A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is a lot of violence here; some of it quite brutal, including serious injuries. Also, the marketing for this book is pretty intense, including Blogspot and MySpace pages, and a count-the-clicks effort to get kids to vote for a Maximum Ride movie.
What's the story?
Avian-human hybrid Max and her similarly genetically enhanced Flock are on the run from the evil scientists and their nasty minions, the wolf-human hybrids called Erasers. Including Ari. Yes, he was killed in the last book, but now he's back, with no real explanation, and meaner than ever (daddy issues), now that he and the other Erasers have had wings grafted on their backs. You'd think this would make them more dangerous, but it actually seems to have made them more clumsy.
Max and the Flock engage in plenty of fighting, chases, and escape plans while Ari and the evil scientists do their scheming. Apparently there's a plot to kill off half the people in the world, method unspecified, reasons rather vague. (You know, that's what evil scientists do.)
Meanwhile the Flock get taken in by an apparently nice woman ... until it turns out that she's evil too. And they get to go to a normal school for a while ... until it turns out that the school is evil too. And Iggy finds his parents ... until (wait for it) it turns out they're evil too. Well, not evil -- just bad. And so on.
Is it any good?
If your kids liked the first Maximum Ride, then they'll like this one too. How can we be so sure? Because it's exactly the same. This series has been compared to a thrill ride, a roller coaster. As with a roller coaster, the reader gets lots of thrills, excitement, scares, tension, and fun -- but it's all artificial, meaningless, and you end up right back where you started, with nothing accomplished. It's an empty thrill.
By the end of the book, the main characters have been attacked, injured, healed, are captured, escape, captured, escape, etc. But they've gotten nowhere. This appears to be a trilogy with no actual narrative arc. Exciting stuff happens, for no discernible reason, and what little actual story there is makes no sense at all. It's a mere contrivance, the struts that hold up the ride -- you're not supposed to pay attention to them. You're just supposed to surrender to the ride. There's something horribly cynical about all this. It's harmless fun, one supposes, but it is possible to write a fun story and still respect the intelligence of your audience.