Hawk: a Maximum Ride novel by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9781529120011.
Hawk is a skinny 15 year old with a black mohawk, multiple piercings and a tough attitude. She has to be tough, living in the City of the Dead, a place abandoned long ago. Now it is home to the homeless, drug addicts and gangs so Hawk has to keep her wits about her as she ventures out each day to find food for the small band of misfits she calls her family. Every day for the past ten years she has turned up to the street corner where her parents told her to wait, for a specific time, but they have never come. Now she and her group live in the children's home where they would starve without Hawk's foraging and where they live in fear of being taken off to be experimented on like other children, who never came back. Life is brutal in this post-apocalyptic world of constant video streaming of government propaganda and mind scrambling 'Voxvoce' sounds. Six powerful gangs control the city. Hawk's secret weapon is that she has wings and can fly, helping her escape difficult situations. When a new prisoner is brought to the jail adjoining the children's home the government broadcast declares he is a child killer, the worst of the worst, but is he?
This is the tenth book in the Maximum Ride series but stands alone quite well. There were a lot of characters and the members of Hawk's family were a bit sketchy apart from Clete; the rest are probably better developed in the other books and this might just encourage new readers to go back and read more of the series. Hawk is a great teen character, veering between personal angst and responsibility to her family and she even has a rather unlikely love interest. The book is fast paced and action packed as the Flock fight a corrupt leader in a violent world, though I found their willingness to join in the violence, dropping bombs regardless of collateral damage, disturbing.
This will be snapped up by readers of the series which traces its origins back to Patterson's 1998 novel When the wind blows and will appeal to a new generation of younger readers looking for a fast paced dystopian fantasy novel.
Themes: Science fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia.