Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book 31: The Conspiracy

The Summary
Jake's great-grandpa died, so his family has to go out of town for four days to attend the funeral. This is a problem because Tom's Yeerk won't be able to feed, so Tom does various crazy things to get out of having to go. None of them work, including an attempted infestation of Jake's dad one day and a drive-by shooting the next.

Eventually, the Yeerks tell Tom that he is on his own, and the family goes up to Grandpa G's cabin. The first night, Tom attempts to stab his dad to death, but Cassie in whale morph collapses the dock they were standing on at the time. The others, in dolphin morph, break Tom's leg so he has to be flown back home in a helicopter with two days to spare. 

The Review
Ifi: Cover
Adam: It is green.
Ifi: Ok when I first saw the cover, before I started reading, I legit thought this was a Tobias book
Adam: Please remember that they all have raptor morphs.
Ifi: But the Jake and Tobias models look the saaaaaaaame
Ifi: They even have the same goofy haircut
Adam: All brunettes do not look the same.
Adam: And hey, I totally tried to get my hair in that style when I was ten.
Ifi: How did that work out?
Adam: It didn't.
Adam: Not really.
Ifi: I can imagine

Adam: I'd like to point out that Jake looks really silly in the third stage of his morph on this cover.
Adam: Look at that beaknose.
Ifi: idklol

Adam: Also, the inside cover for this one is done in some very gratuitous CGI.

Ifi: Is Marco attacking a car....with a driver in it?
Adam: Gorillas don't have the best vision in the animal kingdom.
Ifi: The scene that this image is based on WAS pretty good, but he got it all wrong!
Adam: In my head, I pictured it inside a parking garage.
Adam: Though my head has been known to malfunction from time to time.
Ifi: Yeah pretty sure they were on the street
Adam: Fair enough.
Adam: Honestly though, at this point in time I get the impression that Marco just really hates cars.
Ifi: No, no, it's trash cans
Adam: Just a cover story.

Adam: I consider this book sort of a spiritual followup to book 6.
Adam: In that is the first big exploration we get of Jake's family life, and him having to live with a controller.

Adam: So if the last Megamorphs wasn't enough, we get started with another big discussion of World War II
Ifi: Jake's grandpa died sadface
Adam: Great grandpa
Adam: But yes, sadface.
Ifi: He was mad old so it wasn't a tragedy but it is still pretty sad.

"My Grandpa G died today."
"Man. Too bad," he said, falling in beside me as we headed back to my house. "He was old, though, right? I mean he was in World War III."
"World War II, Marco. Two."
"No, duh," he said. "We spent a really unpleasant afternoon in the middle of World War II, you may recall. Or at least some time-distorted version of World War II."

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: What on earth, Marco?
Ifi: We haven't had WWIII yet.
Ifi: Is that supposed to be a joke?
Adam: Marco is suddenly precognizant?
Adam: Yeah, that bit confused me as well.
Adam: Let's just chalk it up as a joke that didn't work.

Ifi: But there is a problem

"Uh, Dad?" I said. "How long are we staying?"
"It depends on the funeral. I'll write notes so you'll be excused from school through Tuesday of next week—"
"What?" Tom's eyes bulged in shock. "Tuesday? Dad, no way! Four days? I can't stay away for four days!"
"You can and you will," my father said, losing his patience. "We're going as a family and that's final."

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: Jake is hit with a sudden idiot bug for the next chapter.
Ifi: This book has no plot. It's just Jake stressing over this one thing.
Adam: And preventing his dad from getting assassinated.
Adam: But yes.

"That's what, four days?" Marco said, then grabbed my arm. "Four days without Kandrona rays?" he said in a low, tense voice. "Does Tom know how long you're gonna be gone?"
"Yeah, he and my dad had a big fight about it," I said, tugging free. "My dad said he had to go."
And then Tom had looked at my father with black hatred.
No, not Tom. The Yeerk inside of him. Controlling him.
Tom's hands, doubled into fists.
Poised to leap at my father.
"You left them alone," Marco said. Not an accusation. No blame. Just fact.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: So he walks back in and Tom and his dad are baking a cake.
Ifi: Yeah no
Adam: Aw
Ifi: They're missing, so Jake proceeds to run around the house like a headless chicken
Ifi: He completely breaks character and flips out

The top of the note was the one from my mother with the flight information. At the bottom of that note was my father's handwriting.
Jake: Went to a Sharing meeting with Tom to explain why he can't help them out this weekend. Be back soon. Love, Dad.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Ffffffffffffffff—
Adam: Oh dear.
Ifi: Marco is ready to write Dad off as a loss, but Jake takes a break from repeatedly ramming himself into the wall to give some orders
Adam: They contact Erik, who uses a surprisingly inefficient method of tracking down his dad's cell phone for a hyperadvanced alien robot.
Ifi: The police have more advanced methods for tracing calls than the Chee do
Ifi: I guess the Pemalites didn't have much of a crime problem
Adam: Yeah, but I mean.
Adam: We have the technology to track cell phones by satellite.
Adam: You'd think the Chee would be able to manage something similar.

"Well, factoring in the frequency strength, the cell phone towers that were activated, and background noise such as the sound of jet engines overhead, car engines moving slowly, human footsteps, and various other sounds, our analysis suggests they're in the northern section of town, roughly between the eight thousand and the fourteen thousand blocks north-south, and the six hundred and twelve hundred block east-west. An area six blocks by six blocks."
"What's in that area that could hold a meeting, even a small one?" I was grateful. I was also impatient. Frantic.
"Senior Citizen Center, a small strip mall with four stores, a small hardware store, and an auto-body shop. Plus, about seventy-five private homes."

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: So unnecessary.
Ifi: Wow Erek I think you just managed to be almost completely useless right there
Adam: When the Pemalites programmed the Chee to be without violence, it seems that they also removed common sense at the same time.
Adam: So, due to Marco being far more intelligent then the Millennia year old construct, they manage to track down the right place.
Ifi: Tom and Dad are inside, and they can't just burst in because the Andalite Bandits have no reason to stop or even know about some random dude's infestation
Ifi: So Marco solves the problem because Rachel is not here to do what he does next
Adam: Ah, the old fashioned method.
Adam: Good old senseless violence.

Marco walked over to a car. Grunting, he lifted it up by the rear bumper. Lifted it clear off the ground, back wheels not touching.
And dropped it.
I almost laughed. Car alarm!
Marco went to another car. He lifted it. Dropped it. And another. Lift. Drop.
The night was filled with clanging, screaming, whooping car alarms.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: See? Marco despises cars.
Adam: It is a science fact.
Ifi: It's hereditary.
Adam: And so because the Yeerks obviously care more about a little property damage then averting a massive security threat, they all leave the meeting and go check what is going on.

