Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book 33: The Illusion


The Summary
I'll write it later guys.

The Review
Adam: I legitimately like this cover.
Ifi: I just want to point out that Tobias grows a second pair of talons, which then become his hind legs.
Adam: Ah good, I was just about to point out the same thing.
Adam: He's some sort of really bizarre bird-centaur thing.
Ifi: It raises a couple of questions.
Adam: Actually, it is accurate to how the morphing process works
Adam: There have been times where Jake or whoever had sprouted an extra pair of human arms, before they turn into fly legs or whatnot.
Ifi: I guess I am just unobservant then.
Adam: clearly
Ifi: I actually don't have too much to say about this cover
Adam: I would put this in my top five favorite covers.
Adam: No, I do not actually have a list.
Adam: Also, I absolutely adore Ax's facial expression on the inside cover.


Ifi: We are halfway through the series and nobody thought to acquire Ax until just now.
Adam: I have had enough of you and your perfectly reasonable logic

Adam: This book was disturbing.
Ifi: This book.
Ifi: And I realize that I say that a lot
Ifi: But this time I mean it
Ifi: THIS BOOK.
Adam: Quite.
Adam: So, just to reiterate from last time, this is the book where Tobias is kidnapped by a sexy cyborg assassin.
Adam: Yes, I am going to continue referring to Taylor as "Sexy cyborg assassin"
Adam: Mostly because one that that most works of fiction could use more of are sexy cyborg assassins, even books as generally horrifying as this one.
Ifi: She is more a scientist than an assassin
Adam: She's more of a leather wearing "Ve haf veys of mekking you tahk" baronness-esque Bond villain then a scientist.
Adam: She doesn't actually wear leather, but it fits the personality type.

Ifi: So we open with Tobias at a school dance with Rachel.
Ifi: Having a miserable time.
Adam: Any time they go to a school dance, something always goes horrible.
Adam: This is to be expected, as it is a school dance.
Ifi: At first it looks like a cute date, but Rachel is actually trying to trap Tobias back in human form.
Ifi: She actively tries to get him to stay too long, so he won't be able to find a place to morph back to hawk on time.
Adam: Excuse me Rachel, BUT ARE YOU COMPLETELY INSANE?!
Ifi: Setting aside the fact that she is trying to lock him in a form that he is uncomfortable with, this is an awful thing to do because if Tobias was human again
Ifi: 1) The Animorphs would be down a warrior. Forever
Ifi: 2) He would have nowhere to live
Ifi: 3) He would have nothing to eat
Ifi: 4) He would be a member of a society that he can no longer relate to
Ifi: 5) He would have no way of protecting himself against infestation
Adam: And the Yeerks know that he is Elfangor's son, so if he were spotted, they would probably make an effort to infest him, in which case he would give away all their secrets.
Ifi: But that is all unimportant because Rachel wants someone to make out with and THAT IS THAT.
Adam: Teenage girl priorities.
Ifi: Apparently Rachel feels that if she does manage to do this, Tobias will not resent her forever.

I slowed and finally stopped in front of a bulletin board display. On birds of prey, of all things. Tacked to the cork was the image of a bald eagle, wings spread wide, soaring in a deep blue sky. And a northern harrier on a fence post, silhouetted against the clouds.

"Tobias, I want to explain..." She broke off as her eyes followed mine to the picture of the red-tailed hawk and the caption beneath it. "Longevity in the wild," it read. "Almost never reaches the figures attained by captive birds guarded against disease and predation. A generous estimate: eighteen years."

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Well that blows.
Adam: …So he can go become a nothlit when he is nearing the end of his hawk lifespan.
Adam: There is no reason why he has to give up his morphing right away.
Ifi: The Animorphs are outnumbered literally millions to one. They need every warrior they can get at this point.

Ifi: And then, in a scene that makes no sense whatsoever, Chapman has a conversation with Erek.
Adam: You are correct.

"Oh, I know you, Erek," Chapman said with his Vice Principal Disciplinarian voice. "I know your face, all right. I've seen you at meetings of The Sharing. I'm just saying I saw you throw away a cigarette just now."

"No way, Mr. Chapman," Erek said, sounding exactly like the kid he was supposed to be.

"We don't need young men such as yourself smoking, especially not with the added attention. The media."

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: I
Ifi: Wha?
Ifi: Erek...was smoking?
Ifi: A holographic cigarette?
Ifi: Because?
Adam: Nicotine addiction is a big problem among young robots today.
Adam: It is a big problem.
Ifi: This entire bit makes absolutely no sense.
Ifi: Erek is supposed to be pretending to be a Controller. Why would a Yeerk take up smoking?
Adam: Well, I suppose the Yeerk could be addicted?
Ifi: Well now that is just sad.
Adam: I am under the impression that Chapman suspects Erek of being a spy, but since Tobias is around he isn't saying it out loud.
Ifi: My head hurts so let’s just move on.

Adam: Tobias finds a clear area to demorph, and he flies off.
Adam: Later at a meeting, Erek informs them that the Yeerks are still working on their Anti-Morphing Ray.
Adam: Yeah! Perseverance!
Ifi: Jeez are we still on that?
Adam: I am proud of you, Yeerks.
Adam: They are learning not to give up even after setbacks.

"Oh. Don't worry about me, I'm into catnaps. You know, like Napoleon did. Twenty minutes here, twenty there. Pretty soon you've slept eight hours and it hasn't even slowed you down." He stood up and leaned against the railing.

"I'm glad you made it Tobias You're our eyes. Our ears. Our air force. If we lost you we'd be nothing Like Joan of Arc without her sword. Patton without his pearl-handled pistols..."

<Saddam without twenty-eight places, the special Republican Guard, and a jar of anthrax? Stop the flattery, man. You're making me blush.>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: This book is all about the really really weird exchanges.
Adam: I find it really weird that that quote exists in a pre-9/11 book.
Ifi: Yeah
Adam: Actually, I would find it really weird anyway.

"As I told Jake," Erek started, "we know the Yeerks are ready to test the AMR. But they don't have a test subject," Erek continued.

<Why can't they use Visser Three?> I asked. <You know, get him to morph the nightmare alien beast-of-the-day, then turn the ray on him?>

"They could if he were volunteering. Which he isn't. Probably because there's a chance the ray could prove fatal. And there's a possibility that a feedback effect could blow the weapon up."

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: Yeerk R&D must be an absolute nightmare to work in.
Adam: At least with Visser 3 as a boss.
Ifi: Never a dull moment.
Adam: I'd imagine that after a while you would wish for one or two.

<Look, they turn the ray on Ax in morph, right?> I said. <If it works they get an Andalite. And they get proof the AMR works.>

Cassie nodded, reluctant. Rachel kept her eyes down. She was biting her lip. Angry, sad: the two emotions are very close together in Rachel.

<I'm the one,> I repeated. <The Yeerks don't know hawk is my true form. They'll think hawk is a morph. They capture me in morph, so they think, as a hawk. They turn the ray on me, nothing will happen. I mean, they won't get an Andalite or a human. They'll decide the ray doesn't work.>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: This is actually a really good plan.
Ifi: Aside from the whole possibly-blowing-up part.
Adam: And the whole "deliberately getting kidnapped by the insane brain control slugs" part.
Ifi: You know what they should have done? Just laid low for a few weeks. The Yeerks would have gotten bored and forgotten about it eventually.
Adam: Remind me to never put you in control of an army.

Adam: So, they are going to crash the next Sharing meeting and deliberately get Tobias captured.
Adam: In the meanwhile, we get a moment with him and Ax.
Adam: I legitimately enjoyed this part.
Ifi: This was excellent.
Adam: Tobias finally acquires Ax, and we have an Uncle-Nephew bonding moment.
Adam: And Ax teaches Tobias Andalite martial arts.
Adam: Which is awesome.


