Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book 16: The Warning

The Summary
Jake is derping about on the internet when he finds a website that seems to be some sort of Yeerk resistance movement. The Animorphs have no idea what to make of this, so they sneak onto an airplane and fly to another city so they can infiltrate WAA (AOL) headquarters and find out who the website belongs to and who the other visitors are.

Oddly, the founder of the website is also the founder of WAA, Steve Jobs expy Joe Bob Fenestre. The Animorphs are even more confused, but they go to see him at his mansion. Joe Bob is sort of completely insane, and security is so tight that not even an insect can sneak into the house. Rachel and Ax are both captured in bird morph, and Jake and the others retreat.

Jake goes to the Gardens and acquires a rhino morph, which he uses to force his way into the mansion while the others follow behind, slightly confused. They finally make it to Joe Bob, who has Rachel and Ax in stasis. Joe Bob is a Controller for a rogue Yeerk who has discovered a way to survive without Kandrona rays. All the security is because he is terrified that his twin brother will come and try to beat the secret out of him. His twin brother is none other than Visser Three.

The Animorphs still aren't really sure what to do. Then Joe Bob explains that to survive without Kandrona rays, he has to eat a Yeerk every three days. The 'resistance' website is actually his way of tracking down other controllers. So he can eat them. The Animorphs debate for a little while, and finally decide that they will let this one slide because the guy is killing ten Yeerks a month so good for him I guess.

And then they burn his mansion down.

The Review

Adam: Teehee
Ifi: I am beginning to realize that I subconsciously don't even look at the middle phases of the morphing process
Adam: Oh, but is all part of the fun
Ifi: I do like this cover. Not sure why.
Adam: I am iffy about the color scheme, but I like rhinos, so it works for me.
Ifi: That rhino is way cool. That would be my back-up battle morph for sure.
Adam: I would go with a hippo or a cassowary, but it is still la good choice
Ifi: I thought cassowary was your primary?
Adam: Well, all the main characters in the series eventually get secondary battle morphs, in addition to their primary ones
Ifi: Yeah but I thought cassowary was ALREADY your primary morph and then you said it might be secondary
Adam: Yes. Cassowary is primary and hippo is secondary.
Adam: Why are we arguing about this
Ifi: Nobody is going to want to read this.
Adam: You say that as if it doesn't apply to our other stuff
Ifi: For serious. Why are all you people still here?

Ifi: Internet! We all love to internet!
Ifi: (the concept of the internet is explained here for children who don't have cool parents)
Adam: A tutorial:

Ifi: Also why is 'password' referred to as 'code word'?
Adam: It was the 90's.
Adam: That really doesn't excuse anything, but I am going with that.
Ifi: Yeah. Okay.
Adam: Now, there is something here that confuses me.
Adam: Jake states his username to be Bball24. He clarifies that it isn't actually his real username, because he doesn't someone tracking it back to him.
Adam: But then he goes and explains why he chose Bball24 as his username!
Adam: Jake.
Adam: You are the worst liar in the world.
Ifi: At least he made the effort.
Adam: He may as well not have.
Ifi: Maybe the number is actually different...
Ifi: Or maybe the ‘bball' part is a lie
Adam: Well, he has stated an interest in baseball in past books.
Ifi: Though he sort of has a complex about Tom and the whole basketball thing so
Adam: It represents his lost childhood.
Adam: When he becomes the leader of the Animorphs, he has to give up normal schoolkid things, and makes basketball the focus for that.
Ifi: He has a basketball complex.
Adam: Sure.

Adam: Okay, so Jake is frittering away his time online.
Adam: There are some references to AOL which date this book horribly.
Ifi: It's not called AOL in this book, but it's AOL.
Ifi: Oh look

I connected at 38,400 bps. I wish I had a faster modem, but at least this one is better than my old 14,400.

----Jake, living in the 90's

Ifi: That is adorable.
Adam: And then we get the icon "You've got mail" thing.
Adam: Which I have not heard in over a decade

Ifi: Someone in my Bio class was checking his e-mail and it went "You Got Mail!" And the whole class came to a screeching halt.
Adam: ...
Ifi: So we could mock him mercilessly.

I clicked on the mail icon. Three E-mails. One was a chain letter. I dumped it. One was from some guy who must have thought I cared about politics. It was some stupid conspiracy theory. I dumped it, too. The third was from "Cassie98." I opened it and read it.
"Jake, oooh baby, you are the man for me. I love your big manly shoulders. I love your piercing brown eyes. (They are brown, right?) But most of all, I love the macho, manly way you boss us all around, snapping out orders left and right. I think of you as the new Clint Eastwood. I must have you all to myself. Signed, Cassie. XXX."

----Book Sixteen, The Warning, getting off to an interesting start

Ifi: Marco you have ISSUES.
Adam: Marco, just tell Jake how you really feel.
Adam: There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Adam: We accept you for who you are.

I was going to sign off because, as usual, I couldn't really think of much to do online. But then I had this weird urge. I don't know why. I clicked on the Internet icon and brought up the Web browser. In the search space I typed the word "Yeerk."

