Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This review was created by the editorial staff at Thriving Family magazine

This science-fiction adventure is the first book in the " Maximum Ride" series by James Patterson and is published by Little, Brown and Company, in conjunction with Time Warner Book Group.

The Angel Experiment is written for kids ages 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

At a secret lab called The School, scientists perform genetic tests on children. Four years ago, one of the scientists (Jeb) helped six mutant kids escape to a house in the mountains. He lived with them there for two years as a loving protector and father figure. Then he vanished. They assumed he'd been killed.

Today, 14-year-old Maximum Ride (Max) affectionately cares for the mutant group like a mother. She calls them the Flock because each, including her, was injected with bird DNA. Consequently, each child has wings and can fly. Other Flock members include Fang (age 14), Iggy (14 and blind due to The School's experiments), Nudge (an 11-year-old girl with the gift of gab), Gasman (or Gazzy, age 8, so named because of his flatulent tendencies) and Angel (Gazzy's 6-year-old biological sister who can read minds).

The Flock has remained under the radar for two years when they're attacked at their home by The School's half-human/half-wolf creations called Erasers. The creatures capture Angel, and the others take flight to rescue her. When the Flock reaches The School many days later, they're captured and returned to animal cages, similar to those they once inhabited. They're startled and angered to find Jeb conducting tests there once again. Jeb tries to tell Max to trust him, but she and the other Flock members escape. Angel tells them she overheard things in the lab that could help the kids learn where they came from.

Based on Angel's information, the Flock flies to New York in search of a place called The Institute. Max begins hearing a voice in her head that speaks in cryptic messages and guides her to The Institute. There, the kids find more mutant children trapped in cages. They evade the Erasers long enough to print out some information about their past history. As they escape, they kill a particularly powerful Eraser named Ari in self-defense. Jeb screams to Max that she's killed her own brother. Max continues to ponder this remark as the other kids read the information about themselves. The younger kids want to fly to Washington, D.C., to follow leads on their parents. Max goes with them, though she has no information about her own past. The Voice tells her she has a greater mission before her.

Christian Beliefs

Max says listening to Nudge's motor mouth could turn Mother Teresa into an ax murderer. She thinks flying must be what it feels like to be God. She says she feels a lack of enthusiasm even after Jeb has told her she's preordained and practically implied she's the messiah. When Max has one of her horrible headaches, she begs God to let her die quickly. Jeb passes through the crowd of Erasers as Moses parting the Red Sea.

Having never been to church, the kids are intrigued by St. Patrick's cathedral. Max says it smells ancient and religious. She feels safe and says it seems like a place where six homeless kids just might be heard. Angel suggests they pray, and Nudge asks if they're praying to God. Nudge prays for parents.

Angel prays she'll get her teddy bear back, that she'll grow up to be like Max and that they'll be safe from the bad guys. Iggy asks that his sight will be restored and that he'll be able to "kick Jeb's butt," and Gazzy prays that he'll be big and strong so that he can help people. Max says she never really thought about whether she believed in God and wonders if God would have let the scientists do such evil experiments. She prays for bravery, strength, wisdom, answers and the ability to take care of the Flock. They all feel so peaceful in the church, they don't want to leave.

Other Belief Systems

Max calls a bullet wound she receives sheer bad luck. When the starving Fang finds food, he calls it Nirvana. Max justifies using a stolen ATM card because the card's owner was a jerk, and she reasons that it's his karma getting back at him. In a toy store, a Ouija board moves by itself and tells Max to save the world. When Max is lost in the subway, she lets the feng shui guide her and finds the door she needs.

Authority Roles

Max is the main authority figure for the Flock. She makes the plans and keeps everyone safe. She believes honesty is always good, "except when it's better to lie" to protect others. When she hears Angel cursing, she vows to watch her own language to set a better example. Scientist Jeb Batchelder cares for the Flock like a father for two years. When they find him alive and working at The School once again, they feel angry and betrayed. The Voice in Max's head guides her to The Institute. It says it considers itself her friend and loves her more than anyone, but that it asks the questions, not her.

Dr. Martinez is the mother of a girl Max rescues from bullies. When Max is hurt, Dr. Martinez assists Max without judging or asking too many questions about her wings. She protects Max from being captured, patches up her wounds and even bakes homemade cookies with her. Max fantasizes that Dr. Martinez is her mother. Some of the Flock members suspect their parents gave them to The School for money.


The Lord's name is frequently used in vain. Butt, crap, h---, suck and heck appear a few times. The kids sometimes curse more severely but without specific words appearing in the text. Max calls the scientists sadistic spawns of Satan. She shoots Ari "the bird."

A number of battles between Flock members and Erasers turn violent and bloody. People are shot and sliced up by bird beaks. Body parts, including noses and necks, are broken with "stomach-turning" cracking noises. When Angel is kidnapped, Max punches a tree until she's bloody and skin is missing. The scientists perform horrible experiments on kids. They shock and burn them, operate on them, put them in mazes like rats and leave them in pet crates when they're not being tested. Some test subjects have vital organs outside of their bodies. A few times, the kids in the Flock see badly mutated children die in front of them.


When Fang has been beaten badly, Max kisses him on the lips.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • If you were Max, would you trust The Voice?
  • How do you determine who you can trust in your life?

  • Why are friendship, loyalty and a sense of family so important to the Flock?

  • What would have happened if they had gone their separate ways after Jeb left?
  • What do the kids feel is missing in their lives because they don't have, or even know about, their parents?

  • What is a fatal flaw?

  • What does Max say is her fatal flaw?
  • What's yours?

  • What does The Voice mean when it tells Max that knowledge is a terrible burden?

  • Have you ever had information others didn't that became a heavy weight on your shoulders?
  • What did you do?
  • How can knowing Jesus help release your burdens?

  • What are your impressions of Jeb and the scientists at The School?

  • What value do they place on human life?
  • Are there people in our society who treat other humans as disposable items? Explain your answer.
  • Which humans does God value?

  • Why is Jeb's betrayal so devastating to the kids in the Flock?

  • Have you ever been betrayed by someone you loved and respected?
  • What happened? How did you feel?

Additional Comments/Notes

Smoking: A woman Nudge thinks may be her mother smokes a cigarette.

Criminal Activity: The Flock sleeps in parks, steals food, hops subway turnstiles, hotwires a car and gets money from an ATM when someone accidentally leaves a card in the machine.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


James Patterson






Record Label



Little, Brown and Company, in conjunction with Time Warner Book Group


On Video

Year Published



The New York Times Bestseller List, 2006; YALSA Teen's Top 10 Award, 2005


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!