Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book 7: The Stranger


The Summary
Rachel's father is moving to another state. Okay, nobody cares. Rachel sort of starts to have a nervous breakdown due to the combined pressure of protecting the world and possible needing to go live with her dad. She goes to the zoo by herself in the middle of the night and acquires a grizzly bear for combat.

Marco and Tobias figure out a way to get into the Yeerk Pool, through the mall. Ax explains that the Yeerks depend on a device called a Kandrona to transmit Kandrona rays to the Yeerk pool. The Kandrona is not in the Yeerk pool, but it's all they've got, so they go anyway, using their roach morphs. About five minutes in, they are eaten by a Taxxon.

That would be a lousy ending, so they are rescued by an entity called an or possibly the Ellimist. He is basically God, or a Q, and he isn't allowed to directly interfere with the world, but he wants to move some humans to a safe planet because the Yeerks are totally going to win and destroy everything. He shows them a slide show presentation of how awesome the earth is. The Animorphs refuse the offer and everything goes back to how it was, except, during the conversation with the Ellimist, they noticed a way to escape.

So they are back inside the Taxxon being eaten, but they demorph and cut their way out using Ax's tail. They realize that there is a roomful of Controllers staring at them, so they just run away and there are absolutely no consequences.

A few days later, the Ellimist shows up again to make his offer. This time, he transports the kids to a future where the Yeerks have won and taken over the earth. They meet a future Visser Three (Visser One now) and a future Rachel, who, like all the other Animorphs, has become a Controller. But something is not quite right--the Yeerks were expecting the Animorphs to be six humans, not five humans and an Andalite. What?

So the Ellimist sends them back to their own time, where the Animorphs immediately decide they'd like to see that nice nature preserve planet now. But nothing happens. Apparently the Ellimist is ignoring them now.

Rachel and Cassie begin to realize that the Ellimist never wanted them to accept his offer. Lying awake in bed, Rachel realizes that the Ellimist only showed up the first time to save them from the Taxxon, and he brought them to a hypothetical future the second time to show them the location of the Kandrona.

So it is time for a raid! The Animorphs fight their way up the tower where the Kandrona is being kept. They throw it off the top floor, which destroys it. The Ellimist shows up again to basically say, "Good work, kids!"

Rachel goes home and tells her dad that she can't move to the east coast with him because it would ruin the franchise. Then she goes to make out with Tobias.

The Review
Adam: This cover is okay. It doesn't seem particularly objectionable, but it isn't my favorite either.
Ifi: I don't have too much to say about the cover, except that the bear is too wide and too short
Adam: Well, a lot of these books don't really bother with scale
Adam: See: any of the ones where they morph insects.
Ifi: Yeah I guess that makes sense, it's excusable
Adam: I do have one nitpick with it though
Adam: Rachel's pose changes as she turns into a bear
Adam: But she doesn't actually move her body
Ifi: Oh I see
Ifi: She sort of rotates
Adam: Her face just sort of shifts to the center
Adam: Yeah.
Ifi: Well I got nothing.
Adam: Likewise
Adam: I feel that we should also bring up the inside cover.
Adam: In that it is one of the goofiest looking things I have ever seen.


Ifi: This image is the very definition of awkward
Adam: It looks like something out of a Hannah Barbarra cartoon
Ifi: Also Marco's face is excellent. "Yep. Just riding the elevator."
Adam: "I've had to put up with these people the whole ride up."
Ifi: He does look quite unamuse
Adam: <So, a bear, a tiger and a gorilla walk into a bar…>
Adam: He's had to deal with those the whole time.
Adam: I don't blame him.
Ifi: Yeah because he never makes dumb jokes
Adam: Shhh

Adam: So, the story
Ifi: Let's all go to the circus!
Adam: And, *gasp* Rachel spies an evil animal trainer abusing his elephant!
Adam: Another person to add to the list of Captain Planet villains.
Ifi: Srsly
Adam: Jesus Whale would not approve.
Adam: Elephants are like the whales of the land.
Adam: Or something.
Ifi: I'm surprised they never touched on how intelligent elephants are, actually
Ifi: They've passed mirror-tests and have been known to mourn their dead
Ifi: Lots of potential for a Messiah-figure there, but I don't think it's ever happened
Adam: Did they pass mirror tests? I haven't heard of elephants doing so.
Ifi: Yeah totally
Adam: Interesting.
Adam: So of course, Rachel decides to do the intelligent thing, and promptly reports the trainer to the authorities.
Adam: Oh wait, this is Animorphs.
Ifi: She morphs an elephant and threatens to murder him.
Ifi: She actually uses thought-speak on the trainer
Adam: Not only does she use thought-speak, she gives the most ridiculous story imaginable.
Ifi: Haha yes I don't know how anyone could come up with that

<I am from the International Elephant Police. We have had some complaints about you.>

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: Oh okay then
Adam: I kinda want a follow up as to what happens to this guy afterwards.
Ifi: If he winds up in a mental ward or something?
Adam: He becomes convinced that elephants are a threat to humanity, and becomes a supervillain.
Ifi: But it's too late! Captain Planet was cancelled over a decade ago.
Adam: It was on reruns at the time, I'm pretty sure.
Adam: So afterwards, they Animorphs all get together for one of their meetings, and the Tobias and Marco reveal that they've discovered an entrance into the Yeerk Pool.

