Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book 34: The Prophecy

The Summary
The last surviving Arn comes to the Hork-Bajir colony to ask them for their DNA so he can create more Hork-Bajir to beat up Yeerks. There were way too many words in that sentence, so the Hork-Bajir call in the Animorphs to decipher it.

The Arn also has the personality of Aldrea backed up, and he wants to put it in someone's brain so she can tell them where she hid a bunch of weapons before she died. Everyone thinks that ghost-Aldrea will go into Toby's brain, or maybe Rachel's, but she picks Cassie instead.

Everyone goes to the Hork-Bajir homeworld, which is looking pretty bad since the Yeerks have total control over it. Aldrea figures out where the weapons are hidden (under a Yeerk pool) and Cassie comes up with a way to get to them. The mission is a success and everyone heads home. Toby wanted to stay but nobody cares what Toby wants.

There is no prophecy mentioned at any point in this book.

The Review
Ifi: Hooray an alien cover!
Adam: I find it interesting that the take on the Hork-Bajir here is pretty much identical to the one of the cover of the Hork-Bajir Chronicles.
Adam: While on the other hand, there are some creative differences between Kukalis's take on Andalites, and Mattingly's take on them.
Ifi: Namely, muscles
Adam: Well, Hork-Bajir are pretty much walking tanks to begin with.
Adam: So that is to be expected.

Ifi: I liek this cover
Adam: Likewise!
Adam: We have both already agreed that there ought to have been more alien covers.
Adam: Though they eventually go through all the main aliens in the series.
Adam: And all we have left now is the Taxxon cover.

Adam: So.
Adam: Remember when all the stories would begin with the Animorphs doing something stupid and trivial with their powers that could easily give them away?
Adam: Didn't you miss that?
Ifi: I almost forgot that they did that at all
Ifi: But never fear
Adam: It's time for one of those again!
Adam: Just like old times.
Adam: …I really did not miss them.
Adam: At all.

Ifi: So Cassie has talked Rachel into helping her break into her math teacher's house.

<Now's our chance,> Rachel said. <Let's do it!> She darted into the room and leaped up onto the desk. <What am I looking for exactly?>

<A doodle. It's, um, of a…a heart,> I stammered.

I tried to climb up the desk leg. But it was metal. My claws couldn't get a grip.

<Think I see it,> Rachel answered. <If the heart has "Cassie Loves Jake" printed in the middle with a really dorky cupid drawn next to it.>

<That's it. I accidentally turned it in with my test. Just get it. And don't say anything,> I warned Rachel.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Adam: Saviors of the planet, folks.
Ifi: Really Cassie?
Adam: Are you criticizing her for writing it, or for breaking into her teacher's house afterwards to try and get it back?
Ifi: All of it
Adam: Fair point

Ifi: So this scene was pointless.
Ifi: They don't get caught or anything
Ifi: But as Cassie is flying home, she spots a Hork-Bajir in her yard
Adam: Oh, it's Jara.
Adam: Hi Jara!
Adam: I suppose he's just out for a stroll.

The image of my parents being ripped to bits by the Hork-Bajir's blades blasted into my brain. Images of other Yeerks rounding up my friends.

Doors kicked in, Dracon beams firing, flashing blades. Rachel. Jake.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Adam: So she almost accidentally slaughters Jara in cold blood.
Ifi: Luckily she remembers, "Oh wait there is a whole colony of free Hork-Bajir a few hours away."
Adam: So Jara has come with some important news

Talking to Jara Hamee was sort of like talking to a four-year-old. Which was fine usually. But not now. Every second wasted could be putting the free Hork-Bajir in danger.

"Not Yeerks," Jara explained. "Arn. From the old world. Arn…make…Hork-Bajir."

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: Arn!
Ifi: The Arn are here!

Adam: The Arn are my favorites!
Ifi: Well technically.
Ifi: The Arn IS your favorite
Adam: …You just have to make everything depressing, don't you?

<He had to come. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace isn't coming out on DVD there for, like, two years. He buys up a bunch of copies here, takes 'em home, makes a fortune.>

<Good grief, Marco, you live science fiction, why do you want to watch science fiction?>

<Don't be dissing TPM,> Marco said. <Cool is cool.>

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: That movie blew, Marco
Ifi: What the hell man
Adam: Well, that certainly doesn't date this book at all.
Ifi: This series is the definition of dated

The pinnacle of modern cinema.

Ifi: Also, if you haven't read the Hork-Bajir chronicles, just leave now.
Ifi: None of this will make a word of sense

Adam: So anyway, next we are introduced to Quafijinivon.
Adam: Who everyone proceeds to be as big a jerk to as possible.

Quafijinivon's small red mouth pursed disapprovingly. "I have very little time, humans. No time at all for pleasantries. I will live for only four hundred and twelve more days, give or take a few hours, that is a biological fact."

<There are forces other than biology,> Ax said. He gave his deadly tail just the slightest little twitch.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: He didn't even do anything offensive yet!
Adam: I just want to give this guy a hug.
Adam: He is old, and dying, and is the last of his kind, and he goes to an alien planet to seek help to try and save the species that his race progenated, and the first thing that happens is that he is met with death threats.

Poor ol' guy.

Ifi: So Quaf here wants some Hork-Bajir DNA so he can beat up Yeerks or whatever
Ifi: IDK what he plans on doing about the Quantum virus, do they say?
Adam: The Hork-Bajir that originally survived it had a natural immunity, so it would make sense that the freed ones still had it.
Ifi: Ok so it's been handwaved away

Adam: For some reason this leads to a big debate, when the obvious immediate response is an immediate and resounding yes.
Ifi: The Animorphs don't want to give the Arn what he wants because he is an Arn
Adam: Why is everyone suddenly so racist towards them?
Ifi: Speciest
Adam: That too.

