Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book 13: The Change

The Summary
Tobias and Rachel are flying around. Tobias wants to show her a new entrance to the Yeerk Pool that he found, but oddly, he keeps going in circles and winds up back at the same place. Before they can wonder what's happening, they see two Hork-Bajir running from an army of human-controllers in the woods. Tobias and Rachel help the two Hork-Bajir escape their pursuers.

The Hork-Bajir are named Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak, and they managed to escape the Yeerk pool somehow. After more running from Controllers, the Animorphs decide that they need a really good hiding place for the Hork-Bajir. Tobias suggests a secluded valley, and offers to lead them to it. The only problem is that he's never actually seen this place just popped into his head with no explanation.

The Yeerks become more desperate to find the escaped Hork-Bajir, even letting Taxxons run around the woods in broad daylight and setting things on fire. Tobias begins to realize that someone had been manipulating him and the Hork-Bajir this whole time. He digs his heels in and refuses to go any further until things start making sense again.

The Ellimist appears, and brings Tobias to some other place. Tobias demands payment for helping the Hork-Bajir, and the Ellimist agrees. A little later, when Tobias is seriously injured and about to be eaten by a raccoon, the Ellimist gives him his morphing power back. Tobias is furious because he is still in his hawk body, even though he can now morph to heal injuries and acquire new DNA again.

The Animorphs finally trick the Yeerks into believing that the Hork-Bajir fell into a ravine and died. Satisfied, Visser Three calls off the hunt and everyone leaves. They get to the valley, and the Hork-Bajir explain that they are going to have a baby soon.

That night, the Ellimist takes Tobias back in time, before he became an animorph, and allows him to acquire his own DNA. So now he can be in his old human body for up to two hours. The next day, human-Tobias shows up at an academic award ceremony for Rachel.

The Review
Adam: So the cover first of all
Ifi: It looks sort of vaguely spiritual
Adam: I feel that it might be possible to confuse it with the cover of Book 3

Ifi: Mm. Purple clouds and all that
Adam: To clarify with people, the new one is bird turns into guy, not vice versa.
Ifi: Wait
Ifi: What would the difference be?
Adam: Book 3 is guy turns into bird
Adam: Book 13 is bird turns into guy
Ifi: I know that I am not dumb but visually what is the difference?
Ifi: Since we're dealing with a static medium
Adam: There is always a cutout of the animal the character is morphed into
Adam: and then that leads to the inside cover, which features said animal.

Adam: Same Tobias face as on the cover.
Ifi: Though since he is going from bird to human, technically the bird should be in a silly and uncomfortable position while the human looks mostly normal
Adam: Nope
Adam: Tobias just likes flapping around in human form
Ifi: It's muscle memory by this point
Adam: Honestly, that does make a degree of sense.
Ifi: I'm surprised he doesn't try to fly out of sheer instinct
Adam: I would pay to watch that
Adam: =D

Ifi: My name is Tobias and ANGST ANGST ANGST
Adam: Rachel is getting some sort of academic award and she didn't invite Tobias to the ceremony.
Ifi: This episode, the angst comes in the form of Rachel somehow being named a Packard Foundation Outstanding Student despite fighting an interplanetary war.
Adam: Rachel is apparently some sort of child prodigy, and we have previously been uninformed of this.
Adam: There is a mention of her being a good student, but still
Ifi: Yeah, either the Packard Foundation has very lax standards or she is somehow cheating the system
Adam: Suspect
Ifi: But whatever, she can't invite him because he is a bird
Ifi: Which is his own damn fault so

Ifi: Tobias has been keeping busy by trying to map out new entrances to the Yeerk pool. I don't know how this works... I guess he just picks a random person and follows them around all day and hopes they will disappear suspiciously
Adam: I suspect he is really just using this as an excuse to be a peeping tom
Adam: By, um, peeping on Tom.
Ifi: ...
Ifi: You apologize right now.
Adam: Never

Adam: So, Rachel goes out flying with him to apologize, and they apparently end up flying through some sort of moebius strip in reality without noticing
Ifi: He is trying to show her some car wash but he keeps ending up back in the same spot near the forest
Ifi: Again and again
Adam: This is why it is best not to eat undercooked mice.
Ifi: Poor Tobias. Coming up on the end of that hawk lifespan. Getting all senile.
Adam: …Ok, that is just depressing.
Ifi: My work is done.

Adam: So anyway, this tree opens up and some Hork-Bajir pop out
Ifi: And they are running like fools with an army of human-Controllers behind them
Adam: Eh, I'm sure it's nothing.
Adam: Better get back to that gas station
Ifi: No, they decide to help the Hork-Bajir get away because this looks like a plot hook or something

One of the Controllers cut loose with both barrels of a shotgun. I could see the pellets tear a tree trunk to wet sawdust.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: This has to be the same guy from book one.
Ifi: Who brought his shotgun to the secret alien meeting on the beach
Ifi: No question about it
Ifi: Shotgun Dude. Recurring character. Give him a Seerowpedia article.
Adam: Well, if someone saw a mysterious group chasing after dinosaur aliens, and they were wielding lasers, they just might get suspicious about it, now won't they?
Ifi: I suppose that is true.
Adam: Clearly

Ifi: Tobias and Rachel help the Hork-Bajir hide. They learn that the two are married. Or something.
Ifi: Is the plural of Hork-Bajir the same as the singular?
Adam: The plural of Hork-Bajir is Hork Bajir
Adam: Like sheep

Ifi: Anyway, what I really want to discuss is Marco's reaction to all this:

"Wife? Excuse me, you said wife?" Marco asked incredulously. "You mean there's such a thing as a female Hork-Bajir?!"

