Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book 5: The Predator

The Summary
Ax has a plan. He's going to build a device that will send a distress beacon to the Yeerks. Standard Yeerk operating procedure is to send down a bug fighter to investigate. Ax thinks the Animorphs can hijack the Bug and fly it all the way to Andalite space to get some help.

So to get materials for this thing, Marco and Jake and Ax go to the mall. Ax is distracted by everything, and runs off without warning. He manages to order himself a latte from Starbucks and nearly breaks down crying from the sheer bliss of taste. The others manage to get him back on task. They buy the parts they need, but Ax is off again, this time stealing food from the food court and generally acting like a crazy person. The mall cops step in, but Ax is so confused that he morphs back to his Andalite form.

Hysteria ensues, and Marco and Jake are able to escape with Ax into a grocery store, where they morph lobsters in the seafood section and hide in the tank. Naturally, they are purchased by someone, who attempts to cook them. They demorph in some random lady's house, but manage to convince her it's all a dream.

Ax finally finishes his distress beacon, but it's missing a component that human technology won't be able to give him. So they all morph ants, which is a horrific experience, and break into Chapman's house. This goes surprisingly smoothly, minus the ant thing. Ax finds out that Visser One is stopping by Earth for a visit soon.

A few days later, they try the distress beacon. A ship shows up, but the whole thing was a trap, and the Animorphs are captured. Visser Three is thrilled at the opportunity to show up Visser One, and brings his prisoners to her. But it turns out that Visser One's host body is Marco's mother, whom he believed to be dead. It is very dramatic.

Visser One is totally unimpressed and leaves in a huff. The Animorphs are taken to a cell. Just when they're debating trapping themselves in morph to avoid being infested, Visser One's personal soldiers show up to free the Animorphs, because their escape will make Visser Three look bad. They escape pretty easily, ripping through the opposition, and return home to earth.

The Review
Ifi: So, the cover.
Ifi: Nice hair Marco
Ifi: Really.
Adam: I don't like his expression
Adam: It is exceptionally smarmy
Adam: Which is in character, but still
Ifi: He sort of looks like he's having a seizure
Adam: That's a bit heartless to people with epilepsy
Ifi: My apologies to our readers with epilepsy. I'm sure you have better taste in haircuts than Marco.
Adam: Well, he gets a haircut by the next book.
Ifi: We have returned to the random colored cloud background
Adam: Which is sad, as I really do not like the color scheme of this book
Adam: Pale blue on hot pink?
Adam: It does not work well.
Ifi: I think Marco might be on LSD or something
Adam: He's still a bit young for that.
Ifi: No no. It all makes sense. The face. The pose. The background.
Adam: If it helps you sleep at night, sure. Marco was on LSD.
Ifi: I'm going to write a fanfic.
Adam: Go for it.
Adam: Oh, there was just one thing I wanted to say before we got to the plot
Ifi: Yeah?
Adam: So this book is otherwise known as the one where Marco stops being a useless lump.
Ifi: Makes sense
Adam: Well, think of how he was in the last book.
Adam: He gets disemboweled by sharks. And then later they have to push him off the edge of a cargo ship because he can't swim
Ifi: He's a pussy who tried to refuse the call ten times over
Adam: The call knows where you live, Marco.