"Well, I was hoping to amaze and entertain you all with the whole story of our brilliant detective work, but the short answer is—in a dressing room at The Gap. In the mall. That's the entrance. People go in, looking like they're going to try on clothes, and they never come out."
<At least, they don't come out through The Gap.> Tobias added. <They come out through the movie theater. When the crowd leaves the movie at the end of the show, there are always more people leaving than went in.>

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: How the hell did they figure that out?
Adam: Apparently they spend their free time spying on random people.
Adam: That's certainly not creepy at all.
Ifi: Even so, they managed to figure out the entrance was in a single random changing room in a specific store in the mall
Ifi: I don't buy it.
Ifi: I don't.
Ifi: I believe they captured a Controller and beat him up until he told them where the entrance was.
Adam: That's where your thoughts first go to?
Adam: *is now slightly frightened*
Ifi: Well then you explain it!
Adam: Yeah I dunno.
Ifi: Exactly.

Adam: So, with this information in mind, they decide to go and destroy the Kandrona.
Adam: However, Ax informs them that the Kandrona likely isn't in the Yeerk Pool at all.
Adam: So of course, they decide to go anyway.
Ifi: BUT FIRST
Ifi: ANGSTTTTT
Ifi: Rachel's father, who is divorced from her mom, is moving to the opposite coast.
Ifi: And he wants Rachel to go with him.
Ifi: Now obviously she's not going anywhere, but this upsets Rachel so much that she goes for a night flight and bothers Tobias. Their conversation was actually quite well done. And then this happens:

<Yeah. Look...I have a question for you. Do you ever think about years from now? Like when it's time for college and stuff?>

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: My heart just broke
Ifi: Right there
Adam: there there
Ifi: Goddamn.

Ifi: Anyway, the elephant morph just isn't doing it anymore for Rachel
Ifi: She needs something more violent and dangerous
Adam: So she decides to go to the zoo by herself at night, and jump into the grizzly bear exhibit all alone with no help
Ifi: The grizzlies are like. "Ohai. Zzzzz."
Ifi: I also found it interesting that she chose the male one. I mean, it makes sense, because male bears get larger and stronger than the female ones, but it just stuck out to me.
Adam: Really? Whyso?
Ifi: I don't know. I guess I'd automatically go for the female, because I'm female, and not really think about it.
Ifi: Female grizzlies can be mean too you know :(
Adam: Her elephant morph is male also
Ifi: I'm sure it's not even a thing the author even realized, but it was something I noticed and I dunno why.

Adam: They decide to morph roaches again to get inside the Yeerk pool
Ifi: Because that worked great last time
Adam: As they are morphing into roaches, they give a description of what the process is like
Adam: And it seems like they are specifically going out of their way to point out that the book covers for this series tend to be inaccurate.
Ifi: I think there's always been an emphasis on how it's random and unpredictable and a big mess

"Morphing is not some neat, sensible process where you just gradually become something else. It is much weirder than that. Different changes happen at different times. Body parts appear suddenly, other parts disappear. And the sizes don't always match up till the end."

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Adam: I mean, it always bothered me as a kid that the covers didn't correspond with how the morphing process was described, and it seemed like the books were going out of their way to back me up.
Ifi: Well, Applegate did specifically design Andalites to stick it to the man
Ifi: They wanted her to make them more creative looking, so she made something completely insane that I could never draw properly
Adam: I do like that story.
Ifi: So I can see her doing it again on purpose
Ifi: STICK IT TO THE MANNNN
Adam: Of course, it didn't quite work out as she intended, since the Andalites ended up really cool looking, as well as being very iconic and easily marketable
<3
Ifi: They get into the Yeerk pool pretty easily
Ifi: And then they get eaten by a Taxxon
Ifi: Jesus Whale, what a way to go.
Adam: Oops
Ifi: What a world
Adam: Life is tough
Ifi: So then...eh, you explain it.
Ifi: I was never fond of this particular plot twist.
Adam: Deus ex Machina!
Adam: Literal Deus ex Machina!
Ifi: I hate this guy. I really do.
Adam: The Ellimist? Whyso?
Ifi: Because he's a fantasy element in a SF setting and he's way too powerful and makes everything the Animorphs do seem insignificant
Ifi: Fuck that he's a wizard.
Adam: This is a series featuring blue and purple centaurs, an artifact of polimorph, Sauron.
Ifi: SAURON GOES IN THE SAME CATAGORY AS THE ELLIMIST
Adam: Oh, and Visser 3 can turn into a purple wyrm, a pyrohydra, and later a golem.
Ifi: Yes but I could handle that!
Ifi: I could never suspend my disbelief for the Ellimist/Crayak/any of their bullshit
Adam: Yes, but he was introduced before the Ellimist, and they didn't even make a connection between the two for nearly another 20 books.
Ifi: Fine. We'll bicker more about that when the time comes.
Adam: Kay

Ifi: Anyway so time stops and they are forcibly morphed back to human
Adam: Including Tobias
Ifi: Who wasn't even there.
Adam: Now he was.
Adam: Retroactively.

