Saturday, April 14, 2012

Megamorphs 3: Elfangor's Secret

The Summary
Visser Four (of the Leeran Invasion fame) has somehow found the Time Matrix that Elfangor hid (at the construction site. Apparently he was trying to get to it before he was killed by Visser Three). Being a non-Ellimist with no grasp of how time travel works, he has completely messed up the timeline and the Animorphs (minus Rachel and plus Melissa) are horrible racists. So the Drode restores their memories and commissions the Animorphs to fix it because, as amusing as this is, the Time Matrix is powerful enough to compromise the existence of the Ellimist and Crayak. In return, one of the Animorphs will die.

The Animorphs first appear in the middle of the Hundred Years War, where Visser Four is trying to alter the outcome. They chase each other around history and eventually Jake is killed while crossing the Delaware with Washington. Shortly after this, the Animorphs realize that they cannot be killed. The terms of the agreement were that ONE Animorph would die. Now that Jake is dead, the rest of them are effectively immortal. naturally, they abuse the hell out of this.

Visser Four goes to D-Day, where he tries to give information to the Nazis that will result in a victory for them. But the Nazis don't exist. The United States doesn't exist. France and Germany are allies. Hitler is a truck driver. Visser Four has tampered with the timeline so much that the world is completely different now. They capture him at last, and he leaves his host body in an attempt to escape. Marco throws him into a burning tank.

Visser Four's host is a really nice guy who explains everything to the Animorphs as he lays dying on the shores of Normandy. Then Cassie, in one of the biggest dick moves in the entire series, second only to that thing Erek does in the last book, asks him who his parents were so that she can prevent their meeting and his existence. Once they do this, the universe snaps back to normal and Jake is alive again.

The Review
Adam: Megamorphs 3!
Adam: Aka: Tobias punches Hitler in the face: The book.
Ifi: This book was intense
Ifi: This book was incomprehensible
Ifi: This book was INSANE
Adam: It is another time travel book.
Adam: All of the Megamorphs except for the first one are time travel books.
Adam: And unless you're the guy who wrote Primer, you're not going to have a clue how time travel actually works.
Ifi: I have no idea how time travel actually works but I am like 75% sure this book got it wrong
Adam: Likely so.

Adam: So, cover:
Adam: It's okay.
Adam: It's nice that we finally have a group shot of everyone.
Adam: Even though for some reason, Tobias looks like Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World.
Ifi: Jesus Christ, Cassie.
Ifi: Purple overalls?
Ifi: Really?
Adam: It was the 90's.
Ifi: With an orange shirt?
Adam: It was a different era.
Ifi: Whose eyes are those?
Adam: I assumed Elfangor's.
Ifi: Also those are clearly distorted human eyes
Ifi: They can't be Elfangor's
Ifi: look at the eyelashes
Ifi: I mean maybe they're meant to be his
Adam: I mean, Elfangor is in the title, so I can't really think of anyone else it would be.
Ifi: Yeah idk


Adam: As for the inside cover, I really wish that more attention had been paid to the background.
Ifi: There is a zeppelin and WW2 planes and shit is blowin' up
Adam: They are on the set of a Michael Bay movie.
Adam: Except they are hogging the whole frame.
Ifi: Yeah Rachel jeez
Ifi: Your fat head is blocking the explosion
Adam: Darn ears.
Adam: Speaking of Rachel, she's got some serious jpg compression going on.
Adam: I think there is a pill for that, nowadays.
Ifi: Marco looks funny
Adam: He is trying to interpret the plot.

Ifi: I don't even know where to start with this book.
Adam: We start off with a prologue that basically recaps the Andalite Chronicles.
Adam: Bizarrely, it is told in the third person.
Ifi: You know, I sort of liked that.
Adam: Whyso?
Ifi: I think this book would have been stronger if it 1) kept to one narrator or 2) was in third person altogether because the constant change of location along with the constant change of narrator made it very very difficult to follow wtf was happening
Adam: Generally speaking, I think this does a better job with the multiple narrators then the previous Megamorphs. It didn't strike me as all over the place as much.
Ifi: That is true

Adam: So we start the story proper with Tobias narrating.
Ifi: It seems normal. Except for the fact that he is talking about kissing Melissa.
Adam: Tobias, how could you?!
Adam: I thought you and Rachel had something special together!
Adam: Oh, my poor heart.
Ifi: I actually didn't like this because the implication was that Rachel and Tobias were only together because they were available.
Adam: Apparently Tobias just really has a thing for blondes.
Adam: But yes, I agree.
Ifi: The more you think about it, the worse it is

Obligitory

Adam: So it's a fairly normal day, all things considered.
Adam: The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

On a day like this, it was hard to be a pessimist. Yeah, Earth was being invaded by the Yeerks. Yeah, all that stood against them were five kids and one Andalite with the useful power to absorb the essence—what Ax calls "DNA"—of animals and then morph into them.
And yes, we were probably even losing the last war that humanity might ever fight as a free species. But on a stunning day like this, what I saw spread out below me was not possible Controllers, but people having a nice day at the beach, loving the sun, loving the warmth, taking it easy.
Even the slaves, standing by to attend to their masters and mistresses, seemed to be having a good time.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: What the everloving fuck
Adam: Wait…something seems off here...
Adam: Tobias is afraid of water! He hates going to the beach!
Adam: C'mon Applegate, get your act together.
Ifi: It gets weirder

Cassie's slave girl was still in the room, cleaning out the cage of an injured and very vocal goose. And as Cassie is always reminding us, the fact that a slave may not be as bright as a regular person does not mean they can't tell tales.
[…]
<Marco, are you hanging out with your imaginary friends again?> Tobias asked.
"Excuse me, but I no longer need friends, real or imagined. I was playing Pong. My dad bought one for us. It's so cool. Even my mom was into it, which, in a way is sad, because seriously, who wants to be doing stuff with their mom?"

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: I like to think that in this universe, Edriss runs the war from the suburbs and that was totally her playing pong with Marco


Adam: Wait, so in this universe, do they not know who Visser One's host body is?
Adam: Or does she just have a different host to begin with?
Ifi: I guess we can assume a different host.
Ifi: But it doesn't touch on it at all
Adam: Fair enough.
Adam: Admittedly, this setup is short.
Adam: Which I find unfortunate, because Animorphs set in horrible 1984-esque dystopia-land strikes me as a really interesting premise.
Ifi: It makes up for it by packing up the maximum amount of bizarreness possible in the minimum amount of pages

"He has information that the Yeerks are putting together a new front organization. This one, unlike The Sharing, is aimed at a very specific target."
<What target?> Ax asked.
"Our troops," I said. "Especially troops being sent to the war in Brazil."
Cassie made a skeptical face. "Why would the Yeerks want to make Controllers of troops heading toward the jungle? What do they care whether we wipe out a bunch of Primitives?"
"It's not the war they care about," I said. "It's that things are tough for our boys down there, and I guess harsh conditions like that make it easy to get recruits. I mean, you're in the jungle, right? You figure 'How much worse could life get?' But most of the troops survive the war, they come back home, and the Empire rewards them with homesteads, slaves, cars, and so on. Lots of times they get jobs in government or else stay in the army. Suddenly the Yeerks have another one of their own in a position of power."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Wait, they actually treat army vets decently in this universe?
Adam: Weird.

I shrugged. "I don't know. But what are we supposed to do, sit around while the Yeerks destroy the war effort? Let the jungle rats continue to take up valuable land that we need?"
"Yeah, it would be a pity if some of the Primitives escaped alive," Cassie said.
I shot a look at her. Had that been sarcasm?
She smiled blandly.
I had long suspected that Cassie might have slightly radical tendencies. A lot of blacks did. Blacks and a lot of Jews, although not in my family. My dad was a certified POE—Patriot of Empire. Still, if you had any Jewish blood in you at all, you had to be extra careful so no one thought you were a radical.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: What.
Adam: What, are you suggesting that we do not turn in those guilty of thoughtcrime in to our glorious leaders for rehabilitation?

The question was, where would Melissa stand if it came down to eliminating Cassie? I knew Melissa was no radical. But she was Cassie's best friend, despite being white.
I shook my head, trying to focus. The Yeerks, They were my problem. Not radicals. If the human race survived the Yeerks we'd have all the time in the world to round up the radicals and take care of them. In the meantime…
I gave Cassie a blank look, not acknowledging what she might have meant. "We have to try to deal with this. Personally, I don't want a world filled with Primitives any more than I want a world filled with Yeerks."
"Jungle rats and slugs," Marco said with a laugh. "Now there's a nice world for decent people to live in."
"Wonderful! Wonderful, I love it!"
The voice was unknown. I spun around, ready to do battle.
Standing there, as though it had appeared from thin air, stood a creature who could not possibly be from Earth.
[…]
"Who are you?" I snapped.
"Me? Oh, I'm hurt. Devastated! You don't remember your old friend the Drode?"