It took approximately eight seconds for the doors of the computer store, Starbucks, and the antique store to begin spewing out very angry men and woman.
Chapman came running from the antique store. So did my father, with Tom close behind.
"What the heck happened?"
"Lousy kids!"
"This neighborhood has totally gone to—"
"Call the cops!"
"I'm suing this shopping center!"
"Look at my door!" That last was Chapman.
The rest of the Controllers from the antique store looked uneasy. I waited, holding my breath, counting the seconds until my father, followed by a furious, scowling Tom wove through the crowd.
"My car!" my father cried. He practically fell to his knees. "Someone hurt my baby!"

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: I really wonder about this town sometimes
Adam: Why do you think the Yeerks picked them as their first target?
Ifi: I thought the Yeerks had higher standards than that
Adam: They prefer weaker willed prey.

Ifi: Now, obviously the Yeerks aren't going to let Jake's dad get away that easy.
Ifi: So it is bodyguarding time
Adam: Except
Adam: They completely let him get away that easy.
Ifi: Though
Ifi: Edriss was shown using a portable Kandrona last book
Ifi: They couldn't spare one for their bro?
Adam: Well, she was for much of her career, the highest ranking yeerk in the galaxy.
Adam: Tom isn't even a Sub-Visser.
Adam: What I don't get is why they don't just grab Jake's dad and bring him back in.
Adam: Why did they let him leave to call his insurance company?
Adam: Or just break into the house in the middle of the night and kidnap him.
Adam: Seems like it would save a lot of effort.

Ifi: So Jake morphs a cockroach, nearly gets stepped on by the guy he is trying to save, and spends all day following his Dad
Adam: He spends half an hour stuck inside his dad's pant leg.

<I believe I see your father, Prince Jake. Are you with him?>
Ax calls me his prince. It's an Andalite respect thing.
<Yeah, Ax. Barely.>
<You have completed two circuits of the open spiral and have ascended.>
That took a couple of seconds. <Oh. Yeah, it's a ramp. The cars use it to get to higher levels.>
<Yes, Prince Jake, it was not overly difficult for me to deduce the purpose of the open spiral structure,> Ax sniffed.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: He's still pissy about the 'arrogant' thing from last book
Adam: It seems like it is rare that we get to see Ax all get all tiffy about some minor thing like this.
Ifi: Ax thinks the mission is stupid

<There is a human watching Jake's father closely,> Ax reported. <He is a large human with more than the typical amount of facial fur. He appears to be forming facial expressions associated with anger.>
<A ticked-off bearded guy?> Tobias translated. <Can't see him. Must still be under the... Okay, I got him. Yeah. He does look ticked off about something. But he's not making any kind of move.>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Nothing else happens all day long.
Ifi: Oh
Ifi: It turns out Jake's dad is a pediatrician
Ifi: That's cool I never knew that
Adam: This is the most information we have been given about Jake's dad all series.

He was a good guy, my dad. Not just because he was my dad. Because he was a good person. Because he did his work as well as he knew how and wasn't a jerk to the people around him. That doesn't make you a saint or anything, but I guess when I think about it, that's what I hope I'll do when I'm older: treat my family right, do my job well, not be a jerk to the people I meet. Maybe that's not a huge, ambitious goal, but it would be enough for me. I've done the hero thing. You can have the hero thing. Me, I wanted a day when all I'd have to do was be a decent human being.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: brb sobbing hysterically and punching walls

Adam: So anyways, Jake's dad is getting tailed by a guy who looks like Pendleton Ward.

<Your father is walking toward his car,> Ax said. <The man with the facial fur is following him.>
<How close?>
<He's about four feet behind your dad,> Tobias said. He was tense. <And closing fast.>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: No Pendleton! Don't do it!
Adam: There is so much ahead in your life!
Ifi: Imagine his surprise when he is attacked by a cockroach, followed by a hawk and also a seagull

"Forget the stupid bug! Forget the stupid, stupid bird!" the man yelled. He was clearly upset. A hawk had seemingly attempted to grab a cockroach off his head and ended up flying off with his toupee. That's the kind of thing that will put you in a bad mood. "Is that your car?" the bald man demanded.
"I've been parking in this spot for two years and four months! It's my spot! I don't care how many birds or...or my toupee...or's mine!"
<I do not believe this man is a Controller.> Ax said.
<What was your first clue, Ax-man?> Tobias said.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: Man, bald people cannot catch a break in fiction, can they?
Ifi: I just want to point out that this little adventure took up thirty pages
Adam: Seems like time worth spent to me.

Ifi: Anyway, Jake angsts a whole bunch because he is just not himself this book
Adam: Well, for the most part, he has been under greater pressure then the rest of the cast for much of the series, being stuck in the leadership role and all, and the fact that more of his family is getting involved in the war basically just tips him over the edge.

Ifi: And then the Yeerks get serious

<Chapman! It is him. I couldn't be sure in this light. Six blocks from your house. Him driving, some other guy in the passenger seat.>
I followed the direction of his gaze. A dark car, large, four-door. I focused my gaze. Was the passenger holding something?
<I don't like the feel of this,> I said.
<No,> Tobias agreed.
<My dad—>
<Gun!> Tobias yelled. <The passenger. He's got a gun!>
I was in a stoop before Tobias had finished the sentence.
They were going to pull a drive-by. It was insane. A shooting in broad daylight? Just how important was Tom to the Yeerks? This was reckless!

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: If Tom is important enough to do THIS for him, I think you can spare a portable kandrona
Adam: A portable kandrona is a heck of a lot more expensive then a primitive earth weapon.

"Hey, Dad." I limped over to him, sweating, heart thundering. "Let me do that."
I took the hose.
My dad smiled. "Volunteering, huh? So. What is it you want?"
Twenty yards!
"Just wanted to get outside. Fresh air," I said.
"Uhh. Well, thanks, then. I'll go do some packing."
He turned. Too slowly! He walked. Too slowly!
The car was there.
The window was down.
The gunman was staring at my father's back.
I jerked the hose. Water hit the side of the car.
The gunman yanked back in surprise; my father opened the door.
I waved at the car and said, "Sorry!"
The car passed by.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Jake defeats the Yeerks with water.
Ifi: Go planet.
Adam: Them being the Yeerks, they don't think of trying again at all.

Ifi: So Jake is Water and Cassie is obviously heart
Adam: Tobias flies around everywhere, so he's wind.
Ifi: Rachel is fire
Ifi: That leaves earth for Marco
Adam: And Ax is Captain Planet!
Adam: They're both blue, and all.

I don't know how this war will turn out. Don't know if we'll win or lose or even, somehow, compromise and make peace. But I know one thing: I will kill the Yeerk who has done this to my brother.
I will kill him.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Yeah you do that
Ifi: Let me know how that works out
Ifi: Get back to me when you're done.
Adam: T_T
Adam: That hurt a bit

"Yeah, I know," I said. "But you guys were in school during the surveillance and tonight, well, I didn't exactly expect Chapman to do a drive-by shooting, you know."
"A mistake on your part," Marco said.
"Yeah. A mistake."
"And today, earlier? Tobias says you froze up when he asked for an order."
"I didn't freeze up, I—"
"We can't afford you freezing up," Marco said.
I glared at him. "You're enjoying this, aren't you? This is payback for when I doubted you over your mother."
"I was ready to do what had to be done," Marco said.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Ahem.
Ifi: Marco?

