Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book 41: The Familiar


The Summary
Jake wakes up in the future where the Yeerks have conquered Earth and also everywhere else too. He runs around and eventually encounters Cassie, who is a Controller working with a group of Yeerks who are like the Peace Movement but they like exploding things. Cassie wants him to blow up the moon.

While running around, Jake also meets his father, Marco (who is either Visser Two or Three now), Rachel (who is horribly wounded and for can't morph away her injuries due to reasons of this book being stupid and making no sense), and Tobias (who is an Andalite nothlit). The prose is fraught with inconsistencies, and eventually Jake begins to suspect that everything he is being shown is an illusion.

So Jake goes to screw with the laser that will explode the moon, but Visser Marco is there waiting for him. In the end Jake has to decide whether to save the earth or save Cassie from falling off a tower. We don't actually learn what he chose. Then Jake wakes up in his bed.

The Review
Ifi: I have an idea for the review tonight
Adam: wazzat
Ifi: let's not do it.
Adam: no

Adam: So, we are at the "Jake wakes up in a grimdark cyberpunk dystopia" book.
Ifi: Do you know what the difference between this book and a bad fanfiction is?
Adam: Let's hear.
Ifi: Fanfiction never gets published.


Adam: You were saying?
Ifi: Fuck society.

Ifi: I think this cover was a gigantic disappointment.
Adam: I have mixed feelings about this cover, myself.
Adam: I mean, sure, compared to most of the others, it is frankly a bit boring.
Adam: But it is just so different from all the others, that it just sort of intrigues me on some level.
Adam: For one thing, this is one of two covers that does not technically have the main character morphing on it.
Adam: And otherwise, this really seems more like an Honor Harrington cover than an Animorphs cover.
Ifi: It does, doesn't it?
Adam: The inside cover, even more so

Sup MTV, welcome to my crib.

Adam: Check out them spacepants
Ifi: Bullshit. Everyone knows that in the future we'll wear silver jumpsuits
Adam: The Yeerks are colorblind.
Adam: (Technically accurate!)
Ifi: And you're technically an idiot
Adam: What's technical about that?

Ifi: So we open with some otherwise unremarkable and bloody battle
Adam: This is the exact same intro that Megamorphs 4 had.
Adam: Literally, the exact same one.
Ifi: Yeah I had flashbacks and everything
Adam: Which is bizarre, since the two books are by different authors, and they were probably written about the same time
Ifi: Anyway Cassie decides that it is time for her weekly nervous breakdown

"Cassie!" I shook her roughly. She came to.

"Four of them," she said anxiously. "I may have killed four back there, maybe five." She searched my eyes, her usual calm shattered.

"Jake!" she whispered. "How do I deal with this?"

I gently pushed her down along the alley, shushing her, and looking back over my shoulder. The Yeerks could still be on the trail.

"Every day we're more like them," she persisted. "Aren't we?" Tears welled over her lower lids. "Jake?"

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: (Hint: The answer is "No.")
Adam: Anywho, the reason Cassie is upset here, is because Jake may have nearly let Rachel and Marco die in order to save everyone else.
Adam: And as we all know, moral ambiguity is not Cassie's strongpoint.
Ifi: Is that what was going on? I honestly wasn't even paying attention.
Ifi: I thought she was just PMSing
Adam: Jake closed a safety door that Rachel and Marco were still behind to keep a hoard of controllers from getting through so that the rest of them could demorph and prevent their organs from falling out.
Ifi: What are you whining about, Cassie? YOU WERE ON THE SAFE SIDE OF THE DOOR.
Adam: …Remind me never to get shipped out to war with you.
Ifi: I cannot go to war I am a weak and frail woman and war would seriously cut into my internet time
Adam: Hmm, I wonder if you could get kicked out of the army for sheer incompetence.
Adam: If so, I probably would be.
Ifi: Oh! Oh! I remember I read a book about Vietnam and people would shoot their toes off to get sent home.
Adam: But…but…I like my toes!
Ifi: You don't really need them.
Adam: But the remaining ones would get lonely.
Adam: =<
Ifi: So all the Animorphs go home
Ifi: Jake makes his excuses to Tom and goes to sleep
Adam: And then wakes up.
Adam: IN THE FUTURE
Ifi: In badfic land.


The alarm was like a jackhammer to the head. I groaned.

DE-DEET!

Enough, already! I felt for the clock radio. The snooze button. Just five more minutes.

My hand patted the air. No bedside table? I lifted my lids. Where was my…

My heart stopped.

I was staring into a triangular screen. A flat computer panel mounted flush in a peeling, white plaster wall across from the bed. Eerie copper letters pulsed at the top of the glowing gray screen. 5:58:16 A.M. Below the time flashed the words "TO DO" and a single entry: "Report to work."

This was not my bedroom. Not even close.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: So the Yeerks have apparently totally idiot-proofed the future.
Adam: Not the worst of ideas.
Ifi: I am a staunch supporter of letting natural selection take its course
Adam: Isn't our capacity to idiot-proof part of natural selection?
Ifi: The ones smart enough to idiot-proof are not the ones who need the idiot-proofing.