People sat at the tables, eating. Only...they weren't eating. They were holding forks. They were looking down at plates of food. They were getting ready to speak. They were holding mugs of coffee.
But no one was moving.
No one was breathing.
The steam rising from the mugs of coffee was frozen and still as a photograph.

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: So they sort of run around trying to figure out why nobody is moving
Ifi: Ax, with his internal clock, is able to determine that time has been stopped.
Ifi: If it wasn't obvious enough
Adam: I've always wished they expanded more on that.
Adam: I mean, Andalites apparently have an additional sense which allows them to accurately tell time based on a planet's gravity or something.
Adam: But they never really elaborate on just how it works.
Ifi: A wizard did it
Adam: Okay, so time is frozen and all, they suddenly hear the voice of God, or the Jesus Whale, or something.

WHAT? HUMILITY? FROM AN ANDALITE?
"Yaaahhh!" Marco screamed.
The voice came from everywhere at once. And from nowhere. It wasn't a voice, not really. It wasn't even thought-speak. It was like an idea that simply popped into your head. The words exploded like bursting balloons inside your own thoughts.

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Adam: But Ax figures it out.
Adam: It is the Ellimist, who in modern Andalite mythology is apparently some sort of trickster deity
Ifi: He's like a Q basically


Adam: Actually, that reminds me
Adam: Throughout this book, the Ellimist refers to himself in the plural, which implies that the Ellimists are a species.
Adam: When much later, we discover that to be not the case.
Ifi: Yeah retconned I guess
Adam: So, the Ellimist tells them that… THEY MUST DECIDE THE FATE OF THE HUMAN RACE!
Adam: dun dun duunnnnnn
Ifi: Wait wait
Ifi: wait
Ifi: This was totally a Captain Planet episode
Adam: Of course.
Ifi: He wants to move them to a safe place where humans will be preserved and blah de blah
Adam: And the Ellimist takes them on tour of the planet and shows him how beautiful and magical all life is and all that nonsense.
Adam: I was expecting the book to spontaneously break out into song.
Ifi: Can you paint with all the colors...of...the...wind?
Ifi: 31. The Ark (Aired October 19, 1991) - The Planeteers find themselves whisked aboard an interstellar Noah's Ark, while trying to save endangered tigers from Hoggish Greedly and Dr. Blight's forest-destroying Monster Golf Cart in India. The alien zookeeper named Collectore thinks humans are an endangered species, whose habitat is about to be destroyed. (From the Wikipedia article)
Ifi: I KNEW it was an episode
Adam: There are 7 billion humans. How many would there have to be for him to not consider them endangered, exactly?
Ifi: I -wish- we were endangered
Adam: Seriously.
Ifi: So the Ellimist is like, "Look, the Yeerks are going to beat you. Might as well give up."
Ifi: Naturally, the Animorphs are like, "No wai!"
Adam: Wait, there is a term for this sort of dilemma
Adam: Hobson's choice!
Adam: That was it
Ifi: Hooray

Ifi: Soooo the time-stop stops and they're back to being eaten by the Taxxon
Ifi: Luckily the tea break has given them time to think about their situation
Ifi: They morph back to human while inside the Taxxon.

<I have my tail again.> Ax said. <Should I>
<YES!>

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: I love that line
Adam: And so Ax cuts their way out of the Taxxon
Adam: That is profoundly disgusting.
Ifi: And they morph back in front of a room full of Controllers

Air!
I sucked it into my still-forming lungs.
The Taxxon lay ruined and reeking all around us. The room full of human-Controllers eating dinner was no longer frozen by the Ellimist. Now they were frozen by sheer disbelief.
"Let's bail!" I yelled. "Before they can think about it."

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: This is never addressed
Adam: Well, the Controllers we eating.
Adam: Do you like being disturbed while you're eating?
Ifi: ...
Adam: Exactly!
Ifi: And so there is a fight and Rachel morphs the bear
Ifi: And proceeds to go insane

I barely remember what happened next. I gave myself up to the bear's rage. Its anger and my own became one. All the tension within me, all the uncertainty, all the doubts were swept away as I gave myself up to the bear's violence.
I remember that at some point, Jake got into his tiger morph and joined the fight. And I have flashing images from my memory of terrible destruction. Of ripping claws and crushing jaws.
But the next thing I clearly remember is flying up the long dropshaft, while Jake's voice in my head kept saying, <Rachel, morph out. Morph out. You're out of control! You are OUT of control! Morph!>
I was clawing wildly at the air, trying to kill the tiger that was suspended above me in the dropshaft.

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Adam: You mean that she proceeds to act the same as she always does?
Ifi: Well she's never tried to kill her own teammates when she runs out of legitimate enemies
Adam: What sort of fighting style is that?
Ifi: That is pure Rachel
Adam: So there you go
Ifi: *sigh*
Ifi: They all go home
Ifi: And Rachel skips school to watch cartoons and angst about her dad moving away
Ifi: This rates about negative eight hundred on the scale of importance, but whatever
Adam: Here I was hoping that the angst would be isolated to the Tobias books.
Ifi: Hell no. Even Cassie manages to get in on the action.
Adam: Alas.
Ifi: Then when she gets to the meeting with her friends, they are all concerned.

"That bear you morphed yesterday...you went to The Gardens and acquired that all on your own, didn't you?"
"No," I said, "I met that bear at the mall."