Ifi: So Marco is walking down the street with the groceries because his dad is utterly useless.
Ifi: Marco is being even more of a little bitch than usual today because we're coming up on the 2 year anniversary of his mom dying
Adam: Okay, that is rather terrible, I will give him that.
Ifi: I know that's actually valid, but he complains about everything. So now even when he does have something to actually complain about I'm like whatever
Adam: Yeah, okay.
Adam: So he is walking down the street, and he sees a guy being mugged.
Adam: Looks like it's time to spontaneously break character!
Ifi: I know I've yelled at the other four for morphing to do random civilian crap, but what the heck, my mom is dead.
Adam: So wait, you're saying that Marco is Batman?
Ifi: Well, he seems to feel he is
Adam: Something I've also noticed is that Marco goes around referring to dolphins as fish, but he busts a nerve if someone else calls a gorilla a monkey.
Adam: Gosh, I would hate to see what would have happened if Marco were the one caught in his bird morph
Ifi: I think the whole series would implode on itself from angst
Adam: Think of the tween girl fanbase it would generate!
Adam: I shudder at the thought.
Ifi: Okay, so, mugging
Adam: We can add muggers to the list of why this is the worst neighborhood on earth.
Adam: Muggers who are perfectly willing to attack a fully grown silverback gorilla.
Ifi: Visser Three needs to speak to some realtors or something.
Adam: Indeed.
Ifi: So Marco scares of the gangsters, only to get shot at by the old man he was trying to protect. Fucker.
Adam: There is such a thing as gratitude, you know.
Ifi: Really what the hell
Adam: This is why they aren't waging an all out war. The little old men would fight them off.
Ifi: Anyway, the next day, Marco is bragging about his fuck up to his friends, and Jake is the only one who comments that he maybe shouldn't have done that. But whatever.
Adam: And he confirms what we suspected
Adam: He does think he's Batman.
Adam: But yes.

"Marco? It was good of you to rescue the old man. But you really shouldn't be turning into a gorilla."

----Book Five, The Predator

Adam: I love how nonchalantly, he says that.
Ifi: Especially since Marco was SCREAMING at them over the hawk rescue thing in book 3
Adam: Hip hip hip HYPOCRISY 

Ifi: The Animorphs have a picnic
Adam: I want to have a picnic with an alien!
Adam: They are living 10 year old Adam's dreams!
Ifi: Anyway Ax has no time for tea. He has a brilliant plan
Ifi: They are going to build a thingy and summon a Yeerk spaceship, which they will then steal.
Adam: Even if it does succeed, once he gets into Andalite space, wouldn't they, know, start shooting at him?
Ifi: I don't even know

Ifi: They go to the mall
Ifi: To get shit for the thingy Ax has to build.
Adam: And we get our first case of Ax and his antics.
Ifi: I'd think Ax learned better in alien school than to go running off on a strange planet
Adam: He's like a kid in a candy story.
Adam: Let him have his fun.
Adam: He has never tasted the delights of caffeinated beverages before.

Ifi: I love that they're looking for a Radio Shack, btw
Ifi: This series is so delightfully dated
Ifi: They also mention a Circuit City
Adam: I can't even get a decent pair of headphones at Radio Shack.
Ifi: Aren't both those places out of business now?
Adam: Radio Shack is still alive.
Adam: Not sure about Circuit City or not.
Ifi: Circuit City is definitely gone.
Ifi: Anyway Ax runs to Starbucks and gets really excited over the hole in the lid of his coffee

"A hole! In the lid! No spills! Ills!"
This was the coolest thing Ax had ever seen. I guess coffee cup technology hasn't advanced very far on the Andalite home world. Probably because they don't have mouths, and so drinking is not a big concern. But whatever the reason, Ax wouldn't shut up about it
"So simple! Imple. And yet so effective!"

----Book Five, The Predator

Adam: Modern technology, folks.
Ifi: I died.

Ifi: After buying random technological things, Ax escapes again and goes to the food court.
Ifi: Which has apparently been calling his name.
Adam: And it is here that he has his first taste of paradise.
Adam: IE: Cinnamon buns.
Adam: IE: Half eated, leftover cinnamon buns.
Ifi: And other random stuff he steals from mallgoers
Ifi: Anyway, the mall cops are delighted because now they have something to do.
Ifi: So they all start chasing Ax.
Adam: And Ax does the sensible thing and demorphs in broad daylight.
Ifi: Apparently there are no security cameras in the mall.
Ifi: Especially since Marco and Jake are running along with him. This should immediately mark them as fellow Andalites, but absolutely nobody notices.
Adam: According to Marco, everyone was chasing after him to see what was happening.
Adam: As it turns out, this entire mall was filled with Andalite bandits.
Ifi: Well they all run out to the parking lot together
Adam: And Marco says there's a bomb, which makes everyone panic further.
Adam: Apparently a bomb takes precedence over a blue centaur.
Ifi: This was clearly written pre 9/11. That sort of thing would not fly today.
Adam: This is true.