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Has nobody told him how babies are made?
Ifi: Like, does he think that humans are just an anomaly with their two genders?
Adam: Well, his mother left when he was very young
Adam: And his dad was mostly loafing around that whole time.
Ifi: Visser Mom has a lot to answer for.

Adam: Also, I like how the group all decide that the Hork-Bajir are stupid based on the fact that they have difficulty following complicated directions in a heated, stressful environment, and that they are not fluent in a language that is not their native one.
Ifi: They are absolutely HORRIBLE to the poor Hork-Bajir
Ifi: And they only get worse later
Ifi: WTF heroes
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: This makes me want to bring up something else
Adam: Why exactly, do the Hork-Bajir speak such proficient English?
Ifi: I dunno. Maybe they pick it up from the Yeerks?
Adam: So this is just a universe full of omniglots, then?
Ifi: Plus Visser Three appears to give his orders in English
Adam: And when Ax first morphed human, he spoke it fluently with no background.
Adam: Clearly!
Adam: Forget Gallard? English should be the galactic standard!
Ifi: Well there is that Andalite Translator Babelfish thing?
Adam: Yes, but it only lets them understand a language
Ifi: Actually
Ifi: I think in Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor explained that mind-speak is able to be understood by anyone because it
Ifi: because
Ifi: it
Ifi: because
Adam: Magic
Adam: It still does not explain why he is able to speak unaccented English when he morphs a human though

Fortunately, almost all species can understand our thought-speak since it works at a level beyond mere words.

----The Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor’s Journey

Adam: That sounds almost like a pickup line.
Ifi: Well it was right when he met Loren so
Adam: <Baby, how about I speak to you on a level beyond words?>
Ifi: <And then you can ride on my back across a small artificial universe created by our fused consciousnesses...all night long.>
Adam: Now I am just reminded of Three Worlds Collide
Adam: Which did actually feature an alien species that communicated via sex.
Adam: And wasn't some sort of horrifying porn.

Ifi: So the Animorphs realize that these two Hork-Bajir somehow managed to escape the Yeerk Pool. Either that or the whole thing is an elaborate trap.

Cassie looked thoughtful. "Isn't it kind of a coincidence that you just happened to be in the area where the Hork-Bajir were escaping?" 
<Yes,> I said. <Definitely. Especially since I wasn't even heading there. I was actually trying to go somewhere else.>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Oh Tobias, you so crazy
Ifi: So they go to ask the Hork-Bajir WTF

<NO!> I yelled. <Listen in there, you weed-whacker-looking jerk, calm down! And Ax-man, take it easy!>

----Tobias, intergalactic ambassador 

Adam: One more step to universal peace
Ifi: Never mind the fact that the Hork-Bajir have a very good reason for not liking Andalites
Adam: They probably don't even know about the whole quantum virus thing.
Adam: I just figure, you see a bunch of blue centaurs that run around killing your people, when you have no control over what is going on, and it would seem pretty reasonable to develop a healthy phobia of them.
Ifi: Jara narrates the Hork-Bajir Chronicles.
Adam: Okay, you got me there.

Adam: Also, the first Hork-Bajir is named Jeremy.

"Not Hork-Bajir," he said. "Jara Hamee. My name. Jara Hamee."
<He's kidding, right?> Jake said in my head. <His name is Jeremy?>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: So.
Ifi: Is this supposed to be like
Ifi: comedy?
Ifi: Or what?
Adam: I feel as if Applegate just named him that for the sake of a stupid pun.
Ifi: Ok good not just me
Adam: And stupid puns are my domain, thank you very much.
Ifi: You are the king of your castle, certainly

Ifi: Ax asks the obvious question: how do they know the Hork-Bajir are really free and this whole thing isn't a clever ruse?
Ifi: (Answer: Visser Three does not do clever ruses)
Adam: And their response is

I saw the wrist blade slice right into his own head. He sliced right into his own head!
There was a gash six inches deep in the Hork-Bajir's head. He reached up with his clawed hands and pulled the gash open. He pulled his own head open! And it's not like it didn't hurt him. I could see the pain on his face.
Blood—or something—oozed in shades of deep red and deeper blue-green. He held the gash open and we stared, Ax and me, right into the Hork-Bajir's brain.

---Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: ...those wacky Arn.

<Did you see a Yeerk in there in his head?> I asked Ax shakily.
<No,> Ax said, just as shaken as I was. <No Yeerk.>
<Did that scare the pee out of you, Ax-man, or doesn't that kind of thing bother you Andalites?>
<I am as peeless as you, Tobias, my friend.>

---Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: I love these books.

Ifi: Anyway, so the Yeerks show up again to look for the escapees. This time they brought Hork-Bajir with them. Keep in mind it's not quite dark yet.

<They want a Hork-Bajir to chase, right? Well, we could give them one.>
<Morph a Hork-Bajir?> Marco asked. <Ewwww.>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Hi fuck you Marco
Adam: They've morphed ants
Adam: And what sort of kid does not want to turn into an alien?
Adam: Marco is clearly not right in the head
Ifi: Hork-Bajir beats any morph they have currently!
Ifi: AND you can use it for espionage but I guess that doesn't matter because nobody in this series appears to know what that word means.
Adam: Bear is probably more deadly, honestly
Adam: But still!
Ifi: Hork-Bajir also has that sheer intimidation factor. I mean, angry bears are scary, but Hork-Bajir just standing around discussing the weather are TERRIFYING
Adam: Also, they could morph a Hork-Bajir, and then have Ax teach them to tailblade fight
Ifi: Incite a witch-hunt in the Yeerk ranks!
Adam: Visser Three is paranoid as it is. Now he would actually have a good reason to be.

