Saturday, October 8, 2011

Megamorphs 1: The Andalite's Gift

The Summary
It is summer, so the Animorphs plan on not doing anything. Rachel is going away to a gymnastics camp, but before she leaves, she morphs an eagle. While she's flying, she's mobbed by a bunch of crows and crashes into a tree. When she wakes up, she has amnesia.

Jake and Cassie go to a pool party. Marco is annoyed that he wasn't invited, so he and Ax sneak in using mice morphs. After chasing the hostess around and nearly getting stomped on, they hide in the house and demorph. Suddenly, the party is attacked by a monster from the Cthulhu Mythos. This is the Veleek, and it trashes the house before just randomly leaving.

The Animorphs realize that Rachel is missing, so they go to the forest to look for her. When they morph wolves, the Veleek attacks again. But once they're done morphing, it leaves again. This is about when they realize it is drawn to morphing.

Rachel meets a crazy lady who is heavily implied to be a freed Controller. She tries to burn Rachel to death, but it's Rachel so she's fine. Rachel morphs a grizzly bear to escape, and so the Veleek attacks her. Ax spots them fighting, only to be captured by the Veleek, which literally lifts him up and flies him back to Visser Three.

When Rachel morphs an elephant to run down some police officers, the other Animorphs spot the Veleek going to attack her. So they decide to steal Cassie's dad's truck and incite an epic game of keep-away. During the confusion, Rachel gets her memories back. The Veleek attempts to capture her the same way he captured Ax, but the elephant morph is too heavy for it to lift so it takes Marco instead.

Aboard the Blade Ship, listening to Visser Three exposit, Ax morphs into a flea and hides on Visser Three's body. When the Veleek comes back with Marco, he starts demorphing, which prompts the Veleek to attack Visser Three. Ax and Marco are able to escape, also learning that the Veleek is vulnerable to water.

The Animorphs have had enough of this nonsense, so they come up with a plan. Cassie morphs into a roach and has Tobias drop her into the ocean from high up. On the way down she morphs into a human and then a humpback whale. When the Veleek tries to grab her, the whale is far too heavy for it to hold, and so it is pulled down into the sea and destroyed. Cassie sings a whale song and everyone is happy.

The Review
Ifi: Cover?
Adam: Well, what with the whole Super-ultra-metalgaruru-morphs edition thing, they aren't going with the usual "guy turns into a thing" type cover
Ifi: Cassie got ripped off. Everyone turns into cool stuff and she's a fly
Ifi: Laaaame
Adam: Eh, I like the insect morphs
Ifi: Why is Marco turning into a wolf? Cassie should be the wolf.
Adam: It seems more interesting when they turn into something with radically different anatomy
Adam: But yes, that is a good point
Adam: Overall, this cover just seems, I dunno, dull.
Adam: It's just four picture frames in a grid
Ifi: Tobias is just chilling with the author
Adam: Darn, I was going to say that!
Ifi: It's not even a cover, it's just some photoshopped class pictures on a cloud background
Ifi: Jesus Christ, why the cloud background forever and always?
Adam: It feels like they had these four illustrations, and they didn't really know what to do with them, so they sort of stuck them together here.
Ifi: Yeah. There's almost nothing to critique here because it just defies convention so thoroughly
Adam: Oh, also we have the inside cover
Adam: Which is just really bizarre looking to me.
Ifi: Jesus what
Ifi: what
Ifi: why
Ifi: but if
Ifi: then
Ifi: no
Ifi: no aspect of this makes sense
Adam: I cannot get over how much the bear!rachel hand looks like a beaver's paw
Ifi: How are they already morphed if they're just now going for the escafil device?
Adam: Double morphing!
Ifi: Also Jake your tail got in the frame so we have to do it again
Adam: The tail is sticking out of his elbow
Ifi: Furthermore, why the hell is this book even called 'The Andalite's Gift'? I mean, I know it's stupid to pick at the titles in this series because they're totally arbitrary, but this one makes even less sense than usual
Ifi: Elfangor is barely mentioned. The escafil device isn't mentioned or shown.
Adam: Clearly the Andalite's gift is the gift of giant spikey monsters
Adam: And that's the greatest gift of all.
Ifi: Uh huh.