----Jake, making sense

Adam: And now the Yeerks can track you back to your house through the search engine you used.
Adam: Way to go Jake.
Ifi: Also that is not the word most people type into google when they get "weird urges"
Adam: I am sure there are some people who do.
Adam: It is the internet.
Ifi: Anyway, surprise surprise, there is a conspiracy site about the Yeerks, complete with blurry pictures and lists of supposed Controllers, presumably hosted by Geocities
Adam: On topic here, the official Space Jam website has not updated since 1996.
Adam: Lookit:
Ifi: Aren't there LAWS about this sort of thing?
Adam: There ought to be
Ifi: brb writing to my congressman
Adam: Speaking of which, everyone go write your congressman about SOPA
Ifi: It's that thing that all the banner ads are talking about.
Adam: Yes

Ifi: Okay. So Jake shows the website to his friends and Ax performs a miracle on the computer so it can surf without being tracked and also wins every online game it plays and shoots gold out its usb ports.
Ifi: Only one of those things is a lie.
Adam: Wouldn't that completely wreck the economy?
Ifi: Ax cares not for your primitive human barter system
Adam: He could buy all the cinnamon buns he could ever want
Ifi: So also on this website are drawings of some aliens, including Hork-Bajir and Greys.

"Ax, have you ever seen any real aliens that look like those?"
"Like that one, yes." He pointed at the fetal-looking Close Encounters alien. "It is similar to the mature phase of a species called Skrit Na. The Skrit, the immature phase, is like a giant cockroach. This could be a Na. Only Na usually walk on all fours like sensible creatures. Rea-tures. Cuh-reee-chers. My brother, Elfangor, once had some big adventure involving Skrit Na. But he never told me much about it. The other species are all unknown to me."

----Ax missed out on the Mustang story

Ifi: Oh man Ax.
Ifi: You don't even know.
Ifi: You don't even know.
Adam: Oh those whacky misadventures
Ifi: It was probably something that Elfangor would start to talk about when he got really drunk, but he never finished the story because he was crying too hard
Adam: How would an Andalite go about getting drunk, exactly?
Ifi: You just pour the bottle over your foot.
Adam: This is something you have thought about before, isn't it?
Ifi: Well I mean it's just obvious!

Ifi: Okay so there is a AOL-style chatroom on this website
Ifi: They don't post anything, but they follow the chat, which is surprisingly active
Ifi: There is a random moron, a dude who is obviously a controller, and a little kid who knows his dad has been infested.
Adam: And surprisingly, three or so people who actually seem to know what they are talking about
Ifi: The most prominent is a guy named Fitey777. More on him later.
Ifi: Dude the Animorphs totally could have started recruiting from that website, as long as Ax maintained security.
Adam: I don't think they are thinking that far ahead just yet
Ifi: Even if it's not morphing and battles, they could have started up a "TIE YOUR NEIGHBOR UP FOR THREE DAYS AND APOLOGIZE PROFUSELY IF NOTHING HAPPENS" club
Adam: Yeah, the fact that no one ever suggests that to Gump gives me the sadfaces
Adam: (Gump being the little kid)
Ifi: Gump is like the avatar of everyone in the world who is having their lives screwed up by the Yeerks
Adam: T_T
Adam: Now you have given me a case of the sadfaces

Ifi: The Animorphs don't really know what to make of this really strange plot hook
Ifi: They decide to take a flight to the Web Access America (AOL) headquarters
Adam: ...
Adam: What
Adam: I
Adam: What
Adam: No
Adam: Just look up who registered this domain.
Adam: Track down whoever made the website.
Ifi: Yo, shut up, we are going on an airplane ride so Jake can get his character development on.
Adam: I honestly do not understand how any sane individual could come up with this plan.
Ifi: To be honest, not even the Animorphs seem to know why they're doing it.
Ifi: I think they were just bored and wanted to see if they could pull off sneaking onto an airplane.
Adam: That makes as much sense as anything else.

Adam: They decide to sneak into the airplane as flies.
Ifi: This whole segment was so long and overcomplicated that I honestly started to wonder if even the author knew where this was going.
Adam: Well, first they steal a used diaper so that they can track it onboard the plane as flies.
Adam: Ew.
Adam: Then someone catches them morphing in the restroom, so they call the security guards to go shoot the mini-brundleflies.
Adam: But they manage to escape and get on the plane.
Ifi: Oh right that reminds me of a line I wanted to quote

There were a lot of flights coming and going. The men's room was busy. The best we could do was get two stalls.
"Oh, this doesn't look too weird," Tobias muttered as he and I entered a stall together.

----Tobias and Jake, not looking too weird

Ifi: Yep.
Ifi: She just went there.
Adam: Classy.
Ifi: I mean there's no way a little kid would pick up on that, but there's no way an adult wouldn’t
Adam: …I totally didn't pick up on that.
Ifi: -sigh-
Adam: I think you are just a great big perv.
Ifi: I think you a heteronormative sheep.
Adam: Bah.

Adam: Oh, also, Tobias loses control of his morph and ends up in a toilet.
Ifi: Dear God.
Ifi: Why.
Ifi: Whyyyyy
Adam: It is just one of those books.
Ifi: I don't think this book was outlined. I think the author just sat down at a computer and made things happen as they occurred to her.

Ifi: Once on the plane, the Animorphs are morons and get caught by the flight attendants when they do nothing to conceal the fact that they are flies on a commercial airline

I felt the massive hand press violently down on me.
I had been swatted.
I was in the crack of the hand's lifeline. And because of that tiny indentation, I had not died. But I was shattered.
My left wing was gone, ripped away. My right wing barely moved. I was blind in my right eye. Four of my legs were broken. But by far the worst was that my body, my green-black body, had burst open.
But there was no pain. No pain. Just terror.

