Ooh, I've heard a lot of good stuff about these books, not necessarily on YA blogs, but just around. It's the first of the "Maximum Ride" series, which has 5 books (I believe) out right now. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and its a 400+ page book! Pretty addicting!
Six kids have been mutated by the school to become 98% human and 2% avian. They can fly, which is pretty wicked, and have superhuman strength as well. Max Ride, 14, is the oldest and the 'mother' of the group, and she does her best to take care of the younger kids. Fang, 14, cool, calm, collected, quiet, handsome, logical. Iggy, 14, blind, likes explosives, great hearing, lock-picker among other talents. Nudge, 11, big chatterbox, she's still brave though. Gasman is 8, and he has a younger sister, Angel (6) who can read minds. Yep, these kids are pretty extraordinary. Except they were engineered this way, not naturally born like this. When hiding out in the woods, they are discovered by 'Erasers', who are half-mutant-wolf things that are strong but evil. When Angel is captured by them to be used for more scientific experiments by the 'School', Max must gather her wits about and organize a rescue. But what chance do these six kids have against an entire organization hell-bent on mutating humans for their own sadistic experiments? Add in a crazy New York City adventure, and some more amazing powers, Max and her 'family' need to survive and outrun whoevers hunting them, and finding out secrets about their past in the process.
So.. I don't know why I took such a long time getting around to this series! Geez, maybe because the description sounds cheesy/lame (bird-people, seriously?) but I was pleasantly surprised. This action/adventure story is fast-paced with great characters, coupled with an interesting mystery and clever plot. Patterson really thought this out, because these scientific things seem mildly possible and believable.
What did I like the most? The characters, hands down. Max isn't necessarily "amazingly deep, complex, and 3-D" but she's an admirable heroine who is determined to protect her family. She cares for the younger ones, acting as a natural leader, comforter, and even a mother at times. The younger kids trust her inexplicably, probably because she has pulled through for them so many times. Her narration throughout the majority of the book was well-written IMO, because she did 'speak' about her worries, fears, and honest thoughts, not just 'narrating a story'. I liked Fang's character, and how delicious he sounds (licks lips in a non-creepy manner) but he was a bit flat. Maybe it was because he never said much, but I just didn't get much personality vibe from him, apart from the fact that he cared deeply for Max and the other kids.
I liked how even though Patterson had 6+ main characters, he didn't let any of them get pushed aside. Fang, Iggy, Gasman, Nudge, and Angel all get developed decently enough, and are big parts of the novel, not just some minor person. I liked the way the 6 of them always stuck together like a family, but still bickered and whatnot. The antagonists were interesting as well, and they made good bad-guys, if you get what I say. Unique but deadly.
Another thing I liked was the 'scientific' aspect of the novel, with the DNA modifications, mutations, and the different 'creatures' created. The Erasers are an interesting concept, with them managing to evolve from a handsome model-person to a snarling wolf. The flying may sound cheesy, but Patterson seems to pull it off and make it seem 'cool'. The different powers the kids develop are also unique, but I won't spoil it for you. Just know that I'm pretty jealous :P
9/10 - because I severely underestimated it. I didn't think I would like it, and I'm really happy to be proven wrong. I was so caught up in the story, and loved the plot and characters (a lot!). I liked the 'mutants' (which seems like a cruel way to put it) that Patterson created, and really enjoyed the non-stop action. Don't judge the book by it's cover (lame cover, IMO) or its description (also lame IMO), I just advise you to try it. Recommend to people who want to read a fast-paced action/adventure novel with a cool plot and interesting characters with cool abilities. Pretty guy-friendly as well, I think.
PS- I'm gonna tag this as 'supernatural' but I think it's barely that. These kids just have cool powers, not necessarily magical. Anywho, in my "tags explained" post, you can see what I mean by supernatural. Meh, this PS sucks. Oh, and it's tagged as sci-fi because it includes scientific stuff, which isn't really the definition of sci-fi, but oh well. Sue me.