Ifi: They run into a nearby supermarket, acquire some lobsters, and hide in the tank.
Ifi: Brilliant.
Adam: So the completely obvious happens, and someone picks up Marco to cook him.
Adam: It was profoundly lucky that this woman happened to purchase all three of them at once.
Ifi: Don't question it. HIS MOM IS DEAD.
Ifi: They demorph in some lady’s house, probably taking years off her life.
Ifi: Fortunately, the woman who bought them is an idiot, and they manage to convince her that the whole thing is a dream. 
Adam: They demorph right in front of her. She is very fortunately not a Controller.
Ifi: Yeah way to go dudes.
Adam: And of course, before they go, they tell her to save the animals
Adam: Specifically, the lobsters.
Adam: The tasty, tasty lobsters.
Ifi: Jesus Whale would not approve, Adam.
Adam: Jesus Whale eats krill, which is not all that evolutionarily far off from lobsters.
Ifi: Don't question the Jesus Whale.
Adam: Touche.
For some reason, the UK publisher decided this would make a cooler cover.

Ifi: The next day they have another picnic.
Ifi: Picnics are great.
Adam: This is true.
Adam: Wait
Adam: First, Marco has a nightmare.
Ifi: Yeah it is pretty fucked up

Jake and I were playing video games at the mall. I was kicking his butt. He was distracted because he was eating.
He was eating a big red bug with huge pincers.
I told him not to eat it. It would upset his stomach. But he just ignored me.
Then, suddenly, his stomach exploded. It just exploded outward, guts flying everywhere.
Eight huge spider legs appeared, like something in him was trying to crawl out.
I tried to get away, but the steam was rising. I was burning up!
I tried to run, but my legs were gone, replaced by a tail that jerked and kicked.

----Book Five, The Predator

Ifi: He wakes up crying for Mommy
Adam: This is the first case of these kids getting PTSD.
Adam: Which gets to be an increasingly important element to this series as it goes on.

Ifi: So then picnic?
Adam: So then picnic.
Adam: And Ax somehow knows how to hack together random pieces of electronics into an interspacial radio.
Ifi: Except they are missing a piece!
Adam: Oops!
Adam: Rehash the plot of book 2!
Adam: Party with Chapman!

Ifi: So they decide to morph ants. To get into Chapman's house.
Ifi: Because
Ifi: I don't even know
Ifi: But it turns out ants totally suck! 

There was no fear. None.
There was no hunger.
There was self. No me.
No me.
My antennae swept the air. Strange. Not home. Not the colony. Enemy territory. 
Smell them. Smell their droppings. Smell the acrid odors they smeared along the ground to mark their boundaries.
<How are you guys doing? It's Tobias. How are you guys doing?>
Strangers. The smell of others. They would come. There would be killing.
Killing. Soon.

----Book Five, The Predator

Adam: Okay, this part I found completely terrifying.
Ifi: Yeah ants suck. What were you guys thinking?
Adam: Well, in retrospect, this is also pretty interesting.
Adam: It makes the analogy that ants are less individual creatures, and more like cells in a larger organism.
Adam: But this isn't too far off to how it's theorized that multiceluar organisms arose in the first place.
Adam: Single celled organisms became symbiotic and began to work in tandem, and they became so necessary for one's survival that they basically merged into a single entity.
Ifi: Are you done.
Adam: Never.
Adam: But yes.