Ifi: Rachel insists on being the one to morph Jara. Because she is Rachel. Ax offers to do it but she yells at him so he's like <woah okay chillax>
Ifi: <creepy dinosaur morph is all yours.>
Ifi: <crazy bitch>
Adam: Language
Ifi: Rachel also has to do a whole bunch of Hork-Bajir stuff before she is ready to move on with the plot
Ifi: This includes slashing at the air and standing on her toes
Adam: And fighting over Jara's wife
Ifi: Apparently

I flapped hard and landed on Rachel's forward-swept horn blade. I gripped the bone blade with my talons.
<What are you doing?> Rachel asked.
<Just hitching a ride,> I said. <I'm not going to be left out. Not this time.>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Ummmm
Adam: Tobias takes after his mother, I see
Ifi: Oh god

Ifi: Also they run into the other Hork-Bajir, Ket. Visser Three is there too, just because.
Adam: He likes to have a hands-on approach with his job
Ifi: That is very true. He wouldn't order his troops somewhere that he wouldn't lead them. Because if he did, he’d miss out on so many tasty meals.
Adam: Well, hey, that's one way to get job satisfaction

Ifi: They discuss what to do about the two Hork-Bajir that they now have hiding in a cave

"What Cassie said may be true," Jake pointed out. "These two are an endangered species. What do you do with an endangered species?"
Cassie shrugged. "You find them a safe, protected environment. And then you hope they have lots of little Hork-Bajir, and somehow the species survives."
"Um, hello. This is Earth," Marco said. "There is no safe place for an alien that looks like a mix of gargoyle and a lawn mower."

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Visser Mom needs to slap some manners into Marco.

<I know a place. Way up in the mountains. A valley. There are caves and fresh water streams. It's hidden.> 
The picture of the place was clear in my mind. I could see it perfectly. I saw a beautiful waterfall. I saw tall trees that practically blotted out the sky in some areas. And a wide meadow filled with wildflowers. In my mind I could even imagine the place being home to Hork-Bajir.
<Maybe we could take them there,> I suggested.
I could see the place as clearly in my mind as any place I had ever been.
There was just one little problem. I'd never been there. I'd never actually seen it.
And I had no idea where the lovely pictures in my mind had come from.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: ...
Adam: Tobias 
Adam: I know that sometimes it is hard to find food in the wilderness
Adam: But this does not mean you should just go eating whatever strange mushrooms you find lying around
Ifi: But the lovely pictures in my mind!
Ifi: So lovely!
Adam: My advice applies to you to Ifi

Ifi: Tobias is in a terrible mood because it is nighttime and he is in unfamiliar territory
Ifi: At least Ax is around.
Adam: Next, they discover that the Yeerks have a bunch of Taxxon bloodhounds that they are using to sniff out the Hork-Bajir
Ifi: I can't handle Taxxon right now. I'm still not over the Andalite Chronicles.

<Ax? You know how I was just talking about knowing things I couldn't possibly know? It just happened again. Just now. There are like a dozen Taxxons coming this way. Somehow they can smell the Hork-Bajir. Like bloodhounds.>
All four of Ax's eyes looked up at me. He looked grim. <Taxxon trackers can sense warm flesh from miles away, as long as they have a sample. They're a special breed of Taxxon. How did you know that? How did you know Taxxon trackers hunt by smell?>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Tobias is a prophet.
Adam: Jesus Whale tells him to do things.
Adam: And he follows
Adam: Tobias flew down from the mountain carrying two whale-shaped tablets, and their message was given upon to the people
Ifi: I am the WHALE your god who brought you out of the Gardens. You shall have no other marine mammals of the order Cetacea before me...
Adam: Well, I think we have potentially offended enough people for the day.
Ifi: You can direct your hate mail to

"Where?" Jara Hamee asked. "Go where?"  
<l don't really know,> I grumbled. <l guess the little voice in my head will tell me.> 
The Hork-Bajir grunted, like that made perfect sense to him. "My head voice told me to run. [...] Ket Halpak and Jara Hamee at Yeerk pool. Yeerk drained out. Yeerk in pool. Head voice say, 'Run. Go that way!' [...] Head say, 'Run, Jara Hamee. Take Ket Hal-pak. Run and be free. Run from Yeerks.' I ask how? How will Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak be free? Head say, 'I will send a guide.'"

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Okay, so Tobias as Moses Whale is canon, apparently.
Adam: Or would that be Moses Hawk.
Adam: I don't know what to believe anymore
Adam: Let's just stick with the "they're all hallucinating and/or crazy" theory
Ifi: Tobias decides that he dances for no man! And so, with the Taxxons rushing at them, Tobias digs his heels in and refuses to budge until someone makes things make sense

<Nope. Not until I get some answers,> I said defiantly. <This little parade stops right here until I get some
By the time I'd said <answers> I was not in the forest anymore. I was not anywhere. Not anywhere I could understand, at least.
I felt myself floating. Hanging in the air, only there wasn't any air. I wasn't flying, just floating. 

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: So, he could have just stopped what he was doing and asked the Ellimist to explain things the whole time?
Adam: They ought to try this more.
Ifi: This is like when you're dealing with a little kid and they just flop down on the floor and refuse to move until they get their way
Adam: You just pick them up and go about what you were doing.
Adam: Which is what they wanted to begin with.
Adam: Everyone wins!

