Hawk: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

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Hawk: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

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Buy Hawk: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Post-apocalyptic chaos, an evil man in charge, a girl with wings…? A fantasy novel that's perfect for turbulent times.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2020
Publisher: Arrow (Young)
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529120004

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Hawk has been waiting on the same street corner, every day, for years. She is waiting for her parents to come and get her. They left her there when she was just tiny, and although she's almost certain that they are never coming back for her, she continues to head back there each day, just in case. Hawk isn't your ordinary street urchin though...she has wings, and can fly! Since she was abandoned she's been living with a group of other children, all with interesting characteristics of their own and together they've made their own family. But now the city is seemingly even more troubled than usual, there's a mysterious child-killer who has been brought to the prison next door to where the children live, and then one day Hawk comes home to find her family have been taken away. Where have they been taken, and can Hawk rescue them before it's too late?

The book launches straight into the story, and it left me with the unsettling sense that I was coming in part way through a series with no idea what on earth was going on. Of course, having read up a bit more about the book since then I've discovered that's exactly what happened! The Maximum Ride series involves a number of books based around Max and her flock that James Patterson wrote some years ago. This latest book is a reboot to the series, starting with a new heroine who is still related to the earlier books. That doesn't mean you can't start with this one, since I did settle into it within a few chapters, but just be ready for that initial feeling that nothing is making sense!

Hawk is a great character, full of spirit, brave and strong, she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, living from moment to moment and trying to protect and feed her self-made family. I completely believed that she's a normal girl with wings, and that she could fly. The descriptions feel real, and it's surely high up there on the list of things that you wish you could do as a child - fly! So there's a lot of wish-fulfillment in reading about someone else who can. She's tough too, and you know she's had a difficult life, so she endears herself to you, even if she's a bit fierce and angsty at times.

I also really liked the little band of children she lived with, and I would have liked more about them and their stories - perhaps those will come in a future book? They have their own intriguing mutations, but they're never explained. Hawk's world is quickly and deftly created however, so you can imagine the places she's running and hiding, and the troubles she faces in trying to keep the kids safe.

I suspect for readers who know the previous novels there's a certain amount of pleasure in coming across old, familiar characters when Hawk's family reappear in her life. I still felt I was getting to know them enough from this book, and I really liked the attitude Hawk threw at them (well deserved, I felt - shame on them for having abandoned their daughter when she was so small, even if they did think she'd be safe with someone nearby to collect her!) I didn't quite buy that Hawk would have forgotten her name, or pretty much everything about her early childhood. But I suppose if she was really so traumatised at being left by her parents, perhaps she'd blocked it all out? I also struggled with the fact that it took her flock so very long to find her, since they're supposedly super secret agitators...Anyway, that's only a small criticism for what is otherwise an exciting and very readable story.

There is quite a lot of violence, but then there is a whole patriarchal system in the city to overthrow! The baddie felt worryingly like Trump (a vision of where we're all heading?), and the systems in place felt very real, and believable. You can imagine the prison where Max is being held, and I did feel quite scared about the troubles she faces in there. It takes a little while for the action to ramp up, but when it does there's a lot going on. Actually, I really liked the set up, and I think I would have liked to know more about Hawk's life, and maybe a little less of when she rejoins the flock later.

This is a good fantasy adventure book, and I really liked Hawk's character. I'd definitely read more about her, and perhaps I need to go back and read the earlier series about Max too!

Further reading: You might also enjoy reading Degrade (Tesla Expansion) by Mark Lingane.

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