Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book 35: The Proposal


The Summary
Marco's dad is getting remarried to Marco's math teacher, Nora Robinette. Marco is upset because she is his math teacher and she has an evil dog and his mother is probably not dead.

In more important news, a celebrity named William Roger Tennant is promoting The Sharing on his show, so the Animorphs have to put a stop to that. But Marco is so stressed out that whenever he tries to morph, it goes wrong and he winds up a hybrid between what he wanted to be and some other completely random animal. Yes, it's a shameless rehash of The Reaction.

They break into Tennant's mansion to dig up some dirt on him. There, they find out that while the real Tennant is a really sweet guy, the Yeerk controlling him is nuts, with an incredibly short fuse and hatred of all things cute.

The Animorphs first try to get him to flip out in public by putting cockroaches in his salad, and then biting his head. When that fails, Marco follows him around in Nora's annoying poodle morph for three days straight. While in a TV studio, Marco loses control again and morphs a polar bear/poodle hybrid and almost kills the guy. Jake manages to snap him out of it, and the cameras catch Tennant trying to strangle a toy poodle.

Marco's dad marries Nora and Marco begins to adjust to their new life together.

Then the phone rings.

Visser One needs help.

The Review
Ifi: This cover 
Adam: It is goofy
Adam: Profoundly goofy
Ifi: How the hell is he morphing bows?
Adam: Bows are actually a natural part of a poodle's ears.
Adam: When you see a poodle without one, they have actually been shipped off and sold to party favor stores or Doctor Who conventions.
Ifi: Marco morphs a couple things in this book. Heck, the cockatiel would have been less lame.
Ifi: Or did they give him the poodle because he's the funny one and a poodle is an inherently silly animal?
Adam: Well, the poodle probably fits the most with this plot.
Adam: Which, considering this plot, is just really sad.


Adam: Oh, also, I would like to mention that the inside cover has a bunch of easter eggs
Adam: Check out all the tv screens.
Ifi: Hey! Those are Mattingly's other covers!
Ifi: Is that Honor Harrington?
Adam: Yep
Adam: I only just noticed that.
Ifi: Who is the dude in the pink shirt?
Adam: No clue
Ifi: It sort of stands out from all the others
Adam: It's probably some relative or friend
Adam: but yeah
Ifi: "I put that creepy picture of you in my latest cover trollololol"

Ifi: This plot.
Ifi: I don't even know.
Ifi: There was the main plot, which was a redo of the Jeremy Jason McCole thing
Ifi: And the subplot, which was Marco flipping the hell out over his dad remarrying
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: I will be frank, over the course of this reread, this is my least favorite book in the series so far.
Adam: Like you said, the plot is a complete retread of Book 12
Adam: The narrator looses control of his/her morphing, and the yeerks are using a celebrity to recruit hosts, so the animorphs have to figure out a way to ruin his reputation.
Adam: Except, Book 12 was funny.
Ifi: I mean, I see why the Yeerks would want multiple celebrities as hosts
Ifi: But losing control of the morphing both times it comes up?
Ifi: Yeah. Come on.
Adam: As far as I can recall, this is the only time that plot recycling has been this blatant.

Ifi: The reason for Marco losing control of his morphs is stupid. I understand that his dad remarrying when his mom is not dead is stressful. But I think FIGHTING A SECRET WAR AGAINST ALIEN INVADERS AT THE AGE OF FOURTEEN is a litttttttttle more stressful than that.
Ifi: Following that logic, the main cast should be morphing randomly throughout the entire series
Adam: Not to mention, Jake completely snapped just a few books ago, and it never affected his morphing

Ifi: Marco's dad met Marco's math teacher (Nora) at a parent-teacher conference and now they are in TRUE LOVE
Ifi: Damn
Ifi: That...
Ifi: that blows
Adam: I was going to congratulate Marco's dad, until I found out that it was his teacher
Adam: That's honestly just unprofessional.
Ifi: It really is. Poor Marco.
Adam: Eh.
Adam: He is way angstier than he has any right to be.
Adam: Be happy for your dad, man.
Ifi: The fact that Nora has never been mentioned before and she marries Peter in this very book makes it look like they dated for a month before getting married
Adam: That is a legitimately good point.
Adam: I mean, they could have been dating behind the scenes during the past couple of books
Adam: But the last Marco book makes no mention of it,
Adam: So at the very minimum, it has been a little over two months.
Ifi: Peter just realized that life is a fleeting and precious thing.
Ifi: "Let's get married."
Ifi: "Lol k."
Adam: Cue the Romeo and Juliet Suite.

Ifi: There is also this dude named William Roger Tennant.
Ifi: Is he an expy of anyone?
Ifi: Since you are a pro at identifying them in this series.
Adam: Doctor Phil, I think.
Ifi: Ah I see.
Adam: I would put a youtube clip up here, but I really do not want to have to watch bits of his tv series.
Adam: So here is a different Tennant instead:

A different kind of doctor
A woman caller was complaining about being lonely. She was retired. Many of her friends had passed away in recent years. She was having a hard
time meeting people.

William Roger Tennant listened intently to her complaint. Looked thoughtfully at the camera.

"Marie," he said, "I know a great place where you can make friends. It's called The Sharing."

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: What would the Yeerks want with a 70 year old lady?
Ifi: Worst host ever.
Adam: Well, she could bring her grandkids or something
Adam: And if he recommends it to one person on his show, all the people watching are going to hear him, not just the specific person calling.
Ifi: I want to see the Yeerks stammering out an excuse when this poor old lady shows up and wants to be in the "inner circle."
Ifi: "Sorry the inner circle is only for people between the ages of fourteen and thirty who have no major health issues and could hypothetically fire a weapon."
Adam: Well, they'd probably give her to a civilian, or use her for training larvae or something.
Ifi: Training larvae I love it

Adam: So Marco decides to fly off and tell everyone,
Adam: But then we have nonsensical plot element.

My eyes were supposed to go telescopic. Allowing me to spot glittering fish through reflective water.

They didn't. Instead, they began to grow darker. Blurrier. Until I could see only dim shapes around me. A hazy combination of black, white, and gray. My arms! They weren't becoming wings! What was happening? I felt them stretching out in front of me. The skin on my hands turning brittle, like armor. Fingers merging, becoming two barbed claws. Something was wrong!

My face...

A pinprick on each cheek! Two long whisker-like hairs sprouted outward. Instinctively, I swept them in front of me, gauging the wind, the temperature, sensing my surroundings.

Antennae? Birds don't have antennae!

Dim eyes. Pincers. Antennae.

Lobster?

I was half-osprey, half-lobster?

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: Lobsprey?
Ifi: So guess who is riding his bike from now on.
Adam: So, despite something similar having happened to Rachel last year, Marco decides to do the dumb thing and hide it from everyone.

"I rode my bike," I repeated impatiently. "Weren't you the one giving me grief about never exercising? So I exercised." No way was I going to tell the others about my morph freakout. That I'd barely managed to de-morph before suffocating. That I had been too freaked to try morphing again.

A fluke, that's all it was. I'd been distracted, preoccupied. I must have lost focus. I was just going to put it out of my mind. Just forget that something that was already terrifying had gone to total nightmare.

<Ah, yes. Physical fitness,> Ax said in thought-speak. <But surely a special array of artificial skins are necessary. From "These Messages" on television, I have learned that fitness requires particular shoes and particular clothing. It is not possible to become physically fit dressed as you are, Marco.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: ilu Ax
Adam: TV has pretty much become Ax's "thing" by now.

"Anyone ever hear of a guy named William Roger Tennant?" I asked.

"Sure," Rachel answered. "The hippie guy. The one with that weird touchy-feely talk show with the Lava lamps. Contact Point."

"Didn't he write all those Men Are from Jupiter, Women Are from Venus books?" Jake asked.

<I do not believe either Jupiter or Venus are inhabitable, certainly not by humans,> Ax said.

"Mars, not Jupiter," Cassie corrected.

<Mars may be marginally habitable.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Ax is the best thing to happen to anything.
Adam: He is pretty much the only worthwhile thing about this book.
Ifi: He actually gets like five awesome lines in rapid succession, so it's worth reading just for that.
Ifi: At least up to page 25 or so
Adam: Also, Rachel makes a "Uranus" joke.
Adam: I really would have expected better of her.
Ifi: ooc ftw

Ifi: So they stalk Tennant, who is a good guy but appears to also be a robot, judging by the meticulous schedule that he follows.
Ifi: He is so nice that the Animorphs lament the fact that they will probably have to murder him.
Adam: The guy is pretty much Fred Rogers.



Ifi: Also there is just one line in here that I need to point out.

