All of the snow that we've had piled upon us this winter inspires different reactions from different people. You might see it as a chance to ski, or to sled on the hill at Andover High School. There's nothing better to me than sitting in a cozy chair and enjoying a good read. Recently, I grabbed a book that I read a little while ago and really enjoyed, and think others would enjoy too. It's "Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment" by James Patterson, the first book in a currently four-book series.

"Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment" tells the story of six people: Maximum (or Max), Fang, Iggy, The Gasman, Nudge and Angel. They are all 15 and younger, but live together in California without parents. They aren't related (at least as far as they know), but they are united by one thing: Their parents gave them to a lab called "The School" when they were babies to be part of an experiment where scientists grafted avian DNA into their human DNA. They act like normal kids, talk like normal kids, and basically look like normal kids, except for one thing: they have wings.

Along with their wings, some of the group have strange, unexplainable powers. Angel, for example, can read minds. As young kids, the six manage to escape from The School.

At the beginning of this book Angel is stolen from the group and taken back to The School, so it can test her mind-reading abilities. Max and the others must find out where Angel is located, and then rescue her. Guided by a mysterious and cryptic voice in Max's head, they make their way across the country, fighting human-wolf hybrids called Erasers, meeting new friends and new enemies, and discovering more information about The School, their parents and who they are.

The plot of this book is impressive. Patterson deftly mixes a powerful story of self-discovery about people protecting the ones they love with a fast-paced action drama. He creates a perfect equilibrium, making sure that the story doesn't move too slowly for fans of the action side, but isn't too over-the-top for people looking more for substance.

However, the part of "Maximum Ride" that impressed me the most was how well Patterson captured the voice of the protagonist and narrator, Max. Most authors do not always have the easiest time effectively making teenage characters sound like, well, teenagers. Patterson has it down. Max is witty, tough, hilariously sarcastic, and a smart-alec — just like 95 percent of the teenagers out there. Without Max's voice, this book probably wouldn't be as nearly as engaging or entertaining. But luckily she is there, and the entire story is peppered with her cunning, bravery, and best of all, blistering sarcasm.

The other characters are all well put-together, from the brooding, secretive Fang, to the overly talkative, bubbly Nudge. But Max is the one who livens up the story and holds it together.

My only problem with this book is minor: the action starts very quickly, and leaves you little time to get your bearings before you're thrown headlong into the plot. However, that doesn't lower my enjoyment of the book much, and I am still giving "Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment" a 9.5 out of 10. This book is funny, exciting, action-packed and well written. There is some violence in the book, so I would say it is appropriate for anyone 12 and older. Readers who enjoys this book should check out the rest of the series as well.


Harry Wood is an Andover resident and student at Brooks School, a private high school.

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