----Book Sixteen, The Warning

Ifi: D:
Adam: @_________@
Adam: I...
Adam: ew

Suddenly, monsters all around me. I saw them loom over me, hover in the air, then land. They had huge, bulging eyes that kind of sparkled from all the tiny facets. They had hideous faces with these long, vile tubes coming out, like tongues that could suck. Their wings were gossamer. They grabbed me with their clawed feet.
<Oh, poor Jake,> a voice cried desperately.
<Do we…do we scoop up the guts or what?>
<Just hurry!>
<Jake! Hang in there, man. Hang in there, man. Don't go away on us.>
<Jake, hold on. Hold on, we'll save you.>
And then a horrible jolt.
<Ahhh! Oh, man. The leg I was holding just came off!>

----Everyone gets their weekly dose of PTSD

Ifi: D:
Adam: Oh, I remember the last time that happened to me.
Adam: I need to stop visiting those leper colonies
Ifi: Why can't they ever have an uneventful trip without the PTSD-inducing horror when they're on their way to fight the Yeerks
Adam: I think you are reading the wrong series

Ifi: From this point on, this book is extremely dark, except when it suddenly becomes silly again for a few pages.
Adam: That's pretty much the series as a whole
Ifi: I dunno, I felt this one went deeper than some of the previous ones.
Ifi: Though it may have felt that way because it was spliced in with stupidity
Adam: I feel that this pattern is very indicative of this series as a whole though.
Adam: You get a particularly gruesome and introspective book, and follow it by the dumbest filler on earth.
Adam: This just compresses that pattern into a single book
Ifi: The end result? I have no idea whether I liked this book or hated it.

Adam: Fortunately, this is pre-9/11, so nobody really seems to care when six additional people appear in an airplane bathrooms and exit the plane.
Ifi: When you're getting off the plane you just want to be out of there.
Adam: This is true.
Ifi: So we make our way to WAA headquarters, where they just waltz in and join a tour group.

"And this is our founder, Joe Bob Fenestre. Later we'll show a short, entertaining film about the fascinating life of Mr. Fenestre."
Marco raised his hands and made a bowing motion, like he was saying prayers to Joe Bob Fenestre. Rachel yanked his shirt.
"Hey, the idea is not to attract attention, genius."
"I'm sorry," Marco said. He pretended to wipe away a tear. "This is Joe Bob Fenestre. I love Joe Bob. I admire Joe Bob. I want to be Joe Bob."
"I didn't know you were all that interested in computers," Cassie said. "I mean, I knew you liked playing around with them, but—"
Marco waved a hand dismissively. "It's not about computers. Who cares about computers?"
"Well, isn't that the big thing with Mr. Fenestre?"
Marco shook his head, like Cassie had said something insane, and walked away. Cassie looked at me.
"Joe Bob Fenestre is the second wealthiest man in the world, Cassie," I said. "I think that's what Marco cares about more than computers. Hey, Marco?"
"How much is Fenestre worth?"
"Mr. Fenestre is worth twenty-four point nine billion dollars. That's billion. What a 'b.' As in billion."

----Marco is sort of a gigantic jerk

Ifi: Joe Bob/Steve Jobs will show up again later so just file that away
Adam: How oddly prophetic.
Adam: I think he is meant to be more of a Bill Gates-type.
Adam: But I see your point.
Ifi: I couldn't decide which he was meant to be. I guess he was like a composite of all the geeky guys who were suddenly millionaires when the internet became a household thing.


Ifi: What?
Adam: I dunno
Ifi: Does that video even relate to this book?
Adam: =D

 Ifi: The Animorphs need to get into the big magical office where everyone's personal information is stored so they can find out who the guys on IRC were in real life.
Ifi: But there's like fifty people in there so what to do???

"We acquire DNA from some of the people who work here. We morph them and walk right in." As soon as the words were out of my mouth I thought, Wow, there's something not really right about this.
Cassie looked pained. "Wow, there's something not really right about that."
"I think it's brilliant," Marco said. "Possibly immoral, but brilliant."

----The Animorphs, utterly baffled by the concept of subtlety 

Ifi: There is way too much debate about whether this is an okay thing to do or not.
Ifi: Cassie maintains that it is evil.
Adam: …Why?
Ifi: I don't even know why this is a THING
Adam: There are going in here to steal people's internet addresses
Adam: The entire reason they are here is to grossly violate peoples' rights to privacy.
Ifi: They finally make Jake decide what to do because they're sick of thinking about it.

I shook my head. "The whole reason we're fighting is to keep people free," I said. "If we start violating that and using people's DNA without permission, we may not be as bad as the Yeerks. But we're heading down that same path. We have to find another way."

----Slippery slope fallacy wins the day!

Adam: No!
Adam: You are fighting to fucking survive!
Adam: You lose this war, you all die!
Ifi: It's okay Adam!
Ifi: We have an even better idea!

Fifty or sixty sets of eyes had swiveled at once to stare up at us. And what they saw kept them watching. Rachel, huge, terrifying, powerful Rachel, was calmly mopping the floor, swinging the mop back and forth like a professional.
I was helping. I had the mop bucket in my teeth.
Tobias fluttered around us in a circle, shrieking madly.

----A much better idea

Adam: *facepalm*
Ifi: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the saviors of mankind.
Adam: drumroll please

"Is that a bear?"
"Is it mopping the floor?"
"Have we gone nuts?"
"I'm not nuts. It's the bear who's nuts. That's carpeted up there."

