Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book 24: The Suspicion

The Summary
Cassie is donating a lot of old stuff to Goodwill. She finds a toy spaceship on the pipe where she's hidden the escafil device, so she pries it off and puts it in the box. A few hours later, a different (but similar) toy spaceship is in the same place. It flies off, but not before shooting at Jake.

These are the Helmacrons, tiny semi-humanoid creatures with a Napoleon complex. They are bent on the conquest of the galaxy, apparently completely unaware of the fact that they are only one-sixteenth of an inch tall. They manage to shrink Cassie, Marco, and Tobias down to their own size and generally annoy the hell out of everyone.

The Helmacrons are furious to learn that the Yeerks have beaten them to Earth, and the Animorphs send them after Visser Three so they can bother him instead. Visser Three manages to destroy one of the ships, but gets shrunk along with a bunch of other human-Controllers.

Cassie goes to the gardens and acquires an anteater. When she morphs, the anteater is at its normal size because this DNA was acquired after she shrunk. The Helmacrons are no match for the anteater, and after the Animorphs finish unshrinking everyone, they are sent on their way.

The Review
Adam: I honestly like this cover.
Ifi: Yep. It's a cover.
Adam: But then again, I am rather fond of anteaters.
Ifi: This one always stuck out at me for some reason, not sure why. Could be the anteater thing.
Adam: Could you better define what you mean by "stuck out at you"?
Ifi: Like if you laid out all the books in a row, this would be one of the ones my eye would be drawn to, I think
Adam: Hmm, well the colors used on it are a bit more varied then normal.
Adam: And it's an animal that is rather unusual, but one that people can still generally recognize on sight.

Adam: Well, the inside cover.
Adam: Is actually one of my favorites out of all the inside covers.

Adam: For one thing, they actually show the alien that are introduced in this book.
Adam: Which is frustratingly rare.
Ifi: That is true. However, as they are Helmacrons, I DON'T CARE
Adam: Aw, I like the Helmacrons.
Ifi: I hate them.
Adam: I think I have a fondness for humorously obnoxious aliens.
Adam: Same reason that I love the Arn.

Adam: So we begin, with a grand proclamation, from the mightiest of the mighty, the Grand Emperor of the ever-spanning Helmacron Empire.

Go forth, mighty warriors! Go forth into space! All the galaxy shall tremble before the Helmacrons. All will obey us. All will be our slaves. For only we are truly worthy to be Lords of the Universe.
- Posthumous Exhortation of the Emperor. From the log of the Helmacron ship, Galaxy Blaster

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: I hate this book.
Adam: Well, they seem like a bunch of nice guys.

Adam: Cassie and Rachel are going to the beach.
Ifi: But first Cassie has to do some random stuff and donate her old junk to Goodwill.

"I'm working," I said grumpily. "Maybe you should try it sometime."
Rachel wasn't at all offended. "I just have two words for you, Cassie: Ralph. Lauren. It's one thing to wallow in dirt, but do you have to do it while wearing boys' jeans from Wal-Mart? That's why we have Ralph Lauren. For the outdoorsy types."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: Yes. That's why we have $100 jeans. To clean out horse stalls in.
Adam: I don't understand fashion.
Ifi: I am at the Ralph Lauren website right now and I do not see a single article of clothing that would be appropriate to wear anywhere that there might be dirt.
Adam: Provide screencaps

Ifi: $45 polo shirt.
Adam: Seems like the sort of thing that would be good to do hard labor in.
Ifi: Can't look after the horses without my jaunty cap!
Adam: I do like that hat...

Adam: So anyway, they are fiddling around, when they discover a toy spaceship stuck to Cassie's water pump.