"I will do whatever I can to continue the work of Aldrea and Dak Hamee," Toby said guardedly. "A DNA sample is little enough to ask."


"I give, too," Jara answered.

The other Hork-Bajir all chimed in. All agreeing to allow Quafijinivon to harvest their DNA, despite the fact that none of them besides Toby had any idea what DNA was.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: *sigh*
Ifi: Oh Hork-Bajir.
Ifi: What are we going to do with you?
Adam: I contend that the Hork-Bajir are the only ones here with any common sense.
Ifi: They don't even know what they're agreeing to
Adam: They understand that they don't really have to do much, and that it will potentially help to free their home planet.
Ifi: But there is a second phase of the plan!

The Arn turned his weird eyes toward me and the other Animorphs. "Aldrea and Dak Hamee hid the weapons. I have been unable to recover them. We Arn are perhaps unequaled in our biological science. But we have no great technological skill."

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: Soooo we need to find these weapons
Ifi: Which are somewhere on the Hork-Bajir homeworld
Adam: And for some reason, the yeerks have not already found

Ifi: So the Arn has this backup of Aldrea's personality or something
Ifi: It's treated like it's really her but it's not
Adam: Wait
Adam: Wait wait wait
Adam: Wait
Ifi: What
Adam: So they are saying
Adam: The Arn have the technology to do personality backups
Adam: Short of the time matrix, this is the most important technological discovery in the universe.
Ifi: The Arn are not particularly entrepreneurial
Ifi: They didn't try to use their talents to make the Yeerks new bodies
Ifi: They didn't try to make weapons
Ifi: They have this weird ghost technology and haven't done anything with it
Adam: But what the heck is the deal with the whole "four hundred and twelve more days" nonsense?
Ifi: I just put that down as typical Animorphs nonsense
Adam: You have the ability to back up your personality!
Adam: And you have perfected cloning technology!
Adam: The Arn should be immortal!
Ifi: Well it's not really him, is it?
Ifi: It's just a computer program that thinks it is
Adam: Of course it is.
Adam: Well, that's what your brain is, anyway.
Adam: It's an organic computer that thinks its a person.
Ifi: lol
Adam: You take a perfect copy of that, and you stick it in a copy of your body
Ifi: But it's not the original
Adam: Boom, immortal.
Adam: So what?
Adam: It's your thought patterns.
Ifi: But I would be missing out on all the fun that my backup gets to have
Adam: You save the backup until you are dead.
Adam: Exactly what they are doing in this book
Adam: Except without the needless bodysharing and underuse.
Adam: Moving on.

Adam: So Quaf has the Ixcilia of Aldrea (Prince Seerow's daughter, for the uninformed.)
Adam: Which is basically her personality stuck in a big green tube.
Ifi: Her charming personality
Ifi: As I recall, she was deceptive, manipulative, and a thief
Adam: You know how I complained about everyone being needlessly cruel to Quaf?
Adam: Aldrea is not a big help in alleviating this problem.

The Arn pulled in a wheezing breath. "Only one in four Ceremonies are actually completed. The appropriate receptacle mind is essential. Aldrea's Ixcila will be attracted to someone most like she was. Someone strong, fierce, independent. Presumably female. Hork-Bajir or Andalite, most likely, but I suppose she might gravitate toward a human. If such a human female existed."

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: So everyone is like, "Rachel will do it."
Adam: So now in one of the weirdest scenes in the series, we get what is basically an alien séance.
Adam: A completely successful alien séance, mind you.

The liquid in the vial contracted and expanded faster. In and out. In and out. In and out. My heartbeat matched the new rhythm. "We. Call. On. Aldrea. Iskillion. Falan," Quafijinivon wailed.

"If I see one single zombie I am—"

The cave floor jerked under my feet. I stumbled forward and landed on my knees in front of the Arn.

"The receptacle has been chosen!" Quafijinivon shouted. He reached out and put his hand on my head. "Will you accept the Ixcila of Aldrea-lskillion-Falan?"

What? What? She chose me?

That couldn't be right.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Adam: I will have to agree with Cassie.
Ifi: She identified the member of the group most likely to let her get away with committing grand theft body.
Adam: She identified as the member of the group most likely to be narrating at the current moment.

Ifi: So Aldrea can access Cassie's body (with some difficulty) but it's not like a Yeerk thing. She can't read her thoughts, even though she can send commands to her brain.
Ifi: So the first thing she does is freak the hell out.
Adam: Understandably so.

"Maybe you just aren't used to the way my brain gets information from my eyes," I told Aldrea. "Right now, I'm looking at something red."

I felt her concentrating. Then I felt the relief of recognition.

<Red!> Aldrea exclaimed.

I turned toward Toby. <Now I am looking at—is that her? Is that my great-granddaughter?> she interrupted.

"Yes," I answered.

I felt a strange desire to go and press my forehead against Toby's. It took me a moment to realize the desire was Aldrea's.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Adam: So the two are also empathic to each other
Ifi: For the uninformed, that is how Hork-Bajir kiss.
Adam: D'aww
Ifi: This book was so weird.
Ifi: I don't even know.
Ifi: Also sometimes Aldrea randomly narrates
Adam: She is still in denial about this whole thing.
Ifi: She seems to feel that she'll get home and everything will be the way she left it
Adam: Well, her brain was backed up before she died.
Ifi: Despite the fact that everyone she loves has outlived their natural lifespan five times over.
Adam: You are seriously a downer
Ifi: I'm sorry maybe you were looking for the blog that reviews the Pony Pals

Adam: …Let's stick with the alien genocide, thanks.