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: Epic win.
Adam: This mall that she goes to. It intrigues me.
Ifi: Anyway so angst angst nag nag... the Ellimist shows up again!
Adam: And makes Jake feel like an idiot.
Adam: "You know what bothers me?" I heard Jake tell the Ellimist. "You say the human race will loose to the Yeerks. But I don't believe you can tell the future."
Ifi: And then they go to the future
Adam: And thus, we get our Bad Future episode.
Adam: This series have two, and neither of them really make any sense.
Ifi: Yeah I dunno
Ifi: Anyway Earth has been totally taken over by the Yeerks and Controllers just wander around doing whatever
Adam:
Ifi: Thank you, Doctor
Adam: Time travel hurts my head.
Adam: They wake up in a post Yeerk invaded, postapocalyptic earth.
Ifi: They wander around, admiring the blowed-up school and mall that has been turned into a Taxxon hive
Ifi: Wait
Ifi: Taxxons are hive creatures?
Adam: Yes, they reiterate on this in the Andalite Chronicles.
Ifi: Christ, how do the Yeerks control them, between the hive-mind and the hunger?
Ifi: Worst hosts EVER
Adam: It's more complicated then that.
Adam: The hives on the Taxxon homeworld are actually separately sentient, and the Taxxons that have joined the Yeerks are actually a rebel faction that turned against the living hive.
Ifi: Are you making that up.
Adam: I am not.
Ifi: That is
Ifi: that is
Ifi: certainly
Ifi: something
Adam: Well, again, we'll get back to that once we read through the Andalite Chronicles. They go to the Taxxon homeworld in it.
Ifi: Alright
Adam: What really puzzles me is just how they convert the mall into a hive.
Adam: I mean, a mall is not just a big ball of metal that you can swiss cheese a bunch of holes through.
Adam: It's mostly empty space.
Ifi: I dunno, maybe they filled it up with stuff
Ifi: Boxes and...
Ifi: I dunno
Ifi: boxes

"It is sad about the mall," Ax said, now mostly human. "They had excellent foods for tasting. Tay-sting. Tasting. The Ellimist showed us much of what was excellent in your species and your planet. But he did not mention the sense of taste. Cinnamon buns. Buns. Bunzuh. And chocolate, too."

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: Thank you for your input, Ax
Adam: So they begin to walk around the city, in a way that is certainly not the least bit conspicuous at all.
Ifi: When someone questions them, Ax claims to be Visser Three
Ifi: Because apparently all Andalites are identical
Adam: Such racism!
Adam: Gosh.
Ifi: Well it works.
Adam: Until the actual Visser Three shows up...
Ifi: Wiiiith
Ifi: Future Rachel!
Adam: Dun dun dunnnnnn
Ifi: Okay honestly? Nothing about this next chapter makes any sense to me.
Adam: So apparently all of the Animorphs are now Controllers.
Adam: Except Tobias.
Adam: Who they ate.
Ifi: With barbeque sauce
Adam: Again with Visser Three and his eating people thing.

Visser Three glared at me, and now he dropped the pretense of politeness.
<Do you know what I did when I finally caught you and your little band of Animorphs? Do you know what I did? I gave each of you to a trusted lieutenant. And once you belonged to us, once you were MINE, I killed your bird friend here, and we roasted his body.>
Visser Three leaned close to me. <He was tough and stringy, but we added a sauce you humans have. Barbecue, I believe it's called. And then your friend Tobias was delicious. You had a leg, as I recall. You ate it and laughed.>

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: That is so fucked uppppp
Adam: Dude. That is really just messed up.
Adam: It is!
Ifi: This is certainly one of the top ten most fucked up moments in the entire series, and it didn't technically HAPPEN
Adam: We ought to compile a list or something.
Ifi: I'm going to.
Ifi: Getting chewed in half by ants is on there, too.
Adam: And eated by a Taxxon and then cutting their way ought.
Ifi: Elfangor being eaten
Ifi: Pretty much whenever a named character is eaten...
Ifi: There is like a line
Ifi: and it's like
Ifi: the YOU DON'T EAT NAMED CHARACTERS line
Ifi: and
Ifi: that line is crossed
Ifi: and
Ifi: I
Ifi: I
Ifi: I can't go on

Adam: Future Rachel apparently knows that her past self is going to be there and so she knew what she was going to do and time travel hurts my head.
Adam: But she apparently didn't know that Ax was going to be there.
Adam: For… some reason.
Ifi: Yeah what?
Ifi: Is this an alternate universe where they never saved Ax?
Adam: But she seems to think that there was a sixth human instead...
Ifi: I don't...?
Ifi: I got nothing
Adam: I have a theory, but it also makes no sense
Ifi: Well let's hear it anyway
Adam: The future they travel into is the one that is canonical with the first choose your own adventure book.
Adam: Because in that, there are six Animorphs from the start, one of them being the reader.
Ifi: The sad thing is that that actually sort of makes sense

Adam: Future Rachel tells them that the reason that all this happens because of the choice they made with the Ellimist.
Adam: And for reasons that completely confound me, they assume this means they took the Ellimist up on his offer to leave the planet.
Adam: Because if they left, then they would still be on Earth to be turned into Controllers…wait.
Ifi: I've already gone on the record saying none of this makes any sense to me
Adam: So then they make the first sensible realization in this book, and acknowledge that the Controllers can't do anything to hurt them because it will disrupt the timeline, and so they just go all out and attack.
Ifi: But the Ellimist sends them home