And then I recognized the Andalite mind.

Yes, it was all the things I'd imagined it would be. Confident. Alert. Poised for combat.

But there was another element that took me off guard. Something bubbling happily away beneath the rationality. Nothing giddy like a dolphin's playfulness. Something less simple.

Optimism. That was it. Intense optimism.

<Man! I had no idea.> I turned my head toward Ax. His eyes were smiling, the way they do.
<Keep in mind that you are experiencing instinct. The Andalite mind in its untrained state. Our culture teaches us to temper and control our optimism, to give equal value to realism. We have become, regrettably, a race of warriors. But that is in response to necessity. Down deeper, beneath that, I believe we are a peaceful species, in love with learning, not combat. But to learn—and to fight—you must be joyful. I think an ancient Andalite inscribed that on a shormitor.>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: d'awww
Ifi: I want 360 degree vision.
Adam: You do.
Adam: That's why you can turn your neck.
Ifi: You are stoopit
Adam: So is your face.
Ifi: ur mom
Adam: Well now that is just rude.
Ifi: sry Adam's mom.
Ifi: I am sure you are a lovely woman

Adam: So Ax teaches Tobias a little bit of Andalite archeology, and then Tobias gets his tail stuck in a tree.

I let it rip. My tail hurtled toward the trunk.

FWAPP!

<Ahhh! Oh! Ouch! Ax?!>

<Yes, Tobias. You have impaled the tree with the tip of your blade. That is not the desired result.>

<Yeah, I sorta guessed that.> I yanked and twisted. I couldn't free my blade.

<You struck with impressive velocity,> Ax observed. <That, at least, is admirable.>

<Yeah, great. You know you're a warrior when you take down a tree. And can't get your blade back.>

Ax grabbed my arms and leaned back. After a few seconds, <Ahhh!> Ax pulled so hard that when my tail came free, I rammed into him and sent us both tumbling down.

<Ahhhhhh!>

We landed in a heap. Eight legs tangled.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: We gazed into each other’s eyes for a long moment.
Ifi: I forced myself to look away, certain I was blushing.
Adam: No.
Adam: Bad Ifi, bad.
Adam: *whacks you with rolled-up newspaper*
Ifi: *slinks off*
Adam: Ship later.

<I should have let you familiarize yourself with the Andalite body before suggesting tail-blade practice. We will refresh ourselves with a drink, and perform the evening ritual.>

We walked over to a nearby stream. Ax stuck a hoof in. So did I. I waited to see what I should do next. It was so pleasant, this cool, gurgling brook. So refreshing. So satisfying.

<Ax, this is very, very cool.>

Wait. What? I was drinking! I looked at my hoof. It looked normal. But the thirst in my...in my legs was being quenched. It was amazing. It was also a little creepy.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: That is so cool.
Adam: They really need to do more Andalite morphing.
Adam: Also, I really wish that Ax had given us a better idea of what human instincts are like from an alien perspective.
Adam: Not just him overreacting to food.
Adam: Though admittedly, I can understand overreacting to food.
Ifi: I do it all the time.
Adam: Likewise.


Ifi: brb ordering delivery
Adam: Share please.
Ifi: Like hell.

The very last glimmer of color was disappearing from the sky, absorbed by the mysterious indigo of night.

<Look to the last bit of orange,> Ax said. <That's how the ritual begins.>

I stopped drinking and turned all eyes on the stripe of color.

<From the rising of the sun to the setting, to its rising again,> Ax said, <we place what is hard to endure with what is sweet to remember, and find peace.>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Now kiss!


Adam: That's incest, and that is wrong.

Ifi: The Sharing built some sports stadium/YMCA/park thing
Ifi: And they're very proud of it
Ifi: So they are having a big opening day thing
Adam: Tom is getting an award.
Adam: His family must be so proud.
Ifi: It's the Congratulations For Somehow Not Dying of Kandrona Starvation Last Week Award
Ifi: We Honestly Thought You Were Screwed

"That's three!" somebody exclaimed.

"Is he getting another one?"

The shouts were coming from the end, where an elderly man stood next to a cotton candy cart, surrounded by children.

"Son, I just don't think it's safe to give you any more. Where are your parents?"

I circled around, trying to see what Jake wanted me to notice. Trying to stay up, out of the lights. There was Ax, in human morph. Wisps of pink cotton candy streaked his hair, hung from his chin like a ghostly beard, and blew from his fingers as he forced his way to the front of the line.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: Why am I not surprised?
Ifi: One of my regrets about this series is that we never got to see Visser Three acting this way.
Adam: I'm sure that after the war, the History Channel would make a lot of gratuitous documentaries about him, and everyone would get to see what a loser he was in his spare time.
Ifi: I wish I didn't know what you were referring to.
Adam: Indeed.

<Help! Help!> Marco sputtered. Then added a violent, <Ax!>

<Marco?> I cried. <Marco, you in fly morph?>

<Chocolate-covered, man. I'm in the chocolate fondue and they've turned up the heat! Buffet table! Buffet table! I can't get out!>

<Fondue?> Ax asked.

<A warm pot of chocolate. Liquid. Brown.> I couldn't think of how to describe it. From fifty feet up I scanned the buffet table. Marco was black against dark brown. I could barely see him at this distance.

<Marco, what exactly are you doing in the fondue?> Rachel asked.

<Exactly? Well…I wanted to see if it would still taste good sucked up through a fly mouth. You gonna help me or do you just want to bust me?>

<Let him get eaten,> Rachel advised.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Wow Marco.
Ifi: I thought you were supposed to be the smart one?
Adam: I am going to have to excuse his behavior here.
Adam: Chocolate fondue is pretty irresistible.
Adam: In unrelated news, I want to go back to Max Brenner.
Adam: Haven't been there in ages.

I glanced back at Ax to see what had upset Jake. The Andalite was wearing a pink, cotton candy beard and had his hand immersed in the chocolate fondue. The chocolate was up to his wrist.

He pulled his hand out, held it up in front of his face like he'd just discovered it was made out of gold, then began licking his fingers.

<Ax! Ax! You'll eat Marco!>

<He will?> Marco shrilled. <What do you mean, he'll eat me?>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: I just want to point out that this is a serious book, not one of the silly ones.
Adam: It needs some moments or levity, or else it would send thousands of kids into spirals of depression.
Adam: Also, me.

Ifi: Ax and Tobias do some exploring.

Without warning came the echo of hard heels pounding the concrete floor. Rapid, metered steps. Approaching.

Next to the surveillance room was another door. Ax moved quickly toward it. He pushed on it. Just as I noticed the arrow taped to the wall above. Break room, the arrow read.

The door opened. And there, directly in front of us, were four Hork-Bajir. Seated around a card table. Elbow blades hanging casually off the chairs. Tails slung back across the floor. Each held a hand of cards tightly in his claws. A single, unshaded lightbulb dangled from the ceiling.

<Let's try a different door.>

Ax backed out instantly. The Hork-Bajir hadn't noticed us.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: Odd.
Adam: The way Hork-Bajir eyes are set, you would expect them to have good peripheral vision.
Ifi: Yes. That is the only thing odd about this scene.
Adam: This book seems to be full of little odd moments like this that don't really make much sense.
Adam: And in what is otherwise a rather well-written book.
Ifi: I sort of want to take a closer look at this.
Ifi: Can Hork-Bajir hands even hold playing cards?
Adam: They probably have larger sets of cards made specially for their hands.
Ifi: This also implies that Yeerks are fond enough of card games to memorize them from their human hosts and carry them over to Hork-Bajir hosts.
Ifi: Because you know Hork-Bajir hosts are not going to be playing poker.
Adam: Or the human Controllers could just teach them.
Adam: it's not like blackjack is the most complicated game in the world.
Adam: Honestly, I could see Hork Bajir being really good poker players.
Adam: You can't exactly read their expressions every easily.