----In case you hadn't figured it out yet, this is one of those books

Ifi: And then

Two men in gray uniforms came racing around the corner into view. They had guns drawn. They didn't even notice Cassie, they just stared in horror and confusion at the lunatic scene of a hawk, a bear, and a tiger, all seemingly involved in mopping a carpeted floor.
I set the bucket down.
One of the men dropped his gun, turned around, and ran. "Ya-ah-ah-ah!"
The other one was shaking, but he held on.
"Y-y-you animals g-get out of here. You're not a-a-a-authorized to be here!"

----The sergeant from book fourteen found a new job

Adam: Oh
Adam: This.
Adam: Yes.
Ifi: Cassie morphs a skunk, which prompts another lecture on how skunks are the most feared creatures ever.
Ifi: After all that, Marco and Ax manage to get a whole bunch of names and everyone just walks out of the building

Adam: So then there is this thing:

[Marco] shrugged. "No biggie. Once we got into the system it was a breeze. We had plenty of time. So I figured why not check out one or two extra screen names."
"Not exactly the reason we were there," Tobias said.
"This girl whose screen name is PrtyGirl802. She like sends me these very flirty kind of E-mails and IM messages. You know. Like she likes me and all."
"So you found out who she is?" Cassie asked. "That's not very nice."
"Yeah, no kidding it wasn't nice. I found out my online girlfriend PrtyGirl802 is actually a seventy-three-year-old retired postal worker."

----This is basically what every adult thought the internet was like in the 90's

Ifi: I uh
Ifi: Well.
Ifi: You know what?
Adam: What?
Ifi: There is nothing anyone could say to make this okay.

Except for the one name that really stuck out. Joe Bob Fenestre. "Fitey777" was, in reality, the billionaire owner of Web Access America.
"No way," Marco said. "That guy hangs out in chat rooms? If I were him, I'd spend my day rolling around in big stacks of hundred-dollar bills, paying Michael Jordan to come over and teach me how to improve my three-point shot—"
"You have no three-point shot, Marco," I pointed out.
"—and having the female cast members of Baywatch apply suntan oil to my muscular body."

----Book Sixteen, The Warning

Ifi: Ignoring Marco, an almost impossible task, we finally learn who this book will be centered around.
Adam: Honestly, I would have expected Bill Gates to spend his free time playing Super Meat Boy or something
Ifi: That's right plug your favorite games
Adam: No, if I wanted to plug my favorite games, I would have provided the download link to Cave Story.
Ifi: Nobody told me we were selling out! I want action figures of myself.
Adam: I'm working on it.
Ifi: And if it doesn't turn into a jet I won't endorse it.
Adam: Darn, I was going with motorcycle.
Ifi: Motorcycles have nothing to do with me!
Adam: And jets do?
Ifi: It's my battle morph.
Adam: Well, I guess it's true what they say:
Adam: When you're a jet, you're a jet all the way.
Ifi: Kill yourself.
Adam: No.
Adam: I am eternal

Ifi: Jake has some hangups about morphing flies again because of that one time a few hours ago where his entrails were ripped out of his body.
Ifi: He sees this as weakness within himself and has a miniature nervous breakdown.
Adam: Cassie tries to use this as an excuse to not have them morph flies.
Ifi: Jake sees this as some sort of affront to his masculinity or something

"If it's unreasonable fear you have to get past it," Cassie said. "But there's a reason for this fear. You were nearly killed."
I shook my head. "No. You're usually right, Cassie, but this time you're wrong. See, if I give in to fear, then that gives everyone permission to give in to fear. And we all have good reasons to be afraid. Pretty soon we'd be totally paralyzed. We wouldn't be able to do anything because one of us might have some good reason to be scared."
"We don't morph ants anymore because they scared all of us, but mostly Marco," Cassie pointed out. "We don't ever talk about morphing termites because of my problems with them. What's the difference?"
"The difference is you all decided I was the leader," I said. "That's the difference. A leader may be just as weak or scared or doubtful as anyone else. But he isn't allowed to show it. People say they want leaders to be just like them, but I don't think so. People want leaders to act the way people wish they could act themselves. Marco and Rachel and Tobias and Ax don't want me to give them permission to be scared. They want me to help them to be brave."

----Jake and Cassie have a moment

Adam: I don't really consider the fly incident comparable to morphing ants or termites.
Ifi: Yeah. I mean, it was horrible, but flies are not an inherently horrible morph.
Ifi: That was just a freak accident.
Adam: Exactly.
Ifi: Totally different type of trauma.
Adam: It was a single event, and there is a similar degree of danger that comes any time they morph.
Adam: I mean, they have been wounded to near death in all of their battle morphs, but they never consider not using those again.
Adam: Meanwhile, with hive insects, there is always the overwhelming chance that any one of them could lose themselves to it, which is a liability that puts them all at risk.
Ifi: Cassie is trying to make him feel better.
Adam: Cassie is nothing but an enormous setback in this book.
Ifi: I mean, I know she is meant to be the one who keeps everyone from turning into the bad guys, but sometimes there are no ethical issues so she makes them up.
Adam: It certainly seems that way.
Ifi: They manage to get home without incident, though.

Adam: Fortunately, it seems that Bill Gates lives just outside their town.
Adam: Just like every single other important thing on this planet.
Ifi: Jake decides to spend a nice normal evening with his family because I guess he is feeling like he can die at any moment.

