A Maximum Ride Novel


By James Patterson

Formats and Prices




$9.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 16, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

James Patterson’s bestselling Maximum Ride series is back . . . and Max and her flock are ready for their most daring rescue mission yet.

Someone — or something — is decimating ships and sea life off Hawaii’s coast, and Max and her flock find themselves sucked into the Navy’s top-secret investigation of the catastrophe. Their objective: Rescue Max’s activist mom from a wicked subterranean enemy. The hitch: They must dive deep into dark waters, where gruesome evil dwells . . . and for high-flying Maximum Ride, could there be anything more terrifying than being trapped in the great abyss?

With high-flying thrills, this soaring adventure takes Maximum Ride and the Flock into terrifying new territory — fans, hold your breath!


Copyright © 2009 by James Patterson

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at

First eBook Edition: March 2009

Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-04074-7

The James Patterson Pageturners

The Maximum Ride Novels

The Angel Experiment

School's Out — Forever

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

The Final Warning


The Daniel X Novels

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (with Michael Ledwidge)

Daniel X: Watch the Skies (with Ned Rust)

Also by James Patterson

When the Wind Blows

The Lake House

For previews of upcoming books by James Patterson and more information about the author, visit


"AND A-ONE, and a-two —" Nudge said, leaning into a perfect forty-five-degree angle. Her tawny russet wings glowed warmly in the afternoon sunlight.

Behind her, the Gasman made squealing-brakes sounds as he dropped his feet down and slowed drastically. "Hey! Watch gravity in action!" he yelled, folding his wings back to create an unaerodynamic eight-year-old, his blond hair blown straight up by the wind.

I rolled my eyes. "Gazzy, stick to the choreography!" He was sinking fast, and I had to bellow to make sure he heard me. "This is a paying job! Don't blow it!" Okay, they were paying us mostly in doughnuts, but let's not quibble.

Even from this high up, I could hear the exclamations of surprise, the indrawn gasps that told me our captive audience below had noticed one of us dropping like a rock.

I'd give him five seconds, and then I'd swoop down after him. One… two…

I wasn't sure about this whole air-show thing to begin with, but how could I refuse my own mom? After our last "working vacation" in Ant-freaking-arctica, my mom and a bunch of scientists had created an organization called the Coalition to Stop the Madness, or CSM. Basically, they were trying to tell the whole world about the dangers of pollution, greenhouse gases, dependence on foreign oil — you get the picture.

Already, more than a thousand scientists, teachers, senators, and regular people had joined the CSM. One of the teacher-members had come up with the traveling air-show idea to really get the message out. I mean, Blue Angels, Schmue Angels, but flying mutant bird kids? Come on! Who's gonna pass that up?

So here we were, flying perfect formations, doing tricks, air dancing, la la la, the six of us and Total, whose wings by now had pretty much finished developing. He could fly, at least, but he wasn't exactly Baryshnikov. If Baryshnikov had been a small, black, Scottie dog with wings, that is.

By the time I'd counted to four, the Gasman had ended his free fall and was soaring upward again, happiness on his relatively clean face.

Hanging out with the CSM folks had some benefits, chiefly food and decent places to sleep. And, of course, seeing my mom, which I'd never be able to get enough of, after living the first fourteen years of my life not even knowing she existed. (I explained all this in earlier books, if you want to go get caught up.)

"Yo," said Fang, hovering next to me.

My heart gave a little kick as I saw how the sun glinted off his deeply black feathers. Which matched his eyes. And his hair. "You enjoying being a spokesfreak?" I asked him casually, looking away.

One side of his mouth moved: the Fang version of unbridled chortling.

He shrugged. "It's a job."

"Yep. So long as they don't worry about pesky child labor laws," I agreed. We're an odd little band, my fellow flock members and I. Fang, Iggy, and I are all fourteen, give or take. So officially, technically, legally, we're minors. But we've been living on our own for years, and regular child protection laws just don't seem to apply to us. Come to think of it, many regular grown-up laws don't seem to apply to us either.

Nudge is eleven, roughly. The Gasman is eightish. Angel is somewhere in the six range. I don't know how old Total is, and frankly, what with the calculations of dog years into human years, I don't care.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Angel dropped down onto me with all her forty-one pounds of feathery fun.

