Friday, August 10, 2012

Nevermore Book Review (BONUS!)

First, it's unfair that people who order books get them shipped on the same day they can be purchased on the store. Nevermore came out on the 6th, and they didn't start shipping until the 6th. Therefore, I got it on the 8th, when I could have easily, two days earlier, picked up a copy from Idaho Falls. Heck, I could have walked there, like a really nerdy Mad Max, and picked up a copy faster than it was shipped to me.

Here is a spoiler-free review (followed by a spoiler-filled one)

I would have looked like Mel Gibson afterwards, too.
Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride blah-de-blah subtitles are for people who pay attention (I think it was Adventure), by James Patterson. The wait was too long, so I picked up the fourth Sookie Stackhouse book that was filling my shelf. So, it was because of that, when I finished Dead I Forget The Name Because They All Sound The Same And It's Hard To Keep Track, and the stupid Mad-Max-inducing shipping time, I didn't get to read it until the 9th.

The book is completely silvery, looking pretty, though I have to ask why Max is grey-haired, but probably just going with a general theme. There's a weird little sticker on my copy as well, that states "RIP: Maximum Ride." I'll leave it on, for posterity's sake. There's also some weird red-edged, super-white, high-quality pages at the end advertising/previewing his next book in a new series.

So, with some trepidation, I popped on my wing-themed jewelry, grabbed a drink, hopped on the couch, and settled on to read Nevermore, finishing it in about 24 hours.

Nevermore pops you right in where Angel left off. I reread Angel before Sookie, because it's been forever.

If I were to sum up the book in a single word, it would be this: Again.

Everything happens. Again. All of the big reveals that happened in the first seven book. Again. All of those gasp-inducing moments want you to gasp when they happen. Again. All the suspicions that came to light will come to light in the very same way. Again. Even the book itself can't help but say "again" once in a while, because it was so blatantly obvious. Even James Patterson himself admits it's the same things over again in this quote from an interview USA Today: "I'm starting to repeat myself. I still enjoy Max. But I'm not as attracted to the other characters, try as I may."

Don't worry Max, Nevermore makes
everyone prematurely grey.
James Patterson had a great story going when he started the series. Then, when it got popular, he decided to pull it to a 90 degree angle. Then, when I suspect the fans whined, he had to pull it back in the original direction. The problem was, we were then headed down a different road. Yeah, it's in the same direction, but now we're one block over from the road we'd been going.

In my spoiler-free review I won't tell you who Max ends up with, Fang or Dylan, but I will say the whole thing is B.S. I feel like Dylan was thrown in there to make the Obligatory Twilight-esque Love Triangle. You can't avoid it in YA books anymore. It's impossible, and it makes me sick. I wasn't happy.

"My tiny, book-marking body
is one big gob of pain."
I rolled my eyes twice within the first 40 pages, then a third time, several groans, and then had the urge to throw the book across the room. Max isn't funny anymore, she cries a lot, and she's too distracted weeping and worrying about her boyfriends that she actually gets surprise-attacked in the middle of a battle. If you know anything about the series, you'd be vomiting rage right now. Do you see that crumpled piece of paper on my copy of the book? That's my bookmark.

I was disgusted with the whole thing. When a series wraps up, it's supposed to tie together all the threads still left dangling. Here are some of the things that will never be answered:

Eeeeeeewwwwwwww.  ~Me
Their powers: Fang being able to camouflage, it's mentioned once early in the series and is never used again. Gazzy throwing voices and imitating them, is used once or twice for comedic effect and never used again. Nudge's computer hacking skills and metal use, the metal power is used once, on a lock, despite the fact that the characters know how to pick locks. Total jumping really high, where did that go? Iggy slowly becoming able to see. Iggy can see shadows when the world around him is white (snow, for example) and he can instantly recognize what color something is by touching it. It's never mentioned again.

The flock's parents, the discovery of which seemed very important and is almost the driving force behind the story of the original trilogy, is never mentioned again.