I'd told the others about my dad dating my math teacher. Back in the beginning. I'd had to tell them that much. We had to make sure Ms. Robbinette wasn't a Controller. For three days we'd followed her. She'd never gone near any known Yeerk pool entrances.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Remember this.
Ifi: It is going to be important later.
Ifi: When Marco finally has to get his Dad to the Hork-Bajir.
Ifi: I will have a lot to say about it.
Adam: I will keep this in mind

<I mean, the situation's bad enough,> I continued. So maybe I did want to talk about it. Just a little bit. <But does she have to be one of my teachers? Let alone my math teacher? And then there's Euclid.>

<Her toy poodle.>

<Satan with a perm. Simple commands like "sit," "stay," "heel" all mean the same thing to this dog: Bark at Marco. Jump on Marco. Bite Marco's ankle.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Ugh.
Ifi: I feel you, man. My aunt has a chihuahua. Stupidiest thing ever.
Ifi: I don't know why people, especially women, are so fixated on toy dogs.
Adam: Agh
Adam: Small dogs freak me out.
Adam: No animal that size should be able to jump that high.
Adam: Fleas excluded.
Ifi: ZoMG LOOK I HAVE A LIVING CREATURE IN MY PURSEEEEEEEE

The office door opened. William Roger Tennant, now dressed in his usual faded jeans and rumpled button-down oxford shirt, walked over to his desk and sat down. He raised his left hand close to his face.

Perched on his finger was a gray feathered creature about a foot long. He raised it up to his lips and gave it a dainty little kiss.

William Roger Tennant had a large collection of domestic birds. Finches. Parakeets. And cockatiels.

The plan was for five of us to morph cockatiels and search his house.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: d'aww


Adam: Cuuuuute
Ifi: Birds are great. I would totally have doves if I did not have four cats.
Adam: They are great to look at. Except that cockatiels make horrid shrieking noises when you are trying to sleep.
Ifi: Birds are the very best.
Adam: I'm more of a reptile or fish guy myself.
Ifi: My teacher once had a parrot who could perfectly mimic the phone ringing AND the answering machine AND someone leaving a message.
Ifi: He would do it to make her wake up and then she'd check the phone and there'd be nothing.
Adam: That is an odd combination of awesome and just surreal.

<Ax?> Jake said, stopping to stare with squirrel intensity at the alarm junction.

<The creature's digits are quite nimble,> Ax said. <There should be no problem.>

The house was protected by a high-tech burglar alarm system. It took Ax about fifteen seconds to disarm it, working away with his little squirrel hands and chattering in squirrelese the whole time.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: D'awwww
Ifi: My head just exploded from the cute.
Adam: …"Squirrel intensity"?
Ifi: You lived at Pratt with the whistling squirrels. You should know how they get.


Adam: So, they make their way into the aviary, and Marco is viciously assaulted by a small bird.

"Owww!" I cried, jerking my hand back.

"Shhhhhh!!!" Rachel hissed.

"He took a chunk out of my finger," I whispered as I bounced around, holding my finger with my other hand.

"Didn't you listen to Cassie?" Rachel whispered back. "She said you have to approach the birds in a nonthreatening way."

"I didn't threaten him! But now I'm going to threaten him."

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Oh yeah. Bird bites are horrific.
Adam: An animal that small should not be able to remove chunks from a person's flesh.
Adam: This is not the universe I wish to occupy.
Ifi: It's true though. Nuts are far tougher than human fingers.
Adam: Aw nuts.

Adam: So, the Animorphs go to spy on Tennant, when he receives a phone call from his boss.

I couldn't make out the voice on the other end. But I knew who it was. And my own fear seemed to infect the cockatiel's body. I could feel its feathers bristling with panic. Its little heart begin to beat like a machine gun's rapid firing.

"Yes, Visser," William Roger Tennant said with all the enthusiasm people usually reserve for hearing a terminal diagnosis from their doctor.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: This.
Ifi: This was just...

"Everything is going just fine," Tennant muttered.

"Twooit!" I blurted out.

"I'm just finishing that letter now, Visser."

"Twooit! Twooit!"

<Marco? What are you doing?> Rachel hissed.

"Twooit! Twooit! Twooit!"

What was wrong with me? I was losing control of the morph! Couldn't keep it from chirping. From plucking out its own feathers. From rocking, back and forth. Back and forth.

"Yes, Visser. The construction of that Kandrona is coming along right on schedule."

"Twooit! Twooit! Twooit! Twooit!"

<Marco! Shut! Up!>

<I can't,> I cried. <I can't help it!>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: I have no idea what is happening here.
Adam: He wet his bird-pants
Adam: Or something

<Rachel? I think I'm going to...never mind. I just did.>

It took hardly any effort. A completely natural thing to do. If it hadn't been so easy, I might have been able to control myself.

<Yeah, that was a good idea, Marco,> Rachel said. <This guy's already popping veins in his head and you crap on his desk.>

"Yes, Visser. Yes, Visser. Yes, Visser." Then, "Oh, I am going to kill you," William Roger Tennant cried as he slammed down the receiver.

<Who? Who's he going to kill—me, or Visser Three?>

The happiness guru picked up a remote control and punched a button. Shades began to lower across all the windows. He was making sure no one saw him.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: So
Adam: This is the guy you choose to pretend to be the most saintly man on the planet.
Adam: I was going to complain that choosing this guy for this position makes no goddamn sense
Adam: But you know what? Visser Three probably likes this guy.
Ifi: There have to be some Yeerks who love animals and would have been great for this host.
Ifi: But yeah, V3 gave the easy job to one of his wackadoodle friends
Adam: I mean, Visser Three is the kind of guy who hires people like Taylor for important decisions.
Adam: So as poor of a choice this is, it is perfectly in character for him.
Ifi: How the hell did Visser Three even get put in charge of Earth. He should be fighting on the front lines. That is clearly where his skillset is. A subtle invasion is the opposite of everything he is as a sentient being.
Adam: It's the Peter Principle at work.
Adam: He was great on the battlefield, and he had some enormous successes early in his career.
Adam: So he kept getting promoted until he was stuck in a job that he was horribly incompetent at.
Ifi: It's like the council of thirteen took Vissers One and Three and were like, "Hey we found posts that are perfect for both of you but we're assigning you to each other's."
Ifi: "All-out invasion of an alien frog planet with lots of combat? Edriss you can do that."
Ifi: "A subtle and painfully slow takeover of the state of California, which relies exclusively on an understanding of human culture? Esplin, you're up."
Adam: Hey, if the Yeerk government was competent, they would have just forced the Arn to make them giant monster bodies decades ago.

Adam: Anywho, so Tennant figures out the the cockatiels are the Andalite bandits, goes nuts and starts squishing Marco.

My eyes were locked on Tennant's face. He was gritting his teeth. His pale blue eyes bulged, suddenly shot through with red veins. A vein in his temple swelled and throbbed.

He looked like he was going to explode, erupt like a broken cyst. But his hands were no longer tightening.

Then I got it. The Yeerk was struggling. Battling something within the body. Battling William Roger Tennant. The real human named William Roger Tennant.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: I like that the only hosts we've seen successfully overpower their Yeerks so far are 1) a desperate man risking his life before Visser Three to save his daughter from enslavement and 2) a guy who really likes birds.
Adam: Poor guy sure loves his birds.


Ifi: In all, desperate hosts getting a moment of power is something that does not happen often enough in this series. I am not saying it should happen every book, because that would cheapen it, but it was underutilized.
Ifi: Eva pulls it off next book but I don't remember if anyone else does after that.
Adam: Tom did it very briefly a long while ago
Ifi: I don't remember that, what book was it in?
Adam: I think it may have been the first book.
Adam: Or else one of the very early ones.
Adam: He squishes around his facial expressions to try to warn Jake.
Ifi: I'm sure one of our commenters will know.
Adam: *nod*

"When I was first given this host," William Roger Tennant went on, his voice mellowing, almost as if he were speaking to an audience of rapt TV viewers, "I never thought my greatest challenge would be having to be as patient, as kind, as loving as this maundering, mewling, pathetic human. Who would have thought it would be so difficult to keep up this ridiculous charade?"

Tennant paced over to a tall mirror, took himself in, then headed back to the desk in the middle of the room. "I am a warrior!" he cried, gesturing dramatically with me as a prop. "A warrior trapped in this hideous charade. Can you imagine, little birdie, how it pains me to be nice and kind and polite, morning, noon, and night! How I yearn to lash out! To strike! To kill all the fools that surround me! But I cannot. No! That would not be in character for William Roger Tennant, great advocate of human virtues. Caretaker of all life-forms. Bah!"