Adam: I never went to camp as a child.
Adam: Clearly I am deprived in life.
Ifi: I went to camp back when I was still in girl scouts, before I bit that one girl
Ifi: It was boring.
Adam: Same ol' same ol'
Ifi: So Rachel is like, "Can you guys handle it without me?"
Ifi: And everyone is like, "JUST GO."
Adam: When the obvious answer is "Of course not. Who else is going to do the routine decapitations?"
Adam: Also: Marco seems strangely keen on getting Rachel to dress up as Xena.

"Rachel thinks if she's not here and we have trouble, we'll all just run screaming and yammering like a bunch of scared little kids." He put on a phony-serious expression. "All I want to know is this: Why don't you dress like Xena? I mean, the whole leather and sword thing would really work for you."

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Ifi: Oh. The annoying thing about having multiple narrators? Multiple pointless recaps of book one.
Ifi: Even if this was the first Animorphs book I'd ever read, I'd have got it by the first chapter.
Adam: Multiple recaps means more fun!
Adam: =D
Ifi: Furthermore, there is no pattern to the narration
Adam: I feel that this book was done more as a literary experiment rather then for any real narrative purposes.
Adam: I mean, the other Megamorphs books have some sort of unusually large event going on.
Adam: While with this one, I feel that the only reason it was done was for the sake of trying out the multiple narrator format.
Ifi: I mean, in terms of story, it worked. It was unashamedly ridiculous, but it was lots of fun. The narration was a pain in the ass and I didn't see the point, but I let it slide.
Adam: But yeah.
Ifi: It should have cycled through the narrators the same way the books do, not just bounced around randomly and neglected Ax until the end :(
Adam: Well, this is actually the first time that Ax has narrated.
Adam: So his characterization isn't quite worked out, and he doesn't have official artwork yet.
Ifi: It would have been perfectly easy for the author to have done some character-building exercises with Ax.
Adam: You literary major types

Ifi: Anyway, for reasons that are never explained, just before leaving for camp, Rachel decides to morph an eagle and fly around.
Adam: She wanted to go talk to Tobias before leaving.
Ifi: Oh whatever
Adam: But then!
Adam: She is attacked by a swarm of crows!
Adam: *gasp*
Ifi: So she flies into a tree.
Yes, I just went there.

Pool Party!

Ifi: So now Marco is the narrator
Adam: And he has the most brilliant plan in the world.
Ifi: To get into this party to which he was not invited
Ifi: And Ax, too, apparently
Adam: And Marco explains middle school romance to Ax:

"Not like. Like. I like you, Ax. But I don't like you. There's like, and then there's like, like."

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Adam: I like how Marco can apparently speak in italics.
Adam: Though I don't necessarily like it.
Ifi: Ax is confused, but he lives in a culture where you do whatever you're told so he goes along with it

<Marco, Jake says the last time you were invited to one of Darlene's pool parties you floated a Baby Ruth bar in the pool and told everyone it know. Maybe that's why you weren't invited.>

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Ifi: Christ on a cross, Marco
Adam: Marco is a fan of Caddyshack.
Ifi: So now that the reader has lost all sympathy for Marco, we go over to Jake
Adam: Jake and Cassie are sitting by the pool, absentmindedly talking about everyone behind their back, like the great friends they are.
Ifi: And then the mice happen
Ifi: Two cute little mice appear and start chasing the hostess
Ifi: Jake and Cassie just look at each other like -_-
Adam: Admittedly, I would likely have the same reaction.

Ifi: So Marco is an idiot and Ax, as was mentioned earlier, comes from a culture where you do what everyone tells you to do.
Ifi: I still don't really understand why they decided to chase this girl though.
Adam: Well, he spends most of this time chasing girls.
Ifi: x_X
Adam: And he's pretty short anyway
Adam: So it isn't like much has changed from his perspective.
Ifi: I mean, in the next chapter, it's Marco's POV, so we sort of get an insight into his thought processes.
Ifi: Marco prompts whatever-her-name-is to start ranting about what a jerk he is, which supposedly triggers them chasing her
Ifi: Cassie and Jake step in to keep them from getting stomped on, and Ax and Jake run to the basement to demorph
Ifi: and then...