<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!>

----Book Thirty, The Reunion

Adam: Marco is yelling at Jake for doing the exact same thing that he did in the last book.
Ifi: Marco deliberately and stupidly blew their cover to Visser One
Ifi: Jake spontaneously froze up when under pressure and NOBODY WAS HARMED
Adam: Plus, Jake has a lot more to directly loose here.
Ifi: And I seem to recall Jake sitting on Marco through the last fifteen or so pages of the last book so he wouldn't have to deal with any of it
Adam: Jake has always been the more patient of the two
Ifi: Marco is pushing his agenda of "Let Jake's Dad Die"
Adam: Misery loves company?
Ifi: So in a panic, Jake thinks up a plan to distract everyone

We needed a distraction. The distraction I had in mind was big. And would hopefully last until I could get my father out of town.
"Kidnap Chapman," I said.
That made Marco stare. It drew a gasp from Cassie. Tobias laughed like I might be joking. Then he sort of moaned.
Then he laughed again and said, <Well, I'll say one thing: This is going to make Rachel happy.>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: This?
Ifi: This is terrible.
Adam: Everyone has gone totally insane.
Adam: Well
Adam: Moreso than usual.

Chapman stood there, holding a newspaper and looking irritated at being interrupted.
"Hello, is Melissa here? Hee-yer? I am a friend of Melissa? I have come here to speak to her regarding a class assignment. Class-uh," Ax said brightly, more or less following the script we'd worked out.
Chapman peered out at Ax and frowned. Sighed. "Wait here. I'll get her."
"Good," Ax said. "She is my close friend and also classmate and thus this is a perfectly normal thing for me to do."
Chapman gave him another look and went to get her.
<Ax,> I whispered. <What do you see?>
<It is as you suspected, Prince Jake,> Ax said. <This Controller has added security devices since our last infiltration. There are motion sensors camouflaged as a mirror frame in the front hallway. And I suspect Dracon beams concealed in the eyes of a statuette facing the doorway.>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: *sigh*
Ifi: Ax.
Adam: Chapman is taking exterior decorating advice from Zim.
Ifi: Also, Dracon beams in the eyes of the statue? Really?
Ifi: Who wrote this?
Adam: Laura Battyanyi Wiess

The front door opened and Melissa stepped out. The door closed behind her.
She looked puzzledly at Ax.
Before she could say anything, two thick, hairy gorilla arms reached up over the railing and lifted her off the steps and down into the bushes.
"Aaahh!" she yelped before a massive hand clapped over her mouth.
Melissa was an innocent. She didn't need to see what was going to happen next.
<Got her tied up!> Marco yelled.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: I wonder what Melissa's life is like sometimes.
Adam: Well, apparently she also has a thing for birds
Adam: This is apparently common enough in southern California

Melissa must have worked the gag out of her mouth. "Mommy? Daddy, where are you?!" Melissa Chapman wailed.
I demorphed to the sound of Melissa's terrified cries and the wail of approaching police sirens.
I stood up, frazzled, confused. Rachel was there, human. Ax was gone.
Marco reached down and lifted Chapman easily up onto his shoulder.
"You okay?" I asked him.
<Demorphed, remorphed, good as new,> he said tersely. <Let's move out. With your permission, mighty leader.>
We moved. Rachel and me providing what limited visual cover we could for Marco. We ran across the street and down. Back to the vacant "For Sale" house.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: I wonder how this series would have turned out if someone had eventually bought that place.
Adam: "Honey, you better get in here, there's a monkey in our living room again!"
Adam: "Oh for the love of Pete, I am not falling for that one again!"

Ifi: Then they make Ax pretend to be some horrible interrogator.
Adam: This all seemed a bit unnecessary.

<If you want to live—and I need not remind you that is in my power to end your life right now—you will answer my questions,> Ax said with exaggerated Andalite arrogance. <What is the extent of the Yeerk penetration of Earth?>
Chapman shuddered but stayed silent.
<Do not defy me, Yeerk filth!> Ax roared. <Name all the Yeerks in positions of power!!>
No answer.
<I will keep you here, you know,> Ax said, changing tactics and using a silken, deadly thought-speak voice. <Kandrona starvation, Yeerk. It is a terrible way to die. How long since you visited the Yeerk pool? How many days, how many hours do you have before the terrible need begins to—>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: =<
Ifi: They LEAVE Ax alone to do this because they can't handle watching it.
Ifi: jerks

I headed for home past the crowd of neighbors and cops and emergency vehicles that had clustered around the Chapman home.
So far, the plan had worked.
Ax would continue to interrogate Chapman.
Maybe get rough with him.
This was what I'd led us to. Marco nearly killed. Melissa Chapman terrorized. And Ax left to spin tales of horror for a helpless captive.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Jake fires himself, and for good reason
Adam: Jake, this entire situation is bad, and you should feel bad.

<No, Prince Jake, nothing about this is good,> Ax snapped. <This is not behavior suitable to a warrior. I will not do this again.>
<Understood, Ax,> I said.
<The human daughter of this Controller has walked through the neighborhood crying for her father. I have heard her. As I have heard the terror of this Controller. I will gladly fight this Controller and even, in fair battle, kill him, but I am not a torturer.>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: I want to give Ax a hug now.
Adam: Actually, I want a hug now.
Ifi: I can't even start on how not okay this situation is
Adam: Find somewhere.
Ifi: I can't find anything so I'm just gonna throw a blanket over this whole thing and pretend it is not happening

<And he will return to his people a hero,> Ax said. <This will become an oft-repeated and much celebrated chapter in Yeerk history. My name will become legend, synonymous with ineptitude. A brutal fool of an Andalite.>

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Adam: =<
Ifi: Does he know your name?
Adam: Well, the Yeerks know that Elfangor's brother is one of the Andalite bandits
Ifi: Do they?
Adam: Yes
Ifi: I don't remember that being specified
Adam: Hmm
Adam: I could be mistaken
Adam: But I could have sworn that it came up in an earlier book
Ifi: I mean, Edriss knew, but only because they told her specifically.
Ifi: Last book
Adam: Oh, wait, that is probably what I was thinking of.
Adam: My brain is sprazzled.
Ifi: Tehe

We were leaving for Grandpa G's cabin in two hours. By the time the others realized I wasn't going to meet them at the barn we'd be long gone.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Yes this will not cause them to immediately assume you have been found out and captured or killed for getting between Tom and Dad
Adam: Did he not tell him that he would be leaving for this thing?
Ifi: He told him they were leaving at noon, and he'd meet them at the barn at 9 but it was a lie.
Adam: Ah
Adam: Well, as it turns out later, they followed him.
Ifi: Duh, I mean, really
Ifi: Jake honestly
Ifi: You KNOW they'd never leave you alone
Adam: His brain has partially shut down from stress at this point

Ifi: So Jake and Tom go through Grandpa's old stuff.