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Put this guy in a Hork-Bajir for God's sake.
Ifi: He'd be great at it.
Adam: He could probably grow the blades just out of sheer willpower.
Adam: Dude's a wackadoo
Ifi: Wait. I got it. All the psycho Yeerks we meet, like Taylor and this guy, are Esplin's brothers and sisters. The whole batch of them is bonkers, and since Esplin did so well, they all get promoted because nepotism.
Adam: If that were the case, you'd think he would have treated his twin better.
Ifi: There's like eight hundred of them, terrorizing the galaxy and generally undermining the entire empire with their lunacy.
Ifi: Which is why it eventually crumbled
Adam: Of course.

He held me up right in front of his face. I resisted the temptation to take a chunk out of his nose.

"I have an idea, little birdie. If you can tell me your name, I will give you a treat. What is your name, little birdie?" he said.

[...]

"Don't you know your name, little birdie?" Tennant hissed, eyes narrowing. "All my precious little birdies know their names."

<Make your move, Marco!> Rachel said.

I bent my legs, ready to spring. Sudden suspicion darkened his face. "Unless you aren't one of my precious birdies at all."

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: Rachel promptly tries to attack him as a cockatiel.
Ifi: Then the morphing failure whatever happens

Wait! Something was wrong! My arms kept growing, but the rest of my body was shrinking! Getting smaller, smaller. I was barely a foot long! A foot-long torso with three-foot arms!

My skin began to feel dry, flaky. Scales? My head started sinking into my shoulders, flattening itself out into an arrowhead shape. An eye on each side of my face. My bottom lip extruded outward like I was trapped in kissing mode. Then my shoulders receded into the rest of my body until I was just a long, flat body with insanely huge arms.

I felt two slits opening, one on either side of my face. And suddenly, I couldn't breathe. Gills! I'd grown gills!

I was half-gorilla, half-trout!

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Of all the combinations that could have happened
Ifi: I think this is one of the most WTF
Adam: All of his hybrid morphs are pretty much the most awkward Impossible Creatures rejects as possible.


Ifi: They escape when Marco throws a laptop through a window or something, I stopped paying attention at this point.

Jake turned to Ax. "Any idea why this is happening?"

<I am not sure, Prince Jake,> Ax replied. <We know that the morphing process requires focus and concentration. I have heard of cases in which emotional distress has negatively affected morphing ability.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: I already talked about how this made no sense but I want to go over it again
Ifi: They morph in inherently stressful situations!
Ifi: It is what morphing is FOR!
Ifi: It's why it was created!
Adam: This is the very epitome of bad plot elements created for a book that are never brought up again.
Ifi: The thing is, though the plot is one of the dumbest we've seen in a while, the writing itself is quite good.

<I am confused,> Ax said. <Are you saying that your father is considering taking this woman as a new mate?>

"You could put it that way," Cassie said.

"But I'd rather you didn't," I added. "He's just—"

<Ah. Perhaps your father is Young and Restless. Those who are Young and Restless frequently change mates.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: So Marco is put on paid vacation or something.
Ifi: He's not allowed to come on missions until he gets his shit together
Adam: This honestly seems like a completely reasonable decision.
Adam: But then Cassie starts thinking of herself as the group therapist all of a sudden.
Adam: This may just be me, but she seems to be overstepping a boundary in the next bit.
Ifi: When there is no brain surgery to perform, she feels useless. So she overcompensates.
Adam: Seemingly

"Maybe you need to talk to somebody," Cassie suggested. "Like a professional."

"Yeah, Cassie. 'Uh, Doctor Freud? My dad's thinking about remarrying. See, he thinks my mom is dead, but she's not. She's actually a slave to an alien race trying to conquer the planet. And did I mention the fact that I'm fighting this alien invasion myself? That I do it by turning into animals? Say what? What size strait-jacket do I wear?'"

"Well, okay," Cassie replied gently. "But what about us? We are your friends, Marco. You can talk to us. Keeping stuff all locked inside is what makes you get so stressed."

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Cassie, please just accept that you have a very specific skillset and make peace with it.


Adam: A medical doctor is not the same thing as a psychological one.
Adam: Not to mention, Cassie isn't even a medical doctor to begin with.
Adam: And she doesn't even play one on tv.
Ifi: She is good at animals, brain surgery, and talking people into doing things they would not normally do. She is not good at maintaining a reasonable and consistent standard of ethics, being a therapist, or dressing well.
Adam: I don't know, I think she color coordinates pretty well, all things considered.
Ifi: Orange shirt purple overalls?
Adam: I think it is an interesting look
Adam: Though I have weird standards.
Ifi: Yeah you wore that antennae hat IN PUBLIC

Ifi: So Marco goes home to angst and play video games, only to be attacked by Nora's idiot dog when he walks in the door.

The idiot dog kept barking. And jumping on me. Only a foot and a half long, but it could jump three feet in the air. It would have been so easy to punt him across the room. Right through the kitchen window at the back of the house.

"What are you doing home?" my dad asked sheepishly.

"Uh, I live here?" I answered, pushing the dog away.

"Euclid! Stop!" Ms. Robbinette shouted again. "Honestly, I don't understand what's wrong with him."

I was tempted to give my opinion. Instead, I caught the mutt in midair. He tried to squirm away, but I squeezed him to my body the way a running back carries a football. I began to acquire him and he went limp.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: Geez, if you bring a pet to someone's home, keep it on a leash.
Adam: Agh
Adam: Pet people.
Ifi: That is why cats are cool. You can leave them at home and they don't care.
Adam: They still vomit on the furniture
Adam: I will stick with something that stays in a tank.
Adam: Or is otherwise stuffed and unmoving.

Ifi: So now the Animorphs have to publicly disgrace Tennant
Ifi: And despite what they said, Marco has to come along because he is the narrator
Ifi: I mean, because they need him
Ifi: for
Ifi: something

Ifi: First they try to put cockroaches in Tennant's salad
Adam: That goes about as well as you would expect.
Ifi: Marco turns into a half-spider, half-skunk in the middle of it

Aaaaah! Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!
<Marco. How's it going?> Jake said.

<Fine. Fine, everything fine,> I cried. A third pair of feet arrived. And the person attached to them had a broom.

<Did something go wrong with your morph?>

<No. Noooooo. No problem. Nope. But you know what? This is really not a good time to talk.> The third guy dropped to his knees and shoved the broom at me. It whacked me right in the face, crushing the spider's tiny mouthparts.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: Also, he gets harassed by the most ridiculous french stereotype I have ever seen.
Ifi: Ugh
Ifi: Yeah idk what the point of that even was

Adam: Also, Hansen is at this event.
Adam: They only seem to be there for the express purpose of dating the book.

Mr. Broom raised his bristled weapon. I cowered helplessly.

"Kinda feel sorry for it," the first guy said.

"What? I've never seen anything so ugly in my life!"

<Have you tried looking in the mirror?> I growled. I used private thought-speak. Jake and the others wouldn't hear.

The three of them froze. "Who said that?" Mr. Broom demanded.

<I did. Down here. Me. The creature you're trying to kill.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: ...
Ifi: I got nothing
Adam: Well, this seems like a perfectly sane and thought out plan of escape.

The scream came from behind me.

<Uh, that doesn't sound like Tennant,> Tobias said.

<It sounds like Zac!> Cassie cried.

I spun around. Zac Hanson had fallen backward in his chair. His two brothers leaped to his aid.

"Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!" Zac screamed, frantically brushing at the cockroaches in his lap.

"Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!" a girl in the audience screamed back.

"Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!" Zac yelled.

"Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!" cried a woman in a long red dress.

"Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!" Within seconds, the room was filled with the sounds of women screaming, chairs overturning, and men yelling "Aaahhhh!"

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal



Ifi: So they go home and try again
Ifi: No wait, they don't go home, they just power through the evening
Ifi: That's a change

Ax morphed to human and dressed in a second dirty uniform. Once I convinced him an apron was not a cape we did okay. I needed Ax. I had a feeling no one was going to let me get near the dais. I was associated with the regrettable roach incident.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Ax in a restaurant, great idea guys
Adam: He's pretty well behaved, all things considered .

<The humans are refusing to cooperate,> Ax reported. <l am merely attempting to clean off their plates, and yet they are behaving in a hostile, aggressive manner.>

<What?!> Jake snapped.

Wham! Through the banquet room doors, lungs gasping for breath. I leaped on an empty chair, trying to see over everyone's head.

There, on the dais, about three people down from Tennant, was Ax. His face was covered in smeared, orange Thousand Island dressing. Pieces of lettuce clung to his chin and decorated the front of his busboy jacket.