Ifi: Oh hey check it out Jake is old now

I stopped suddenly as I studied my fist. It was big. I mean it was rough and callused and had veins that pumped across the hairy, muscular forearm like I belonged to Gold's Gym and actually used my membership.

It was the hand and arm of a grown man.

My heart started up again, pumping now at record speed. I probed the polished steel door frame for my reflection, for the face I knew.

And yes, there! I saw my eyes, dark as midnight. My strong, broad face. My…

I swallowed hard.

My short-cropped hair? My six-foot frame? My day-old beard?!

I brought a hand to my face. My fingers scraped across my chin. Stubble like sixty-grit sandpaper. I needed a shave.

My breath got choppy. My head felt about ready to explode.

The Jake staring back at me was an adult!

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Apparently Jake grows up to be one of those people who have sexy music follow them around wherever they go.
Ifi: The cover did not give me this vibe at all.
Adam: What sort of vibe does the cover give you?
Ifi: "this book is going to suck"
Adam: I still don't get all the vitriol aimed at this book.
Adam: But I'll get to that later.
Ifi: So Jake crashes around his tiny Manhattan studio and deliberately agitates the housekeeper AI
Adam: Poor compoota.
Adam: He probably has to deal with someone like this every day.

Structures, hundreds of them, rose beneath me, soared above me. Glass, steel, concrete, masonry. All jutting toward a simmering, red-cast sky.

An urban jungle.

But just like my cell, the city looked as though it had suffered modifications at the hands of a deranged contractor. Chaotic clumps of black machinery clung, like unwelcome growths, to the skyscrapers' sides. Sickly deformations of a century's architectural monuments.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Yay, we're in New York!
Adam: Speaking of.
Adam: Remember that book where Rachel hijacks a plane and crashes it into a building?
Adam: Well, in terms of post-9/11 society, this book has aged even worse.

"Continued idleness prohibited!" The sharp computer voice broke through the monotonous, mind-filling hum from outside.

The fighters banked in tandem, slowed and hovered. Touched down on a platform connecting the World Trade towers.

I let the window cover slam shut.

There was no war being waged after all.

The war, it seemed, was over.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Oops.
Ifi: This series really has not aged well.
Adam: I am very, very curious as to how they will edit this one when the reboot gets to it.
Adam: Which, at the rate they are being released, should be in another 20 years.

Ifi: Jake gets on the future bus to go to future work
Adam: Jake is apparently a controller, and his Yeerk is some kind of scientist.

"Hey, Essak-Twenty-Four-Twelve-Seven-Five!"

The male voice was friendly. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I flinched, but turned.

A guy in a green suit, strapped to the seat to my left, stared at me with icy blue eyes. Green Suit was talking to me!

My heart hammered. My head began to pound.

"When's the launch?" he said.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Why they gave a morph-capable host to someone with a desk job, your guess is as good as mine.
Ifi: Also his number defies Yeerk naming conventions
Adam: Perhaps the Yeerk population has expanded enough at this point that they have had to add another digit?
Ifi: I always assumed that the number related to birth order, since the Yeerks have a few hundred kids in one batch
Adam: Do they ever explain it outright?
Ifi: Nope
Ifi: That's my headcanon though
Adam: Alrighty
Ifi: Furthermore, even if we ignore the inherent silliness in such a long name
Ifi: It should be Essak two four one two seven five
Ifi: not Essak twenty four twelve seven five
Adam: Well, we don't necessarily know that Yeerks count in base 10.
Adam: It could just be translated directly to our numerical scheme for ease of use.
Ifi: It's still stupid

Adam: So, with all of this going on, Jake comes to the (perfectly reasonable) assumption that he has snapped, and has been institutionalized.
Ifi: Jake realizes that everyone thinks he is a Controller

"My name is JAKE!" I yelled. And then I yelled it again.

And for a second, I thought I would lose it. Really lose it. Start screaming stuff like, "I don't wear jumpsuits, I wear jeans! I'm not twenty-five, I'm a kid! I'm not a Controller, I'm free."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: This is apparently common enough that the most it gets is a couple of weird looks.
Adam: Also, I am beginning to agree that Jake has snapped.
Ifi: Some people are like, "Dude. Give your host a spoonful of oatmeal."
Ifi: But yeah no real reaction
Adam: Am I the only one completely horrified that they apparently have medication now for subduing hosts?
Ifi: I do not see how that could even work without also affecting the Yeerk
Adam: What was that they said about free will in a past book?
Adam: That it was impossible?

Ifi: So Jake walks around on the ground (even though the actual city is like in the air or something, guess who stopped paying attention?)
Adam: They build buildings on top of the old buildings, but the ground is still there.

And at the bottom, in smaller print, were the words "High Council Division for the Relocation of Unfit and Insurrectionist Hosts." These words were sprayed over by the graffiti tag "EF."

I stopped in my tracks. The tagger's letters weren't some preconquest relic. They were new. They were fresh. They were angry.

Unfit and Insurrectionist Hosts?

