Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book 30: The Reunion

The Summary
Marco skips school for no reason, only to encounter Visser One (in a ridiculous disguise). She is working out of an office building, trying to get information to disgrace Visser Three to make up for the failure of the whole hammerhead shark thing.

The Animorphs pretend to agree to lead Visser One to the free Hork-Bajir colony so that Visser Three can follow her there and they can kill him. But it is all a ruse. The Hork-Bajir colony they show her is one of Erek's holograms, and they are really hoping Vissers One and Three will just kill each other.

But Marco can't handle being in close proximity to his not-dead mom, and accidentally-on-purpose reveals his identity to her. Just then, Visser Three arrives with a bunch of ships, prompting Visser One to reveal that she also has a bunch of ships. Each declares that the other is under arrest and in the fight that ensues, Visser One falls off the cliffside and her body is not recovered.

Spoiler alert: She's fine.

The Review
Ifi: It is Marco's very favorite morph!
Adam: I thought that was the ant.
Ifi: No way remember the time he was almost trapped in giant roach form?
Ifi: If not for Cassie channeling the power of Jesus-Whale and laying hands on him, he'd still be like that today...
Adam: That was flea.
Ifi: Ah yes right
Ifi: Whatever they're all small and horrible
Adam: Aw
Adam: Madagascar hissing cockroaches are pretty cute.
Adam: And they make nice pets.


Ifi: The legs would tickle! 
Adam: Indeed they do.

Ifi: They should have done the mountain goat for this cover.
Adam: Though I can see your point on the mountain goat.
Ifi: Goats are cool. I mean they have terrible temperaments and eat EVERYTHING, but they don't take shit from anyone.
Adam: Goats have absolutely terrifying eyes though.


Ifi: Look at those animu eyes on the second and third transformation stage
Adam: Adorable.
Ifi: Kawaii Marco-chan desu ni
Adam: Also, never say that ever again.
Ifi: Baka Adam-kun desuuuu
Adam: I hate you.
Ifi: desu desu desu
Adam: B..baka...
Adam: Well, it's not like I like you or anything...
Adam: Okay, that's enough of that.

Ifi: This book was intense.
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: This was one of the few books that I didn't remember the plot going into it.
Adam: And now I am not sure why that is the case.
Ifi: I think it's because there is no specific thing that the Yeerks are doing that the Animorphs have to intercept/steal/break
Ifi: It's very spontaneous
Adam: Which is actually kind of a plus for the book, in retrospect.
Adam: It isn't one of those overtly gimmicky books.
Ifi: This book was intense.
Adam: "The Animorphs go to Brazil, the Animorphs go to Alaska, the Animorphs get shrunken down to microscopic size"
Adam: Etc etc
Ifi: "The Animorphs try to figure out the most efficient way to murder Marco's mom."
Adam: Ah, children's literature, how I missed you.

Adam: This book begins, surprisingly enough not with a recap!
Ifi: It's just Marco having a trauma-induced nightmare
Ifi: We initially think it's his mother's faked drowning, but it turns out to be her actual possible-drowning at the end of the hammerhead shark thing
Ifi: At this point, nobody knows whether she is dead or alive.
Adam: This book is pretty much the sequel to book 15, for all those who care.
Ifi: Though honestly, if she was dead, Visser Three would be setting off fireworks, so we'd know.
Adam: He'd buy another cat out of sheer joy.
Ifi: And you'd totally hear the grunts gossiping about it.
Adam: "Ah, man, I was hoping to transfer over to her district next month!"
Adam: "Yeah, I heard that you only have a 25% chance of getting eaten there!"

Ifi: Marco wakes up crying for Mom. This is not the first time in the series that this has happened. And, just like last time, Dad is there to be awkward.
Adam: Most awkward man-hug in the history of mankind.
Ifi: Peter, I know you're at least trying, but you kind of suck at the whole Dad thing.
Adam: Pizza does not count as a vegetable.

Ifi: So Marco skips school and for whatever reason, goes to the financial district.
Ifi: He somehow is not immediately picked up by truant officers
Adam: Why does he do this?
Adam: It seems almost like he is subconsciously driven to set off the plot or something.
Ifi: The Ellimist doesn't actually appear in this book, but I am pretty sure he has something to do with what is about to happen.

I was down! My knees hit the pavement and my face landed in a planter full of cigarette butts and abandoned coffee cups.
The enemy! I prepared myself for the next blow.
Nothing. I looked up.
No one had noticed I'd been knocked over.
I got to my feet, dazed. I rubbed the ash, dirt, and stale coffee off my face with the bottom of my shirt.
I was disgusted. And I was mad.
A woman had run me over with her tank of a briefcase. Then she'd continued on down the street like nothing had happened. And no one had stopped to help me.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: As someone well accustomed to the New York subway system, I gotta say
Adam: Marco, get over yourself
Ifi: My favorite part is that he decides that this warrants revenge.
Ifi: He has been spending too much time with Ax.
Adam: My name is Marco _____, you knocked me over, prepare to die.

And what was up with that hair? The woman wore a stiff, curly blonde wig. Think steel-wool pad. Used. Slightly shredded. And yellow.
I saw the perfect spot to exact my revenge.
I skirted the crowd and hid behind a big, concrete column about a yard ahead, just at the corner of the courthouse. When Wig Lady passed—bingo, bango! BAM!
She was going down.
I peeked from around the pillar to see how close she was to meeting my foot. And then I bit my cheek to stop from screaming.
The woman with the awful blonde hair and the briefcase…
Was my mother!

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Visser One is alive and, for some reason, attempting to pass for a white person.
Adam: You'd think that the Yeerks would have access to some more advanced methods of disguise, at the very least.
Ifi: So Marco follows her into some sort of office building.
Ifi: You'd think she'd rather work out of her ship.
Adam: He doesn't attempt to morph or anything. He just follows her as is.

So I stood. Just stopped right there by the revolving door and waited for the next person to come through.
Whoever it was, their DNA was mine.
The revolving door whooshed. Footsteps behind me. I turned around.
"Hi, Dad!" I said. "What took you so long?"
The man was stocky, well-dressed, and surprised. But he had his ID in one hand and I had his other hand and before he knew it, the mild acquisition trance was in place.
"Hello, Mr. Grant," said a slick-haired security guard.
"It's 'Fathers Take Their Sons to Work Day!'" I said brightly as I led the zoned-out Mr. Grant past security.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: See, this is the sort of efficiency we get when we leave Cassie home.
Adam: Apparently the trance brought upon my acquiring someone also leaves some sort of short term memory loss.
Adam: Because that's the only reason I can think of that would allow this to work.
Ifi: So he gets in the elevator
Ifi: and

Behind the suited backs of fifteen adults, I opened the paper as wide as I could and held it in front of my face and over my head, like a tent. And then I began one of my least favorite morphs—the common housefly.
Insane! It was insane. But what was my other choice? Lose Visser One?
No. Not happening.
I started shrinking almost immediately. In a moment, the newspaper blanketed me. My vision went dark and then flashed on again, pixilated.
Two fly legs spurted from my chest. My hands shriveled into pincers. My skin hardened.
And nobody noticed. It was bizarre! No one looked at me. Everyone continued to stare blankly ahead at the door or up at the ventilation grates on the roof of the elevator car.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: When someone mentions Animorphs to me, this is actually the scene that I always remember first.
Ifi: I don't even have any words for it.



Adam: I guess this is the sort of thing that one can get away with on sheer nerve?
Adam: I dunno, whenever I am on an elevator, I am constantly looking around at everything.
Adam: Though maybe I am just nosey.
Ifi: I have to take very crowded elevators to class every day. I am pretty sure you can't pull this off in real life.
Adam: And I lived on the 15th floor when I was dorming at college.
Adam: I will have to agree with you.
Ifi: I am on the 18th currently. I feel like people actually stand around the edges of the elevator and leave the center open so you can look at everyone. Just in case.
Ifi: Plus we are New Yorkers so we are nosy as hell.
Adam: True.
Adam: Maybe the attitude is different in southern California
Ifi: Nobody cares about anything.
Adam: I care!

Adam: So Marco sneaks into the office.
Adam: The office worker he acquired turns out to have been Applegate's husband.
Ifi: Haha!

Panic set in. I was pretty sure I hadn't grown taller but man, had I gotten wider!
"Mr. Grant?"
"Yes?" I yelped, sticking my balding, slightly grizzled head over the cubicle partition.
The woman stood in the doorway of the second room.
"Uh, are you okay, Mr. Grant?" She took another step inside.
"No!" I shouted. "I mean, don't come in. I'm very busy. I'm just fine."
"You were working in the dark Mr. Grant. Are you sure…”
"Yes, I'm just fine, thanks. I'll be done here in a few minutes," I babbled.
Another step closer. "Why are you at Carlos's desk?"
Good one. I thought fast. "Uh, well, there's something wrong with my computer, so, uh, I thought I'd borrow this one. Uh, could you get me a cup of coffee from the Starbucks on the corner? Please?"
The woman's eyebrows quirked but she turned and headed for the door.
"Sure, Mr. Grant. I'll be right back.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: uhkay then
Adam: Man, is there everyone in this office spontaneously 30 IQ points lower or something?
Ifi: He then proceeds to run into the real Mr. Grant, knock him out, and stash him in a closet.
Ifi: This is what the series would be like every book if there was no Cassie.
Adam: Marco thinks he is Solid Snake today.