Ifi: So they get into Chapman's basement again
Ifi: And Ax starts going through everything.
Ifi: He finds a memo stating that Visser One is stopping by for a few days.
Adam: And we learn a bit more about Yeerk hierarchy.
Ifi: Though nothing we probably couldn't have guessed ourselves
Adam: I still like it when they explain things outright though.
Ifi: Okay so they find the thingy
Adam: Somehow managing to not leave a completely conspicuous trail behind
Ifi: Again--apparently there are no security cameras in Chapman's basement
Adam: Those Yeerks sure do have a smooth running operation, don't they?
Adam: So, they make their exit, but they are attacked by a local ant colony.
Ifi: And it is gruesome.
Adam: Jesus Whale, yes.

The speed of the attack was incredible. The force of the attack was impossible to explain. There were hundreds of them. Ahead. Behind. Flooding up from side tunnels. Bursting from the walls.
One of my legs came loose, torn away. Ripped out by the roots. [...] I could feel my waist being sawed through by grinding sharp mandibles. A searing liquid was fired at me. Poison. They were stinging me. Stinging me again and again, and ripping me apart.

----Book Five, The Predator, WTF

Ifi: They finally decide, "fuck this" and just morph back to human. Luckily they've made it outside already
Adam: Good thing they weren't far underground, or worse, inside the wall of the building.
Ifi: This book is nothing but them getting lucky over and over
Adam: Would you prefer a book where which ends with them getting shot as soon as they first enter the Yeerk Pool? That doesn't exactly sound like a fun read.
Ifi: Of course not, but we've had like five lucky breaks in rapid succession.

Ifi: A few days later, Ax finishes building his whatever
Adam: At least they have the common sense to be in the middle of nowhere when they try it out.
Ifi: Oh and Marco decides he's done after this
Ifi: After this mission, he is calling it quits.
Ifi: It's just too much angst for one man to handle.
Adam: But surprise surprise, the Yeerks have realized that is a trap!
Adam: Whoever could have guessed that?
Ifi: Herpaderp
Ifi: Being captured would be worth it, just for that
Adam: They're under gun point and are about to be tortured and killed or mind controlled.

Ifi: Okay so it is inferred that Visser Three and Visser One don't really get along, and are constantly attempting to one-up each other just because. Either that or they’re in love with each other; it's kind of ambiguous.
Ifi: Visser Three figures that capturing the Andalite bandits will make him look awesome in comparison.
Adam: Okay, so fair enough.
Adam: But then we are introduced to Visser One, who outranks the terrifying and monstrous Visser Three.

Ifi: Anyway, Jake is the only one other than Marco who recognizes her.
Ifi: Marco is busy repeating HOLY JESUS WHALE HOLY JESUS WHALE WTF over and over again
Adam: He's lost his excuse to go out Batmanning.

Ifi: So Visser Three and Visser One have a little fight or whatever
Ifi: And the Animorphs, still in silly animal morphs, get put in a cell
Ifi: Nobody really questions why they are still in morph.
Adam: It really would have been less conspicuous if they had gotten Ax a battle more beforehand.
Ifi: Yeah. Ax tends to prefer his normal shape when he fights, but in retrospect, it makes the others look suspicious.
Adam: When Visser Three sees them in their battle morph, he specifically complements Jake.
Adam: Jake who is a tiger.
Adam: More evidence that Visser Three is secretly a crazy cat lady.
Ifi: Either that or he thinks it looks delicious
Adam: Both?
Ifi: Such a confusing feeling!
Adam: Visser Three is full of confusing feelings.
Adam: He dialogues all of these in his livejournal.
Ifi: He's had a rough day. Went a whole book without morphing into something ridiculous and eating an innocent bystander.
Adam: Like why can't he get Edriss to see that he likes her? He brought her a gift and everything!
Ifi: Six gifts?
Adam: Exactly!
Adam: And she has to go turn him down like that!
Adam: Heartless.
Ifi: I think she was turned off by the fact he used caps locks in her brain.
Adam: It's how he expresses himself.
Adam: It's the only way he knows how.
Ifi: It's not entirely her fault. Her host simply cannot be aroused by a blue centaur thing and the whole enterprise is hopeless.
Adam: Tragic.
Adam: And all poor Visser Three has to content himself with are his vampire fanfictions and thirteen cats.
Ifi: Don't feel bad, Visser Three. There are plenty more bloodthirsty, power-mad Yeerk ladies/Hispanic middle-aged soccer moms out there
Ifi: I'm adding this all to my fanfic