"You're awfully quiet, Jake," my mother said. "Thinking deep thoughts?"
I smiled. "I was thinking this was cool. We should all have dinner together more often." I looked at Tom. "It was nice. I hope nothing ever happens to us. I hope we'll always be together."
The Yeerk inside Tom's head searched Tom's memory. The Yeerk opened his memory and read it like a book. He played the strings of Tom's brain like a violinist squeezing perfect notes out of a violin. The Yeerk found the answer that Tom would have made. It aimed Tom's eyes and made Tom's face smile sardonically. It opened Tom's mouth and made Tom say the words Tom would have said, if he'd been able.
"Hey, Mom, no more tiramisu for Jake. The liqueur is making him mushy."
I laughed the way I should. And I thought to myself, The day will come, Yeerk, when I will tear you out of his head and destroy you for what you've done to my family.

----Liqueur makes me mushy too! I LOVE YOU GUYS.

Ifi: The day will come!
Ifi: Not today though.
Ifi: Like
Ifi: Someday
Ifi: But not today.
Ifi: Or tomorrow. Or three days from now, which is when you would be dead if I did something about this situation.
Adam: @_@
Ifi: Sorry. Pet peeve of the whole series.

Adam: Can you elaborate on while this ticks you off so much?
Ifi: Because Jake would rather angst angst angst then tie up Tom and starve the Yeerk out. Then Tom could go around tying up other known Controllers and they could do the same thing once they were freed. Even if it didn't stop the Yeerks, it would slow them down.
Adam: Yeah, that is
Adam: A very good point, actually.
Ifi: Like I said. The Tie Up Your Neighbor For Three Days and Apologize Profusely If Nothing Happens Club.
Ifi: We have t-shirts.

Ifi: Anyway so now we have to invade this rich dude's house.

From the air it looked like a junior college or something. Like a shopping center. There were a dozen separate buildings. Two guest houses, each twice the size of my home. A pool house with changing rooms and a bar that extended to the edge of the pool, which was itself in the shape of the WAA logo. A boathouse down on the riverfront with a sleek cigarette boat docked alongside. A stable big enough to house a dozen horses. What looked like an observatory. A greenhouse bursting with bright green lettuce and herbs and entire orange trees. A garage, easily big enough to store thirty or forty cars. A security building with armed guards next to a quarter-mile-long driveway. And finally, on a hill surrounded by a lawn you could have held the Superbowl on, was the house itself.

----And also a zoo and a rocket ship and a bowling alley and a chocolate factory and another rocket ship but made of diamonds

Ifi: So there's that.
Adam: I was half-expecting Robin Leach to narrate that or something.
Ifi: So I guess this is the part of the neighborhood they keep the rapists and muggers and crazy old men out of

<This guy knows how to live,> Marco said with satisfaction. <Someday that'll be me.>

----Marco, anticipating becoming an epic-level sellout

Ifi: Oh Marco.
Ifi: You don't even know.

Adam: So, Rachel turns into a hawk and flies in through a convenient open window.
Adam: And promptly falls unconscious.
Adam: Oops.

Cassie was about twenty feet behind [Rachel], then me, then Marco and Ax. Tobias caught an updraft and soared higher, up to a level where he could see everything happening on the estate.
Down Rachel went. Down I went, fast as a bullet. Rachel flared at the last minute to kill some of her speed, brought her talons forward, and sailed through the open—
<Break off! Cassie, break off!>
Cassie was already reacting. She opened her wings, yanked a hard right, and skimmed within inches of the rough stucco wall of the mansion.
<Rachel!> I yelled. <Rachel!>
She had gone through the window. She was inside. But she wasn't answering. And with my falcon's eyes I could just make out a dim shape lying sprawled on the floor of the room inside. Rachel was unconscious.

----Book Sixteen, The Warning

Adam: I repeat: Oops.

Alarms were ringing. A siren shrieked. I heard men's voices shouting. I saw Cassie shoot high up, passing the top of the wall to keep her momentum. But Marco and Ax were struggling with dead air. So was I. I flapped hard, but the air down that close to the ground was still and cool. I flapped harder and rose, but slowly. Too slowly.
"Shoot them!"
"What, the birds?"
"Yes! The birds! Those are the orders!"

----Grown men shooting at birds because the boss said so

Ifi: Allow this to set the tone for the rest of the book.
Adam: They must be getting paid pretty well to put up with this sort of thing.

[Tobias] sank his talons into Ax's shoulder and chest, opened his wings, and swept down along the falling slope of the lawn, never more than an inch from disaster. Cassie was rushing to help. She grabbed one of Ax's wings and she and Tobias managed to drag and haul the injured Andalite over the inner fence and the second fence. But they dropped him in the dog run.
A team of Rottweilers came tearing for him. The dogs were racing, salivating, their big jowls shaking. Their trainer followed more slowly, unlimbering a submachine gun.
The dog spun, Marco flapped away, and I worked like a madman to get off the ground. But the second dog had kept his focus on Tobias, Cassie, and Ax. Tobias and Cassie were flapping madly, dragging Ax's tattered bird body along the grass. They would almost get off the ground, then slip back. The dog was on them.

----More delicious trauma

Ifi: Oh God D:
Ifi: I thought we already had our horrific disembowelment scene for this book!
Adam: T___T
Adam: You can never have enough gratuitous organ removal
Ifi: So they actually leave Rachel and Ax behind, presumably while screaming "RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!"