I opened the footlocker, filled with sudden urgency. "Remember back, like, I don't know, when I was ten or so? He showed us his canteen and these pictures of his outfit from the Battle of the Bulge?"
"Maybe," Tom muttered.
"They didn't know whether they were gonna freeze or starve or get shot. That's what he said."
Tom rolled his eyes. Indifferent. Perfectly Tom, I thought, almost admiring. The Yeerk was keeping up the illusion. Playing the part to perfection.
"Christmas, when they were all homesick in their foxholes, they sang 'Silent Night.' The enemy sang it, too, in German. Far off they heard it. Both sides lonely for their homes. Both sides wishing the war was over."

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: That's cool. Grandpa G was at the Christmas Truce
Ifi: Too bad the Christmas Truce was in World War One.
Ifi: And it was between the British and the Germans, not Americans
Adam: Semantics
Ifi: -sigh-
Ifi: You know, my Grandpa was in WW2
Adam: So was mine.
Adam: He had left Germany due to the Nazis taking power, and since he spoke fluent German, they made him an interrogator.
Ifi: Mine was in the Italian navy.
Adam: Interesting.
Adam: We actually have a drawer filled with old nazi memorabilia that he had taken off enemy soldiers.
Ifi: That is crazy
Ifi: Why would you do that

"What's this?" He reached into the footlocker and lifted out a cracked leather scabbard. From the sheath he drew a dagger. The blade glittered dully in the dim lamplight. It was a long blade, maybe eight inches or so.
Suddenly, the attic was close and airless.
"SS," Tom mused, examining it. "It's an old Nazi dagger. Grandpa G must have taken it off a dead soldier as a souvenir. Cool."

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Again: Why would you do that?
Adam: It was the sort of thing you do at the time.

Ifi: Then Jake has a weird Christmas truce war dream thing
Adam: I suppose the Christmas Truce happening in WWII would make sense in dream logic.
Ifi: And what, Grandpa G's story was the confused ramblings of an old dude with Alzheimers?
Adam: Well now you went and made me sad.
Ifi: This is not a happy book.

"I think I hear the Germans singing, too," I said.
"Yeerks don't sing," Matthews said. Suddenly, he was beside me. He opened his eyes. Bared his teeth.
And rammed the Nazi dagger straight into my heart.
My eyes snapped open.
I sat up, heart pounding.
Glanced sideways.
The other bed was empty.
I was at Grandpa G's cabin.
Sharing the attic bedroom with my brother.
And it was late. Too late for Tom to be up.
My breath froze in my throat. I rolled over and opened the footlocker.
The dagger was gone.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: They couldn't even issue him a Dracon beam?
Adam: Why on earth did Jake not go and hide the dagger as soon as he suspected Tom of using it?
Ifi: This whole book falls apart under a few basic questions
Adam: It is tragic, but you are correct.

My father and Tom were sitting down at the end of the dock, talking and dangling their feet in the water.
My father laughed and gave Tom's shoulders a quick, spontaneous hug. Tom's sweatshirt bunched up in the back. Revealing, for a moment, the gleaming dagger wedged in his pocket. My father didn't notice it. He laughed again and removed his arm.
Tom and my father, sharing a private conversation in the middle of the night.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: First a drive-by and now this
Adam: He should have done something similar to what he did with the garden hose.
Adam: Just wave obliviously, and loudly shout "HI!"

But I was still only halfway to the dock when Tom withdrew the glittering dagger.
The sharp sound split the night.
My father and Tom looked up in shock as the wooden dock tilted and collapsed with a screech. They scrabbled to hold on, but the planks were an accordion being squeezed. The entire dock was being folded back on itself by some massive force.
Tom and my father both slipped into the water.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: I uh
Ifi: Okay
Adam: I don't think there was a planeteer ring that let you control docks.
Adam: D=
Adam: Why
Ifi: Pfft
Ifi: Because

Suddenly, a fin broke the lake's surface behind Tom.
Shark? I thought blankly. Shark in a mountain lake?
No, not a shark. A dolphin!
Before I could move, the fin sliced through the water and something slammed straight into Tom's back.
"Oof!" Tom arched, eyes wide with surprise, and shot forward, plowing facedown in the rippling lake.
He didn't move after that.
The fin—no, there were more than one—the fins slipped soundlessly below the surface.
----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: Jesus whale.
Adam: Or at least one of his dolphin-disciples
Ifi: Anyway, Tom is fine, obviously, but he gets airlifted out of there.

"Your mom says they medevaced Tom all the way back to the hospital back home," my father said, plopping down in a chair. "It seems he has a complex break and our hospital's the only one in the area equipped to deal with it."
"No kidding," I said, not at all surprised.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: I was ready to accept this as plot-induced convenience, but it was actually the Chee in the helicopter, posing as doctors, which I feel like should violate some aspect of their programming but whatever
Ifi: It only raises the question of why this wasn't the very first thing they tried—either the Yeerks or the Chee. Just stage an accident and "oh, no, he can't leave the hospital for the next few days, not for anything."
Adam: Though Jake does acknowledge that it is something he should have thought of earlier, but didn't because of how much stress he had been under this book.
Adam: And I am pretty sure the implication was that the people at the hospital were controllers.
Ifi: Well, they probably are
Ifi: But it was the Chee in the helicopter who got him there.
Ifi: Anyway, crisis averted and they have the funeral minus Tom and since nobody died I guess this is technically a happy ending

Medals aren't so simple for the people who earn them. Every time Grandpa G had looked at those medals he'd thought about the things that had happened, the things he'd seen others do, the things he'd done himself.
I know he was proud of being brave, proud of doing his best for his country. But I also know why the medals were in a pouch, in a footlocker, in an attic, kept far out of sight.
Someday maybe there'll be medals for those who fought the war against the Yeerks.
I'll need to buy a footlocker.

----Book Thirty-One, The Conspiracy

Ifi: ...
Ifi: *punches all the walls*

Adam: So that was the end of the book.
Adam: Lets all go weep silently now.
Ifi: I'm done here.
Adam: This book was very mixed.
Adam: It was able to hit some emotional notes very successfully.
Adam: But at the same time, the entire plot was a massive result of everyone getting a hand on the idiot ball.
Adam: Plus Jake never used a perfectly good opportunity to starve out Tom's Yeerk and make it seem like an accident.
Ifi: I'm writing it out of my personal canon
Ifi: It never happened
Adam: I do like the whole history of Jake's great grandpa being a WWII vet
Adam: And we finally give his dad some characterization.
Adam: So it is not all bad.
Ifi: Never happened
Adam: Whatever floats your canoe.
Ifi: My dock
Adam: Sure.