...this happens

Ifi: I was never able to actually visualize the Veleek, you know that?
Ifi: It's always sort of been a blur in my mind, you know, like a word you can't pronounce
Adam: Well, it's pretty much a shoggoth
Ifi: Huh yeah that's basically it
Adam: There is something about giant tentacle covered toothy monsters from beyond that just speaks to me on some level.

Then I saw it. It was gigantic! Enormous! A creature that seemed to be made of nothing but teeth and blades and destruction. It was like twenty Hork-Bajir glued together and given dragon wings.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Ifi: So that thing shows up and trashes the house
Ifi: Uh
Ifi: Okay

Ifi: Sooo cut to Rachel
Ifi: She has conveniently acquired amnesia
Ifi: (see what I did there)
Adam: Rachel is now a soap opera character.
Adam: She's pregnant, and Tobias is the father!
Ifi: Oh god
Ifi: Actually that would be better than the Jesus fanfic
Adam: It probably exists already.
Adam: I am sure of it.
Ifi: I'm not going to challenge you on that because I've had such a nice day so far
Adam: Actually, come to think of it...
Adam: We do meet Rachel's evil twin later on.
Adam: Megods, she is a soap opera character!
Ifi: Anyway the amnesia thing is so boring that it lasts for like two pages before we go back to Tobias
Ifi: Tobias is the one who gets the first clear look at the monster
Ifi: At first, you can't see anything at all, and then it is a dust storm, and then a tornado, and then it is an elder thing
Adam: Y'gothoth iquala f'to'reghou!
Ifi: Well earth is screwed. It's been fun, everyone.

Ifi: And...back to Rachel. WE JUST DID RACHEL. WHAT THE HECK.
Adam: The narrative has ADD
Adam: So, now Rachel finds herself being attacked my Mister Eldritch Monstrosity.
Ifi: Her section is really short again. She gets chased by the monster and gets away.

Ifi: The Yeerks have actually managed to pass the monster off as a freak tornado, so good for them, I guess.
Adam: Everyone gets together and discusses what happens, and they realize that Rachel is missing!
Ifi: And they see a little clip of Rachel on the news!
Ifi: Oh noes!
Adam: Speaking of which, back to Rachel.
Ifi: This narration
Ifi: I just
Adam: Calm yourself

Adam: So, Rachel is walking along in the woods, angsting over the contrived amnesia plot, and then
Ifi: o shit crazy lazy!

"Are you one of them?" the woman asked.
"One of what, ma'am?" I replied.
"The others. The ones who live in your head."
"I don't think so," I said. I was focused on my search.
"There's only one way to know for sure," she said in a soft, silky voice.
Something hit me from behind. I tried to suck in a breath, but the blow had emptied my lungs.
The woman was all over me, shoving, clawing, scratching, and screaming.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift 

Adam: This subplot with the crazy woman completely terrified me beyond all reason as a small child.
Ifi: And it is never touched upon again, I just love that
Adam: And I didn't understand quite was going on, like Rachel was hallucinating, or that she was in the future again, and this is her future self
Adam: I came up with all these weird theories.
Ifi: I assumed it was a real person who ate some maple-ginger oatmeal.
Adam: Let us never speak of that again.
Ifi: She had to be real, because Rachel got shoes from her.
Adam: True, true.
Adam: Oh, well, they destroyed the Kandrona in the last book, so maybe this was the host of one of the Yeerks they couldn't afford to shuttle up to the pool ship in the interim
Ifi: Ohhh, that's a good theory
Ifi: But she'd been there for ages
Ifi: Collecting up that clothing
Adam: She just did that very quickly.
Adam: Yeah, I dunno
Ifi: Anyway the old lady traps Rachel in her cellar because apparently this is a fairy tale now
Adam: And she can only escape once she guesses the old ladies name and pricks her finger on a spinning wheel.

Ifi: Jake and Marco morph wolves to search the woods for Rachel, and are immediately attacked by the monster
Ifi: Gee the monster only attacks when we morph how about tha—SHUT UP
Adam: It's almost like...the monster specifically knows how to track them...
Adam: Somehow...
Adam: Through some method
Adam: That we do not know.
Ifi: It is a mystery
Adam: And shall likely remain so forever.
Adam: Oh well.

Ifi: The old lady tries to burn Rachel to death.
Adam: Because this is how mentally unstable people actually act.
Ifi: Why do you keep bringing that up it was months ago and I said I was sorry.