I followed the direction of her stare. She was looking at an old, hand-operated water pump. It wasn't something we used. It was more of an antique that my mom liked the look of.
Attached to it was a small, silvery object. "It's a toy," I said. "A toy spaceship. Star Wars or Star Trek or Star Something, I guess." I pried the little thing off the pump. "Huh. Must be magnetized."
"You look worried."
I shrugged. "Coincidence." I looked around to make sure no one was listening. "The pump is where I hid the blue box. You just unscrew the mechanism from the base plate, and it's in there."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: That certainly doesn't seem suspicious at all.
Ifi: It gets tossed in with all the other Goodwill junk.
Adam: Aw, it's probably a collectable.
Adam: If it's in good condition, you can make some decent money off of those things
Ifi: People like me pay top dollar for old hunks of plastic
Adam: Well, I would certainly never do anything like that.
Adam: Certainly not.
Adam: No sir.
Ifi: You're only going to Forbidden Planet tomorrow for absolutely no reason.
Adam: Quiet you.
Ifi: Then it is awkward teenager time.

Jake saw us coming and looked like he wanted to hide. It suddenly occurred to me that he'd never seen me in a bathing suit. Now I wanted to hide.
"Hi!" he said, giving a little wave and keeping his eyes rock-steady on my face.
"Oh, man, this has got to be trouble," Rachel said, loudly enough for Jake to hear. "Okay, Jake, whose butt do we have to go and kick?"
Normally he would have smiled. But he just swallowed, darted a look at the rest of me, blushed, and once again, grimly focused on my face.
We came up to where Jake was standing. "I, uh, I brought some stuff over for you to take to Goodwill. Remember, you said I should. So I did. Some stuff and all. I gave it to your dad, and he took it. He just left."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: Gah
Adam: Hormones
Ifi: Really man, you face down Hork-Bajir and Taxxons on a regular basis but Cassie puts on a swimsuit and you turn into Mr. Chapman when he's not being controlled by Iness.
Adam: Well, that doesn't seem that unrealistic.
Adam: Middle school is tough, man.
Ifi: And then the spaceship comes back!

I looked hard, blinked, and looked again. The toy spacecraft was back.
Only it wasn't the same. This one was shorter, broader, with two big "engines" at the back instead of the clusters of smaller ones. And the death's-head bridge was different, too. Still a death's-head, but different.
"It's not the same," I said to Rachel. "It's similar, but it's not the same."
Rachel stopped rolling her eyes. Jake looked at each of us, puzzled.
And then, to our utter amazement, the little "toy" ship separated from the water pump, turned to a level position, and flew swiftly away, missing Rachel's head by inches.
"What was that?" Jake demanded.
Rachel shrugged. "We thought Romulan," she said.

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: Rachel completely misses the point.
Adam: I was previously under the impression that Marco was the only scifi expert in the group
Ifi: Turns out pretty much all the guys are.
Ifi: For the purpose of this book anyway
Adam: I didn't know who the Romulans were when I was 14.
Adam: And I was as big a nerd as they come.
Ifi: so they have to go to goodwill to get the spaceship back because...well, because.
Ifi: Unfortunately the clerk turns out to be Adam

"What kind of spaceship was it?" the clerk asked.
"Toy," Jake answered.
The clerk rolled his eyes. "I mean, what kind? Romulan? Federation? Klingon? Dominion? Ferengi? Or maybe it was from the Babylon universe: Minbari? Shadows? Or was it from Star Wars? Was it a TIE fighter?"
Rachel and I both looked at Jake.
"Romulan," he said.
The clerk jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Back there. But don't try and grab anything that isn't yours. You better come out of there with a Romulan ship."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: I told you, I was never really much of a trekkie.
Ifi: I guess that's me then

Ifi: They find the thing, but it shoots Jake
Ifi: So Rachel goes after it with a baseball bat.
Ifi: Pretty much the only part of this book that I enjoyed
Adam: I'm trying to figure out the real purpose of the Helmacron weapons.
Adam: I mean, they don't really seem to do anything.
Ifi: What do you mean?
Adam: Well, they just inflict tiny pinpricks on people.
Adam: So what exactly do they expect to do in a space battle?
Ifi: I think their ships are so small, they wouldn't even be detected by other species.
Ifi: But I am sure they shoot each other.
Adam: Well, that is probably true.
Ifi: And at one point, they do go for the eyes.
Adam: Which is still something you can block by putting your hand in the way