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: It's really saying something about this setting that I am glad to see him.
Adam: Aw
Adam: Seriously, I could honestly read a whole book of this.
Adam: Everyone is absolutely horrible.
Adam: It is fascinating.
Ifi: Also, shouldn't Cassie be able to sense something is off?
Adam: Shhh
Adam: You're not supposed to know about that.
Adam: Although
Adam: Since it was caused by actually going back and changing history, rather than rewriting it from scratch, it could be seen as a natural timeline

"Marco," I said. He nodded. He began to slowly morph to grizzly bear, his favorite morph.
<Who are you?> Ax demanded. <Or should I say, what?>
The creature grinned. "You, at least, are no different, Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. Still the arrogant Andalite."
"Shut up, Ax," I snapped. "I am Supreme Leader here. I'll ask the questions."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: This is like a car wreck
Ifi: I simply cannot look away
Adam: I want a whole series of this.
Ifi: Six Days the Animorphs Were Racist
Adam: Make it so, number one.
Ifi: The Day Jake Made Everyone Call Him "Your Highness"
Adam: Makes the whole "Prince Jake" thing a whole lot more literal.
Ifi: Oh God I didn't even think of it that way
Adam: That's what I'm here for.

Ifi: For better or for worse, the Drode restores their memory so he can mock them/give them some freelance work
Adam: Y'now, I'd be really curious to see what sort of jobs he has to do when he is messing around with people on other planets.
Ifi: It's mostly photocopying
Adam: I suppose space demons do get a lot of paperwork that needs filing.

"No, no, no!" the Drode said. "It is glorious reality. Big Jake, Jake the perfect leader, Jake the compassionate, nothing more than a jumped-up little dictator with delusions of grandeur who insists on being called Supreme Leader!"
"No, that was not reality," Cassie snapped. "I do not own a slave! That's sickening! What are you talking about?"
"And where was I?" Rachel demanded.
"I was thinking how I'd have to turn Cassie in for not approving of some war down in Brazil," I admitted. "That's not reality."
"I will tell you about reality," the Drode said eagerly. "Your country is an empire, ruled by terror and torture. It has made war on the nations to the south. It slaughters peoples it calls 'Primitives.' It enslaves anyone with an IQ below eighty, as well as anyone born with what you call defects. All in all, it's my kind of place."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: I know this series is dark, but Jesus
Adam: It doesn't really seem any better or worse then most dystopian lit.
Ifi: So the guy who used to be Visser Four before the Leera thing happened somehow found the Time Matrix
Ifi: Which Elfangor apparently hid in the place that later became the construction site
Ifi: And now he's running around making a mess
Adam: So our favorite group of teenagers with a death wish need to go back in time to fix everything


"Yes," the Drode said. "A deal. And here it is: The six of you will be allowed to follow the Time Matrix. The former Visser Four set off on his journey two days ago. You will be translated back to that point and then the quanta that make up your atoms will be...tuned. Yes, that's a good word for simple minds to comprehend. You'll be fine-tuned at the subatomic level to resonate with the movements of the Time Matrix as it travels through time. Your own memories and personalities will, of course, be buffered. Protected against changes."
[...]
"One of you," the Drode said. "You can attempt to save your reality, put everything back where it belongs, end slavery, replace tyranny with democracy, millions of lives saved, let freedom ring, glory hallelujah in exchange...in exchange for one, single life."
"A life?" I asked.
"The life of one of you. That is my master Crayak's price: One of you must die."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Adam.
Ifi: I need you to clean my room for me.
Ifi: But it'll cost you
Ifi: Fifty bucks
Ifi: Deal?
Adam: Well, this seems perfectly fair to me!

Adam: Yeah, in retrospect, they really ought to have tried to haggle a bit, at least.
Ifi: "How about this: WE save YOUR asses and YOU give us some proper weapons and take the time limit off morphing?"
Adam: They do get a little bit out of the bargain, as we find out later.
Adam: Seriously though, Ellimist has got to work on his negotiation skills.

"Why wasn't I even in the group?" Rachel demanded.
"You? A violence-prone sociopath like you, Rachel?" the Drode said with a happy laugh. "You were in a reeducation camp. This world has little room for bold, aggressive females. You were being taught your place."
"Say what? My what?"
Suddenly, around the Drode's wrist, an oversized watch appeared. "You all have to decide," the Drode said, holding up the watch. "Two minutes. Ticktock, ticktock. Then all goes back to what it should be. Tick. Tock."
He was gone as suddenly as he had appeared.
"My place?" Rachel muttered, not quite believing the word. "No one teaches me my place."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: ilu Rachel
Ifi: never ever change
Adam: Rachel teaches other people their place, not vice versa.
Ifi: it is usually "several yards away from their own head"
Adam: Classy

Ifi: So obviously they agree otherwise there would be no book
Adam: So, back in time we go!


Ifi: And then they are at the Hundred Years' War
Ifi: And English knights are being beaten up by French knights
Adam: I seriously wished that I had brushed up on my world history before reading this book.


Ifi: Actually, the issue I had with this part was a little silly
Ifi: I'll admit it
Ifi: But
Ifi: "English" as it was spoken back then would have been utterly incomprehensible to the Animorphs


Adam: Well, most of the people they had met would not speak very good English anyway, so perhaps not being fluent, and the language being archaic cancels each other out?
Adam: I am making this up.
Ifi: Yeah but they should speak FRENCH that is also incomprehensible
Ifi: agh
Ifi: my brain
Ifi: fuck
Ifi: why did I take two semesters of medieval lit
Adam: Let's just say that time travel messes everything up and move on.
Ifi: WOULD ANYONE LIKE TO HEAR ME RECITE THE PROLOGUE FROM THE CANTERBURY TALES IN THE ORIGINAL MIDDLE ENGLISH?
Adam: No.


Adam: As it turns out, the 14th century was not a particularly nice place to live.
Ifi: Everyone is dirty and there are lice and bugs and rats in people's hair and cavities and pockmarks and God knows what else
Ifi: Also the Animorphs are mistaken for witches


Ifi: Oh good I was hoping you'd link that
Adam: It is obligatory.

Adam: Not only are they mistaken for witches, but Rachel and Cassie are separated from the rest of the group.
Ifi: Rachel resolves this by morphing an elephant (which to a person in the 1400's would be like turning into a dragon)
Adam: Well, it has the long neck and the big wings, and is heavily armored.

A dragon or something.
"So, there we were, suddenly appearing in the middle of a bunch of tents full of guys wearing armor," I said conversationally. "Naturally we figured we'd better lie low. Not attract attention. Not cause any trouble."
<Are you really mad?> Rachel asked.
I leaned over and grabbed the green knight's arm. Marco grabbed the other and we yanked hard, trying to get him up out of the mud while he cursed us in French.
"I figured I'd try the subtle approach," I said. "But, of course, that's just me. It hadn't occurred to me that what I should do is morph into elephant and STOMP PEOPLE INTO THE MUD!"
<You are mad.>
"Why would I be mad? Just because at the very moment I'm thinking 'Cool, we snuck past the guards,' I suddenly hear an ELEPHANT?!"

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: So everyone is very upset at everyone else.

"I do not parlay avec weetches," the knight said in haughty, heavily accented English. Marco stifled a giggle.
"I'm not the weetch." I pointed at Rachel. "Those two are the witches. I saved your life."
"Hey!" Cassie objected.
The knight thought it over for a moment. "It ees the year of our lord fourteenfifteen. The forces of the Roi de France, hees highness royal Charles VI, under command du Constable de France and Princes of the blood royal, are here unis pour...to repel I'envahisseur, Roi Henri five of England, who has laid claim unjust to the throne of France."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Being covered in mud and small parasites will do that to you, I guess.
Adam: I really wish I could speak French right about now.
Ifi: He magically speaks contemporary French
Ifi: I love it.
Adam: Perhaps he is a time traveler as well!
Adam: He doesn't just speak contemporary french, but a hybrid of butchered contemporary English and contemporary French.
Adam: So, my theory is that this whole setting is filled with other time travelers running around, trying to change things as well
Ifi: That makes more sense than anything else that happens in this book
Adam: If you look hard enough, you can find Rory Williams running around in the background or something.
Adam: That is my theory, and I am sticking with it.
Ifi: There is a "searching for V4" montage

We flew. We looked at stuff. We demorphed. We remorphed. We flew some more. The sun was coming up and we still had not seen anyone who we thought was Visser Four.
However, I'd seen some really cool armor. Mostly on the French side. The English guys looked pretty raggedy. And about half of them seemed to have serious digestive problems. Every five minutes you'd see one of the English soldiers run off into the bushes and…well, let me put it this way: What they did you don't really want to see, especially with high-power osprey eyes.
[…]
The guys themselves, knights, soldiers, archers, and so on, were a nasty-looking bunch of humans. No one looked like they'd washed their clothes any time this century. Faces were dirty. Teeth were rotted and I mean yellow-and-black, gnarled-looking rotted. They were pompous, swaggering knights and whatever, who had literally four and a half teeth in their whole heads

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Honestly, fourteenth century armor was kinda clunky looking.