Ifi: Rachel escapes by morphing an elephant
Ifi: Oh wait no a bear
Ifi: What the heck, a bear? Elephant would have been far more efficient.
Adam: She has amnesia.

But what I noticed most was the power. Rippling, massive muscles bulged from my arms and legs and swelled my neck. It was an incredible, giddy rush.
One minute, I was weak and failing and nearing death. The next minute...the power! The amazing, straining, bulging, explosive POWER!

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Ifi: Uh okay Rachel
Adam: Rachel bears all.
Adam: I apologize for that.
Ifi: -sigh-

Ifi: Then Ax finds Rachel while she is fighting the Veelek

The beast of a hundred gnashing mouths descended on the bear. The bear swung a massive paw. It was a blow that would have knocked my head from my shoulders. A blow that would have punched through steel.
The claws raked the dust beast's closest mouth.
"RQOOWWWWRRR!" the bear cried in sudden pain.
Its paw was gone! Simply gone. In its place was a shattered, bloody stump. 
What could I do? I was desperate. My tail was my only weapon. But the creature would simply grind it off as he'd done with Rachel's paw.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Ifi: Jesus Christ.
Adam: O_O
Adam: That.
Adam: Is vividly disgusting.

Rachel bellowed in pain from her awful wound, but she struck again. Still standing erect and defiant, she struck again with her other paw.
This time the entire leg was gone! And now I could see human terror shining through the bear's eyes.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Adam: I'm going to go sit in the corner and suck my thumb, if you don't mind.
Ifi: If I was up against this thing, no lie, I'd just lie down and wait for death.
Adam: I'd try and find someone with a flamethrower.

Ifi: Sooo Ax gets captured by the thing
Ifi: Which just carries him off into the sunset
Ifi: Oh and I just love what happens next. They continue to search for the mall.
Ifi: *slow clap*
Adam: And thus gender relations we set back decades.
Ifi: Even Cassie knows this is bullshit, so she follows Chapman around instead
Ifi: But before anything interesting can happen, the POV switches AGAIN GODDAMN IT WHY

Adam: So, surprise surprise, the elder thing is actually in the employ of the Yeerks!
Ifi: Visser Three just, like, went on holiday last weekend and came home with it
Adam: Well, he does go out on vacation periodically to find giant dnd monsters to morph.
Adam: So it isn't too surprising that he found this thingt.
Ifi: What's surprising is WHERE he found it.
Adam: The Veleek is from Saturn.
Adam: So Saturn apparently has life on it.
Adam: I...don't even know how to respond to that.

Adam: Now, there is something that I really don't get here.
Ifi: Yes?
Adam: The Veleek is causing the Andalite bandits so much trouble.
Adam: So why don't they all go back to Saturn for a week, collect 15-20 more of them, and send them out all at once?
Ifi: idk lolz
Adam: They'd have the Animorphs entirely taken care of in a few hours.
Adam: And once they're done, they still have an effective anti-Andalite weapon they can use later on.
Ifi: What I find the most interesting is how everyone probably reacted when he came home with the damn thing.
Adam: "Ugh, The Visser brought another one of his 'pets' home again."
Adam: "Just stay quiet and hope it doesn't eat anyone we know this time."
Ifi: "Visser, you know a pet is a big responsibility--"
Adam: This probably happens at least once a week.
Ifi: That is going in my fanfic
Adam: I will very much need to read this.

Ifi: Anyway, right back to Cassie. Why the hell didn't they just merge the two Cassie chapters and then go to Ax? It makes no sense.


Ifi: Cassie learns that the monster is called a Veleek and it is attracted to morphs. Not bad for an afternoon in the mall.
Adam: Why is Chapman having this discussion in broad daylight where anyone could hear?
Ifi: Everyone in this series does that.
Adam: But
Adam: I
Adam: Just
Adam: Agh, my brain.
Ifi: And so now that one thing has happened in this chapter, the point of view changes to someone else.
Ifi: Oh, it's Rachel, tending to her horrific wounds
Ifi: Luckily she learns what we already know, morphing heals wounds.