Adam: So next week
Adam: We have the sea star book!
Ifi: Oh God
Adam: =D


  1. Christmas truce-type stuff happened all the time. The big, often publicized, Christmas truce was 1914 in WW1, but they had more localized ones in other places & times. Also, Germans love them some Christmas. Even if there is not a documented truce for Grandpa G to have taken part it, it's not OoC for a bunch of Germans to slack off for Christmas if their bosses aren't looking too close.

    Back to the review...

  2. your fb entries! poor Melissa :(
    like Ifi, I always like d to just pretend this book never happened. There was too much stupidity, especially compared to their hyper-competency in the last book. And while it hit some good emotional notes, we get plenty of the same notes later on in other books that make slightly more sense.
    The next book, though, I am dreading. I've never liked the starfish book.

    1. The starfish book is critical for several reasons:
      - You cannot have a genre work run as long as this series without hitting some key touchstones, and one of them is the split-personality episode. This was NECESSARY.
      - Last KAA book in the main sequence until the last two, which are really a single two-part book.
      - The greatest exploration/exposition of a single character between two covers in the whole series.

      And for some reason, fans, characters and ghostwriters alike pretty much ignore everything you learn about Rachel in that book for the rest of the series, and continue dismissing her as a one dimensional thug or psycho in their discussions, plans, writings and *ahem* fan-fiction.

      Next week, I'm going to TL;DNR the living daylights out of this site. Be warned.

    2. and *ahem* fan-fiction.

      Don't give me that look it was a crackfic.

    3. I should save this for next week, but: the starfish book might be in my top five of the series, for all the reasons Cannoli mentioned. It's well-written (Ms. Applegate really tried with that one, and you could tell), well-paced, and a really wonderful exploration of Rachel's character. It's easy to brush off because it looks silly - I mean, it's basically an evil twin book - but when you really get down to it #32 is one of the best "character" books in the entire series, and probably my second-favourite Rachel book.

    4. If you think about it, books 29-33 are basically just a long stream of character studies of the cast. In 29, we get to see how Cassie acts under pressure when separated from the rest of the cast. 30, we get a better understanding of Marco's feelings on his mother still being alive, and him being caught between his wanting to save her, and his duty to save the earth. 31, we get a better understanding of Jake's family life, how he manages to hold himself together as a leader, and what could potentially cause him to drop the ball and stop holding the group together as he normally does. 32 is of course the seastar book. And 33 is the one where Tobias gets kidnapped by a sexy cyborg assassin, and we get a better sense of the interplay of his human and animal halves.

    5. Sorry, Ifi. You just keep getting in the line of fire for my pet peeve about the series. I wasn't thinking of 6 Days when I wrote that, though. I just couldn't resist going back and sticking in the "ahem."

      Ominous forebodings in 31 & 33 if you put it that way, Adam. Both show what happens to their narrators near the end. Jake snaps when he loses his family, as this book suggests he might, and Tobias goes full-time hawk to cope with the last straw in the losses he's suffered, the way he used the hawk to resist Taylor's efforts.

    6. Sexy Cyborg Assassin? If I remember right, Taylor's less of a sexy cyborg assassin and more of a horrifically scarred, surgically reconstructed torture enthusiast. Like Rachel, but a little more evil and a little more crispy.

    7. I like my terminology better.

    8. Yeah, "horrifically scarred" & "surgically reconstructed" cancel each other out. And so what if she needs her victims taken prisoner first, he didn't say she was GOOD at being an assassin. And we'll get into this when its turn comes, but she is only "like Rachel" in a very superficial way which is the whole point of her character exposition.

    9. I like your terminology too. The Taylor books were some of my favorites in the series, pretty much for exactly the reason Adam described.

  3. I actually like this book quite a bit. It really does show the more human side of Jake and some of the things that goes through his head as he tries to seperate Tom and the Yeerk in his head. Also, I believe excerpts from Grandpa G's war diary actually comes back in a later book, so there's a bit of interesting foreshadowing there.

    The next Jake-narrated book, though, is... well... it's certainly something, alright.

    1. Different ancestor's diary, but he got it from G. I thought the next Jake book (if we are thinking of the Orca one) was one of the most poorly-written ghostwriter books, and one of the worst at getting the voice and tone right. The plot wasn't bad and the ideas were neat, but the writing was unpleasant, and I generally don't notice writing quality.

    2. Oh my God the next Jake one is so bad. That's the Atlantis book, 'nuff said. Definitely a low point in the series. Side note: I recently ranked every Animorphs book, because that's how cool I am, and my personal bottom 5 contained three Cassie books and two Jake books, which means... well, it's gotta mean *something*.

    3. They should have a baby to star in the worst Animorph book ever? The pity was, I liked the concept of the Nartec and even the bit where they had to work with V3. IMO, the writer done screwed that one up. The Rachel book with the garatron was similar - great concepts, interesting new species, awesome action...horrible writing.

  4. This was a...very strange strange book. It felt very...surreal.

    Not even going into the technical details, because it doesn't make any sense, it felt like this situation was put in place to show some character analysis with Jake as the leader and how he sucks at dealing with personal issues.

    But what I did like was how they put this back to back with how Marco dealt with the death of his mother. Compared to Jake, Marco could keep it together, and I actually think the whole reason Marco was so jerk-ish to Jake in this book was because the whole situation just hit harder for Marco. Jake did everything he could to save his dad; Marco didn't have the luxury of even trying to save his mom because his mother was the enemy. Plus, even though Jake had the same dilemma with I-must-kill-my-brother/mother, at least there were ways out of the situation that Jake was too stressed to see, but Marco didn't have too many options.

    I would also like to point out that these few books are really heavy with the character analysis- I mean, you get the Marco book, then this one, and then Rachel's starfish book. Done deliberately?

    Anyways, great review guys!

    1. I also wondered why they never attempted to have the Chee fake Tom's death so they could capture the real one, starve his Yeerk, and stash him somewhere secret until the end of the war. Maybe KAA knew this was what she was going to do w/ Marco's dad idk, but the fact that an option involving the Chee's vast resources never came up in discussion is a bit farfetched to me.

  5. Jake losing it when it comes to his family is pretty much in character, lampshaded by Tobias in the one where they tell the families about the Yeerks, and is probably the one factor most responsible for why Jake made such a fuckup of like, everything, from the point his family was taken to the last page of the series.

    The Melissa stuff was good, and I think I speak for everyone when I say "Welcome Back, Facebook pictures!" A bit depressing though.

