So I read the ending to my favourite pre-teen book series, Nevermore from Maximum Ride, about a year ago. I'd sort of forgotten about the series really, but I did get a reminder - and with it, came that rush of indignant annoyance. So, instead of revising for chemistry (ha, ha), I wrote a review! Oh, I truly am a master of procrastination. Still, I had quite a rant - and if any of y'all read the MR books as a kid, feel free to read through this spew of words.
So, Nevermore. The End of All Endings – and the end to a book series I found myself strongly attached to since age 10.
I read it last year – after a strenuous wait, and constant re-reads of all the books (including the manga volumes – #nohaterz, I find myself a fan of them, despite frequent slanders of the character designs.).
Anyway, back to reading Nevermore. I have to say... I was disappointed. Annoyingly so. Not for all of it, of course – it was certainly a more decent read than half the books I’ve read, despite being more riddled with holes of the plot kind than a swiss cheese – but compared to some of the other MR volumes I’m afraid it fell sadly short. Which is a shame, seeing as it’s, you know, the last one. No more now. Quoth the raven, Nevermore (Nice Poe reference there in the title, by the way - I am fond of the book name at least - but I digress.).
We begin with – well, an ending, and it’s all focused around Angel – oh, she’s alone (again) oh, she’s been captured (again) and hey, she’s also in danger (again)! Because nobody saw that overused trope returning. I mean, everyone thought she was dead! ...Right? Well, of course not. Insert every reader groaning. Still, despite my harsh words, I did find myself liking the overall grittier tone of the intro – normally the flock rescues Angel before much harm befalls her; here, she’s actually being tortured – and I’m not saying I like seeing 7 year old girls harmed, but it’s a refreshing change to see some Bad Stuff Happen. Because the girl’s been through a lot, so why not make it worse? So yes, I did like that part. It genuinely gives a sense of worry for Angel – because of course, the flock thinks she’s dead – and she in turn is thinking of the flock being dead, in her horrific visions of the oncoming apocalypse. And, yet again, Angel is all alone.
The book didn’t really pick up for a while, I don’t think. I don’t know about you, but I always prefer the romance part of books I read to be nought but a side story – unless the book is a romance one, of course. Now, I’ve never regarded the MR series as a romance set. It’s always been about the group as a whole for me, you know? I mean, I fully endorse relationships forming as well – Max and Fang for instance (oh, be still my beating heart) – but when an author turns an amazing action-filled series into a mushy pile of lurve, I often find it quite a tedious adaptation. Hence my grimace and bored, vacant expression as I read through the first... ooh, fifth of Nevermore. It’s all about The Love Triangle. See, although I am a firm Fax shipper – what can I say, I shipped it from book 1 – I just find the constant “who will Max choose?” to be such a bore. I mean, I’m sure at least 70% of that is due to Dylan – the sad sap of a bird boy who can’t decide whether he really loves Max or just needs to jump her bones for some bangin’ bird babies.
You may have gathered I dislike Dylan. And it’s not because I’m a rabid fangirl, angry because he gets in the way of Max and Fang. I felt from the beginning that he was just a 'Gary-Sue' of sorts, thrown right in there purely for the sake of coming between the two – and that was annoying, sure, but what really got on my nerves was when he started taking over the plot, to some extent. Whereas before, it had been all about the flock and their struggles for survival (I certainly agree with Silkythecat in that the early books were better); in Nevermore and the few before it, the plot seemed almost entirely focused on Max-Fang-Dylan and their tension-filled rivalry – and Dylan’s ‘in-depth’ backstory and how he’s a vital key to the plot. Yawn. Oh, and the whole “let’s kill Fang – oh wait, no, I’m a dashing hero, not a murderer!” thing. Nope, not a fan of that.
Still, I have to say, the whole Max-and-Fang-trying-to-move-on thing that happened in the first part of the book was interesting. At least it wasn’t a constant kiss-a-thon between Max and Fang and Max and Dylan – there was potential for that and I’d been dreading it. With Max getting closer to Dylan and Fang growing attached to Maya, I could see some progress with the romantic side of things; again, I would have preferred less snogging and more action-filled sequences, but I’m probably being picky. Anyway, the whole Fang-and-Maya (another character who I just couldn’t find it within myself to like, despite my best intentions) is cut off quite quickly with Maya being brutally slaughtered and all that jazz. I shed a tear – ok, that’s a lie, because I disliked Maya - but I can see that it was a sad part of the book at least. Certainly more interesting than everything being bees and butterflies between the 4 romantic competitors, even if her death seemed a bit rushed to say the least. So, her untimely departure leaves us with Fang all alone again, only to then be told by the Voice (ah yes, that mysterious entity voiced by Jeb – wait, no, Angel – or was it - huh?) that he has to go sort shit out and hang with Max and the gang again. Which obviously causes some problems, because with Maya out of the picture we’re left with the dreaded love triangle again.
