- Associated Press - Monday, February 14, 2011

“Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel” (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99), by James Paterson: In a world where preteens are exposed to images of violence, gore and a lot of sex, James Patterson has written a series of books for young readers that get grandma’s seal of approval.

In “Angel,” the seventh in his best-selling Maximum Ride series, Patterson continues the story of 14-year-old Max, the leader of a “flock” of children who were raised in a lab where scientists mixed their DNA with that of birds. This experimentation gave the children wings, lighter bones and several other unique attributes, including 6-year-old Angel’s ability to read minds and see the future.

The “flock” escaped from the lab a few years ago, and they have been on their own ever since. They have been attacked by nearly everything, including young boys mixed with wolf DNA and child-sized robots.

Max’s first love, Fang, a fellow 14-year-old “bird kid,” has just left the group to start his own gang of mutant teens. Max is devastated. To make matters worse, her family is pushing her into the arms of newcomer Dylan, who was supposedly created to be her perfect mate.

Max knows her job is to save the world, but she’s in the dark about how that is going to happen. When the Doomsday Group suddenly begins hypnotizing children all over the world, Max and the “flock” head to Paris to try and intervene. They subsequently have to join with Fang and his Max replacement.

“Angel” is a strong installment in the series. It is full of fight scenes mixed with puppy love and many fantastic flying descriptions that will make readers wish they had wings.

Patterson has announced that “Angel” is the penultimate Maximum Ride book, but it’s hard to guess where he’s headed with the characters.

The series has taken place in little over a year. Each book has its own climax and isn’t connected to the other books. However, the books, which are filled with thrilling PG-rated action, are a quick read.

Patterson, who is known for his Women’s Murder Club series and other adult books, keeps the action going without relying on grown-up themes.