Ella's note in the sand in Angel, the note that says I was meant to have wings. Remember that? It felt kinda important? Yeah, apparently everyone, even Max, suddenly get amnesia about that whole thing, and Ella just Conveniently Appears at the very end, like nothing happened.

Something that has bugged me continuously since book 3 were the clones of everyone. Don't remember? It was one of those things that sort of hinted it was going to be Very Important, and then never happened. The whole flock were hiding out, and seeing Fang II, Iggy II, Nudge II, Gazzy II and Angel II all of them come walking out of a place, and everyone is freaking out, and then it's never mentioned again.

Hate you so much...

Here are some specific things that bugged me.

Total. I hate Total (and not the breakfast cereal). I've already mentioned it before, about how he's that irritating voice in so many shows, or the character that's thrown in for cutsie points. You can honestly remove any and all mention of Total from the entire series and it doesn't change it at all. He has no plot-value and is only around to make the occasional failed-witty one-liner. If ever there was a dog I wanted to punt, it would be Total. Why did James Patterson feel the need to include Total in the first place? What purpose did he serve?

The again part. As I said, there were a lot of again moments. I'll mention more in the spoiler-filled section, but here's one I can tell you without ruining anything. They decide to go to school. Why? Apparently it was Dylan's idea, and because they want to feel normal. In Book 2 they already went to school, and I think it was well-established that it was a disaster. So why do it all over again? What are they hoping to gain from it? Education? No, that was already established. Social interaction? I'm homeschooled. If anyone is in a similar position to Max and the flock, that would be me, and I can honestly say that isn't the reason they're going to school.

This one might initially seem like a spoiler, but it's not, because it doesn't go anywhere. In case you haven't read any of the books, Iggy is blind. He's already had a meltdown about it before, but otherwise it's been used as self-depreciating humor on occasion. During a scene in school they're in the cafeteria eating. Nudge is talking about fashion to all the generic fashion-obsessed schoolgirls, when suddenly Iggy comes up and talks about everyone being blind. Everyone in the room is blind and he insists that they are. Things get awkward. Then the chapter ends and the next one picks up with a different scene. What happened? Was Iggy freaking out? Having a meltdown about being blind (again)? Was he giving the girls a hard time?

Another one similar to the Iggy part. Nudge feels like a freak because she's scorned by some guy, who then makes her a social outcast at school. She mopes, gets angry, and then it's suggested that she's going to try and have her wings removed when she throws a part of scissors at a picture of herself with wings. After that, the serious message of self-mutilation for the reason of being accepted versus loving who you are is never brought up again.

Another part with the school. Everyone freaks out about something, and decide to abandon class in the middle of it to try and escape. The very next moment, Dylan is going back in the room to grab the textbook he forgot.

(Fire apparently being a crappy book.)

"Hang on, I know there's an earthquake happening, but I have to grab my textbook."
"Wait, I know the building is on fire, but I have to get my textbook."
"Just a minute, I know someone was shooting at us, but I forgot my textbook."

That is not okay.

"All up in my grill" was used again, and I am disgusted. No one with any self-respect uses the phrase "All up in my grill" to describe someone getting in their face. What is a grill? A grill is tacky plating someone has done to the front of their teeth, typically done by people like Flava Flav and other rappers (if Flava Flav is not a rapper, this should show you how much I don't pay attention and/or care.)

Step 3: Mourn
(Note Nevermore is conspicuously absent.)

Got your attention? Yeah, it got mine pretty good too when one of the characters (Ratchet) said it. He called one of the characters (not saying who for spoiler reasons) a mofo. What does mofo mean, children? That's right! Is it appropriate in a kid's/teens book? Has that kind of language ever been used in the Maximum Ride series before? Then what is it doing in here now?

I'm not usually one that throws accusations of racism around, but it feels pretty demeaning for only one of the two black characters in the entire series to be a street-thug, swearing badass "mofo" who came from a gang.

Speaking of strong language, I feel like at some point the series was held back a little to make it more kid-friendly, but is still used in weird ways. In the same book where there is darn and crap and kick-butt, there is also mofo and whup-ass and sexual tension. What age range is this series aiming for anymore?