Still, at least things pick up significantly from that point. There’s that spooky message on Fang’s Marvellous Birdy Blog that says Angel’s still alive (*gasp!*), and that cues yet another Angel rescue mission. Although again, I liked the overall grittiness of the rescue, with Angel being actually damaged for once; rather than just shaking off her traumatic experience like usual she actually seems shaken by it, which makes everything *that* much more dramatic from thereon out. Trust me, this book needs it. Anyway, you get the whole new group trying to obliterate humanity (‘cause we’ve never seen that before), a whole hoard of baddies trying to off Fang because of his magical ultra-unique birdy DNA, and of course, the end of the world. Which we all knew was coming, so that kind of takes the edge off a bit. But nevermind, eh? There are more depressing aspects to this book to focus on.
So I won’t go into detail on everything that happens in the chunk of the book I haven’t covered – but needless to say, I was not a happy bunny with it. The plot was tame at best, and highly predictable; it had that frenetic feel of the last few books, and felt somewhat incoherent. The constant additions to the plot were confusing at best, and seemed to detract from the main plot - which was therefore hard to decipher amongst the disconnected stories stirred into the Nevermore mixture. There were, however, small points that redeemed it somewhat, Max’s old personality returning in small doses after Fang’s return being one of the highlights. I’d missed the sturdy, headstrong Max we saw in the early books; recently I felt she’d been a bit – well, tame – she even admits this to herself in one of the books, I think. But unfortunately, these small redemptions were not enough to raise the overall quality of the plot – the character development seemed shoddy at times (cough, Dylan, cough), and the lack of action against the bad guys trying to get rid of people and make way for mutants seemed a bit off. Max was the only one to really try and stop it, and the whole asteroid thing kinda put a hole in her tyre in that respect. Overall, it just felt like a lot of the good, strong characters lost a lot of that... well, steadfast strength that made them the most heroic, and this lack of heroism from the main guys was made up for by Dylan of all people with his ‘let’s save the day’ moronic fluctuating attitude. I mean, come on, dude, make up your mind. Do you wanna kill people or save them? Geez.
The saving grace of the book is that at least the dreaded love triangle is finally (finally, finally) resolved. I was bored to tears of it by the end, which kind of put a damper on the result. Oh, that and the fact that it was hideously predictable anyway. I mean, I don’t think there was any ever chance of Max x Dylan working out – Max had too many doubts in the beginning, and even throughout their ‘romance’ (pfff) she’s riddled with uncertainty. Overall, her feelings towards him sort of sum up as “Oh, he’s hot – but kind of weird. But kind of hot. Oh no!” Which, again, I found disastrously tedious. Fang and Max may not have been a foreseeable outcome for me, I admit it – there were times reading the previous books when I figured it would end up as Fang and Maya (ugh, though) and Max realising her flock was the most important thing to her. But of course, things didn’t turn out that way, and - ooh, spoilers – Max and Fang end up back together. It was about time, really – dragging us through nearly 3 books before it’s resolved? No thank you. Still, I think it was a good choice, and I feel it works better than Dylan and Max (do they even have a ship name? Are they that hated together that nobody thought of something like ‘Fax’ for them? I have to say, good call – ‘Dax’ just doesn’t cut it for me) would have worked out. Again with my dislike for dashing Dylan, and my love for the original guys. Also, the whole months thing with his age? Nah, that’s too weird – and that comes from a girl who ships all kinds of fucked-up pairings, so there’s gotta be something dodgy about that. Aaaanyway, the love triangle sorts itself out, sort of – although I still feel we had a bit too much ‘Max and Fang being soppy gits’ rather than the hardcore birdkids we were originally introduced to. Sigh.
And then there was the whole end-of-the-world extravaganza. Ooh, big scary asteroid thing (if that was what it was), end of the human race, lots of deaths and angsty stuff. And plot holes. Oh god, too numerous to count! Like Holden and Ratchet, for instance – did they die? Were they destroyed along with the rest of humanity? Nobody knows, because I guess Patterson forgot about them or something. Thanks for that.
