In this essay, B.M. will examine the effect of human experimentation to attempt to speed up human evolution in When The Wind Blows by James Patterson.
When The Wind Blows is a novel about how trying to speed up human evolution can only end up in disaster for everyone involved. This novel focuses on the effects of genetic engineering, and how it can completely change the world we live in. Geneticists attempt to play the role of God, creating children who are not human, but are not of any other species either. The children are all unique, since each one of them has a specific genetic makeup, chosen by the group of scientists, doctors and geneticists that are illegally involved in these experiments. Some children are created to be half-human, half-avian (bird), like Max and the other five children. We learn the impact that these experiments have mostly through Max, the eleven-year-old girl who was created to have wings, and be half-bird. Other children are created to have a life span of over 200 years, and cannot die of natural causes. Other children are created simply for "parts", since they are the "reject" children.

Patterson emphasizes the effects of playing God in his acute descriptions of the children. The novel is an example of the damage that comes along with illegal genetic engineering, especially when the experiments are not done to help the human race, but rather, from the eyes of the scientists, accelerate the domination of the human race. Attempting to create a "perfect" race just sets up the experiment for disaster. Patterson constantly reminds the reader of this by repeating the phrase "Things always go awry" throughout the novel.

No good can ever come from genetic engineering that puts helpless children at risk of suffering diseases, defects, and other cruelty. Patterson explains the reason for the genetic experiments when Kit stumbles upon the drawings in the school.

"The papers on the corkboard mesmerized him. He stared at an amazing collection of pen-and-ink drawings of what looked to be theoretical improvements on human parts and organs... He shuddered. A cold chill ran up his spine. Whoever did these line drawings - wants to be God.... There was a complex sequence of drawings of a human leg. The leg was shown in various positions, some requiring a flexibility that seemed impossible to Kit. There was a tight line drawing of an arm, the fingers outstretched. Over the arm was a transparency upon which a new arm had been sketched. A new arm? A better arm? Is that what I’m looking at? The new drawing showed longer muscles, and more streamlined digits. It certainly looked like an improvement on the current model.... It seemed as if some kind of extremely talented corporate body-part designer were sketching the new models for the coming season." (269)

This passage clearly describes how these scientists tried to make the human race better, as though they were the catalyst that helped speed up evolution. The scientists and doctors wanted to create a "better" human than the current one. The scientists get paid a lot of money to work on these experiments, and no feelings are incorporated into their work. The scientists and doctors view their work on these children as business, and do not care about what happens to the children. Many of the doctors even have children of their own, but they feel nothing when they execute a helpless child because it is a "reject".

Patterson illustrates the horror of these experiments when Frannie, Kit and Max explore the school after it has been abandoned. The trio find dead bodies of children and babies all over the school.

"Inside the cribs lay dead and dying children. Everywhere I looked, I saw failure of pulmonary, cardiac, and renal systems. The screeching electronic noise was meant to alert medical personnel of trouble, which was pretty much total. Empty IV bags, stalled ventilators and dialysis machines. Vomit and excrement coated the tiny patients....I steeled myself to peer down into the closest crib. Inside, a naked female infant about several months old squirned and waved her small, perfect hands in the air. The tiny baby had no face, no features at all.... In mounting despair, I hurried to the next crib. The baby boy inside was already dead and decomposing. He had a head the size of a volleyball and the musculature of a child of four or five.... The third crib held another dead child, a year-old babe with a body shape as ordinary as any little kid on the block - except that his skin was separated in irregular tears. The skin hadn’t grown at the same rate as the child... Everywhere I looked were deformed, impossible children.... They could have been perfectly normal, but they’d been mutated. Human experiments had been performed in this room again and again." (279)

This passage depicts the absolute horror that these children endured. Doctors and scientists try to control human genetics; they try to be God. Attempting to control the most uncontrollable things, like human genetics, can only result in ruin, just as Patterson describes in this passage. Once the doctors can control human genetics, what will they try to control next? The doctors even go as far as controlling the fate of others, by having the "reject" children "put to sleep", along with all the witnesses to their horrible crimes.