Ifi: Well Tobias angsts for a while about being trapped in hawk morph. The Ellimist doesn't really seem to care.
Adam: Tobias nags the Ellimist enough to get some sort of reward out of this whole business

"You want me to lead these Hork-Bajir to this place you've put in my head? Fine. But I want to get paid for my services."
"And what do you want, Tobias?"
"You know what I want," I said, almost choking on the words. "You know."
"Yes. But do you know what you want, Tobias?" the Ellimist asked. "And if you get it, will you still know?"

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Everyone in this book is being more of a jerk than usual
Ifi: It is national be-a-gigantic-jerk-for-no-reason day
Adam: Also, Tobias
Adam: Every time you make a deal with nigh omnipotent entities, you should always be as specific in your demands as possible.
Adam: Has the boy ever read a book before?
Ifi: Exactly what I was about to say
Ifi: The foster system has not been kind to Tobias
Adam: Didn't later books establish him as the sort of kid who reads a lot?
Ifi: I dunno. It certainly hasn't been mentioned yet.
Adam: Alas
Adam: It's a shame that this book predates the Open Source Wish Project
Adam: That would have been helpful
Ifi: Well now I know where to go if I ever free a genie or sell my soul or get embarrassing photos of God.
Adam: Indeed

<Stop! Stop! Nobody move!> I yelled, having seen the warning stripes of this most fearsome animal.
"Yeerks?" Jara Hamee responded.
"Taxxons?" Ket Halpak asked fearfully.
<No. Worse. A skunk. Just let it go on its way. Nobody move a muscle till it's gone.>
"Hah! Small animal! Not kill Jara Hamee!"
<No, it won't kill you. It'll just make you wish you were dead.>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Jesus Christ woman we get it you love skunks
Adam: "See? I kill animal! It smell bad, but that not that big deal."
Ifi: If KA Applegate had a patronus, it would be a skunk
Ifi: She is clearly in complete awe of them
Adam: Seemingly

<Do you need something to eat?> I asked the two Hork-Bajir.
"We eat," Jara Hamee agreed. Without any delay, he walked over to a tree. A pine of some sort. He drew back and slashed at the tree trunk with his elbow blade.
He sliced it straight up, opening about a three-foot gash in the bark. With his wrist blade, he began to slice the bark away in chunks ranging from a few inches long to almost a foot square.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: And we begin to establish some of the most important aspects of the Hork-Bajir as a species
Adam: Note that cellulose is next to impossible for most species to digest, so this would imply that Hork-Bajir have some impressively elaborate digestive systems.
Ifi: Well they were specifically engineered
Adam: Which does make sense, but then it becomes confusing when you realize how strong and active they are.
Adam: Wood pulp is not the most nutritious of foods, and does not provide terribly much in the ways of energy.

Ifi: You know what is odd to me?
Adam: What is that?
Ifi: Rachel morphed Jara earlier. But she did not mention something that should have instantly stuck out to her as wrong, given what she has been led to believe about Hork-Bajir.
Ifi: They're totally peaceful
Ifi: She should have been like. "Woah. Guys. You're not gonna believe this..."
Adam: Is it really that surprising? It's not like the two of them came off as particularly ferocious or anything.
Ifi: They didn't, but the Animorphs clearly envision Hork-Bajir as being more similar to Taxxons in their natural state
Adam: Such racism
Ifi: Well I mean I know it's hard to put things in perspective when the entire species is constantly trying to murder you, but really.
Ifi: But I suppose this goes back to the issue of the Animorphs neglecting to separate Yeerks from their hosts as often as they should
Adam: Hmm, this is a good point you bring up
Adam: I suppose this sort of thing is the sort of habit they learn to eventually break out of
Ifi: I mean it makes for a better story when you get to beat the tar out of your enemies once an episode, but the Yeerks ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES INSIDE THAT BODY
Adam: Now, what are the moral implications of them killing a Controller with Dissociative Identity Disorder?
Ifi: Well, it's later established that Yeerks don't bother to infest people with physical problems, so I guess they'd just get rid of a mentally ill host.
Adam: I will ponder this over
Ifi: "I demand a new host. This one is too crowded."
Adam: *snort*
Adam: That was shameful
Ifi: Anyway, this is a legitimate source of angst, but apparently it's more fun to whine about Packard Awards and lousy stepdads and abused skunks and awkward romantic relationships
Adam: Shush you.

Ifi: So we're still wandering through the woods trying to find the hallucinatory valley
Ifi: Tobias gets knocked right out of the air by a bobcat.
Ifi: Almost gets eated
Ifi: but then

Over the bobcat loomed a shape as big around as a redwood tree. Three rows of tiny, weak claws snapped and clawed at the air. The gigantic centipede head drew back, and I could see two of the red-jelly eye clusters.
Down came the round red mouth!
Down on the bobcat! And the Taxxon swallowed the cat in a single bite before the shocked animal could figure out what to do.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Thanks, author.
Ifi: I'm so grateful that you decided to share that with us.
Adam: This is a bobcat:

Ifi: Whosa pretty kitty! You is!
Ifi: Imma snuggle you kitty!
Adam: It will eat you
Adam: Those things can reach four feet in length
Adam: Just how big are Taxxons, anyway?
Ifi: Seerowpedia says eight to ten feet long
Ifi: Wow it just ate something half its size
Adam: Exactly.
Adam: In one gulp.
Adam: Snakes can eat things half their size, but the process takes hours.
Ifi: And they just sort of lie there tripping out for the rest of the day
Ifi: Taxxons just run off to finish whatever they were doing
Adam: 4-dimensional digestive systems?