Ifi: So then the Animorphs have to fake an attack so they can let Tobias get captured.

Massive, spiky shapes. A wall of seething Hork-Bajir. Three dozen, maybe more. Waiting for me in the brightened passageway.

And a girl. A human. For a millisecond I thought…No, no, of course it wasn't Rachel. This girl was a couple of years older. Tall, thin, blond. Sleek chinos, leather loafers. A knit top even Rachel would admire.

Preppy.

Supermodel.

Yeerk.

I was speechless.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Tobias is confused right now.
Adam: Sexy cyborg assassin.

"Only one of you? And in bird morph?" she sneered. "Oh, well," she continued confidently. "With one in hand, we'll soon catch the others."

Chapman cleared his throat. I hadn't even noticed him, standing there right next to her.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," he offered, smirking.

"Shut up, Chapman," the girl said calmly. "You sound like some pun-spouting villain from a Batman movie."

"Yes, ma'am. Excuse me, ma'am. I mean, sub-visser."

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: This is Taylor. She is insane and Chapman wants to do her.
Adam: Dude is married.
Adam: Also, Chapman has the worst job on the planet, seriously.

I tried to shake off the impact and raised my head from the stone. There was the sub-visser, standing over me. Her right arm gleaming a pearly, plastic white. Artificial! She'd struck me with an artificial arm.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: I want an artificial arm
Adam: Yes, yes, we all want to be Makoto Kusanagi.
Ifi: I want to be this

Adam: I was thinking more of this:

Adam: But sure.

"Oh, did I forget to introduce myself?" She brought her hand to her cheek in a motion of mock surprise. "So sorry. I'm Sub-Visser Fifty-one. Second-in-command to Visser Three in this part of space. Call me Taylor."

"Her host name," Chapman explained.

"Shut up, Chapman!" she snarled and stamped her foot like any spoiled kid.

It was a bizarre performance. The usually glowering vice principal was fawning over a teenager from the pages of a J. Crew catalog.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: This is so weird.
Adam: She refers to herself by her host name.
Adam: I'm sure that she is a model of perfect rationality and sanity
Ifi: Taylor and Sub-Visser 51 have meshed identities. They no longer see each other as independent beings. Chapman should not be fawning over her, he should be keeping a fifty meter distance just in case it's contagious.
Adam: I don't think he's really fawning over her.
Adam: He's just a professional brown-noser.
Ifi: Still, you'd think what she's become would be terrifying to the Yeerks, who see their hosts as basically animals.
Ifi: I mean Visser Three is nuts, but he doesn't make everyone address him as War-Prince Alloran.
Adam: Well, she's a torturer, so I figure she was pretty much given the position so that nobody except Visser Three (who I imagine she would get along pretty well with) would want to deal with.
Adam: Speaking of witch, now we know what sort of folks Esplin likes making friends with.
Ifi: <So, what's your name?>
"CALL ME TAYLOR."
<But what's your name? What pool are you from?>
"I AM NOT FROM A POOL I AM A BEAUTIFUL HUMAN GIRL. IF YOU DON'T CALL ME TAYLOR I WILL EAT YOUR FACE."
<You know what, you should be my second in command.>
Adam: True love.

Ifi: Rachel gets lost and Tobias is put in a box.
Adam: This torture chamber has a very 1950's retrofuturist look to it.
Ifi: The first thing they do, of course, is test the AMR on him.

Together they pressed sweaty palms down onto a large black button. I would have laughed, if I weren't sick with fear. They were like a pair of hopeful kids in a science fair being judged by a psycho-killer.
The corresponding black circle in my glass cube glowed with an eerie light. I closed my eyes. Hoping the ray wouldn't kill me, but knowing full well that it could.

I waited.

My body tingled ever so slightly.

Wooomp, wooomp, woomp.

A strained noise, like a helicopter at liftoff, or an old car engine turning over.

Woomp, woomp.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: Oh no.
Adam: They are playing dubstep at him.
Adam: That is just too cruel.
Adam: Nobody deserves that.

Ifi: Naturally, nothing happens and nobody knows why

Visser Three stared hard at me with his main eyes. I stared back. Did he suspect? Did he guess that this game was rigged?

<I don't have time for this,> he said, disgusted. <This Andalite is all yours, Sub-Visser. Make the Andalite demorph. Infest him. I leave the task to you. This is your specialty. Do not disappoint me.> He walked leisurely toward the door.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Things are about to get ugly.
Adam: Things much be incredibly frustrating for Yeerk scientists.
Adam: They are put to death if the trial run of any prototype does not work successfully.
Adam: Seriously, they have Tobias captive. Why don't they just keep him around until they can get the bugs worked out?
Adam: Since they are under the impression that the device just isn't working properly, rather than Tobias being a morph-able nothlit.
Ifi: FEED THEM TO THE TAXXONS
Adam: Yeah okay.

Ifi: Then Taylor tortures Tobias for about the next fifty pages.
Adam: D=
Adam: So Taylor is basically her:



Adam: Also
Adam: D=

Ifi: Luckily, as an animal that is not sentient, the hawk can deal with the pain much better than Tobias-the-human can.
Ifi: Tobias has a bunch of flashbacks, though.
Adam: Dude is seriously going to need some therapy after this.
Ifi: We get to see his uncle being a jerk.
Ifi: And some random dude in school beating him up.

The prey. I was the prey. I was the hunted in every story of animal cruelty Cassie ever told us about.

The Canada goose clubbed to death on the golf course. I felt my skull shatter. My confused, terrified cries. Chilling, jubilant grunts of aggression from the boys with baseball bats.
The fly lying quivering and scared on the concrete. As two classmates pulled off first one wing, then the other. A scientific experiment, they said. I felt appendages rip off my body wall.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: D:
Adam: Very much D=

Adam: Then Taylor figures out how he is managing to hold together, and starts sticking happy scenes in there too.
Ifi: And the happy memories were D: as well

I raced through the garden, stopping at a raspberry bush. Frothy ocean waves crashed against the rocks. A fairweather wind tousled my hair. I picked a berry and ate it. So sweet on my tongue. Sublime. The sun on my face.

"Young man!" From the hilltop house, perched like a lighthouse above the cove, came an elderly woman. Graying hair. A strong, deep voice. Of course! These berries were hers. This garden. I was an intruder. I turned to run. But no, something kept me there. A kindness in her eyes.

Into a kitchen washed with light. Walls painted warm tones of yellow. Deep shades of blue. Cozy, comforting heat enveloped me as I neared the stove. And the aromas! Hot cider. Homemade cinnamon rolls. Raspberry tart.

When no one else cared, Professor Powers fed me and told me stories. Gave me the illusion of home.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Who is this woman? I want to know more about her.
Adam: Cinnamon rolls?
Adam: Wow, he really is an Andalite.

"Your time is up. Do you understand that? You can never escape your morph. You will be a bird till you die."

Who said that? Rachel? Taylor, the sub-visser?

Me?

You vile little bird!" she shrieked. "Who are you? To sacrifice your body! Do you realize what you've done?"

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Tobias: Suck it, bitch.



Adam: Tobias is a complete and utter badass in this next bit.

Get her to talk! Appeal to her sense of power. Her pride….

<You're very pretty,> I blurted out. Almost immediately I wished I hadn't. Complimenting this monster made me ill. <Pretty, by what I understand of human standards.>

But she froze.

Her fingers lifted from the button—

"Yes," she said, "I know."
—and touched the side of her face. "There was a time when I…this body…was the prettiest and most popular girl in her school. When I had a party, everyone…"

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: Taylor.
Adam: You are the worst interrogator ever.
Adam: This is not how it is supposed to work.
Ifi: I can't believe that actually worked.
Adam: I insist that she only still has this job because everyone is too scared of her to fire her.