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Also this area is patrolled by Taxxons because
Ifi: reasons?
Adam: They need to give the Taxxons something to do.
Adam: Otherwise they will just sit around eating each other all day.
Ifi: Now that they have humanity, I don't see why they continue to use Taxxons as hosts
Adam: Well, they promised the Taxxons free steak.
Adam: And I guess that they are nice enough to keep up their end of the bargain.

A raptor's cry. A swishing of wings. Out of nowhere! A red-tailed hawk buzzed my head. He looked ancient. Thin, with feathers missing and skin taut around the eyes. He sailed into the steam cloud over a subway grate.

I blinked…

Gone. He was gone!

"Tobias?"

No answer. A mirage?

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: You might think that this is important
Ifi: You would be completely wrong.
Adam: No, it has a point.
Adam: And that point is fundamentally a repeat of an old Star Trek plot.
Adam: But it is still a point.
Adam: And I will explain later.

Ifi: So Jake goes down into the subway and finds some hobos
Ifi: The hobos are friendly and happy to have him, but Jake runs away screaming back into the arms of his pursuers
Ifi: Which I don't understand at all because they were giving him advice and stuff
Adam: Now, said hobos are those that have some sort of physical disability, and therefor are cast out by the Yeerks.
Adam: Something odd though, is seemingly how many morph-incapable Andalites there are.
Ifi: Yeah I dunno

Ifi: Then Jake meets some new friends.

I tried not to let the two forms in front of me, roughly human in outline except for a third leg and a seriously long neck, freak me too much.

But it was hard.

See, each of them had only one eye, a big, internally lit thing that fixed on me like a follow spot. At the center of the eye was an iris, roughly like ours except for the faint amber and gray glow.

But you know how our pupils are in the middle of our irises? Not the case here. I was looking at pupils that orbited the iris like slow, optical satellites.

These eyes studied me with all the suspicion of secret service agents at a presidential appearance. They seemed to stare right through me.

Though it's more accurate to say I stared through them. Because I was looking at blue lungs that filled and deflated with speech. And two bright green hearts pumping pale yellow blood through crystal clear veins. Miles of intestines coiled tightly near a swath of faintly reddish muscle. Their skin was as clear as glass or water.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Even though if you stand back to look at it, this defense mechanism doesn't really make much sense, it does have some basis in reality.
Adam: The Orff (whose name sounds like a guy being punched in the stomach) are basically a cross between a glass frog and a moth with eyespots.




Ifi: Their existence is never explained, nor is anything else about them, but they're basically planetary truant officers
Adam: Space cops!
Adam: Hardboiled, transparent space cops!
Adam: I want a tv show about these guys.
Ifi: Are they Yeerk hosts? Are they independent contractors? Did the Yeerks engineer or conquer them? All these questions and more...are never answered, ever!
Adam: They're Yeerk hosts.
Adam: They're just from a more recently conquered planet.
Ifi: I don't remember reading that
Adam: It was implied.
Ifi: You just decided it.
Adam: Yes.


Ifi: So they put Jake in handcuffs and ask him difficult questions like, "Where do you live?" and "What are you doing out here?"
Ifi: Nobody ever wonders why a Yeerk with one of the famous Andalite Bandit hosts is running around like a lunatic.
Ifi: Also Jake forgets that he can morph.
Ifi: I am not even joking.
Ifi: It doesn't even occur to him to do it
Ifi: Even when he is running from the Taxxons who want to nom him
Adam: No, he tries, but there is some sort of weird mental block in the way.
Ifi: that's not until later
Ifi: At this point, page 50-some, he has not tried to morph yet
Adam: What? It is right there.
Adam: Page 53.
Ifi: After the explosion
Ifi: First explosion
Ifi: Then morphing fail
Adam: He tries to morph, but weird mental block. Right before the explosion.
Ifi: Ok it is so badly written that I can't even tell the sequence of events
Ifi: This writing is atrocious, just from a technical standpoint
Ifi: not even getting into the plot
Adam: The part where it says "Could I morph? I tried to focus…" and the paragraph following.
Ifi: But the page before that, page 52, has rrrrrrrboomboom noises
Ifi: (which is apparently what explosions sound like?)
Ifi: (Or maybe that's the sound of a pregaming explosion)
Adam: Explosions are actually more of a POCK noise.

RrrrrrrrrBoomBoom…RrrrrrrrrBoooooom…
The earth shook and a deafening boom thundered through the street. Amber Eye spun around, then spun back and grabbed me. Dragged me with him as he moved with startling speed toward the sound of the explosion. Silver Eye followed.

[...]

Rrrrrrrr Boooooooooommmmm!

Another massive boom and cloud of dust. The Orff turned away from me. I made a break for it.

"Hey!"

Silver Eye grabbed for me. I wrestled free from him and shot around the corner, limping from my Taxxon bite, moving toward a billowing dust cloud. But the Orff followed me. His tripod legs moved like quicksilver. Then he was on me.

We struggled as the chaos grew around us. I heard the distant sirens of approaching hover ships. The whistled lisps of Taxxon as they burst onto the street, spilling from three-hundred-foot earthen hives built up between buildings along the block, surging like beastly commandos.

What was this? What was happening?

Could I morph? I tried to focus. Tried to think…

And then everything flashed a blinding yellow-white, like I was a bug inside some flashbulb. All was noiseless, but only for a second.

