A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm!

Smells Like Genetically-Modified Teen Spirit

I recently finished reading Maximum Ride 3: Saving The World And Other Extreme Sports as a part of Mother-Talk’s Blog Tour of the book.

I must take an aside right now and say that if at any time during your blogging career you’re offered free books, that you should go ahead and take that offer because it is incredibly thrilling to come back from vacation and find your shiny new book waiting for you with a whole bunch of official-looking paraphernalia that insured it arrived in your house.  Very.  Cool.

I must also say that reading a book because you must feels like all the book assignments I avoided until the last possible moment.  Confession time:  I did not read, nor did I at any point show any true interest in reading, Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck.  I am really sorry about that, Mrs. Harray, and I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Max P for even managing to get a B on a book report for a book I never read.  I’m sure it’s great, however, and I think I’ll read it soon– if only to see what I missed fourteen years ago.

So Max (that’s the main character in the Maximum Ride series) and her gang of winged buddies lingered for a little bit on my nightstand, eyeing me scornfully and filled with teenage angst.

(It’s a good thing I used to work with teenagers, because while those stares are compelling, they are also reeeeeally easy to ignore.)

But then I was intrigued: some people have been hailing this series (of which there are three books now) "the next Harry Potter" and other grandiose claims.  For the record, this is no Harry Potter: the voice in which the HP books is written is a voice that at once summons and hushes the little ones into listening and also winks and nudges the adults in the audience.  It’s not so much a young adult book, but a book with young adult themes but suitable for all crowds.

I would say that this series is neatly contained within the young adult category only– and that is a good thing too.


The book, which is the third of the series and which starts by guilt-tripping the first-timer about having to catch us up –in a très teenager way– switches between Max’s sardonic, self-assured and jaded first-person narrative and third-person limited omniscient, which follows Fang’s point of view.  Fang is the tall-dark-handsome-brooding counterpart to Max’s fiery teen persona, and Fang and Max luuuuuuurve each other.  Fang is also extra cool because he, ahem, blogs.  He keeps a blog –which you can actually see here, sort of– and it is thanks to his blog, which Max dismisses, that Fang pretty much saves the day.

No, not a spoiler.  Just a matter of fact, because blogs are awesome. (not that I have a bias here or anything)

Max, Fang, Nudge, Angel, Gazzy and Iggy are six children –well, okay… three teenagers and three children, because I know how touchy teens are about being called children– who have grown up as genetically-enhanced wards of a monstrous and evil research company.  They also carry around a little talking dog, whose name is Total, and which Angel –a six-year-old who can not only fly but also control minds– adopted in an earlier installment of the series.  Their mission is to save the world from the certain destruction that will come about from messing too much with human beings and from polluting the earth– both crimes of which the evil research company that begat them is guilty.  Sounds lofty and a teensy bit improbable, apart from the flying-kids bit, but it’s a sweet and worthwhile premise that forces you to listen to some sermonizing along with your action-adventure.

The book reads very quickly and it’s quite a bit of butt-kicking, edge-of-your-seat suspense bit of goodness.  It will have you laughing out loud and shrieking; however, it also — and I blame this on either the overly-simplistic prose for young adults or on the fact that there is most likely a fourth book in the works– has some Mack-truck-ready plot holes.

I don’t like plot holes, and especially not toward the end of the book.  So this was, at best, a bit of a nuisance.  At worst, it left me wondering about things and feeling unfulfilled and wondering if it was just all a plot to keep me tuned for when book number four comes out. 

Honestly, though,I think I enjoyed this book enough to

a) read books one and two
b) read book four and see what the rest of the series brings forth

So, if you have a teenager in your life or are looking for a fun and light series to attempt to fill your Harry Potter void, or you just happen to like stories about genetically enhanced kids with wings, I heartily recommend Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports.  You’ll have a good time remembering those halcyon days when saying "whatever" and rolling your eyes was your most poignant mode of communication.

You’ll be remembering last Thursday, if you’re me.

This entry was published on August 21, 2007 at 8:17 am and is filed under Pop Culture. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Smells Like Genetically-Modified Teen Spirit

  1. It was John Steinbeck. You’re forgiven.
    I’m not so sure I could honestly review anything in the teen genre. I mean, I can’t even read the HP books. Love the movies. Can’t read the books. Something about a book communicating with me on that level sends me round the bend. I’ll be finishing ‘Genome’ today, and be much happier for it.

  2. Great review girl! I was seriously surprised that my 16yo read and liked this. He usually likes heavier reading but it was fun sharing this with him.
    Would you believe I’m signed up for seven more books? LMAO. I’m a book ho. It’s a sickness I know.

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