"Weak? Foolish? When I…when she walked down the hall at school, there wasn't a boy who didn't dream she was his." She came right up to my cube. Her breath steamed the glass. "Not a girl who didn't wish she were her. She was homecoming queen. Tennis champion. Student-body president. She was the princess, and the school was her court."

What was going on? I'd never heard a Yeerk talk this way. This was Taylor I was hearing. At least as much as the Yeerk inside her.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Taylor starts to have difficulty with pronouns.
Adam: I wish they had elaborated more about the biology behind this.
Adam: Because there is clearly some sort of neurological mixup going on, but they only talk about it vaguely
Ifi: I feel like there must have been some sort of physical catalyst for this
Adam: Quite possible.

"[The Sharing] held out friendship. Hope, in her darkest hour, they made me believe that her life wasn't over. That I had a future. Then came the offer, If I…she…would enter their center circle—take advantage of everything they had to give me—they would repair her body. They had their own members' hospital, they said. Incredibly advanced technology. I would be whole again. I would be what I once had been!"

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Look at that.
Ifi: She has no idea who or what she is.
Adam: You take an unstable Yeerk and give it an unstable host, and this is what happens.
Ifi: How can someone this fucked up even get dressed in the morning?
Adam: And so fashionably, at that.

"I took the deal." Taylor laughed dryly. "Two Controllers helped me, in my wheelchair, I waited down in the pool, not knowing what host, I'd only ever been Hork-Bajir before. I allowed myself to be infested, she opened herself to me, willingly. Until that moment, until I was lying on my stomach, my head held over the surface of the pool, she hadn't known, of course, how could she? How could I?"

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Lady.
Ifi: Do you hear yourself right now?


Adam: So she snaps completely, and starts torturing Tobias again.
Adam: Now things get really trippy.

I followed the trail through the woods. My heart so full. I stopped at a clearing. A point stuck up out of the dirt, gleamed in the moonlight, caught my eye. I dug in the surrounding earth, trying to free the object. Deeper and deeper.

A hard, scythe-shaped blade. I held it before me. Why did it seem so familiar? So much a part of me? I looked beyond it into the evening sky. And froze.

Two moons cast a warm yellow light over the woods. Over thick asparagus-spear trees.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: I have no idea what is happening right now.
Adam: I think he is being visited by Elfangor's ghost or something.
Adam: Actually, wait.
Adam: I figured it out.
Adam: You know way back in Book 6, where when Tom's original Yeerk is being starved out Jake's head, and he ends up seeing Crayak?
Adam: Apparently in the Animorphs-verse, experiencing a high enough degree of pain puts you in some kind of transcendent mental state that lets you peer past dimensional barriers.
Adam: Tobias seems to have gotten the luckier end of the deal here. Jake ended up getting a glimpse of Cthulhu, while Tobias gets a quick chat with his deceased father.

The moonlight brightened to a strong and dazzling brilliance. It compelled my gaze. I couldn't look away. I didn't want to.

<Tobias,> he said.

I started, scared. The light faltered.

<Don't be afraid.>

A broad face came into focus. A familiar face. An Andalite.

I watched as a tail arced upward. Curved slowly over his back and moved toward me.

A shiver. As the cool flat of his blade pressed against my forehead. It was electric. Like nothing I've felt before or since.

A new surge of memories! But how? How can they be memories when I haven't lived them? They're new to me, though they seem like mine. No, these were not my own.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: And then I guess Tobias gets to read the Andalite Chronicles
Adam: I am pretty sure that he already did back in book 23.

A final, overwhelming surge of things lived by Elfangor. Warrior. Intellectual. Oh, how he had lived! Endured. Accomplished. A sense of purpose. Things I couldn't comprehend. Things I could. Things I might become.

Dimmer and dimmer. To a pinpoint of light. I felt my body shudder and I knew that I was dying. That pinpoint was life.

<I'll make the Andalite filth talk!> Visser Three's far-off, threatening voice struck my ear.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Things are finally happening again, but Tobias has checked out.
Adam: I can't say that I blame him.

Two Hork-Bajir banged through the door just behind the Visser. They carried a thick pole slung through a large wire cage. In the cage, a bald eagle.

An eagle!

Rachel! It must be Rachel!

The visser could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

<This eagle was found near the community center. How audacious and foolhardy of your friends, Andalite! For we have seen the bandits use this morph before.> He swaggered confidently toward my cube. Pointed a long Andalite finger at the eagle. <Tell me all you know. Or I will feed your fellow Andalite to the Taxxons.>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Now I believe that this eagle here is actually one that Cassie was taking care of at her barn.
Adam: Yes, but this was meant to be a plot twist.
Adam: Tobias did not know that it was not Rachel at the time.

I knocked my head against the glass just to make sure I was conscious. I was. So what I saw growing up from the floor, behind the sub-visser, was no mirage!

Silently, unseen by all but me.

A single Andalite emerging from flea morph!

A smooth blue chin emerged from piercing, sucking mouthparts. Andalite arms sprouted from tiny flea legs.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Oh hey
Ifi: LOOK WHO FINALLY DECIDED TO SHOW UP
Adam: It's not like he hadn't failed to make the anti-morphing device work hours ago or anything.
Adam: Oh wait.

Ifi: Chaos ensues, as usual, and Taylor and Tobias somehow wind up dangling above the Yeerk pool
Ifi: I have no idea how we got to this point
Adam: After all of that insanity, I am pretty much like this:


Adam: And so yeah, it is getting a bit tough to follow.
Ifi: It is IMPOSSIBLE to follow

Rachel's mass filled the balcony. She began to growl. Deep, continuous. She picked the sub-visser up off the floor. Taylor struggled, but without result. Rachel's grip was unwavering, strong. She bellowed an animal cry of retaliation.

For a split second, time froze. And I saw Rachel and Taylor face-to-face. One strong. Her morph a crazy manifestation of an inner strength and bravery. One weak. This girl for whom appearance had been everything, honor nothing. This poor girl whose weakness had made her easy prey for the Yeerks. And I felt pity. Pity for my torturer.

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Ifi: Tobias
Ifi: You wouldn't be saying any of this if you didn't think she was hot.
Adam: ...
Adam: ….....
Adam: .........................
Adam: I got nothing

Rachel's claws closed on Taylor's neck. Crushing her esophagus. She was turning blue, suffocating.

"Help!" she rasped pitifully. "Someone help me!"

<Rachel! No. Rachel, don't do it!>

<She dies, Tobias. For what she did to you, she dies.> She moved as if to slam Taylor against the wall.

<No!> I yelled. <Rachel. No.>

Rachel turned to look at me. Hesitated. Then dropped Taylor like a crumpled candy wrapper. The sub-visser fell to the floor and scrambled for the door.

<You know she should die, Tobias,> Rachel said.

<She will,> I said. <This is the Yeerk who lost a prisoner. Leave her to Visser Three.>

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: So, Tobias lets the attractive psychopath live, and they all go home.
Ifi: Well
Ifi: It's not like they'll ever run into her again
Ifi: Or like
Ifi: Work with her
Ifi: Ally with her
Ifi: That would just be
Ifi: stupid
Adam: I was going to say "crazy"
Adam: But sure.

Ifi: So Tobias tells Ax about his spirit quest whatever thing
Adam: And we get another bit about andalite mythology.
Adam: Which I find really cool, to be honest.

Ax made a sort of gasping sound and dropped his spool of string. His eyes were wide with a startling intensity.

"A blade? Against your forehead…" He trailed off, his voice quaking with surprise.

"Ax. What?"