Ifi: They go to a Wendy's to angst some more and get milkshakes I guess.
Adam: I do like milkshakes.
Adam: Even though the ones they make at Wendy's are made of that weird plastic chocolate that never melts
Ifi: Jake has no idea what to do, so Marco basically screams abuse at him until he comes up with a plan to make it stop.
Adam: So, they basically do the same thing they did at the internet building.
Adam: Except, new morph time!
Ifi: Jake runs to the Gardens and breaks into the rhino exhibit real quick.
Adam: Miraculously, no one ends up with a horn stuck through their stomach, and they all go back to Bill Gates's house in one piece
Ifi: Jake annouces his plan, which is basically to go charging in.

I lowered my horn. I increased my speed. The gate was metal bars. I saw them clearly about two seconds before I hit them. More than two thousand pounds of rhino hit tempered steel.
I felt the impact in my massive, bony face and back into my shoulders. It was like getting hit in the face with a sledgehammer! But it was like getting hit and not caring. I felt the impact. But my rhinoceros body was used to impact. It was built for impact.
<What happened to the gate?> I asked, too blind to be sure.
<What gate?> Marco said. <Okay, now straight on, veering slightly right, big guy!>
I trotted on my four Greek column legs. I felt the twisted remains of the gate as I ran across them.
<Man, does this guy have a lot of different alarms, or what?> Tobias said.
<Okay, fence number two,> Marco announced.
I kept running. This time it was just chain link. I felt something sort of tug at my horn.
<Where's the fence?> I asked.
<You just went through it,> Cassie said.

----Jake gets the best non-sentient morph ever

Ifi: This goes on for about 30 more pages as they proceed to trash the home of the guy who may or may not be leading a human resistance group.

Adam: Now, there is one thing that bugged me a bit here.
Ifi: Yes?
Adam: Now by all means, rhinoceroses do not have much in the way of binocular vision.
Adam: But only being able to see things directly in front when they are three inches away?
Adam: That does not strike me as realistic.
Adam: Someone please correct me if I am wrong here.

As I ran I saw, to my horror, something emerge from the flesh of my shoulder. About as big as a fingertip, smashed, the color of mud. It was the bullet that had lodged in my shoulder. By good luck it had ended up outside my body as it morphed into a smaller form.


Ifi: It's the little details that make us remember this series so vividly ten years after the fact.
Adam: So, there is always the chance that if they are shot and then they demorph, the bullet could imbed itself inside of their flesh?
Adam: *shudders*
Ifi: Eventually, the security men state, "we are not getting paid enough for this" and book it
Adam: I can understand this logic

Ifi: The Animorphs finally get into Fenestre's office. He is holding a Dracon beam and not making very much sense.
Adam: Puh-puh-puh-plot twist!
Ifi: They talk and talk and talk and talk and eventually it becomes clear that Fenestre is a rouge Yeerk who has discovered a way to survive without Kandrona rays.
Adam: Also, Fenestre's Yeerk's name has a strangely familiar name…

"My Yeerk designation is Esplin-Nine-Four-Double-Six. Note the 'double six.' Do you know what it means?"
"A 'double' designation means that I am a twin. That two Yeerks grew from the same grub. When there are twins, one is considered the prime, and one the lesser. I am the lesser. My brother, my twin, is the prime. To him go the best assignments, the best hosts, the rank, the power, the glory. And to me, only what I can take."

----Yeerks are jerks

Adam: Fenestre is the Danny Devito to Visser Three's Arnold Shwartzenegger

Ifi: The Yeerks have a lot to learn about nurturing self-esteem in children.
Adam: But Yeerks die when they give birth
Adam: So the colony is likely responsible for raising the grubs
Ifi: And?
Adam: Well, they do kinda suck at it.
Ifi: Imagine if you had a twin and your parents named him Adam Prime and they named you Adam Nobody Cares.
Adam: My brothers are twins.
Adam: I just turned out as Adam Nobody Cares anyway.
Ifi: So Visser Three Nobody Cares has holed himself up in this mansion and told his guards to shoot anything alive because it might be Visser Three Prime coming to kill him.

"All right. My brother has not killed me because I have information he wants and needs. He doesn't want me dead, he wants me in his torture chamber aboard his Blade ship. You see, I have found a way to survive without the Kandrona. And Visser Three would give anything to know how."

----Book Sixteen, The Warning

Adam: …So why don't you take him by force and stick him in a torture chamber?
Ifi: Visser Three doesn't have a ~rhino~ morph
Adam: He has a giant firebreathing eight headed hydra morph.
Ifi: Can't make it past the bug zapper
Adam: And laser cannon mounted space ships.
Ifi: Dogs catch them every time.
Adam: ...
Ifi: Every goddamn time!

Fenestre lowered the Dracon beam he'd been pointing at Ax. "There's a way to process and refine Kandrona rays from another source. It can be made into an edible product. A food, so to speak, that I can consume with my human mouth and digest."
I felt a cold chill. If that was true, there would be no stopping the Yeerks. Their reliance on Yeerk pools and Kandrona rays was one of their greatest weaknesses.
<You're lying,> I said. <If there was a way to keep Yeerks alive without Kandrona rays and Yeerk pools, that information would make you invulnerable, even to your brothers
This time the wintry smile was even colder. If that's possible. "Oh, maybe not. For one thing, there is a long, involved process. But that's not the problem. The problem is the raw material. The raw material is my brother Yeerks. I must destroy and process and consume a Yeerk every three days to survive. I have become a cannibal."

----Oh. Okay.

Ifi: What.
Adam: Well, that's a shame
Ifi: I have reason to believe this book has lost its mind.
Adam: Are you sure you don't mean yourself?
Ifi: I never ate anyone's brains!
Adam: …Are you sure?
Adam: Mwahaha

Adam put a lot of time and effort into this picture so be sure to comment on it.