Adam: Though maybe it is different if there is someone moving it around.
Ifi: I don't know very much about armor, I will admit.
Ifi: I just do the words.
Adam: Without words there can be no physical things to follow
Adam: Or something.

Ax wheeled through the sky, twenty feet above me, closer to the French lines.
<I do not mean to insult your ancestors, Marco, but if the Yeerks had arrived in this era they would have left to find some other species to infest. These humans have all the parasites they could possibly support.>

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Well, they call it The Dung Ages for a reason, I suppose.
Ifi: "Edriss, we found it! The planet of the perfect class-five species!"
Ifi: "Wonderful, Essam! Let's take a look."
Ifi: "..."
Ifi: "..."
Ifi: "Let's go home and never talk about this again."
Ifi: "Agreed."

Ifi: In any event, they realize that they can find Visser Four because he will be the only one without smallpox
Ifi: And this actually works
Adam: Well, the bird of prey morphs do have superhuman vision, remember.
Adam: So it doesn't strike me as too unreasonable that they would be able to pick him out of a crowd.
Ifi: He is an archer, and for reasons that turn out to be very stupid, wants to kill Richard
Ifi: Also Marco flies right into the volley of arrows
Adam: How does he know how to use a bow so well?
Ifi: He doesn't, which is why he misses.
Ifi: Although
Ifi: Bows are very tough to use at all
Ifi: So I am impressed he even managed to shoot it
Adam: Well.
Adam: Tobias intercepts the arrow.
Ifi: Which I am sure was a very cool thing to see

Visser Four drew his bow again. He aimed very carefully. And now the king was surging toward the very place where Rachel and the others lay. Visser Four might not hit Henry. He might miss and hit Cassie or Marco or Rachel.
The arrow flew!
I opened my talons and twisted sideways to bring both talons into line.
Flit!
Fwapp!
Talon hit arrow. Right talon hit but didn't grip. I blew straight down, my momentum carrying the arrow with it, canceling some of its speed. Left talon squeezed!
I felt the shaft slide through my grip. Thunk! My talons closed around the feathered ailerons.
It all took a tenth of a second. Then, I was carrying the arrow.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret



Adam: Okay, now I can see him deflecting the arrow 
Adam: But actually catching it?
Adam: That is the sort of thing that takes years of training.
Ifi: Matrix.
Adam: He knows kung fu.


Ifi: Ok that was very cool
Adam: I do not let you down.

Adam: So at this point, Visser Four has figured out that the Andalite bandits are somehow after him.
Ifi: Unfortunately he can't really do anything about it because whenever he time travels, they automatically get pulled along with him
Ifi: Which I am sure was very very frustrating
Adam: From his perspective, it's probably completely terrifying.
Adam: Wherever you go, even if you go back in time, you are perpetually tracked by a a team of shapeshifting assassins
Ifi: And because he doesn't know about the Drode or any of that, it must appear that they have their own separate means of time travel
Adam: So now he would think that his culture's greatest enemy has the ability to travel through time.
Adam: Yeerk nightmares forever now.
Ifi: :( Now I am sad for him

Ifi: Then more stuff happens, including Cassie getting speared and Ax getting chased by, I swear to God, angry villagers with pitchforks
Adam: Pretty much everything in this book ends badly for him.
Adam: It would not be the proper middle ages without a mob with pitchforks.
Ifi: The thing is, Andalites do bear a passing resemblance to the middle age idea of the devil
Ifi: They even have hooves
Adam: Are you sure?


Adam: Hmm
Ifi: So it's a girl devil?
Adam: Actually, I can see it
Ifi: I wish I could unsee it.
Adam: Classically, the devil is a fallen angel, and angels are genderless.
Ifi: Look though, he has the pointy ears and the "eyestalks"
Adam: Ax doesn't have enough mouths though.
Adam: Medieval Satan was always eating folks.

Ifi: Anyway this is getting boring so we skip ahead a bit.

"They say as we're late and the Hessians be waiting for us. They's a whole army of 'em in Trenton. I know. My sister's husband is from Trenton. Says them Hessians is right tigers in a fight."
"What do you know about any tiger, Elias, you ain't never seen a tiger, have you?"
"Shut your cake holes, you lot," an authoritative voice snapped.
I stopped moving. Couldn't go any further for the men pressing in all around me, making a lane for the general.
He walked by quickly with half a dozen well-dressed men trailing him. I never would have recognized him. Not from any of the paintings I'd seen. Certainly not from his face as it appears on the one-dollar bill. But the men were whispering his name.
"Washington."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret




Adam: So we are now at the American Revolutionary War.
Adam: And everyone is in awe at being around George Washington.

"Not exactly clothes," Marco muttered. "A blanket with a hole for the head. The boots are cool, though."
<Where did you find boots?>
He shrugged. "You think it'd change the course of history much if George Washington was to lose his extra pair of boots?"
<You stole George Washington's shoes?>
"Hey, it's freezing, all right? Not all of us happen to be horses at the moment."
I heard someone make a not-too-subtle remark about lunatics joining the ranks.
<Marco, stop talking to me. People are noticing. They think you're nuts.>

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Marco.
Ifi: Just Marco.
Adam: Marco
Adam: Bring those back with you afterwards.
Adam: Sell them at an auction or something
Adam: Or give them to a museum.

What had started out as rain had quickly become sleet. The weather was miserable. And it was clear that the men on the ground thought so, too.
Many of them wore little more than rags. Rags were wrapped around their feet. They weren't quite as skanky as the French and English at Agincourt but they were close.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: That word again.
Adam: Agincourt?
Ifi: skanky.
Adam: …didn't even notice it.

<Rachel? Is that you?>
<Yeah. I'm in owl morph flying above an army down by some river with some boats. Guys are carrying old-fashioned rifles.>
<I know. Marco and I are down here in the middle of it. I'm the horse. Marco's the one wearing Washington's boots.>
<No way. George Washington?>
"Jake, tell her 'No, Guido Washington.'"
<Marco would like me to pass along a sarcastic remark,> I said.
<Wow. Washington. Is this the Delaware? Is he crossing the Delaware?>
<I guess so. I mean, I've heard Washington crossed the Delaware, but I don't know what it means.>
<This river is the Delaware. The Delaware River,> Rachel said. <I mean, come on, even I know that!>
<Why is he crossing the Delaware?>
"To get to the other side and see the chicken," Marco whispered.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret



There's a very famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. It shows George standing in the middle of this boat like one of the lifeboats from Titanic and looking all determined and Father-of-the-country-ish.
Two things wrong with that.
One, the boats were low-sided, flat-bottomed, rocking, spinning, swamped, water up-to-your-ankles pieces of junk. Not that you could even feel your ankles. Unless you had boots on.
There were too many wet, mad, depressed, shivering, scared men and boys packed into too few boats in the middle of a hurricane of sleet on a river that was a rush-hour expressway of gigantic chunks of ice.
Sleet was piling up on my head. There was sleet on my shoulders. Sleet in my eyes, sleet freezing into a crust of ice on my knees, sleet on my bare fingers, fingers numb, numb till they would barely move and you had to think about unbending them.
[….]
The second thing was if George had been a big enough idiot to want to stand up in the middle of all this, his men would have figured he was a lunatic and turned around and learned to enjoy crumpets.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: It is a fun time
Adam: So, they figure that Visser Four is there to try and kill Washington, so everyone is now playing bodyguard.
Ifi: This is not even in the top five weirdest things to happen in this series.
Adam: I love this series.

A horizontal line of flame erupted, blinding in the darkness. Twenty, thirty, who knew how many ancient muskets, all firing at once, a disciplined volley.
I couldn't see the damage done. But I heard the cries.
[…]
A ball of lead the size of a marble flew.
But not one, single gun. A mass of guns. All firing at once. Fifty, sixty, a hundred explosions! A hundred balls, flying, singing through the air.
Thunk!
The man sitting in front of me fell back. His head dropped on my lap.
"Aaahhh!" I yelled.
Thunk!
An oar was blown in half.
Thunk!
A hole appeared in Jake's forehead.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Also Jake dies
Adam: Oh.
Adam: Well.
Adam: That is upsetting.
Ifi: Have some beautiful imagery

Jake fell straight back without a twitch or a movement. Simply collapsed. A puppet whose strings had been cut.
Marco lunged across the boat to grab him.
I saw the hole. It was centered in Jake's forehead.
The back of his head was gone. There was no possible question. He was dead.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: The back of his head was gone
Ifi: THE BACK OF HIS HEAD WAS GONE
Adam: This is a kids' book.
Ifi: I cannot handle this
Adam: Lay down.
Adam: Take a deep breath.
Adam: Have some tea.
Adam: Everything will be okay.