I shot up and up and up till I was at treetop level. Only then did I even look back.
They were crawling across the clearing and through the trees. A dozen of them. Taxxons! Out in daylight. Out where some unlucky hiker could see them.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Oh God.
Ifi: What a horrible way to die.
Adam: @_@
Adam: Why must you always be so morbid?
Ifi: I'm sorry I just have this irrational fear of BEING EATEN ALIVE
Adam: Why can't you just get over such silly little things like the rest of us?

<Yeah, we noticed,> Jake said. <They almost marched right into a couple of guys out fishing in one of the streams. We managed to scare the fishermen off, or they'd be Taxxon meat now.>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: You know. For kids!

<Let me talk to them. Jara and Ket are my friends,> I said.
<Hork-Bajir?> Marco crowed. <These two walking Cuisinarts, these two seven-foot-tall lawn mowers, these living razor blades are your friends?>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Marco, what is wrong with you?
Ifi: This isn't even bravado to cover fear. This is just "I don't like these creatures because they look funny and are genetically wired for complacency."
Adam: Actually, wait, I think I figured it out.
Adam: Marco gets disemboweled all the time.
Adam: He's probably developed a phobia of anything capable of doing that.
Adam: We don't see it, but he also probably never goes near the knife rack in his kitchen anymore either

Ifi: Then the Yeerks bring helicopters
Adam: Oh consarnit

And just then, the first helicopter swept over me, roaring and ripping up the air. It was like being caught in a tornado. The rotor wash grabbed me and threw me sideways through the air.
I felt a jolt of pain.
I flapped my wings, but only my right wing worked.
Then it hit me. The snap I'd heard had been my own bone.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Oh
Adam: Well
Adam: That's a shame.
Ifi: And then a raccoon comes along.

Raccoons are careful eaters. With their sensitive paws they dig through the meat, feeling for anything they don't want. The water rushing over their paws helps them feel.
The raccoon was going to eat me. And it didn't really care if I was still alive.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Speaking of which, I haven't had dinner yet...


----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Ellimist you are such a dick.
Adam: Everyone in this book is.

<Now! Now! Yes, now would be a really good time!> I screamed.
<What's done? Nothing is done, you lunatic! I'm still a bird!> 
<Help me!>
I was too insane with terror to figure out what he was saying at first. Then it dawned on me. <What? What? That's my reward? That's all? You're giving me back my morphing power?>
<I wanted to be human again!> I screamed. <You liar! You cheat! I want to be human!>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: ...
Ifi: Fuck you Ellimist.
Adam: I repeat my prior statement
Ifi: The last time this many horrible jerks got together it was on a Dome ship.
Adam: So anycase, Tobias can actually do something now, so he morphs the raccoon and scares it off.
Adam: The next part though
Adam: Is just stupid.

And no matter how I tried to hurry, the raccoon body was not built for speed. It lumbered along. It seemed to need to stop constantly to sniff at this or that.
It wasn't that I couldn't control the body. I could. That part had been fairly easy. I mean, the instincts of the raccoon, the urgent need for food, the fear of predators, all that was normal to me.
I just couldn't get the stubby legs to move fast enough. My friends were half a mile away! I'd never reach them in time to help.
I stopped. I was panting heavily. The raccoon heart was racing. What could I do? What could I do? I'd ended up in a useless morph!

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Tobias you are a derp
Adam: You are the derpiest derp who ever derped a derp
Ifi: He is a little slow today
Adam: And these people have the right to accuse the Hork-Bajir of being unintelligent.

Wait...was it possible? Could I remorph back into my own body? My red-tailed body? DNA isn't affected by injuries. If I morphed back to red-tail, I wouldn't have the broken wing.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Now we have to listen to him angst about riffling through other people's garbage.
Adam: From what they know so far, that wouldn't be too out of character.
Ifi: Tobias you are like my favorite character after Ax and Visser Three and Erek and Toby but sometimes you don't think things all the way through before you start to angst

Ifi: Tobias finally starts looking for the others

Again and again and again the helicopters fired their blazing Dracon beams down at dry trees and even dryer underbrush.
They were starting a forest fire!
Within minutes, a wall of smoke was advancing through the trees. The wall of smoke had to be a mile long, end to end. It would block Jake and Rachel and the others. It would stop them and turn them back. Back toward the waiting Taxxons and Hork-Bajir warriors.
As I watched, a flutter of pale brown. Some bird escaping the flames.
A stab of red! The bird flamed and burned in midair!
Had it been one of my friends in morph?

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: He's off stopping rednecks from shooting at pigeons
Ifi: Luckily Tobias has a brilliant plan
Adam: They'll fake Jara and Ket's deaths
Adam: Okay, seems fine so far...

<And we need someone to acquire and morph Ket,> I said.
<I'll do it,> Jake said without hesitation.
<No, Jake. Not this time,> I said. <I'll do it.>
No one said anything for a good thirty seconds. They just stared. They stared with wolf eyes and bear eyes and tiger eyes and all four Andalite eyes. They were trying to decide if I was crazy.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Poor Tobias. Coming up on the end of that hawk lifespan. Getting all senile.
Adam: They don't even bring him on missions usually. They just tell him that they did, and he believes them.
Ifi: Oh God you are a bad person you made me laugh
Adam: Mwahaha

Ifi: So we are running
Ifi: through the woods like crazy folks
Ifi: completely undignified, running over Taxxons, getting lost
Adam: Everything's on fire
Adam: Cutting through all the trees
Adam: Captain Planet would not approve
Ifi: Captain Planet is welcome to get off his ass and help at any point.