Then—

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM!

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Look at this writing.
Ifi: Look at it.
Ifi: This is TERRIBLE.
Ifi: Was this written by a third grader
Ifi: I've read fanfiction more coherent than this
Adam: Why is it this one in particular that you take issue with? There have been ones with worse prose.
Ifi: Because this has bad prose AND a horrible plot so they like magnify each other
Adam: Again, the plot was taken from a generally pretty decent Star Trek episode.
Adam: I would have figured you would have loved to see cyberpunk animorphs, anyways.
Ifi: This isn't cyberpunk. Dystopia != cyberpunk
Adam: Alright, fair enough.
Adam: Futuristic dystopian Animorphs, then.
Ifi: I would have liked it if it showed a realistic outcome to the Animorphs getting caught.
Ifi: Instead of the Yeerks wasting a morph-capable human on an engineer
Adam: That is what happens with Ax and Marco.
Ifi: Yes and the only reason it didn't happen with Jake was because the author was too uncreative and lazy to figure out a way to make it work.
Adam: But with Jake, it seems to be a plot element that no one seems to know that he can morph.
Ifi: Also I do not see Cassie doing any morphing here in futureland
Ifi: Oh btw
Ifi: Cassie's here

I wanted to hug her. Tell her everything was okay. That she was brave. That we would make it out alive.

But her eyes were like a wall or a mask. I searched them for the peace and sensitivity they used to hold.

Neither was there.

Her lips curled into a fake smile, a very un-Cassie-like look. And she finally spoke.

"So. You're not dead."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Nice to see you too.
Ifi: Also Jake tells her that he has woken up in the future and she completely ignores this.
Ifi: Almost as if she's unable or unwilling to acknowledge it
Adam: Dundundunnnnnn

Spools of blast cord. Blocks of plastic explosives. Detonators. Dynamite. A crazy mix of low and high-tech destructive potential.

"I take it you're not with the EF?" she said.

I shook my head.

"The Evolutionist Front. The Yeerk rebel group? You know, the so-called Insurrectionists, dedicated to turning away from parasitism and toward the use of artificially created symbiotes?"

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Cassie blows shit up all day erryday
Ifi: Also she's a Controller, but her Yeerk is nice and they're in the EF together
Ifi: Why is Cassie the only one who ever meets cool Yeerks?
Adam: She's the only one who bothers talking to them, generally speaking.
Ifi: Also, Cassie announces that she has quit her job as Enforcer of Arbitrary Morality, so Jake decides he needs to replace her.

"What!" An uncontrollable wave of nausea knotted my chest. It was like hearing my dad confess to being a drug pusher or a murderer. It was an impossibility. "Cassie, what are you saying? You engineered a blast that must have killed hundreds of refugees, the very people the EF is trying to help? That makes you a terrorist! How can you possibly justify that?"

"In a war, Jake, anything is justified." She spoke with an unnerving confidence. "I'm not a kid anymore. I'm not concerned with the nonsense I used to be."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Jake look around.
Ifi: Look at the world.
Ifi: Look at it.
Adam: He's experiencing future shock.
Adam: And someone has to be the empathetic one, if Cassie isn't.
Ifi: He's experiencing shitty prose shock

"Jake, the Yeerks want the moon. They want to make it a small, Kandrona-radiating sun. If they succeed, it means an Earth bathed in Kandrona rays for the rest of eternity! It'll be something the EF could never touch and never disable. No one could."

[...]

"Your job brings you closer to the moon-ray technology than anyone in the EF. You know that shell over the Chrysler Building? The Yeerks have been working under there for months, fine-tuning the energy beam that will ignite the moon. The targeting has to be precise. Absolutely precise. The Yeerks need the beam to fire exactly the way you and your team have calculated, or else..."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: He finally talks Cassie into telling him what happened to cause the world to become like this, but she only does it because she wants him to blow up the moon

She nodded. "The Yeerk in Tom's head finally put it all together. Clues, maybe. Carelessness. I don't know. But he suspected you of being an 'Andalite bandit' and then one night, he was sure. He planned his attack so well that when it came, you didn't stand a chance."

She continued. "You, Marco, and Ax were taken immediately, in my barn. Rachel was killed outright. They caught me the next day. Only Tobias escaped."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Then they get shot at and run away. Again, they neglect to morph even though it is now established that they are indeed from the past that we are familiar with and therefore should be able to.

"Ax became a high-ranking Controller. From what I heard, he was the key player in the Yeerk attack on his home world. The Andalite planet was decimated. Millions died. Tens of thousands of Andalites were taken. EF leadership thinks there are some still free in deep space, but I can't imagine…"

I sank to the floor beside a stack of yellowed New York Times dated three weeks from the night I fell into bed in spandex bike shorts.

"Tobias became a leader of sorts. Anti-Yeerk."

"Does he—did he—know about Rachel?"

"Yes. As for Marco." Her voice turned colder. "Marco's Visser Two now, in charge of Earth. He's done things…terrible things."

This wasn't real. I couldn't be hearing this. I didn't believe it.