I held the bloody stumps up so I could see them. I would have cried, if I'd had human tears. Fingers...human fingers...were growing from the gore.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Adam: *shudders*
Adam: T_T
Ifi: Come on. Nothing is happening in these chapters. It's just three pages of setup and then one tiny thing happens and we're shunted over to someone else randomly.
Adam: So, another Cassie chapter where nothing happens, then back to Rachel.
Adam: She makes her way out of the woods, and breaks into an unoccupied house for a place to rest.
Ifi: Is this the house next to Chapman's? Otherwise there's a lot of empty houses in this area.
Adam: This is the neighborhood with the errant muggers and rapists and giant tentacle aliens running around.
Adam: I would expect that people would be pretty willing to leave.
Ifi: Okay yeah that makes sense
Ifi: Then something very awesome happens
Adam: The police come to arrest her for criminal activity! The police actually exist in this universe!
Ifi: Rachel responds by morphing an elephant and charging them.
Adam: Seems like a reasonable reaction.
Ifi: Now, naturally, this draws the Veleek. The others happen to notice it flying past and realize it is going after either Rachel or Ax.
Adam: So they finally decide to do something proactive!
Ifi: Grand theft auto
Adam: Oh gosh, this part.
Ifi: Shut up I love this part
Adam: It reminds me more of Crazy Taxi, personally.

"Oh, it's just a trash can," I said. "Chill out."
"Okay, so it's four trash cans," I said.
"Get off the sidewalk, you lunatic!" Jake said.
I yanked the wheel to the right. We bumped off the sidewalk, sort of grazed a parked car, and...
"Do you hate trash cans?" Jake asked. "Is that your problem? Do you just HATE TRASH CANS?!!"
"I can't drive with you screaming in my ear," I said.
"You can't drive at all!" Jake said.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Ifi: Oh Marco
Ifi: Shine on, you crazy diamond.
Adam: It is no wonder that people don't want to live in this city.
Adam: Exactly how do they explain to Cassie's dad afterwards what happens to his car?
Ifi: They let him think it was stolen
Ifi: They never tell him the truth.
Adam: I hope he has insurance.
Adam: Though, technically speaking, it was stolen.

Ifi: So they see the Veelek try to capture Rachel, but it actually can't lift her fat ass.
Adam: Poor Rachel.
Adam: You are going to give the girl body image issues.
Ifi: What she weighs like two thousand pounds
Ifi: Goddamn.
Adam: Shhh.

Ifi: The chase scene that follows is totally impossible to keep up with
Ifi: It moves way too fast between each character
Ifi: As they play keep-away with the Veleek
Ifi: Oh and Rachel gets her memories back or something
Adam: Through the power of friendship!
Adam: =D
Ifi: Goddamn that subplot was dumb

Ifi: Okay so this chase thing goes on for literally chapters and chapters.
Ifi: Finally we see Ax, watching it all on Visser Three's holographic projector
Adam: The Yeerks have apparently stuck him in a box.
Ifi: Where the recording is coming from, I have no idea.
Adam: Well, you know supervillains, they just enjoy sticking cameras everywhere.
Adam: Everywhere.
Ifi: So he can see the Animorphs running away from the Veleek but he can't see them when they switch morphs while running away?
Adam: They all have bad colds, and they happen to sneeze each time that they morph.

Ifi: So Ax gets a clever idea
Ifi: He morphs a flea!
Adam: He must have some killer reflexes in order to catch the thing.
Ifi: Yeah I dunno.
Ifi: Anyway, he does that and everyone panics trying to find him.
Adam: And they do the completely moronic, but utterly expected thing, and open the box
Ifi: Just then the Veleek comes home for dinner. With Marco.
Adam: Yay, dinner party!
Ifi: Ax tricks the Veleek into freaking out by demorphing.
Adam: And tells Marco how to open the hatch.
Ifi: Basically it involves pressing a button
Adam: A PSYCHIC button!
Ifi: Oh right.
Ifi: Like the psychic dropshafts
Adam: Of course.
Adam: And psychic toaster ovens.
Adam: And psychic hello kitty dolls.

Ifi: So in the madness that ensues, we learn the Veleek is weak to water
Ifi: Sort of like the Blob, I guess?
Adam: Well, it is made of dust, so it makes sense.
Ifi: Nothing about this book makes sense.

<Where are we now?> I asked.
<The good news is, we're out of the ship. I used a couple Hork-Bajirs as a ladder and climbed over them! That's the good news.>
<You seem to be implying that there might be some bad news, too,> I said.
<Oh yeah,> Marco said. <The bad news is we're about two miles up in the air and we are plummeting to Earth.>

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Adam: I'm singing.
Ifi: I see.
Adam: Yes.