Ifi: Cassie floats around in dolphin morph and completely ignores the main plot after this.
Adam: She's basically in an extreme state of shock for the next several chapters.

Ifi: At this point, I lost all track of what was happening in this book. It was a mess.
Adam: Okay, good.
Adam: Then I wasn't the only one having difficulty following what was going on here.
Ifi: Yeah. I had no idea.
Adam: Everything explodes.
Adam: Rachel and Ax don't take Jake's death very well.
Ifi: They would go places and there would be fighting and then another place and more fighting and I have NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING
Adam: Ax kills some Hessian mercenaries.

<What do we do?> Tobias asked.
Do? I didn't know! <Attack!> I blurted. <The Hessians! Attack them!>
<Rachel,> Ax said, <these Hessian humans are only doing what—>
But my doubt was gone. Attack. Yes.
<They killed Jake,> I snapped. <And they're trying to get Washington. They could kill Marco. They die! Do you hear me, Andalite? They killed your prince. Do your duty.>

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Eh, screw you, space-time continuum.
Adam: Nobody likes you anyway.
Ifi: Also Rachel gets blown in half by a cannonball.
Ifi: And then they are at Princeton
Ifi: And the timeline is fucked

I opened one of the books. It was stamped: Princeton University. The publishing date of the book was 1932. That didn't mean this was 1932, but it did mean it wasn't any earlier than 1932.
It was a history book.
I whipped it open and scanned the contents. Revolutionary War. Revolutionary War.
No listing. But there was a listing under "Rebellion, Colonial."
I flipped to the pages. I found what I was looking for.
"The rebellion collapsed following the disastrous attempt by rebel leader George Washington to attack British-allied Hessian troops. Rebel troops attempting to cross the Delaware River were ambushed by Hessian allies who had been alerted by a local resident. The result was a massacre. Washington was mortally wounded, dying three days later while in British custody."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: If I was in this book, I think I would just lie down and close my eyes and wait for it to be over.
Adam: I think this was the plot to an episode of Big Guy and Rusty.

I closed the book. I raised my eyes and saw the flag flying from a tall pole. It was pale blue, with a small British Union Jack filling one corner.
Princeton University was not flying the American flag. No one was flying the flag of the United States. There was no United States. What there was in its place, I didn't know. But the United States of America had died on a sleet-stormy night on the Delaware River.
Suddenly, down a wide alleyway between tall buildings, a dolphin appeared.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: I have some friends who attend Ivy League schools, and apparently this sort of thing isn't out of the ordinary.

"Just keep demorphing," Tobias told me. "We have to get after Visser Four. Forget security, we don't have time to worry about it. Hey! Any of you guys know what year this is?"
"Why, it's a colored girl!" the third guy said. He looked down at me with concerned blue eyes. "I've never seen the like of this!"
"Hey, guys, help us out, okay? What year? What country?"
"Don't answer him, he could be a spy!"
I was almost entirely human. I stood up, shaky. "Sorry," I said. "I know it's kind of gross to watch."
"How did you do that?" the man with the southern accent demanded. And then, like some vile punctuation, he added a word I won't repeat.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: :O
Adam: I thought we were done with the racism bits.
Ifi: D:
Adam: Guess not.
Ifi: :O
Adam: And then Cassie is awesome for a bit.

The student shoved Tobias hard against his chest and sent him sprawling back. "I'm not addressing you, little boy; I'm talking to this creature, here." He grabbed me by the shoulder and shook me. "Speak up when a white man asks you a question."
"Hey, this isn't Alabama, Davis," the short student protested.
Davis ignored him. "Don't tell me how to deal with coloreds, Friedman. Most likely this is some kind of runaway slave."
I shot a glance at Tobias. In his human morph he could do little. And he'd have to pass through his hawk form before getting to what Marco would call "serious firepower."
But that was okay. This small battle was all mine. I didn't want any help.
"You don't like black people, Mr. Davis?" I said pleasantly. "No problem. I can turn white. Watch me."
[…]
White fur began to grow from my face. Actually, it was clear fur, hollow needles of fur that were designed to keep the polar bear warm. But the fur looked white, taken altogether.
My hands swelled, big as dinner plates. Long, raked claws extended from the fingertips.
I was growing whiter. And bigger. Much, much bigger.
"It's some kind of voodoo trick!" Davis wailed.
Tobias was back on his feet, arms crossed over his chest, looking on calmly.
"You two guys may want to step back out of the way because I don't think Davis here is going to be having a very good day."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: I mean yes, I would have done the exact same thing.
Adam: Not without justification.

Finally, he broke and ran. I slammed a pile-driver front leg into the wall and blocked his way.
<Don't you like me?> I asked.
He turned the other way. I slammed my other front leg to block his escape.
"Nah, nah, don't kill me! Don't kill me!" He looked at Tobias. "Don't let her kill me."
Tobias shrugged.
With a sudden movement I opened my jaws, twisted my head sideways, and clamped my mouth over the guy's face.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: o_o
Adam: This has gone in a direction I was not expecting.

"HhhhhRROOOAARRR!"
Davis's cheeks vibrated from the sound waves. His hair blew back.
"Personally, I'd apologize if I were you," Tobias suggested.
Davis babbled his apology into my open mouth. He kept apologizing even after I let him sink to the ground.
"Whoa, Cassie! That is so Rachel," Marco said. I recognized the voice immediately. He'd come up behind us.
And that was surprising enough. But then…
"Really," Rachel said. "What are you doing? Stealing my act?"
"Rachel!" Tobias yelped. And a millisecond later he had spun around, grabbed her, and kissed her. Then he held her back at arm's length. "You're dead!"
<Rachel! You're dead,> I agreed.
"No, I'm not," Rachel said.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: I'm taking Rachel's side on the argument here.

"Let's focus," Marco interrupted. "Rachel remembers morphing to chimpanzee. She remembers climbing into the rigging. Then, nothing. Suddenly she's here, and so am I, and by the way, not that I'm complaining because at least no one is shooting, but where is here?"
"Princeton University," Tobias said.
"Say what? Why?"
"Good question. Now, we want some answers," Tobias said, addressing Friedman and the boy with sympathetic blue eyes. "Let's start with the basics: What year is this?"

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: It's 1934
Ifi: Animorphs: Derp. Does something important happen this year or something?
Adam: Well, it's not like there were any famous historical figures who were at Princeton around at that time.
Adam: Certainly not any scientists or anything.
Ifi: And it's not like Germany got a new leader in August
Adam: Oh well, it must be a fluke.

<I may have an idea,> Cassie said. <Maybe Visser Four has outsmarted himself. He's here expecting something, right? But maybe whatever it was supposed to be has been altered by what he's already done. He changed the past so whatever was supposed to happen here and now isn't happening.>
"My head is going to explode," Marco said. "You need to be Einstein to figure this—"
"Einstein?" Friedman interrupted. "Do you mean Albert Einstein, the German physicist?"
"Yeah. Albert Einstein. Like there's another?" Marco said.
"But he's in Germany."
"You know," Blue Eyes interrupted, "there was a crazy fellow over in the Dean's office yelling about Einstein. He was dressed very oddly, like a sailor, perhaps. I thought at first he was a member of the philosophy faculty, but—"
"Big slash up the side of his face?"
"Why, yes."
Marco snapped his fingers. "That's it. Visser Four came here to kill Einstein!"
"But he's not here," Rachel said.
"Exactly. But he was supposed to be. Visser Four didn't realize he'd already changed this time line. Something that happened at Agincourt or the Delaware or Trafalgar screwed this up."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: And this is why we don't fuck taround with time travel
Adam: This is why they have time police.

"Dude," I snapped at Friedman. "What does 'e' equal?"
"What?"
"'E' equals..."
"By 'e' you mean energy?" Friedman said.
<They don't know,> Cassie said. <They don't know that "e" equals "mc" squared.>
"Maybe Einstein doesn't know it, either."
<No "e" equals "mc" squared, no atomic bomb.>
"Yeah. The question is: Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?"

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Um
Adam: This is before the theorem would have been popularized, anyway.
Ifi: -sigh-

We weren't too worried about what they might do. We figured we wouldn't be at Princeton University for long anyway. What were they going to do, arrest us?
We'd had people after us with swords, lances, arrows, muskets, and cannons. Campus cops were not a major worry.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Campus cops are never a worry.
Ifi: No matter what genre you're in.
Adam: Even if that genre is real life.
Ifi: It's true.

"Look, Visser Four has already figured out Einstein isn't here," Rachel said. "He's going to jump again. Maybe already has. We need a plan. Fast."
"Or at least a clue," Cassie muttered. She was back in her usual form. She looked strangely at Rachel. "Tobias saw you blown in half, Rachel. Why are you back? Why are you alive? And why isn't…why isn't Jake?"
"I don't know," Rachel admitted.
<The Drode said Crayak had demanded a life in payment,> Ax pointed out. <The terms were negotiated between Crayak and the Ellimist. Perhaps the Ellimist had his own demands: That it be only one life.>
Tobias said, "Wait a minute. You mean…you mean the rest of us can't die?"

