If you've already devoured James Patterson's #1 bestselling blockbuster MAXIMUM RIDE: THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT, stop right here—just turn the page, and hold on tight!
As for the rest of you-well, where have you been? Meet Max, Fang, Iggy, Gasman, Nudge, and Angel, six absolutely unforgettable kids. With some major problems. THEY'RE BEING HUNTED BY KILLERS. BUT WHO?
It's even worse than that. Max is sure that a microchip has been inserted under her skin-leading freakish forces of evil to ambush them at any moment...AND WORSE!
She and the others are supposed to save the world. BUT FROM WHAT? WHEN? AND HOW?
Max will stop at nothing to find answers. One thing she does know: it's got something to do with an astonishing ability they have that no others can claim. THEY CAN FLY.
Max's heart-stopping quest to protect her "family" and investigate the mind-blowing mystery of her ultimate destiny continues in the scariest, strangest, and funniest James Patterson thriller yet.
THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT WAS JUST A TEST DRIVE. NOW, BRACE YOURSELF FOR THE MAXIMUM RIDE!
Sweeping, swooping, soaring, air-current thrill rides—there’s nothing better. For miles around, we were the only things in the infinite, wide-open, clear blue sky. You want an adrenaline rush? Try tucking your wings in, dive-bombing for about a mile straight down, then whoosh! Wings out, grab an air current like a pit bull, and hang on for the ride of your life. God, nothing is better, more fun, more exciting.
Okay, we were mutant freaks, we were on the lam, but man, flying—well, there’s a reason people always dream about it.
“Oh, my gosh!” the Gasman said excitedly. He pointed. “A UFO!”
I silently counted to ten. There was nothing where the Gasman had pointed. As usual. “That was funny the first fifty times, Gazzy,” I said. “It’s getting old.”
He cackled, several wingspans away from me. There’s nothing like an eight-year-old’s sense of humor.
“Max? How long till we get to DC?” asked Nudge, pulling up closer to me. She looked tired—we’d had one long, ugly day. Well, another long, ugly day in a whole series of long, ugly days. If I ever actually had a good, easy day, I’d probably freak out.
“Another hour? Hour and a half?” I guessed.
Nudge didn’t say anything. I cast a quick glance at the rest of my flock. Fang, Iggy, and I were holding steady, but we had mucho de stamina. I mean, the younger set also had stamina, especially compared to dinky little nonmutant humans. But even they gave out eventually.
Here’s the deal—for anybody new on this trip. There are six of us: Angel, who’s six; Gasman, age eight; Iggy, who’s fourteen, and blind; Nudge, eleven; Fang and me (Max), we’re fourteen too. We escaped from the lab where we were raised, were given wings and other assorted powers. They want us back—badly. But we’re not going back. Ever.
I shifted Total to my other arm, glad he didn’t weigh more than twenty pounds. He roused slightly, then draped himself across my arm and went back to sleep, the wind whistling through his black fur. Did I want a dog? No. Did I need a dog? Also no. We were six kids running for our lives, not knowing where our next meal was coming from. Could we afford to feed a dog? Wait for it—no.
“You okay?” Fang cruised up alongside me. His wings were dark and almost silent, like Fang himself.
“In what way?” I asked. I mean, there was the headache issue, the chip issue, the Voice-in-my-head-constantly issue, my healing bullet wound. . . . “Can you be more specific?”
My breath froze in my throat. Only Fang could cut right to the heart of the matter like that. Only Fang knew me that well, and went that far.
When we’d been escaping from the Institute, in New York, Erasers and whitecoats had shown up, of course. God forbid we should make a clean getaway. Erasers, if you don’t know already, are wolflike creatures who have been chasing us constantly since we escaped from the lab, or School as we call it. One of the Erasers had been Ari. We’d fought, as we’d fought before, and then suddenly, with no warning, I was sitting on his chest, staring at his lifeless eyes, his broken neck bent at an awkward angle.
That was twenty-four hours ago.
“It was you or him,” Fang said calmly. “I’m glad you picked you.”
I let out a deep breath. Erasers simpled everything up: They had no qualms about killing, so you had to lose your squeamishness about it too. But Ari had been different. I’d recognized him, remembered him as a little kid back at the School. I knew him.
Plus, there was that last, awful bellow from Ari’s father, Jeb, echoing after me again and again as I flew through the tunnels:
“You killed your own brother!”
Copyright © 2006 by James Patterson
Valentina is cast for James Patterson's Maximum Ride - School's Out-Forever. She co-stars with Joan Allen and Sam Elliot in "Off The Map", directed by Campbell Scott. She has appeared in Law and Order SVU and in the new CBS hit series Love Monkey. She has also appeared in over 50 commercials, narrated voice-overs, and did a guest stint on Saturday Night Live. Click here to see photos of her in the recording studio!