Ifi: So then he decides this information cannot wait, and goes back to school.

But my mind wouldn't stay on any one topic. Nothing really mattered, did it? Nothing except one extraordinarily complicated, amazingly wonderful fact.
My mother was alive.
Alive.
I saw Rachel giving me the fish eye from across the room. I mouthed that one word: alive.
Evidently Rachel doesn't read lips. She misunderstood what I'd said and responded by mouthing two words I won't repeat.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: I actually had to say it aloud myself before I figured out what she thought he said.
Adam: High five?
Adam: I've always been terrible at reading lips.
Ifi: "I love you"
Adam: Aw
Adam: And they all lived happily ever after.

Adam: So, everyone gets together after school to plan out how to collectively sneak into Visser One's office and find out what she's up to.
Adam: Meanwhile, Marco angsts over his pseudo-oedipal complex.
Ifi: Ok good that wasn't just me.
Adam: Indeed, it was not.
Adam: He comments perhaps a bit too much in this book about how pretty his mom is.

"This morning I skipped school and took the bus downtown." I shot a look at Jake. "And before anyone jumps down my throat, I know it's dumb to call attention to myself, so sue me. Anyway, I was trying to avoid being trampled by the wing tips when I saw my…Visser One. She was in disguise. A terrible wig, blue contacts, and big square glasses. But it was her."
"Oh, man," Jake said. "Are you sure it was your mother?"
"Oh, yeah. I got a great look at her right before I was going to trip her."
"You were going to trip your mother?" said Cassie.
"Yes, because she'd knocked me down with this big metal briefcase. It doesn't matter. What matters is that it was Visser One. My mother. In disguise."
"You're sure she didn't recognize you and knock you down on purpose?" Rachel demanded.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Something is off about this.
Ifi: SOMEONE made Visser One knock into Marco. I just can't figure out if it was Eva or the Ellimist or what.
Ifi: Because it's just too much of a coincidence
Adam: It was the plot device.

<Ax and I are available,> Tobias said. <No families, no homes, nothing to do but watch the owls eat my mice. Ax-man and I will handle this.>
"And me, obviously," I said.
Jake looked at me.
"What about your dad?" Cassie asked quickly. She was trying to give me an out.

"What about him? He's been working twelve-hour days on a big project. He comes home, he plops on the couch, he watches ESPN. He'll never know I'm gone."
Jake continued to look at me. Rachel looked away.
<There's the problem of Visser One inhabiting your mother's body,> Ax stated bluntly. <And the temptations that seeing her again might arouse.>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Bad choice of words, Ax.
Ifi: Very bad choice of words.
Adam: Get your mind out of the gutter.

Adam: So, the following night, Marco, Tobias and Ax fly over to the office building and morph roaches to sneak inside.
Ifi: After some shenanigans, they manage to break into the office that she is renting.
Ifi: I don't know if they ever really explain why she is renting an office in a crowded building in the middle of a city when she is supposed to be in hiding.
Adam: Office buildings are so naturally boring that anyone nearby will give up on looking for her within the first few minutes.



It was then I wished I was still a roach. A roach would not have seen so clearly what I saw now.
In the corner of the room was a small, portable Yeerk pool. Like a stainless-steel Jacuzzi. The steel-bound briefcase I'd seen that morning was nearby.
On the lip of the portable Yeerk pool was a large clamp. A sort of collar.
My mother's neck was in that collar. It held her tight. It held her head sideways, so that one side of her face, one ear, was pressed into the water.
The rest of her body stood awkwardly, helplessly, bent over.
<The Yeerk is feeding,> Ax said coldly.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: Well, that at least answers my question about how a Yeerk can return to its host when feeding by itself.
Ifi: Edriss goes rogue a lot. She's got it down to an art.
Adam: Well, she didn't get herself into the top military position in the empire by sitting around and playing solitaire.
Ifi: HOW TO BECOME VISSER ONE
Ifi: 1) Run away
Ifi: 2) Come back
Ifi: 3) Get promoted
Ifi: 4) Repeat
Adam: You left out "Pretend to get killed via falling rocks"
Ifi: I also like this book because we get to see just how badass Edriss is.
Ifi: If she was in charge of Earth and Visser Three was on Leera or whatever, the Animorphs wouldn't have a prayer.
Adam: Well, that's the best way to win a war.
Adam: Have your opposition be incompetent.

My mother was, for this time, for just these few moments, my mother. The Yeerk slug that was Visser One was out of her head, in the liquid, feeding.
Right now she was my mom.
Five steps and I would be beside her.
I moved.
<Marco!> Tobias snapped.
A second step. A third!
<Ax!>
Suddenly there was an Andalite tail blade at my throat.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: You guys are dicks.
Ifi: Edriss is completely vulnerable. You can just reach into the pool and drop her out a window.
Ifi: I'm sure the Chee could get that collar off.
Adam: Well, it's fairly established that the office is monitored by some of Visser Three's agents at this point.
Adam: Also, offices tend to have security cameras everywhere

Ifi: So Visser One reinfests Eva just as Visser Three's soldiers arrive to kill her.
Ifi: She is completely ungrateful to the Andalite Bandits for saving her.
Ifi: Also she has Dracon beams hidden like everywhere.
Adam: Well, Yeerks are pretty much raised from birth to believe that Andalites are pure evil.
Adam: And it would be idiotic of her to not carry a truckload of concealed weapons on her person.

<I'm going to let her go,> I said. I couldn't hold her any longer. I was halfway between a loving hug and a furious strangle.
<She may still have concealed weapons,> Ax said privately.
<Hey, I am not frisking my own mother.>
<She's not carrying anything,> Tobias said. <I'd see it.>
I let her go. She straightened her blonde wig and took a few deep breaths.
[...] 
"I won't be alive for long," she said, suddenly weary. "Visser Three had accused me of treason. Now, once his Hork-Bajir report, he'll have the proof he can take to the Council of Thirteen. They've issued a gashad. A warrant to kill me on sight."

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: The Yeerks have fatawa
Adam: Such a thing exists in other cultures, I am sure.
Ifi: So to get her rank back, she's come to Earth to discredit Visser Three.
Ifi: Realistically, this could be done by following him around with a camera for a few hours.
Ifi: But she plans to do this by revealing the free Hork-Bajir colony
Adam: How do the Yeerks manage to get anything done at all if this is what all of their leaders are like?
Adam: How would she manage to follow him around with loosing various limbs?
Ifi: The thing that I've noticed is that Yeerks are very driven. When they put their minds to it, they have achieved some pretty awesome things. But they can also be seen pouring every drop of their energies into remarkably stupid endeavors.
Adam: Well, their reproductive process is fatal to them. So perhaps that induces a drive to get as much done in their lifespan as possible, since they can't be sure if their offspring will be willing or able to continue where they left off.

Ifi: I just had a thought. Edriss should have kidnapped Chapman or someone of similar rank, starved out his Yeerk, and then taken his host.
Ifi: She would have been able to get as close to Visser Three as she'd wanted.
Adam: She has the body of a middle-aged housewife. Would she necessarily be able to overpower him without being noticed by other controllers?
Ifi: She has the element of surprise!
Adam: Ah, the legendary fifth element.
Ifi: At the very least, she could have taken a different human host, as everyone seems to know who Eva is.
Adam: She's gotten attached to Eva.
Adam: Lima Syndrome, perhaps?
Ifi: Yeah, probably.
Ifi: Must be, really.
Ifi: Otherwise Eva would just be the most recent in the long, long line of hosts Edriss has killed.
Adam: I wish we were given a better sense of what Eva is like.
Adam: Usually we are just given her and Edriss's personality as sort of a weird gestalt.
Ifi: I feel like Eva is a lot like Marco. From what little we see of her, anyway. She is the one who taught him to see the humor in everything, to joke when you're scared. But she is also very ruthless. She taunts Visser One all through her trial, and destroys a whole pool of Yeerks ten minutes after being freed.
Adam: All the more reason why I would be curious to see a few more moments into her head.
Adam: Figuratively speaking.
Ifi: Eva is awesome. And so is Edriss. They are my very favorite gestalt.

After these guys.

"The Hork-Bajir colony. Give me the free Hork-Bajir. I will give you Visser Three."
A moment of silence.
<Tell her we agree,> I told Ax privately.
Tobias erupted. <Are you insane! There's no way we're giving up the Hork-Bajir!>
<No, we won't. But she doesn't know that. She thinks we're Andalites. You know the one word Yeerks always use in describing Andalites? Ruthless. That's what they think. She'll buy it.>
Ax said, <That is all you ask, Yeerk? The free Hork-Bajir?> He laughed. <I was concerned you might demand something of value.>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Let the hijinks begin.