Ifi: But then, when all hope seems lost, Mom lets them go!
Adam: So one of the Yeerk's highest ranking political officials just committed an incredibly treasonous act that will end up costing them the war, all for petty personal reasons.
Adam: How has there government just not collapsed in on itself by now?
Adam: Visser One isn't Marco's Mom.
Ifi: Visser One will always be Marco's Mom to me because whenever she's in a scene Marco has a nervous breakdown
Adam: It must be completely horrifying for an ordinary civilian Yeerk though.
Ifi: And I think once the Yeerks get everything sorted out, it will be incredibly obvious that she was behind the escape, even if there is no hard evidence
Ifi: Way to keep the troops believing in you.
Adam: Well, her troops do have those conveniently colored uniforms.
Adam: Oh, and also, for some reason that I cannot for the life of me understand, Marco insists on Jake not telling everyone that Visser One is his mom.
Ifi: It's so there can be another dramatic reveal a few books later
Ifi: So we can milk the drama
Ifi: For all it's worth
Adam: Durf.

Ifi: And that is actually pretty much the end. There's a sort of epilogue in the graveyard where Marco angsts some more, but did this book seem shorter than usual to you?
Adam: Yes, I did read through this one unusually quickly.
Ifi: Yeah this one was shorter, especially the third act.
Adam: Well, nothing really happens in the first act. It's just Marco's out of character heroics, some angsting, and then we are off to watch Ax run around like a lunatic.
Ifi: Okay you're right. The whole thing is just getting the characters in place to meet Visser One, and then it abruptly ends.
Adam: Well, the bit at the end where Marco's dad decided to stop being such a deadbeat was pretty heartwarming, I will admit.
Ifi: Dad is all "I AM GOING TO BE A SCIENTIST AGAIN" and Marco is just like "Hi yeah I just got back from outer space"
Ifi: What a depressing book.
Adam: Howso? A kid finds out that the mother he thought was dead was still alive, and his dad learns to turn his life around again.
Ifi: Except she's an alien slave and dad is grieving someone who isn't dead
Adam: You're such a downer.
Ifi: I'm sorry, the whole thing always made me sad!
Adam: Don't be sad.
Ifi: I'm sad because they don't get around to rescuing her for another like thirty books or so
Adam: Well, they do rescue her.
Adam: That is better then other characters.
Ifi: True.
Ifi: Tom gets screwed over really bad, and they could have saved him literally whenever.
Adam: Why didn't they ever just kidnap him and tie him up in a shack for a few days?
Ifi: They could have done that AT ANY POINT
Ifi: "I'm bored."
Ifi: "Me too."
Ifi: "Hey let's tie up Tom for three days. We totally outnumber him."
Ifi: "Oh man you're right!"
Adam: "Why didn't we do this earlier? Dude's probably in horrible mental anguish by now."
Ifi: "We were busy playing Doom."
Adam: "Oh, okay then. Well, maybe tomorrow."

Ifi: This book was lame. The reveal was good, Ax was brilliant, and the rest was pointless filler.
Adam: Well, it had some important stuff, and we finally had something to inspire Marco to get off his lazy bum.
Ifi: We learned how dropshafts work.
Adam: Clearly the most important element of this book.
Adam: There there.
Adam: Take a deep breath
Adam: It will be alright.


  1. This blog is totally gold! You guys are hilarious even if you fail to appreciate the true awesomeness of Robias. I'm really glad Michal Grant linked to you.

    Also, this book is really really good. It's probably my eighth or ninth favourite in the whole series (yeah, I made a top 10, what of it?). Marco rules. He came the closest of any character except Tobias to having every book he narrated actually be good. IMO, of course.