Adam: Fortunately, Ax reminds Marco that he can fly, just before they become a puddle of reddish mush on the asphalt.
Ifi: It takes a depressingly long time to come to that conclusion.
Adam: Yeah, well, shut up.
Ifi: Cassie and Rachel and Jake, meanwhile, have come to the heartbreaking conclusion that Ax and Marco are probably dead or infested or being tortured. So they each go home and go to sleep.

Then I went up to my room and tried not to imagine what Visser Three was doing to Ax and Marco.
I've never felt so tired and so bad. I fell asleep in my clothes, facedown on my unmade bed.

----Megamorphs #1, The Andalite's Gift

Adam: Oh well!
Ifi: Luckily Marco turns up alive and well and in Jake's room the next morning
Ifi: And the Animorphs decide to launch their counterattack.
Ifi: Which involves a Jesus-whale, not sure if it’s the same one from before or not
Adam: It didn't really specify one way or the other

Adam: Anywho, so they track down Jesus-Whale, and Cassie asks him to come up she can acquire him.
Ifi: Jesus Whale does not care at all about anything
Ifi: he is totally indifferent
Adam: Jesus Whale cares only for his undersea brethren.
Ifi: Okay so they make this plan super complicated, but it basically comes down to Cassie tricking the Veleek into trying to capture her while she is in whale morph, which causes him to sink and drown/dissipate/whatever
Adam: Basically, they are dropping a whale on it.
Ifi: Like I said, the plan is insanely convoluted, and involves morphing in midair in broad daylight on a beach.
Adam: Yeah, but they are dropping a whale on a giant tentacle space monster.
Adam: It is Jesus Whale vs Cthulhu!
Ifi: This book has been dragging on FOREVER so it has to work
Adam: And it does!
Adam: Yay!
Adam: The End!
Ifi: Yeah literally it just ends.
Ifi: And no aspect of this story is ever mentioned again
Adam: Pretty much!
Adam: Again, there is no reason why the Yeerks couldn't just go and capture another dozen or so more Veleeks
Ifi: Yeah the Yeerks just give up
Ifi: It's like the hospital thing all over again
Adam: Saturday morning cartoon villain syndrome.
Adam: You can't try a plan more then once.


  1. When I first got this book it was in mint condition and had this awesome postcard inside. This was like 10 years after it came out so it was probably worth a little money, but I was 8 so I just ripped the postcard out, tacked it up, threw it away when I got bored with it, and spilled soup on the book. XP

    That's pretty much all I have to say about this book, because with the exception of the AWESOME TRASH CAN SCENE it feels like the series' first throwaway novel.

    Ifi, do you actually write the fanfic? Because if so, link to that shizz! God knows I need more Internet distractions.

  2. The fanfic is currently in production. I will share it with the world once it comes to its rambling end.

  3. I still have the postcard! It is shiny, if delightfully pointless.

  4. I assumed they didn’t train up an army of veleeks because they would probably be difficult and time-consuming to train, and the andalite bandits had shown that they were easily defeated. The veleek didn’t seem all that bright.

    But you didn’t touch on what annoys me most about this book: say you’re fighting a crazy, renowned expert torturer and his army of mind readers. You have very good reason to believe that two of your brothers in arms, who know all of your war-relevant security and personal information, have been captured by this enemy. YOU DO NOT GO HOME TO YOUR OWN HOUSE TO SLEEP. YOU JUST DON’T. You find the most random bolthole you can, someplace you’ve never mentioned to the captured agents, preferably someplace you’ve never been like some random person’s basement or a dumpster in an alley and you live there until the situation is resolved.

    They should’ve had Tobias get a whole list of possible safehouses and not tell anyone until they’re needed. I mean, they’re fighting mind readers; that’s basic security protocol. And later on, with the Chee and the free hork-bajir? No security protocol in place in case of a captured animorph. They’re huge capture risks. Protecting the technologically advanced pacifist robots is step one; the yeerks capturing and reverse-engineering one of the Chee spies would be a pretty serious issue.

    On topic, though, that trash can thing was one of the funniest moments in the series.