<Aliens! Give us the power source! Give it to us and we will let you live as our slaves. We will not crush and annihilate you as we will crush and annihilate all the people of this planet!>
"Power source?" Jake echoed.
"The blue box," I said, understanding it all suddenly. "That's why they were on the water pump. They think the blue box is a power source."
"Maybe it is, for them," Rachel said. "Not exactly polite, are they?"
We heard a second, blustering thought-speak voice. <No, we shall not let all three of you live! Only the one who brings us the power source. All others must feel the wrath of brave Helmacron warriors, the true and natural rulers of the galaxy!>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: I hate these guys.
Adam: They have a certain charm to them, I think.
Ifi: They all chase each other around for a long time.
Adam: This is dispersed with random diary entries from the Helmacrons.
Ifi: From a sociological standpoint, I find the Helmacrons interesting.
Ifi: However that would not stop me from stomping them all.
Adam: Oh?
Adam: Please elaborate
Ifi: I think their culture is the most 'alien' of all the ones we see in this series. Their values and way of life and cultural norms are completely different.
Adam: You will have to elaborate upon this more as we go on.

The cages were growing larger. The animals in them were growing larger. The Helmacron ship and the blue box were growing larger. 
"Oh, no," I said, more amazed than frightened. "I'm shrinking." 
I was getting small. I was getting small very fast. 
I've shrunk before, when I've morphed various insects, for example. But this was new. I was shrinking as a human. 
The only good thing was that at least my morphing suit was shrinking, too. Bad to be shrinking. Worse to be shrinking right out of your clothes. 
"Hey!" I yelled. "What did you do to me?" 
<Hah! You glory in your swollen, bloated bulk, human! You dare to defy us! We shall see how bold you are when you are the same size as we. Now you will taste bitter defeat! Now you will feel the sting of eternal humiliation!> 
"I don't glory in my…Hey, who are you calling bloated? Wait a minute! Stop this!"

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: Cassie and Tobias get shrunk.
Ifi: also Marco

Ifi: Nothing about the shrinking process makes sense
Adam: Well, apparently it works on sort of an extension of the morphing technology

"I think I'm done shrinking!" I said. Not that anyone heard me.
Something flew into view. Something that seemed weirdly large. Tobias. He was roughly the size of a very small fly. But he was about as big as me.
<I think I've stopped shrinking,> he said.
"Me, too."
<But we're the same size. I should be smaller than you. I started out much smaller than you.>
"I guess that's not how it works," I said. "I think the idea here is to shrink us all to the same size as the Helmacrons themselves."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: How did they manage to develop this so fast?
Ifi: Could a human at such a size even stand upright?
Adam: Yes, it would be easier for them to do so, actually 
Ifi: When Cassie morphs, her size becomes relative to her new tiny size. So small morphs become freakishly tiny.
Adam: One thing that I like about this book is that they do acknowledge the Square Cube Law, and show its effects
Ifi: I suck at physics.
Adam: Well, the basics of it is such:
Adam: When an object undergoes a proportional increase in size, its new volume is proportional to the cube of the multiplier and its new surface area is proportional to the square of the multiplier.
Adam: So in essence, your general strength is based off of your area, but your weight is based on your volume.
Ifi: Translation: Giant spiders from outer space could not stand up.
Adam: More realistic example: This is why beached whales die. They get crushed under their own weight.

Ifi: Then Cassie's dad shows up

"He thought he saw a nail," Rachel said. "I thought I saw a nail, too. Ax, didn't you see a nail?"
"What is a nail? Nay-yul? Is it similar to mail?"
"Is he all right?" my father asked.
"Who, Ax? Sure, he's fine," Jake said. "He's just from a different country."
I groaned. "Oh, no, now my dad'll ask—"
"Oh, very interesting. Ax? What country are you from?"
"I am from the Republic of Ivory Coast."
"Oh, man," I moaned. "Why did I ever give him that World Almanac?"
"You know, if you don't mind my saying so, you don't look like you'd be from the Ivory Coast," my father said. He was getting that edge he gets in his voice when someone is slowly but surely beginning to grind his last nerve.
"How about Equatorial Guinea? The Republic of Kyrgyzstan? Canada?"
"Tell you what," my father said, "let's just go with Canada."
"I am from Canada. I am Canadese."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: Oh my God Cassie's dad you can't just ask someone why they're white
Adam: I actually had to look up where the Republic of the Ivory Coast is.
Adam: (It's in western Africa, for the uninitiated.)