Adam: After all that, they decide to take the Ellimist up on his offer.
Adam: And so, they are whisked away to a magical land, of stardust and sunshine and rainbows, where the birds are brightly colored and sing beautiful music, and the water is a clear crystal blue...
Adam: Oh wait, nothing happens.
Ifi: Absolutely nothing
Adam: For a whole day.
Ifi: Sooo...they go to school
Ifi: And Rachel and Cassie sort of start to figure out what's going on
Ifi: They realize that the Ellimist only stopped time the first time so they could escape being eaten.
Ifi: The offer of a new planet was just a diversion. Or something.
Ifi: But why did he send them to a nonsense future?
Adam: So they would see the building where the Kandrona was located.
Ifi: Rachel figures this out at like 4 AM
Ifi: And wakes up all her friends
Ifi: Because they all have to know this NOW NOW NOW
Adam: And this does not alert the others’ parents, and Jake's brother the Controller because...
Ifi: "I FIGURED IT OUT EVERYONE WAKE UPPPPPPPP."
Ifi: "BUTTERFLIES!!!!!!!!!"
Ifi: "Go to sleep, Rachel. You are drunk again."
 Adam: Ifi, I think you are living vicariously through Rachel.
Ifi: WELL IT'S WHAT PEOPLE SAY TO ME
Ifi: WHEN I YELL ABOUT ALIENS AND BUTTERFLIES
Ifi: AT FOUR IN THE MORNING
Adam: This is something that has happened to you before?
Ifi: EVERY FRIDAY
Adam: Actually, why am I surprised?
Adam: This is totally in character.

Ifi: So they're going to beat the hell out of the Kandrona
Adam: And Marco walks up to the security guard and starts talking to him.
Adam: In gorilla morph.

<Hi.> Marco said in thought-speak. <I just came from a masquerade party, and I was looking for Visser Three.>

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: There is no subtlety in this book whatsoever
Ifi: Like, they're not even TRYING
Ifi: What happened to not talking to Controllers so they won't guess they're not Andalites?
Adam: Yeah, I dunno
Ifi: Not to mention they were spotted morphing by a roomful of controllers, that's never brought up either...
Adam: Shhh
Ifi: Is there a deleted scene where they murdered everyone in that room or something?
Adam: They didn't have to. The guards all fell into a plot hole and got stuck there.
Ifi: Soooo they go charging in
Adam: And we are treated to a bunch of animals having small talk in an elevator, with muzak in the background.

The ride seemed to be taking forever. I watched the counter tick off the floors. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. Twenty-three.
<So. Seen any good movies lately?> Jake asked.
<I want to go see that new Keanu Reeves movie.> I said.
<He's supposed to be cute, right?>
<Duh.> I said. <I wonder if he'd ever want to go out with a girl like me. You know, lots of guys wouldn't want to date a grizzly bear.>
Suddenly I realized there was music playing in the elevator. The usual stupid elevator music.

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Adam: Note that this was before The Matrix came out.
Adam: In other words, Keanu Reeves was then known as "that guy from the Bill and Ted movies."

Inside, eight Hork-Bajir warriors stood ready.
Eight walking razor blades.
Eight of them. Five of us. No way we could win.
A sensible person would have seen the odds and run away. But I charged straight at them.
Later, everyone thought I was being brave.
But you know what the truth was? The truth was, with my weak bear eyesight, all I could see was a blur. I thought they were humans.
I wasn't brave. I was just blind.

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Ifi: THIS
Ifi: IS
Ifi: A
Ifi: METAPHOR
Ifi: GUYS
Adam: Hey! Keep your serious literary criticism out of our silly book reviews!
Ifi: GUYS
Ifi: DID YOU GET IT
Ifi: DID YOU GET THE METAPHOR?
Ifi: DID YOU SPOT IT
Ifi: I CAN DO IT AGAIN
Ifi: GUYS

Ifi: Also Rachel's paw gets cut off, probably eaten by a Taxxon
Ifi: She's like "Oh, ew, w/e."
Adam: And Marco gets disemboweled and he has to hold in his organs with one hand while he fights.
Adam: Ew.
Adam: I am reminded of the ending of "Where the Red Fern Grows."
Ifi: Okay so they reach the Kandrona, which is like a big...
Ifi: thing

It was a steel pedestal, maybe three-feet-high, eight-feet-long.
And atop that pedestal was a machine the size of a small car. It was shaped like a cylinder, tapered to dull points on both ends.
It gleamed brightly, like new chrome, as if it had just been polished. And it made a slight, low humming noise. As I approached I felt my hair stand on end from the static electricity. It was warm in the room, very warm. It smelled like lightning.

----Book Seven, The Stranger

Adam: And they can't figure out how to damage it, so they just throw it out the window.
Ifi: This is notable because it is hilarious
Adam: You can practically hear the annoyed cat sound effect when it lands.
Ifi: Oh and like ten thousand Yeerks later die as a result. BUT WHATEVER HAPPY ENDING
Adam: =D
Adam: Oh and Rachel tells her dad that she can't go with him, and he is sad.
Adam: Happy end!