There was one final question I had to ask, although I was terrified to hear the answer. <My son. What happened to the son I named after my father, Seerow?>

I waited for Cassie to repeat my question.

It was the young Hork-Bajir who answered.

"They took him, Great-grandmother. Seerow became a Controller. He was brought to Earth as part of their army, here. He died in captivity."

There was not a worse fate I could have imagined for my child. The Yeerks had made his life a living death. And I had not been there to protect him.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: In case you were wondering, this is one of those unrelentingly depressing books.
Adam: You mean like the entire rest of the series?

"Can you help us?" the Arn asked. "Do you remember where the weapons are hidden?"

<No. I know nothing of any weapons. It must have occurred…if it did occur, after,> Aldrea said. I repeated her message.

The Arn nodded his head sadly. "And yet, it was the mind that found the hiding place. Found once, it could find again. Could Aldrea find them?"

<Could I find weapons I hid? Yes, most likely,> Aldrea said.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: Road trip!
Ifi: Road trip road trip road trip!
Adam: I already used up the Uchu Kita clip
Adam: But we're going to space!
Adam: And intentionally this time!
Ifi: For once

<My people were friends to the Hork-Bajir, too,> she said. Then she looked directly at Ax and, out loud, using my voice, said, "This human, Cassie, tells me you are a friend, Andalite. I warned her about Andalite friends."

<Did you warn her about Andalite nothlits, daughters of Seerow, who pretend to be Hork-Bajir?> Ax shot back.

<I am Hork-Bajir!>

<No. The Hork-Bajir are like Jara and Ket and the rest. You could perhaps consider yourself the equivalent of a Hork-Bajir seer, but your intelligence is not the result of a genetic fluctuation. I do not know you, Aldrea-lskillion-Falan, but I know of you. You are highly intelligent, emotionally self-controlled, capable of lying and manipulation for your own ends. You are also fundamentally peaceful, moral, courageous, and capable of self-sacrifice. You are, in short, an Andalite. Not a Hork-Bajir.>

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: Also Ax and Aldrea refuse to get along
Adam: Now kiss!
Ifi: You are not a very good shipper.
Adam: I am the best shipper.
Adam: Seriously though, Aldrea is obnoxious
Ifi: Andalite.
Adam: Well, Arbron had a sense of humor, so we know that they're not all like that.
Ifi: Arbron was an anomaly

"I thought I'd been given a ridiculous receptacle at first," Aldrea admitted, speaking to Rachel almost as if I weren't there to hear. "I didn't know how I would be able to fight in this soft little body. No blades of any kind. It doesn't even have hidden poison sacs!"

"Yeah, but she has an enema bag she uses on raccoons," Rachel joked.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: AGH!
Ifi: What the BALLS, author?

Adam: Oh Applegate, you stay classy

Ifi: For the record, I had absolutely no idea what that was when I was a kid.
Adam: Don't you feel better for learning that?
Ifi: I am gonna be sick.

I wondered again why Aldrea hadn't chosen Rachel as her receptacle. But maybe the answer was all too clear: Maybe I'd been chosen because she sensed that I was the weakest.

Had she felt that I would be the easiest to control? Had Aldrea, even in her inchoate Ixcila form, marked me as an easy victim?

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: Yes.
Ifi: Seriously Cassie I thought you were supposed to be good at reading people
Ifi: And you're sharing a body with her
Ifi: It should be incredibly apparent that she does not plan on leaving.
Adam: The reason they eventually give for Aldrea's choice still does not make any sense, but we will get to that in a bit.

Ifi: So we are going to space, and the Chee will be doing their thing, as usual

"Maybe I shouldn't ask this," I said slowly. "Maybe it's bad luck or something. But if we…if we don't come back, would…" I couldn't finish the sentence. A terrible grief welled up beneath my own less intense worry.

It took me a moment to realize that most of it was coming from Aldrea. My thoughts had made her think of her own parents and her little brother. All lost to her forever.

"We could stay with your families," Erek said. "If you really wish."

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: What the HELL
Ifi: is wrong with this BOOK
Adam: Well, this is the furthest away they have ever deliberately gone from their hometown.
Adam: And they don't know how long they'll be gone for
Ifi: Am I the only one who finds it totally wild that they go to outer space and then come back and just go to school as usual?
Ifi: I almost feel like they shouldn't be emotionally capable of that sort of thing
Adam: They're already riddled with PTSD.
Ifi: "Wake up Jake! Time for school!"
Ifi: "You're kidding me, right?"
Ifi: "What?"
Ifi: "You honestly think I am going to school EVER AGAIN?"
Ifi: "What are you--"

Ifi: So five minutes into the trip, everyone starts arguing
Adam: There is a lot of that in this book
Ifi: They just seem to be arguing for the sake of arguing. There is no point to it.
Ifi: And it doesn't affect anything
Adam: Aldrea also has trippy nightmares
Ifi: This whole book was so surreal

<You care for this Jake person,> Aldrea said to me.

<Yeah. I do.>

<Like Dak and me.>

<Yeah. I guess so.> It was a disturbing comparison. Neither Dak nor Aldrea had survived their war.

<I wish you better luck than we had.>

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: ...
Ifi: Yeah
Ifi: No.