Ifi: Then we finally get our first look at these guys

Their heads were all we saw at first. They were perfectly flat on top, quite wide. From that flat top their faces came down in a sort of squashed inverted pyramid to a hooked, barbed chin. Eyes sat atop the flat heads like big green marbles that looked like they could roll off at any moment. Their mouthparts looked insectlike, with gnashing sideways teeth. 
As they climbed all the way into view I could see that they were dressed in silvery, one-piece suits, covering bodies that were almost human, if you overlooked the extra set of legs. The suits had turquoise collars.
"Well, you could eat them," Marco suggested to Tobias. 
<We are the Mighty Helmacrons of the Planet Crusher, the deadliest ship in the glorious Helmacron fleet!> one of the group announced. <Surrender to us now and live as our degraded beasts of burden. Or resist us and be utterly annihilated!>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: Okay, they are perhaps a bit doofy looking.
Ifi: Add them to the list of species who have worked out thought-speak before humans.
Adam: I don't think that telepathy is just something that you "work out"

Adam: What does bug me though, is just how humanoid the Helmacrons are
Ifi: Yeah was gonna mention that
Adam: They're nigh microscopic
Adam: They should have a vastly different sort of build.
Ifi: They should be blobby blobs
Adam: I was thinking spindly, and covered with hairs, for gripping to things

Ifi: Also how can something with a brain that small...
Ifi: Agh
Ifi: Sense
Ifi: There is none
Adam: Yeah, they seem to have a very small number of cells in their entire body, relatively speaking. Adam: Which is very strange

Ifi: The Helmacrons from the other ship, the Galaxy Blaster, show up and claim that Cassie and Marco and Tobias are their rightful captives and the two crews have a fight
Adam: This seems to be the sort of thing that happens regularly
Ifi: Luckily the rest of the Animorphs show up as cockroaches (and Ax as a terrifying wolf spider) and run them off.
Ifi: But they come back and wound Ax and the Animorphs have to surrender
Ifi: So they are taken into the Planet Crusher
Adam: The Helmacrons are surprisingly hospitable
Adam: They even have a meeting with the captain!

In the center of the room stood a single Helmacron. Beams of light illuminated him like a movie star on Oscar night. He looked like any of the Helmacrons, except for the fact that he was wearing a flowing, gold cape.
And there was one other difference.
"He's dead," I said.
"He's about as dead as you can be," Marco agreed.
The Helmacron captain did not move. Did not breathe. His eyes did not look at us. He was covered with what looked a lot like bread mold and cobwebs.
What was worse, it was fairly obvious how he'd died. His arms and four legs were shackled, bolted to the deck. Three long, steel swords were sticking through his body. It all looked very ceremonial.

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: Well, that was perhaps a bit anticlimactic
Ifi: Whatever Helmacrons are nuts
Adam: Quote the next bit as well

O Greatest of the Great, Most Magnificent of the Magnificent, we have taken two of the strange, transforming aliens prisoner! They tremble before us! They abase themselves! They quiver in cowardly terror! And it should be noted that the Galaxy Blaster was of no help whatsoever.
- From the log of the Helmacron ship, Planet Crusher

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: I don't know, they really don't seem that different from humans.
Ifi: I feel like any species could get like that
Ifi: I can see Andalites doing that. I can see Yeerks doing that.
Ifi: Hork-Bajir wouldn't.
Ifi: But that's about it.
Adam: See? We're all not so different after all.