Ifi: Another thing I found interesting: Even though she is disgraced, and on the run, she still has soldiers nearby who are loyal to her.
Ifi: If this was Visser Three, the number of loyal soldiers left would be approximately exactly zero.
Adam: Well, Visser Three pretty much completely operates through fear
Adam: So if he were to fall from power, I am sure there would be a few soldiers who would remain loyal to him, purely out of worrying that he might get back into power again
Adam: And Visser Three is pretty much the poster child for the peter principal, so it doesn't seem too unlikely that something like that could happen.

<A Hork-Bajir is a Hork-Bajir,> Ax said indifferently. <No more than animals to us.>
"Contact me when you are ready," she said.
<How?>
She smiled then. A smile that was my mother's smile. Again I felt the opposite urges: to cry and to destroy.
"I have E-mail." She laughed and told us the address.
Then she narrowed her eyes and looked at us, each, one after the other. "One of you does almost all the talking. Two of you stay in morph. Visser Three is a fool. He has overlooked something strange about your group of rebels. He has missed something."

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: It takes Visser One fifteen minutes to figure out what Visser Three won't realize for another twenty books.
Adam: Not fifteen minutes. She's clearly been considering this over the past 15 books.
Adam: She's smarter than Visser Three, sure, but I fear you may be giving her too much credit.
Ifi: Well, she's put too much thought into it for the Animorphs' comfort, so they now have to go out of their way to act like Andalites.
Ifi: Which if you think about it, is probably something they should have been doing from the start.
Adam: Their first action after getting the morphing power in the first book should have been to acquire Elfangor.
Adam: But fortunately, everyone seems to have been working on their acting in the past few months.
Adam: So they manage okay for the time being.

<We're going to take them both down. Vissers One and Three,> I said. <They want to kill each other, we'll help them.>
I could sense Tobias's hesitation. <You're setting up your mom?>
<No. I'm setting up Visser One.>
<Marco, she's—>
<Shut up, Tobias,> I snapped. <Okay? I know all about it. You guys don't think I'll do it? Well, here's a news flash: I'll do it. Me. Not any of you. Me. My plan, okay?>
<You don't have to prove anything, dude,> Tobias said.
<It's not about proving anything. It's about winning this stupid war.>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion


Adam: Was it this section where we get the "ruthlessness" quote?
Adam: Because that was a great quote.

People don't understand the word ruthless. They think it means "mean."
It's not about being mean. It's about seeing the bright, clear line that leads from A to B. The line that goes from motive to means. Beginning to end.
It's about seeing that bright, clear line and not caring about anything but the beautiful fact that you can see the solution. Not caring about anything else but the perfection of it.
That's what had happened. I saw the way to take both Vissers down. And that's all that mattered.
But I wasn't going to explain all that. Other people's pity just messes with the straight line. Other people's pity makes you think things you can't think about when you are seeing the line.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: And now we pretty much have an entire thesis on Marco's character.
Ifi: So they need to lead Visser One up the mountains. They decide that they will need Cassie to tell them what to morph that can get up there. Even though they're not leaving until tomorrow, and it is currently three in the morning, they decide to wake her up.
Adam: She hasn't really done much in this book, give her some dialogue.

We landed in a large, leafy tree whose branches gently scraped Cassie's bedroom window. Tobias moved close, walking the comical sideways birdwalk, like a parrot in its cage. He tapped on the window with his beak.
TAP. TAP. TAP.
[...]
The glass shattered. It fell in a shower of glittering shards.
<Oops.>
"Jake?" Cassie bolted upright in bed.
<Awww, isn't that sweet?> I said, so Cassie could hear. <Her first thought is "Jake." Makes you wonder just what kind of dreams she was having.>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Oh my my
Adam: Mind. Gutter. Out of.
Ifi: So Cassie tells them they need mountain goats and, conveniently, the Gardens just got some.
Adam: Man, the Gardens just has everything.
Adam: I wanna go there at some point, seriously.
Ifi: Totally.
Ifi: They should open one in California and cash in.

Ifi: Also, for the record: Mountain goats are not the cute little sheep that old MacDonald has on his farm. They weigh in at about 250 lbs and are very territorial.
Ifi: They can also withstand mountain winds and temperatures as low as −50 °F
Adam: With very sharp spikey head things

This is Capra aegagrus hircus. It will eat your laundry.
This is Oreamnos americanus. It will eat your children.

Ifi: They go to get some goat DNA. Tobias is in a snit because if Jake finds out about all this, he is going to be pissed off.
Adam: Marco gets hit in the butt by a 200-something pound bovid.

It took the goats approximately two seconds to cover about a hundred feet of ledges, boulders, gullies, and curves.
I turned.
I ran.
Tobias fluttered away to safety. Ax leaped nimbly away. Me? I got goat horn in the butt.
I flew.
"Aaahhhhh!"
Later, I read that male mountain goats enjoy butting each other with their hornsin each other's butts.
And let me just say that unless you have been butted down a fifteen-foot-high cliff by a two-hundred-and-fifty-pound angry male mountain goat, you have not experienced true humiliation.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: This was a very looney tunes-esque outcome to something that ought to have been fatal.
Ifi: And in an otherwise serious book.
Adam: Indeed.

No choice. No choice.
I had to do it, Dad, you understand, right? What else was I going to do?
Too much on the line. I had responsibilities. You know how that is, right? And besides, she was already dead to you. You'd already grieved, remember? You spent years just sitting in your chair, staring blankly, your life falling apart…
See, Jake? Don't ever doubt me again. I did it, okay? I put the mission first. I saw the big picture. So just don't ever doubt me again, because I did what had to be done…
Mom, what was I supposed to do? I saw all the plays. I saw all the pieces on the chessboard. There was no solution that freed you. There were only solutions that destroyed you. I had to. How else? How else to…
Die, you Yeerk piece of crap. Wither and die, and remember with your last, dying thought: It was for her. I killed you for her.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: And people accuse Tobias of being the angst one.
Ifi: :(
Ifi: This book gave me the sadfaces
Adam: There there
Adam: Have a bunny:



Someday, if we won, if humanity survived, we'd be in the history books.
Me and Jake and Rachel and Cassie and Tobias and Ax. They'd be household names, like generals from World War II or the Civil War. Patton and Eisenhower, Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee.
Kids would study us in school. Bored, probably.
And then the teacher would tell the story of Marco. I'd be a part of history. What I was about to do. Some kid would laugh. Some kid would say, "Cold, man. That was really cold."
I had to do it, kid. It was a war. It's the whole point, you stupid, smug, smirking little jerk! Don't you get it?

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Whenever they talk about life after the war, I get sad.
Adam: History is written by the victors.
Adam: And Marco's reputation ends up pretty shiny, all things considered.
Ifi: He is easily the best off.

The next morning we all met at the barn. I was past tired. My butt was sore. My elbows were raw from skinning down the artificial cliff.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: IF ONLY MORPHING FIXED INJURIES
Ifi: This would be the second time in the series that Marco has forgotten he can morph.
Adam: Quiet, you.

"Ax, do you think we can play the roles of arrogant Andalites?" Jake asked.
<It will certainly require good acting skills to imbue the fundamentally humble and dispassionate Andalite character with a taint of arrogance> he said.
"Yeah. Humble is the very first word that comes to mind when I think 'Andalite,'" Rachel said with a drawl.
<I think I should do as much of it as possible,> Tobias suggested. <I spend the most time with Ax. I can do a pretty good "arrogant Andalite.">
<I am very close to taking offense,> Ax huffed.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: ilu Ax
Adam: Did he just make a joke?
Adam: It is difficult to tell, half of the time
Ifi: That's what I initially thought
Ifi: But he seems to feel that his species is friendly and polite and not at all obsessed with concepts like honor and revenge
Ifi: Say what you like about the Yeerks, but at least you can have a conversation with one.
Adam: Irony: it's not just things made from iron.
Adam: Well, the Yeerks have to spend all their time in another person's head. They're bound to end up working on their personal skills.

Ifi: Also, Tobias does a good Andalite.
Adam: Tobias is kinda badass in this book.

<Visser One, you will follow my instructions literally and immediately,> Tobias said.
Her head jerked. She looked around. She eyed a blind woman's guide dog suspiciously.
<You will be crossing paths with a human-Controller named Chapman,> Tobias said.
"Chapman!" she mumbled. "One of Visser Three's incompetents. He would turn me in in a second if it meant his advancement through the ranks."
<Exactly the point, Yeerk. You want Visser Three. Surely you understood that we had to attract his attention. We are delivering him. Do not question me again.>
[…]
At precisely 2:10 p.m., Chapman rounded the corner, dressed in a lime-green and yellow jogging outfit.
The Yeerk in my mother's head opened her hand. Her purse dropped.
Chapman, always playing the role of pillar of the community, bent to pick it up for her. He straightened and held out the purse.
Visser One formed a smile. Then, the smile froze.
It was convincingly done.
Chapman said nothing. But I could see the blood draining out of his cheeks. He took a step back and then ran off double speed.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: This was epic.
Adam: Someone give Tobias a medal or something.
Ifi: Magpies would steal it.
Adam: Free lunch for him.

Visser One had walked from the bus stop through the door. She waited impatiently for instructions. She pretended to shop, tugging fitfully at some kids'-size Michael Jordan jerseys.
My size, maybe. Was she thinking about the son her host body had once had?

