Patterson books tend to have seasonal rot, read Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan instead (it's one of his "James Patterson Presents" books)

I may check that out lol, sounds cool ^^

@GoodThingGoing group

Even if he hadn't done it before, who in 2020 is going "ah gee I sure wish there was a new Maximum Ride book to read!"
No one, based on what I saw. Even fans of the series seemed to be saying to let it die. And the fact that it's about Max's kid really just makes it seem like a cash grab. I mean, I'm sure that books about the original lead's kids can be done well, but it really screams "I want money" to me in this case, especially since the series has had two "ePic cOnClUsIoNs" so far.

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

Exactly. Plus, based on accounts from the fan wiki, Max's daughter's appearance changes from her initial intro to this story. (You may have noticed that visual inconsistency is a special pet peeve of mine lol.)
I just really really wish it was a good story. I can imagine so many ways it could be good. And I think I won't actually read it, so I can keep my hopeful daydreams haha.

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

Loolllllll probably XD
I sort of just want to see him in person one day and look him in the eye and ask, "How? Why? What was going on in your brain??"
Also he has a Masterclass course on writing now and I'm Afraid for anyone taking lessons from him.

@Starfast groupDance & Cry

I was super into Maximum Ride a few years back but I stopped reading at whichever one where they were in the submarine for like the entire book for some reason that was where I stopped (the 5th, I think?) It should have ended at book 3.

I reread the first book earlier this year and it just wasn't as good as I remembered. So much of the plot just hinged on convenience like Max goes to help this random girl but hurts her wing but it's fine because the girl's mom is a vet because if she were anything else the plot would just come to a screeching halt I guess. That's just one example, but there were tons.
Also I remember especially in the later books they all just started developing all these other random powers? For like no reason at all? How does having a tiny little bit of bird DNA allow someone to read minds or breathe underwater?
But yeah, I totally remember all the weird inconsistencies as well and that probably is a product of ghostwriting.

I totally wish that there was more books about winged people out there tbh. The concept is so cool to me but it definitely wasn't executed very well :/

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

Also I remember especially in the later books they all just started developing all these other random powers? For like no reason at all? How does having a tiny little bit of bird DNA allow someone to read minds or breathe underwater?

Oh jeez yeah I forgot about that part. Literally all the powers were miraculously convenient for fighting the current baddie, and they'd only use them like once in the entire series. This is peak writing right here -_-

I totally wish that there was more books about winged people out there tbh. The concept is so cool to me but it definitely wasn't executed very well :/

I agree!! (On that topic, not to self-promo or anything but if you're willing to wait like probably 30 years, I have a graphic novel series about winged people I'm hoping to share with the world eventually X'D )

@GoodThingGoing group

The "we have 10% bird DNA so we can fly and have hollow bones!" thing always felt super weird to me, especially considering that the bird DNA manifested itself in the same way with all of them. 10% felt like it wasn't enough to give them meaningful changes to the extent that they had

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

As a side note, have either of you read Dusk? It's a book by a totally different author, Susan Gates, about a girl with hawk DNA, but this take is totally different—the girl looks like a person but thinks more like a hawk. It's more real-feeling, a lot a bit darker, and much more well-written. I recommend it ^^

@Starfast groupDance & Cry

Is Max blonde? Brunette? Yes. What color are her wings? Yes. What about Nudge, Iggy, and Gazzy, the famously forgotten members of the flock? What do they look like? Depends on which book you read.

Just came up with this dumb headcannon but what if this is actually because of some kind of random shapeshifting ability that was never mentioned for some reason. Given the amount of random ass abilities that they have this honestly wouldn't surprise me.

As a side note, have either of you read Dusk?

I haven't even heard of it until now. I'm looking at it on goodreads and the reviews aren't great but I might look into it anyways because the winged human trope is one that I simultaneously can't get enough of but also can't find anywhere.

@Young-Dusty-the-Monarch-of-Dusteria group

Just came up with this dumb headcanon but what if this is actually because of some kind of random shapeshifting ability that was never mentioned for some reason. Given the amount of random ass abilities that they have this honestly wouldn't surprise me.

Oh oh! Just remembered a part from the manga which is also referenced on the Wiki—
"Shape-shifting:
There was a brief moment when Angel is shown to be able to change her appearance/features, but this technique is only mentioned/used in The Final Warning then seemingly forgotten for the rest of the series."
So maybe your headcanon actually has some support lol!
Or, my other headcanon was that their wings and hair changed color as they aged, the way it does in some birds. But none of them really aged enough through the series for that to make much sense…. shrug

I haven't even heard of it until now. I'm looking at it on goodreads and the reviews aren't great but I might look into it anyways because the winged human trope is one that I simultaneously can't get enough of but also can't find anywhere.

Well, my review is merely one among many, but I enjoyed the way it was written and the much more science-y interpretation of genetic modification it offered, so if you check it out I hope you like it too!