I saw the sly gleam in Marco's eye. "You heard the man, Cassie. Let's grovel."
He scooted his legs forward, lay on his back, stuck his hands behind his head, and relaxed like he was at the beach soaking up sun.
"I grovel before the mighty Helmacron captain, most mighty of the mighty, undisputed champion of the world in the dust-weight category! We grovel like the pitiful losers we are! We grovel like a guy who hasn't got a date the day before the prom and the only girl around is the head cheerleader, that's how much we grovel. Cassie, you could join in any time, you know."
"We grovel…um, like grovelers."
Marco turned his head to shoot me a disdainful look. "Oh, good groveling. Put some feeling into it."
"I grovel like, uh…like a person who is really, really groveling," I said lamely.
Meanwhile, Marco was, of course, getting into it. After all, he had an audience.
"O mighty Helmacron dead guy, we grovel like a video game addict trapped in an arcade without a quarter, that's how much we grovel. You would not believe the depths of our grovelry! We grovel like a guy with a large order of fries and the only saltshaker is at the table of the school bully. We grovel—"
<Enough! Now you will tell us the location of the power source.>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: Marco is surprisingly good at improv.
Adam: Well, if you under arrest from dangerous psychopaths, you may as well have some fun with it.
Ifi: They send the Helmacrons, who can sense morph-capability somehow, after Visser Three
Ifi: Which I actually thought was pretty clever
Adam: Y'know, if the Helmacrons have access to this sort of technology, you'd think that the yeerks would put some effort into capturing some of them and reverse-engineering their technology
Adam: But yes.

"True," Marco said smoothly. "The person you're looking for isn't a human. See, you guys aren't the only aliens trying to conquer Earth. There are these guys called Yeerks."
This news caused a total sensation. There had been a half dozen Helmacrons in the room around their dead captain. Now many more came rushing in, all jabbering wildly in thought-speak. Some were hauling what seemed to be computer consoles of some sort. Others dragged in oversized weapons.
There was a lot of yelling, but one thought-speak word I heard again and again was <Yeerk.>
"They know the Yeerks," I said.
"Oh, yeah. They know them, all right."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: I am rather interested in how they know each other.
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: Especially considering Visser Three's later reaction to them.
Ifi: Unarmed Helmacron vs. unhosted Yeerk. Who would win?
Adam: The Yeerk crawls over the Helmacron and smothers her.
Ifi: That's what I am thinking.

The Helmacron shouted a command in shockingly loud thought-speak. <Male! Male, here!>
A hatch in the floor opened. And up through the floor poked a trembling head. It was like the other Helmacrons, but smaller. The flat head had a forward slant. The mouthparts were less horrifying. Still insect-looking, but smaller, gentler. The entire bearing of this creature was humbler.
<Male, take these aliens. Instruct them in the ways of obedience!> The Helmacron shoved us toward the hatch.
"Male?" Marco wondered. "Did he…I mean, was that…is this…"
"I think so," I said. "The loud, hyper ones are females. This one is a male."

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: That is
Ifi: interesting
Adam: Gender dimorphism in science fiction is always a fun topic, I think
Adam: Did you know that of all hive insects, the termite is the only one with male drones?
Ifi: The guy explains that all Helmacron leaders have to be dead because that way they won't ever screw up.
Ifi: Which I guess you can't argue with.
Adam: Honestly, it makes just as much sense as politics here.
Ifi: I found this part interesting:

<Yes. You must obey all females. You must wash your food before eating it. As males, you must be quiet and calm at all times.>
"I'm not male," I said. "I'm female."
<No, you are a slave. Thus you are male and must do whatever a female tells you to do.>
"Kind of like our society," Marco said, mimicking me.
"Is that it? That's all the rules?"
<Yes. If you fail to obey the rules, you may be killed. In fact, you may even be made captain! You will stay in this room until summoned,> Wuss said calmly. <I will leave you now.>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: (Marco named the poor dude Wuss, for whatever reason)
Adam: Well, at least they aren't sexist about choosing their leaders.
Ifi: I find it interesting that gender appears to be an almost completely fluid concept here, regardless of actually sex.
Adam: I'm sure we'll get some interesting discussion about this in the comment section.

Ifi: The Helmacrons find Visser Three

<Again! Again! Punish the arrogant Yeerk usurper!>
Once more there was giddy cheering and excitement. And then the window of the limo began to lower. A puzzled, human face looked out at us.
Visser Three! We knew his human morph. It was Visser Three, unable, even in human guise, to conceal the dark evil within.
But right now he didn't look frightening so much as puzzled. I saw his huge human mouth form the word "What?" And then slowly the expression turned to amazement.
"Helmacrons?" the mouth said silently.