"Oof! What are you doing, goofball?" I exclaimed, dipping about a foot. Then I heard it: the high-pitched, all-too-familiar whine of a bullet streaking past my ear, close enough to knock some of my hair aside.

In the next second, Total yelped piercingly, spinning in midair, his small black wings flapping frantically. Angel's quick instincts had saved my life. But Total had taken the hit.


IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, I rolled a full 360, spinning in the air, swooping to catch Total and also performing evasive maneuvers that, sadly, I've had way too much practice doing.

"Scatter!" I shouted. "Get out of firing range!"

We all peeled away, our wings moving fast and powerfully, gaining altitude like rockets. I heard applause floating up to me — they thought this was part of the act. Then, I looked down at the limp black dog in my arms.

"Total!" I said, holding his chunky little body. "Total!"

He blinked and moaned. "I'm hit, Max. They got me. I guess I'm gonna live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse, huh?"

Okay. In my experience, if you're really hit or seriously hurt, you don't say much. Maybe a few bad words. Maybe grunting sounds. You don't manage pithy quotes.

Quickly I shifted him this way and that, scanning for wounds. He had both ears, and his face was fine. I patted along his wings, which still looked too short to keep him aloft. Bright red blood stained my sleeve, but so far he seemed to be in one unperforated piece.

"Tell Akila," Total gasped, eyelids fluttering, "tell her she's always been the only one." Akila is the Alaskan Malamute Total had fallen for back on the Wendy K., the boat where we lived with a bunch of scientists on our way to Antarctica.

"Shh," I said. "I'm still looking for holes."

"I don't have many regrets," Total rambled weakly. "True, I thought about a career in the theater, once our adventures waned. I know it's just a crazy dream, but I always hoped for just one chance to play the Dane before I died."

"Play the huh?" I said absently, feeling his ribs. Nothing broken. "Is that a game?"

Total moaned and closed his eyes.

Then I found it: the source of the blood, the place where he'd been shot.

"Total?" I said, and got a slight whimper. "You have a boo-boo on your tail."

"What?" He opened his eyes and curled to peer at his short tail. He wagged it experimentally, outrage appearing on his face as he realized a tiny chunk of flesh was missing near the tip. "I'm hit! I'm bleeding! Those scoundrels will pay for this!"

"I think a Band-Aid is probably all you need." I struggled to keep a straight face.

Fang swerved closer to me, big and supremely graceful, like a black panther with wings.

Oh, God. I'm so stupid. Forget I just said that.

"How's he doing?" Fang asked, nodding at Total.

"He needs a Band-Aid," I said. A look passed between me and Fang, full of suppressed humor, relief, understanding, love

Forget I said that too. I don't know what's wrong with me.

"Got your sniper," Fang went on, pointing downward.

I shifted into battle mode. "One sniper or a whole flotilla of baddies?"

"Only see the one."

I raised an eyebrow. "So, what, we're not worth a whole flotilla anymore?" I looked down at Total. "Wings out, spud. You gotta fly on your own."

Total gathered himself with dignity, extended his wings, and jumped awkwardly out of my arms. He flapped frantically, then with more confidence, and rose to keep up with us.

"What's up?" Iggy had coasted on an updraft for a while, but now he and the others were forming a bird-kid sandwich around me.

"Total's okay," I reported. "One sniper below. Now we gotta go take him out."

Angel's pure-white wing brushed against me. She gave me a sweet smile that melted my heart, and I tried to remember that this kid had many layers, not all of them made of gumdrops and roses.

"Thanks, lamby," I said, and she grinned.

"I felt something bad about to happen," she explained. "Can we go get that guy now?"

"Let's do it," I said, and we angled ourselves downward. Among the many genetic enhancements we sport, the mad scientists who created us had thoughtfully included raptor vision. I raked the land below, almost a mile down, and traced the area where Fang pointed.

I saw him: a lone guy in the window of a building close to the air base. He was tracking us, and we began our evasive actions, dropping suddenly, swerving, angling different ways, trying to be as unpredictable as possible. We're fairly good at being unpredictable.

"Mass zoom?" Fang asked, and I nodded.

"Ig, mass zoom, angle down about thirty-five degrees. Then aim for six o'clock," I instructed. And why was I only giving Iggy instructions? Because Iggy's the only blind one, that's why.