    Other things the Yeerks could have done with Tom:
    - Yeerk relay. Day two, stealthed Bug fighter drops off a controller near the house. He meets 'Tom' ties him up, they switch Yeerks, Tom-Yeerk goes home for a swim, other Yeerk plays out the rest of the vacation. The beauty of their system is the interchangable aspects of Yeerks and hosts and their ability to have all the info on their cover stories they could possibly need. Even if the temp Yeerk is not as used to playing Tom, he can say "Wow it just hit me the old fart's really gone," and be reticent for the rest of the trip.
    - Make a voluntary controller deal with him, like the Chpmans did with Melissa. He doesn't want Jake & his parents taken? Then he shuts up and plays nice while he is Yeerk-free on his family vacation and comes RIGHT BACK to the Yeerk pool his first day home. If he doesn't reappear on schedule, the Berensen family gets framed for bank robbery and shoot-on sight notices go out to all law enforcement controllers. Or surgically plant a bomb in his intestines that will blow up in a set time limit or if removed from a 98.6 degree surrounding. There are all sorts of ways to force Tom to go away and return voluntarily.
    - Have Chapman run him over gently and a Yeerk doctor in the ER fake needing him to stay for tests. Granted, this might be harder to pull off with the son of a physician, but still...

    And that's just off the top of my head. Are we really supposed to believe NOTHING like this has every come up in the years the Yeerks have been infiltrating Earth, that they'd have a procedure to refer to? You'd think some of their more important controllers would have jobs that required frequent travel. How does the governor's husband do it all the way in the capital?

    1. Well, in fairness the Yeerks only have a finite amount of resources to go by- for a comparative Yeerk nobody like Tom's Yeerk they're probably not going to try and allocate all of their time and energy to making sure that he survives. After all, if Tom's Yeerk really does die, and he blabs, then a) they're in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere, and b) the Yeerks (think that they) can probably track them down as soon as they reenter civilization, infest them all, and be done with it.

      As for Controllers in power, they're probably the ones that have portable Kandrona pools in innocuous places, or do a Yeerk-switch tactic at airports or something. Either that, or they're all whacked out on oatmeal.

    2. I would like to think having Chapman run someone over with his van isn't automatically the first thing the Yeerks (or just V3) thinks of when it comes to planning abductions. Though he does seem to prefer brute-force approaches, so maybe it's not so farfetched...

      I always thought the reason they didn't just infest everybody as fast as they could was because there were a limited number of Yeerks aboard the pool ship and such, so they had to go with a slow invasion because they just didn't have the numbers for full-scale war. Hence, the only reason Tom doesn't sneak into his parents room in the middle of the night to stick a slug in their ears is because there isn't a Yeerk to spare. I picture this conversation:

      Tom: "Visser, I'd like to assign three more Yeerks to infest the remaining members of my family. I am having difficulty maintaining my cover."
      V3, petting a cat: "Yeah, we'll get right on that. We'll assign valuable agents in our empire to assume the roles of a pediatrician, a writer, and some loser kid. Truly they will be most useful in our conquest of the planet. Get out of my office, you're interrupting nap time."
      Tom: "Well, time for plan B. Better go stab Dad."

    3. Actually, the impression I always got, and I believe is explicitly stated at points in the books, is that there are way more than enough yeerks to go around. Otherwise, why is the large number of human potential hosts such a big deal to them when they find earth? Granted, there are more humans in existence than yeerks, but in the very small area under yeerk control, they don't have enough bodies to provide hosts to all the yeerks swimming around in the pool, on the ships and on other planets.

      I had pretty much assumed that the slow rate of invasion and infestation was due to the human logistics of trying to organize such large groups, cycle them through the pool(s) and so forth while maintaining covers and keeping tabs on them. Bear in mind, this is a tyrannical society as well, so they are not going to send out yeerks and tell them to come back to feed whenever, and enjoy their human lives until they get drafted as soldiers or techs or whatever the Empire needs them for. The reason why they don't bother with Tom's family is due to the annoyance of putting three yeerks out there with no real purpose other than to not prevent Tom from attending yeerk functions, not to mention trying to explain to the world why the whole family is strictly limited to a three day travel radius.

      As you say, there is no motive to infest Steve, Jean & Jake, but not through a lack of personnel (otherwise Aftran would have been caught out a lot faster, as they would have simply ordered her into another body that needed a host, and been all WTF if she tried to refuse and keep her bargain with Cassie, and they'd have come after Esplin Secondary at LOT harder and faster when scarce & valuable yeerks started vanishing). Rather it is all the annoyances of maintaining three additional covers & feeding schedules and supervision & oversight of people forwhom they have no real immediate use.

      Also, Tom S, good point, but supporting me as well, in regards to the point that the Yeerk would die in the cabin in the woods and fall out of his ear and make all the humans go "WTF" and much more inclined to listen to Tom when he hurriedly explained to all his closest friends and family (on Mom's side at least) why a slug crawled out of his ear and shriveled up in the middle of the memorial service or packing up Grandpa's stuff. That would lend greater support to my send-Tom-out-with-no-Yeerk idea, since at least THAT way, even if he did tell, he'd have no proof.

      Given that less than three years later, Tom's Yeerk has jumped Chapman in the hierarchy and is Visser One's right-hand man, I'd think killing TOM would be a more likely course of action than letting his Yeerk die! He's just some nobody they infested because he saw what he should not have, and Temrash was even promoted out of that body. Letting a fast-rising yeerk die, because his body was taken out of range of the pool seems like the authorities in Camelot killing Sir Gawain because his horse broke a leg.

      Or maybe the other promotion-hungry yeerks are thinking "the lucky SOBs who get that kid for a host seem to rise fast. Let him die so he can't serve as training wheels for the bastard who's going to get my promotion someday."

  6. Oh, and why did the Yeerks not get suspicious about the marine mammals attacking Tom in a mountain lake? Didn't Tom's Yeerk wonder what broke the dock and his leg? Did he not feel something breaking his leg and/or towing him to safety?
    Okay, maybe he didn't but how did the Animorphs know he would not regain consciousness during their attack?

    One look in the wrong place by Tom or Steve, and suddenly the question of whales and dolphins in lakes arises, and the Yeerks are back to wondering what the Andalite bandits' interest in this was.

  7. "This whole book falls apart under a few basic questions."

    Sums it up =)

    I didn't completely dislike this book though, b/c like Adam mentioned it does give a great glimpse into Jake as a person, rather than the "leader". I thought it served as great emotional continuity from book 16, when Jake spoke about how his personal motivation for fighting was to preserve the sweet simplicity of every day life. He - even more than Marco - was all about living the American Dream. Looking back at this book and knowing where he ends up @ the end of the series is even more sad when you realize how deeply the war warped his identity.

  8. Wait, wait, wait. So... following the incident at the lake, the Chee have Tom, his family think he's being taken to hospital and aren't going to be back to check on him for a couple of days, and the other Yeerks don't yet know anything has happened.

    WHY IS THIS EVEN A THING? I mean... as opportunities for the whole "tie 'em up for three days" strategy go, this has got to be the big one, surely? Or do the Chee just not like the idea of starving the Yeerk out?

    (Incidentally, do we ever see anyone besides Edriss using one of those portable Kandrona doodads? Could be custom-made, or something...)

