We start off in part one called ‘flock fright’ before going into a nameless chapter one. Great, Jimmy thinks this book is so large it needs to be broken up into parts. That’s an insult to the target audience and though the chapters aren’t named the parts are. That’ll cost you a few points Jim. You’d better perform flawlessly from here on out or you’ll be going home without a medal.
Jim is at least better at drawing out a sense of urgency than Otis or Paopao, not that it’s saying much. We start off running as Max is escaping from the “Erasers”, god that’s such a stupid name, as hard as she can. No, Jim hasn’t told us her gender but pretending I don’t know makes it the elephant in the room that’s eating my damn books with a side of barbecue sauce while it passes gas like Louie Armstrong is playing out its ass.
So Max is running away from school and the “Erasers”. Why Jim named them that, I don’t know. Maybe he was going to call them the Wolfpack but then was worried people would think about Zach Galifianakis wearing nothing but a jock strap and no one wants that. She tells us that the “Erasers” are half wolf, half men and often armed but always ready to kill.
Oh, now it’s exciting. You know, unless there’s no context. You know, like why they’d want to kill Max. Maybe she tore the face off of one of the wolves? That might make it a little bit of a moral gray area though and that’s not for this book.
Anyway Max tells us she can run away from men but not big dogs. Oh, am I getting just a little hint of Sueness? Let’s see, better than humans and probably better than the wolves. Yeah, judges are saying that’s a red flag.
Max is running along barefoot and through a wooded area with the Wolfpack on her heels. And suddenly she comes to a cliff edge. Oh no! What’s a protagonist to do? If you said jump, then you too have been reading from Bob’s Big Book of Cliches. Oh and she spreads her wings and flies. Yes, Max has wings and she can fly. Why she waited until just then to do it, I don’t know. I guess this “school” she’s escaping for is for the “special” kids.
A moment after she takes off, Max notices a red dot on her and realizes the Wolfpack is aiming for her. No worries though audience, Max pretty much just ignores it.
One of them, hairy-faced, fangs dripping, raised his gun. A red dot of light appeared on my torn nightgown. Not today, you jerk, I thought, veering sharply west so the sun would be in his hate-crazed eyes.
James? Sit down and let’s chat for a second. What kind of gun is he holding? Make and model isn’t important, you don’t need to say it’s a H&K MR556A1 or anything. That’s more of a Tom Clancy detail anyway. But you could say whether or not it’s a pistol or a rifle or even a shotgun. And before you ask, Jim, yes a shotgun can be equipped with a laser sight.
That nitpick aside there are still a few questions I have here. Like, why is he carrying a gun with a laser sight in the middle of the day? Why not a red dot or a reflex sight? Whoever controls the Wolfpack knows they can keep up with Max. So they would probably equip them with the sights I mentioned because they work well in a wide variety of situations and are good for mid to close range.
And is that one wolf the only one with a gun or do they all have them? And even if Max flies at the sun why can’t he just fire into the sky in her general direction? Sure he may not hit anything but he just might and then she’s hosed. And if they all have guns and start firing, the odds are increased that the Duckhunt dog will pop up with a Max in hand, rather than laugh mockingly at the screen.
Anyway, that’s chapter’s over before you can sneeze. You know, Patty O’Bestseller, I used to be a young adult reader and I had no patience for chapters that were over before you could get comfortable in your chair. This strikes me as the kind of book you force on kids who don’t normally read that way they can tear through ten chapters in a day a feel like a member of the literate society. Too bad it’s not that impressive.
‘Yeah, I stayed up late reading last night. I had to stop after twelve chapters though.’ ‘Oh wow, what are you reading? An epic fantasy series like A Song of Fire and Ice?’ ‘No, it’s a thriller.’ ‘Is it the Relic, perhaps?’ ‘Uh, it’s Maximum Ride.’ ‘Ha ha! Oh, Terry. That’s why I like having you around. You’re always cracking jokes.’
So Max wakes up to kick off this chapter, which is also so short that if it went any faster I’d be offering it some desensitizing cream and suggesting counseling. It turns out the whole sequence was all a dream which Max has a lot. Then Max has the guts to complain about how lame it is.
Geez, I hated that dream. It was always the same: running away from the School, being chased by Erasers and dogs, me falling off a cliff, then suddenly whoosh, wings, flying, escaping. I always woke up feeling a second away from death.
‘God, post traumatic stress disorder is so lame. I wish I’d never been artificially created in a lab.’ For someone who’s supposed to have had a near death experience, Max sure is a petulant sod. I get that she’s supposed to be a normal teenager except…but all that goes out the window once you say she grew up in some lab.
Blah blah blah, boring details about laundry that intrudes just long enough to let us know that Jim pretty much just puts down whatever comes to mind and his editor doesn’t bother cleaning up much afterwards. Why should she when he’s a bestseller?
Max and the other kids, presumably also able to fly, all live in some house on a mountain that leans a little over a cliff. They’re apparently free…to wear sunscreen. Oh wait, no they’re free not to live in cages which Max says she’ll get to.
Or you could skip it. We get it, really we do Jimmy. Bad scientists caging humans for experiments. That’s the backstory and it’s not like it hasn’t been done a thousand times, on the SyFy channel alone, or anything. You’re really not going to add anything to this plotline but you’re determined to jump through all the requisite hoops, aren’t you?
They used to have an adult looking after them, a Jeb Batchelder, who disappeared two years ago. Everybody knows he’s dead but they just don’t talk about it. Ok, I’ll bite Jim, when does Jeb reappear and shock everyone by still having a pulse?
So they live life without any rules, like no bedtime and no school. Luckily they have the “Internet, because otherwise we wouldn’t know nothin’.” How they have internet, heat, electricity or food without paying for it is a mystery. Also, houses in the mountains tend to be expensive and owned by people who either live there all the time or have enough money that they can visit there every once in awhile. But I’m sure these details will be hand waved in subsequent chapters.
For the moment though, someone who sounds sleepy is behind Max greeting her. And that’s the end of that chapter. Yup, this is certainly a thriller. I can really see why Jim earns the big bucks.