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Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
By James Patterson

Reviewed by Yesenia Reyes
16, Animo Locke HS #3

Imagine growing up with wings, being able to fly, living in a laboratory and being tested like a lab rat your whole life. Imagine having no idea whether you have biological parents or if you were grown in a test tube. Scary isn’t it? That has been the life of Maximum Ride, aka Max, the main character in one of the funniest and most exciting books I’ve ever read.

The book starts with a note from Max to the readers that gives background on her life. She explains that she’s a 14-year-old girl who escaped the lab where she had lived her whole life along with five others: Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel. The six of them spend most of the book on the run from monsters called Erasers, which are humans whose DNA was combined with wolf DNA. The scientists created the Erasers and decided to use them to bring Max and her friends back to the lab so the scientists can study their supernatural abilities. Angel can read minds and Gasman can imitate people’s voices perfectly.

Max is the leader because she is the oldest and the strongest. She watches over the rest like a mom. Max worries about making sure they eat a healthy breakfast and even worries about them not having a fun childhood because they’re always on the run from people who want to capture them.

She sometimes questions her parenting skills because she knows she’s just a kid herself. I think Max is great at taking care of the others though, because I freak out when I find out that I have to baby-sit for an hour. I think it’s cool that author James Patterson created a heroine like Max. It shows that teens are more capable than society thinks they are. I also love Max’s random witty remarks. After having a nightmare she says, “Note to self: Give subconscious a pep talk re: better dreams.” I wish I were as funny and courageous as her.

This book is a fast read because it’s so much fun. But it’s not all humor; it’s also about perseverance because even though their lives are at risk, they still manage to stay connected as a family and enjoy their lives together. I wish I could have popped into the book and become part of the action, minus the constant looming death and persistent bloodthirsty Erasers.

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins

Reviewed by Jennifer Kim
17, South Pasadena HS

When I finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I couldn’t wait to read Catching Fire, the second book in the series. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long. Four days later I had the book in my hand. I didn’t worry about homework that was due the next day because all I wanted to know was what happened to 17-year-old Katniss after the battle that ends the first book. Staying up all night to finish the book was worth it.

In the first book, Katniss is an ordinary girl living in one of 12 districts. The cruel and powerful Capitol has been controlling the districts for years by limiting their freedom and punishing them when the rules are broken. The only fear Katniss has is the notorious Hunger Games, an annual fight to the death created by the Capitol to hold onto power.

Nonetheless, Katniss volunteers for the game in place of her little sister, Primrose, and expects to die. So imagine how surprising it was when she wins! She is welcomed by everyone as a hero and parties celebrating her victory are held, but the happy days don’t last long. Before Katniss realizes it, she becomes the face of a rebellion, which enrages the government.

Catching Fire starts with President Snow from the Capitol visiting Katniss and threatening to bomb her district if she doesn’t stop the rebellion. I whispered “No!” to myself when I read that Katniss has to go into the arena again.

Compared to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire has fewer fighting scenes and a slower pace. But the plot is still intense as Katniss struggles between running away with the boy she secretly loves, Gale,  and staying to fight against the Capitol.

She knows she can live happily once she disappears into the woods. But as she talks to her game partner, Peeta, she realizes so many people are depending on her and that she shouldn’t be afraid. I was curious about what she’d do. I wanted her to be happy and succeed as the hero.

In Catching Fire, Katniss matures and eventually overcomes her fears. It was inspirational because we all have fears we have to face. If anyone is looking for books that have adventure and romance, The Hunger Games trilogy is a good choice.