Acting as God takes all uniqueness out of life. People’s genetics should be decided the way nature has done it forever, not the way a doctor or scientist believes it should be. Making these children, like the six with wings, only hurts the children. It makes their lives much more difficult. These experiments also emotionally scar the biological parents to these children, who think that they have lost their children due to complications, when in reality the children were stolen from them and used in a lab, as lab rats.

The doctors and scientists hold the children that they decide to keep at the school, and they never let the children outside. It is like being in a prison for the children. Not only do the doctors perform the hundreds of experiments, but they hide them as well. Only the most elite know about them, and the head doctor, Dr. Anthony Peyser, is waiting for the right moment to unleash his experiments to the world. The doctors begin to release information to exclusive sources - for a high price. The doctors auction off the children for upwards of 800 million dollars, to the most prestigious companies and even countries. The doctors do not care about the children, just the money. When Frannie, Kit and the children escape the auction, a news helicopter views the entire "showdown" outside, streaming live videos of the flying children around the world. Once the public learns of the winged children, chaos ensues, proving that the world is not meant for evolution like that. The minute everyone knows about the children, the doctors lose all control, since they can no longer control who knows and who does not know.

The doctors do not even take the blame for their horrid work, since they flee the scene. They truly are cowards, and run away the instant they are no longer in control. They leave behind ruin, destruction, and question. However, Max makes sure that they meet their fate in a car accident, in which they all perish.

Patterson uses suspense and action to hold the reader’s attention, as well as entwining a romance into the novel, which just adds to the characters. Frannie, Kit and Max are all the main characters, and Patterson shows a love that all three have for each other, and that love can withstand all else, even the putrid crimes that the doctors and scientists committed. This novel is a perfect example of a science fiction book that shows the devastation and destruction that
can occur as a result of trying to control nature and evolution.
B.M. 2009

In this essay, B.M. will examine the importance of balance in one’s life, and how Patterson highlights that balance through the parallel lives of the characters in Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas by James Patterson.
In this novel, Patterson uses paralleled characters to show how important it is to have balance in one’s life. Patterson repeats a saying throughout the novel, through the voice of Suzanne in her diary:

"Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life." (21)

This "lesson" of the five balls is a constant reminder throughout the story, and is paralleled between Suzanne, in the diary, and Katie, who is reading the diary. This lesson applies to Suzanne, who was a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was overworked, and eventually had a heart attack at a young age. By taking this lesson of the five balls into consideration, Suzanne moved to Martha’s Vineyard, in an attempt to get her priorities right in life. She left her job at Mass. General, and took a different job as a doctor in a new house on the Vineyard. Suzanne finds love, with Matt, and she finally is able to understand the lesson of the five balls even more, and she hold on tight to the love she and Matt share.

When Suzanne has her baby, Nicholas, she realizes just how much more important family was than she thought. Suzanne puts most of her energy into her family, and she tries to put some energy into her health. However, her health becomes a huge obstacle for her, since her heart is always at risk. She ends up having several major issues with her heart, and almost dies several times, but holds on to her love for Nicholas and Matt. For Suzanne, love triumphs everything, and she writes a diary for Nicholas.

Katie, a young editor who lives in New York, reads this diary that she was given from her boyfriend Matt, who abruptly left her for no reason the night she was going to tell him that she was pregnant. This is the same Matt that is married to Suzanne. Patterson creates parallel characters in this novel, with Suzanne and Katie, and Nicholas and Katie’s baby, and Matt is in both stories. Katie, like Suzanne, has a hectic, stressful job in a big city, even though she has always been a small-town girl. Katie learns after reading the diary how truly important balance was in one’s life, and work matters the least out of what her priorities should be.

Suzanne truly cherishes her life, and lives every day as much as she can. This becomes a lesson for Katie, and Katie learns many lessons from what Suzanne has written in her diary. Katie and Suzanne are paralleled in many ways, including their big-city jobs, their small-town families, their love for Matt, and their love for the child they each share with Matt. Both women try to find balance in their lives, and they can not find that balance in the big city. Katie realizes, only after reading the diary, that she would much rather be living back in North Carolina with her parents, in a small-town setting, with a better, less hectic job. Neither woman fit in very well in the big city.