Adam: So, in spite of this book making absolutely no goddamn sense, I actually rather enjoyed it.
Ifi: There seemed to be more corny one-liners than usual
Adam: Inevitable.
Ifi: I still don't like the Ellimist.
Adam: Well, I disagree, but to each his own.
Ifi: I'm probably in the minority, and I acknowledge that
Adam: I like cosmic horror elements in my science fiction.
Ifi: I don't mind them, but I felt like this guy was just shoved in there randomly to get the plot going.
Adam: We will agree to disagree.
Ifi: Fiiiine
Ifi: BUTTERFLIES!!!!!
Adam: …I think you have a problem.

34 comments:

  1. This book is one of my favourites. Insane Rachel is the best (only, really) Rachel. Which is the one where she beats up a Controller with her own severed arm? That was a beautiful moment.

    To be fair, I always assumed that when they cut their way out of the Taxxon no one figured out they were human because they were so covered in Taxxon blood and guts and were probably crouching down a bit. Everyone was too shocked by the whole insanity to really register their exact shapes, and they started morphing immediately. Eventually pretty much every Controller was like 99% sure they were humans (I think there's hints of that in the next book, actually) but Visser Three didn't put it together for THREE FUCKING YEARS because he's just an idiot. His idiocy was a plot point though, later on. These really were quite good books.

    Great post! :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rachel’s golden eagle is also male. I think she just goes for the biggest, strongest sex she has access to. Lucky that wasn’t an option for Tobias or he’d have gender identity issues to contend with as well. (Is it sad that I think Applegate wouldn’t dare pair him with Rachel as a girl, but as a freaking bird he’s fine?)

    On another note, that andalite with the bun is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen, and I live with a kitten.

    The thing that bothered me about this book was that the choice offered by the Ellimist made no logical sense. When the animorphs were debating his offer they treated it as an either/or choice: go with him and save humanity, or fight and give the rest of humanity a chance? The obvious choice is to accept on behalf of humanity but ask him to go find genetically diverse and healthy humans not involved in the fight. Then they can keep fighting, with the conservation project a background plan in case of failure. It turned out to be irrelevant to the plot but it annoys me that they spent so long debating a nonexistent problem. (Although I guess if they used their brains they’d just be debating a more angsty version about whether they can risk their own families by not taking them to the conservation world, etc.)

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  3. This book was my favorite of the series, mostly because Rachel's my favorite character, but MAN does it not live up to memory. I completely forgot about that 'demorphing in front of a room full of controllers who are never mentioned again' thing.

    I am interested in what you're saying about everyone knowing the Animorphs are human but Visser Three, tess, and I wish to hear more. What are the hints you're referring to?

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  4. Oh man, the eagle. I knew I was forgetting something. But yes, Rachel never struck me as the type to be thinking very much into gender dynamics in this sort of situation. And I mean, if she were to acquire a species where the females were larger, like a hyena or an anglerfish or something, she'd go with the female one. Also, bear in mind, Marco has a female wolf morph, and all of them have female ant morphs.

    Aw, and thank you! I did my best. =3

    And that...is actually a completely sensible idea. The only problem in the matter is how to go about choosing new people for the space ark thing. It would seem fair that the Ellimist would offer them a choice in the matter as well, but that would involve informing them about the whole yeerk war, and that would open up a whole 'nother can of worms...

    Actually, now I want to read a sidestory about the ancestors of the hypothetical people who took the Ellimist up on his offer and are now livin on the ark planet thousands of years later fully aware that they didn't originate on that planet due to the original story having filtered down through their myths and history. And then perhaps they rediscover the yeerks, and we can see their reaction. Perhaps.

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    1. Female eagles are bigger than male eagles. So Rachel not only picked the wrong gender, she picked the smaller and weaker one. Epic fail (but I blame Cassie for this one, because she sucks in general, but also because she should have known better) unless they only had a male available.

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  5. So this IS the first time they meet the Ellimist? Yeah, guys, I wouldn't trust him so hard after all the fucking-with he introduced himself with. (Though, to be fair, I think he shows up again in #13 as much less of a dick, and I don't remember Tobias's reaction.)

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  6. Chris: It would pop up every now and again. I'm thinking Megamorphs 1, #19, a few others but I'm not paging through 60 books to find more examples. The Animorphs would hear Controllers talking about how they strongly suspected the Andalite bandits were human, or at least had humans within their ranks. It was really obvious the whole time; in pretty much every book one of the kids would slip up in some small way, using human slang during battle or whatever, plus there was the fact that they were always even morph even though Andalite bodies are deadlier than a tiger or gorilla or whatever. I remember a conversation between Controllers that went like, "Is it true? Could they be humans?" "Yeah maybe, but Visser Three is really really attached to the idea of Andalite bandits, so don't go saying that around him or he will eat you." Could be I'm misreading things, but I always got the impression that by the time the Visser started rooting them out all his underlings were muttering, "Oh, like we've been thinking you should for years now?" Later in the series it was a theme that everyone was rolling their eyes at Visser Three behind his back and that he'd gotten his rank through luck, brute force, and the Peter Principle.

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  7. BEAR-RACHEL!!! >:)

    "Elephants are like the whales of the land." -- That makes way too much sense to my overcaffeinated brain.