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Yes, but no, Marco.
Adam: He wasn't too far off, all things considered
Ifi: Children are to Visser One as cats are to Visser Three and nothing will ever convince me otherwise.
Adam: And Visser Four has public domain historical figures.

<Go to the back of this establishment, Yeerk,> Jake instructed. <Purchase a neck protection garment. Also artificial skin designed for the protection of hands.>
Scarf and gloves. I almost laughed. It was classic Ax-ese.
Visser One must have said something harsh. The next thing I heard was Jake saying, <Do not be foolish, Yeerk. We are using this process to equip you as necessary. And to discover any pursuit. For your information we have spotted four human-Controllers who are already watching you.>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: I get the feeling that not all Andalites are quite as overly technical as Ax.
Adam: Though admittedly they wouldn't really have any way of knowing this.
Ifi: I am pretty sure Ax has Andalite Asperger’s or something.
Adam: I think it is more that he is completely out of his element and tries to act overly professional in order to compensate for his insecurities on the matter.

"I bought this scarf," the Visser said tightly. "I have the receipt."
The guard laughed nervously. He glanced around, like he was looking for help. But he sounded determined enough. "If you reach into your purse for the Dracon beam I'm sure you have, I will kill you right here and now, traitor."
Visser One's hand was in the purse.
The guard reached inside his coat.
[...]
Rachel moved fast. She locked her hand around Visser One's wrist. Then, in a loud, nasal whine, she said, "I saw you buy that scarf!"
The guard hesitated. Visser One stiffened. She stared closely at Rachel, but Rachel had turned away.
"This woman is being arrested, and she didn't do anything! Lady! Lady! You sold her that scarf, now she's being arrested! What kind of a store is this?"
[…]
It was working. A crowd was gathering. The saleswoman was in it now, agreeing that Visser One had paid for the scarf.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: When did you guys suddenly become competent?
Adam: They felt bad about being incapacitated for the last book, so they are making up for lost time.

She knew we were with her. She didn't know where we were, but she knew we were watching her.
"Why don't we merely take a helicopter to this Hork-Bajir colony?" she asked.
<You assume the colony is located somewhere high up?> Cassie took over the job of communication. We needed to put Visser One off her guard. Needed her to begin to see us as allies. Cassie was the one for that job.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: I wonder—can you tell male from female voices in thought-speak?
Adam: They have been very inconsistent about this.
Adam: Sometimes they can tell who a specific person thought speaking at them is. Other times any one of them can successfully impersonated Visser Three.
Ifi: Well, if you can, this would be a giveaway, as the Andalites don't let ladies become warriors. Which I'm sure the Yeerks see as a complete waste of good soldiers.
Adam: There are female Andalite soldiers.
Adam: They are uncommon, but we meet one in a later book.
Adam: Admittedly she gets the position through nepotism, but still.
Ifi: I thought she was implied to be one of the very first? And also is treated like a freak of nature.
Adam: Fair enough.

<No. We simply think you will be weaker,> Cassie said. <The disruption of command will work to our benefit. And in direct battle you will be easier to kill than Visser Three. Humans, Controllers or not, die easily.>
Again, it had the feel of honesty. The insult would make it seem honest.
And it had the added benefit of focusing my mother…Visser One…on the danger of Visser Three. We were reminding her just how deadly Visser Three could be.
"And yet..." Visser One mused. "And yet, the casualty reports from Earth are always weighted heavily toward Hork-Bajir and Taxxons. In fact...I am trying to recall when I have ever seen a report listing a human-Controller casualty."
My guts were ice.
We had made a mistake. We had made a terrible mistake.
<What do I say?> Cassie demanded.
<I…I…> My brain wouldn't work. The thoughts wouldn't form into any sort of order.
Visser One had just put her finger on our greatest secret.
<Say something!> Rachel yelled.
<No, too late,> Jake interrupted. <Too late. Let it go. No choice.>
"Well, well, well," Visser One said.
She knew.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: facepalm.jpg
Ifi: Great job guys
Ifi: Really. Excellent work.
Ifi: How about, <There is no honor in killing defenseless sacks of meat?>Ifi: Or even, <Human-Controllers do paperwork. Hork-Bajir and Taxxons are the ones we meet in battle.>
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: It doesn't even necessarily happen to be true.
Adam: But you'd think that Hork-Bajir would make up the majority of the footsoldiers.
Ifi: Sending human-Controllers into battle against "Andalites" honestly seems similar to ordering them to walk off a cliff.
Adam: Though that wouldn't be too out of character for Visser Three
Ifi: And Taxxons may have an AC of zero, but they still have natural weapons and are generally scary as hell.
Adam: They have a higher AC then that, they just have crappy hit dice.

Visser One drove like a madwoman. The Audi tore around hairpin mountain curves at speeds that would have been high on a freeway.
The roll of peppermint Lifesavers had become a menace. With every wild turn or braking it rolled suddenly, a redwood log coming downhill at us.
<Has your mother always driven like this?> Rachel asked.
<My mother is not driving,> I said coldly. But she was. My mom had always been a wild driver. It used to make my dad crazy. This was the Yeerk tapping into the human host's brain.
<Maybe so,> I amended. No need to start a fight with Rachel. <Maybe that is the way she used to drive.>
<Yeah? Now I know where you get your driving skills.>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Yeah Eva is basically female grown-up Marco.
Adam: Megods, that didn't even occur to me.

I looked around. Rachel was just clearing the nearest trees.
I spotted Visser One moving speedily toward the trail. She'd always kept in good shape, my mom. Although sailing had been her thing, not hiking.
Jake was in the driver's seat. "Okay. We go straight to bird morphs. The bad guys won't be far behind us."
"Or far ahead, either," I said, nodding toward the dwindling figure of Visser One.
"One at a time or we'll look like a bird-of-prey convention," Cassie said.
I began to morph to osprey. I was closest to the open door. A few minutes later I was all feathers and talons. I fluttered out through the door, landed on the gravel, and flapped into the air.
I wasn't ten feet up before I saw it: a long, black limousine. It was entering the parking lot.
No one goes camping or hiking in a limo.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Jesus Christ, Visser Three.
Ifi: Really?
Ifi: REALLY?
Adam: If you're going to drive somewhere, you may as well do so in style.
Ifi: Then he blows up Visser One's car, just for the hell of it. Marco is afraid Cassie and Jake were still inside, making out or whatever.
Ifi: They weren't, but it adds more angst.

I spotted Visser One laboring up the slope, fighting the gravity I could easily defy. Her pretty face was dripping sweat. Her lungs gasped.
That was the plan, too. Too rushed, too scared, too tired to think. And yet, she already knew too much. She'd figured out what Visser Three had not.
It was weird, perverse, maybe. But I was proud of her. As if it had been my mother, and not the Yeerk in her head, who had penetrated our deepest secret.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Marco, are you done being weird?
Adam: This is not the proper word choices that one makes when describing your mother.
Ifi: Here's a description of her from the opening:

My mother—my beautiful, pretty-smelling, intelligent mother—took our boat out late one night and never came back. They found the boat. They didn't find her.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Uh ok


"You…" Rachel said, stepping forward and speaking in the Hork-Bajir voice. "Where are Andalite friends?"
"Your friends are fine, Maska Fettan," the Visser responded.
"My name. You know my name," Rachel said, sounding relieved. Then, a slow Hork-Bajir scowl. "Andalite friends say password. All must speak password."
[…]
"Freedom now, freedom forever," Visser One recited with an amused sneer.
"Yes." Rachel smiled, if you can call what Hork-Bajir do when they're happy smiling. "You are friend."
"Yes. I am a friend to all free Hork-Bajir." The Visser could hardly resist masking my mother's face with a grin of glee. "How is the free colony faring, Maska Fettan?"
"Good, good! All free now. All happy. Much bark to eat," Rachel said.
"That's good. Love to hear that the bark is tasty," Visser One said, dripping contempt. "Now, conduct me to the colony, as you were instructed to do."
"You change to bird. Fly. Human slow walker."
"Sadly, I am ill," Visser One said. She made a little cough. "I am unable to morph at the moment. I will have to travel as a human."
"Human slow," Tobias interjected with true Hork-Bajir dimness.
"Yes, yes, it's all a mess," Visser One agreed testily. "I wish I could morph to bird and fly, but since that is not possible, perhaps you two geniuses could follow the orders you were given."

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Have I mentioned Edriss is one of my favorite characters?
Adam: This really comes off as the sort of dialogue that you would write.
Ifi: Well I don't think she has a single line that isn't sarcastic.
Adam: So, they continue to lead Edriss into a trap.