As I watched in helpless horror he reached for another plate.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: …All things considered.
Ifi: And they still don't go home after this.

We yanked off our uniforms. I looked around frantically. Empty chair! Just one, but it would do.

"May we join you?"

It was a table full of old people in suits or dresses, depending. One of them may have been our mayor. I'm not sure.

"There's only one chair."

"It's okay, we're very good friends." I sat down and yanked Ax down onto my lap.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: *raises eyebrow*
Ifi: This is not a pairing I have ever considered but I am intrigued.
Adam: It is surprisingly popular.
Ifi: I guess since they are the leftovers in the group
Ifi: That makes sense
Ifi: People like symmetry.
Adam: Mostly because Ax and Marco are the only members of the group who are not canonically paired with anyone.
Adam: Indeed.

Adam: So, the next part of the plan is basically to have everyone morph fleas and bite Tennant's head as he gives his speech.
Adam: …Brilliant.
Ifi: It is absolutely disgusting

<We're biting as hard as we can,> Rachel replied testily. <I've got what feels like a five-foot-long spike dug into this guy's scalp, all right?>

<This is the grossest thing we have ever done,> Cassie complained.

"If you really believe in something," Tennant continued, showing less and less strain with each word, "you must be willing to sacrifice all, to endure anything, to fight against all adversaries, no matter how large or small. You must be willing to never give in, never surrender, until the battle is won. The battle, ladies and gentlemen, the battle...to love! Ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for this honor. Good night."

The room exploded with applause. Flashbulbs popped. The crowd rose to its feet.

Tennant rushed off the dais. Made his way through the adoring crowd, smiling and waving.

"Thank you, William Roger Tennant!"

"We love you, William Roger Tennant!"

Ax looked at me. "This was not a successful mission."

"No. It really wasn't. Now get up off my lap."

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: …I will admit, that bit got a chuckle out of me.
Ifi: It's like the Animorphs realize that today is one of those days when everything in the universe is stupider than usual and they're just like, "Fuck it."
Adam: Everyone goes home
Ifi: Marco starts to become a bit unglued.

I watched some TV. I went online, got into a chat about music, and ended up calling everyone morons. I was shaking when I finally hit the "sign-off" button. Cookies. I needed some cookies.

I went to the kitchen. I found a half-finished package of Pepperidge Farms. I poured some milk.

"You know what?" I told the milk carton. "I don't care if William Roger Tennant signs people up for The Sharing. If they're that dumb, forget 'em. Why am I going to get myself killed for them?"

The milk carton had no immediate response. Maybe it wanted to think that over.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: My milk cartons never provide for very good conversations either.

Adam: Cassie shows up at Marco's house to play therapist again.
Ifi: She rehashes the plot of the series for five pages
Adam: Cassie, you clearly mean well, but give the poor guy some space.

"You know, at the clinic we're always getting animals who are hurt or injured by humans. By jerks who shoot at them for no reason, or try and burn them, or whatever. And I used to get so mad. I just hated those people. And I'd feel like I was wasting my time because, you know, there's always some jerk with a twenty-two. I'd rage about it. But my dad told me, 'Deal with what is.'"
I was confused. "What's that mean?"

"It means, the animal is hurt. Help the animal." She came back over to me and took my hand. "Or in your case, Marco, it means that the Yeerks are here, your mother is Visser One, and your dad is lonely. None of that should be. But it is."

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Go home Cassie.
Ifi: Just go home.

Ifi: So despite the fact that Marco is on shore leave, they have him morph the stupid poodle and harass poor Tennant
Adam: All in hopes of the desired reaction:


Ifi: They follow him around for about three days, trying to get him to snap. He knows exactly what they're up to, but he can't really do much about it.
Ifi: Also
Ifi: This happens

He put down his fork and knife and rubbed his hands with his napkin. "Uh, Marco, I was hoping we could talk."

"Together or separately?" I replied.

"Uh, together, I guess," he said, oblivious to my joke. "You see, well...oh, man, I've never been good with words. But, you know I loved your mom very much, Marco."

I felt my heart stop. Sucked in my next breath like it was coming through a straw. He paused. He wanted me to say something. He wanted me to make this easier for him. I should have. But I didn't.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: I was mad at Peter for remarrying and I don't know why.
Ifi: Even though he thinks his wife is dead and all
Ifi: I don't know
Ifi: I just felt like this was a dick thing to do.
Adam: The poor guy has gone through enough.
Adam: Give him a moment to be happy.
Ifi: I feel like two/three years is not that long for someone to wait before remarrying after their spouse dies
Ifi: I dunno
Ifi: I was sort of with Marco on this one.
Adam: No, Eva "died" two years prior to the start of the series.
Adam: So it has been about four years at this point.
Ifi: No I think it's only three
Ifi: The war takes place over three years
Adam: Yeah, and we are about a third of the way through.
Ifi: So three years
Adam: People take different amounts of time to mourn, but ultimately you have to move on with your life.
Adam: I'm taking Peter's side here.
Ifi: Well, Peter says he won't do it unless Marco agrees
Ifi: Marco responds with, "I'm out of here." And runs out of the house.

Ifi: So now the moment of truth
Ifi: They have to get Tennant to flip out before he gets some contract that will make him even more famous or something.

<You know, it's really a shame I can't get to meet that UPN guy,> I said. <I have a great idea for a new Star Trek series. See, it's way in the future and the Federation has been broken up by the Dominion and only three ships are still—>

<Marco?>

<Yeah, Jake.>

<Don't talk to the UPN guy. Poodles do not pitch show ideas.>

<Tell me about it later,> Tobias said. <Sounds cool. I always thought the whole Federation thing was just too easy and—>

<Puh-leeze!> Rachel exploded. <Next mission: girls only.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Marco is going to push his fanfiction.
Adam: …I sort of want to read it.
Ifi: Sounds better than DS9
Adam: I liked Deep Space Nine!
Ifi: Oh come on man
Adam: It wasn't Next Generation, but it had some good characters.
Ifi: I, too, enjoy watching paint dry
Adam: …I do that for a living.

<Marco, your morph is going weird!> Cassie yelled.

What was happening? What was I?

I held up one paw to look at it. Moved and slammed against a wall. I was hot, I knew that much. My fur was a mix of kinky and straight. The straight fur was more clear, more transparent than truly white.

Polar bear? I was half-poodle, half-polar bear?

I was a poo-bear?

<Aaahhhh!>

And then, the instincts kicked in. The polar bear's cold-blooded predatory intensity joined to the Daffy-Duck-on-espresso lunacy of the poodle.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: ... 
Adam: It's Naga!
Adam: So, we now know that polar bears and poodles should never breed.
Adam: Take that a as a life lesson.
Ifi: Marco is now a poodle the size of a car, and runs around like a complete lunatic
Ifi: He wants to eat Tennant, which is probably the most efficient plan anyone has ever had in the entire series
Adam: (Un)Fortunately, Jake tells Cassie to quit it with the psychoanalyzing, and gets Marco to calm down.

<What's going on, Marco?> Cassie said soothingly. <Talk to me. We're your friends. Talk to us, talk to me and—>

<Talk my butt,> Jake snapped. <Marco. Cope. Now. That's an order.>

It was like a bucket of ice water dumped on my head.

It was like waking up from an intense dream. Fast. Painful. Slowly my mind grasped control.

<Jake, he's going through some bad stuff in his life,> Cassie said. <He's stressed. His dad is—>

<Cassie, you know I love you and admire you, but be quiet,> Jake said. <You listen to me, Marco. We have zero time for your self-pity. I don't care what your problems are. You deal with this, right now.>

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: See look at that
Ifi: He did in four lines what Cassie failed to do in ten pages

Adam: Marco goes back to normal poodle, and they catch Tennant literally kicking the dog on live television.

William Roger Tennant dropped the whip, reached down, and grabbed me by the neck. Lifted me in the air. Turned around to face the cameras. Wrapped his hand around my throat and held me up in front of his face.

He began to squeeze. I whined and struggled.

"Come now, Andalite," Tennant said, his eyes raving. "You aren't going to die on me that easily, are you?"

<And...we are live!> Ax announced. <Heeeeeere's Marco!>

Suddenly the entire stage was bathed in blinding light.

Choking! My head felt like it was going to explode. My blurry vision grew more hazy. My body was going limp. I was too weak to struggle.

"Die, Andalite! Die!" Tennant screamed, oblivious to the lights and the hum of the cameras.

"What the hell is going on here?" someone shouted. "My God, Tennant! What are you doing?"

"Get away from me!" he yelled. "I will kill you all!"

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Adam: I get the impression that this sort of thing happens with celebrities more often then you would assume.