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: How. How do these guys know each other? I need to know.
Adam: Well, he goes out on those long outings to find morphs, and I guess they ran into each other then.
Adam: I am sure it was full of all sorts of wacky mishaps.
Ifi: Cassie and Marco morph flies to escape.
Ifi: Remember that tiny morphs become even tinier now that they are shrunk.

<Aaaahhhh!> I yelled in shock.
<Oh, man!> Marco yelled. <Biology class!>
The wall of cells seemed to be moving in slow motion. Slower and slower. As we got smaller, we got faster. Faster and stronger, relatively speaking. Just as we had when we'd become humans a sixteenth of an inch tall.
The Helmacron hand moved through molasses. The cells of the finger were like irregular bricks in a wall. But these bricks were bigger than we were. A lot bigger.
Some were clearer, more translucent than others in the bizarre light. Some I could see right into. They were like clear plastic trash bags stuffed with faintly pink Jell-O. Suspended in the Jell-O like so much fruit cocktail were all the cell structures: a big nucleus, only slightly darker than the protoplasm, mitochondria, vacuoles…

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: AGH
Adam: Okay, I just found this part really cool.
Ifi: germs germs germs
Adam: Aw, but they're just so cute!

Ifi: They eventually wind up on Chapman's head

It became darker down in the hair forest. And we were not alone. There were no bright eyes blinking at us from the dark, like in some cartoon jungle. No, the creatures we passed had no eyes. They clung to the scalp at the base of the giant hairs and almost seemed to be waiting for us as we fell. 
Eight-legged, clumsy, clanking, awful beasts. They were there by the hundreds. Everywhere around the base of the hairs. In the normal world they were too small to be seen. But to us they were as big as dogs.
<Mites,> I said, fighting an urge to throw up. <Everyone has them.>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: brb showering forever
Adam: Oh, there are much worse ones then this.
Adam: There is a type of mite that lives specifically in your eyelash follicle.
Adam: And they have no way of removing waste, so they just eat until their stomachs burst, and then die.
Ifi: I want to be dead now

Ifi: Visser Three manages to explode one of the Helmacron ships
Ifi: And gets shrunk for his trouble
Adam: I kind of want to read a whole book of just tiny Visser Three running around.
Ifi: I wouldn't mind regular Visser Three, as long as it centered on him

Adam: Everybody is all trying to get the morphing cube at once, and Rachel is shrunk as well.
Ifi: Eventually Cassie figures out that if they acquire new DNA, it should be normal sized
Ifi: So they run off to the gardens to do that

"Hey, what are we acquiring?" Jake asked.
"The one animal in the world that is specially designed to see, attack, and destroy creatures like the Helmacrons," I said grimly.
"And that animal is..."
"Anteater," I said.

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

My tongue shot out an amazing two feet! It slapped a gaggle of Helmacrons, bathed them in sticky spit, snagged them with the tiny barbs of the anteater tongue, and snapped them back into my mouth before I knew what I'd done.
<Go, Cassie!> Marco said.
I felt something in my mouth, something kind of like teeth, only not, begin to chew…
<No!> I yelled, freezing my jaw muscles.
Then, to my utter astonishment, I heard from deep inside my own mouth, <Surrender now and we may spare you the eternal torment you have earned!>
<Sentimental Andalite fool,> Visser Three said. He had copied our trick. He had also morphed the anteater. <You can't kill a Helmacron. They're a fungible species. Kill one and its mind, if you can call it a mind, is absorbed into another. They never die. Even when they're dead, they're not dead. But when it comes to Andalites…>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Adam: Rawr!
Adam: I always pictured this scene like something out of a daikaiju movie.
Adam: Otherwise, this sort of pseudo hivemind that the Helmacrons have, I wish it were expanded upon further.
Ifi: What the hell is a 'fungible species'?
Adam: Well, the implication is that they have some sort of genetic memory that is passed on to other members of their species at the time of their death.
Ifi: There was nothing in the book up to this point that suggested such a thing.