The first three books were good. Then 4 and 5 were crap. Since then James Patterson has been very obviously trying to correct for his mistakes before wrapping up the series. What's left is the scarred victim of this car wreck of a story. I can still see the soul of Maximum Ride that I loved so much, but it's pretty dim an buried. Nevermore should have been called Nevermind, with everything that's happened and failed to happen.

It is a great example of how an author makes a series chug forward for too long, in the name of fans and money, until he's absolutely sick of the characters, the fictional world, and everything in it. He should have stopped when he wanted to keep going, only then would there still have been love in it.

Because of this, I didn't even read the preview to his next book, and I will never buy another book from him ever again.

And now, my spoiler-filled parts of the review:


Here is my spoil-filled parts of the review. (Oh, and the word "spoil" starts to look and sound weird when you use it too much.)


Max, Fang and Dylan.

Never, in a story love triangle, have I ever facepalmed so hard. I think I'm going to need surgery. Probably the previously worst love triangle I've ever read was Twilight. During the entire story Bella obviously chose Edward, it was clear as day through the series. In the Maximum Ride series, Dylan comes along in Book 6 (I think) and exists purely as the second boyfriend corner of the love triangle and for fangirls to argue Team Dylan or Team Fang while I scream cancer-infested rage vomit in their direction.

Let's step back for a moment, back to Twilight. What if Edward only existed in the entire series, and Jacob only appeared in the story halfway through Breaking Dawn, and the love triangle happened? Other than making for an even worse plot-less story, it would be pretty obvious how it would turn out.

So let me just say it right here and now: Max choses Fang.

I'll admit, if I had to pick one of the two, I was rooting for Dylan. Fang is a quiet, barely-speaking, emo-dressed, long-haired, dark-and-handsome cliche. Fang is the guy girls fall for, have one passionate hunky date with, and then he leaves her for someone skankier. Dylan is bright, happy, open, honest, caring, devoted. Dylan is the guy girls date once they have sense, marry him, and have 2.3 children with a white picket fence in the yard (it's called real life, girls.)

I said menstrual, not minstrel.
Fang abandons Max and the flock at the end of Book 6, figuring he and Max were both too hard-headed and leader-like to get along much longer. Max is devastated and menstrual about it. Dylan is there, though, and he's kind and loving and all of those other things I said in the paragraph above. Max falls for him head over heels in the little time she's known him because that's what a great guy he is (Fang was around for 15 years, for example, and they were like siblings growing up together). Dylan takes her out on dates, he builds her the tree house of her dreams, he says so many nice things to her.

Fang and Max stay separate through Book 7, only coming together at the end to fight together, and then separate. Nevermore (Book 8) has them separate most of the time too. Then, the moment Fang shows up again, Max only has a moment or two of triangle-feelings, and then starts smoochy-facing Fang talking about how they will be together forever.


Dylan is around, and Max is head over heels for him, then Fang shows up and suddenly it's gone. The end. What about Max II though? That leads me to Fang's Gang.

Fang gets together his own group called his gang in Book 7. In the beginning of Book 8 he's betrayed by the two girls suddenly and for no logical reason (I would expect some foreshadowing), and Fang chases the other two off. None of them are mentioned again. This little part screams at me that Patterson had started Fang's Gang with something in mind and then scrapped it, deciding to tie up that plot thread in the stupidest, most convenient way possible.

That leaves Maya/Max II. Maya was looking to be a rather deep character that had a lot of potential, and Fang was falling for her. With love triangles, there's always a Second Girl that comes along so the reader doesn't have to feel bad about the Jacob being left in the dust of the happy couple. Maya, I get the feeling, was supposed to be that Second Girl.

I also get the feeling that Maya was also scrapped, as well as the Dylan romance with Max, because too many fans wanted to see "Fax", fans name-cramming title for Max and Fang (of which induces more rage-vomit.) Which means that James Patterson is a weak, pathetic author who folds under the pressure of his whiny, girl-fans instead of standing strong and writing what he wants to write.