[...]
He started hesitantly. "A legend. A spiritual rite, really. Utzum. Certain medicine men believed they could pass memories through DNA. Legend says these memory messages are triggered by imminent death. A surge of strength during the last moments to ease their passage. Ancient superstition."

----Book Thirty-Three, The Illusion

Adam: Wait.
Adam: Apparently Andalites had medicine men at a time when they were aware of DNA.
Adam: How does that even
Ifi: "Hey Ax, is your mom named Forlay and your dad named Noorlin?"
Ifi: <I...yes...>
Ifi: "I don't think it was a hallucination bro."
Adam: And it was never spoken of ever again.

Ifi: I want to forget this book happened
Adam: I want to build a blanket fort and never leave it.
Ifi: I want to replace one of my arms with a giant spinning drill.

Adam: This book was honestly very well written.
Adam: It was just very, very traumatizing.
Ifi: It was like a hurt/comfort fanfic.
Adam: Oh lord, those.
Ifi: This book should have just been about Ax flying that kite.
Adam: I may have to agree.
Adam: Here, let's end this review on a happy note.
Adam: Listen to a song:

  
Ifi: The end.

61 comments:

  1. This
    This book
    I know you already said that, but you basically already said everything I would have said about this book. Except that I think that Ax's reaction to Tobias's experience would be akin to someone from earth reacting toa friend having one of those near death experiences when they go to heavan and stuff.
    I am still hope for a fanfic about the Vissiers. And Taylor. I think Taylor should have a cameo. (you know, if anybody's asking)

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  2. I love your descriptions of Taylor. That exchange between her and Visser Three cracked me up and I demand fanart. (or maybe i will just make some. is another fanart day still going to be A Thing?!)

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  3. I often have a hard time convincing friends that the Animorphs books were far darker than they initially appeared to be. I like to trot out books like this one to support my claims, as well as "Nazi Animorphs" from Megamorphs 3 and the David trilogy.

    Taylor's an odd character to pin down. I kept trying to reconcile the idea of her being a supermodel with the fact that she's been reconstituted using alien technology. Is she perfectly human-looking, or are the prosthetic parts easily distinguishable along with the burn scars? Also, she's clearly unhinged from the start, dealing with some sort of merged identity, but it seems to be gone by the time she shows up again. Maybe Visser Three actually put her in therapy? She's so crazy even HE thinks she needs to get some help.

    My own attempt at a fanfic had Crayak building his own team of Animorphs to fight the Animorphs after his Howler squad failed. For anyone interested, here's what I went with for his roster of dopplegangers, though I couldn't think of a foil for Ax:

    Jake = Tom (pretty boy leader)
    Cassie = Visser Three (animal loving sociopath)
    Marco = Drode (wisecracking fool)
    Tobias = David (tortured soul)
    Rachel = Taylor (warrior woman)
    Ax = ??? ("fish out of water" alien)

    And a closing thought: Tobias is just doomed to be unhappy forever.

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    1. Tobias is like that Michael kid on “The Wire”. You wish someone would step in as a legal guardian or something, and take him home to provide discipline & structure, a roof over his head, a stable environment and a positive male role model, and keep him away from his violent lifestyle and the sick cruel world that some heartless asshole writer has forced him to live in. They are each the most heroic of their circle of friends, but end up having to be outcasts, because writers reserve happy endings for the least deserving members of the group (Marco is totally Namond).

      All of Tobias' misery is pretty much the Ellimist's fault - if he was REALLY interested in what Tobias "truly" wanted, he'd have made him human again, with morphing powers and given him Loren's address & un-fucked her memories. A happy Tobias is not as useful a playing piece to use against the Crayak, though...

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    2. Thank you. I now ship David/Taylor.

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    3. I'm willing to forgive some dickery on the Ellimist's part, given the stakes he's playing for.

      Also, someone needs to draw that Hork-Bajir card game, that's too great an image to pass up.

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    4. Ax= Wuss (the Helmacron male Marco corrupted)

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  4. You guys overlooked some of Tobias' more badass moments of being defiant at Taylor. Like when he tells her that he's going to survive just to spite her "if I live, then you die. And I want you to die." Or when she is yammering some crazy-person shit about "You don't understand weakness until you've been strong, isn't that true?" And he says "I don't know. Let me know if you ever get to be strong."

    Also, is there a picture missing or something?
    "Adam: So Taylor is basically her:



    Adam: Also"

    It seems like you wanted to show us something there.

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    1. The link broke. Thanks for pointing that out.

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    2. Ahhh. And no. Taylor is not nearly in the Baroness' class. Despite the more than passing resemblance of their bosses.

      Another badass bit which is somewhat dependent on whether or not you think Tobias recognized the bald eagle. If he did think it was Rachel, as you guys seem to believe - telling the bad guys to go suck it when they are threatening to kill your girlfriend - totally badass.

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  5. Also, some theory clarifications of the Andalite shamman-DNA-memory thing:
    1. They probably would have said "blood" or whatever the Andalite equivalent term for inheritance was.
    2. Ax & Tobias are simply miscommunicating their thought-speak on the issue, as the official explanation is that it conveys concepts rather than actual words. The concept of genetic inheritance, that primitive people would refer to as 'in your blood' would be referred to differently by more scientifically aware people like Ax & Tobias and they are used to thinking of DNA as the default term for everything related, due to the morphing issues.
    3. They also are full of shit, since the only way Tobias has any DNA is from Ax, who would not have inherited Elfangor's DNA, but rather received some of the same DNA from Noorlay and Forlin that Elfangor did. In no way can I see how this could possibly transmit memories. Rather, I think this was a case of a long-dormant mental dump from Elfangor to Tobias, from their encounter back in book 1, that was finally brought to the surface by a combination of the trauma and his having recently morphed an Andalite form, which gave his mind some context in which to process and frame Andalite thoughts and memories.

    IMO, the psychic thing makes so much more sense than genetic memory anyway, what with the known psychic activity and capabilities of the Andalites, and especially since we have seen Elfangor do this with Tobias previously, giving him the info dump about Yeerk infrastructure from the first book.

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  6. This book is when I became a lot more interested in Tobias. I liked how integral his bird brain was to protecting his human mind. It's definitely one of the better ghostwritten ones (who doesn't love shorm bonding?? Plus, Taylor is truly terrifying :0) Although sadly this book is also when I REALLY began to dislike Rachel's characterization. The groundwork for her wanting Tobias to be more "human" had been laid nicely in earlier books but actively attempting to trap him as a human nothlit goes rather beyond the pale in terms of dick moves. Especially considering how you guys point out that it would've taken him out of the fight + made him a bigger target for the yeerks. I can't imagine Tobias easily forgiving her for that if she'd succeeded, much less the others. But I also can't remember if that incident was ever even brought up again later in the series, and she HAD just suffered a fairly traumatic experience herself, so...

    Nice review!

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    1. Yeah, this was actually the culmination of that issue in their relationship. She had suggested it to him in the dinosaur Megamorph and again when they thought he had a cousin out there in his last book. After this, I don't ever remember her doing it again, and by the end of the book she's fine with going flying instead of a human date.

      I put her wanting him to stay human down to her desperation, since he's the only one who doesn't hold her baggage against her, and in a way, each is the only one who still believes in the other's humanity. That's the theme of her appeal to him, when she talks about needing to do normal girl stuff.

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    2. Admittedly, I'm not sure why he couldn't just get trapped as a human then use the box to be able to morph again. Still leaves the issue of where he'd live and so forth, but theoretically it seems like it'd work.

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    3. When they meet Arbron, the Taxxon nothlit, it is flat out stated, in a discussion about using the cube on Taxxons, that they can't use it on him.

      I wonder if you could somehow use the cube to reset the base for a morph-capable being, though. So rather than having Tobias switch to human and outwait the limit, they could use the box, plus an Erek-jumpstart (or something like how they merged split Rachel) to simply switch his primary morph from hawk to human.