<Where is Ax?> I wondered. <Rachel? Tobias? Have you seen Ax?>
<No,> Rachel said.
<He was supposed to do his best to clear the area then rejoin us,> I said in frustration.
<Plan not working out so well, General?>
<Just get Visser One up that mountain.>
<Face it, Marco, it's a fiasco. It's a total fiasco! We're dragging this woman up the mountain for what? It'd be so easy to just give her a shove off the trail.>
<Shut up, Rachel!> I yelled. <Just shut up!>
<Oh yeah, you're calm and in control,> Rachel taunted. <Jake's gone. Cassie's gone. And the person running this mission is working on setting up his own mother? This is a waste of time. Marco, just fly off somewhere. Just get out of range so you don't have to see what I'm—>
<Rachel, that's enough,> Tobias said quietly.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Yeah really Rachel stfu
Ifi: Also...
Ifi: I just realized that they never actually use the goat DNA, do they?
Adam: Marco uses it.
Adam: Just a bit later in.
Ifi: They should have morphed that and then let Visser One ride on one of their backs.
Ifi: We spend like fifty pages just watching her climb this stupid mountain.
Adam: I don't really think that mountain goats are the best for riding
Adam: They have naturally sloped backs
Adam: Also, what if something went wrong, and they had to demorph?
Ifi: meh. She already knows.
Adam: Aside from Marco, who she suspects, she doesn't know the specific identities of the others.

Adam: They spent the entire book being spontaneously hyper-competent, and Marco goes and blows the whole ordeal with a dumb joke.

"The Hork-Bajir colony. I don't see any colony!"
<Erek,> I said privately, <I hope you're here, dude.> Then, in open thought-speak, <Not to get all Prince of Egypt on you, but…Behold!>
The ground of the western slope shimmered. Then it disappeared. Visser One actually jumped back. The valley appeared just before her feet.
"Hork-Bajir home," Rachel said, still playing her part.
Below us, beneath impossibly steep cliff walls, a lush valley teemed with free Hork-Bajir.
I watched the sick, eager smile spread across my mother's beautiful face as Visser One peered into the valley below.
Several young Hork-Bajir swung through the trees, playing a game of tag.
Adult Hork-Bajir stripped bark from the trunks of the tall pines. I counted at least forty or fifty Hork-Bajir going about their daily routine.
<Okay, we fulfilled our end of the bargain,> I muttered. <Now it's up to Visser Three.>
She smiled, right at me. "I know you. I know you, don't I?"
<I am an Andalite warrior. That's all you need to know.>
"No. Andalites don't make jokes. Let alone human popular culture references. No, you're a human. And…" She searched her memory, rolling her eyes up. "Someone I knew, once. Long ago, maybe. But someone I knew."

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: -slow clap-
Adam: dot dot dot
Ifi: Great job Marco.
Adam: Let's all give him a round of applause.


<Well, well, well,> he said. <What's this? Visser One perched on the edge of a free Hork-Bajir colony? Chatting amiably with two free Hork-Bajir and, unless I miss my guess, an Andalite?>
She spun to face him. No fear. "It's over, you incompetent fraud! My loyal ships are above us."
<So are mine,> Visser Three hissed. <And they will blow your ships from the sky!>
"So typical of you. You think only of brute violence. Fool. My ships are making a sensor record. They have recorded this valley, this colony of free Hork-Bajir! What do you think the Council of Thirteen will say when they see it?"
Visser Three showed no emotion. Most likely he couldn't.
Visser One reached into her backpack. Out came not a weapon but what looked a bit like a cell phone.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Pinnacle of Yeerk technology right there.
Adam: So the Yeerks finally invented recording equipment.
Adam: I'm so proud.
Ifi: Not that they'll ever use it again

Suddenly, the sky overhead seemed to part, like a cloth being torn at the seam, and there appeared a ship like none I had ever seen.
Huge! Larger than Visser Three's Blade ship.
It had eight pods arranged around a central, cylindrical core. Four massive engines bunched at the rear, blazing blue fire.
<A Nova-class Empire ship?> Visser Three gasped.
Just then, streaking out of the west, came a stream of smaller ships, Visser Three's Bug fighters. Visser One whirled to watch them, a swarm moving quickly across the back of the mountain range. Among them, a giant battle-ax: the Blade ship of Visser Three.
The squadrons flew low over the colony.
"Visser Three!" my mother yelled. "You are under arrest for criminal incompetence!"

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Woah now.
Ifi: What the hell?
Adam: Man.
Adam: Yeerk politics is pretty much the most childish thing ever.
Ifi: "I'm arresting you!"
Ifi: <Well I'm arresting you!>
Ifi: -scuffle-
Ifi: -slapping fight-
Ifi: <SHE BIT ME!>
Ifi: "I'M TELLING THE EMPEROR."


The massive Dracon energies were not descending deep into a valley. They were hitting the mountain peak, only a hundred feet from us.
CRRRRRRR-ACK!
The ground shuddered.
And suddenly, the ground was falling away. A crack in the very rock itself.
A huge fissure opened up.
[...]
I turned to face her. Visser One. The leader of the initial invasion of Earth.
She stared at me. She moved to aim the weapon at me.
I lowered my head and felt the power in my legs.
It would be a hundred-foot drop.
<I love you,> I whispered. And then, I lunged.
"The boy!" she whispered, amazed. "It's the boy!"

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: Nice job, Marco.
Ifi: And the same thing happens as it did last time we saw Visser One
Adam: And once again, they don't find the body.

<Mom!> I cried.
For a horrible long moment she teetered on the edge, fighting gravity. I leaped up, racing to grab her, pull her back, somehow, save her.
But the tiger wrapped a massive arm around me and held me down.
She fell. Disappeared from sight.
<No! No! No!> I cried.
<Hang on, Marco,> Jake said. <Hang on, man. Hang on, man.>
He held me that way, pinned down. The strength of his tiger morph made my own strength insignificant.

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Ifi: Then Marco goes home and skips school for a week
Ifi: The end
Adam: We get a sort of epilogue which has one of the few moments where Rachel is legitimately sympathetic to Marco.
Adam: Which I honestly find to be a nice change of pace from their usual dynamic.
Ifi: This was the first time in the series that Marco had a legitimate breakdown over his mom.
Ifi: It was surprising because he held up so well the last two times.
Adam: Well, considering that, he probably had a lot building up internally over that time
Ifi: It was far from perfect, but I thought this book was very good
Adam: Agreed. The begining was a bit irksome, considering that it relies on an enormous coincidence to set off the plot.
Adam: But we get some great psychological exploration of how Marco ticks.

Ifi: Was this one ghostwritten?
Adam: Yep.
Adam: At this point, pretty much all of them are.
Ifi: It was very good. I'm pretty sure this ghostwriter read the other books. You can tell when they haven't
Adam: What are some of the things that you pick up on when that is the case?
Ifi: I'll point some out when we encounter them, but 1) warped characterization, 2) information that contradicts last books 3) characters forgetting about/misremembering important past events
Adam: Fair enough

Adam: Any other closing thoughts?
Ifi: Edriss should have been in more books.
Adam: We will get more of her later.
Adam: Sorry, spoilers.
Ifi: That's hardly a spoiler.
Adam: Good.
Adam: Just being unnecessarily cautious
Ifi: If there is anyone out there wondering if she died from falling off the mountain and her body just evaporated: you are a stupid idiot.
Adam: She could be carrying a device that dissolves her body in the event of her being killed
Ifi: You are also a stupid idiot.
Adam: I do what I can.

58 comments:

  1. Visser Three vs Visser One: Where Did Our Fingers Go?

    I was looking forward to this one for a while (well, since I found the site. And evaporating alien bodies isn't too farfetched: It happened in First Wave. :P

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  2. I really need to re-read this one. It's fantastic.

    Love you guys as always.

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  3. The picture of the V3/V1 slap battle (and the dialogue that goes with it) made me cackle hysterically. It's funny because it's true.

    The "bright, clear line" monologue in this book is one of my favorite chunks of text in the whole series. I always think of as sort of a set with that "They need me to be the bad guy, I need them to be the good guys" speech that Rachel goes into in that book where David comes back - these little soliloquies that make you just suddenly completely understand the character giving them. (Probably, the other characters have them, too, but Marco and Rachel are always the ones that I think of).

    It's funny that I'm pretty sure both of them were ghostwritten. Like you said, it helps to actually read the books!

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    1. That "line" bit does tend to get abused in the future books though, even by Applegate herself in the finale. For Rachel, that WAS a problem with the ghostwriters for her books; their tendency to overlook that aspect of her characterization. They preferred to make her an action junkie or emphasize that she was the one to do things because it DIDN'T bother her. I guess the David returns ghostwriter felt compelled to go back to the previous Rachel-David book for inspiration (or KAA telling him/her: 'those twits who wrote the garatron & helmacron-return stories totally screwed the pooch with her, so you are GOING to get her right in this one, as it is her last real book!')

      As for the others, Jake has a few things about being the leader and not having the luxury of self-indulgence in weakness that the others do, but he completely subverts it whenever his family is in trouble, just as Marco does a lot in this book (a lot of his stuff about ruthlessness and so on was overcompensating and trying to prove that it wasn't bothering him, even though the others could plainly see it WAS driving his motivation). Tobias isn't so much about justifying his actions or his role in the group as he is with taking the bullet for them, and suffering on his own, rather than inconvenience them. Cassie is really the most selfish of the group, because she is constantly willing to endanger them and their lives for her preferences and desires. She gets emotional and worried about them, but that is simply a response to her own preference for them to be alive. She doesn't think things through, only worrying about the immediate situation in front of her eyes, and thus does a lot of stupid shit that could (and sometimes does) hurt people.