Anyway, the ending. Oh, the ending. The most disappointing part, I think. ‘What?’ I hear you cry, ‘you can actually get more disappointed with this book than you’ve previously stated?’ Why, yes. Yes I can. I finished the book in a 7 hour car journey to Wales, in the 2nd hour - and I literally just put the book down, and thought, "Well... ok. Now what?"
Normally, with a final book like that, I’m left dizzy with theories and ‘feels’ and an overall buzz – with Nevermore, none of that rush was to be found. It just seemed somewhat anticlimactic - I mean, the build up was quite well developed, and I found the last quarter of the book fairly enjoyable to read; but then I think it just kind of fizzled out to a rush of romance and dramatic speeches. There wasn’t really any sort of epilogue, other than Max’s weary past tense letter to the dear reader, which makes said reader believe that some of the human race must have survived. But again, it was all a little too confusing and haphazard for my liking.
So yes, the ending - well, it just seemed a little bit too predictable, frankly. And strangely ‘safe’, as well. I know that may sound too demanding; I mean, there were lots of deaths - just not really to do with the main characters, as they didn't really have to experience any significant loss. There was Maya, of course, with her aforementioned departure early on in the book, but none of the flock were particularly close to her except Fang (oh, Fang, you angst-wrought little feathered boy). Oh, and even though he was mourning over that for what – 2 chapters? - he ended up with his true love anyway, so Maya's tragic death seemed practically forgotten in the last chunk of the book. None of the flock suffered hugely; and I don't think that's a terrible thing, but I would have liked a little bit more angst between them all, you know? They seemed a little too comfortable with everything, considering all that happened between them - they didn't sort enough stuff out, and the fact that there was no reunion with them right at the end seemed a little off, and made their relationship out to be not-that-important - which we all know to be untrue.
On that note, it also annoyed me slightly that most of the gang aren't even in the last few pages at all - just the main guys, and I understand why, but it felt a little like the rest of the flock were being pushed aside to make room for Max and Fang's mushy love moment (although I'm a hypocrite, 'cause I’ve shipped them like hell since reading Book 1 aged 10.). I mean, there isn’t even a distinct declaration that they’re okay – they’re not even mentioned after they leave the scene, and everything seems to be centred around Angel being poetic and cryptic and Fax (as I shall collectively describe them) snogging the living daylights out of each other. Because who needs the rest of the flock if the guys who aren’t there simply for comedic purposes – as said rest-of-the-flock have seemed to be for the last few books – are safe and sound? Nobody, right? Wrong, and ugh. I think Patterson missed the opportunity to have them all supporting each other, and just focused on the main 3 – which left the book with a half-assed feel, if I’m honest.
Overall, I think the constant danger aspects of the last few books have been drowned out by the love triangle and short side-stories. The recurring apocalypse theme was less than endearing, so when The End finally came it felt a bit like ‘oh, we’ve seen this all before’. And c’mon, did anyone actually ever think the flock was gonna die? Nah, ‘course not. So the whole ‘will they survive?’ felt really forced, and unnecessary to boot. Basically, I felt the end wasn’t fulfilling - we seem to be expected to just accept the elimination of humanity, and focus on the fact that the flock’s sort of ok – which is fair enough, as they are the main characters, but I doubt they’d be able to go back to living the way they used to, and I feel like they’ve lost that closeness that made them so brilliant in the early books. Picking up the pieces would be awkward, at least – which leaves the reader wondering what point Patterson was actually trying to put across. ‘Family comes first – except for when there’s hot bird kids on the block, then feel free to ditch your dear family’ seems to ring the truest, although that’s certainly not a moral anyone should feel obliged to follow. I guess “Max’s Last Words” rounded the series off fairly neatly, if you ignore the difficulties and dangers the flock will undoubtedly face helping the human world recover.
So, the end finally came. It was dramatic yet predicted, and I personally felt the series has dive-bombed since the first three books were done and dusted. A round of applause for the safety featured in the ending, where the drama comes to a climax and sort of simmers down into rubble and dust as a result of a messy crash landing. Whatever your opinions of the series are, it can certainly be said that they’ve taken all their readers on a journey – perhaps not the maximum one, but it’s certainly been a ride.
And how's that for a cheesy-as-hell ending, eh?