"The Visser Three you remember was made head of the Council. The supreme Yeerk leader. Emperor."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: I thought they didn't announce who the emperor was.
Adam: Though Esplin is the type to go bragging to everyone within thoughtspeak-range if he got the position.
Ifi: I can see him doing that, actually.
Ifi: Though I'm gonna say that the ghostwriter didn't know
Ifi: and just got lucky that his mistake is somewhat believable
Adam: Mostly, I am just surprised that the empire hasn't collapsed completely with Esplin in charge of the whole thing.
Adam: Though maybe the Emperor is really just a figurehead with no power.
Adam: I am just making idle speculation right now.
Ifi: I have a hypothesis
Ifi: My hypothesis is
Ifi: this book sucks
Adam: blahdeeblahdeeblah.

Adam: So the space-police show up again.
Adam: Jake's dad is apparently the host body of da cheef.
Ifi: If you are reading this book for the first time and STILL think that what Jake is seeing is real, you are beyond all hope
Ifi: Luckily Jake sort of realizes the same thing

"That's right. Once upon a time, you were my host's son. This is quite a coincidence in a city so big."

My thoughts exactly.

It was a weird and unlikely coincidence. As an isolated event, maybe. I'm out of commission for ten years and when I tune in again, my dad's there waiting to arrest me. Sure.

But combined with bumping into Cassie? With sighting Tobias? With learning that it was my carelessness that led to Rachel's death?

Too much convergence. Too many life lines intersecting.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: He realizes that somethings off, but he doesn't quite piece together that the whole thing is a simulation.
Adam: C'mon Jake, you're making Riker cry.
Ifi: Also, we get the only cool part in this entire book, as the Orff are taking him away to interrogate him

The Orffs' blue lungs filled and collapsed, filled and collapsed. Their hearts contracted. Their blood coursed.

I rammed an elbow into a lung. No response!

A flash of insight. What if their organs, those blatant, exposed, vulnerable organs, were decoys? By all biological laws, they should be. They could be drawing attention away from the body sections that mattered.

With a sweep of my leg I knocked one to the floor. He released my arm and I packed the hardest punch I've ever thrown at the clearest part of the other Orff's chest. Just below the head, but above the heart. A section clear as air.

The sea-green glow in his eye faltered and flickered out. He moaned and fell, an unconscious heap. My father's face flashed alarm.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Now, biologically this does make sense, but it seems weird that the EF hasn't figured out this weakness already.
Ifi: It should be common knowledge
Adam: Although, with the Orff as hosts, we now have all the RPG archetypes taken up with Yeerk hosts
Ifi: Oh yes?
Adam: Well, Orff are the Glass Canon, Hork-Bajir are Mighty Glaciers, Taxxons are probably Fragile Speedsters, and Humans are Jack of all Stats.
Adam: Yes, I do go on the tvtropes wiki too much, but you know that already.
Ifi: Then this happens:

And the impossible began to happen. Bands of color, stripes of orange and black inked my skin. Then fur erupted. Tiger muscles bulged, ripping my suit at its seams. My teeth enlarged and sharpened, becoming rows of pointed spears.

I was still able to morph.

The Yeerk force stared in horror, incredulous.

"He's not Andalite! It's impossible!"

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: ...what.
Ifi: he's not...of course he's not...what the hell
Ifi: what
Adam: …Visser Two is a morph-capable non Andalite...
Ifi: EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW WHO HE IS
Adam: I feel like Jake has basically been plopped into the place of some other controller in the situation, with only minor details changed to try and make him fit.
Ifi: Like maybe this was originally a fanfiction, and then the author altered it to suit the needs of the publisher?
Adam: If that's what makes you happy.
Ifi: It actually makes me very unhappy.
Adam: Have some cookies.

Ifi: Then Jake gets knocked out and he's somewhere else

"When they told me it was you, I didn't believe it. I thought you'd been disposed of at the beginning. My host's old comrade in arms. The former leader of that pathetic little gang, the Animorphs."

The face was adult. Mid-twenties, like mine. Unmistakable anywhere, despite all that had changed. Despite the deep, angular battle scars that scored it.

I knew that face. That cocky confidence. That swagger.

"Marco?"

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Why does no one know that Jake is alive, despite the fact that he has an office job?
Adam: I told you my theory already.
Ifi: Also they have somehow captured Cassie

Marco snapped his fingers and a Hork-Bajir swiftly disabled the energy barrier. Two Orff marched in, carrying Cassie. Her feet and hands were bound with living handcuffs. They handled her roughly, ignoring her broken arm.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: They proceed to torture Cassie and let Jake go.
Adam: Instead of, you know.
Adam: Just infesting them with new Yeerks.
Ifi: And therefore learning everything they know, including their weirdo plot to explode the moon


Adam: I have to admit.
Adam: I am very much enjoy the fact that a large deal of this book revolves around a moon-laser.
Adam: More books need moon-lasers, I think.

Ifi: And then there's this guy

Immediately, led in by two more Orff, came a gigantic Taxxon on a leash. Each Orff carried a long pointed pole with which they jabbed at the Taxxon, keeping it at bay.