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: That's a helluva loophole


Adam: See, they did get something out of that terrible, terrible deal after all!

Ifi: Visser Four tries to lose them by jumping around in time randomly, which is sort of fun. Of course it doesn't work. Eventually we wind up at D-Day, about to storm the beaches of France
Adam: No time travel story is complete without it.
Ifi: Right?
Ifi: Also Ax is completely burned out.
Adam: Can't say that I blame him.

I flew through the air. I saw a gray sky overhead. I saw humans around me, running, lying down, falling. I hit the sand hard.
I lay there, breath knocked out of me.
My main eyes were staring upward. At the sky. The blue atmosphere of Earth, beyond which was the black of space, the now-invisible points of stars, the disappearingly small planets.
One of which, somewhere up there, far, far away, was my own.
I had never wanted to be there more.
I thought I understood humans. I understood nothing.
They were mad! Lunatics. Evil, violent, destructive, hate-filled creatures.
<Ax-man! Are you hit?>
It was Tobias. I saw him, drifting, wings spread wide, above the smoke of battle.
<I am not injured,> I said. <But I must tell you: I am profoundly tired of your people.>

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Aw Ax.
Ifi: Go take a break.
Ifi: Get a cookie.
Adam: So, as one might expect, D-Day is not exactly the most fun day.


<I take it, Marco, that you are familiar with this war,> I said. <This is the big one of all big ones,> Marco said. <World War Two. The Nazis try and take over the world and almost do it. The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. DDay, Battle of the Bulge, John Wayne at Iwo Jima.>
<And the Holocaust,> Rachel said.
<Holocaust?>
<The Germans, the Nazis under Hitler, murdered six million Jews - men, women, and children>
Obviously Rachel had misspoken.
<These Jews were an opposing army?>
<No. Jews are a religion, or a race, I guess. My dad's Jewish. Mostly the Jews in the Holocaust were Germans and Poles. You know, civilians. Normal people. Others, too: Gypsies, gays, handicapped people. They were taken to camps and shot or starved or killed with poison gas. Children killed in their mothers' arms.>
[...] 
Humans. I wondered, not for the first time, but now with renewed intensity, whether the Yeerks had any notion of the species they proposed to conquer.
----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Now, this is something that has bothered me.
Adam: He is honestly saying that no other species in the entire galaxy has committed horrible genocidal atrocities against it's own species before?
Adam: I'm calling BS
Ifi: Yeah I'm not sure.
Adam: The Andalites are way too quick to use quantum viruses for them to not have had large scale wars before encountering other species.
Ifi: I've mentioned that I think Andalite history books are heavily edited.
Adam: That would make a great deal of sense
Ifi: Though I don't think the Yeerks would have ever had a chance to.
Ifi: When you consider the timeline
Adam: The yeerks would probably have had smaller scale wars between pools.
Adam: Though they were basically at their equivalent of a stone age when Seerow found them.
Ifi: Gedds slapping each other
Ifi: Blindly flailing about
Adam: They could sharpen sticks.
Adam: Don't underestimate sharp sticks.

But then, to my amazement, he simply sat up. The bullet holes in his chest were gone!
<It's true,> he whispered, touching his chest with a Hork-Bajir claw. <Just Jake. The rest of us...we can't be killed.>
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
I felt the bullets hit me. Neck. Head. Shoulder. Head.
I felt the impact, power blows. I felt sharp, overwhelming pain. And then…I was still alive.
The tank column rolled by. Infantrymen rushed up alongside the tanks to surround us. They waved guns at a wolf and a monster, scared of both, unsure what to do. Visser Four tried to crawl away but one of the soldiers gave him a kick in the stomach that dropped the Controller on his face.
An officer pulled his pistol from a holster, walked cautiously up to me, held the barrel against my head, and…
BLAM! BLAM!
I fell over.
I stood up.
"C'est pas possible!" the officer gasped in French.
"Es ist ein wolfman," one of the soldiers said in German.
French and Germans together. Not Germans alone.
I looked at the insignia on the epaulet of the officer. It was a shield, slashed down the middle at an angle, half of it the French tricolor, blue, white, and red, the other half a stylized black eagle.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: This book.
Ifi: This BOOK
Ifi: THIS BOOK.
Adam: Time travel hurts my head.

I started to answer. Not to explain, because explaining would have been utterly impossible. Or at least it would have taken a solid week.
But then, I saw the old man who'd been driving the captain's jeep climb down from behind the wheel. He was in his fifties, at least, although his uniform indicated a low rank. He was stocky, not very tall. His black hair was parted high on his head. His eyes were dark and intense. He wore a small mustache.
A style of mustache known everywhere as a Hitler mustache.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: FFFFFFFFFFFFFF
Adam: Tobias reacts appropriately.

Tobias was up. He moved like lightning. The squat man with the funny mustache was jerked back, yanked around, and pinned against Tobias's Hork-Bajir body.
Tobias's wrist blade was at his throat.
<NO!> I yelled.
The soldiers dropped cigarettes and canteens, swung around, and leveled their guns at Tobias.
<You know who this is? You know what he is?>
<No. And neither do you! Look at him. He's like some old corporal or something!>
<He's Hitler. He dies. End of story,> Tobias said grimly.
Hitler was frozen with fear. Trembling with a Hork-Bajir blade pressed against his jugular.
<Tobias, it's all different,> I said. <Visser Four changed it. All of it. No one is where they should be, doing what they did in our reality. We don't even know if these guys are the bad guys or the good guys in this reality.>
<He's still Hitler!> Tobias said.
<Is he? I don't know. Jake, in that other reality, the reality that comes from all this, was Jake still Jake? Was Marco still Marco?>
<You've got to be kidding! You're going to compare Jake to this walking piece of scum?>
<He's not evil for who he is, no one is. You can't be evil for being someone. It's what you do. And this guy's just a driver!>

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret



Adam: This is admittedly a very interesting philosophical argument.
Ifi: Yeah IDK
Ifi: Is this the Hitler that got into art school?
Adam: Huh.
Adam: I suppose so.
Adam: I guess that didn't work out to well for him after all.
Adam: Then again. It is art school.
Ifi: How would you feel if some time travelers showed up and told you that you were known to be one of the most awful dictators in human history in their strange AU?
Adam: "Oh god! I had no idea! Please, tell me what I can do to avoid this?"
Adam: I am trying to visualize Hitler's perspective in a book.
Adam: This conversation has gone in a weird direction.
Ifi: Time travel.
Adam: Yes.
Adam: Here, have a musical number:


Ifi: So Tobias kills him for no real reason, but I guess it makes him feel better
Adam: It's supposed to be ambiguous as to whether he did it on purpose or not.
Ifi: It has absolutely no effect on the plot, so I don't particularly care
Ifi: And then Rachel decides to drop a grenade into a tank for reasons that don't make very much sense.

<Rachel, how do you know how long that thing is fused for?> Marco demanded. <You could blow yourself up!>
<Hah-hah!> I laughed. <We're immortal, Marco. Jake was the death. We can't be killed!>
<That's not a bullet, it's a grenade. If it blows there won't be enough of you left to put back together.>
[…]
I glanced back and saw the ring and pin hanging from Ax's talon. I looked ahead. A tank rolling past Cassie.
I had perhaps three seconds.
I was giddy. Filled with wild joy. I wanted to scream and laugh all at once.
Maybe I did because as if from far off I heard Marco say, <She's crazy, Ax-man. Look at her. She loves this stuff.>

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Whatever her reasoning, it works, and they finally manage to capture Visser Four.

"Don't know how you did it," he rasped. "Following him through time. He was trying to change the world. Bitter, very bitter. Change time, make humans weaker, easier to conquer, then replace Visser Three. But it was too complicated for him. He didn't realize. Landed here. Expected Nazis. Told the Germans this was the main invasion, rushed the tanks forward. Only…different Germans. They arrested him. Too complicated, see?"
"It was too complicated for us, too."
"Wanted to kill Washington. Wanted to change Trafalgar. Kill Einstein. Push the allies back into the sea at D-Day. Other plans, too, but you made him rush. Panicked him."
<Why Agincourt?> Tobias asked.
John Berryman laughed. "That was for me. It was to shut me up. I never gave up, see. I fought him. All night I'd keep it up. Keep it up in his head."
"Keep what up?" Marco asked.
"Shakespeare. I played Exeter in the play. But I memorized all the lines."
I shook my head. "I don't get it."
"Henry the Fifth. I know it by heart. Shakespeare wrote a play about Henry at Agincourt. Visser Four couldn't figure out how or when to intercept Shakespeare. Not enough definite data. So he was going to kill Henry to silence Shakespeare, to silence me."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: This guy.
Ifi: This guy :(
Adam: I just want to give him a hug or something.
Ifi: After this, I hope the Ellimist spirited him away to his own private universe filled with open-minded supermodels in the gender of his preference and amusement parks with no long lines
Adam: And ice cream rivers. Mustn't forget those.