We were moving fast, really fast, dropping at a trajectory that would smash us into the sniper's window in about eight seconds. We'd practiced racing feet-first through open windows a thousand times, one right after the other, bam bam bam. So this was more of a fun challenge than a scary, death-defying act of desperation.

The two things often look very similar in our world.

Seven, six, five, I counted silently.

When I got to four, the window exploded outward, knocking me head over heels.



Here, in no particular order, is a massively incomplete list of things that make me twitchy:

1) Being indoors, almost anywhere

2) Places with no easy exits

3) People who promise me tons of "benefits" and assume that I don't see right through the crapola to the stark truth that actually they want me to do a bunch of stuff for them

4) Being dressed up

So it won't take a lot of imagination on your part to guess how I reacted to our appointment at a Hollywood talent agency.

"Come in, guys," said the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen. She flashed glowing white teeth and tossed back her perfect, auburn hair as she ushered us through the heavy wooden door. "I'm Sharon. Welcome!"

I could see her trying to avoid looking at our various bruises, scrapes, and cuts. Well, if you're six feet away from a building when it explodes at you, you're gonna get a little banged up. Fact of life.

We were in a big office building in Hollywood. If you've been keeping up with our nutty, action-packed shenanigans, you'll remember how many incredibly bad experiences we've had inside office buildings. They're pretty much my least favorite place to be, right after dungeons and hospitals, but before dog crates and science labs. Call me quirky.

A member of the CSM had a friend who had a friend who had a cousin who was married to someone who knew someone at this huge, important Hollywood talent agency and volunteered us for an interview, without asking us. The CSM thought we spokesbirds were doing a bang-up job of getting their message out. Emphasis on bang, given the suicide sniper. But more on that later.

"Come in! Come in!" A short, balding guy in a flashy suit waved us in, big smile in place. I ratcheted up my DEFCON level to orange. "I'm Steve Blackman."

There were four of them altogether, three guys and Sharon with the great hair. She blinked when Total trotted in after us, a small white bandage still covering the tip of his tail. He'd gotten more mileage out of that weensy flesh wound than I've gotten out of broken ribs.

"Good God," I heard Total mutter as he looked at the woman. "She can't be real."

"Max!" said Steve, holding out his hand. "May I call you Max?"

"No." I frowned and looked at his hand until he pulled it back.

The other two guys introduced themselves, and we just stood there, unsmiling. Actually, Nudge smiled a little. She loves stuff like this. She'd even worn a skirt. Angel was wearing a pink tutu over her jeans. My clothes were at least clean and not blood-spattered, which is about as good as it ever gets with me.

"Well!" said Steve, rubbing his hands together. "Let's sit down and get to know each other, huh? Can we get you something to drink? You kids hungry?"

"We're always hungry," said the Gasman seriously.

Steve looked taken aback. "Ah, yes, of course! Growing kids!" He was trying hard not to look at our wings, with limited success. He reached over and tapped a button on his desk, which was so big you could practically land a chopper on it. "Jeff? How about some drinks and snacks in here? Thanks."

"Please, sit down," Sharon said, with another hair toss. I made a mental note to practice doing that in a mirror the next time I saw one. It seemed a useful skill, right up there with roundhouse kicks.

We sat, making sure no one was in back of us or could sneak up on us. I was wound so tight I was about to break out in hives.

A young guy in a purple-striped shirt came in with a tray of sodas, glasses of ice, and little nibbly things on several plates. "They're tapas," he explained. "This one's calamari, and this one's —"

"Thanks a million, Jeff." Steve cut in with a smile. Jeff straightened and left, closing the door quietly behind him. Then, as we fell on the food like hyenas, Steve turned to us again, looking so dang enthusiastic that I wondered how much coffee he'd had this morning. "So! You kids want to be big stars, eh?"

"God, no!" I said, almost spewing crumbs. "No way!"

Oddly, this seemed to throw a petite wrench into the convo.


SHARON AND STEVE and the other two agents went silent, looking at us in surprise.

Steve recovered quickly. "Models?" he suggested, his eyes noting that we were all tall and skinny for our age.

I almost snorted Sprite through my nose. "Yeah. 'Wings are being worn wide this year,' " I pretended to quote. " 'With the primary feathers tinted fun shades of pink and green for a party look.' I don't think so." I tried not to notice Nudge's momentary disappointment.

"Actors?" Sharon said.

Total perked up, chewing busily on calamari, which, if you're interested, is Italian for rubber bands.