    1. However amusingly phrased it is, the TYFUFTDAAPINH Club would have to be a measure of absolute last resort (such as when they get someone who knows their secrets or the equivalent level of threat), as we see with Marco's family. Tom's life is over the minute they decide to starve his Yeerk - he has to live in hiding or on the run until the Yeerks are beaten, Jake has to deal with grieving parents even less likely to let him spend hours at Marco's or Cassie's, and the Animorphs lose their most convenient barometer of Yeerk activity, but not having 'Tom' to watch.

    2. Is that actually Jake's thought process on the matter, though? Apologies if I speak from ignorance; it's been many years since I actually *read* these books, but it seems like a much more dispassionate analysis of the situation than I'd expect from Jake "I'm going to watch you burn for what you've done to my family" Berenson. I mean, it's certainly *true*, and it makes sense as an argument for not going out of their way to kidnap him in the first place, but I have a hard time imagining that going through Jake's head once their allies actually *have* Tom in custody.

    3. Excellent point. The only thing I can think is that he processes that subconsciously, or someone like Marco pointed out the ramifications in an off-screen conversation...or he really is as lazy as Adam & Ifi joke in prior reviews and just lucky that he couldn't be bothered to make such a colossal mistake.

    4. After books 6 & 8, I could honestly see this being his thought process. Tom himself isn't important to the Yeerks, being just a high school student, and they've proven that if they can't logistically keep the yeerk alive, they'll kill the host to keep the secret from getting out.

  9. I honestly think once they have the Chee and the free Hork Bajir that the reason Tom was never freed was "we don't want to add to the main cast OR do a book where the animorphs set up Tom for his new life with aliens in the forest" rather than anything character based.

    I remember really liking this one on my first read through and then realizing it had plot holes you could drive a dump truck through.

    So keen for the next one though- my favorite Rachael book. I hope it is epic in length and features pictures.

    The above discussion about Tom's relative value to the Yeerks actually makes me wonder why they didn't kill him rather than infest him. If they have to go to do much trouble to keep an eye on their people surely it makes more sense for them all to be adults, capable of being autonomous. So, the ones who aren't specifically infested for their knowledge/position in society should be childless adults, with jobs that allow them a lot of freedom.

    1. Yeah, also, given the implication that Esplin 9466 rose from Sub-visser 7 to Visser 3 more or less entirely on grabbing the best host of all, you'd think that kids would be the least desirable hosts, and good only for yeerks who don't have an important job yet, or for the screw-ups and failures, who have no hope of promotions.

      I think we can all agree that a lot of the solutions that seem obvious, but which don't rely on morphing powers or forcing kids to make horrific decisions, are ignored purely to keep the story going the way KAA wanted and service character development, as you suggest.

      There was a link on another discussion (book 29, IIRC) to a fanfic about Ax's delirium, and among the other stories on that site, I found an incredibly long fanfic about an alternate timeline covering the entire series, if Elfangor had survived. It's well-written and is entirely believable as a speculation of how the series would have happened if he had been there.

      Amusing at first to see his variant take as he leads the Animorphs through a lot of the same crises, it quickly became kind of dull, because he DID take the sensible approach. His adult identity helps cover their issues with lying to their families, and many of the other inconveniences of trying to fight a secret war as juveniles, and he avoids a lot of the idiocy they get up to. Elfangor did EVERYTHING, and the kids were nothing more than sidekicks, and had little character development and were a lot more childlike by the end of the series, because he took all the pressure off them. It was written okay, and took a lot of the plot-potential to its obvious and logical conclusions, and as a result, was not nearly as interesting, and most of the series was spent on his reconnecting with Loren and rebuilding their romance at a tediously plodding speed.

      The hoops the plot holes force the Animorphs to jump through, really DO make it a better story, at least as far as the characters are concerned. Suffering DOES build character, and the best way to learn IS to screw up and survive. So a much fun as it is to nitpick, I guess we should forgive the story its flaws. As a supervisor & teacher, I had a hard enough time getting teenagers to grasp simple concepts that society generally considers within their capabilities, let alone come up with intelligent strategies to combat an alien invasion, so that is a plausible answer to questions of "Why don't they just...", no matter how often we fall back on it.

    2. Bare in mind that Esplin's huge promotion was just because he had gotten an excellent host. By parasitising Alloran, he was also able to get the empire a massive influx of andalite intelligence, military secrets and so forth.

    3. Probably just as well he had been in disgrace for a while (however unfairly) and probably not privy to the latest stuff. It might also explain why V3 was so quick to eat Elfangor - giving him to another Yeerk would be an exponentially greater advance for the lucky subordinate, and taking Elfangor himself might look desperate.

    4. Yes but why did they allow Esplin to keep Alloran? Surely he's not the only Yeerk to see the enormous superiority of an Andalites form- I'm surprised one of the Council didn't take it from him. When I read in Visser that two of the council are taxxons I honestly has trouble believing it. Why would you choose that host?

      I suppose it's possible that stealing another's host is some kind of mortal sin for a Yeerk.

    5. Well, a Yeerk's host is his 'body,' so it would make a lot of sense if they viewed stealing another Yeerk's host in much the same way as the human characters view taking an unwilling host in the first place. Of course, a Yeerk can always find another host, and the original host's access to the Yeerk's personal thoughts and memories was probably limited, but it's probably still something of a faux pas...

    6. Oh man that is fascinating. Now I really wish the author had gone more into the cultural implications of sharing/exchanging/changing hosts.

    7. My guess about the Council choosing hosts is that the Taxxon Controllers probably stationed on or have intimate dealings with the Taxxon home planet, and thus choosing the body that's best suited for the environment takes precedence over looking good and/or functional.

      The Animorphs and Andalites have also morphed Taxxons a couple times and manage to bring the hunger under reasonable control, so an experienced Yeerk who's spent a long time controllling a Taxxon should be able to maintain proper decorum in the council hall.

    8. There must be some sort of taboo or something involved in sharing hosts, because otherwise, why bother investigating the peace movement and other Yeerk efforts to ferret out traitors? Just have the Yeerk cops check out their hosts' memories for suspicious interactions.
      I think the Yeerks must closely associate the host with the Yeerk. Why else would they execute them both?

  10. Despite the lack of plot and all the dumb stuff going on, I liked this book. I like Jake, so I don't mind reading about his troubles, even if he is an idiot about it.
    At least it's not nearly as bad as the one where Rachel's the leader. That was just awful.

    "Hello, is Melissa here? Hee-yer? I am a friend of Melissa?"
    You know, I totally imaged Ax speaking with a valley girl accent right here? Like, with the question mark at the end of that statement? And he was speaking so cheerfully? And I was like, "No wonder Chapman thinks he's a freak"?
    .... anyway, Ax needs to learn to pass of as human. I felt bad for him when he had to be the cruel Andalite interrogator though. That was sad ;o; I was so happy he bitched at Jake after that. Someone should have slapped Jake for suggesting it. Didn't Jake almost die during this attack too?