Ifi: Now that they have the upper hand, the Animorphs can reverse the shrink-ray. They also unshrink Visser Three and his Controllers, just to be nice.
Adam: This really would have been a wonderful opportunity to take him hostage.
Ifi: Maybe but at this point, everyone just wants to go home.
Adam: They could have stuck him in a bottle for three days, and freed Alloran.
Ifi: Oh man
Ifi: The other Controllers would have totally let them do it, too

Ifi: Before they go, Marco has a word with the male Helmacrons

"You guys need a males' liberation movement," Marco told them. "Why should you put up with being treated like second-class Helmacrons?"
And many of the males agreed. <We could crush the females beneath our feet! Long would they wail and bemoan their fate as we assumed our places as the rightful rulers of all Helmacrons! We would then proceed with our just and righteous plans to conquer all the galaxy! Then all would grovel before us and...>

----Book Twenty-Four, The Suspicion

Ifi: *shoots this book in the face*
Adam: Well, that went much better then expected.
Adam: Oh, and then Jake and Cassie go to the beach to make googly eyes at each other.

Ifi: This was so dumb.
Adam: Well yes, it was dumb.
Adam: But I enjoy a bit of dumbness every so often.
Ifi: I dunno. This sort of seemed to undermine the seriousness of the previous four books
Adam: I prefer to think of it as sort of an emotional break.
Adam: If the books are just nonstop doom and dread, it can be a little tiring after a while.
Ifi: Okay yes but aliens the size of dust? Bent on taking over the world?
Adam: Why not?
Adam: It's a big universe.
Adam: And we're all pretty tiny by comparison.
Ifi: Ugh I am sick of even talking about this stupidity.
Ifi: You can go party with the Helmacrons if you like
Adam: Woo!
Ifi: I, for one, will be sitting over here with the PTSD support group.


  1. I never really liked this book. I thought that they were really stupid to unshrink visser 3 and his controllers. But thanks for reviewing it! Also, thank you, Adam, for those completely unnecessary facts about mites. I need to go throw up now.

    1. Think of symbiotic mites this way: You are never truly alone. <:)

  2. Did anyone else read all the Helmacron dialogue in Mee-mow's voice?

    1. Oh gawd, now I can't stop reading them like that.

    2. For those who, tragically, do not understand this reference:

  3. Blehhh yeah I kind of hate this book. The Evil Matriarchal Alien Species is not a favorite trope of mine. Grumble grumble giving feminism a bad name, grumble.

  4. I honestly always found the Helmacrons to be pretty awesome. Just the continued state of denial kept a smirk on my face through the whole books. Anyway, another great one guys.

    Side note: Adam, because of you, their selling brain bleach by the gallon.

  5. I definitely want to know how Visser Three and the Helmacrons know each other. :') I can just imagine Visser Three flashbacking on it and shuddering.

    Or something.

  6. I hated the hell out of the Helmacrons. They were just... too ridiculous and annoying.

    1. Yeah people either love them or hate them. It's actually really funny. You can see by the replies that the fandom is split right down the middle. I am glad Adam and I had differing opinions so we could represent both sides.

  7. Hm...

    You know, the reason gender is so fluid among the Helmacrons might be that they don't actually have fixed sexes.

    Like... you know, how with certain kinds of fish, the more aggressive members will turn into males or females (depending on species). They are like sapient clownfish!

    1. Interesting theory! I like it.

      I always pegged it more as a cultural sexism thing. Like for instance, pre-space travel, if a female helmacron was sold into slavery for some reason, she would now be referred to as male as a method of demeaning her, and that was how that practice would have started.

  8. If Jake never saw Cassie in a swimsuit before, what did she wear to the pool party in Megamorphs #1? Walmart jeans?

  9. Man, I never noticed it when I was a kid, but Cassie's books aren't exactly winners, are they? Her lack of depth regarding personal issues in the series has kind of made her a catalyst for either emotional breaks (Andalite toilet books, and now the oh-so-stupid Helmacrons) or tired, exaggerated moralistic issues. Do you guys watch Community? Cassie is the Britta of this group for sure.