I wiped tears from my eyes. "John. I'm so sorry. But…John, do you know, did your parents ever tell you…How did they meet? When and where?"
I saw puzzlement. Confusion. Shock. And finally sad acceptance.
"San Francisco. 1967. My dad's name was John, too. My mom is Theresa. She was Theresa Knowlton."
I could feel my friends draw back from me.
Cassie, the killer with a conscience, the Drode had sneered. Kill 'em and then cry over them.
I wasn't going to kill John Berryman.
John Berryman would never exist.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Cassie
Ifi: Cassie
Ifi: Cassie
Ifi: I
Ifi: I hate you Cassie
Ifi: You are the worst
Adam: I seriously
Adam: Do not understand this plan.
Adam: John Berryman is not Visser Four.
Adam: Visser Four exists independently of John Berryman.
Ifi: Fuck you Cassie. Fuck you and your moralizing and your overalls and your horrible horrible plan.
Adam: Wiping John Berryman from existence will not stop Visser Four from existing.
Adam: Also, won't this completely screw around with the outcome of the Leeran war?
Ifi: It depends on if Mr. B was his host already back then
Ifi: All this does is stop V4 from taking him as a host. So he takes a different host. I don't know why or how this stops him from getting the time matrix.
Ifi: If they have total control of time, they don't have to wipe out Mr. B. They can just intercept him being infested.
Adam: Couldn't they go back to right before he gets the time matrix and stop him there?
Ifi: Or that
Ifi: OR ANYTHING
Adam: This is seriously the worst plan.
Ifi: Though that raises the question: Can the time matrix be in two places at once?
Adam: it would have to be.
Ifi: If they took the time matrix back to stop him from taking the time matrix...
Ifi: then there would be two of them.
Ifi: Maybe it's better to think of it as matrices
Adam: It still exists out there in space when they go to stop John's parents from meeting.
Adam: Depending on how much it is used, it could have hundreds of temporal duplicates floating around somewhere.
Ifi: Yeah
Ifi: As many as one for every moment
Adam: Ow.
Adam: My brain.
Adam: Ow.
Ifi: HahahaaaaaaaaFUCK this book
Adam: Language, language.

Ifi: So they find some hippies

Two humans, one male and one female, were staring directly at us. They did not appear to be alarmed.
"Whoa! Cool," one said. He had a great deal of hair on his face and head. He wore colored beads around his neck. He wore vision augmentation devices with blue lenses. "Did you see that, man? I mean, is that like, real?"
The female had very long hair, also adorned with colored beads.
"What's real, man?" the female wondered. "Real is just like…it's like…you know, like whatever, right?"
"Right on."
"Love, man. Love is like…you know. Like reality, right?"
"Huh?" the male asked.
"Um, what?" the female asked.
The two of them nodded in unison.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: They are stoned off their faces
Adam: Apparently everyone in late 60's spoke like Tommy Chong.

"Oh, man, the colors, man!" A "hippie" had come up to admire the Time Matrix's shimmering globe.
"Right, the colors, whoa! Cool! Go away. We're trying to figure out the spacetime continuum here," Marco snapped. "What are you getting at, Tobias?"
"Look, Visser Four changed history. Maybe for the worse. But maybe not. Hitler was just a lowly nobody. No Holocaust! We want to change it back so there was one?"
"You saw the way our future was," Cassie argued. "We still had slavery. We had no freedom. The Drode said homeless people were rounded up and shot. We can't let that happen!"
"But we can let the Holocaust happen?" Rachel demanded. "Tobias is right. That future we saw, that future we were in, that's back when Visser Four had done all he did, but without us getting in his face. That was the result without our intervention. Maybe in that timeline he did ten more things. We don't know what the result is with our intervention. Maybe the future is better now. Maybe us saving Henry, and even taking out that Hessian officer, I don't know! Maybe…"
"Heavy, man. Way heavy," a female hippie said.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Female Hippie, I love you.
Ifi: I saw her first.
Adam: Darn.
Ifi: Also Jake comes wandering back in. He just does.

Five heads snapped.
Six pairs of eyes stared.
Four mouths and one thought-speak voice said the same word.
"Jake?"
He looked annoyed. "Well, duh. Like you don't recognize me? Hey. How did we get back here?"
Here was my barn.
"You're alive," Rachel said to Jake.
He stared. "I really don't like the way you guys are looking at me. You're giving me the creeps."
<What happened?> Tobias wondered. <How the oh, man. The hippie chick!>
"What? What hippie chick?" Jake demanded.
"It was Theresa Knowlton," I said. "We didn't have to make the decision. She saw us. She was distracted. She missed meeting Berryman's father. Berryman was never born. It all never happened."
"Excuse me!" Jake interrupted. "Why am I crossing the Delaware next to George Washington one minute and then I'm back here while you people babble about hippies?"
Berryman had never existed. The Time Matrix was where he'd found it. Buried.

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Adam: Damn temporal butterflies.
Adam: Always messing things up.

"You died, Jake," I said. "You died crossing the Delaware with Washington."
I could see the spasm of shock on Jake's face.
"Oh, my God," he whispered. "Did...I mean, in the end, did we do it? Did we put it all back right? Did we make it right?"
I went to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"No. We didn't make it right. But we put it back, Jake. Leave it at that. We put it all back."

----Megamorphs #3, Elfangor’s Secret

Ifi: Can we never talk about this again?
Adam: That was horrible.
Adam: Let's just say that instead they befriended all of the famous historical figures, and then came home and told everybody what lessons they had learned.
Adam: And then they played a song.


Ifi: Awesome

Ifi: Also who the hell wrote this?
Adam: This.
Adam: Was not ghostwritten.
Adam: None of the megamorph books were.
Adam: This was all Applegate.
Ifi: You know, I had a feeling
Ifi: There is that special something
Ifi: That little seed of horror that slowly crystalizes outward like the tentacles of something dark and dreaming as you give the implications of the ending more and more thought
Adam: Thank you, Lovecraft.
Ifi: Derpp
Ifi: I have nothing more to say

36 comments:

  1. Speaking as a history buff, I absolutely loved this book. Time travel paradoxes aside, I think the timeline Visser Four set off made sense. If the American colonies never became independant, the British would have had a vested commercial interest in the slave-economy and might have become supporters of slavery, rather than the main opponents of it in the 19th century.

    Then, a British defeat at Trafalgar, might have given the Empire a powerful enemy to face off with, like the USA vs the USSR, and leading to militarism and a tendency to focus on expansion, both of which we see in the alt-Animorphs' present day. So I'd say their dystopian alt-reality is entirely plausible, if not automatically certain (one annoying trait of alternate history fans is their insistence that a particular outcome of an historical event would ABSOLUTELY have a particular effect, and you could no doubt find a slew of such fans to tell you that there is NO WAY you'd get the Animorphs' Orwellian present from Washington dying on the Delaware).

    Regarding the erasure of John Berryman from the time stream, and Visser Four continuing to exist, remember that he specifically went back to Agincourt to kill Henry V, just to piss off his host. So with a different host and no motive to practice changing history in 1415, maybe he starts out in the War for Independence, tries to shoot Washington himself, and his musket blows up in his face, ending his "personal history" in 1777. But with his Shakespeare-loving host, he takes a side-trip to Agincourt, tries to kill the victorious leader, realizes that archaic weapons are not as easy to use as a Dracon-beam or Shredder, and when he jumps to the 18th century, he settles instead for ratting out GW to the Hessians, rather than playing master sniper himself.

    As far as the bow goes, if Berryman was such a fanatic for Agincourt & Henry V, he might have actually studied archery at some point, since the longbow is to Agincourt as morphing is to the Yeerk invasion of Earth.

    If anyone is interested, there is an excellent novel about Agincourt (called "Agincourt" or "Azincourt" in other countries) by Bernard Cornwell, from the PoV of a common archer, and Newt Gingrich co-authored an historical novel about the Battle of Trenton, which is less well-written, but conveys a lot of the miserable gritty realistic details of that battle, which KAA touches on here.

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    1. "The longbow is to Agincourt as morphing is to the Yeerk invasion of Earth."

      I am seriously tempted to try to work a sentence like that into a history paper somehow.

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    2. I would seriously like to read your paper if you do.

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    3. I don't know why, but the one thing that strikes me in all the quotes is wondering if everyone would have such bad teeth. Crooked teeth and missing ones, sure, but their diets would have included very little sugar, so I want to say the dental hygiene in the skulls from back then are in much better shape than a century or two later.

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  2. I seriously need to read this. I might require some form of dope for it to make sense though.