    And I wonder if Tom's Yeerk is of some importance, or if he just SEEMS important because he's Jake's big bro. After the Animorphs threw the Kandrona out the window, only a handful of Yeerks could be transported up to the Mother Ship, so the important ones were given priority and everyone else died. Assuming that no more new Yeerks were brought in after that, then Tom's Yeerk must be somewhat important to still be alive. AND NOW I WONDER.

    By the way Ifi, is that your cat?

    1. Yes that is my Bella, playing the role of Fluffer McKitty :) You can see more pictures of my cats on my tumblr, if you like.

  11. Aw, poor Melissa.

    And, Ifi, is it really that strange to you that you'd want some souvenirs after you fought in a war? I bought a bunch of stuff when I went to Thailand, and I didn't even conquer it.

    1. Well you should have.

    2. They did it in the Band of Brothers miniseries: in one of their first battles, a guy ran out into the open during a gunfight to plunder German corpses for a specific type of Nazi pistol. The only reason he didn't get killed was the Germans thought he was a medic trying to help their buddies. Later on, another guy shoots a German specifically so he can steal a flower the German wears as a symbol of his elite training. These are heroic American soldiers, not even evil Nazis or commies.

  12. Melissa facebook is hilarious. Ifi, you should write another fic, with Melissa in it.

    1. She was gonna be in Six Days, hitting on Rachel, but her scene was deleted to make room for actual plot.

    2. That sounds like a reason that would have been given to not write her into the rest of the series outside of a few spots.

  13. Aw, poor Melissa. :( (I have a soft spot for her, and she really kind of gets shit on throughout the series.)

    This is the first review of an Animorphs book I haven't read, and although it was pretty interesting, I'm definitely looking forward more to the next one, which blew my little mind when I first read it.

  14. One thing that seems odd about this book after going back and rereading it is how other family situations are brought up as a contrast to Jake's, almost gratuitously. They could have easily glossed over the effect of Chapman's kidnapping on Melissa, but they specifically use her as ruse, even having her come to the door, despite their actual target answering in the first place. Also mentioning her walking the streets calling for him like she's 5 and Chapman is a lost pet is a bit implausible or melodramatic.

    There is also the bit where Tobias' family issues are touched on when he is confused by Tom's predicament because he was never required to attend any family functions. The book even makes a point that it was because they didn't care about him, which has nothing to do with the story at hand. Tobias could simply have wondered why Tom was being forced to go without the whole realization that no one gave a shit about him, and it almost seemed to distract from the urgency of the meeting.

    I guess they were kind of trying to mitigate the suddenly obivous pain-in-the-ass this family stuff can be for both sides of the war, by saying "Well, there are worse alternatives - they could be like Tobias' family, or he could be like Melissa when it comes to the whole 'living with controllers' deal."

    I wonder if it was a deliberate attempt at balance, or an inept ghostwriter inadvertantly undermining Jake's angst by pointing out that even the current family problem still leaves him well ahead of other people we are familiar with. Or maybe a deliberate subversion, since the point the book seems to be making was that Jake was overreacting or at least not thinking clearly in this one, since the otherwise pointless contrasts with his peers in worse situations alleviate the seriousness of his own, in ways that might not be immediately apparent, since he is the narrator and his own opinions and feelings might dominate the readers' perspective.

    A final interpretation that comes to mind is showing the stakes for Jake - if his parents get made Controllers, even if they can't be bothered making him one, he still loses his close relationship with them and ends up like Tobias or Melissa: living with adults who don't give a crap about his existence.

    This also shows what a kick in the balls it is for Tobias: the perspective of the series, and supported by real life studies and psychology is just how dependent kids are on their parents emotionally - even though they treat her like an afterthought and she long ago came to realize "they" don't love her, she is still distraught at her father's kidnapping. Tobias likewise will invest a great deal of significance in making contact with his mother, despite the abstract understanding that she doesn't know him from a hole in the ground and prefers the company of her dog to that of the long-lost son who cured her blindness and saved her from aliens. And of course, there are the ridiculous extremes Marco goes to for his mother, gambling the very hope of Earth against her survival. The series as a whole seems to be saying that kids don't give a crap - their parents are their parents, and screw anything that might hurt them.

    1. I love your tl;dr essays on each book. They're always incredibly insightful.

  15. "Also mentioning her walking the streets calling for him like she's 5 and Chapman is a lost pet is a bit implausible or melodramatic."

    Melissa was always presented as being kind of childlike, but the mental image that passage evokes just takes her derp factor to another level, lol. Poor girl :/

  16. "They LEAVE Ax alone to do this because they can't handle watching it."
    That's what they did to Rachel when she had to put down David. The difference between Rachel & Ax is that Rachel doesn't whine about it, and lets her friends think she's a psycho so they won't feel guilty.

  17. I LOVE INVADER ZIM!!!! Who needs mind-controlling parasites when you've got THE ALMIGHTY ZIM?!?!!

  18. I see this and book 30 as a pair, in that they're basically the same idea: something happens involving the viewpoint character's mum/family, viewpoint character snaps and goes a bit crazy from stress. So when I reread these books recently, I was comparing this book to 30 directly, and I actually prefer this book. 30 had some great things in it but was really ruined for me by some of the insanely dumb stuff, like Marco morphing to fly in a crowded elevator and not being noticed, or "Oh no Jake and Cassie ARE DEAAAD!" The fake Animorph deaths had been severely overplayed by this point in the series, and every time it happened I would just roll my eyes so hard they almost left my skull. It felt like a cheap trick to artificially ramp up the tension, only to deflate it instead by drawing the reader out of the book. Even as a kid I found it annoying.

    31 definitely had stupid stuff in it too, but none of it really got under my skin like some of the events in 30. My most memorable thing from this book was poor Ax having to interrogate Chapman. It's the first thing I remember about this book, and I especially loved Ax telling off Jake. It's not often he stands up to him like that.

    The whole book is also some great foreshadowing for later in the series, whether intentional or not.

    Lastly, I don't think the Yeerks could have just lent Tom a personal Kandrona. He'd need much more than that - a small pool, restraints for his host, and an enormous amount of privacy, such that Tom couldn't just call for help while his Yeerk was feeding. The best they could have done would be to land a Bug fighter in the woods for him, and I don't know if they even have room for portable Yeerk pools. I like the idea posted in comments of having him switch hosts with another Yeerk halfway through their stay. We don't see Yeerks swap hosts often, if at all, so I would have loved to learn about any Yeerk customs that may involve.

    Also I'm sure this has been asked before, but did you two think about reviewing Everworld and Remnants as well? I'm reading through Remnants for the first time now and am dying to see what others thought, and I LOVE your reviewing style.

  19. So uh.

    Thinking about this again, now, two years later, and... why on Earth was Tom's first solution to infest his father? That doesn't solve the problem, it only doubles it! Steve couldn't very well skip his own father's funeral.