Monday, August 27, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Maximum Ride, Vol. 1 by James Patterson

Maximum Ride, Vol. 1 (Maximum Ride: The Manga, #1)
by James Patterson; NaRae Lee (Illustrator) 

Genre: Fantasy/Sequential Art (Manga)
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 27, 2009
Source: paperback purchase
Age Rating: 15+

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it’s like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the “flock”—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time... like when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the “School” where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs.

Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare—this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf “Erasers” in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb—now her betrayed and greatest enemy—that her purpose is save the world—but can she? 

My Review

Just to start, I've never read the original books this manga is based on. I really wasn't expecting to like it, but I did. The story starts out with 14-year-old Max Ride living with her younger friends as she protects them all from the School they escaped from four years earlier. They are all experiments in genetic engineering, humans who have been given a bit of bird DNA in order to make them flight-capable. One day, they get attacked by a pack of wolf-men called Erasers and they take the youngest in Max's care, 6-year-old Angel. They all vow to get her back and decide to head out to the School in California from their hideout.

I really liked these characters. Max is kind of impulsive and does get herself into what appears to be a silly mess when she saves a helpless girl from some bullies, but she meets the girl's mother who is a sweet lady and even gives her some cookies and cash. Fang might just be the next oldest character at age 13, he being a very intuitive thinker type, quite the opposite of Max. Then, Iggy is 13 and blind, but can somehow fly around with no trouble, then Nudge age 11 or 12 who is way too talkative, but cute, then gassy Gasman is 9, and doll-like Angel is his little sister at age 6. Silly names, but all of them are unique and have distinctive personalities. Also, they each either have individual goals to achieve, or disadvantages to overcome.

The story is straight-forward and simplistic, but it works. It's just like shonen (boys) manga with a female main character, which is rare. I happen to love shonen manga, so I have to say I enjoyed it. It kept me entertained with plenty of action and scenes that revealed the characters' personalities and relationships with each other. Also, we find out a little about how these kids are able to fly. Just having wings alone wouldn't really allow for human flight.

The writing is done through captions and talk bubbles, and it's an effective way to tell a story as it's happening. I will say that the actual dialogue seemed a little unrealistic—too 'Hollywood.' I would have preferred that they talk like normal American teenagers, but it didn't ruin the experience for me. As for the art, the characters all look way older than they ought to and are super, super pretty, but that's the manga art style in play. Everything is quite beautifully illustrated and I have no complaints about it.

I can't compare it to the novels, but it was quite enjoyable and never took itself too seriously. There are a lot of silly moments meant for comedic relief, which is typical of manga. There's even an intriguing plot twist towards the end and it ends on quite the cliffhanger, although it's really an overused trope. Still, it makes me wonder what's going to happen in the next volume. And, just so you know, this manga volume comprises the first half of Volume 1 of the Maximum Ride novel series.

My score: 4/5 stars. 



  1. So, are you going to read the books now? ;)

    1. @Jenny: Nah, I'm not planning on reading the novels. I've heard too many bad things about the writing and so forth. I might continue to read these graphic novels, though.

  2. I've read the adult novel that the idea for Maximum Ride comes from! I just never realized until now! I think it's called When The Wind Blows. J only remembered because I was trying to look it up as I wanted to mention it's got human experimentation with wings like Black Bird does. Guess you're ahead of me again!

    Sounds like a cute idea for a manga. Doesn't quite have the Eastern manga edge but I would consider reading more books if they were made into mangas.

    1. @Lan: I didn't know Maximum Ride was based on a different novel. I'll have to look that one up. I had this manga for a while now and realized I should read it because of what I'm doing with Black Bird.

  3. Wow, this sounds good! I think of James Patterson and I think of stuff like Along Came the Spider -- didn't realize he had stuff like this out there! This is definitely going on the TBR list.

    1. @Camille: This is a story out of James P.'s ghost-writing factory, so I think that's why it's so different. This story is good as presented through the manga medium.


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