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    2. I agree with you that most of the characters don't manage to live up to the way that they choose to define themselves. I actually sort of like that - it's one of the reasons, I'd say, that these books come off as more realistic and full of depth than books aimed at elementary school students usually do.

      No, Jake is not actually made of stone and focused only on the mission; yes, Rachel the supposedly ruthless killer probably winds up damaging herself more than she damages any of her enemies; yes, Cassie winds up repeatedly breaking just about every principle that she believes she's fighting for; yes, Tobias' efforts to be independent wind up making it a lot more difficult for him to actually take care of himself; no, the destruction of Ax's enemies *doesn't* actually wind up being his most solemn vow; and yes, Marco's logic and practicality tend to break down at the most inconvenient times possible. I don't think that means that any of those goals aren't valid parts of their personalities and moral codes. I think that knowing what they *want* to be like, even if they all, in one way or another, wind up failing, is as good a way to understand who they are as any.

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    3. Yes, very true (about the realism and depth their deviations bring to their characterization). Although, I would not characterize some of those issues as things they aspire to, or aspects of their self-image. Rachel knows she's damaging herself, and unlike Marco, never pretends to be ruthless. Each time she does something psychologically scarring, she's not pretending it doesn't hurt (except out loud to reassure them), she's taking one for the team. Cassie & Ax have a moral code and code of honor, respectively, that each worries about not living up to, with good reason, as they frequently fail to do so. The pretense that their aspirations to those codes make them somehow superior, or necessitate their enforcement of those codes on others is what makes them wrong, however. Ax never tries to make the others live up to Andalite standards, and in an admirable bit of consistency, avoids weighing in where the equivalent human issues arise. Cassie, on the other hand, imposes her issues on others. Rachel never demands that other people be gung ho and dive into fights (and is usually okay with people backing out if they want), Tobias never demands that everyone else try to be self-sufficient hardasses, but Cassie interferes with practical stuff for her own gratification, and because she has the boss's teenage hormones wrapped around her little finger, everyone else has to live with it.
      Marco is annoying for similar reasons - he inteferes with missions for his own agenda, whether protecting his mother, the controller (but Tobias' own interest in his own mother will later be treated much more suspiciously, not least by Tobias himself), in dangerous circumstances for the team, or in augmenting his own self-image as Mr. Ruthless. He's not really good at anything, and he's the biggest jerk and coward (although that DID serve as a moderating influence to their juvenile enthusiasm early on) of the group, so he has to cling to his willingness to be a jerk for the cause as his contribution, beyond Jake's cheerleader. So rather than simply get rid of Visser One expeditiously, they go along and let a Yeerk know their secret and survive/escape their reach, because the "smart one" has to show the world that he's so badass. That's no different than Cassie betraying them to Aftran because she wanted to prove there was a peaceful solution.

      The difference between some characters' issues and others', comes down to what they impose on others. Cassie & her family wanting to be peaceniks is fine, but saying they don't have the right to empower the Chee to fight or recruit disabled children is wrong. Conversely, Erek deciding he doesn't want to fight is fine, but deciding to take a weapon away from the Animorphs in the middle of a battle is not. Marco refraining from the fight to protect his father's mental health is acceptable. Demanding the Animorphs endanger their secrecy or security (and by extension those of THEIR families & their planet/species )to protect his lost mother or his own self-image is much too far.

      I guess the difference between Marco's angst & Tobias' angst is that the latter keeps it to himself and it rarely effects much more than his participation in a fight, whereas the former leaves his friends out of the loop for petty self-image reasons and/or endangers the mission by overreacting to his angst or overcompensating for it. And he's pretty much guilty of every single thing he ever reprimands the other Animorphs for doing to endanger the group (by which be really means him). Ax, Jake & Tobias are rarely hypocrites about their flaws.

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    4. ...No.
      "Each time she does something psychologically scarring, she's not pretending it doesn't hurt (except out loud to reassure them), she's taking one for the team."
      No. The majority of the time, she's not taking "one for the team, she's high on her own destructive power. In the Weakness, the reason Cassie is caught is because she went in there knowing she was likely to fail, but didn't accept it because she was enjoying it. In the Familiar, the reason the battle didn't end with a simple retreat, she refused to leave the fight against twenty Hork-Bajir so Marco had to help her out and Jake was forced to abandon them. And then she attacked Marco for doing this. She's just really selfish. She takes blows for the team, yeah, but no more than Jake or Cassie or Marco. Her's are sometimes bigger than the others, yes, but everyone on the team sometimes sacrifices more than others. There's nothing she does the others don't match at some point or another.
      "Cassie & her family wanting to be peaceniks is fine, but saying they don't have the right to empower the Chee to fight or recruit disabled children is wrong."
      Actually, Cassie is the one who suggested it, and her dad was the one who was against it. Her mom didn't know about it, but she was prejudiced against the Hork-Bajir, assuming that because they weren't intelligent, they were animals, though she was trying to tell Cassie the shelters they made weren't big enough for them, and Cassie says she knows, but they must be finished because they are expecting an attack and that there had to be some shelter, even if it isn't healthy. Cassie's parents try to be peaceniks, not her.

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  4. Great review. The slap-fight mental image alone was hilarious, even before scrolling down to the drawing.

    I'd just like to point out that this is pretty much the birth of the best subdivision/team-up of the Animorphs, with Tobias, Marco & Ax. They were together in the shark base for a few minutes, but this is the first time they actually set off on a mission together, and the results of these are always the best. Jake & Cassie drag down every group either of them team up with (loved the repeated notes about how cool/easy things are when you leave Cassie home), and Rachel's dynamics with Tobias and with Marco causes tension of one sort or another.

    Ax, Marco & Tobias all get along well enough but not too well so there is no angst or excessive drama, they are all sufficiently intelligent and competent that they usually do a good job, and they tend to be among the funnier bits of dialogue and slapstick in the series. They balance each other well, and where two of them are similar, the third is a foil. And they're the three most ruthless of the Animorphs, before Jake snaps in the last few books.

    Also, Marco's comment that "Tobias never messes with Rachel" got me thinking - maybe he doesn't do it much, but Tobias really wears the pants in that relationship. They usually do things his way, and he never does what Rachel wants if he doesn't already want to himself. He treats her anger like a joke, especially in KAA books. You never see her telling Tobias to shut up or calm down, but he's the one who does it to her, and more than once.

    Final note: You guys mention the way this ghostwriter seems more on the ball than the others, but you keep pointing out discrepancies in the behavior of the Animorphs (more practical, better at deception, more competent, etc), albeit generally improvements. I guess when a ghostwriter veers off from the previous established complaints, we don't notice them as discrepancies, but as "righting the course".

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  5. I never finished this book, and stopped reading the series right here. We had just moved, and without my friend that I enjoyed the books with, I stopped caring. Felt bad about it years later, but glad you guys are here to help me now get some idea of what I ended up missing.

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    1. They're not that hard to find on Ebay if you want to get them all. I got nearly the full set for $100 or so, which is less than half cover price.

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    2. Some of the books you can find individually on ebay for a little over a dollar. That's how I was able to complete my collection after Ifi and I started on the reviews.

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    3. I found them just yesterday at my local used media store for 15 to 75 cents.

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  6. I love Edriss, and I wished we got to see more of her at the height of her power, fighting the Animorphs, as opposed to this sort of downward spiral of politics that drags her down. Grrr. Politics. It corrupts!

    Not that Visser Three isn't cool...Edriss is just classier :)

    Also, Marco is usually a jerk in some other books and hard to sympathize with (mostly because all you know about him is the angsty mother subplot) but in this book, you actually feel for him a lot. Well, for me anyways. Must've been the monologue.

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  7. Tsundere Adam is tsundere.U___U

    Also, now I crave for a spin-off to Six Days where the... let's say top seven Vissers have a kinda-support group where they talk about the respective collections and their obsession for them. Because clearly every Visser must have a quirk like that (now that I said it, it must be canon!).XD

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    1. OMG yes! yes! yes!
      "makes puppydog eyes at Ifi"
      please!

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    2. If you must know, I am working on a spin-off already featuring the top six.

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    3. Totally weird request, but I just can not get the mental image of Toby getting her driver's license a few years after the war out of my head. I think that would fit in pretty well with the other chapters of your (totally freakin' awesome) fanfic.

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    4. Twist Ending: They all get abducted by The Ellimist to be put into that wildlife preserve he was making back in "The Stranger". Irony!

      Top 6? We only ever meet the first four. Marco's Mom/Edriss, The Admiral (who was only in one book and didn't do much), Visser Three, and the time-travelling Shakespeare lover who no longer exists (probably?). Though I wouldn't mind seeing new characters.

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    5. Visser Five, Emiki 255, features prominently in the final act of Ifi's Fanfic. Go read it if you aren't already; it's kinda insane but also kinda awesome and epic.

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    6. And you need a sixth to fill out the group a bit more. If for no other reason than to balance out the Animorphs.

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  8. Hmm... never done this before, but why not? Let's see... how are these laid out again...?