  2. I never read this book when I was a kid (though I have distinct memories of hating on the cover even then) and whenever Marco referenced never morphing ants again in later ones I always got annoyed that I missed it. Though I did read the one with the termites, which was also pretty creepy.

    That stuff about Visser Three's LJ was the most hilarious thing I have read all day. I totally ship Visser Three/Visser One now. (Visser Throne???)

  3. Ye Gods! What the hell is wrong with the NPCs in _Animorphs_?!? You wonder why Jake and the gang are so secretive when they could talk openly about the alien invasion and transforming and whatever and nobody would care or even notice.

    "I'm going to write a fanfic (about Marco on Acid)."

    The end of that fanfic should -no, MUST- be that Marco was high through the whole series and hallucinated the whole thing.

    BatMarco? More fanart shall be coming forthwith.

    Huh... there is a Radio Shack in my town. They are very, very artifact-y and mostly sell used CDs and records and whatnot. Circuit City, meanwhile, is dead and nobody seems to want the weirdly-shaped building left behind.

    OMG, the "UK cover"...

  4. Tess: Thank you for the complement! And oh man, you should have seen my reaction when Michael Grant linked to us. I was jumping off the walls all crazylike. Twas amusing.

    Chris:I see it more as Visser 3 having a one-sided crush on Visser 1 then something mutual. He does the yeerk equivalent of pulling her pigtails in gym class, and then angsts about it later that she doesn't like him back.

    But to each his own.

    Trish: In her defense, we don't actually get to see how this woman reacts immediately after Jake, Marco and Ax left. She might have been in a state of shock during it, but then freaked out and called the authorities right afterwards. She ends up getting a spot on one of those paranormal mystery shows, and that is the start of her long lasting and successful career in Hollywood. And that is how Sarah Jessica Parker came to be. ...Wait...


    The entire ant thing is easily the most messed up thing that's happened so far in the series since Elfangor was eaten alive. They go on to reference it constantly in later books. Even when Rachel gets temporary plot-induced amnesia, she knows not to morph ants.

  6. I find this blog's ideas interesting and would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

  7. I would pay money to read Visser three's LJ. Good money.

    Also... most hilarious ship ever.

  8. ^^ Somebody start a VisserThree Twitter posthaste.

    (Probably there already is one. Hell, Gyarados has one.)

  9. Found one:!/visserthree

    I was severely tempted to start up my own, I will admit.

    1. that can't be him it's in lower case

  10. I remember seeing the American cover for this one and thinking "Why the heck did we get a lobster and the Americans get the gorilla"? I think this is the only time when we had two separate covers for the same book, but then I might be wrong on that account

  11. The cover of this book, silly as it is now, is actually what got me into Animorphs. It was shortly after it had come out and I was heading into the kids section of Barnes and Noble to pick up more Boxcar Children books and HOLY SHIT A DUDE TURNING INTO A GORILLA, THAT IS THE COOLEST GODDAMN THING I HAVE SEEN IN ALL OF MY SIX YEARS.

  12. Would tying Tom up really work, though? What would happen after the Yeerk got out? They do that to Jake in a future book, but nobody knew he was a Controller, so the Yeerks never saw him walking down the street and came up to him and said 'ohai why haven't you been at the Pool all week?' But once the Yeerk is gone from Tom's head, what is Tom gonna do? His Yeerk buddies are going to be like "hey remember back before you got that stupid kid host, when we did that thing?" and Tom's gonna be all 'Umm, sorry, amnesia?' Or at school Chapman's like, 'come to the Pool after class, I need you to do that alien technology thing' and he's not gonna know how, because he's a dumb jock, who just saw a Yeerk doing it with his hands that one time.

    When they wreck the Kandrona later on, didn't the Yeerks murder all the people whose Yeerks died? Once Tom's Yeerk is gone, they're gonna kill him so he cant talk. Or he has to take off running as soon as Jake unties him.

  13. Super late to the party, but Rachel had a PTSD dream about being a shrew and eating maggots in The Visitor.