|“||"The idea for the Maximum Ride series comes from earlier books of mine called When the Wind Blows and The Lake House, which also feature a character named Max who escapes from a quite despicable School. Most of the similarities end there. Max and the other kids in the Maximum Ride books are not the same Max and kids featured in those two books. Nor do Frannie and Kit play any part in the series. I hope you enjoy the ride anyway."||”|
–James Patterson, The Angel Experiment
The books were released in 1998 and 2003. James Patterson revisited similar ideas in the young adult series Maximum Ride, beginning in 2005. However, the two series are not connected, and they are not prequels or sequels. The plot and tone are different, and the adult series focuses on more mature subjects.
In the author's note to When the Wind Blows, Patterson thanks Maxine Paetro for her involvement in research, writing and editing the book. In the dedication of The Lake House, Patterson writes, "This is for the other Max, Maxine Paetro, who has been involved with the bird children from the beginning." Paetro is credited as Patterson's co-writer on other series such as the Women's Murder Club.
- “Max,” or Maximum. Her subject name is Tinkerbell. She is eleven in the first book. She has long blond hair and green eyes, stands four feet nine inches tall, and has a nine-foot wingspan. Her hawklike wings are white with silver and blue markings. She has an IQ of 149. In the sequel, while trying to adjust to life with her parents Art and Terry Marshall, she turns twelve years old. She is protective of the other children..
- Matthew: Max’s loving and protective younger brother, codenamed Peter Pan. He is depicted as nine years old in both books. His wings are off-white with silver and navy blue markings.
- “Oz,” or Ozymandias: In the first book, Oz is a talkative seven-year-old, stocky, with dark brown hair, eyes and feathers. However, in the second book he is the next-oldest after Max, and has feelings for her. He has a scar across his right eyebrow and regularly tattoos himself. His birth name is Harold Taranto and his biological parents are Anthea and Mike Taranto; his father died of cancer before they could meet. Anthea is a little too fond of attention, and hires Oz a Hollywood agent and an entertainment lawyer. He is killed by Hitmen working for the Hospital, and Max avenges him.
- “Ic,” or Icarus: a blind member of the flock with long ash-blond hair. The rest of the flock helps him to fly by communicating via chirps and whistles. He can be sarcastic and is a skilled musician and mimic. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stern, have him appear on the show Touched by an Angel.
- Peter and Wendy: four-year-old twins of Chinese descent, with bowl haircuts, both geniuses. They seem to be very close. Wendy’s favorite toy is a Garfield the Cat doll. After they start living with their biological parents, Joe and Anne Chen, they begin appearing in advertisements for Wingdingers cereal, and they hate it.
- Frannie O’Neill: a veterinarian who helps rescue the children from the School and falls in love with Kit. Her husband, Dr. David Mekin, was associated with the School but found out too much and was murdered three years before the story begins. Her small animal hospital, the Inn-Patient, is located in the tiny town of Bear Bluff, Colorado. In the sequel, she enters a custody battle for the flock and eventually wins.
- Kit Harrison: an FBI agent who works with Frannie and becomes a father figure to the flock. His wife and children are deceased. He has a reputation for believing conspiracy theories.
- Adam: a blue-eyed, blond child, age four, who was also experimented on by the School; a genius with a life expectancy of 200 years. He was the same age as Peter and Wendy and was their best friend. The flock believed that he and his sister Eve were “put to sleep,” but in reality they were adopted by Frannie’s friends Carl and Gillian Puris – actually School scientists Dr. Anthony Peyser and Dr. Susan Parkhill. Frannie knew Adam by the name Michael. When the flock is being held captive in Gillian’s house, he helps Kit and Frannie escape to find them. He and his parents die in a car crash when they attempt to escape.
- Eve: Adam’s sister, who was also supposed to have been put to sleep. Although her parents and brother died, she survived and was taken to a top secret army base in North Carolina.
- Dr. Anthony Peyser: elusive creator of the School. In order to kidnap children to use as test subjects, his staff run in-vitro clinics where they tell mothers that their newborns are dead.
- Dr. Ethan Kane: affable villain of The Lake House, who runs an organization known as the Hospital.
- There is a group of six avian-human hybrid children, referred to as the Flock, created and experimented on at a facility referred to as "the School." The oldest and the leader is a girl named Max, short for Maximum.
- Max has the same name and personality in both series, although her appearance is different.
- In When the Wind Blows, Max is briefly mentioned as enjoying chocolate chip cookies - her trademark favorite food in the YA series.
- Like Fang, Oz falls in love with Max and eventually has children with her.
- Like Iggy, Icarus or "Ic" is blind due to experiments meant to give him night vision.
- Like Gazzy and Angel, Peter and Wendy are biological siblings and the youngest members of the flock.
- Like Dr. Martinez, Frannie is a veterinarian who provides a home and becomes a mother figure to the bird children.
- Icarus displays perfect mimicking abilities in The Lake House; so does Gazzy in the later series.
- Both series begin set in Colorado.
- Both series begin with a scene of Max fleeing from her pursuers through the woods.
- Both series feature a pet terrier (Pip in When the Wind Blows, Total in Maximum Ride).
- When the Wind Blows features an auction similar to the one in Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports.
- In Maximum Ride, the kids range from 6 to 14, while in the original series they range from 4 to 12.
- The kids' wings are mostly white and blue, while in the Maximum Ride series they vary in color.
- In the adult books, the bird children have increased strength and genius-level intellects. In the Maximum Ride series, the Flock has outright superpowers such as telepathy.
- In Maximum Ride, human-avian hybrids have air sacs in addition to lungs, as well as fast heartbeats, altered stomachs, bones, and nuclei in their blood. They have advanced senses and don't weigh much. However, aside from their wings, which are easily hidden, they look identical to humans. The bird children in the original novels are more birdlike, with broad shoulders and deep ribcages to aid in flying, and pectoral muscles attaching to an oversized breastbone called the pectoral crest. They are very flexible, and have hollow bones and slightly webbed fingers and toes that act like rudders during flight. They also have feathers along the backs of their disproportionately long legs. Their wings are attached to their foreshortened arms. They mature faster than humans, being at age twelve at least the physical equivalent of eighteen, and in some ways are psychologically more like birds. They are also oviparous, meaning that their children hatch from eggs.