"Nope." I could see this interview was going south, so I started inhaling food while I could.

"Max, I mean — Max," Steve said, with no idea what else to call me. "You're selling yourself short. You guys could do anything, be anything. You want your own movie? You want flock action figures? You want to be on T-shirts? You name it, kid — I can make it happen."

"I want to be an action figure!" Gazzy said, wolfing down some mini-enchilada thingies.

"Oh, yeah!" Iggy said, holding up his hand for a high five. The Gasman slapped it.

Steve smiled and seemed to relax. "Hey, I didn't catch everyone's names. You, sweetheart," he said to Angel. "What's your name?"

"Isabella von Frankenstein Rothschild," said Angel, absently picking something out of her teeth. She'd lost one of her front ones recently, so her grin had a black hole in it. "You got your shoes on eBay," she told Sharon, whose eyes widened about as far as they could. "But you're right — it doesn't make sense to go retail, not on what Skinflint Steve pays you."

Yep, that's my little mind-readin' darlin'!

There was dead silence for a few moments. Sharon blushed hotly and looked anywhere but at Steve. One of the other agents coughed.

"Ah, huh," Steve said, then turned to Gazzy. "How about you, son? You want to be an action figure, right? What's your name?"

Gazzy nodded eagerly, and I promised myself I'd kick his butt later. "They call me the Sharkalator."

"The Sharkalator," Steve repeated, his enthusiasm waning. What can I say? We have that effect on grown-ups. Even on other kids. Well, okay, on pretty much everyone. We were created to survive, not to be the life of the party.

"I'm Cinnamon," said Nudge, licking her fingers. "Cinnamon Allspice La Fever. This shrimp is awesome."

Steve started to look depressed.

"They call me the White Knight," said Iggy, expertly finding the remaining food on the trays with his sensitive fingers.

"Oh?" Sharon said, trying to salvage the situation. "Why is that?"

Iggy looked in her general direction. He gestured to his pale blond hair, pale skin, unseeing blue eyes. "They're not gonna call me the Black Knight."

Fang had sat silently this whole time, so still that he was practically blending into the modern tufted sofa. He had drunk four Cokes in about four minutes and steadily worked his way through a plate of fried something-or-others. Now he felt all eyes turn to him, and he looked up, the expression on his face making me shiver.

No one looks like Fang — dark and still and dangerous, like he's daring you to set him off. But I'd seen him rocking Angel when she'd hurt herself; I'd seen him smile in his sleep; I'd seen the deep, dark light in his eyes as he leaned over me…

I blinked several times and chugged the rest of my Sprite.

Fang sighed and wiped his fingers on his black jeans. He looked around the whole room, at the four agents, at the younger kids having a ball with this, at Total slurping Fanta out of a bowl, at me, sitting tensely on the edge of my chair.

"My name is Fang," he said, standing up. "And I'm outta here." He walked to the sliding glass doors that led to a landscaped balcony, twenty-two stories above the ground.

I nodded at the flock and reached over to tap the back of Iggy's hand twice. He stood up and followed Fang's almost silent footsteps, weaving unerringly around tables and large potted plants.

Fang slid the door open. It was windy on the balcony, and he raised his face to the sun. I hustled the rest of the flock outside, then turned and waved lamely at the four open-mouthed, big-shot Hollywood agents.

"Thanks," I said, balancing on the balcony edge as my family took off one by one, leaping and unfurling their wings like soft, rough-edged sails, "but no thanks."

Then I threw myself out into the open air, feeling it rush through my hair, my feathers; feeling my wings buoy me up, every stroke lifting me twelve feet higher.

We're just not cut out for all this media circus crap.

But then, you already knew that.


"ALL I'M SAYING IS, would going on Oprah just once be the end of the entire world?" Nudge crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at me. Since Nudge is about the sweetest, easiest-going recombinant-DNA life-form I've ever known, this was serious.

"No," I said carefully. "But the end of the entire world would be the end of the entire world, and that's what we're still trying to stop." For those of you who are still catching up, I've been told that my mission in life is to save the world. No pressure or anything.

"I want to be an action figure," said Gazzy.

"Guys," I said, rubbing my temples, "remember four days ago? The bullets whizzing past, the sniper, the exploding building?"

"I certainly haven't forgotten." Total huffed, looking at his tail.

