Because Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment follows the perspective of the flock members, it's full of smart, sassy observations—after all, these are some bright, funny kids. For instance, check out Max's observations when she swoops down and sees those jerk boys picking on Ella:
God, what creeps. Armed creeps. One of them was holding a shotgun loosely in the crook of his arm. America, right to bear arms, yada, yada, yada. How old were these yahoos? Did their parents know they had guns?
It gets so tiring, this strong-picking-on-the-weak stuff. It was the story of my life—literally—and it seemed to be a big part of the outside world too. I was sick of it, sick of guys like these, stupid and bullying. (21.5-6)
And because so much happens in this several-hundred-pages-long book, the tone is super snappy—it goes from one event to the next without pausing for a breath. It has to, really; otherwise a lot less would be able to happen within these pages. Sure, the book's long, but over the course of it, the flock members are kidnapped, taken to the School, go on a cross-country flight, break into the Institute, and more—all in the course of one book. And that's just the beginning.
There's no shortage of heart-stopping action and adventure in The Angel Experiment. Max and the rest of the flock members are always fighting for their lives, going on super long flights (not in planes) across the country, and basically kicking some serious Eraser butt. They even have some serious mysteries to solve in terms of their origins and breaking into the Institute. If all of this fighting, law-breaking, and evading of villains isn't an adventure, then we don't know what is.
Even though Max and her friends have to deal with some pretty grown-up issues (like distrusting the government and trying to stay alive), they're still a bunch of teenagers and kids. Because of this, their perspective is decidedly youthful, and the book skews toward a younger audience. The simple language and relatable teenage issues (like first kisses and wanting both freedom and parental security) is totally relatable for adolescent readers.
Since there are more human-animal hybrids in The Angel Experiment than actual human beings, we think it's safe to say that this book falls squarely in the genre of science fiction. The flock members and the Erasers are all science experiments that have been created at the School with complex DNA splicing. They don't know why the scientists are experimenting on human DNA in this way and what the end goal is—but the flock members do know that they don't want to stick around to find out.
The title of the book, The Angel Experiment, is about as straightforward as they come. It refers to all of the flock members who live with Max, since they are all scientific experiments. The kids are human-avian hybrids and can fly, so they're otherwise known as "angels," even though the scientists treat them more like naughty pets than higher beings.
In addition, angel could refer to the character Angel, who is one of the most fascinating experiments in the study. She's the one who got the extra cool powers, like being able to read minds and influence people's actions, after all. These powers play key parts in the plot, helping the flock along on their quest.
Finally, mentioning the experiment up front sets the reader up for the book's science fiction slant, and the expectation that there will be some sort of scientific shenanigans within. Readers certainly won't be disappointed, either—there are plenty of shady, fascinating studies going on at the mysterious facilities in California and New York City.
The Angel Experiment ends in an open-ended way, with the whole flock flying off to Washington D.C. in order to find their parents. It's the sort of ending that makes perfect sense for the first book in a series, and Max sums up her complicated feelings about their next adventure the following way:
When we got to Washington DC, it would be either incredibly great or a totally heartbreaking disaster. (E.7)
She's setting the reader up for all of the ups and downs that are to come later in the series. Things could go great… but there will probably still be some obstacles and unexpected dangers thrown into the mix. That's okay, though, because this flock is more than capable of handling it.
The School might be the place where the flock members come from, but it's the furthest thing from a real home that they can think of. When Max brings up the fact that they're going to have to go back to retrieve Angel, no one is pleased—especially not Max:
"Map of a secret facility," I said, feeling my stomach clench. I'd hoped I'd never have to see it again, never break that wax seal. "In California. The School." (10.23)
The School is the secret facility where scientists carry out experiments on DNA splicing to create hybrids like the flock members and the Erasers. Even though it's called a "school," the flock members didn't exactly get a formal education or proper childhood there. Instead, they were locked into dog crates and put through a series of painful and uncomfortable tests. Not surprisingly, they're not willing to go back to that life. It would probably be more accurate to call this particular facility the Prison instead of the School.
The flock members go to New York City out of necessity (it's where the Institute is), but they immediately take to it like ducks to water. Max is completely amazed by how alive the city is:
Basically, if you put fence around New York City, you'd have the world's biggest nontraveling circus.