Suzanne’s favorite saying throughout the novel, as she wrote in her diary for Nicholas, was "Isn’t it lucky?" She was always so grateful for each moment in her life, and every minute she had with Matt and Nicholas. Matt truly treasures what he has with Suzanne and Nicholas as well, and he is hit extremely hard when both of them die in a car accident due to Suzanne’s coronary on Nicky’s first birthday. Matt realizes that his ball of family has been forced out of his careful hands, and smashed to pieces. However, with some time, Matt will be able to glue the ball of family back together, with some help from Katie, because he truly cherished every moment he had with Suzanne and Nick, even though that time was abruptly cut short.

After learning of the deaths of Suzanne and Nicholas, Katie has a new sympathy for Matt, now that she knows all he has been through. Matt can transition from the world with Suzanne and Nick into the world with Katie and the child they are expecting. Patterson truly creates two worlds: the world with Suzanne and the world with Katie. The diary ties both worlds together, and Matt finally engaged to Katie helps Matt move on and find love again. His new life with Katie symbolizes the pieces of his family ball put back together, not without major scuffs and scratches, but still together. Matt knows to take even more care of his family, as does Katie.

Balance in one’s life is so important, and many often put work first. But the lesson of the five balls teaches otherwise: work has to be last. Work will bounce back, but family, friends, health, and integrity will not. The parallel lives in this novel emphasize the importance of balance, and highlights the importance of love, and cherishing every moment one has.
B.M. 2009

[This literary criticism by K.D. shall use the novelFour Blind Miceto analyze the methods behind how the author, James Patterson, uses a unique blend of short syntax and chapters, along with graphic imagery and suspense to portray the slow emotional evolvement of the character, Alex Cross, through both his professional and personal lives. (K.D. 2014)]

Four Blind Mice is a continuation of Patterson's Alex Cross series and thoroughly demonstrates Patterson's famous, fast-paced prose. The main focus of the novel is Cross’s internal conflict to balance his work with his personal life, while still getting the job done in both senses. Cross is faced with many adversities throughout the novel. From a personal standpoint, he worries about his Nana and whether she will be able to fend for herself at her fragile state, as well as a woman he has been getting intimate with, Jamilla, who is visiting Cross (in D.C.) from San Francisco to see if their relationship is worth the cross-country distance. His professional life adds double the stress on his shoulders, as when he is about to retire as a detective, his best friend, John Sampson, asks him to go on one last case for him to help his friend who had been framed for murder in North Carolina. The true murderers are Army Rangers who are responsible for countless, gruesome murders. And all military personal are hiding crucial evidence from Cross and all odds are against him in the triple homicide case. His only eyewitness is a 10-year old and he runs into multiple red herrings. What the duo must find is the employer and organizer of the Army’s “Three Blind Mice” killers and issue him justice in Cross’s last case. Patterson uses a series of 115, 4-5 page chapters, with a mix of thrilling action scenes and detailed investigations to grasp his readers’ attentions and keep them from putting Four Blind Mice down until the very end.

“’I miss you, Jam. I’d like to see you,’ I said. ‘Anyplace, anytime. Why don’t you come east for a change. Or I could go out there if you’d rather. You tell me.’ Jamilla hesitated and I found that I was holding my breath. Maybe she didn’t want to see me. then she said, ‘I can get off work for a few days. I’d love to see you. Sure, I’ll come to Washington. I haven’t been there since I was a kid.’ …My heart fluttered a little as the two of us made a date. Sure, I’ll come to Washington. I played that line of Jamilla’s over and over in my head for the rest of the night.” (47)

“I was early to meet the flight coming into Gate 74 at Reagan National; and once I was at the airport, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was definitely nervous, good nervous, with anticipation. Jamilla Hughes was coming to visit.” (109)