Ifi: So now we get to go to a wedding

"I am very pleased with the atmospheric conditions we are experiencing today. The lack of clouds have allowed the sun to show through, thus making electrical lighting unnecessary. Uh-NESS-a-sarry. Uh-NESS-ussery. Also, the lack of precipitation has kept my artificial skin from becoming uncomfortably damp, which—"

"Ax?" I interrupted.

"Yes, Marco?"

"Stop that. Please."

"Come on, Marco," Tobias said. "He's just practicing his small talk. We spent hours on it last night."

"Thank you again, Marco," Ax said, "for inviting me to this primitive yet interesting ceremony."

"My pleasure, Ax-man. Do not go near the buffet table."

"How do you define 'near'?"

"Ax, I'm telling you: No food."

"It really was a lovely wedding," Cassie said.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: Wait
Ifi: How much time has passed?

It was two weeks after our battle with William Roger Tennant. They had been two very busy weeks. And for once, the busyness had nothing to do with Yeerks or alien battles of any kind.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: HOW do you get married in two weeks?
Ifi: That is impossible.
Ifi: Also silly.
Adam: Well, second marriages are usually much smaller affairs then first ones.
Adam: But two weeks is still pretty ridiculous.
Ifi: And I assume it would be Nora's first wedding, because they didn't say otherwise, so I assume she'd want to have some fun with it.
Ifi: Not even considering that the guests need time to RSVP and clear their schedules.
Adam: Well, lets just assume that Nora and Peter are both very depressing people and have no friends.

A few days later, it was all done. Nora was with us now. The dog, too. I didn't mind Nora. I could see where maybe we'd get along okay. I still hated that dog.

I was coming home from school when I heard the phone ring. It rings more often now with Nora around because she gets calls from parents asking why their kids are flunking math.

I decided not to answer. Let the machine get it.

And then, I heard her voice.

"Marco, if you're there, pick up."

My mother.

----Book Thirty-Five, The Proposal

Ifi: ...
Ifi: HOORAY!


Adam: And we will continue this story in a much better book.

Adam: This was pretty awful.
Ifi: I am going to say this: the ghostwriter knew how to write. From a technical point of view, the writing itself was good. However s/he was given an utterly idiotic synopsis to work with.
Adam: The whole stress-induced morphing impotence just makes very little sense, and never shows up ever again.
Adam: And as we have previously established, the plot is a rehash of a better book, which does not do it any favors.
Ifi: They could have totally pulled off the celebrity thing if they hadn't forced in the uncontrollable morphing
Adam: Tennant really could have been an interesting character, if they had perhaps explored the relationship between a deranged yeerk and a near-saintly host body.
Ifi: I want to explore how the insane Yeerks get the cool hosts and the reasonable ones get middle school teachers and little girls.
Adam: Well, considering the guy in charge, it does make some sense.
Adam: But the yeerk political system does not get as much elaboration as it should.
Ifi: We will talk more about that next week, as VISSER is almost exclusively Yeerk politics
Ifi: interspliced with flashbacks of Edriss partying it up on Earth

-------

Now that Ifi has graduated and is now an official grown-up adult woman, she has found herself with a lot more free time on her hands. You know what that means!

NEW FANFIC TIME!

I have three ideas, but I do not know which one I want to pursue at this point. Decide for me, random people on the internet, and I just may have something for you on Wednesday. Cast your vote in the comments section.

Option #1 - The Controller Chronicles
A series of ten or so oneshots focused on some low-level Yeerks and their relationships with their hosts. Fairly serious, tackling themes like domestic abuse and mental illness and bullying and death. Also features Emiki 255's backstory.

Option #2 - The Other Attack
The Ellimist is doing his weird shit again. This time, he takes Vissers One through Six and forces them to fight to the death against an equal number of alien creatures on their horrible mud planet because...well, he hasn't explained why. But you don't argue with Ellimists. Takes place a year or so before Six Days.

Option #3 - You Are Rachel
Remember when I said I could write a better CYOA than the first Alternamorphs? Well now I'm going to prove it. Spend a day in the life of everyone's favorite blood knight. Have a tea party with your little sister, hijack the Blade ship, or declare yourself Empress of the world. The only limits are your own imagination and what I actually write.

71 comments:

  1. I'm up for either 2 or 3; if I had to choose one, it would be 2.


    As a math teacher, I have to question what kind of masochistic teacher Nora would have to be to give parents her home phone number.

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    1. The kind that wants some hot steamy widower sex! The shame and guilt of her partner adds spice, and when he cries afterwards, she can cuddle with him and pretend its because she touched his soul, rather than merely making him feel like he has betrayed the love of his life and has just killed her all over again.

      As pointed out in the review, she's obviously a sad, sad woman who has so few friends, she can hold a wedding in two weeks, and has to pad out the guest list with people no one even knows are friends of her step-son-to-be.

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    2. Cannoli, that was the scariest thing I've ever read.

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  2. #3 sounds hilarious, but I'm gonna have to vote for option #1. Because there needs to be more serious Animorphs fanfic which isn't just "AND THEN THESE TWO ANIMORPHS HAD SECKS."

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    1. I'm also planning on writing a fanfic, but unlike Ifi, I'm not a writer by trade, so I dunno how long it would take. It is a serious one, in anycase, so it is good to know that that sort of idea would still go over well okay over here.

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  3. Believe it or not, this was actually the first Animorphs book I ever read. So, even though the plot is even more ridiculous than normal, it will always occupy a bit of a soft spot in my heart.

    Also, when he's not mutating into weird animals or whatever, Marco comes off as really creepy throughout this book. Not only just because of the borderline Oedipus complex towards Eva, but the way that he takes a weird sadomasochistic glee in tormenting Tennant as a poodle.

    I'd also recommend doing Option 2, but that's just me.

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    1. Is this you?
      http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8122065/1/The_Taxxon_Chronicles

      or this:

      http://bfbc2.statsverse.com/stats/pc/Tom%20Serveaux/

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    2. You caught me, that first one is actually me. I was inspired by this site to try my hand at writing my own Animorphs fanfiction, so gaze ye upon my works and despair.

      As for the second one... uh... that's not me. I'm more a TF2 guy. :p

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  4. So... you're basically telling me this book was what inspired "The Legend of Korra"? I'm confused and saddened now.

    And, yeah, this book was... something. Something not pretty, but something. #35 and #36 were probably the books that started making me realize that there were more than one people writing the Animorphs series... Especially #36, 'cause #35 may be a lazy rehash of a previous book, but #36 is basically the chronicle of a trip to WTF-land (and not a good trip either).
    Also, I was very disappointed when I read the ending of this book the first time... Because, well, as I said before here in Italy they've never actually published any of the Chronicle/Megamorph books, so the phone call from Visser 1 was left hanging up in the air until... ten books later, I guess.
    (In a totally unrelated note: am I the only one thinking that the old lady calling Tennant is the Granny Controller from book #49? Dunno why, just thought it would be hilarious)

    As for the fanfic options: I think I'll stick with number 2. The three of them seems really interesting and promising, but seeing the top Vissers interact should be both awesome and hilarious.

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    1. I THOUGHT THAT TOO! I'm not crazy! But maybe you are. (Yes, the Granny Controller, who incidentally, while in a helicopter with a dracon beam, loses a dogfight to an unarmed hawk, making her possibly another of those crazy Yeerks who lose the war referenced above).

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    2. Also, this book, I think (agreeing with Adam's quality assessment) is the inverse of the next two, which have some new or interesting things pop up, each with a new alien species (sort of) potentially way more interesting than the Iskoort or the Pemalites, but which are never referenced again. Each of those next two have good potential but are probably the two worst-written books in the series, which completely fail to reproduce Jake or Rachel's voices and in the latter case especially, take a crap all over the narrator's characterization.

      Like you said, that was when I started getting a hint of the real meaning of "help in preparing this manuscript."

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  5. These are all great ideas. But I think #1 is the best. The host/yeerk dynamic didn't get nearly as much attention as it should've in the series (I would've loved a Controller point-of-view character outside Visser, beyond some very temporary arrangements with Cassie and Jake).

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  6. Option three option three option THREEEEE!!! (Really, is there any other choice?)

    And of course we get to one of the most ridiculous books on a very busy weekend for me. Dammit, I wanted to go on and on about how fusion-dance-morphing could be their most insanely useful technique if they studied it and learned to control it instead of saying, "Well, that's freaky, let's never do it again".

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    1. Yeah that was my thing as well. The polar bear/poodle thing was easily the most dangerous thing Marco's even morphed. Imagine if you morphed, like, a rhino/tiger hybrid. Or something.