      It's kind of moot, but I like to think they could have stumbled on a solution like that if they had discovered Loren earlier or if Rachel had survived, either way giving him incentive to be human.

      As for the where Tobias would live if he regained his human form (and kept his morphing powers or not), at this point, there's no reason why he couldn't stay with the Chee. They have to have some way of faking out the system to create new identities for themselves every 80 years or so.

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  7. Hey, wait! I almost forgot to post a TLDR character analysis! This will not do at all!

    A key character moment that dovetails with the ending of the last book and pretty much explains the whole Rachel-Tobias thing. I mean, on paper, Rachel could have any guy at all, but she goes for the bird with minimal interest in accommodating her relationship needs. Then there is the personality thing, where her balls-to-the-wall warrior character seems a bit mismatched to his introspective survivor-type.

    It all comes down to her reactions to her own issues. After the split thing when she can't face her teammates, she goes off with Tobias. Then in this book, he uses the phrase "Be Rachel" in a way absolutely no one else would. When it is a question of whether or not to murder the evil Yeerk torturer and her apparently equally evil host, from anyone else, even Cassie, and especially Jake or Marco, the words "Be Rachel" would mean "Put the bitch in the ground," but Tobias uses those words to urge mercy. He is absolutely the only person who seems to recognize Rachel's good personal qualities, and his view of her goodness is what helps him keep her separate from Taylor, despite the way the torture had totally warped his perceptions about everything else. "I lost myself. Didn't know who I was. Not sure I do now."

    I think that recognition by him, or else her own realization of what he went through, is why she changes her mind about the human thing. At the end, rather than urging human fun on him, she offers to do bird fun instead, and IIRC, she never again suggests the human-nothlit thing, even his next two books both expose negative aspects of the bird life. And that stay-human issue was not just an aberration in this book, either, because she was doing it in the last one, too. She also suggested it in the dinosaur book, although I don't know if you could say they were dating then. It’s like Rachel decided, as she did in the squid book, that the human things she wants, and thinks he secretly wants too, don’t matter as much as having someone in your life who has your back and gets you.

    The interesting thing about his human morph is that he isn't really willing to exert himself to stay with Rachel for prolonged periods of time. We saw when Visser Three was being Aria that it IS possible to keep up the demorphing thing with potty breaks, but as far as Tobias is concerned, any human activity has a strict 2-hour limit and then he's back to the woods, and if Rachel wants to hang, that's how she has to roll. But after they rescue Loren, suddenly he seems to be using human as his default morph whenever they are in the H-B valley.

    I think Rachel has figured this out about him on some level, that either he really would be happier being human more often, or that his commitment to being human would be an indicator of his investment in a relationship. For his mother, he'll do the human thing, but not for his girlfriend (and admittedly, that is a more healthy relationship priority for a teenaged boy, if you leave the Freudian bullshit out of it). I think Rachel's actions at the dance were not so much a deliberate attempt to fuck up his life for her own selfish desires, but an emotional response to her insight into this aspect of his character. As for the source of his feelings for her, she’s pretty much the only person in his experience who really cares about him first and their common war second (if it says nothing else positive about Rachel, the dance incident should clearly demonstrate that).

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  8. In some books I just want to give Tobias a hug. Then I remember he's not big on hugs and I am sad.

    Taylor is absolutely fascinating... I'm almost surprised her kind of melded personality isn't more common in Yeerks, actually, since their evolution would only have prepared them to deal with the brains of Gedds (who, we know, are not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed). Their hosts do seem to rub off on them to an extent, even the really driven, determined ones like Edriss, and we know their control isn't quite as perfect as they like to make out (see: Taxxons)... so, yeah, I'd actually speculate that there are quite a few Yeerks like Taylor; it's just that in most cases it doesn't matter because their hosts are, y'know, sane.

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  9. "Apparently in the Animorphs-verse, experiencing a high enough degree of pain puts you in some kind of transcendent mental state that lets you peer past dimensional barriers."

    Oh, man. SO true. Especially in the last book. D:

    I honestly don't really think the yeerk in Taylor, the Subvisser, is totally insane. If you think about Yeerks in general, they don't have parents, and they have bazillions of brothers and sisters. Not all get to have hosts. If a relatively low-profile Yeerk got to experience the memories of a girl who lived her life with tons of attention, I think the Yeerk would be...overcome. Like an Andalite eating food, I think its the same type of thing, where the Yeerk allows itself to be obessessed with getting that attention that it probably couldn't even comprehend existed in the Yeerk state.

    Now the girl Taylor...not really sure if she's sane...

    Also, KA Applegate really likes this girl-defaced-by-fire thing, because another character also goes through this in The Remnants series.

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  10. Ohhh, this book.

    This book is actually one of my favorites for a whole lot of reasons- it was the first Tobias-narrated book that I read, and even now it still stands out to me as one of the darkest and most uncompromisingly disturbing books in the series. Heck, this review, great as it is, really glosses over what happens to Tobias and what a mess he becomes at the end.

    You can also definitely tell that he loses a fair chunk of his sanity here. For the rest of the series, you can definitely tell that he's more hawk than human; in the next Tobias-narrated book, for instance, he seems to react more like a hawk to the situations around him than a logical human would.

    The next Tobias-narrated book also has one of the most disturbing morphs in the entire series, rivalling the ants and termites, but that, of course, is another story.

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    1. "Heck, this review, great as it is, really glosses over what happens to Tobias..."
      Indeed. I get that Adam & Ifi aren't quite into the manly gutsy stuff or genuine contemplation of the violence and war issues that arise in the series, but just because someone likes to look at the pretty aliens is no excuse for ignoring the main point of the story and the character developments, while expounding on, and embedding videos related to, every little line that comes from their favorite character, regardless of how peripheral his role in the book might actually be.

      "...and what a mess he becomes at the end."
      Is that what happened? Because I read Tobias as coming out of this one hurt and damaged, but unbeaten and unbroken. Sure he doesn't shake the effects of this episode off right away and it continues to affect him for a while, but by the next Jake-book he's back to saving the whole team's ass again. At the end, contrary to what certain girly-girl reviewers might think, letting a defeated foe live because you hold her in such profound contempt and have nothing to fear from her is WAY more badass than murdering a pathetic loser because you might have to face her again.

      Think about the ramifications of Tobias' act of mercy(though it was not so much that, as protecting Rachel from taking on another kill for the team, and asserting or establishing his own control of the situation): Despite Taylor having HIM in HER power, he so totally dominated their interaction, that he has learned enough to hold her and her capabilities in disdain, and walk away leaving her unharmed, because she learned NOTHING that can be used to hurt him or the Animorphs! In spite of all her ability or power, she was reduced to desperately trying to kill him when everything went to shit at the end, while he proved right and better than her in every way!

      Tobias aced this one completely, and walked away intact. That was part of his point in letting Taylor live: she might have hurt him, but she couldn't make him give up his ideals or hide behind his girlfriend's claws. Yeah, he'a affected, but he doesn't snap or fall down on the job. The hawk-human thing has always been a see-saw deal for him, and just about every book narrated by him has him re-adjusting that balance.

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    2. I've been reading all the comments as I work my way through this blog, and while Cannoli writes some darn good posts, I think I'm going to have to start skipping them from now on. Nearly every review he just has to remind us (often several times) of his utter scathing disgust at a fictional character (ie. Cassie - seriously, get over it, it's getting fanatical), and between that and the weird passive-aggressiveness in his above post aimed at the reviewers, reading the comments is really starting to depress me.