Max's mom. If you haven't read up to book 3, then you're probably not going to read it anyway, and don't have to worry about spoilers (why are you reading this review in the first place then?). I know this is pretty early on, revealing that Dr. Martinez was Max's mom, but it still bugs me. Why did Martinez end up being Max's mom? That's way too coincidental. In Book 1 Max lands in someone's back yard, and that person is her mom. That's like driving to Portland, Oregon. Walking down a neighborhood street, ringing a doorbell. Bam, those are your real parents answering the door.

Max's mom is also evil...ish, in Nevermore. She's absent the entire book when, towards the end, it's revealed that she's evil. Then, when Max and Martinez are face-to-face, she says "Oh, I was being mind-controlled." And everything is okay despite the fact that, normally, Max wouldn't believe a second of it if Max didn't have author-induced brain damage at this point.

Again points:

Jeb is evil again. That's not really a surprise. It's okay for a character to be evil, then good (and in reverse). Heck, it's even acceptable for a character to go evil-good-haha-I-really-was-evil-all-along. But when a character goes evil-good-evil-good-evil-good so many times you've lost track, there's something wrong.

How many times can a character be resurrected? There is an unspoken rule that says once. And even then, you'd better have a good reason for it. Ari is resurrected not once, not twice, but three times in the entire series (if you count Jeb abandoning him in the first place as one. I do.) What does Ari do in Book 8? He's in two scenes. He kills Maya, and is then killed later. That's it. He could have been a generic badguy and it would have actually made more sense. Instead we're treated by "Gasp! Ari! Again!" for a few pages. I had to hold onto my eyelids, my eyes were rolling so fast they nearly flew out and rolled across the floor.

Not only Ari is revived, but he's evil. There's that good-evil-good-evil thing again. This time, though, I managed to keep track. This is the literal number of times he waffled, if you count him being good as a kid. Even then there's no "Haha I was evil all along" he's evil for the convenience of being evil this time.

Erasers are back, too, for no logical reason. It's never explained, and they all die when Ari dies. That's it. James Patterson vomited up favorite things from the first 3 books just to try and make readers feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The Voice. In the first trilogy, it's revealed that Jeb is the mysterious Voice that talks in Max's head. After that, the series all but said "No, wait, he lied, this is a different Voice!" Halfway through Nevermore the Voice suddenly shows up, speaking to everyone. Everyone listens to it, doing everything it says because, well, Max always did what it said.

Wait a minute, no she didn't.

When the Voice first showed up, Max fought it tooth and nail. There were times when she sometimes did the opposite of what it told her. So why is everyone suddenly acting like Max always listened to it, including Max herself?

The Voice is revealed at the end of the book as Angel, but that doesn't make sense because there were things the Voice said and did that Angel couldn't have. At the end of one of the books it's even revealed that Angel has her own Voice speaking to her. Angel wouldn't have to, which suggests it's just another of Patterson's obviously scrapped plans.

It even feels like Patterson scrapped ideas within the span of Nevermore itself. Angel is kidnapped, stuffed in a dog crate, and experimented on (again) and the flock rush off to rescue her (say it with me people: again). During that time she's operated on. Once on her brain, which is never mentioned again, once on her eyes resulting in blindness like Iggy, and her wings are clipped so she can never fly again. However, when Max finds her she is neither blind nor are her wings clipped. She was imagining it. How. Convenient. We come back to Nevermore being called Nevermind.

Maximum Ride starts out as a survival adventure story, but the series eventually evolves into having to save the world. First it's about saving the world from global warming and pollution. All those poor little oil-slicked duckies make Max and the flock so sad! Then, it turns into the potential for a virus. Humans pollute too much, therefore they must die! We're so evil. We're a pimple on Mother Earth! Several groups rise and fall, remaining inconsistent for the rest of the series. It stays with the whole virus apocalypse threat until the very, very end when, apparently out of nowhere, a meteor hits earth and wipes everyone off the face of the planet except for people like Max and the flock. Nevermind the fact that scientists would have seen the meteor coming from (literally) miles and miles away, and that it should have been even briefly hinted at before happening.

Thus concludes my spoiler-filled review.

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