  5. Oh god, I remember that postcard! I think I might have actually mailed it to somebody which was just the worst decision.

    That Veleek drawing is strangely adorable to me. Did you make that, Adam?

    I always thought that this book wasn't canon? What with the not-mentioning-anything-that-happens-again and the weird narration style and the fact that a lot of the 'bonus' books ended up being non-canon due to Weird Time Shit. Although now that I think about it, doesn't crazy ex-controller lady show up again as Crazy Helen in a later book?

    1. No, Crazy Helen thinks the aliens are Martians.

  6. AAA: As much as I hate to use this excuse, they were kids when this started, and I doubt anyone that age would initially think that far ahead. That said, the characters specifically state that part of their goals is to maintain something of a normal life in spite of the invasion, because they'd very likely snap otherwise. Also, (SPOILERS) when they do eventually get found out late into the series, they do go camp out at the Hork-Bajir sanctuary.

    Chris: A few of these books came with postcards or bookmarks or whatnot. Most of the bookmarks I have since ripped out and used, but this postcard remains pristine, and still inside of the book. Hurrays?

    And yes, I drew it. I've always had a strange fondness for giant space tentacle monsters.

    And this book is in fact canon. There is an offhand mention of the Veleek in the next book, and Cassie uses her Jesus Whale morph again later on.

    As for Crazy Helen, I honestly can't remember off the top of my head. I'll try to remember to bring this up again when we get to her though.

  7. The thing about Animorphs is that there's so many books where something bizarre and crazy happens and it's never mentioned again - except for *one time*, so you can't quite *ignore* it. Like, there's that really infamous one where it turns out there are two Andalites living IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD and it's just like, "Hey, cool, we'll never talk to you again, RESPECT THOSE WITH DISABILITIES OK." I think a lot of people would like to forget that book but those Andalites are mentioned in passing one time so it's gotta be canon. It's maddening.

    My least favourite in the series is legitimately never mentioned again though, so whatever, I'm happy.

  8. Now that you mention it, I remember an Ax-narrated book having a bookmark he'd taken a bite out of.

    Your illustrations of the aliens have all been really great!

    Google tells me Crazy Helen shows up in The Unknown, not sure if it's the same person, though. Meh.

  9. Tragically, I no longer have that particular bookmark. Though it is worth mentioning that the back of the book has a quote where he states,

    And thank you! I shall keep them up.

  10. Is there a chance we could get a picture of that postcard?

    And holy crap, those covers are impressively terrible.

  11. Here it is:

    I made a slight error here. The postcard I have came in Book #9. I got them mixed up since it used the illustration is originally from this book.

    Also, please pay no mind to the therizinosaurus claw holding the book open.

  12. They're thirteen. If they can put together battle strategies and keep from mentally cracking for as long at they did, they can understand the dangers of having enemy mind readers. I wouldn't expect their plan to be very good or intricate, but if your position has been compromised and you have no defenses whatsoever, you go sleep somewhere else. They do mention the mindreading/torture angle several times throughout the series, they just never put any backup plans in place. Ever.

  13. ^^ Oh, man, that postcard. Poor Tobias! At least the book is held by a fellow (and presumably very sympathetic) maniraptor.

    Incidentally, the crazy lady scene freaked me out too, but more for the fact that Rachel's response is basically, "Hey this random person seems to know about the horrible brain-slug invasion! Welp, best not to mention this to anyone I know."

  14. I will always remember this story as the one that Nickelodeon translated most badly. After buying the rights and paying to occasionally make the kids morph a way somehow more disturbing than in the books, they couldn't afford to cast a Veleek shadow on every wall the kids passed or to film a large cast of extras or to throw some boxes around and pretend it was a spaceship... So Rachel lost her memory, wandered around being boring for twenty minutes, then got her memory back. The end. After that, the book seems brilliant.

  15. You'd think with such a big, profitable franchise, Nickelodeon would have thrown everything they had into the series. Instead, we get something so boring that I literally closed the youtube tab three minutes in. I will need to check this one out, though, if only to see what they did with the Veelek.

    I mean, I understand about price constraints, but there's a difference between having a low budget and saying, "Aw, who cares, kids will watch anything, right?"

  16. I haven't seen the episodes in years, but as I recall... They did nothing with it. It wasn't there. This was the episode where NOTHING happened, and they didn't even have the decency to do recap flashbacks while being boring.