Adam: So, now that that happy bit is over with
Adam: We are getting shot at!
Ifi: So they are in a stolen Yeerk ship, which means the Andalites are like "we shoot you boom."
Ifi: Ax: We can't blow them up they're the good guys!
Ifi: Jake: Ax STFU they are gonna kill us.
Ifi: Tobias: WAIT! I have a plan! Because piloting a ship though outer space is just like flying around downtown!
Adam: Tobias is apparently a genius pool player

It was Tobias, the instinctual flier, who saw the possibilities. <Hey, we drift left, get behind the Andalite, the Yeerks may hesitate to shoot, thinking we're friendly and they might hit us. They'll split left and right to get a safe angle of attack. At that speed, that angle, you hit the left-side leader and—>

"And the debris will shred the following ship!" Aldrea said enthusiastically.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Adam: Someone has seen Star Wars one too many times
Ifi: So they get to the Hork-Bajir planet and the Yeerks have gone all Eco-Villain on it.

<Turn away,> I begged. I hated the weakness in my voice, but I couldn't bear to look anymore. <Turn our eyes away.>

She did. But then, she looked again. And I looked, too. Because even now, scarred and blasted, raped and despoiled, it was my home.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: ...
Ifi: What.

Ifi: I need to lie down.
Adam: I get that a lot

Ifi: Oh! And so Q takes them to that logic-defying village thing near the core of the planet
Adam: If you call him Q, I'm just going to get him confused with this guy:

Adam: But anywho
Adam: What makes this scene even weirder is the fact that they acknowledge the existence of convection.

"Oh, thank you, Marco," I muttered. "Right now I really need to be thinking about what's way, way, way down there."

"It is the core of the planet," Quafijinivon answered.

"The core," Rachel repeated. "You're talking core as in center?"

"Yes, of course," he answered. His tone made it clear that he thought she was a little on the slow side.

"So, it's like a volcano down there, with lava and everything," Marco said. "How hot is that lava? You know, in case we fell in?"

"You're not helping," I told him, without raising my eyes from my feet. "Really not."

<You do not have to worry about the lava, Cassie,> Ax comforted me.

"Thanks, Ax," I answered.

<If you fell, I believe you would be incinerated before you hit the actual magma,> he continued.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: Actually Ax, you don't even need to fall. You are being incinerated as you speak.
Adam: The pressure from the core would push it up through the cracks and turn the Arns' base into a massive supervolcano
Adam: But at least it looks cool.

Ifi: So now we need to find weapons
Ifi: Aldrea doesn't exactly know where they are, as she said before.
Ifi: But for some reason, everyone has forgotten that she already admitted this
Ifi: and act all betrayed and offended when she reminds them
Adam: This book is all about the needless arguments

<You humans are a brachiating species?> I asked.

<Of course. Our ancestors, the species that came before humans evolved, lived in the trees.>

<I felt that you were more at peace than an Andalite would have been.>

<Yeah, as long as we don't fall.>

<Hork-Bajir do not fall from the trees.>

Up and up, toes and blades biting the bark, racing straight toward "Father Sky."

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: She also forgets the gender of her primitive Sky deity.
Adam: The sky had a very difficult transitional process during the invasion.
Adam: I wished they had talked a bit about the Arn's evolutionary history. Could have been interesting.
Ifi: Quaf basically goes, "Sorry, I am not a major character. I have no personality." And locks himself in his lab.
Adam: I think he just wants to get away from all these crazies by now.

Tobias came swooping past. <Aldrea, how much further in this direction?> he asked.

<Another quarter mile, no more,> she said. <There is a place where the valley grows so narrow that the trees reach across it and touch each other.>

<Not anymore there isn't,> Tobias said.

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Ifi: So uh the place where the weapons are probably hidden?
Ifi: Guess what's on top of it now?
Ifi: A Yeerk Pool

Ifi: Aldrea is a bitch, but I can forgive her most of the time because the universe totally hates her.
Adam: So now the weapons cache is in the worst possible place in the world.
Adam: The tree that it was kept in is now one of the pool's support pylons.
Ifi: So they come up with a completely incomprehensible plan
Adam: Hey, completely incomprehensible plans are what the Animorphs are all about.
Ifi: Cassie morphs a bird and then a whale and the others are in her mouth and I have NO IDEA what happened.
Adam: She also morphs the whale while still partially in mid-bird morph
Adam: All in all it makes no sense
Ifi: All you need to know is that they get inside and it's all fine.
Adam: They also swim around inside a Yeerk pool without getting infested.
Adam: But whatevs yo.
Ifi: "Hey. Is that your host?"
Ifi: "Hell if I know."
Adam: "Some sort of giant aquatic alien. Lemme go check."
Ifi: Now I am curious. Could a Yeerk control a whale brain? I mean, just considering the sheer size of it...
Adam: Whales in the Animorphs-verse are sapient, remember.
Adam: Though they don't have external ear canals.
Adam: Though seemingly neither do hork-bajir and taxxons, so I dunno.

Ifi: Ok so
Ifi: The ending made no sense to me
Adam: Aldrea tells Cassie that she chose her because Cassie would have the eventual strength of character to kick her out.
Adam: And she didn't pick Rachel because….
Ifi: Because that was a complete lie and the opposite reason she picked Cassie
Adam: Shhh.
Adam: We're supposed to finish the book with something positive.
Ifi: Aldrea lies for the hell of it! She's a regular Holden Caufield! She just lies!
Adam: She's a phony?
Ifi: She's liable to say she's going to the opera!
Adam: Here, I got her a hat:

Ifi: Anyway Toby wants to stay on the Hork-Bajir planet because reasons.
Ifi: So instead of, you know, discussing it
Ifi: They decide to trick her into going back to earth

"Jake!" Cassie cried. "Aldrea is struggling to seize control of me!"

