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Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Do not put this book down. I'm dead serious - your life could depend on it. I'm risking everything by telling you - but you need to know.

STRAP YOURSELF IN for the thrill ride you'll want to take again and again! From Death Valley, California, to the bowels of the New York City subway system, you're about to take off on a heart-stopping adventure that will blow you away...

YOUR FAITHFUL COMPANIONS: Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel. Six kids who are pretty normal in most ways - except that they're 98 percent human, 2 percent bird. They grew up in a lab, living like rats in cages, but now they're free. Aside, of course, from the fact that they're prime prey for Erasers - wicked wolflike creatures with a taste for flying humans.

THE MISSIONS: Rescue Angel from malicious mutants. Infiltrate a secret facility to track down the flock's missing parents. Scavenge for sustenance. Get revenge on an evil traitor. And save the world. If there's time.

Thriller-writing sensation James Patterson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller When the Wind Blows, invites you on a quest full of nonstop action, adrenaline, mystery, and suspense. Want to come along for the ride?

"Morning, Gazzy," I said as the heavy-lidded eight-yearold slumped at the table. I rubbed his back and dropped a kiss on his head. He'd been the Gasman ever since he was a baby. What can I say? The child has something funky with his digestive system. A word to the wise: Stay upwind.

The Gasman blinked up at me, his gorgeous blue eyes round and trusting. "What's for breakfast?" he asked, sitting up. His fine blond hair stuck up all over his head, reminding me of a fledgling's downy feathers.

"Um, it's a surprise," I said, since I had no idea.

"I'll pour juice," the Gasman offered, and my heart swelled. He was a sweet, sweet kid, and so was his little sister. He and six-year-old Angel were the only blood siblings among us, but we were all a family anyway.

Soon Iggy, tall and pale, slouched into the kitchen. Eyes closed, he fell onto our beat-up couch with perfect aim. The only time he has trouble being blind is when one of us forgets and moves furniture or something.

"Hey, Ig, rise and shine," I said.

"Bite me," he mumbled sleepily.

"Fine," I said. "Miss breakfast."

I was looking in the fridge with naive hope-maybe the food fairies had come-when the back of my neck prickled. I straightened quickly and spun around.

"Will you quit that?" I said.

Fang always appeared silently like that, out of nowhere, like a dark shadow come to life. He regarded me calmly, dressed and alert, his dark, overlong hair brushed back. He was four months younger than me but already four inches taller. "Quit what?" he asked calmly. "Breathing?"

I rolled my eyes. "You know what."

With a grunt, Iggy staggered upright. "I'll make eggs," he announced. I guess if I were more of a fembot, it would bother me that a blind guy six months younger than I am could cook better than I could.

But I'm not. So it didn't.

I surveyed the kitchen. Breakfast was well under way. "Fang? You set the table. I'll go get Nudge and Angel."

The two girls shared the last small bedroom. I pushed the door open to find eleven-year-old Nudge asleep, tangled up in her covers. She was barely recognizable with her mouth shut, I thought wryly. When she was awake, we called it the Nudge Channel: all Nudge, all the time.

"Hey, sweetie, up and at 'em," I said, gently shaking her shoulder. "Breakfast in ten."

Nudge blinked, her brown eyes struggling to focus on me. "Wha'?" she mumbled.

"Another day," I said. "Get up and face it."

Groaning, Nudge levered herself into a crumpled but technically upright position.

Across the room, a thin curtain concealed one corner. Angel always liked small cozy spaces. Her bed, tucked behind the curtain, was like a nest-full of stuffed animals, books, most of her clothes. I smiled and pulled the curtain back.

"Hey, you're already dressed," I said, leaning over to hug her.

"Hi, Max," Angel said, tugging her blond curls out of her collar. "Can you do my buttons?"

"Yep." I turned her around and started doing her up.

I'd never told the others, but I just loved, loved, loved Angel. Maybe because I'd been taking care of her practically since she was a baby. Maybe because she was just so incredibly sweet and loving herself.

"Maybe because I'm like your little girl," said Angel, turning around to look at me. "But don't worry, Max. I won't tell anybody. Besides, I love you best too." She threw her skinny arms around my neck and planted a somewhat sticky kiss on my cheek. I hugged her back, hard. Oh, yeah-that's another special thing about Angel.

She can read minds.

Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson

Read by Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood was nominated for a 2003 Golden Globe Award for her powerful performance in THIRTEEN, co-starring Holly Hunter. She also stars in THE UPSIDE OF ANGER with Joan Allen and Kevin Costner and in PRETTY PERSUASION with James Woods. Her additional film credits include roles in THE MISSING, SIMONE and PRACTICAL MAGIC. Evan is well known for her role on ABC's critically acclaimed drama, ONCE AND AGAIN.

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