Adam: So, Tobias and Rachel are cut to bloody bits, as they get closer to the cliff.
Adam: Visser Three stands in the way.
Adam: Boss Fight!
Adam: Oh wait, they just jump off.

I grinned. At least as much as a Hork-Bajir can grin. I looked Visser Three right in his main eyes.
"Ket Halpak free!" I yelled, using my Hork-Bajir voice.
And I charged straight at him, running flat-out, ignoring the searing pain from my injured leg.
Visser Three watched me calmly for a couple of seconds. Then it occurred to him, too. Just like it had to me. See, he might get me with his tail, and even kill me before I could get to the ravine, but my momentum would certainly carry me forward.
And I would knock Visser Three off the edge, too.
At the last second, Visser Three dodged nimbly out of my way.
"Ket Halpak and Jara Hamee freeeeeeee!" I shouted defiantly as I jumped off the edge of the ravine.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Okay now I know this is meant to be serious and dramatic and gripping
Adam: I can just picture one of them shouting "CANNONBAAAAAAALL!"
Adam: But then, after that, we get...
Adam: Oh
Adam: Oh dear

Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak lay still as Cassie and Jake, who had to fly down to the ravine and morph from falcon to human to wolf, pretended to begin devouring them. Fortunately, Hork-Bajir can stand a lot of pain.
And they heal quickly. Because I'll tell you what - if I didn't know the truth, even I would have thought that two dead Hork-Bajir were about to become wolf chow.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Oh
Adam: Oh gods
Adam: So, what you are implying here
Adam: Is that
Adam: Um
Adam: I don't even want to say it
Ifi: What?
Adam: And they are just sitting there and taking it
Ifi: Apparently Hork-Bajir are very sturdy.
Adam: And filled with lots of delicious meat
Ifi: We're lucky it wasn't a pair of Taxxons that escaped

I heard cruel laughter in my head. <Fools,> Visser Three sneered. <No one escapes the Yeerk empire. Certainly not a pair of idiot Hork-Bajir. Look at them down there, all of you! That's what awaits anyone who tries to escape the Yeerks!> He laughed a terrible laugh. <The wolves will give them both the burial they deserve.>
We waited till Visser Three and the rest of the Yeerks—human, Hork-Bajir, and Taxxons—left.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: "Visser, shall I verify that they are dead?"
Ifi: <No, no, let's go home. I'm leaving for my safari first thing tomorrow morning and I'm not done packing.>
Adam: Darn, you beat me to it
Adam: So, the Hork-Bajir with their horrifying wolf-bites all get up, and go to Tobias's secret garden
Ifi: It's a pretty chill place.
Ifi: Trees and water and stuff.

Adam: And Ket and Jara contemplate horrifying bladed sex in front of a bunch of kids.
Ifi: It's true.

"[...]But look, I have to know. How do you tell a male Hork-Bajir from a female?"
Jara Hamee looked puzzled. "Male? Female? What meaning?"
"Go ahead, Marco, explain," Cassie teased.
But Ket Halpak understood. "Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak different. Jara Hamee have three here." She pointed at her horn blades. "Ket have two."
"That's the only difference?" Marco asked.
"Other difference, too," Ket Halpak said primly. "But only for Hork-Bajir to know."

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: And that's how Marco learned the birds and the bees.
Ifi: He breaks down crying in front of Visser One's desk two books later.
Ifi: "IS IT?"
Adam: "Eh, I knew you would have picked it up somewhere."

Adam: So they all go home, and Tobias angsts a bit more.
Ifi: Then he falls asleep or something

I closed my eyes...and when I opened them again, I was not in my tree.
I was in a room. In a house.
It was night, but I could see blue numbers glowing from an alarm clock. And I could see someone lying in a narrow, disheveled bed. There was a sleeping, tousled dirty-blond head lying on the pillow.
A cold chill swept through me.
I knew this room. This bed. I knew the person lying there, tossing and turning with sad dreams.

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Adam: Tomato in the mirror, man.

Then I saw the calendar. It was a Star Trek calendar. I guess that's funny. The date was the day before I had walked through the construction site with Jake and Marco and Cassie and Rachel. 
"A dream?" The sleeper sat up in his bed. He peered at me and I saw a troubled expression in his eyes. "I know you, don't I?"
<Kind of,> I said. <And I know you…Tobias>
"How do you know my name?"
<I can't tell you that. But listen, Tobias, I…> What could I say? What could I possibly say to my old self? I couldn't tell him everything would be all right. I didn't know that. I couldn't tell him what was about to happen to him. No sane person would believe it.
Besides, I had forgotten this dream. Hadn't I?
<Tobias,> I said. <Walk home with Jake. Walk through the construction site.>

----Book Thirteen, The Change

Ifi: Okay. I want to discuss this.
Ifi: Tobias only went to the construction site because he told himself to???
Adam: And he only told himself to because he remembered that he had told himself to.
Adam: Time travel, man
Ifi: Anyway, I thought it was divinely ordained so he could see his dad! I thought Tobias had to become an Animorph. It's some time-travel-related plot point!
Ifi: I dunno. I never liked this little twist.
Ifi: It seemed like it cheapened the whole thing and I'm not sure why.
Ifi: This was otherwise a really great book. The Hork-Bajir got some great development, the Animorphs get some new allies, Tobias gets his morphing power back...
Ifi: I hate time travel.
Adam: I hate it too
Adam: But I did enjoy this book
Adam: It was also the first decisive long term victory that the Animorphs have had, I think.
Ifi: Yeah you might be right
Ifi: It's definitely one of the most significant events of the series
Ifi: The valley goes on to be very very important
Ifi: Also the Ellimist might have created it himself out of nothing
Adam: Don't hurt my head further.
Adam: Also, Tobias stops being so much of a useless lump.
Ifi: He acquires...himself
Ifi: And the first thing he does
Ifi: Is go see Rachel
Adam: Aw, that's sweet
Ifi: And then that's it.