Jake and all the others jerked around, bristling, ready to fight.

Aximili moved quickly to get behind Toby. Hewhipped his tail forward and held the blade against the young Hork-Bajir's throat.

<Release your hold, Aldrea. You will leave Cassie's body or your great-granddaughter will leave her own.>

----Book Thirty-Four, The Prophecy

Adam: They trick her into thinking that Aldrea done gone crazy, and use her as a hostage.
Adam: Nobody ever talks anything out in this book.
Ifi: "Toby, why do you want to stay on this planet?"
Ifi: "Well to be honest I feel obligated."
Ifi: "Yeah but what about your parents? The colony totally needs you."
Ifi: "I guess you're right. Let's go home. Stupid idea anyway. BYE HOMEWORLD!"
Ifi: End.

Adam: Generally speaking, I liked this book, but it had some very definite flaws that I just can't ignore.
Ifi: More than any of the others, I felt like this one was written for adults.
Ifi: Not intentionally, of course.
Ifi: But still.
Adam: Well, it's basically the sequel to the Hork-Bajir Chronicles, which was one of the darkest books in the series
Ifi: That does make sense
Ifi: The writing wasn't bad at all.
Ifi: It just had the highest concentration of WTF moments since the Andalite Chronicles.
Adam: Indeed!
Adam: But much of the drama was driven by the characters being needlessly obnoxious.
Ifi: Yeah
Ifi: Jeez Cassie. Why is it always you?
Adam: Also, I really wish that they would have given Aldrea and Toby a moment together.
Ifi: Half the time the author forgot Toby was even there.
Adam: Toby is a really interesting concept for a character, but she is just so underutilized
Ifi: I've said that like a billion times

Adam: I guess we're done
Ifi: *moonwalks out*


  1. "GET OUT OF MY ROOM AND DON'T COME BACK UNLESS YOU HAVE BACON!" = the line where I did a spit-take. Because I'm picturing *Jake* saying it. And yeah, I'm glad I wasn't the only one who felt like Quaf was just in a really big rush to get through this book and get out of it. Like "Saving the Hork-Bajir" was Thing #27 on his bucket list, and Thing #28 was skydiving lessons, so could we please hurry this up a bit?

    Since I'm physically unable to read a review without going BUT WAIT YOU SKIPPED THIS AWESOME PART BLOO BLEE BLOO, I should mention that I love the part where Toby calls Ax out for mistrusting Aldrea because he thinks there must be something wrong with anyone who would choose to be Hork-Bajir when she could choose to be Andalite. Even though Ax turns out to be right (or doesn't? Aldrea's characterization is kind of hard to pin down in this book, since it's so busy bending itself out of shape to justify using Cassie as the narrator), it's still a great exchange - a nice little nod to the fact that while, yes, the Hork-Bajir and Andalites are setting aside their differences until the end of the war, there's still a lot of stuff that they're eventually going to have to deal with, and they haven't forgotten about it.

    And yes, that ending. Oh, that ending. The start of a long and proud tradition of forcing loyal friends to do things they don't want to do, more or less at gunpoint. Swell. I'm sure that tactic isn't going to ever come back to bite them in the butt.

    1. Aw darn, you're right. It's interesting because it is difficult to specify whether Ax initially dislikes Aldrea because she is the daughter of his species's greatest social pariah, or because andalite culture displays a notable prejudice against those who become nothlits intentionally (as we will see in a later book.)

    2. Yeah, the interaction between the two of them is, in general, just fascinating from beginning to end. It's a neat study of how Andalites can be Andalites without, you know, being Andalites. I mean, Aldrea considers herself to be Hork-Bajir, and Ax has more or less thrown his lot in with the humans, but it's still clear that despite their mutual mistrust and dislike, they have a lot in common (which is probably also one of the reasons why they don't get along). I love the part where someone points out that they can't beat an Andalite fighter in aerial battle, and both of them say something along the lines of "yeah, you're damn right you can't" at almost exactly the same moment. Yeah, you two are *total* opposites, guys.

  2. You know, the last Megamorphs actually does imply Tobias is a natural expert at pool.

  3. This book was... well, it was kind of silly. Much as I appreciate Quaf and Aldrea showing back up again, and the return to the Hork-Bajir planet, I really think there was a better way to revisit the themes of the book other than Quaf just showing up and saying "oh hey guys, I have a robot ghost in a jar." Maybe as a series of flashbacks while the Animorphs are fighting on the Hork-Bajir planet, or something?

    On another note, I never really understood how the Yeerks managed to amass all the thousands of Hork-Bajir that they used as Controllers, and the apparently plentiful amounts occupying the Hork-Bajir planet, even after the Andalites used the quantum bomb.

    1. There were a lot more Hork-Bajir to start out with. Also, breeding. Jara Hammee was born in captivity, apparently, and met and formed a relationship with Ket Halpak. So the Yeerks can and do let the Hork-Bajir breed, if not force them to. Since Toby is big enough for combat purposes at less than two years old, and the Yeerks have no scruples about infesting juvenile Controllers, they have had TONS of time to get the numbers up, even with only a half-assed effort.