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  3. I remember reading the first chapter of this book as a young child. I remember it well. I remember it because I put it down, walked into the living room where my parents were entertaining guests, and asking my mother: "Mom, do we have slaves?"

    I think I enjoyed the book more as a kid than I do as an adult, because now I can actually think about the history and the time travel theory and how none of it makes much sense when you stop and work it out.

    Also, loved the Melissa Chapman FB update (they're always gold!), but I'm surprised there weren't more illustrations considering all the material you guys had to work with. Jake getting his head blown out, Cassie shoving a guy's head into her polar bear mouth, Tobias vs Hitler, all fantastic visuals. Though maybe I'll just draw it up in MS Paint and submit it for the next Fan Art day.

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    1. "I remember reading the first chapter of this book as a young child. I remember it well. I remember it because I put it down, walked into the living room where my parents were entertaining guests, and asking my mother: "Mom, do we have slaves?""

      Yeah... this book would be a hell of a context to learn about the most atrocious events in recent history for the first time wouldn't it?

      I feel your pain. When I was but a wee lass, Nickelodeon ran a cartoon called "The Adventures of the Little Koala" in their Nick Jr. block that I loved for reasons that are unclear to me as an adult. It was one of the badly dubbed Saban series I'm guessing was cheap for Nick to air. As you well know, Saban never did a good job of translating international cartoons into English.

      So there was one episode where the characters wonder where one of their friends went off to unexpectedly. One of the bullies somehow convinced them that their friend ran off, fearing a terrible natural disaster that was about to strike the town. I'm guessing the "tarrible natural disaster" part because of the context and the way the bullies described what the town was in for.

      Because the translators, in their wisdom, instead of using a phrase like "terrible natural disaster", decided to use the phrase, "horrible holocaust".

      Cue young Trish seeing a tropical storm warning soon after and freaking out at every adult within earshot that the holocaust was coming. That had to have been surreal as sh*t for them.

      Here's the episode in question (a little different from what I recalled but surprisingly close): http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xi1eil_the-adventures-of-the-little-koala-heavenly-fireworks_creation

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  4. Also regarding the Animorphs:

    I don’t get the problem you guys keep complaining about with the multiple narrators in the Megamorphs. But I was used to long book series where the PoV changed from chapter to chapter, so I never had a problem with it.

    As far as Tobias-Melissa, Cassie is Melissa’s best friend in this reality too, so maybe the two of them are a lot alike? There has to be some reason they were friends after all… And as far as Tobias/Rachel goes, yeah, that’s pretty much my interpretation of his thing for Rachel. She’s like the one person in his life who has ever been consistently nice to him for a prolonged period of time. Jake notes in the first book that Tobias seems to think they’re friends because of that nice thing Jake did for him that one time (and it was probably more of a reaction to the abstract injustice than any personal concern for Tobias), implying that Jake kind of sees him as this clingy nuisance. If, in this timeline, they end up being Animorphs together, and Melissa is nice to him as a fellow teammate who is not always being annoying…yeah. He’d totally latch on that.

    Melissa would probably reciprocate for the same reason Rachel would – emotionally troubled girl has a tormented guy hanging around, peering in her windows, who wants her, but just CAN’T consummate his attraction to her…it’s the same friggin’ Twilight stuff going on. Of course, the emotional issues with Melissa (my parents don’t love me) and Rachel (my friends all think I’m a raging psychopath) might be different, but in each case, they are very vulnerable to a guy who gives them what the other people in their lives don’t.

    As far as Cassie’s sensing wrong timelines, her apparent attitudes might be explained by that. She isn’t making as big a fuss because she’s had 14-15 years of this timeline and is probably inured to it. In the next Megamorphs, she’s only been dealing with the wrongness for a couple of days. As far as it goes, a lot of the details are the same, except she maybe gets a hunch that she should have a taller blonde ornithophiliac gymnast best friend.

    I would also like to contrast the varying responses of Tobias & Cassie to seeing their respective love interests blown to bits. Cassie flakes out and sits out their next era of time travel because she’s all sad and depressed over a guy she’s going to break up with in a couple of years anyway. Yet, Tobias is still functioning, capable of using his brain to blend in and try figuring out where and when he is, and even talk Cassie off the ledge, despite his much more recent loss. But HE’S the “whiny emo” one?

    Other stuff:
    I’d have liked Ax’s perspective on this much nastier society he finds himself stranded on. Would he be dismayed at his allies, but keep his mouth shut and do his job, maybe like an American advisor who had to train the Taliban to fight the Soviets? Or would he find this organized & militaristic empire more like his view of a proper society? You guys seem to imply quite often that there are some Orwellian aspects to Andalite society, after all…

    And if you’re immortal and unkillable, D-Day IS the most fun day. That’s why people paid $7 to watch Saving Private Ryan!

    I do recall people in the 90s using “skanky” in ways that could mean dirty or repulsive. I think it changed rather quickly to the sexual connotation it has now.

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    1. I'm with you re: Tobias. I've never been a big fan of the whole "Cheer up, Emohawk" thing. I mean, the guy only gets like six books to himself. In one, he's only just starting to get used to the hawk thing; in two (two separate books!), he's discovering parents who abandoned him; and in two (again, two separate books!), he's dealing with Taylor. It would be ridiculous for him *not* to get upset about that stuff, but in everyday life, he doesn't seem any angstier than any of the rest of them. I mean, Marco got like six books' worth of angst (and a debilitating inability to morph) from *one* long-lost parent storyline!

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    2. Oh, poor Marco, his mom isn't quite as dead as he thought. Yeah, that really compares to having both Tobias' parents over the course of the series explicitly deny loving him. Yeah, Dad's a badass Andalite warrior and Mom's still alive but that doesn't mean much when their interaction with you is summed up as "Love you? I don't know your ass from a hole in the ground. Thanks for restoring my sight, healing my disfiguring scars, saving me from alien slavemasters and taking up my fight and protecting my shipwrecked brother. I'm gonna go play with my dog now. Shouldn't you be saving the planet or something?"

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    3. Look, I'm not trying to say that Marco's angst isn't legit. It is completely legit. But it drives me crazy to see people describe Tobias as whiny when we also see the enormous lengths he goes to (especially in the later books) to *avoid* whining to his friends, even when horrible stuff is happening to him.

      Case in point, consider this equation:

      Your friends (a group of people who are the closest thing you have to a family), run through a plan that has the following steps:

      STEP ONE: Pull you - bloodied, traumatized, and barely alive - out of a Yeerk torture chamber.
      STEP TWO: Decide (maybe six months later?) that working with the person who tortured you, in a scenario that, thanks to your special morphing powers, requires you to be in frequent contact with her, often alone, is a really stellar idea. Take at face value your obviously bogus claims that you are okay with this, not because they believe you (they don't), but because it would be convenient for it to be true.
      STEP THREE: ???
      STEP FOUR: Profit

      Do you respond by:
      A. Opting to sit this mission out (aka "pulling a Cassie").
      B. Toughing out the week, wearing yourself out to avoid any sign of weakness or whininess because you don't want your friends to realize that you're afraid of her (because obviously being afraid of her is some deeply shameful thing and not a perfectly normal human reaction to coming within an inch of being gruesomely killed to death)
      C. Thinking, "wow, y'alls is some jerks," telling them all off extensively and with a lot of swearwords, and then heading back to Ax's scoop to raid his junk food supply and watch The Young and the Restless.

      Personally, I'd go for Option C. Does that make me the whiny one?

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    4. Honestly I think that is the very reason why so many people label Tobias as whiny. He spends so much effort trying to be independent, when he really often would be so much better off if he just asked for help every so often. Since the narration is in the first person, we are always in his head when he is worrying over problems that would be easily solvable had his pride not gotten in the way, so he comes off as angsty as a result.

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    5. Yeah, I call that the PoV trap, when readers take the narrator's claims or assessments as fact rather than opinion. When a self-critical character offers the majority of perspective on his story arc, he comes across as weak or inferior, because he grades himself too harshly. If he judged Cassie by the same yardstick he uses for himself, he'd have whacked her a long time ago.

      Though to be fair, the impression I got from the "return of Taylor" book is that if he had said the word, the other Animorphs would have ditched the mission at the drop of a hat, solely out of consideration to him. At that point the Tobias scorecard was so far ahead, he'd still be the MVP even if he had flaked on a mission or two. This is the guy who was single-handedly responsible for every single one of their successes (despite not having hands or morphing powers) until they retrieved Ax from the Dome & he had to sit that one out.

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  5. Does this mean that the Time Matrix is back to being buried under the construction site, where any chode might stumble across it like V4 did? Because that just sounds horrifically insecure.

    For that matter, V4 is an actor turned alien warlord turned disgraced alien warlord, what exactly was he doing digging around the place where Elfangor got eaten?

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    1. Yeah that was my issue with this. If the Animorphs dug up the time matrix (which they totally could now) they could fix everything!