    Taxxon; medium aberration; HD 3d8-3 (9 HP).
    Initiative +9; Speed 20ft, climb 20ft, swim 40ft.
    AC 15 (+5 dex), 15 touch, 10 flatfooted.
    Base attack/grapple +2/+4; bite +4 melee (1d6+2), 4 claws +2 melee (1d6+1); Space/reach 5ft/5ft.
    Special attacks/qualities: The Hunger.
    Fort +0, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 15, Dex 20, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 7.
    Skills: Climb +10, Disable Device +8, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering) +8, Open Lock +11, Swim +10. Taxxons have a +8 racial bonus on Climb and Swim checks, and may always take 10 on Climb and Swim checks even while threatened or distracted. They also have a +4 racial bonus on Intimidate checks because, face it, that sh*t is *nasty*.
    Feats: Improved Initiative, Multiattack.
    Alignment: usually True Neutral.
    Level adjustment: F*ck no.
    The Hunger (Ex.): A Taxxon within 30ft of any living creature that has lost at least half of its hit points, or a dead body, must make a Will save (DC 18) at the beginning of each of its turns. If it fails, it enters a frenzy. It must attempt to move towards the creature or body and, if possible, begin to attack or consume it. The Taxxon gains a +4 circumstance bonus to the Will save if doing so would be dangerous or suicidal. A Taxxon in psychic contact with the Living Hive gains a +8 morale bonus to the Will save. A Taxxon in a frenzy cannot speak coherently or perform any complex tasks, and will only regain its senses once it passes two consecutive Will saves on subsequent turns, or once there are no longer any bodies or injured creatures within 30ft.

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    1. Wouldn't a Taxxon be a lot like a Carrion Crawler with Constitution and Intelligence being flipped?

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  9. This is perhaps my favourite review so far - not least of all because you featured the "ruthlessness" quote which was the first passage from the series I went back and copied out because it was so epic. (I later went back and got Jake's leadership quote #16 from when he got squashed as a fly, another couple from Jake about his dad and leaders in #31 and finally Ax's quote about lawyers in #52).

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  10. I love Edriss. But not as much as I love Eva, who, after surviving a number of should-be fatal calamities, I'm convinced is part Chee.

    I remember reading this book when it first came out and thinking that it explained SO much about Marco's true character. It wasn't simply the ruthlessness quote (which is great in it's own right) but just how much Marco represses his feelings out of self-preservation, and how those bottled emotions end up manifesting themselves in the worst moments. It also explains why he and Cassie butt heads so often...I won't bore everyone w/ a tl;dr essay, but after re-visiting this series as an adult, it became apparent that those two in particular were actually two sides of the same tactical coin - both had a gift for reading situations/people and manipulating each to achieve a goal. They were also the ones Jake looked to most frequently with regards to logistics. But when either screwed up, it was usually due to completely dismissing the elements of emotion (Marco) or letting them override logic and reason (Cassie). I also think they hated seeing the characteristic they liked least about themselves (Marco and sentimentality, Cassie and ruthlessness) reflected so strongly in the other.

    Great review!

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    1. Also, they both sucked at being Animorphs, but coasted on being Jake's two favorite people and lining up behind him right down the line. And I will win this argument, by default, if nothing else, because one of us is totally not afraid to post a tl;dr essay.

      And it isn't you. ;D

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    2. Nah, there'd be no argument from me on that one :p Marco/Cassie are in my top five favorite characters in the series but, they totally sucked as soldiers and were fairly honest about that IMO. Marco resisted from the beginning and would have quit by book 6 if he hadn't found out about his mom being Visser One. And part of me still thinks Cassie should have followed through with quitting in book #19. Pacifists have no place in combat situations, Cassie could have done other things to help (continue to host meetings, help them get more animal DNA, recon etc.) Unlike a few other fans I don't believe any of the Anis could be considered cowards for quitting b/c none of them volunteered for the job in the first place. It was no coincidence that M/C fared the best (relatively speaking) after the war b/c both of them actively resisted wrapping their entire identities around being Animorphs.

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    3. Marco does have the advantage on Cassie, though, in that he was necessary. He really did have the best strategic mind out of all of them. Cassie did nothing except pontificate and moralize. And get them morphs, but as Elle pointed out, that's something she could continue to do if she quit the war.

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    4. Being self righteous and often hypocritical isn't the same as useless...she led them to Ax, killed the veleek, operated on ax and saved their butts when Taylor doublecrossed them. She also grounded the timeline in mm4 but I wouldn't blame anyone for not counting that one, lol. There were lots of other times her vet knowledge kept them from trying really stupid things.

      That said, I would want Marco on my team over Cassie almost any day.

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    5. And so could Marco. Strategy is done beforehand. Anyone coming up with strategies on the battlefield is already in trouble. I agree with the conscientious objection or quitting because they don't feel up to it, or can't handle it (they ARE kids, after all, so even volunteering cannot be said to have been done with informed consent), but as Rachel points out when Cassie quits in 19, she picks one of the more insulting ways to do it. Man up and say you can't handle it, or else make it clear that it is strictly a personal conscience issue and not a rejection of them and their values.

      As I said elsewhere, going your own way is fine; imposing your way on others is not. THAT, and not morphing without permission, is what is no different than the Yeerks.

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  11. One thing this site has really done for me is made me notice Vissers 1& 3. I first read this series as a kid and tbh never thought much about them beyond: evil dudes is evil.

    The true awesomeness of Eva also flew over my head.

    I hated Cassie and Kinda still do. Unlike the others who make genuine sacrifices, her troubles are 90% self inflicted- week-as-a-caterpillar included.

    Re: ruthless Cassie: she killed a human controller in theire first week and never spoke or thought about it again, so I guess she actually takes ruthless to a new high (or is that low?) for the series.

    -Trina (needs to get an account)

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    1. I don't have an account. I just use the "Reply as:" drop-down menu to select the "Name/URL" option, and put my name in.

      Regarding that Cassie aberration in book one, I assume the cop got killed by Visser Three's fireballs or accidentally got stomped by an Animorph (horse & elephant are more likely to do this than the girls' later preferred battle morphs), some other death beyond her deliberate action.

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  12. It was actually smart that they never thought to acquire Elfangor. They wouldn't have known it at the time, but Visser 3's past deep antagonistic relationship with Elfangor would mean he would immediately be able to recognize Elfangor again. Even Visser 3 isn't inattentive enough to not notice that all of the supposed "Andalite bandits" minus one are exact duplicates of someone he knows is dead because he personally killed him and that other Andalites would have ZERO reason to have an Elfangor morph, let alone be using it.

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    1. {What, you never knew Elfangor was an identical septuplet? Honestly, Visser! And you call yourself his arch-nemesis!}

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    2. Though later in the series, I could see them deliberately taunting him with the morph, to hide which Andalites they ACTUALLY are. As V1 demonstrates in this book, the silence policy is potentially more dangerous than careful taunts to explain things. Ifi, Adam or most of the rest of us would have had them running in circles chasing disinformation were we Animorphs.


      Suspicion averted, and hilarity in the Yeerk pool/Blade ship, all in one shot.

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  13. - Then, in open thought-speak, {Not to get all Prince of Egypt on you, but…Behold!} -

    By "open though-speak" he means only to his group, right? RIGHT?

    - "No. Andalites don't make jokes. Let alone human popular culture references." -

    GODDAMMIT, MARCO!

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  14. I find it kind of funny that everybody seemed to shun and ostracize Cassie in books 50+ for strategically compromising the Animorphs... but nobody ever seems to give Marco a hard time about the fact that he blew their cover by making a lame pop culture joke.

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    1. Treason is generally worse than incompetence. Cassie did the first one, Marco only screwed up. Like Cassie's Aftran-treason, Marco's screw-ups never came back to bite them in the ass.

      And Cassie gets off fairly light considering she handed the Yeerks the weapon they used to kill her best (only, actually) friend, and her motivations for that act were what made Jake decide he couldn't trust anyone else with plans because they might pull a Cassie and mess things up, and so he comes up with a kind of lame plan that left Rachel out on a limb, when running it by the group would have had the more critical (Marco), more technically proficient (Ax) and more motivated (Tobias) members trying to find a way to save her.

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  15. Yeah but the animorphs are pretty bad at espionage. They never bother trying to act like andalites unless it is specifically pointed out to them that they don't, in fact, sound like Andalites. Would it really be that hard (for example)for Ax to teach them a few phrases that only Andalites would know?

    (thanks btw Cannoli)
    Also regarding Cassie: the book implies that Cassie in particular took care of the policeman- and even if she accidentally kicked him in the head whilst a horse, you'd expect some angst. I think the passage indicates however pretty clearly that she killed him after the Yeerk pool battle.

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    1. You'd think that would be even more angst. But if she did deliberately kill him later to protect herself, that just utterly and completely destroys any positive or redeeming aspects to her behavior. It thoroughly undercuts any claim to be serving a higher morality, as she was willing to violate that morality to save her own skin from her carelessness, but risked her friends and their families for Karen. Plainly this is her cuteness issue coming into play, and not any sort of honor or morals. And that proves her selfishness - she is willing to risk her friends over issues of aesthetics, even though she's willing to kill when it's only her ass on the line, and she has no sentimental attachment to her victim.

      Cassie is not remotely guided by morals, only sentiment.