    2. "Toby wanted to stay but nobody cares what Toby wants." *Snicker* And maybe the Animorphs don't want to have take over babysitting the Hork-Bajir on top of everything else going on with their lives. Also, try to remember, they're friends of her parents first. She might be biologically and mentally closer to their "age" but they were tight with Jara and Ket first, and they might be thinking about bringing their friends' kid back over letting a friend chose her own destiny. And Toby is an Earthling, if not a human. She has an obligation to fight for Earth. If the USA went to war with Kenya, Obama would on our side, like Eisenhower and Pershing were when we fought the Germans.

      And regarding the Arn, remember that just about every alien species the Animorphs have encountered so far have been evil, creepy or assholes. Yeerks, Taxxons, Andalites (including all of them but Elfangor, even if they've learned to love Ax), Ellimists, Howlers, Chee, Iskoort (I stand by my genetic tyranny, plus they're organ harvesters, necromancers and probably snuff film producers) and so on. The one exception is the Hork-Bajir, of whom they have had to kill many, as well as being hideously hacked up by them. And now a potential exploiter of these kind, peaceful, noble, heroic & generous aliens shows up, not to mention being a representative of the group that put all those pointy parts on the Hork-Bajir in the first place. Reflexive hostility and treating him like a jerk are the least he could have expected.

      Regarding your immortality scenario for the Arn, who says he didn't? Would YOU tell a pack of hostile ruthless xenophobic juvenile aliens about your fallback plan, or secret immortality scheme? I wouldn't, in Q's shoes.

      Also, making bodies for the Yeerks - would that really work? Most Yeerks are assholes, and even Aftran, in spite of her high-minded ideals about voluntary hosts and so on, was still kind of a racist. Human beings can't take hosts but generally have no problem falling in with leaders who propose pointless wars, even when it means people they love will die. So, just because the Yeerks might have a peaceful alternative, I don't believe that would stop them. Then there is the point that being made to impose themselves on other species and defeat sentient minds (as you guys noted once before - what about the implications of living with a mind crying for freedom 24/7 - apparently it doesn't bother the majority of these douches ). Giving them a non-sentient body would be akin to asking us to give up sex for biological non-sentient sex toys, or give up food in favor of a system that imparts nutrients directly into your system. Or trade a copy of Animorphs #33 for Adam's & Ifi's summary. We wouldn't make those trades, and I don't think the Yeerks would either. Some might morally insist on tofu instead of meat, but the vast majority would rather push the chef into traffic.

    3. Son of a bitch. I caouldn't post accurately to save my life.

    4. All of the Toby stuff you mentioned would be a decent justification for having a talk with her, maybe getting Aldrea to step in and explain things, and *convincing* her to come home. It is in no way a justification for basically putting a knife to her throat and *forcing* her to come home against her will. Being from Earth doesn't make her their property. I know the phrase gets thrown around a lot in this series, but that scene is one of the most literal applications of "if we did that, we'd be no better than the Yeerks" I've seen. And the Animorphs are certainly in no position to claim that they know better than Toby what is in the Hork-Bajir's long-term best interests.

    5. But they can reasonably be assured of the Hork-Bajir wanting her back. Who are they to say the Hork-Bajir are wrong to want her back? And anyway, the first mission is to defend Earth, which they need Toby for. Earth falls, then the only thing this particular mission has accomplished, long-term, is to breed more hosts.
      Killing is bad, unless someone else is already doing the killing. With that principle in place, what CAN'T you legitimately justify? So, yeah, conscripting and forcing things against peoples' will IS kind of justified, and if the Animorphs had bit that bullet earlier, lots of people might still be alive.

    6. The Hork-Bajir have a right to want her back. The question of whether they have the right to force her to come back would be an interesting debate. The question of whether the Animorphs have the right to force her to come back based on a guess of what the Hork-Bajir *might* want - a guess, I'd argue, that is quite possibly incorrect, and also not their primary motivation for taking her - doesn't even seem like a question.

      Look: as far as we know, Toby is the first Hork-Bajir born in freedom in generations. At the end of the day, she's either a free person or she isn't. Part of being a free person is having the right to make your own choices all the time, not just when those choices don't have any consequences. We know how the Hork-Bajir feel about freedom. Do you really think for a second that with all Toby symbolizes to them, they would ever approve of someone taking that away from her, even to save their lives? Their motto is literally "free or dead" - that's about as clear an answer as you can possibly get.

      No: taking Toby home by force was a plan cooked up between Ax and Aldrea, with some help from Cassie, and it was very much an Andalite decision. It had to do with what would be most helpful to the (Andalite-run) larger war against the Yeerks. It had nothing to do with what the Hork-Bajir wanted.

      You could argue that any kind of victory against the Yeerks, at any cost, would benefit the Hork-Bajir, but again, unless you actually ASK THE HORK-BAJIR IF THEY THINK SO, TOO, you're still treating them like they belong to you, not like they're your allies. That's exactly the kind of attitude that made releasing a quantum virus start to seem like a reasonable choice in the name of The Greater Good (tm).

      Besides: for all we know, Toby had a plan for the leadership of the Hork-Bajir colony after she left. Maybe there was some way to communicate with Earth from the Hork-Bajir world. Maybe there was someone at home that she trusted to run things. Remember, the colony existed before she was born and when she was a baby. It might not have been thriving, but it wasn't dying, either, and it was under the Ellimist's protection. It seems entirely out of character for her to have even considered staying on the Hork-Bajir world without some kind of plan for what would happen to her family and friends when she did so. Did she have one? I guess we'll never know, because THEY NEVER ASKED HER.