    The mirror test is being aware that the image in the mirror is you, right? It's weird what animals do and do not "get" it. Apparently dolphins act like they are seeing a clone of themselves through some kind of window.

    Once again, there's Genre Blindness/Unusually Uninteresting Sight, and then there are the Non-Player Characters in Animorphs.

    (There is a pause...)

    "I also found it interesting that she chose the male one." -- I can see why K. A. A. didn't focus on this particular aspect of morphing in a book directed at middle-schoolers. It's still... awkward. It also brings to mind this insane rip-off series i ran into and reviewed for the LOLs: http://madnessmonster.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/humanomorphs6-review/

    "Andalites apparently have an additional sense which allows them to accurately tell time based on a planet's gravity or something." -- "Hurr dat meens he a TIME LORD!" - TV Tropes

    I need to catch up on FIM. Stupid schedule change. <:(

    "I met that bear at the mall." -- To be fair, this is the same mall that had an Emohawk charge through in a suicide attempt and will (in several books from now) have an eviscerated tiger discovered inside. So yeah.

    "This is certainly one of the top ten most fucked up moments in the entire series, and it didn't technically HAPPEN" -- Oh... oh, God... Yes, please make up a list when the series is over.

    By the way, are you going to do the Choose-Your-Own Adventure books?

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  8. "Rachel’s golden eagle is also male. I think she just goes for the biggest, strongest sex she has access to."

    Golden Eagle? Pretty sure she's a Bald Eagle. And the females are bigger in both cases, I think.

    (Wait, Bald Eagle and Grizzly Bear? There is a 'Colbert Report' reference to be made here.)

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  9. Wait, you're right, it is a Bald Eagle. In Megamorphs 1, they specify the white head feathers. At least in the case of the bird morphs, they were limited to what Cassie's parents had on hand, so they generally acquired whatever they could find. Why they all had to acquire their own iconic bird morphs though, that is another matter entirely.

    And I have the Choose-You-Own Adventure books, so we will likely do something with them. We just need to figure out an appropriate format for reviewing that sort of book.

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    1. An appropriate manner is to burn them and throw the ashes into Mount Doom.

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  10. ^ I just realized the logistics of doing a plot summary of the CYOA books. Derp.

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  11. Mmm.. They didn't all have their own iconic bird morphs. Cassie and Marco both had osprey morphs as their primary bird of prey.

    "Throughout this book, the Ellimist refers to himself in the plural, which implies that the Ellimists are a species. When much later, we discover that to be not the case."

    Even though that the Ellimist is a singular entity, he's made up of the collective consciousnesses of all the individuals that The Father had absorbed as well. Marco even lampshades how the Ellimist isn't consistent with how he refers to himself. I think it might be because technically, he's both.

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  12. I just assumed he was always fucking with them, maybe in case he needed to pretend to be another ellimist later for whatever reason.

    For fucked up scenes, I nominate that time an ant and a buffalo got the ability to morph. That was just weird. (Although if memory serves, that buffalo came closer to killing visser three entirely by accident than the animorphs ever had in battle.)

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  13. Bald eagle, was it? Either way, she didn't have access to a female at the time.

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  14. The one with the golden eagle would be David, I think.

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  15. The buffa-human book kinda sucked ass though. I dunno if something that bad should be on a most-fucked-up list.

    I nominate the torture scenes in #33 and what they did to David.

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  16. They had no choice with David. It was the best they could do (although I think they should've killed him; he was a huge security risk and they've murdered people a lot more innocent than him). The buffalo was just weird. It raised a lot of confusing questions. I mean, there's no way other insects have never touched the cube.

    Taylor the torturer was definitely fucked up.

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  17. Huh. That's really interesting, I don't remember that at all. I might have to re-read these books.

    What about that serial killer controller that ate people's brains or whatever? That one was pretty fucked up too.

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  18. YES! Visser Three's twin! That cannibal dude was awesome.

    They totally had a choice with David. They could have killed him. That would have been way more humane than trapping him as a rat.

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  19. Visser three's twin seemed pretty boring, all things considered.

    The animorphs should've tried to steal one of those portable yeerk pools at some point. That would give them bargaining power with pretty much any self-serving rebel yeerk. They can't be that hard to power, the yeerks were going to mass produce them at one point. (And then when their one factory was destroyed they never tried again. Why didn't they just make them on a colonised planet and import them, if fighting off the bandits was really that much trouble?)

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  20. Idunno, a miniature Kandrona was about the size of a small car, and Elephant!Rachel was just barely able to nudge one along the floor. They were able to destroy one by pushing it out of the window of a skyscraper, but I don't know if they could effectively steal one.

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  21. That kandrona was for a full-sized pool, though. The miniature pools should be a lot easier. Visser one was able to move around and operate hers when completely cut off from yeerk society (in active hiding, in fact).

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  22. Whenever people start to go, "Why didn't they do this, why didn't they do that," I'm usually like, "Because they are very young, and also at this point in the series they've been Animorphs for about a month."

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  23. What's the point of having the internet if you can't nitpick beloved works of fiction from your childhood?

