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James Patterson: Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel
As the seventh instalment in the best-selling Maximum Ride series, Angel doesn't disappoint. The novel continues the story of a group of kids who had their DNA mixed with that of birds, giving them the ability to fly as well as other superhuman powers.
Picking up from the last part Fang, the novel begins with Max's anguish over her break-up with Fang. Nevertheless, the tough flock leader rebounds and gets ready to fight the Doomsday Group, who believe in eradicating humans for a better Planet Earth.
After Fang leaves, he immediately begins forming his own gang of genetically-modified humans; his only fault is that he invites Max's clone, Maya, to join his newly formed group. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose when Max finds out.
But teenage Max is developing feelings for Dylan, the newest bird kid, who was specifically designed to be her perfect soul mate. She likes him, but she still loves Fang. Stuck in this love triangle and faced with the Doomsday Group that has hypnotised children all over the world, you’d think that things really couldn't get any worse for the fifteen-year-old flock leader. Except for when they do. As the novel progresses, Max is faced with life-and-death decisions and has to make huge sacrifices.
Named after the youngest flock member, Angel is an adventurous read packed with action. However, the same basic use of the identical formula does suggest that maybe the series has gone on for too long; after seven books, it has dragged on longer than necessary. Followers of the series might feel a bit fed up with the same old let's-save-the-world shtick.
Furthermore, seven-year-old Angel seems too mature for her age and gives advice that indicates a deep wisdom that is nearly impossible for a seven-year-old to have. Followers of the book series also know that in previous books she has been constantly trying to take over the flock and overthrow Max, yet in this instalment, Angel is represented as a perfectly well-mannered child. Moving from one extreme to the other, the author leaves readers confused about the true nature of Angel's personality.
Although Angel might not be the most exciting read you’ll ever find, it is not to be missed for true devotees of the series.
A simple online search would give you a chronological account of the Egyptian revolution; accurate dates, death tolls and perhaps even the names of the martyrs. But it will not tell you how it made the Egyptian people feel. Statistics can't describe what the families of the martyrs went through and it cannot accurately express the weight placed on the hearts of millions of Egyptians during this time.
Soueif doesn't ignore the violence perpetrated by the regime against protestors; she also mentions those who have lost their lives. She has kept in mind that by the time readers received her book a lot would have changed, so she frequently refers to the fact that we – her readers – would know more about the current situation than she did while writing it.
As she walks down every street, she supplements her story with memories and anecdotes from her childhood and adolescence, adding an emotional and personal dimension to her book and making it easy for readers to imagine why she is still attached to Cairo despite her long years in London.
The book is a refreshing spin on a now-over-a-year-old revolution. It brings hope. Soueif's sharp senses have led her to assume that by the time the book hits bookshelves, hope would still be the number one motivation and that's how she writes; invoking hope and persistence in the hearts of her readers.
Born and raised in Texas, Gretchen McCullough's teaching career has taken her to Egypt, Turkey and Japan; currently, McCullough teaches writing in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo.
Released earlier this year, her latest publication is titled ‘Shahrazad’s Tooth’; a compilation of short stories revolving around a host of eccentric individuals and their experiences in Cairo. A large bulk of the stories are driven by the thoughts rummaging through the characters minds and, more often than not, they transpire to be both charming and relatable.
‘Shahrazad’s Tooth’ has a colourful team of characters with strong presence, charisma and an air of familiarity. Digging deeper into their personal lives and problems, her writing style is distinct, bringing an American charm and non-linearity to her stories, which builds a pleasant intricacy.
With many of the characters connected by a single building in Garden City, McCullough allots the main characters in her stories as small cameos in others, spreading the characters' presence and allowing for further development.
In ‘A Little Honey and a Little Sunlight’, we are given insight into the raging nature of Professor Gary by his dying neighbour, Joe Pulaski - a poet - reminiscing his days spent living in Cairo. Many pages later in ‘Pure Water’, we find ourselves reading from the eyes of Dr Gary as he spends time with his bulky Greek friend, Kolombos, in a mental asylum before the uprising of January 25th. The title story, meanwhile, sees two main protagonists; journalist and teacher, Mary Beth Somers, and her dentist, Dr Samy. Far from sappy, the two fall into a love which avoids the overt romantic notions seen in cliched literature, despite ending on a melancholic note.
Aside from the characters, Cairo as a city is portrayed as an integral player in the stories. On regular occasions, vivid descriptions of popular places in the city are given, such as El Horreya, Windsor Bar, the Gezirah Club and Koshari Abou Tarek. Having visited all these places ourselves, it's obvious that McCullough has immersed herself in the city, and amongst its people, well beyond the point of a touristic escapade. She’s become a sort of semi-native, in touch with Cairene culture, but maintains enough outside insight to give a new perspective to those who’ve been living in the city for too long.
With its mix of emotions and interesting character troupe, ‘Shahrazad’s Tooth’ promises an entertaining, comforting read for both locals and foreigners alike.