      I tend to see this book as foreshadowing of the way that the series ends - and very ominous foreshadowing at that. Aldrea and Ax are pretty much the best of what the Andalites have to offer in terms of caring about what happens to other species, and even they can't resist the temptation to step in, take over, figure out what is best for the lesser creatures, and carry out their plans with as much violence as necessary to back them up. Is it really that much of a surprise that the Andalites later decide that nuking Earth is a swell way to end the war?

  4. I wonder if the Hork-Bajir breed while their Yeerks are in their heads, or whilst they are free?
    The fact that Jara and Ket are in love when we first meet them doesn't really say anything either way.

    What happens if Yeerk A hates Yeerk B but their hosts are in love/lust? (besides angst lol)

    1. I'm sure there are already dozens of fanfics about it.

    2. I think Ket were already pregnant. Talking about someday having a baby while you're hiding in a cave on the run from the Yeerk pool is jumping a bit ahead. I think they were at least partially motivated to run and to STAY "free or dead" because of the fetus. It would fit too with the Ellimist's contention of not interfering. If he was the one who inspired Jara Hammee to take Ket & run, that makes everything his doing. If all he did was point out an escape route or an opportunity when it arose, to a Hork-Bajir already looking for an opportunity to be free because of his forthcoming child, that's much more appropriate to his claims, and also makes Jara Hammee more heroic, IMO.

      Taking that as the case, I would guess that couples get it on when their Yeerks are in the pool, and the guards are cool with that because hosts that are boinking are not actively sawing through bars, or digging tunnels out of the cages, and relationships give hostages that prevent runners.

  5. Like Shan, I imagined Jake saying the fuck school give me bacon bit. I have no idea why, but it was amusing.

    This is one of the few Animorphs books I own. I really like the cover. I brought this book, along with some more alien cover Animorph books, to school, and some dude ran screaming when he saw the Hork Bajir. "hey, ladies, what books are you looking aAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"
    I remember that you guys pointed out that David Mattingly changed his Andalites after the Andalite Chronicles came out. Maybe he saw the Hork Bajir Chronicles, and he based his Hork Bajirs on that? Totally possible. The TV show, btw, had really weird Hork Bajirs. I was like, 'WTF is that', and then Elfangor told us. And then my brother and I laughed.

    SO UM I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THIS BOOK. I didn't want to read it, because I didn't like reading it the first time. I do wish Q (yeah, no, I'm not spelling out his name) had a larger role in the series, or the Arn in general. THEY SEEM SO FREAKING AWESOME. People probably think that he's weird looking, so they're mean to him :(

  6. One thing this book made me wonder: why would it be necessary for an ixcila's host to be the same gender? I mean if I were an incorporeal copy of myself I think I'd look for a mind most compatible with my own regardless of sex. I didn't mind Cassie as the narrator (Aldrea choosing her is kind of a callback to 4 when only she and Tobias could clearly receive Ax's messages) but this book would've taken an interesting turn if Aldrea had possessed Ax. No matter what form she's in her mind/personality is thoroughly Andalite IMO, plus the angst would have been more organic. As for tricking Toby, meh, I didn't blame them.

    Marco book next week! I'm ready.

  7. Admittedly, the personality upload thing might be old hat to the galaxy at large (shades of the Ellimist on Father's moon, albeit in a more refined form?). Which is no excuse for the Animorphs not to be more surprised, I suppose.

  8. I like to imagine that after they 9-11 the Blade ship, Jake, Tobias, Rachel, Marco & Ax awake in their cloned bodies in a secret underground annex to Q's lab, where their own memory backups were set on a delay thing to download when their original bodies died. I figure he secretly obtained their Ixcilia without their knowledge or permission, because some things are just reflexive in bioengineers, or at least those with the capabilities and hubris to create posthumous vengeance armies. Cassie having been host to an ixcilia at the time would make a convenient, if illogical, excuse for why she is not with them, or they don't need to wait for her death to revive the group. Oh, and there should be a Jara Hammee backup with them, too.

    Anyway, this lets them (or alt-versions of them) go on to live happily ever after, without being scarred by the hideous experiences of the later books, and Q has made some improvements to their morphing powers so they don't have to worry about being nothlits, and they can go home to their parents, and have normal remainders of their childhoods (explaining that they have been in suspended animation all this time and those kids who dragged them to the valley were the evil clones). Then, they can go live on the planet Q has seeded with the reconstructed Pemalites and Howlers, where you can have fun all day with aliens who make kickass tech or who are the ultimate badasses. And there is grass that tastes like Cinnabons. And Cassie is not allowed.

    The redeeming feature of this book is that it makes envisioning such a happy ending possible.

    1. That is a great ending. I'll take that over all the crappy fanfics about alternate endings anyday. The only thing better would be if Applegate had something else up her sleeve for them. I guess only time will tell. Or it won't and I'll be utterly miserable

  9. "Ifi: They don't even know what they're agreeing to"

    It's seems generally implied to me, especially in the Hork-Bajir Chronicles, that the Hork-Bajir have the comprehensive abilities of very young children (maybe around 4 years for a human, up to 5 or 6 for a smart "elder" Hork-Bajir) with slightly more limited language capabilities. They're not *backward* and *dumb* (that would be far too dysfunctional for a completely independent society; the Arn would be forced to herd them), they're just *limited* in their ability to even reach certain concepts, for their brains to get to the point when they can understand certain things. This why the Arn had feared the Seers so much. The Seers actually did progress Hork-Bajir society each time they appeared; I mean one invented the tree-harps used to communicate to neighboring valleys! If the Hork-Bajir were as genuinely backward and dumb as some books and gostwriters depict them, the Arn would never have had to worry about Seers; the regular Hork-Bajir would have just sat around slack-jawed staring at him until he stopped explaining things and went away.