  17. True enough. Doctor Who, especially the original, had a terrible budget and still managed lots of fun. I think they just said "we can't afford ____ so cut ____ out" instead of saying "we can't afford ____, so make a spin-off or AU series that's just as much fun but cheaper." Or hell, a cartoon would have been cheap and a lot easier to translate from the books.

  18. J. Teeple: Would a cartoon have been easier to translate the series into? Yes. Would it have been cheaper? Surprisingly enough, PROBABLY NOT! Well-made cartoon shows can actually cost more than live action. So unless what you're suggesting some very, very, very cheaply made cartoon animated poorly at like 10 frames per second with lots of not moving and reused frames and poor-quality voice acting... which probably wouldn't have been any better than the tv show as it is....

    1. I had no idea about animation being more expensive :D But then I guess I never really thought about it. The more I think about an Animorphs animated series, though, the more I like it. I mean there would be TONS of transformation stock footage but could still be outrageously fun, for creators and viewers.

    2. I dunno... don't forget that this is a live-action show with a lot of special effects and special props and costumes. A halfway decent cartoon probably would have cost only a little more than what we ended up with, especially if they used stock footage for the morphs.

      Plus I'm pretty sure that Nickelodeon's animation department had bigger budgets than their live action one in the 90s.

    3. The cost of animated shows depends largely on where it's made and how pretty they want to make it - more individual drawings per second means the animation goes much better, but it also means that the cost goes up. But effectively: the budget per-episode for the Animorphs TV show was something like $400-450k per episode. A simple animated show, liiike Spongebob Squarepants, can cost $500k per episode - 50-100k more. For a more complex cartoon, something like Avatar: The Last Airbender, that price can go up to $1 million per episode or more - and I'm pretty sure that if we were going to have an animated animorphs show, everyone would prefer if it was a richer and more complex show than one about a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea - though, like I said, even that would have been more expensive.

      Keep in mind that Nick started out as a very very small company who struggled financially long enough to make them very tight-fisted and reluctant to take chances on shows, or spend more than they needed to - this was even more true back when they were creating animorphs.

      Using stock footage for morphs and such would help bring costs down, yes, but a: the quality of the show would also suffer, and b: there's a limited amount of that filler you can use. They could also dodge some of those costly transformations, provided they were willing to use more than just one (which given all the animals that they morph they'd really have to) by just not animating those and doing reaction shots of the others during a transformation or else doing something like a 'flash' special effect that boom just turns someone into a fly, but. Yeah.

      Basically what this boils down to is in order for an Animorphs cartoon to beat the cost of the live show it probably would have had to be composed of little but stock footage and the characters standing around doing nothing, with the occasional stilted animation thrown in. Could they have beaten the live action cost with a cartoon? Probably. Would it have ended up looking like one of those ripoff movies that some studio in China always comes out with to try to leech off the success of Dreamworks or Disney whenever they come out with a new movie? (aka Chop Kick Panda, The Little Mermaid's Undersea Adventure, etc) Yes, yes it would.

      In my book, that really doesn't seem like any improvement - even if Nick would ever have aired a cartoon that was so low quality. Somehow I doubt it. At least with live action you still get your 24 fps without resorting to shooting on 4s.

  19. The part where Ax morphs flea reminded me that Ax didn't go along with Marco's plan out of a cultural "do what you're told" habit. He went with because he was being eaten alive by fleas and Marco was bribing him with flea powder.

    I honestly don't know which reason is more degrading.

  20. On the subject of the VeLeek army, it says that the Veleek itself was several Veleeks, all acting together. The Veleeks aren't from Saturn, their from one of its moons. All of the Velleks are used to make the monster they fight. Their are no other Velleeks.
    And also, was anyone else interested by the fact that the Yeerks langue is composed of ultrasonic squeaks, and yet Veleek is the Yeerk name for pet? I think maybe the Teerks have two natural langues, one they used in the pool, and one they used in Gedds.

  21. The Blog is weak to cold not water. They fought it off with CO2 fire extinguishers (note that foam extinguishers will not work on the blog or protect you from graboids)

    As a Christian I find the idea of the converting aliens both awesome and terribly silly, Hello Predator, I would like to talk to you about God.....OH GOD MY SKULL!!!!