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    2. The Time Matrix never makes another appearance in the series, so it's likely that it was either dealt with by the Ellimist or Crayak or it was never discovered at all.

      Considering that these are the same kids who moralize themselves to death every single issue about morphing sentient creatures or using their powers for "evil", I can see why they never bothered to go after it. They probably all had a great big talk about how using the Time Matrix would be wrong because they don't have the right to change history, nor do they know how things will turn out. Of course, this means that some other idiot might still find it and decide to start playing with it, but nobody said they were smart...

      (Yay, I have an account now!)

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    3. If the Animorphs tried to dig up the matrix and, not use it, but hide it, the whole issue might end up being like the blue box issue- people finding the hiding place of Matrix and getting to it, while the Animorphs play hide and seek. Visser Three does know what the Time Matrix looks like (in the Andalite Chronicles, he touched it, with Loren and Elfangor, thus creating another world) so if he even sensed it around the place, they'd be screwed.

      I'd like to think that Crayak and Ellmist simulatenously agreed that neither of their people should ever find something like that, which is why no one ever finds it again in the series.

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    4. Yeah, that was my guess, too.

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  6. If Visser Three were to find the time matrix, he wouldimmediately eat it. I'm not sure if this is positive or negative.

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  7. "Then again. It is art school."

    Say no more.

    I didn't really like this book, but this review just made it awesome.

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  8. Yay, Melissa! I love Melissa. I kind of wish they did more with the Animorphs' daily lives and social circles. For all the talk of "we don't talk to each other in private, we lead double lives, etc etc," it isn't really shown in the book beyond using incredibly stilted fake phone calls and getting the Chee to play sleepover every now and then.

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  9. I know it's lame, reading a blog dedicated to a different fandom, but the Doctor Who references make me happy. :)

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  10. I love this blog. So much.
    As awesome as it would have been to see Middle English/French spoken in the 15th century scenes, that would have been a lot of work for KA, and the kids reading wouldn't even understand it. I would have been SO LOST. I can forgive the anachronisms. But the French and English are rather nicely integrated though. Yay French

    The thing that bothers me is the Southern guy Davis at Princeton. The Americans should have quasi-English accents, since the colonists intentionally modified their language to differ from England after the US became a country. And the differences between North and South weren't very big until the Civil War. So a Southern accent should not exist.
    And of course, the Southern guy is more racist than everyone else, even though slavery should still be running rampant all the way to California. What a way to promote a horrible stereotype. There are racist dicks everywhere. I live in Northern California, and I have met some very racist people. Anyway, I'll stop.

    And wasn't there something with a ship and cannons and exploding crap? I remember that someone was swinging around the rigging in chimpanzee morph. Was that important?
    Anyway, it was awesome reading this review. The book itself gave me a headache. But the review was wonderful :>

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    1. I didn't really expect accurate Middle English/French...that would have just been silly, especially in a kid's book.

      It did occur to me that something was off about the Princeton thing. Blacks were slaves back then, ok. How did they get their freedom? I mean, the book opens in the 90's, and slavery is still legal, even though it seems to be on grounds of ability rather than race (Cassie and her family are free). And this twisted AU hardly seems like the sort of place where a civil rights movement would have picked up a lot of steam.

      Yeah that happened. The ship. Rachel climbs the rigging and gets blown in half by a cannon. We couldn't make any sense of it so we just skipped it.

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    2. Maybe racism stayed localized (one kid rebuked the Southerner, saying "this isn't Alabama" ), but the slavery was convenient for the rest of the country to adapt for their "defectives." There was mention by Supreme Leader Jake that blacks and Jews are generally held in suspicion of radical sympathies, and he notes that Melissa is friends with Cassie in spite of the race difference, implying that black equality is strictly de jure (if that), and not quite de facto in their society.

      Also, this is a society that values soldiers and contributions to the state (certified POE? ). If they ever needed troops badly enough to arm blacks, that might have proved the critical crack to get black veterans widespread social acceptance (and even racist American societies would not necessarily balk at using black troops - the South did in the Civil War).

      Some people have also argued that the whole emancipation thing was handled badly and that subsequent racial reactionary policies like Jim Crow, etc, were not a natural outgrowth of prior attitudes about race, but rather were displaced resentment of Reconstruction & emancipation. Since before those things, both northerners and southerners accepted blacks in the army, but three generations later they were fighting to get back in uniform or combat posts, there might be some truth to that notion.

      During the slavery days, some free blacks made great strides and there was less resentment of them in some ways. People have said the difference between Northern whites & Southern whites is the former will let blacks rise as high as they want, so long as they don't get too close, while the latter will let blacks get as close as they want, so long as they don't rise too high. As long as the slave owners were allowed to keep their slaves, the rest of the country might not have developed a real opposition to racial equality for the free blacks.

      Anyway, I might be overthinking a lot of the backstory to KAA's alt-universe, but IMO, there are enough indications that she is a history buff throughout the series to suggest she isn't blindly winging it with her alternative timeline.

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    3. I was thinking that Cassie's family may have bought their own freedom sometime in their past. Slaves did manage to free themselves like that, then rise high enough to get their own slaves. If enough slaves did that, then I can see how people can think that slaves are stupid for not being able to free themselves and go to the mentality Jake cites toward slaves.
      Something that's off about this is that the Drode says that this empire in the alt-reality slaughtered people with an IQ below 80 or people born with defects. So, um... why does Cassie own a mostly deaf slave girl? Being deaf is technically a defect.
      The only thing that makes sense to me is if slavery is still passed down through generations, and no one goes through killing slaves with defects.
      this world is weird, I'll stop now.

      And I think KA just wanted something to happen on a ship. I don't see how sinking a ship helps Visser 4's plan :\

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    4. I feel it should be pointed out that it is stated in an earlier book that Cassie's family has owned their land since the Civil War(4; The Message).

      The accent thing is also wholly mistaken, and kinda falls under the same jurisdiction as the "understanding an old version of a language you actually speak" gripe. It's kinda like saying there's only one English accent or one American accent or one Canadian accent, etc. Accents evolve, too. Just because they're under the same rule doesn't mean that differences aren't going to pop up in different places.

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  11. You skipped part of the quote. He says they slaughter the Primitives, and enslave the people with low IQs & defects (like deafness). "Primitive" was already established in conversation between the alt-Animorphs as a term for indigenous peoples their Empire is conquering, not a term for defectives.

    The ship that was sunk was the flagship of one of the greatest admirals in history, during his most important victory. Blowing it up would have been a major setback for the British in the Napoleonic wars.

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  12. This is actually my favorite Megamorphs book, and I thought it was actually pretty straightforward as far as time travel books go. With the exception of Trafalgar, they outright explain pretty much everything Visser Four does or tries to do and why it would change the timeline, for instance.

    I remember it feeling so visceral when Jake died. I was at an age where I wasn't entirely genre savvy yet, so I seriously thought that KAA had killed him off for real.

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  13. My theory is that the Ellimist just went back to fix everything after so everything would be the same and nothing would change happily ever after the end yadayadayada

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  14. They so should have thought this Time Matrix thing out better. For example:

    Elfangor is in the "Jahar." He is shocked to discover War-Prince Alloran infested with Sub-Visser Seven. Then, all of a sudden, a second Time Matrix appears and Rachel smacks Alloran in the back of the head with a folding chair. knocking him out cold.



    "I'm your future bird son's psychotic girlfriend! Now help me tie this guy up. Trust me, starving this Yeerk will save us all a LOT of trouble."

    <...I am confused.>

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  15. "Adam: Make it so, number one."

    I LOVED THAT!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA

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  16. I always assumed that the reason V4 found the Matrix was because his host had a job near the construction site, and he saw/sensed it on the way home. If John Barryman never existed, he would have a different host with a different job.

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  17. "After this, I hope the Ellimist spirited him away to his own private universe filled with open-minded supermodels in the gender of his preference and amusement parks with no long lines... And ice cream rivers. Mustn't forget those"

    Loved this line! Hehe. You guys are the greatest! Felt so bad for Johnny. Stupid Cassie. Loved this book. Major fan of history and time travel. Even though some of the things didn't make sense, I still heartily enjoyed it. This book actually made me interested in Shakespeare. "Really? Shakespeare wrote about cool stuff? Not romantic tragedy crap?" I thought at the ripe age of 12... or whatever the heck age I was. Read Henry V right afterwards. But of course, actually began to like all of Shakespeare's works. But I digress.

    One question I had. Why did Cassie assertively agree that Rachel was dead if she was still trippin' about Jake and never saw it? Shouldn't she have turned to Tobias and been like, "Quit smoking crack." Anyway, I'm sure I have other questions through this book but that was one that both stood out to me and wasnt touched on by the others here.

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  18. Hey, btw, just rented Primer. Thanks to you guys. Brilliant. Had to go and actually figure it out via smart people's bloggings and whatnot since I didn't watch it over again... but still, good stuff.

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