    I think kids of that age understand DNA all the time. But hey, maybe that's being raised around it. It could still easily be explained in a way a four-year-old would understand, and Toby would know that. "Hey, this creature knows a special magic that, after taking a sample of your blood or skin or claw, will allow him to make another Hork-Bajir very much like you on the homeplanet to fight yeerks. The more samples of us he has, the better." Oh, not to mention they might already know about some basic DNA concepts from hosting Yeerks, the same way they know the galactic language and english and how to use a dracon beam.

    Just because the narrator says it doesn't make it true. The kids are dicks A LOT. And I don't know why we're acting like this is the first time they've been speciesist. Yes, it was sort of the point of Animorphs to not be, but it failed a lot, more so in the narration and debates than the actual actions. The actions and plots, I think, are supposed to teach us that the kids had been dumb.

    1. Also, this series uses the term "DNA" in exactly the way you have Toby describe it. It's just the magic catchall term for anything related to biology or heredity, and probably the result of a mistranslation of thought-speak. So getting caught up on the semantics of the term and whether or not DNA fits the way a particular junior-high-science-educated narrator uses it in a sentence is kind of nit-picky.

  10. I always thought the Animorphs gut-dislike for the Arn was pretty realistic. Imagine if we, in our modern mundane world, stumbled across a group of scientists who were genetically engineering children who had the body of linebackers and the minds of toddlers and setting them off to do the menial physical labors they don't feel like doing. That's pretty much the Arn in human terms. Now, we can argue the morality and utility of doing that and I'm not trying to make a moral judgment about the Arn here. But I suspect the natural inclination of humanity if we came across those scientists would be negative at best, and certainly if it occurred in the United States would result in some fast-track Congressional bill-passing, if not an attempt to arrest and charge them under an existing law. The Animorphs, as members of humanity, are likely to approach the issue from that stance.

    1. Well to be fair, your analogy isn't quite accurate. The Arn never set the Hork-Bajir off to do tasks that they didn't feel like doing. It's more like the cow from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The Arn created the Hork-Bajir to do a task, and designed them so that not only would they like to do it, but it was intended to be the only thing they would really know how to do. If anything, where what the Arn did becomes morally iffy is the fact that they made the Hork-Bajir TOO intelligent. To me at least, it seems that it would have made more sense to create them as little more then organic machines who are programmed to do a task and little else. Of course, then they would likely require more direct management, in which case you can accuse the Arn of compromising morality on behalf of laziness, but that is not quite the same argument as before.

    2. Fair enough. My point was the Arn are morally grey regarding the Hork Bajir at best, and especially considering all they know about the Arn is fourth-hand information from Tobias. If the picture we got of the Arn through the Hork Bajir Chronicles is the moral standing the Hork Bajir attribute to them, I think it would hardly get much better told by Tobias.

  11. What are the chances of seeing a review of the TV series?

    1. We would need access to the tv series, first of all. Plus some decent video editing software.

      On a more personal note, I wouldn't mind having a speaking voice that didn't make me want to rip my hair out, out of frustration whenever I heard it recorded back to me.

  12. Blogger ate my first comment :( But the jist of it was that I'd always wondered why it was a given that Aldrea would choose one of the females. If the issue was her inchoate form seeking a mind which was most familiar to her own, I can't see how that would be anyone but Ax. Because no matter what form Aldrea preferred in life, her mind and even personality was distinctly Andalite. I think it would've made the book more interesting for sure (and this is coming from someone who actually agreed with the reasoning behind Cassie as the narrator...for whatever reason her brain and possibly empathetic capacity seems to draw Andalites, her and Tobias were the only ones who clearly heard Ax's distress call in #4. And while the definition of strength can be subjective, I would characterize Cassie as someone who is mentally strong, regardless of the validity of many of her actions). Anyway, having Aldrea take up residence in Ax's mind would've made for some great glimpses into both of their characters.

    As for Ax, Aldrea and Cassie tricking Toby, meh, I had no problem with it.

  13. . . . Did they ever get the weapons, or at least say what the weapons were? You'd think the book would explain it's road trip macguffin a bit better.

    But yeah, I agree with what everyone else is saying about the wasted potential/characterization this book had. This was also written by Melinda Metz (same ghostwriter who wrote The Sickness), so logically carrying out/explaining things doesn't seem to be a strong suit, here. It just makes me miss the author of the book about the crack house Snoopy ship more.

  14. So basically this is Dollhouse, the Animorphs version?

    1. I just show...stole...idea...fuck

  15. When Aldrea is enraged at the fact the Andalites tried to kill all the Hork-Bajir, it annoyed me when Aldrea was all pleased at the fact the free HB yelled free or dead. She thinks she owns them, just like the Animorphs do. The Andalites assumed the original HB thought the same and they probably did. sure, the Andalites should have asked them, but still. At the end of the day Aldrea isn't a Hork-Bajir like she pretends, she's a puppetmaster. She wants this war to be her war, as well as Toby and Cassie. Which reminds me. She thinks the Yeerks are evil because they steal bodies, so what is she doing to Cassie? Borrowing her body?

  16. When I first read this book, I looked up 'enema' in the dictionary. That was the first memory I have of being really disturbed.

  17. Yeah, I remember when reading the review of the Hork-Bajir Chronicles thinking that Aldrea was just like Rachel.