“I edged open the door and saw her lying in bed, so I quietly moved into the room…I realized I couldn’t hear Nana’s breathing. My body tensed and suddenly there was a loud roaring sound inside my head. She hadn’t gotten up to make breakfast only a handful of times since I was a kid. I felt the tears of a child as I stood perfectly still in her room. Oh god, no. Don’t let this happen. When I got close to her bed, I heard shallow breaths. Then her eyes popped open.
‘Alex?’ she whispered. ‘What’s happening? Why are you in here? What time is it?’
‘Hi there, sweetheart. You okay?’ I asked.” (74)

These passages show the intimate side of Cross. Being old partners on a homicide case, Detective Cross and Inspector Hughes stayed in touch and wanted to rekindle their relationship in person. Cross’s childish excitement to Jamilla’s response of “Sure, I’ll come to Washington,” along with his shaking nervousness when awaiting her arrival heavily contrasted his hardened attitude on the job. Also, it seems that there is nothing Alex Cross cares about more than his Nana. His gripping terror in his tone of voice when he said, “Oh god, no. Don’t let this happen,” when his Nana was simply asleep, showed his passionate love for her that is unmatchable. He practically lives a double life in a sense, but he balances the two surprisingly efficiently. This also marks the start of Cross evolving emotionally and how he begins to put his personal needs before work, as he is also contemplating resigning from his detective position.

Although Cross shows a sliver his soft side, he still demonstrates that he is the best at his job. He restlessly follows his leads, driving back and forth to North Carolina. Seeming like everyone in the town wants the man to be guilty, Alex stays determined to catch the three ruthless murderers. The “Three Blind Mice” were mad men. They took a video of themselves committing the three murders and sat down to watch it together over and over again for personal enjoyment. “Sitting in the den of their cabin, the buddies watched the film twice more. When the third showing was over, Thomas Starkey removed the videocassette. ‘Here, here,’ said Starkey, and they all raised their beer mugs. ‘We’re not getting older, we’re getting better and better’” (32). Because Alex Cross receives no assistance from anyone, Patterson instills suspense into the minds of his reader and makes them question whether he can pull through in the catching of these psychotic thugs.

Also, Patterson depicts them reminiscing about a time back in Vietnam of them torturing a civilian woman to further demonstrate their insidious and brutal actions.
“Starkey recounted the time they had made a Vietnamese woman “ride the submarine.” The woman – a VC sympathizer, of course – had been stripped naked, then tied to a wooden plank, face upward. Harris had tied a towel around her face. Water from a barrel was slowly sprinkled onto the towel. As the towel eventually became soaked, the woman was forced to inhale water to breathe. Her lungs and stomach soon swelled with the water. Then Harris pounded on her chest to expel the water. The woman talked but of course she didn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know. So they dragged her out to a kaki tree, which produced a sweet fruit and was always covered with large yellow ants. They tied the mama-san to the tree, lit up marijuana cigars, and watched as her body swell beyond recognition. When it was close to bursting, they wired her with a field telephone and electrocuted her. Starkey always said that was about the most creative kill ever. ‘And the VC terrorist bitch deserved it.’” (28)

Patterson continues to say how they had contests called “mad minutes” on who could massacre a village the fastest, and after they would burn what remained to the ground. Patterson uses his short sentences and graphic imagery here to portray the ruthlessness of the killers. They are pure evil, while also being creative geniuses when it comes to bloodshed. The “Three Blind Mice” work swiftly under the radar and with absolutely no mercy.

James Patterson’s prose is designed to shock and awe. Every word in his abrupt, fragmented syntax further grasps the reader’s attention and makes them delve deeper into the suspenseful plot. This causes them to always be at the edge of their seats until the very last page. His prose also assists in the illustration of his gruesome, detailed imagery that contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole, the evolving of emotions of the character, Alex Cross. Cross faces the last case as a detective of his life in the novel. While he deals with his last case, through his perseverance, he realizes what matters to him the most, which is his family and friends, especially Jamilla and Nana. These techniques used by Patterson allow him to thoroughly express the evolution of Cross and to simultaneously thrill his readers in the process.
(K.D. 2014)