Ifi: In conclusion, not bad for two days running around in the woods.
Adam: It was nice to have a plot relevant book, especially after the previous two.
Ifi: And....the next one.
Ifi: x_x
Adam: We cross that toilet when we get to it.
Adam: G'night folks!


  1. Sorry I posted this so late. My cat was stuck in a tree.

  2. Ifi, is your cat named Fluffer McKitty, or even Fluffer McNutter?

  3. Haha, no. She is named Ginger (because she is orange. My sisters...are not very good at naming things). We actually have four cats, I will most likely be taking two of them once I get my own place.

    In other news, do you know the fire companies don't rescue cats from trees anymore?

  4. I used to have a turtle. I could never get the fireman to come get him out of the tree either.

  5. I swear there's a book where Tobias gets changed into a human by the Ellimist or something, and Rachel runs over to hug him and he tries to fly away by flapping his arms.

    I'm also not sure if you've already reviewed that book.

  6. Anon: I think I remember what you're talking about. It's probably a little later. There was a point early in the series where she tried to hug him in hawk form, but it didn't work because he is a hawk.

    Adam: Go away.

    1. it was the book where rachel got the grizzly

  7. I just finished reading through all the reviews you have posted so far and have really enjoyed them. I haven't read the series in about 8 or 9 years, but it used to be my absolute favorite, and I still think about it quite a bit. I own every single book, and have read them all at least 3 times.

    Keep up the good work.

    If you are ever interested in doing anything with the TV show I found a torrent a few years ago and have all the episodes burned onto a disc. I can get them to you....somehow if you want them. Just let me know!

  8. The part I remember the most about this book is when Marco is joking about the differences between male and female Hork-Bajirs and suddenly Cassie throws a FREAKING SNAKE at him.

    But it was a good book, and one of my favorite from the first half of the series.U___U

  9. Cee: Thank you so much for the offer! Adam and I have talked about maybe doing the episodes once we're done with the books, but we have not decided yet. It will depend on how burned out we are by the end.

    There is another guy who has already reviewed the episodes. I haven't watched them yet, but they're probably great, just google 'Opinionated Animorphs Episode Guide' and you'll get the youtube links.

    I once did try to watch the first episode. Did not make it past the five minute mark.

    Davide: He was being a jerk. Poor snake didn't deserve that, though.

  10. Ifi: Totally, Marco deserved some punishment. What shocked me was the fact that Cassie threw that poor snake like it was nothing. After that part, I kept thinking "Is she a yandere or something?" (well, at the time I didn't know what the word "yandere" meant, but still...).

    And that reminds me of something: is the next book in the line the one with the horse poop joke and Cassie using Cindy Crawford as her fake name? God, that book was AWESOMELY stupid.

  11. Yes, that's the one--arguably the worst in the whole series. I don't know what the people at scholastic were thinking.

  12. In response to the comment about Tobias trying to flap away from Rachel--it happened in book seven, when he randomly showed up in human form the first time he met the Ellimist. He freaked out, tried to flap his arms, and was horribly embarrassed. Rachel managed to hug him after that.

  13. Marco is an asshole in a lot of books. He is supposed to be the funny guy, but in many cases he just feels like a jerk.

    Also, the part of the Taxxon eating the bobcat just seemed to make sense. Yeerk's can barely control the Taxxon hunger, and Taxxon will attempt to anything living or dead so I would wager it would be impossible for a Yeerk to stop its Taxxon host from eating a bobcat that is conveniently in its path. Though, thinking about it more it would be more "realistic" if the Taxxon swallowed the bobcat and then exploded as the bobcat attempted to fight its way out. Like an python/anaconda attempting to eat a crocodile/alligator.

  14. Something that just hit me.

    A whiny Emo teen with an awful home life and no real friends inside the body of a beautiful creature with wings and shapeshifting powers? Holy sh*t, Tobias is a parody of Otherkin before anyone knew Otherkin were a thing!

    (Runs to TV Tropes to share this discovery with the insane part of the internet.)

  15. *Brain explodes*

    Trish, you are a magnificent human being.

    Honestly, that seems more like a deconstruction more than anything else. He feels hopelessly out of place in his animal form, and the others constantly take pity on himself for it. Then, when he finally starts to get used to it, he can become his original body again, but by this point he is maladjusted in both forms.

  16. The fact that, once he starts talking to himself, he only vaguely recalls this having happened tells me that Human!Tobias goes back to sleep, forgets about the bird "dream," and walks home with Jake because he's clingy and because Ellimist organized it to be that way (implied by Crayak).

    I think the whole point of that was not to show why Tobias was with the group but to show that the Ellimist had actually given him what he wanted. He did not actually want to be as useless a human as he was a useless hawk. He wanted to be a solider and a morpher. He wants to mack with his girlfriend. He also wants to hang out in the woods with Ax all day instead of going to live with the uncle who never noticed he was gone.