    "Oh no, guys! I almost accidentally ate some Helmacrons! You know, just because they attacked us, shrunk us, are the size of ants and are totally crazy, doesn't give us the right to kill them. Every living creature has a right to..."

    "WHO. CARES?!"

    1. I agree, my favorites are almost all Rachel and Jake books with the partial exception of 19 which I liked right up until the end which was stupid as hell.

  10. As I'm rereading this book, I was wondering if anyone else noticed that on page 30, it says "But fortunately, the Helmacrons broke off and hauled butt toward Cassie's farm..." I think Applegate forgot that Cassie is the one narrating this story.

    Anyway, I'm so glad I found these reviews. The often have me laughing out loud! I've had a small collection of Animorphs books ever since I was young, but recently I decided to complete my collection and read every single book in order. After each book I like to read your review. The only books I'm still missing are some of the 40's and 50's, which can be a bit expensive to get a hold of, oddly.

    Babbling finished, sorry.

    1. You had better have 55 & 58. If you don't have those, you are not a true fan, and should not speak when your betters do.

    2. it only goes to 54 stupid

    3. I think he's poking fun at either A) the misprints and typos that caused some fans to think there were more Animorphs books, or B) the obsessive collectors who go nuts if they can't find Every Single Book.

  11. I always had this theory that the Helmacrons are one of the descendants of the Nesk (along with common ants as well). They have a hivemind of sorts (and I'm thinking that's what gets them around the low braincell ratio), a matriarchy, the right amount of limbs, and are tiny and incredibly annoying. I also suspect that since they have a hivemind of sorts, that the lower the amount of Helmacrons present, the stupider they are - sort of like the Geth from Mass Effect. It explains why their technology is so amazing, but the only ones we meet are flipping morons - because they're comprised of smaller scout teams.

  12. Found my copy at a second hand store and was baffled."Who would give this away?" But then I remembered how Cassie's hated by the Animorphs fan community and some of the comments here saying they didn't like the book.But well,I bought it and I liked it.I thought it was fun and it certainly had some funny moments.

  13. The Helmacrons are awesome and anyone who doesn't realize this is simply jealous of their obvious superiority to all other pathetic life forms!

    I'm a bit disappointed that this review didn't have any "Invader Zim" references. Bug-like aliens who are stupidly narcissitic...I'm convinced that Irkens evolved from Helmacrons. That's why they have that weird height-based class system: shorter Irkens are presumed to be "less evolved" from their even-more-embarrassing ancestors.

    1. That just makes way too much sense. I need to find a mop. To clean up the mess. That was made by my mind. When it was just blown by that.

  14. Dude! if i had a mini visser, i would put him on the table and say,"Run around. Go on. Amuse me." Also, Ifi, do you like the visser? *barf* That son of a Taxxon?

  15. If i had a mini visser, i'd put him on the table and say, "Run around. Go on. Amuse me." Also, Ifi, do you, *barf* like visser three? That son of a Taxxon?

  16. This book was bizarre. Applegate (this wasn't ghostwritten, right?) was clearly being as silly as possible here, sillier even than the toilet book. Not only is the situation silly, but everyone's reactions to everything is, too. Tobias literally says "This is unfortunate" after being shrunk.

    I thought it was a much stronger book until they were shrunk, thouggh. Rachel fighting a toy spaceship with a baseball bat is great literature.

    Also, thanks for using the image of those plush microbes. I'm sort of obsessed with them after following the link.

  17. I hear that she started having these ghostwritten because her son was getting sick. as this is one of the last Applegate written books for a while, i think she pretty much gave up on the series, but still was under contract. my theory was that she wrote this in the mean time of waiting to find a ghost writer. it feels that way though, rushed and not very thought through. i felt she could have made the ant eater scene a lot more exciting, and the way she resolves the Visser three issue was pretty dumb.

    1. KAA switched to using ghostwriters because she was starting to write the Everworld series and didn't have time to write both. Her son Jake hadn't even been born yet.