Marco snickered. "This fellow's been brought straight over from the Taxxon home world where he made quite a name for himself. He ate his entire hive. Mother? Uh-huh. Father? Yep. Siblings? Children? Cousins? Oh, yeah. We tried infesting him, but it became obvious that he's more effective at what he does when his natural inclinations are left unchecked."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: This actually seems like it would be way LESS effective than regular Taxxons, but that's just me
Adam: It’s more for intimidation purposes.
Adam: Like when you have the people in the arena fight a giant monster, when the elite guard would do a much better job.
Ifi: Also you don't have to worry about the elite guard turning around and lashing out at their bosses
Adam: Exactly.

"This makes a new record for breaking a terrorist." Marco smiled and fell into a chair. "It's things like this that get you noticed by the Council. They knew what they were doing when they made me Visser Three."

Visser Three?

"Cassie said you were Visser Two."

"I am."

"But you just said…you said three, not two."

Marco's grin broadened.

That was a slip. Proof that this couldn't be real!

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Whoever is running this simulation is really terrible at keeping consistency.
Adam: Have you ever run a perfect life simulation?
Adam: Shit is tough, man.

Ifi: Jake should have just flopped down and refused to move until he was allowed to talk to whoever was in charge. It worked with the Ellimist.
Ifi: Instead he kept playing along.
Adam: They could have still tortured him.
Ifi: Still, he didn't even try.
Ifi: I think it would be more in line with his character to at least try and fight
Adam: I figure that it is better to escape and try to figure out a way out of it, then to sit there and accomplish nothing.

Awake. Somehow, back at my work console. Controllers all over the office began quietly standing up, leaving their cubicles, systematically filing out of the big room toward the gravity lift doors.

My computer was blank. No more rotating Chrysler Building model. Glowing numerals glared 6:36. The workday was over. My crew was already gone, which was lucky, because I would have had a lot of explaining to do.

Dreams within nightmares within hallucinations within visions. It was debilitating!

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: And then Adam's brain exploded.
Ifi: And then Ifi burned this book.

Ifi: Oh hey look it's Rachel

In the wheelchair, a woman. I'm not sure how I knew it was a woman. The face and body were grossly disfigured by injuries. She had no legs. Only one arm. A horrifying scar shut one eye. The other eye looked up at me. It gleamed a brilliant blue.

I think I knew right then because the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Because true crazy never really dies.
Ifi: Indestructable.
Adam: Didn't Codename: Kids Next Door have a scene like this?
Ifi: idk I only ever saw a couple of episodes
Adam: …Right now I am just trying to count out every work of fiction I know that had a Bad Future episode.

Ifi: So then Jake goes to a place and the ground opens up and he is in the sky and he lands under a tree.
Ifi: If you have a clearer description, I'd be glad to hear it.


Adam: This is all I could think of

Every branch had a child on it. A smiling, playful child, singing and swaying. Some of them were obviously skilled tree-climbers. Not all of them were human, although most were. There were young Andalites, too. Even a number of Orff. And a Leeran.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: I hope they have a pool somewhere for the Leeran kid.
Ifi: How did the Andalite get up there.
Adam: Space magic

Ifi: Have some horrifying

"The Yeerks raise children in large warehouses back in the city. Controllers like the ones you saw are picked at random to procreate. When children are born, they enter one of the wamps, or warehouses, where they are held from birth to age fifteen. Their lives are controlled though their brains are left uninfested. Children are seen as weak and unworthy host bodies.

"During this captivity," she continued, "they're pumped full of vitamin supplements so the host bodies will grow strong. They're run on treadmills so they'll be fit to fight and to produce. When instinct leads them to indulge in moments of uncontrolled, regular childhood, they are punished. If they try to educate themselves, they are punished. Yeerks want minds as powerless as possible. So they raise children in a joyless, lifeless world where they wait for the day of infestation. The EF fights to free them. When they are freed, which is far more seldom than I can bear to think, they come here."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar
Adam: *shrug*
Adam: Doesn't seem too different than standard middle school.
Ifi: Then Jake opens a door in a tree (I swear to god that's what happens) and he's in Bryant Park
Ifi: From there, he goes to the library, because Rachel told him to
Adam: I am honestly really happy that they didn't blow Bryant Park up.
Adam: Kinokunia is right there.
Adam: Where would I get brush pens from?
Ifi: Actually, why does Jake know the layout of the city so well? He lives on the opposite side of the country!
Adam: He was there before
Adam: Once
Adam: As a little kid.
Ifi: Uh huh.
Adam: (I've lived there my whole life, and I got lost last week, but that's neither here nor there.)

A strapping Andalite, coarse blue fur drawn tight over battle-ready muscles, swiveled graceful stalk eyes to rest on me.

<Jake.>

The thought-speak voice was mind-filling. Gentle and tough. Wise, inspiring, terrifying.

Familiar.

He looked just as he did the night his spacecraft crashed in the construction site. The night my life changed forever.

By comparison, my voice sounded puny and forlorn, swallowed up by the vaulted chamber.