    1. You can't mack on your girlfriend anymore when she is in college, while you are an ancient hawk nearing the end of his life and you can morph into a 13-year-old boy. Rather than give him his own body back, with the morphing ability, so he can grow up, and live his normal lifespan and actually have a relationship (all this "gift" of the Ellimist does for the relationship is give Rachel & Tobias something to fight about), the Ellimist just pulled a dick move to keep Tobias at arm's length from his humanity, and more desperate.

      As far as the horrible life in the foster system, we now know it was not necessary! All the Ellimist had to do was give him Loren's address - she lives in his old neighborhood and is totally open to the idea of a reconciliation. The only reason she gave him up was at the time, she was being institutionalized and needed years of work to take of herself, let alone a baby. She is more than capable of the minimal supervision Tobias needs at this point in his life. Also, her amnesia IS THE ELLIMIST'S FAULT! He could probably cure her more easily than fix Tobias, because it would just be undoing what he did in the first place. And think how useful it would be for the Animorph's cause to have at least one adult who might at least believe them - even if she can't help much, there would have to be things where a consenting adult could have made a difference in how they handled situations.

      The Ellimist IS an asshole. Tobias wanted to be human, and if he wanted to keep on fighting the good fight, he wanted a mother or family even more.

  17. Got caught up in theories and forgot to say -- on the subject of not getting how dark these were as a kid, Yeah, it's really obvious that Cassie and Jake are nomming on Jara and Ket, but when I was a kid I totally thought Jara and Ket just gave themselves some bloody cuts and Cassie and Jake rubbed their faces around in it. It was a long way down; V3 probably can't see that well.

    Also, I remembered this happening way further along in the series. I must have been a really impatient kid.


    Anyhoo, your banter is getting more and more entertaining with each entry. I look forward to reading more! =^.^=

  18. Ifi: Tobias only went to the construction site because he told himself to???
    Adam: And he only told himself to because he remembered that he had told himself to.

    Wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey!

    You can't mack on your girlfriend anymore when she is in college, while you are an ancient hawk nearing the end of his life and you can morph into a 13-year-old boy. Rather than give him his own body back, with the morphing ability, so he can grow up, and live his normal lifespan and actually have a relationship (all this "gift" of the Ellimist does for the relationship is give Rachel & Tobias something to fight about), the Ellimist just pulled a dick move to keep Tobias at arm's length from his humanity, and more desperate.

    I brought up the age discrepancy to KAA in a Q&A she did once and suggested that I'd always assumed the Ellimist fiddled with the morph so it would age like the others, and she agreed that if she'd thought it through that would've been what happened. So the age thing really isn't a problem.

    1. So when he's dying of hawk-old-age, he'll be morphing into a 20-something instead of a 13 year-old. Whoop de do. It's still forcing a choice of nothlit or death on him, unless the Ellimist gave him a human lifespan for his hawk body. And as I noted, Tobias wants family and all that love crap more than any other aspect of humanity. Rachel never even tempts him with all her suggestions that he go human permanently so they can have a normal relationship, but when he thinks "Aria" is a legit cousin, he says that he had already decided to go human. When he finds his mother, he pretty much blows off Rachel for the rest of the book until he needs her to help rescue Loren. What's more, we see him using his human morph a lot more in casual situations once Loren comes to the refugee camp than he ever does without a mission necessity impelling him. He can barely stand to be human for a couple of hours to go to a dance with Rachel, but he hangs out in human morph once he sort-of has a mother, even though she is shown to be more interested in playing catch with her dog than taking advantage of the fact that her son is deliberately morphing human to hang around with her (not to criticize her - she has no real maternal responsibilities here, but the fact is, it shows how far he's willing to go for the vague chance or hint of a normal family).

      Most of his torture memories with Taylor also focussed on his lack of a family. There's maybe one mention of Rachel as a happy memory, but a lot more parental-figure oriented stuff.

      All in all, what Tobias REALLY wanted was entirely in the Ellimist's power to grant. He did what he did to keep Tobias a nasty predator who would make a more effective soldier in his little war. A guy who barely clings to his humanity and fights mostly to protect his best friend, his comrades-in-arms and his girlfriend is better for the Ellimist's purposes than a guy who can sleep in a bed and suddenly has a blind mother worrying about him at home, and now has to worry about disappointing her and ruining their new relationship. Much better for the Cause if Tobias' only parental associations are centered on the guy who he saw Visser Three eat at the end of their extremely short aquaintance.

      The point is, the Ellimist is a douche, who does what he does because it's good for him. He's full of it when it comes to making Tobias happy. He deludes Tobias into THINKING he got what he wanted by stringing him along, disappointing him with only returning his powers and just when he's resigned to losing his humanity for good - takes him time traveling to get his human morph back. It's a classic technique of an abusive relationship - the abuser trains the victim to expect the worst so he'll be disproportinately grateful for the occasional bone tossed his way, or the witholding of abuse.

  19. So, when Tobias morphs himself to go see Rachel at this awards ceremony...

    1) Does he morph clothes AT ALL? He didn't morph for quite long enough to get past that awkward stage, I thought.

    2) Does he not stick out like a sore thumb as the gone-for-months kid who comes back (in bike shorts and a t-shirt) to say hi to Rachel? It would be Rachel, among the Animorphs, whose sudden acquisition of a paramour would be the talk of school, and Chapman, in theory, would hear about this, along with any other kiddo Controllers.

    These questions have only stuck with me for A DECADE.

    Also, Marco's a dick for the entire span of this book. He jokes that Rachel should strip in the valley!

    And, as what feels like the only person on Earth re-reading the series and reading these reviews after each book, wanted to pass along a thanks at some point. So thanks.