When we woke up at dawn the next morning, there were already joggers, bicyclers, even horseback riders weaving their way along the miles and miles of trails in Central Park. We slipped down out of the trees and casually wandered the paths. (76.1-2)
The great thing about New York City is that it's chaotic, hectic, and full of diversity—in other words, it's the perfect place for a bunch of mutant kids to hide out and evade their captors. They describe New York City as a lush, exciting place where they can blend in for the first time in their lives. In a bustling city where everyone is a freak, the kids can feel like normal people for once—and it's a wonderful feeling.
The Angel Experiment may be a lengthy book, but the language is simple and clear—even when the plot gets a little convoluted and action-packed. As long as you can wrap your mind around the very cool idea of human-animal hybrids, you should pretty much be good to go for this one. And if you like exciting twists and turns, then fasten your seatbelt, because this ride is for you.
The writing in Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment is extremely clear and easy to follow. It's a good thing, too, because some pretty crazy things happen over the course of the novel, like wolf mutants dropping out of helicopters and wild car chases—and crashes:
The van tumbled heavily out onto the road, with bone-jolting bumps. As soon as the front tires hit asphalt, I gunned the motor again—
Just as a sedan leaped out in front of us.
I hit it head-on at sixty miles an hour. (57.18-20)
The clarity of the writing style makes this wild ride easier to follow. By keeping things clear and simple, we can keep track of all of the moving parts in the novel, be they characters, plot points, or actual twists and turns in the road.
There are two narrative techniques employed throughout The Angel Experiment. For the most part, it's in the first person with Max as the central narrator—meaning that we get the whole run-down from Max's perspective. For us as readers, this helps us really care about Max. Her experience is central to our reading experience, plus we get to know her best by hanging out inside her head.
But whenever the flock is apart (like when Iggy and the Gasman are left behind while the other flock members rush off to save Angel), the book sometimes switches to a third person omniscient narrator. These sections allow us to see what the other flock members are doing and thinking when they're away from Max, so it's not a complete mystery. Doing this makes sure that the story, while structured around Max primarily, maintains its allegiance to the flock—just like Max does.
The book opens up by introducing us to Max—the main character—and her motley crew of avian-human hybrid friends. The exposition shows readers how the hybrid children live at their house, and how they're constantly on the run from nefarious scientists and Erasers (wolf-human hybrids), providing valuable background information so that the rest of the story isn't too discombobulating. It also sets up tension: The children aren't allowed to live in peace—not if the Erasers and the scientists from the School have anything to say about it, anyway.
Things get a bit hairy when the Erasers find out where the flock is living and swoop down to kidnap the youngest flock member, Angel. She's the one with the craziest powers, too, since she can actually read people's minds. Because the flock members see each other as family and not just as buddies, they all agree that they have to find Angel—even if it means setting foot into the School. They fly to the School and bust Angel out, although it requires a bit of elbow grease and even some grand theft auto.
After the gang leaves the School, Angel drops a huge bomb on them: While she was being held hostage at the School, she was able to glean from reading some scientists' minds that there is a place in New York City that has more information on all of the flock members—and their biological families. Whoa.
Since the avian-human hybrid kids have never grown up with a family, they're intrigued and feel like they have to go check this out. They all fly off to New York City, but on the trip Max starts having these crazy brain attacks where random visions flash in her head and a voice starts talking to her, leading her towards the Institute—the place where they can find the info Angel knows exists. It's more than a little bizarre and creepy, but more importantly, from this moment forward, nothing can ever be the same. That voice just won't leave Max be.
In the Big Apple, the kids are busy trying to hunt down the Institute while the Erasers are busy hunting down the kids. Good times. There are several altercations and close calls, but eventually the voice inside Max's head (which keeps insisting that Max is destined to save the world) leads them to the basement of an office building, where they find all of the School's files stored.
They grab the files, but in the process, they discover that a bunch of other hybrids are being kept in cages there. Obviously, they can't leave the other hybrid kids cooped up like that, so Max makes the decision to release them all. With the information about their families in hand, though, things are starting to wind down for Max and the flock.
In the end, the flock manages to escape the Erasers with all of their personal information, even though Max kills Ari (one of the Erasers who may or may not be her biological brother) in the process. All of the kids have information on their biological parents except for Max, who tries not to feel too disappointed. They discover that most of their biological families are grouped around Washington D.C. (leading to the idea that this whole hybrid project might be a government operation), and so Max makes the executive decision that they'll go there first.
Does the book wrap up all the loose threads? Nope—but so it goes in a series.