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  11. I agree with Cannoli: the best thing about this book is definitely Tobias' sheer badassery - the way that he refuses to stop fighting even in the face of what he's pretty sure is impending death. I mean, down there in that room, the guy's got absolutely nothing - no friends, no weapons, no hiding places, no escape routes, and no chance to morph. All he has is what's in his head - and he still manages to come up with a couple of pretty brilliant moves (using the hawk brain as a shield, getting Taylor talking, appealing to her vanity) that may have actually slowed her down just enough to leave him still alive and sane when his friends finally came for him. Despite all of the horrible things that happen, this really is a book where we get to see Tobias at his best.

    That said, what is up with Visser Three and his microscopic attention span? He must have had Tobias as a prisoner for, what, six hours when he decided that it was time to kill him? Seriously? Maybe he was just in a bad mood because his clever plan to use the bald eagle didn't work, but come on, he had his hands on one of the actual, real, live Andalite bandits, and it never crossed his mind that he might be more useful as a hostage than as a bucket of extra crispy drumsticks? Time to write another strongly worded letter to the Council of Thirteen, I guess.

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    1. Visser Three is basically that coworker who comes in late, takes 2 hour lunch breaks, overshares about their personal life, yet still gets promoted. idgi

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    2. I kind of get the impression that Andalites wouldn't negotiate with hostages. Actually, I could see that going either way - an Andalite life is of sacred paramount iimportance, even when writing off the Hork-Bajir colony is a plausible act by Yeerk perceptions, or else HONOR: an Andalite captive is so shamed that they couldn't negotiate for his release any more than they could socialize with a vecol.

      Either way though, what could V3 get using a nothlit as a hostage? A cessation of hostilities? An Andalite willing to surrender his freedom in exchange? Andalite tech? I can't see a non-infestable body as worth anything other than a horrible death to record and watch whenever Esplin needs a pick-me-up.

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    3. This may just be the three Game of Thrones books I recently shotgunned talking, but sometimes the point of a hostage isn't to trade him for anything - it's just to have him. As long as Tobias is alive, he's at least partially the group's responsibility - he's one of them, and was taken while carrying out a mission for them. At worst, they'll just worry about him, and become more confused and less effective as they carry out missions. At best, they might actually try to rescue him - and every time they do so, they'll put themselves at risk, waste their time, and distract themselves from their overall goal. And if something ever *does* come up that *would* make a trade possible - if V3 ever actually wants something from them that might actually *be* a reasonable trade for a nothlit's life - then he will still have Tobias to actually make that trade. Alive, in other words, he's distracting and has at least some value. Dead, he has no value and is the opposite of distracting - he'll make the group all the more focused on avenging him.

      I like the theory that Andalites don't negotiate a lot, though. It makes sense, given what we know about them. And come to think of it, the first time I can remember the Yeerks actually trying to use a hostage against the group was when they took Jake's parents - in other words, after they figured out he was human and not an Andalite. So maybe that's an aspect of Andalite policy that is pretty common knowledge, and that's why they didn't even bother trying. (And they knew enough about Mertil and What's-His-Face to know that they had that unusually close relationship and wouldn't react to that kind of situation like normal Andalites would). Checks out.

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  12. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't they still have the cube at this point? So if the worst happens, they can just use it to reacquire the morphing power if any of them ever got stuck, right? Have each of them acquire each other as a contingency, and they can even have their bodies back!

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    1. Nothlits can't regain their morphing ability.

      I think I answer this question once a week now.

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    2. Hmm. Do they ever explain *why*? Because come to think of it, it's kind of an odd rule. How does the cube know that's not the body you were born with?

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    3. On a related note, if Tobias really did see the events of the Andalite Chronicles, he has no right to complain again about getting stuck as a hawk. Ever.

      I kind of wish that they did a little more with Arbron in the series, too; he seemed like a really interesting character.

      I should write a fanfiction about him.

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    4. Yeah, a lonely kid conscripted by his unknown alien father into a war is the exact same thing as a trained military operative. We could debate the relative merits of hawk & Taxxon nothlits until the cows come home (Arbron is hardly isolated and alone - Taxxons at least are sentient & extremely social creatures), but a civilian kid should not expect to suffer similar fates to a guy in the military. Even if he was only an aristh, he was given preparation for combat, and the possibility of worse fates than being a nothlit would be understood as part of the risk of his lifestyle.

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  13. As long as we're sharing random thoughts about this book, another one (which I think someone may have brought up before) is that Tobias figures something out in this book that becomes very important at the end of the war - that his hawk mind can be a place to escape to when pain becomes too overwhelming.

    It's interesting because before this book, the last time that Tobias was overwhelmed by pain, he tried to kill himself. It sort of makes you wonder (or, at least, it makes me wonder) what losing Rachel would have led him to do if this book had never happened.

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    1. Hey, what book was that, when he tried to kill himself? Nothing rings any bells, except when he almost crashes against the glass roof of the mall in book three.

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    2. That's the reference Shan was making.

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    3. I remembered the scene incorrectly. I see your point now Shan. Thanks Anon, for confirming it~

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  14. I really like this book. While it makes me sad, the psychological torture that Tobias endures is really a great insight into his character, and a great way to develop his character. I didn't even realize how bad the physical torture had been until he described himself way later, because the mental torture was so horrifying.
    Unlike Cannoli said, Tobias doesn't walk out of there unharmed. Book 43 shows us that he's still hurt from this session, but he's too tough to let that get in the way of the missions. I think this book shows how strong Tobias is, and how integral to his psyche the hawk side is.

    Okay, Taylor! Taylor the girl is unstable at best, and cause is obvious. The Yeerk is now insane too.
    Since the Yeerks are able to replicate their host's personality so well, some traits should rub off on them. So, I bet some Yeerks distance themselves a little from their hosts to retain their individuality, and that's bound to be easier with unwilling hosts. So, say, the Yeerk doesn't distance itself from Taylor, and Taylor is more than willing to be infested. The Yeerk would probably take over this body completely, and that's where the mix-up comes in.
    And Tobias' pity is most likely aimed at the fact that Taylor, girl and Yeerk, are so horribly messed up.

    Random thing about the cover: it seems that Ax is always in the same or similar position while morphing. I feel that the Andalites on these covers are really... out of proportion. I don't think a body that size can hold up a human torso of that size. It just doesn't make sense to me. :<

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    1. I didn't mean he was completely unscathed - I meant that he wasn't broken or fundamentally affected. He remains true to his ideals and values through the end, and he retains the sense of identity he felt in danger of losing. Just because he's still creeped out by the experience ten books later doesn't mean Taylor beat him. That was the point I tried to make. He broke her with his defiance, far worse than she broke him with her torture.

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    2. I do agree with you; I'm not saying Taylor beat him. Tobias went back to being the Animorphs Air Force, while Taylor went crazier. The part where I disagree is how much it bothered Tobias. He doesn't let it interfere with his group duties, but he's most definitely still haunted by this. The way he deals with it though makes him a stronger person. That was what I was trying to say.

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  15. Is it bad that I'm looking crazy-forward to number 34? Because I LIKE it?

    Now, hear me out. I know it's a Cassie book, and those are more often wacky and kind of stupid and possibly continuity-breaking.

    And I know that it can be said that #34 is the book in which Cassie is possessed by a ghost from space.

    But (since we're not QUITE there yet) let me make this defense:
    Dollhouse did the exact same thing (ok technically the ghost wasn't from space) and nobody said it was stupid there. I think people often view Cassie books through a different lens because, well, so many of them ARE very different (BUFFAHUMAN. ATLANTIS. AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURES.)

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    1. Also, because they star Cassie and get lots and lots of Cassie perspective, and Cassie sucks. She is vile, she is a selfish traitor, she is a horrible friend and a hypocrite and self-righteous See You Next Tuesday who comes as close to ruining the series as any character. The bad stuff at the end? Cassie's fault. A lot of expedient and sometimes even less violent solutions the Animorphs never take, which might have saved lives? Cassie's fault. A lot of the recriminations and self-doubt and destroyed psyches of the Animorphs? In large part, Cassie's judgmental perspective making them feel crappy for doing heroic things.