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    2. You know, it's occured to me that some of Visser Three's crazier alien morphs might actually be mutant hybrids of other aliens he's acquired in the past. As we all know, he does not exactly handle emotional stress gracefully.

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    3. It all...it all makes so much sense now.

      You, sir, are a genius.

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    4. Why, thank you. :p

      I do my best to come up with crazy fan theories.

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    5. Addendum: It's part of my larger problem with the fact that they never fully explore how Morphing actually works. Isn't there a scene much earlier on in the series where Ax is about to explain some things and Marco interrupts him right after he says something to the extent of, "Well, after all that Acquiring, you basically have a safe version of every kind of cancer there is."

      It's like Escafil (I'm guessing) was just banging things together in his lab and stumbled upon it by accident. Now there's a neat fanfic idea: Imagine how horrifying the test run of the Escafil device would be? How'd they learn about Nothliths? How'd they learn about the "allergies"? What happened before they figured out how to shunt your extra mass off to Z-Space?

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  7. I'm going to go out on a limb and push for option 1.

    Also, Visser is the only Animorphs book (except for the Alternamorphs) I never read. Will have to hit the library before next week...

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  8. HOORAY FOR NEW FANFICS!!!! I can't tell you how much I miss reading Six Days. I vote for 2, if only on the off-chance that Edriss and Esplin can manage to somehow show up the Ellimist. (Would they be working for the Ellimist or for Crayak in this scenario)?

    As far as I'm concerned, this book's biggest redeeming feature is the way that it sets up the next one. The fact that he's such a mess in this book, I think, makes it all the more wonderful that he's such a badass in the next one, after he pulls himself together.

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  9. This book is a book
    a rehashing of a plot
    but Ax was funny

    Do you like my haiku?

    I like option 2 the best, But I would totally read any one of those fanfics.

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  10. I say all of them, but in this order.

    3
    2
    1

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    1. Do not fear, I plan to write all of them eventually.

      Delete
  11. I vote for this order: 2, 3, 1 but I want to see all of them and just noticed Ifi saying she plans to write them all eventually so awesome. Because those all seem pretty utterly fantastic. And controller chronicles seems like it could be a mix of moods, not just serious.

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    1. Yeah it will be silly in the way that real life is, as well as horribly sad in the way that real life is. So. Just like Animorphs.

      Delete
    2. Yes, this. This order. Two sounds like the best story, so I was torn, but being a Rachel fan, with nothing but shitty Rachel books from here out, I also really want #3. Numebr one sounds really interesting, but not so much as the other two. While the controller-yeerk interaction stuff does have a lot of untapped potential, at the end of the day, they are basically involved in an evil act that's morally equivalent to rape, so there's really not a lot of sympathetic reader interest there. So, yeah. 2, 3, 1.

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  12. I'm going to vote for two as well since seeing an Animorph version of Secret Wars should be fun

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  13. Number 1!!!
    Serious is not bad, and the concept is not inherently sad.

    What do you guys reckon would have happened if Marcos father had picked up that phone call from Visser 1? Surely he'd recognize his own wife's voice, or at least want to know why a middle aged woman who sounds strangely familiar would be calling his 14 year old son.

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    1. She'd do an accent and ask for Marco. She'd recognize Peter first, and disguise her voice anyway. I think the bigger issue would have been if Nora answered, making Edriss/Eva think they had the wrong number.

      Also, how did she know the right phone number? Since she died, Peter & Marco have moved at least twice. Though I suppose they could have kept the same number. I would think they crossed area codes at least, if they moved from the good parts of town to the mugger-infested slums and back to the suburbs, which might prevent them from retaining the number.

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    2. Eva could have pestered Visser One into asking someone to look up the phone number, or doing it herself before her big disgrace. I can imagine Eva remembering her family's number.

      I don't know how it worked in the 90s, because I was too young and restless to pay attention, but right now San Francisco only has one area code. Maybe the Animorphs live in a city small enough to only need one too?

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    3. Yeah but Marco recognised her on the answering machine. I just think it'd be interesting if Peter had been in the room too.

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    4. Being the resourceful Visser she is, she probably kept track of them (kinda like Ifi's fic and the children) or searched for them after the hork-bajir/goat incident

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  14. i had a well thought out comment i was going to post but all i can say is

    YOU ARE RACHEL

    YOU ARE RACHEL

    YOU ARE RACHEEEL

    WRITE IT PLEASE OH GOD

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    1. Actually, as far as that goes, if it is not a crackfic, I'd be really interested to see how Ifi really would approach the character. The crackfic version is just close enough to the real thing that I sometimes forget it's supposed to be crack. Either way, she writes a funny Rachel, or seems like she could get a really good rendition if she tried to be serious about. Either way, she beats Elise Smith hands-down.

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  15. I sort of perversely like this book because it pretty much confirms my extremely low assessment of Marco. The Animorphs series is a shining example of how rewards and fortune come in inverse proportion to how much the characters deserve them. Also the principle that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." Marco and Cassie are the two least effective, least capable and most likely to blow people's covers or commit atrocities while bitching out the others for lesser offenses of the same sort. And they whine and piss and moan the most, and the others go along with them the most, and agree to their stupid crap the most!

    Marco even has the temerity to turn around and bring up Rachel's crocodile issues. At least when Rachel did it, they were a lot newer at the game, had to have been about a year younger, had far less horror and trauma happen to them and as a result, they had more excuses for their screw-ups. Not only should they all know better at this late date in general, they have Rachel's experience as a warning! Marco simply has no excuse for his handling of this one.

    In the continuing vein of Marco being a little bitch, I should also point out that Rachel's problem, while related to emotional stress, was caused by an issue with a morph. Maroc's case derives purely from his being a whiny little crybaby. He was not allergic to the poodle or a cockatiel, he was just really upset about something that was not all that big a deal in the grand scheme of things and especially compared to Rachel's & Tobias' parental situations. At least a kidnapped mother still cares about you. The kids whose parent deliberately chose to leave have to be harboring doubts and insecurities, but somehow, their personal baggage never screws up missions, or blows their whole team's cover because they ABSOLUTELY MUST handle a mission with personal ramifications.

    And this book transitions into another bit of stupidly-endangering-the-group-for-Marco’s-feelings, with the whole Visser One rescue. For all their blather about the reasons to keep Visser One active and as a check on Visser Three, SHE STILL KNOWS THEIR IDENTITIES! The hypothetical gains of leaving a political adversary of Visser Three active do not remotely balance the security risk. That little private tete-a-tete in the middle of the trial should have ended with Visser One dead, and Eva too, if there was no way to be absolutely certain to extract her. Her assessments are not trustworthy, especially as she has no real influence or control of Visser One, who is a heartbeat away from spilling the beans to Visser Three, only refraining at the last minute on a whim. And finally, that whole justification for keeping V1 in place was “We prefer the smarter and more dangerous Yeerk’s plan, which she believes to be much more likely to succeed against our planet and species.” WTH?!?! If the SMART Visser thinks open war will fail, BRING ON THE OPEN WAR already! Let the grownups take a turn dying!

    The real reason they go along with all this crap is everyone is way nicer to Marco than he ever is to them. In any other sane situation, a person with a personal relationship to a target or subject is kept out of any decision-making process. Like how Jake's doctor father doesn't treat his kids. Marco is just fine with telling Jake that he’s too close to handle a threat to his father, and nitpicking security mistakes on everyone else’s part, but when they have the highest-ranking field commander in the Yeerk Empire at their mercy, they hold off because Marco is whining “No, not my Mommy!” Tobias watched Visser Three eat his father, and sat there next to that same murderer when the relationship was revealed to him with the main thought on his mind being “Don’t give anything away, because you’ll endanger all those kids who ignored you at school up until a year or so ago.” Fuck Marco sideways.

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    1. For all of Marco's talk about "the line" and "doing what he has to do", it gets thrown out the window every time Visser Mom shows her face.

      It's easy to write people off when you have no connection to them. We like to think it's not, but it is. He's not special for being able to disregard the lives of others, it's an instinct that goes back to protecting the tribe and the family first. Having it doesn't make him a bad person, it makes him a person. Lacking it, as Cassie does, does not make you a good person.

      As pointed out in this review, if Visser One and Visser Three had been on Earth and Leera, respectively, the Yeerks would have won. No question. Visser Three would be on the front lines every day getting all that pent-up aggression out. And Visser One is a professional human. SHE FOUNDED THE SHARING. I THINK SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE IS DOING. Why did they assign a guy who cannot even step outside for more than two hours at a time to the place?

