This book, although intended for adult audiences with adult themes, was added to the young adult collection due to the popularity of the Maximum Ride series. The main character in the series, Maximum, was first introduced in this novel and it's sequel, The Lake House. However, the character in When the Wind Blows and it's sequel are slightly different than the Max in the Maximum Ride series and supporting characters are changed, but it is still interesting to see where the idea of the character originated.
In the novel, FBI agent Kit Harrison is investigating a series of murders of prominent doctors who seem to be hiding something. One murdered doctor was the husband of Frannie O'Neill, a local veterinarian who suddenly stumbles upon a strange sight in the woods - a young girl with wings. This girl, named Max, escaped from a place called "The School" where she and her brother had been raised as lab rats and recently escaped. The people who ran The School don't want any witnesses to the experimentations that they've done and are now out to destroy the problems that have arisen with Max's escape. With the help of Kit and Frannie, though, Max tries to free her friends from The School and expose the secrets of some sick scientists trying to play God.
I find this book fascinating because of the idea of what science might become. Although this book is 12 years old, the ideas are still mind-blowing. It is an intricately woven plot and with intriguing characters that draw you in from the beginning. Each character has his/her own back story and you want the good guys to succeed and the bad guys to fail. The book has amazing twists and keeps you gripped from page one. It is, however, definitely intended for adult audiences. Some of the science is very complicated and heavy to sort through. There are also adult themes (violent/graphic deaths and just a little bit of sex - not that teens aren't already exposed to these themes). A lot of the novel focuses more on the adults and their investigation of The School and the associated murders. Even when Max comes front and center, it's about exposing The School and it's evils.
I haven't read the Maximum Ride series so I don't know how much actual appeal this novel will have for those fans since the only similarities I know between the books are a girl with wings who can fly named Max and the fact that she was created at a place called "The School." It is, though, a really good book, especially for teens who are looking for a fast paced, thrilling book that will challenge their reading.