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  24. They had three years to at least try to steal a mini pool. They attacked a factory that makes them! And tried to free Tom. It would seriously not be hard to free Tom. They could've just kidnapped him that time Jake's family left town for a funeral, for instance, to stop him hurting anyone. Nobody would've been looking for him then.

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  25. Guys, these are really good (just read all seven to get up to speed) and I'm glad enough people seem to be coming to keep going at it - keep up the good work!

    From the #1 Animorphs fan in Australia (who has to sign anonymously because he does not have a livejournal or wordpress account)

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  26. I haven't reread this one yet, but I remember enjoying it because I thought the Ellimist was clever. Cleverer than the kids. To me, it made sense that Sucky Future World made no sense, because I figured that the Ellimist was trying to make it obvious to the kids that "Hey, I'm lying about your options, because unlike you, I know something about subtlety. So shut up, sit down, and figure it out." And then, eventually, they do.

    But that was about the last and only time Ellimist didn't annoy me, because then we have Ellimist/Crayak and I hate that plot device so much. I hate it because it felt two-faced and unfitting. K.A. is explicitly a nihilistic atheist who makes that obvious at MANY points in the books, and what does she do when she decides she wants to up the grandness of the war? She throws in God and the freaking Devil. (Which makes even less sense when they're explained in the Ellimist Chronicles. These were [or at least Ellimist was] once-mortal beings with individual, complex personalities, but the second they gain immortality they decide to embody simplistic order/compassion and chaos/malevolence, because that's just what you do when you get immortalified.)

    I'd like to point out at that age, I was an extremely Christian kid who never questioned any of her wacky religious teachings (less so by the time the series ended), so the fact that the sudden religious motifs pissed me off should testify as to how awful it was. Her back-and-forth on nihilism and romanticism is the one thing I hate about this series. A series I love that, aside from this, is amusingly dumb at its worst moments. When it comes to that aspect, she makes me suspect that she's one of those people who talk about evolution like it's a sentient being with decisions and goals and dreams of Hollywood stardom.

    Anyway, I've needed to express that rant for a while and you gave me an opening with talking about how dumb/weird/annoying Ellimist is. He made more sense to me and was more likable the way he was initially introduced. It seems sensible that there should be a species out there that had evolved to a point of goddishness from our perspective. That they would have rules about what they could do (similar to how the Chee are eventually shown to be "fair" to everybody), and that would develop someone who wants to intervene and is very clever about getting around said rules to help another, simpler species retain their freedom. But no, that gets retconned into one super-powered alien playing chess with the devil because they're bored. *sigh*

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  27. Oh, and Marco holding his guts in? Everytime I think about Animorphs, that pops into my head. It's pretty much iconic of how almost every battle goes.

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  28. Thank you for taking the time to type that all out, J. It's great to have a new reader!

    I've always felt like I was in the minority because I didn't like the Ellimist. He was like the lousiest ally ever and the only useful thing he ever did was cure nothliths. Even as a kid I felt like the stuff he did, the Animorphs could have done themselves with some hard work (like destroying the kandrona or setting up the free Hork-Bajir colony), which would have been more rewarding in the end. And this series has so many species and factions (which are all awesome, btw), I don't think anyone would have noticed one less.

    I think my issue was that the Ellimist/Crayak were sort of cosmic horror elements, while the rest of the series was a fairly traditional sci-fi war story with spaceships, so I personally always felt like they had wandered into the wrong book. I mean, I never had an issue with the Q in Star Trek, but for some reason these guys didn't work for me and I have no idea why. They just felt more 'fantasy' than 'sci fi' to me. Maybe I am just crazy though.

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  29. I had the Star Wars trilogy on VHS as a child. It had ewoks, R2D2, and Chewbacca in it. I was a girl, so those things made me watch it over and over. So I have no boundaries between fantasy and sci-fi. I mean, I like things that are solidly in one realm or the other, but it doesn't matter to me when stuff sits on the line. The fact that andalites look like centaurs sort of sent me the hint to look for that stuff.

    I think what bothers me more is that she was sporadic about it. Sci-fi, sci-fi, sci-fi, fantasy-ish sci-fi, sci-fi... And, like I said, that the vaguely religious element didn't fit at all.

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  30. Questions about this review:
    What was s heartbraking about the college question?

    Also, in the book, it said they were covered in Taxon goo and could not be recognized. Since there was a visible Andalite, I don't think people were replaying their memories trying to notice which shape demorphed into what. They remember gooey shapes draped in Taxxon guts, and a tail blade hacking hands off, and then tigers and bears, o my. Given what they usually say about how hard it is to reconstruct a simple accident from eyewitness accounts, who says figuring out there were kids in the Taxxon would be easy. And maybe the ones who did know are quiet because Visser3 doesn't accept different ideas all that well.

    Also, for the entrance, it says they followed Chapman around until they saw where he went, and that's how they found the entrance. Once they saw Chapman go into the store and out the cinema, they were able to notice that more people were coming out after the film than were going in before.

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    1. Because Rachel dies in the last book at 16, way before she even has a chance to go to college.

      And from now on, the Ellimst has the voice of John De Lancie to me.

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    2. I know this is some months later, but in response to your question:
      Tobias was stuck as a hawk, remember? He'd never be able to go to college. IIRC Rachel realized that after she'd asked.
      And in light of how the series ended, Rachel would never get to go either.

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