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    2. This is why I'll take Marco over Cassie any day. Cassie is actually a pretty reprehensible person.

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    3. It's super-frustrating, because all of the things that make Cassie such an unbelievable pain in the butt are also the things that, I'd say, make her a pretty realistic character. So, on one hand, you kind of want to go, yay, Applegate and company, I get where you're coming from on this, but on the other hand, the end result is someone who you just want to punch.

      I look at Cassie's character arc and see a lot of stuff that I recognize from real life. (I'm not counting the first book, since it seems like we all agree that that book only sort of happened). I mean, you're a kid, and you read a bunch of books, and have very little real world experience, and you get this idea in your head of what a good person should be. And then you grow up, and you get out in the real world, and realize that when you're not just talking about abstract concepts - when you're talking about real actions that have real consequences - then right and wrong become very complicated, and your idea of what a good person is is totally wrong.

      And smart people figure out pretty quickly that if their rules for what a good person should do make no sense, they should change those rules to something that makes more sense. That's what Ax did, for example, when he realized that he had to pick and choose which parts of Andalite culture he wanted to stick to and which parts he wanted to give up. Some people, though - the Cassies of the world - are incapable of changing their childhood moral code even when they figure out that it's impossible to live up to, and those people wind up clinging desperately to it, hating themselves whenever they fail to live up to it, and turning that self-hatred outward by judging other people and generally being horrible to them.

      I mean, when I look at Cassie in Book 19, I see someone who has the conviction of her beliefs. Her beliefs may be dumb, but she knows what they are, and she fully believes that they're right. Then, in later books, that certainty just drains away, and she starts to realize that it will be nearly impossible to live up to those principles and still effectively fight the war - and that she can't quit the war, because letting the Yeerks win and her friends die would *also* be immoral.

      But even though she figures this out, she's just not capable of coming up with a new set of rules for herself that make more sense, like most of the rest of the Animorphs do. Instead, it seems like she keeps insisting that there's nothing wrong with the rules themselves - there's something wrong with *her*, because she can't live up to them, and something wrong with her friends, because they won't live up to them, and have no intention of helping her live up to them (because they know the rules are stupid). It seems like in the later books, she's just filled with this incredible self-loathing, and that makes her really vicious to everyone around her.

      Tl;dr: my point is that I know plenty of people like Cassie in real life, which is a testament to Applegate's writing skills, but that doesn't make her any more fun to read about.

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    4. Shan, I wish this website had a like button, because that is a wonderful analysis of Cassie's character.

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    5. Yeah, all that's pretty good about Cassie, but it changes nothing. Just because she's realistic doesn't give the slightest mitigation to her actions or attitudes. Right and wrong are not altered by the probability or attractiveness of a particular course of action.

      This isn't a criticism of Shan's post, BTW, more like an expansion and conclusion drawn from the analysis offered.

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    6. Also, can we dispense with the notion of Cassie as some sort of do-gooder? Aside from the charity toy collection in the first Helmacron book, that reputation of hers is based entirely on her self-indulgence in her hobby as a veterinarian's assistant.

      This is NOT like "Doctors with Borders" or something. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. Cassie & her parents, are in the business of applying medical expertise and supplies to ANIMALS when there are people around the world in desperate need of a fraction of the care & materials Cassie & family lavish on pests and nuisance creatures!

      Nothing against vets or pet owners or the use of food and medicine etc to care for them...but let's not pretend it's anything more than a luxury industry. It's not like the family is treating working or food animals people desperately need to survive, they are treating zoo exhibits and they are playing havoc with the laws of natural selection by messing with creatures that should be dead according to the laws and morals of Mother Nature. If there was an anthrompomorphic Mother Nature, Cassie (and her dad) would not be more in tune with her, they'd be her archenemies.

      Cassie and her families are the biological equivalent of mechanics who specialize in Ferraris or Porsches. It might be honest work and require a considerable degree of skills and effort, but there is nothing philanthropic, altruistic or selfless about what they do.

      Yet somehow, everyone acts like Cassie is some sort of moral authority, because of her interest in this somewhat frivolous field of activity, that's no more enlightened than Marco's interest in video games or all of Rachel's hard efforts to support the local economy.

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    7. In fairness, Cassie does seem to have a lot of insights into nature as the series goes on; namely that nature isn't kind and cuddly and that a lot of animals are basically glorified killing machines.

      On another note, does anyone see something wrong with the fact that Cassie moralizes the group to hell and back about morphing chimpanzees, but never seems to care about the fact that Marco uses a gorilla as a battle morph...?

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    8. Per Cannoli: "This is NOT like "Doctors with Borders" or something. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. Cassie & her parents, are in the business of applying medical expertise and supplies to ANIMALS when there are people around the world in desperate need of a fraction of the care & materials Cassie & family lavish on pests and nuisance creatures!

      Nothing against vets or pet owners or the use of food and medicine etc to care for them...but let's not pretend it's anything more than a luxury industry."

      All I'm going to say is you might want to go to this site and take a GOOD, LONG look at where such an attitude has landed our species: http://www.apocadocs.com/book/converge.html

      The chances that many of us will manage to live into our fifth decade are increasingly remote :(

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  16. Hey, Cannoli :) I agree w/ you about Cassie's image as a do-gooder/moral center. I never personally bought into it for the same reason as you (although in Cassie and her dad's defense, a lot of the animals they treated were hurt not due to the laws of nature, but human interference - hit by a car, electrocuted, poisoned, etc.) Truthfully I think that image was pressed on her by others more than she ever pushed it herself? There were a lot of times the group (Jake in particular) would look to her for moral guidance and she'd pretty much throw up her hands. Just like they needed Rachel to be the warrior, Marco the jokester, they put Cassie on a pedestal she never could have (or should have tried) to live up to. Towards the end of the series I think Tobias was the true moral center (if you had to name one, at least).

    Tom, you make a great point! I see that as more of a consistency issue w/ the ghostwriters TBH. Cassie came to terms w/ morphing sentient animals (excluding humans) in #4 and regularly morphed Jesus Whale so I didn't quite buy that she'd be so up in arms about morphing the chimpanzees.

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    1. I think Marco nailed it too, with his accusation of hypocrisy. She was REALLY against the animal testing, and was calling up any excuses, like the sentience of chimpanzees that a lot of animal-rights advocates try to cite, she could use to criticize the practice. So even though they were good with sentient creature morphs, and Ax's question is either kind of dumb or seems to catch her in a cleft, she goes along with the "chimps are people" notion, because it condemns the testing which is foremost on her mind at the moment. Also, there is the superficiality issue which Adam and Ifi have called her out on elsewhere - chimps look nice and friendly, gorillas look like brutish monsters. Cassie, more than any of them, seems to pick her outrage based on the aesthetics of the animal involved.

      It could also be as simple as the fact that the sentience of their morphing subjects had not occured to them in the very beginning, and she's embarassed now that she was the one who picked the gorilla morph for Marco.

      Also, I just want to make clear that I was not criticizing what Cassie & her dad do. If that's what floats their boats, fine. I also believe that pet owners have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of care for their animals, so I am not against the practice of veterinary medicine. It's just the way this hobby of hers is kind of incorporated into her "spritual, connected to nature, 'down to earth' and non-materialistic" image, and it's no more special than Rachel's shopping hobby.

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    2. Oh yeah, I get what you were saying and I do agree. My sister is a veterinary technician and the field is awesome, but like you said, it really isn't inherently morally superior.

      "It could also be as simple as the fact that the sentience of their morphing subjects had not occured to them in the very beginning, and she's embarassed now that she was the one who picked the gorilla morph for Marco."

      Good point.

      Delete
  17. Thanks to your facebook posts, when V1 said that she was going to send the free hork-bajir footage to the council of thirteen, I had this idea of her uploading it to whatever the yeerk equivalent of Youtube is where it quickly goes viral, banking over a million views in the first week. And the comments range between, and,

    And then Visser Three stops uploading his cat videos because of all the troll comments and sulks for a week.

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  18. Please post the inner cover art, they were always my favorite :-)

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  19. I haven't commented here before, despite how much I adore this blog, but I just had to mention how brilliant that Visser Three v. Visser One slapfight picture was.

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  20. I also had this bit of silliness going through my head when they have to act like an Andalite.

    Ax: "I will need to teach you how to act like an Andalite."

    Marco: "Oh, don't worry, Ax-Man. We've been 'practicing' behind your back for years!"

    Ax: "That is most convenient!"

    Marco: "Yeah! *Sticks arms up over his head in a poor attempt at stalk eyes* 'Look at me! I'm an andalite! I like cinnamon buns!'"

    Ax: "That is an hyperbole, but I can see the truth in that statement."

    Marco: "Every day I wonder why we need artificial skin and watch hours and hours of commercials."

    Ax: "I think you are making fun of me."

    Marco: "What's that? Visser Three is in town? I'll fight him only to be thwarted by the ancient Andalite honorary custom of jumping off of a roof to escape."

    Ax: " . . . Let's just go."

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  21. Visser one uses a bad blonde wig to disguise herself and expects it to fool people.

    OMG VISSER ONE IS HANNAH MONTANA!!

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  22. What if the blind lady and her dog are Loren and Champ?

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