      To an extent, this is just sloppy writing. It's easy to blame the characters, because they're who we're focused on. But I've always thought that the writers in this series were trying to build the stage while the play was already going on, if that metaphor makes any sense at all.

      Goddamnit tldr rants are apparently contagious.

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    2. All right, so let's say Marco & Cassie are not bad. They are C+ characters. But then Jake, Ax etc are B+ to A characters, so they are still going to suffer by comparison. Rachel's personal crap messes up the team when some wierd aspect of morphing comes around to bite her on the ass. Marco's does literally every other book he narrates, because of his own issues. Even if he can't help it, and even if he deals better than 98% of children would, he's standing next to people who do it better than he.

      The stage metaphor makes lots of sense, and is pretty apt. It's like you're a writer or something.

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    3. And regarding the Vissers:
      My guess is we have toremember that people don't have the motivations you think they do. Bad guys especially are not all about winning the war for their cause (see Hitler & resources wasted on the Holocaust), especially if it conflicts with their private agendas or personal gains.

      The Yeerk Councilors are probably mainly about staying in charge of the Yeerk Empire, even more than expanding that Empire. I'd bet most of them would rather see the Yeerk Empire shrink with them on the Council, than see it grow with Esplin or Edriss in their places. To that end, a lot of their personnel placement decisions with their two all-star commanders are probably aimed at keeping them as Vissers, rather than giving them the chance to become Councilors (how did the Garatron Inspector jump all the Vissers to take the next Council seat? ). They don't want Visser One turning Earth into her own private Empire, subverting her forces to her personal cause and building up a 6 billion strong army of loyal human controllers, at which point she can tell the Empire who's in charge now. They also don't want the war hero of the Hork-Bajir world, who has the only Andalite host, to gain much more prestige and battle-glory than they have to. Taking their stealth invader away from Earth and making the brute-force risk-taker assume the responsibility for executing V1's strategy undercuts them both. If Esplin succeeds, the Council takes the credit for their necessary change. If he fails, they can blame Edriss for a bad plan or Esplin for poor execution. Edriss might be good at stealth, and Esplin at seeing the physical combat potential of aliens, but they are both babes in the woods when it comes to the internal politics, and the Council plays them for idiots, making them waste their political energies passing the blame and undermining one another, rather than climbing the ladder and getting control of the council.

      I think the Council are probably also something like "Moustache Petes" to the younger generation of leaders like Edriss and Eslpin who are out in the universe fighting the war on the front lines, and if the Vissers gave it a thought, might consider the Councilors old-fashioned and irrelevant. "Yeah, sure. You guys stole some ships and guns and outwitted a naive xeno-anthropologist. Big deal. WE crossed the stars! WE conquered WORLDS!" Meanwhile the Councilors are all like "Hey, you would still be in the pools, taking turns on a Gedd, if it weren't for us. Show some damn respect!"
      They play games like this keep the Vissers off-balance, and involved with in-fighting, because they don't want them all deciding they can do just fine without listening to the senior citizens committee that's stuck on the homeworld, and founding new breakway Empires on worlds with superior native hosts.

      BTW, I really think V3 would probably fit right in with the Animorphs, what with his ineptitude at keeping cover, exploitation of the morphing tech far beyond normal Andalite use, and propensity for reckless and idiotic plans. But the Council respects him about as much as the parents respect the kids when they finally reveal the truth to them.

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    4. I'll do a loner response to this comment later b/c posting from an e-reader is a bitch! But wrt to the Marco and Tobias comparison, I'd say their situations were too dissimilar to compare. When Tobias watched Elfangor die, he'd only known him for minutes and had no knowledge of their relation. Further, Elfangor was going to die regardless of any heroicson Tobias' part. Marco believed his mom was dead for years, had no choice but to stifle his own grief b/c his father became an emotional wreck...only to learn that his dead mother was actually enslaved by an alien race hellbent on conquering the galaxy.Marco's reaction (shutting down emotionally) is one of his greatest strengths from a tactical standpoint yet also his worst flaw when it comes to holding it together in key moments and being far too nonchalant about minimizing collateral damage in general. I would say his selfishness and emotional issues provide a great contrast to his humor, tactical intelligence and big picture thinking, b/c without those flaws his character would veer into Gary Stu territory.

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    5. I don't disagree with the point of their having flaws and strengths. But the way their respective flaws and strengths stack up makes for varying levels of heroism. I think even Marco would agree that he's no hero. Well, sometimes, when they need a hero, Marco's going to let them down. Just because good writing is used to create a good character does not mean that character is not a bad person. I.E. David, Edriss, Marco, Cassie. They suck for different reasons, but KAA did a good job of making them all solid & multi-dimensional characters, whose actions & motivations are plausible and consistent. They still suck as people though.

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    6. I think it mostly comes down to how people individually perceive the characters tbh. It's easy to come to a consensus on certain actions (ie most people agreeing that Marco has a raging Oedipus complex) but saying that a character inherently sucks b/c they act in ways ALL of them have at some point in the books is a bit more subjective. Some fans love Tobias, think he is the most heroic etc but he never appealed to me outside a few of the later books. Mainly b/c if it had been up to him, he would have not only gotten himself trapped in morph on purpose (IMO) but also killed himself in the mall (if Marco hadn't saved him) by book #3, all because he couldn't handle the position he put himself in. We see him develop into a stronger person but it took awhile for him to come into his own, while other characters got the shaft in terms of honoring established characterization (Cassie and Rachel). I can't pinpoint the exact interview but I remember reading that even KAA mentioned wanting to fix some of the mistakes the GW made w/r/t Cassie in particular if the re-issued books continue being published long enough.

      IDK, I guess I don't view the characters in this series as being inherently sucky/heroic/bad etc. because all of them made terrible, knuckle-headed choices at some point, and the limitations of the plot and ghostwriting made it difficult to maintain the consistency of the earlier books. I've already got my rants planned for book 37 and 39, which are perfect examples of how fast and loose the series could be with changing/ignoring fundamental aspects of some of the Anis (usually for the worse).

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    7. For me, it's about the source of their screw-ups and the consequences. Marco's sources or reasons behind his mistakes seem extremely selfish, and like Cassie, his mistakes in judgment greatly endanger the group.

      Re: Tobias, 13 year old kid in his first battle (in which he saved Cassie & by extension the other 4), makes a bad life-altering decision. The source of his subsequent angst is a BIT more credible than the guy who was forcing Jake to confront the issues of a Controller relative in the first book, but routinely endangers the group to keep his hopes for a family reunion alive, or else for his ego.

      Tobias' has a moment of self-hatred when he realizes his hope of ANY family at all, almost led him to a trap that could endanger his friends. Marco repeatedly endangers those same friends for the sake of a woman who should have been written off years ago, or else uses it to rewrite his personal narrative as a heroic badass doing the necessary thing.

      Motivation & context generally make Marco's errors into an epic fail.

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    8. I think it's a wrong to say that Marco's flaws make him a bad person. A bad soldier? Certainly. But as opposed to Cassie, whose main flaw is being a sanctimonious hypocrite who forces her morals on others even when it's detrimental to the cause -- a deliberate choice -- Marco's greatest flaw is inaccurate self-assessment, which leads him to accidentally endanger the group. If anybody is really at fault there, it's Jake for enabling him instead of calling him out on it. And in fact, this book proves that: when Jake does finally call him out, Marco is able to bring himself under control and do what he needs to.

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  16. I vote #3! #2 is also good and i love reading your reviews. Wish i could join ya for writing the review for The Journey. Return of the Helmacrons! Yay!

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  17. I vote Option 1. Sure, it may be darker, but it has some very cool ideas. Plus, serious human issues from an alien perspective would be intresting.

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  18. Hmm. A series of interesting vignettes exploring new and undernourished themes... a crazy adventure with all our favourite evil overlords... or Rachel awesomeness...

    Hmmmmmm...

    This really is a tough call, but I vote for the Controller Chronicles. Mostly for more Emiki 255.

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  19. I'd like to see #1 first, but I'd be happy with any and I'm glad we'll eventually see all three.

    Congrats, Ifi! I still have two more weeks before I graduate and become a grown-up person who can write FOREVER AND EVER.

    I like this book because it leads into Visser, which is one of my favorites. I have trouble selecting a favorite Chronicles, but since I love Edriss and Eva so much Visser might actually be it! Oh, and Alison Kim, she's pretty badass.

    POTENTIAL SPOILER
    I like Alison Kim so much one time I closed one eye while driving down the highway to see what it was like. TERRIFYING, THAT'S WHAT.
    END POTENTIAL SPOILER

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  20. I vote 3, 1, and 2 in that order. I love CYOAs, and I also love the bits of host-parasite dynamic we do get-it's one of my favorite fanfic plots, as a matter of fact.