"Elfangor."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: ...
Ifi: What.
Adam: Well, it makes as much sense as anything else in this book.
Ifi: It's actually Tobias, in grown-up Ax morph
Ifi: Tobias tells Jake what everyone else has been telling him: he has to blow up the moon.
Adam: I legitimately like the idea that Tobias ends up as an Andalite nothlit.
Ifi: Yeah
Adam: It was established that he would die as a hawk, and it strikes me as out of character to become a human forever again.

I ran out the same way I came in, as fast as my legs could carry me. Past row upon row of books and cavernous marble library halls built for a different world.

I burst out into a muggy cloud of night air, thick and hot. The leaves on the trees were full and lush. Leaves? Muggy air? Minutes ago I'd walked beneath barren branches, dormant as death. Now I raced past foliage rustling in the whirlwind currents from hovercraft overhead.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: The puppetmaster stops giving a fuck.
Adam: Well, the simulation/book is almost over, and they know it.
Ifi: So he morphs a raptor (or is morphed, it's not very clear) and goes to explode the moon.
Adam: I like that synopsis.
Adam: It gives me a case of the giggles.

A human form! A woman, perched on a narrow ledge a thousand feet from the ground, one of the giant gargoyles anchored just beneath her feet! She was facing out, away from the building, her wrists strapped to the masonry wall, her face strained as she fought to break free.

<CaaaaSieeeee!>

She twisted.

<The spire!> Her desperate plea filled my head. <Smash the spire!>

How could she answer in thought-speak? How could she even see me? No time to wonder.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Adam: Space Magic.
Ifi: So Jake breaks the spire and gets inside the building through sheer force, where Marco is waiting to give his, "You're too late to stop me!" speech

"In minutes, the moon will shine and strengthen only Yeerks. We will be all-powerful. Earth will be ours forever."

A panel behind Cassie flew open, revealing a red night.

"And to celebrate, we've decided to throw a terrorist from the sky."

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: That uh
Ifi: that's not how I was expecting that sentence to end


Adam: This book did a great job of predicting the Bush administration.
Adam: (Political humor!)

Ifi: Then there is a battle
Ifi: And Jake has to choose between hitting the big red self-destruct button and saving Cassie from plummeting to her death.
Adam: Which is apparently the whole point of the simulation.

In seconds the moon ray would fire, shooting from the Chrysler Building cannon with perfect aim and precision.

Cassie's hand.

The large, red button standing out on Marco's control panel, shielded behind glass. The word ABORT etched on the cover.

Cassie…

The world…

I knew what I had to do. No time for indecision.

I saw my goal.

Save what should be valued above all else.

I leaped.

00:05. 00:04.

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: Oh, did you want to know what he decided?
Ifi: Did you want to know the choice he made?
Ifi: Were you curious to see what he'd learned from his little adventure?
Ifi: TOO BAD
Adam: He pressed the "let's get this thing over with" button.
Ifi: Instead of a resolution, we get this:

INTERESTING CHOICE.

All was blackness when I heard the voice. A strange voice. Old and young. Male and female. Echoing in my mind like distant thoughtspeak.

It was not the Ellimist. No. It was a voice I'd never heard.

THEY HAVE STRANGELY SEGMENTED MINDS: CONSCIOUS, UNCONSCIOUS, AND AN ABILITY TO RECONCILE BOTH. THEY WILL BEAR MORE STUDY, THESE HUMANS…

----Book Forty-One, The Familiar

Ifi: ...
Ifi: ...
Ifi: .......


Adam: I figured that we wouldn't get to see his choice.  
Adam: I just want to know who the cha it was who set this whole thing up.
Ifi: TOO BAD
Adam: I say it is Applegate and the Ghostwriter.
Adam: Maybe the Jesus Whale.
Adam: Or perhaps Jake was abducted by Skrit Na.
Ifi: LSD
Adam: That's your answer to everything.
Adam: Well, I'm sure we'll get lots of deranged theories in the comments.
Ifi: I am sure
Adam: =D

Adam: So, Jake calls Cassie to see if she is okay.
Adam: The End.
Ifi: Good

Adam: Honestly?
Adam: I really liked this book.
Adam: I mean, I don't really rank the series (though #26 and the Hork-Bajir Chronicles are my top 2)
Adam: But this is probably in my top 5.
Ifi: You always like the books that are universally hated, why is that?
Adam: I derive sustenance from the tears of others.
Ifi: Thank god it's finally over
Adam: Well, guess what we have next week.
Ifi: Wat
Adam: Return of the Helmacrons.
Ifi: Fuck.


Ifi: I'm going to bed.

74 comments:

  1. I never actually finished this book. I read through about a quarter of it, then gave up in despair.

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  2. I get the feeling the line about getting crazy theories in the comments suggestion was aimed at people like me. Sorry. I got nothing. On the other hand, I wonder what it would be like for Jake to end up in his future body at some time near the end of the last book in the series. Like #41-era Jake waking up in the body of morph-school teacher Jake, and find out that he's a national hero and a mass-murderer who sent his cousin on a suicide mission to kill his brother. That would be even more of a mind-fuck than this thing, which at this point in an Animorph's career, is just another bit of weirdness that lets him step back from the experience mentally and assume it's a puppet master scenario. By sending him to see his real future, the sadistic puppet masters could have been saying "This is victory. It's not free. What do you think about the price you'll have to pay for it?"