My pool of patience, never deep on the best of days, became yet shallower. "My point is," I went on tightly, "that clearly, someone is still after us, still wants us dead. Yes, our air shows for the CSM are big hits; there are people who are sort of accepting us as being… different, but we're still in danger. We'll always be in danger."

"I'm tired of being in danger!" Nudge cried. "I hate this! I just want to —"

She stopped, because there was no point in going on. Trying not to cry, she flopped down on the hotel bed. I sat down next to her and rubbed her back, between her wings.

"We all hate this," I said quietly. "But until someone can prove to me beyond a doubt that we're safe, I have to make decisions that will keep us more or less in one piece. I know it sucks."

"Speaking of things sucking," said Fang, "I say we ditch the air shows completely."

"I like the air shows," said Gazzy. He was lying on the floor, half beneath our coffee table. My mom had gotten him some little Transformer cars, and he was rolling them around, making engine noises. Yes, he could best most grown men in hand-to-hand combat and make an explosive device out of virtually anything, but he was still eight years old. Or so.

I always seemed to forget that.

"I like the air shows too," said Nudge, her tangly hair fanned out around her head. "They make me feel like a famous movie star."

"They're not safe," Fang said flatly.

I was torn. The sniper who had shot at me had turned out to be a new form of cyborg/human — or at least that's what we'd figured after we found part of one arm. Instead of a hand, he'd had an automatic pistol connected directly to his muscles and nerves. It hadn't actually been the building that exploded when we were close — it had been the sniper himself. He'd blown himself up rather than let us catch him or really see him.

That's dedication for ya.

That thing hadn't grafted that gun to his arm by himself. Someone had made him. That someone was still out there and possibly had made more things like him.

On the other hand… the CSM was really counting on us to continue the air shows. These shows were taking place in some of the most polluted cities in the world: Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Beijing. So far they'd been big successes, and the CSM had been able to hand out tons of cards and leaflets educating people about pollution and greenhouse gases.

My mom was a member of the CSM. She'd never want to put us in danger, but… I hated to let her down. She'd saved my life a bunch of times. She was helping the flock any way she could. This was the only thing she'd ever asked me to do. How could I tell her that I wanted to bail?

"Maybe if we just do the air shows but have them way step up security," I said slowly.

"No," said Fang.

Okay. I may be fabulous in a lot of ways, but I know I have a couple tiny flaws. One of them is a really bad knee-jerk reaction whenever anyone tells me no about anything.

You'd think Fang would have picked up on that by now.

I raised my chin and looked him in the eye. The flock, being smarter than the average gang of winged bears, went still.

Slowly, I stood up and walked closer to Fang. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Total slither beneath a bed, saw Gazzy quickly pull Iggy into the boys' room next door.

Until last year, I'd been taller than both Fang and Iggy. They'd not only caught up but had shot several inches past me, which I hated. Now Fang looked down at me, his eyes so dark I couldn't see where his pupils were.

"What?" I asked, deceptively mildly. I saw a flash of pink tutu as Angel and Nudge crawled with quick, silent efficiency into the boys' room.

"The air shows are too dangerous," Fang said equally mildly. I heard the connecting door between the two rooms ease shut with the caution of prey trying hard not to attract its predator.

"I can't let my mom down." This close, I could see his thick eyelashes, the weird glints of gold in his eyes.


  • Recipient of the Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award

  • Raves for the MAXIMUM RIDE series:
    #1 New York Times Bestseller
    Publishers Weekly Bestseller
    An ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults
    An ALA/VOYA "Teens' Top Ten" Pick
    A VOYA Review Editor's Choice
    A New York Public Library "Books for the Teen Age" Selection
    A Book Sense Summer 2007 Children's Pick
    A KLIATT Editors' Choice
    A Children's Choice Book Awards Author of the Year for MAX

    School's Out--Forever:
    "A breathless adventure...full of action, swooping flights and fierce fights--a sure bet for the movies."—KLIATT

  • "Jump on board this MAXIMUM RIDE...Fights and flights are non-stop."—USA Today

  • The Angel Experiment:
    "BOOK OF THE WEEK...Pace, action, mystery, and cool."—London Times

  • "Adventure, fighting, backstabbing, and love abound."—VOYA

On Sale
Mar 16, 2009
Page Count
320 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Learn more at

Learn more about this author