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Saving the World (Maximum Ride, Book 3), by James Patterson (Read by Valentina DeAngelis)

The "bird kids" are back in the air, this time in an airplane, as they take their quest to save the planet to Europe. This is a book of revelations-Itex is discovered to have a sinister interest in the school and in all the mutant life forms that the school has produced. By using genetic engineering, Itex plans to populate the planet with only superior human beings, and that means reducing the current population by half. Max discovers the true identities of both her mother and her father, and realizes that she is not the unloved freak she's imagined herself to be. Iggy, Gazzy, Angel, Nudge, Fang and Max learn to appreciate the unique superhuman talents each of them brings to their unusual mutant family. Once mortal enemies, Max and Ari form a bond of friendship that lets them work together to defeat some of the evil forces that shaped their tragic beginnings.

Patterson had originally called this the third book and final book of a trilogy, but a fourth book followed. This book wraps up loose ends and discloses many secrets before its satisfying but unexpected conclusion. While this book is packed with suspense, terror and edge of the seat situations, Patterson delves deeply into the human intellectual and emotional traits of the characters. Max is seen as an earnest and determined warrior in the race to save the planet, but she's also shown to have the same doubts and insecurities that any teenage girl might have. The other characters act on their impulses and dreams, too. In fact, a disagreement between Fang and Max causes the rest of the flock to choose sides, and the flock splits up over the dispute.

Valentina DeAngelis returns as the voice of Max and as the narrator of this audio book. Like the familiarity of an old friend's voice, her narration brings to mind earlier encounters with the flock. She creates a Max who is both fearful and intrepid, who is playful and driven, and who is loving and reserved. Each of the other characters speaks with a distinctive voice, creating an ensemble cast of 6 actors in one reader. Maximum Ride's latest adventure is a thrill fest of battles of strength with technology-enhanced combatants and battles of wits with malevolent authoritarian adversaries. Young adults will cheer the rebellion of Max and her friends, and adults will celebrate the pure and innocent determination with which they exercise that rebellion. An ideal book for either group listening as a family or for solitary listening, this book is highly recommended.

Ruth Mormon

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