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Review: Maximum Ride

It took me a while to read James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series.  I don’t read his adult books, they’re just not my type of reading, and I wasn’t sure what to make of his YA book.  But I finally had to read it, to see what all the buzz was about and I liked the book.  I thought it would have great appeal to both boys and girls and would fill a niche for those readers who like adventure.  And while the series doesn’t fly off my shelf, I do have a number of readers that keep coming back for the rest of the series and even re-read earlier volumes.

Maximum Ride
by James Patterson (adapted and artwork by NaRae Lee)
Yen Press, $10.99
Rated T LV
Recommended for ages 12 and up

And I wasn’t sure what to think of the manga adaptation. You see, I have this theory that most things that are adapted are missing something – probably heart – because making a derivative work of someone else’s project is just not the same. Look at all those book adaptations of movies or movie adaptations of books.  It’s never like the original.

So I was pleasantly surprised by the success of the Maximum Ride adaptation.

For those who haven’t read the books, Maximum Ride is a 14-year-old girl who was horribly experimented on and she has bird wings, as well as similar digestive system and needs as a bird. She has 5 brothers and sisters – not blood relatives – but all with similar freak DNA.  They escaped from a school (lab) 2 years before and their mentor disappeared and is presumed dead. The six young bird kids have been surviving on their own every since.  So when the youngest member of their flock, Angel, is kidnapped, Max and her ‘flock’ try to free her.

The story hasn’t gotten any better or worse than the original book. In fact NaRae Lee does a great job of getting the best bits of the story into the manga.  For me the strength of this was the artwork.  NaRae Lee really made Max and her flock come alive.  From the horrible Erasers to the kids soaring through the air. (Though they do hide their wings remarkably well when they’re not in the air.)  Fang does look a little bit too much like a girl to me. But I’ve always had that issue with manga.

The scenes where Max is shot and takes refuge with strangers were particularly well done.  A picture is worth a thousand words as the artwork conveys Max’s fear and apprehension, as well as her shyness and her firs exposure to what it must be like to have a mother.

This book just made it into my library and it hasn’t been checked out yet – (some have actually said they’re rather read the ‘real’ book than the manga) – so I have yet to get teen reaction. But I do believe it’s going to pick up soon and the kids are going to ask me for more.  And to tell the truth, I’m looking forward to more.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. I was disappointed that Max was totally “girly” in the manga version. The depiction was inaccurate and a little demeaning. That said, they are checking out well with our graphics crowd.

  2. ThaliaGrace says:

    yeah, max is too girly.
    And i dont like the fact her hair’s curly.

  3. Esther Keller says:

    I didn’t feel Max was too girly at all. I know that she has a tough-girl exterior in the series, but always felt she was quite feminine. I didn’t really feel the difference.
    On the other hand, if I wasn’t familiar with the books, I would have never known Fang was supposed to be a guy.

  4. i havent goten the maanga version yet but it sounds different

  5. book reader says:

    maximum ride did not take me to long to read. it was a story of suspence. it is 1 of the many books ive read. its just some of the books to read in your free time


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