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  21. I vote for 3, especially with #37 coming up, (my pick for the worst written Rachel-pov book)

    this book was just silly, but funny nevertheless. Marco's stuff gets rehashed too many times, but it was a good tie-in to Visser, which is one of my favorites.

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  22. I just discovered this blog and LOVE it! I am going to get my Animorphs out of the attic to read along with you all for the rest of the run. I really hope you review the TV show next. There is a crappy bit torrent version out there on the internets.

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  23. 3, 1, 2
    I want to be Rachel.
    And congrats Ifi! Go be amazing as a member of society.
    And write Animorphs fanfic, I'm cheering for either one!

    I liked this book! I just liked reading it, despite the dumb plot. I loved the plan to make Tennant try to kill Marco. It was funny. And while Cannoli has valid points on Marco's character, I still like him. We have similar skin tones.

    There is a HUGE Marco x Ax fanfic, btw. The Yeerks opened up a gay club, and yaoi fangirls Cassie and Rachel (standing in for a sick Jake) make Marco and Ax go. Tom's gay, Ax is gay (and crushing on Marco), and Marco's confused enough to date both of them. It was horrible, but it was the funny kind of horrible. Then it got just plain awful, and I quit. Something on here, I think it was the fanart day, made me wonder about that pairing, and I googled it. I SHOULD NOT HAVE. I should have just gone to sleep.

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  24. RACHEL

    OH GOD YES

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    1. You sound like dialogue Tobias unfortunately never gets to use.

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    2. I wish I could like/thumbs up this comment.

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    3. This made my entire day.

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    4. I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly fell out of my head.

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  25. Hey did the phone conversation between Tennant and Visser Three come across as a bit forced? I mean, most of what he said was stuff Visser Three would already have known and he should not have had to say, but serves to fill in any eavesdropping Animorphs/Andalite bandits to the whole scheme and confirm his infestation. I mean look how the Animorphs never say anything over the phone, and talk in code and generaliztions, rather than carrying on both sides of the conversation.

    I honestly thought they were setting the "Andalites" up for a trap with false information, having reasoned that a celebrity with lots of pets was a natural target for infiltration attempts.

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  26. The plot was a blatant retread but I still like this book. Marco is a glorious mess of contradictions. His issue with morphing was a silly way of further illuminating how much he represses and scorns his emotions. If Marco were as ruthless as he fancied himself to be, so much of what happens in upcoming books never would have happened. I love him dearly but when Marco can't get it together, it's almost always a ver public spectacle, lol. Oh and I agree with everyone who has pointed out how obvious the ghostwriting is becomng @ this point in the series, it's not a good look...

    Congratulations Ifi! I am a glutton forpunishment so I'm starting graduate school this fall and am jealous of your freedom from academia (for the time being that is :D)

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  27. I want to read them all!! I vote 2, 3, 1 - 2 as the first fic, becasue OMG VISSERS. I'm looking for gratuitous Visser One and Visser Three madness here. Also, general awesomeness.

    I could ramble on and on about this book (or anything related to Animorphs, really), but I just want to say: I hate Peter. I just hate him. I never liked him, and I think a lot of Marco's screwed-up-ness can be tied back to what a terrible father Peter is. Over the course of this series, he:

    1. Complete shuts down after his wife's death, leaving his son (who had to be about 11 when she "died") to pretty much grow up all at once and learn to fend for himself while simultaneously dealing with an earth-shattering loss.

    2. Suddenly wants to marry someone who we, as you pointed out, can only assume he's been dating for...oh...two months?

    3. He dumps the decision on Marco. I know he probably thought he was taking Marco's feelings into consideration, and in a way I can see the benefit, but the WAY in which Peter handled it came across more like, "Hey, so I really want this, and I know you're not really OK with it, so I'm going to leave the decision up to you and let you make a call on my happiness."

    Also, and this is just a personal opinion here, I agree with Ifi that it's too soon. Not that people don't mourn at different rates and whatever, but he has a kid, and Eva was that kid's mother, and I kinda feel like that deserves a little more respect. Yes, you lost your wife and you're lonely, but you can deal for a little while longer - he's a teenager, life's crappy enough at that age without the angst of feeling like a parent is being replaced. I don't know, I don't want to knock parents who remarry, because every situation is different, but I felt like in this case, Peter handled the whole thing very, very poorly and made it unnecessarily hard on his son. Not that he's ever once shown any ability to parent well.

    Also, that poodle would be a deal breaker for me. Freaking animals...

    This is a lot longer than I intended so I'll wrap it up. YAAAAY VISSER!!!!! OMG THAT BOOK!!!!

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  28. I agree with your first point, although the time frame assumptions are a bit stretched. The only time frame we are absolutely sure of is the whole series being 3 years. This book is more than halfway through, so if there is any even pacing, they've got to be about 18 months to 2 years in. Add that to the 2 years prior since Eva died, and Peter is being plenty respectful to her memory. He showed more than his share of grief at the beginning.

    As far as the particulars of Peter's & Marco's family situation, they lead largely separate lives, with Marco plainly as unaware of the most important thing going on with his father as Peter is of the primary activity in his son's life. Hell, he's likely never even met Marco's 2nd through 5th best friends. So Peter could have been dating for a long time. Marco is not remotely honest about his feelings and private stuff, so he could simply have been in denial this whole time, finally only confronting the reality of their dating when he's introduced to her dog. And because of their distance from one another, I'd say that a teenaged son as old as Marco should not be a consideration as to whether or not his father remarries. If they were more clingy or he was more dependent on parental care, that might be a different story.

    I also don't think Peter was passing the buck to Marco, so much as making it clear that his son was still his priority. As Marco grasps in the end when describing his detente with Nora, once Jake slaps him out of his pissiness.

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  29. I vote controller chronicles.
    But, you know, you should write a fanfic about V3 and the Animorphs and V1 and their hosts and V5 and whatever are sitting in intergalactic bar and just trade war stories and have flashbacks like how the years met the helmacrons or stuff like that that is never explained...

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  30. I'll go with either option 2 or 3. I think I'd prefer 3 though.

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  31. ''It's like Escafil (I'm guessing) was just banging things together in his lab and stumbled upon it by accident.''

    It has long been my theory that Escafil actually stumbled upon the toy of a precursor race and the Andalite Scientists are too arrogant to admit that they have no clue how morphing actually works.

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  32. I voten for option #1. The little guys. You don't get much littler than a space-faring neurological parasite at the bottom of the space-faring neurological parasite career ladder.

    Behind the scenes, does anyone else fantasise that the old shut-in caller at the beginning of this book becomes the helicopter witch Controller in #49? When Tobias first catches up with his mother?

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  33. She teaches middle school math and likes spending the rest of her time with her poodle. He spent two years not leaving his house, then got work on a small engineering/space telescope project. I can totally believe both of them have no friends and no one showed up to the wedding except cousins who lived nearby, a few coworkers who felt obligated, and Marco's friends.

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  34. "It's Naga!" Oh God Adam, do you have ANY idea what you just did by typing that? Well, the plot bunnies got together and conceived an Avatar/Animorphs crossover fic involving Toph, the Ellimist, and eventually, major Yeerk butt kicking.

    The first ten chapters are posted here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8124956/1/Body_Bending

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  35. Why has no one mentioned that Marco called himself Poo Bear? Am I the only one who watched Winnie the Pooh?

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  36. I reread this book a couple years ago and looking back, I gave it a 5/5 on Goodreads for some reason. I think it was because I compared it directly to The Reaction, and The Reaction annoyed me by having BOTH female Animorphs crush on Jeremy Jason McCole. Not every young girl got obsessed with the celebrity of the moment, so that portrayal felt really one-sided and shallow to me. Also the sequences in this book where Marco morphed poodle to attack Tennant were simply hilarious and enjoyable. I can definitely see how he could take so much sadistic pleasure in it, having that dog attack him day after day, and finally being able to turn all that annoyance against someone who deserves it. I think I laughed while reading it, and reread it again immediately afterwards. ...I think I may have issues. Anyway, I feel like this book is enjoyable if you're just expecting a dumb book, which many people will thanks to that cover.

    Also DS9 is the best Star Trek! It has less alien/planet-of-the-week nonsense and more focus on the characters, the politics between the more advanced alien races, and even tackled religion in a fascinating way. Being an atheist, the concept of a religion with provably real deities gave me a heck of a lot more to think about than most other shows. Mix in some crazy cause-and-effect reversals caused by said deities existing outside of time, and you've got an awesome show even before you consider the Dominion War. Plus the characters are all complex and...

    Err I'll stop now.

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