Ifi: So the Animorphs have no clue how to deal with a chaotic neutral nutjob. They yell at each other for a few pages and then decide "Screw it, let him have his fun" and go home.
Adam: And once again, Cassie has to go ruin everything.
Ifi: Cassie thinks they should have killed him.
Adam: Ah, yes, the moral compass of the group.
Ifi: I dunno. If it were me I'd probably let this one slide.

Ifi: So after all that, Cassie finds Gump

"I told him not to go to that chat room again. I told him..." Her lip quivered suddenly. "I told him not to talk to his father about Yeerks. Told him not to..." Her voice was strangled. She gritted her teeth and squeezed out the last few words. "I told that little boy not to trust his father."
There were tears running down her face. I guess they were running down my face, too. One of the things Cassie and I share is that we trust our parents, unlike some people, I guess.

----Book Sixteen, The Warning

Ifi: Unlike some people, YOU GUESS?
Adam: is that really so difficult?
Adam: He can't even morph
Ifi: But wait. We're not done.

A few days later they showed a fire on the TV news. It was a very big story because it was this huge mansion.
The mansion belonged to billionaire Joe Bob Fenestre. Fenestre was safe. No one was hurt.
I remembered warning him that he was safe only as long as he stayed in that house. Now it was no longer possible for him to stay in the house. Did the mansion burn down on its own? Or did someone start the fire that deprived that evil creature of sanctuary?
If someone set the fire, there was a long list of suspects. Visser Three. Cassie. One of the others.
I guess you'll never know.

----Book Sixteen, The Warning

Ifi: I
Ifi: Excuse me?
Adam: I honestly had to go back and reread that section
Adam: I honestly don't remember that part when I was reading through this.
Adam: And I thought you were making it up at first.
Adam: But no, it is there.
Ifi: I'm still not completely convinced that I didn't hallucinate it.
 Adam: *brain blows up*
Ifi: So yeah there was that one time Jake torched some dude's house.
Adam: Or Cassie torched some dude's house.
Ifi: Or both of them did it together and then shared a romantic kiss under the light of the moon and the stars and the glow of the inferno
Adam: And then they may have tracked him down and murdered him in cold blood.
Adam: @_@
Adam: You are messed up, dude.
Ifi: Hey I'm not the one who wrote this book!
Adam: Yes.
Adam: yes you are.
Adam: It's been you writing these all along!
Adam: And you just never wanted to admit it to yourself
Ifi: Oh man
Ifi: This is like that one time in that one movie where it was him the whole time
Adam: It is like that one time in all the movies
Ifi: I saw that one, I think. With the words going up the screen at the end?
Adam: Yes
Ifi: That's the one.


  1. This book has a special place in my heart since this is the one where I "caught up" with Animorphs. I bought the 4-pack containing books 13-16 and 16 was the newest one. The only other book I owned was number 4, and I just kept rereading those 5 books until I finally managed to get number 17.

    I have those "was that part really in the books" moments occasionally. The one really odd thing was that I could have sworn that there was a scene in book number 1 where Jake demorphs from lizard naked inside the janitor's closet or something, but the times I've re-read the book I have not read that part.

  2. I completely lost it at work when I saw that OM NOM NOM picture. Ohhhh man.

    Honestly, I'm not convinced the whole "Tie People Up Club" thing would work. I mean, the Yeerks would have to notice eventually. Tom's Yeerk in particular was a little higher-up in the ranks than the average one. It'd probably lead to all-out war pretty quickly.

    (Someone should Cassie and Jake making out in front of a burning mansion right now.)

  3. OM NOM NOM YEERK meme needs to be a meme

    and holy shit O_O these books are so much more terrifying than I remember as a child. I remember being like 9 and being all WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ANIMAL MORPHING!

  4. So many wonderful things to discuss in this one.

    * - Joe Bob Fenestre. Joe Bob FENESTRE. Joe. Bob. Fenestre.

    * - Mid-transformation, Jake looks like something unpleasant from _Man After Man_. 8C

    * - I don't even think AOL even uses "You got mail" anymore.

    * - Whomever discovered that "Space Jam" website is a big damn hero.

    * - Kid with the screen name Gump. GUMP! THE 1990's EVERYONE!!!

    * - I have nothing to add to the janitor scene.

    * - AOL, Michael Jordan, and "Baywatch"! MOER 1990S!!!

    * - And that picture is the greatest thing and I cannot wait for it to show up in my nightmares later!

  5. For some reason, I was convinced the fly disembowelment was in #6. I'm really glad it wasn't; that book had heebies enough.

    Damn, I wish the story had ever gotten back to the other informed people on this chat.

    1. The reason is that Jake is morphing a fly on the cover. They could have done a better job of matching covers to books. The fly was a much more iconic morph in this one.

    2. But then where do you put the rhino? And what do you use for book six? That was the first book where they used fly morphs.

  6. As someone who only read about the first ten books and doesn't know much about Animorphs in general, I'm really enjoying these reviews. I agree with Chris on that "Tie People Up Club," though. Wouldn't tying up Tom really tip off the Yeerks as to Jake's and possibly the others' identities? If Tom's something of a higher-ranking Yeerk, then you'd think the Yeerks would investigate his family, and that would potentially get the Animorphs discovered. Then again, the Yeerks didn't seem to investigate that one Yeerk who ended up in Jake's head that thoroughly... and the fact that the Animorphs do something stupid to endanger their identities EVERY SINGLE BOOK does really hurt that argument. Still, I think I can see why Jake doesn't just tie up Tom. I'm not very knowledgeable about Animorphs, though, so I could be very, very wrong. In any case, thank you for doing these reviews! And for blinding me with that Space Jam website. That was fun.

