School’s Out Forever

Cover of School's Out Forever by James Patterson. Art of a teen boy in sunglasses by Larry Rostant.
Art by Larry Rostant. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: School’s Out Forever

Series: Maximum Ride **obligatory spoilers for previous book warning. Actually, I don’t know what I could spoil from the first book.** (Also get a load of this series with unmatched titles. The 90s were a strange place, y’all.)

Author: James Patterson

Nutshell: Maximum Ride and her winged brothers and sisters are still on the run. But when Fang gets injured, they have to take him to the hospital. And the FBI is called. Agent Anne Walker is in charge of the bird-kids, and she’s got a very odd proposal: Come stay at her house for a little while, let her ask some questions, and stop being on the run.

Stop being on the run. Max wants to, but she’s not sure how. Hesitantly, the flock accepts Anne Walker’s offer, and they stay at her house. Try out being normal kids. Anne even sends them to school, and they start to make friends. Get in trouble with the principal. Go on dates. Normal kid stuff.

But Max can’t stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. When they find that the principal is hiding files from the school’s past, that seems like the sound of it landing. Time to go before the shockwave hits. Then they realize that the principal is the least of their problems.

Read-alikes: Really, if I were you, I’d read Growing Wings by Laurel Winter, or for more of the saving-the-world angle, try The Maze Runner by James Dashner or Blackout by Robison Wells.

Ramblings: I’m trying, guys. I’m really trying. It’s not that I’m not enjoying these books. It’s that I feel like I’m reading a discovery-writer’s NaNo project. There are all these interesting characters, but the plotting feels for all the world like the author is saying, “I need more words, but I don’t want to get to any of the cool stuff yet, so I’ll throw in another fight scene, and another scene where the Voice says cryptic things to guide Max. Okay, I do need to leave a few breadcrumbs of clues as to the REALLY AWESOME overall plot I’m building.”

As a friend of mine says, “I don’t have enough breadcrumbs to get home.”

And all the chapters are less than five pages long.

My favorite part of this book is the scene where the kids get interrogated by the FBI and totally derail them in six very entertaining ways. Each of them understands that the FBI would be less than no help to them, and so they slip through the questions as neatly as you please.

I am starting to think, given a scene in which Max sees some of the higher ups that are chasing her arguing, that a good amount of the schizophrenia of this book is deliberate. So I am going to read another, to see if things start to become clear. I do care about these characters, just enough. We’ll see.

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