      It is not bad to look forward to a book that happens to be narrated by Cassie, because it is a good book. But it was Cassie's turn, and they need reasons to make this waste of print relevant as a narrator, so they gave a cool story to her, because if a space-warrior-ghost is looking for cowardly weakling who will not be able to resist possession or subvert the agenda, Cassie makes perfect sense, even if Tobias is a thematically better fit for a Hork-Bajir story, or Ax's alien perspective might be good to read.

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    2. Hmm, Ax being possessed by Aldrea (for whom he has great contempt) would be interesting to read...

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    3. 34 is a good one, anon! I liked when the anis got to travel to different worlds, it should've happened more.

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  16. So I just found this today and read through all off it...

    I can't comment on how this book worked for me, or the justifications of character development, considering #32 was the last book I read in the series when I first read them all in middle school.

    Honestly, I stopped reading when: "WTF is SRS BIZNS doing in my kids-turning-into-animals-and-fighting-aliens pulp?!" So I went and read Les Misérables instead, and turned to John Bellairs and Redwall for my 'light' fiction.

    (please don't judge me)

    Anyway, I think I remember picking up this book years later and being amused by Ax, who was always my favorite character, but later I heard about Applegate's letter to the fans about the ending and felt fully justified in leaving the series.

    Not that I can blame those who liked it, but I remember feeling betrayed because I wouldn't have gotten so attached to the series if I knew she intended to take it seriously (they were turning into ANIMALS and fighting SPACE ALIENS who controlled their PRINCIPAL). I just wanted my war-is-bad stories elsewhere. :(

    No comments about the ghostwriting, I don't think I even knew about that until well after the fact.

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  17. I love this book, because I'm a fan of dark stuff done well, and this one hits that mark on the nose. But, as far as the hallucinations of Andalites that Tobias has at the end go, I don't think that he's really seeing his dad as Jake say Crayak. It's always been my theory that part of it might be true DNA hallucinationtimes that somehow transcend actual DNA, but at least part of his andalite experience has to be corrupted by his human and hawk minds, because at that point he's crazy enough that everything is just melding together. The main point in this argument is that Tobias describes 'vomiting' grass from his hooves, when back in book 12 we learn that that never happens and andalites don't actually have a word for vomit. This says to me that at least some of his human/hawk memories must be melding with the andalite, and he can no longer tell which is which.

    An alternate, perhaps more likely, explanation is that the torture ripped open that package of infodump that Elfangor stuck in Tobias's head way back in book one, and that got tangled in the rest of his memories and experiences until he didn't know up from down. And possibly, along with all of that, he managed to see Elfangor. Either way, in the best case I don't think that what he was seeing was 100% true and actual - on some level his mind was just collapsing, and things were coming together in weird ways.

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    1. I think the Elfangor stuff was real, and the source was what you say here. Elfangor gave him the info on the Yeerks and the personal message about holding on (according to The Andalite Chronicles, Tobias told Elfangor right before how his life was shitty, so the message about a "long line of warriors," and "endure out of respect for life" would have been appropriate even if he never got tortured). While the trauma might have helped him look inside himself to dig out the message, the real reason I think it came up now, was that he had recently morphed an Andalite, so his mind now had experience of the way Andalites think and how their thoughts are constructed. This was what allowed him to finally access the memories and the message from Elfangor (the letter he left with the attorney was also rather fortuitously on the nose for Tobias' contemporaneous personal issue) - experience of an Andalite mentality kind of gave his own mind the equivalent of a Rosetta Stone that allowed him to translate the direct memories. Elfangor's own experience with a human mind allowed him to directly impart the information he gave Tobias in the first book, but the feelings and memories and less deliberately structured parts needed translation, that his mind could only accomplish once it had the experience of an Andalite mind as a reference point.

      I tend to shy away from the trauma as an explanation, because this would imply the trauma is somewhat self-defeating, in that it caused him to hallucinate a relief from the trauma. I'd rather go with his being driven to grasp at anything his mind could dredge up, and finding these old Andalite files he had never accessed.

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  18. Lolzies maaaaaaaaaaaaan. Tobias got beat up by a boss. Poor toby-o-es! Man just go suck your own dick do hocks have dicks even who knows lawl man tobias is the WORST i cant wait until jake kills him lol rachel deserves to die just for touching the gross tobias with her mouth oh so much ew taylor is the best for making the tobias freak cry and scream for 50 pages oh so much to enjoy my vagy gets wet thinking about it so gross toby boy shit himself in this book

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    1. Look out, Cannoli. You've got competition.

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    2. Please. I'm literate. And I can still drown this pathetic quantity of output in my sleep.

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    3. I actually think he might be one of the ghostwriters.

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    4. Y'know, we have the spam filter set up on here for a reason.

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    5. Yeah but we never get any proper spam and so I didn't want this one to go to waste.

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  19. So Tobias keeps mixing up his torturer with his girlfriend.

    This says a lot about his relationship with Rachel :/

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    1. Actually the point throughout the book was the contrast between their superficial resemblance and the fact that inside Rachel & Taylor were nothing alike. That's why when he asks Rachel to spare her life, he phrases it as "Be Rachel, not her." To everyone else, Rachel is exactly like Taylor: good-looking, blonde, athletic, successful, and when she gets caught up in the war, vicious & cruel. But Tobias sees the difference, and that's important to maintaining his own self-identity. His friends, primarily Rachel, have always been presented as a key part of that for him, in each book he's narrated so far. The method of torture used on him was about contrasting pleasure and pain, good memories and bad and thus totally messing with his assocations and duality of identity. Rachel & Taylor were simply one more contrast getting twisted in his mind, like his memories of comfort and friendship getting mixed in with memories of neglect and abuse.

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    2. lawls. Cool story bro.

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    3. did the point go completely over your head? everyone else thinks of rachel as someone as ruthless as taylor. Tobias sees that rachel isn't as bad as everyone thinks she is, so he tells her to be the real rachel, not what people see her as.

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    4. Actually, I thought that when he told her to be the 'real rachel' it wasso that he could convince himself that rachel and this freak were not alike. Didn't he get confused over who is who even before the torture? And didn't he say that rachel and taylor were like night and day and then corrected himself and said night and twilight? Tobias is the same asshole who said that Rachel would get excited by kidnapping her friend's father.

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  20. How do the Yeerks know how to make cybernetic limbs? They're slugs. And they can't have picked it up from any Controller species, either. The Andalites can morph the pain away, the Hork-Bajir are... not... bright, the Taxxons' medical knowledge involves eating each other, and humans are, well, humans.
    Oh, right, it looks cool. Neeever mind.

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    1. Considering their spaceships can be controlled by human thoughts, and they were literally able to splice human DNA into the Ember-Cyborgs I don't think an artificial arm with a dozen moving parts would be too difficult.

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  21. You never did write the summary for this book. Or was that a joke?

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  22. "The Summary
    I'll write it later guys."

    *Three years later*

    This is one of my top five favorite Animorphs books out there. Seriously. Also, I never did get why Tobias permanently turning Human was an issue, not when they still have the Morphing Cube, and it could give him his morphing ability back.

    Nope, seems he'd rather stay a bird. Also, here's something to think about: They gave Aftran the ability to morph, while she was a Yeerk. Then they had her acquire a Whale, while as a Yeerk.

    My point is, you don't need to be Human, or even possess hands, to touch the Morphing Cube and gain the power to morph. So, outside of never being able to morph back to your Human body, why is the time limit an issue here, besides to create drama?

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