  7. Honestly, I think on some level the reason for not tying up Tom is because Jake is super messed up. And, I mean. Other things. But mostly that.

    This book in particular is like ooooh bluh bluh i'm the LEADER so I can't have HUMAN EMOTIONS and I think that kind of goes a long way towards explaining it, like 'I can't be the first one to freak out over this because next thing you know Marco comes home with Visser One over his shoulder', and also 'if I make a move I break our cover too early', and probably also 'having a controller that I can stalk without leaving the house is super useful to our war effort'...

    Not that he'd, like, admit any of it, but I think it's there!!

  8. Damn, I wish the story had ever gotten back to the other informed people on this chat.

    "So Cassie, I'm glad we burned down this mansion together."

    "Me too Jake. I think our relationship is stronger now."

    "Do you feel like we're forgetting something?"

    "No, I don't think so..."

  9. I'm hoping you meant "rogue Yeerk" and not "rouge Yeerk." But the image of a Yeerk wearing blush and other make up is pretty HILARIOUS.

  10. Hey, even alien brain slugs need to feel pretty sometimes.

  11. You always know when someone will be dead by the end or never do anything important because Applegate doesn't even remotely try with their name. I'm thinking that as much as she joked about Fluffer McKitty, it was really because she didn't want to give it a real name.

    Also, that picture looks fairly NSFW. Just saying...

  12. The big problem with the Tying People Up Club is that it would spread and be effective, and knowledge of the yeerk menace would get out. Which would provoke open warfare.

    But they could've used freed controllers and the voluntary yeerk movement to create/improve a spy network. They'd just need to tie Tom up, send somebody in in Tom morph to fake a feeding (hell, send a Chee in), and then make a proposal to Tom: give him a Voluntary Movement Yeerk pretending to be his previous high-ranking yeerk, and make him a spy. He's a fighter, he'd totally go for it. And the yeerk should have enough info from Tom's memories to fake its job. Slowly infiltrate the yeerk upper ranks over time and plan for revolution. Dangerous, but less so than leaving him with his current yeerk.

  13. So no one has commented on Joe Bob's last name? It's Latin for "window". So he's almost certainly Bill Gates. Between the eponymous OS, and both their names being types of portals - yeah. Gates. Also Steve Jobs was not so big in the 90s IIRC (pre-iPod, I don't think Apple was well known outside computer circles), but Gates was a household name, and more for being rich than for the computer stuff. Like Donald Trump in the 80s even though no one cared about real estate.

    I don't know where the hillbilly first name comes from, though, unless the point is that he was a total hick whose technological brilliance all came from Esplin.

  14. Alright ... my thoughts on the "Free Tom" complaint.

    In the books, the Yeerks mention they know each other in the pool, a high-ranking Yeerk going missing would definitely turn heads. As soon as it did, they'd be looking for Tom who, assuming they don't spirit him away to Never, Never Land (IE, not California, since that's where EVERYTHING HAPPENS - and is my particular gripe) will still be with his family.

    They reinfest him and now they know about Jake, and will shortly figure out everyone else.

    Even if they do spirit him away (And the family, too) Jake now has to go into hiding if he expects to continue battling like a fearless leader, which, again, puts his friends at risk.

    They have to leave him alone or they would actually blow their cover (As opposed to all the dumb things they do at the beginning of books to ALMOST blow their cover haha).

    That said, love the nostalgic blog, can't wait for you to write Book 29

  15. You know, I know the bear mopping scene is basically a huge Big Lipped Alligator Moment and the whole "we can't morph sentients!!!" thing is ridiculous... but I love that damn scene. Best mental image.

  16. sod skunks imagine if they morphed honey badgers!!

  17. Esplin cracks the skull open, and removes the Yeerk. Then he kills the host. So that's ten humans every month, 120 a year. It specifies the WWA has been open for twenty years, so that's 2,400 humans he's killed at very least. Don't forget how he's preparing the Yeerks for consumption; with a blender. So think how many humans have gone through the agony of having their skull cracked in half, then sliced across their throat, as well as how many Yeerks have been put in a blender alive, as well as enduring the sensation of having their skulls cracked in half. Would YOU have not killed him?

  18. Awww... you forgot to mention my favorite animorphs quote EVER!
    On the chatroom where there's the kid who thinks his dad is a controller and this other guy who's obviously a controller:
    Kid: My Dad's been acting really wierd lately, like all his mannerisms are the same but I don't feel like he really loves me anymore etc. etc. etc.
    Controller: You should talk to your dad! Tell him how you feel!:)
    I laughed for like five minutes straight, then I told my brother and he laughed for five minutes, to this day it's like a meme with us.

  19. Loved the Artemis Fowl reference at the end. As for the book, it was pretty good in my mind, it just had issues with the pacing.

  20. I'm totally stealing your "nobody cares" phrase for my fanfic. :)

  21. The mopping scene has got to be the silliest thing ever. Well, silliest among things that are funny in a good way; "instant maple-ginger oatmeal" is even sillier but in a stupid way, and about the only thing redeeming it is that Applegate realized how stupid it was and had Jake comment on it in the story.

  22. I'm sad that the Tie Your Neighbor shirt is not in the shop.