    It kind of says something about Animorphs as opposed to every other work to use a Bad Future episode, that the future that ACTUALLY HAPPENS might be horrifying enough to the character without having to make up a potentially bad future.

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  3. Hey, I actually like this one too! Though the writing IS noticeably off in points. I just... I actually like to know what the Animorphs dream about. The inconsistencies can be explained away as the natural inconsistencies in dreams; the lack of morphing also sounds like something from a dream. (Lots of people have nightmares where they suddenly lose their proper range of motion and can't run properly, or similar). I could have done without the dream actually being a simulation though... that just added a dose of BIG LIPPED ALLIGATOR MOMENT to this whole thing, rather than the "WELCOME TO PTSD LAND" I'd like it to be.

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  4. I bet it was skunk-man who did this all.
    There is a reason we are supposed to fear him.

    THEY WILL BEAR MORE STUDY, THESE HUMANS…

    So Skunk-man just keeps doing these bad simulations over and over again to other humans... that is sad :(

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    1. I change my mind.
      IT WAS SKUNK-DEMON!

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  5. I think I fall right in between Ifi and Adam on the scale of liking this book. I was super frustrated to NOT know what the fuck made this this thing happen. As far as we know, only Crayak and the Ellimist can do these things. Unless one of them faked his voice and trolled Jake, then IDK. But, at least Jake acknowledges all the crazy inconsistencies and terrible plot. It's not like they just happen and no one notices.

    For the host-sedating pill, one of the other moon laser engineers told Jake that they don't really work. Maybe there's some placebo effect going on there, where the host thinks the pill works and subconsciously stops being a bother (people are weird), or the Yeerk just getting more forceful at suppressing hosts without realizing it and thinking it was the pill. IDK. That engineer guy said it doesn't work, so I'm going with that.

    I also like that Tobias trapped himself as an Andalite. That was cool. And that Ax looks like Elfangor THAT much. Was it ever mentioned before that? I don't think it was.

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  6. When do we get to the good books again, do we ever ; ~;

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    1. Aw, I liked most of the 40’s books: #40, #41, the one where they find Tobias’s mom, the one with the Civil War journal, the one where Marco’s like ‘hey look, Dad, I can turn into a lobster!’ The one where the Yeerks tried to start world war 3 isn’t the best, but it puts Ax in an interesting dilemma. I liked the one with Crayak and David. The one where they try to blow up the Yeerk pool isn’t the best, but again, it has interesting dilemmas and some character development. And I don’t care what anyone says, I liked the Australia book.

      Actually, the only 40’s book I didn’t like that much was 42…

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    2. Dammit! You're falling down on the mortal enemies obligations when you share my opinions! The only caveat is that there's a lot of weird here. Like the Civil War journal being a little too-oversimplified and the kind of are-you-kidding-me ending to the present-day battle. And the boundaries of reality blurring as they did in the David return. I'm wondering if that will maybe be not as appealing on the re-read. Oh well.

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    3. Well, I still like Cassie. So you'll always be able to hate me for that. ;-)

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    4. I LIKE A LOT OF BOOKS AFTER THIS ONE!!!!!! 43 IS A BOSS!!! 49 IS AN EVEN BIGGER BOSS!!!!! 50-53 ARE LIKE A BOSS AND MOST OF 54 IS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD BUT NOT ALL OF IT LIKE A BOSS!!!!

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    5. BOOK 50 IS THE BEST EVER IT HAS THE BEST COVER AND NO ONE CAN ARGUE WITH ME LOGIC CAN'T TOUCH ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      (Sorry in advance for this moment of insanity)

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  7. This book was always really weird to me. I almost just forgot that it happened. I think it's because the prose is so bad. Most of the other books with plots as stupid as this one are at least written a little more coherently. I tend to remember books in the Animorphs series as the way I imagined them when I read them, but this book is patchy and fragmented in my memory, and it makes no more sense on the re-read.
    The one thing I enjoyed about this book was the idea of Tobias becoming an Andalite nothlit, specifically one of Ax, and growing up to look incredibly like his father. I think I will put that in my headcanon, the happy headcanon where everyone survives the ending of book 54.

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  8. "Again, the plot was taken from a generally pretty decent Star Trek episode."

    And a really decent "Buffy" episode, and an excellent "Gargoyles" episode, and one of the most popular "X-Men" story arcs in the whole franchise.

    (And, err, "Heroes". Yeah, that came later but it's worth mentioning...?)

    I'm in the middle of {shameless plug} My Summer of (Disney Direct-to-Video) Sequels {/shameless plug}, so by now I know a thing or two about official, authorized published works that play out like really really sh*tty fanworks. The Familiar though... holy balls, just... what?

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    1. REALLY GOOD HEROES EPISODES ARE SET IN THE FUTURE I LOVE HEROES BEST SHOW EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Which episode of Buffy are you talking about?

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    2. "Wish", which is technically closer to a Bad Alternate Timeline, but close enough. Plus it introduces Anyanka, so there's that.

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    3. I wqas wondering if that was it. I liked that episode though. Even though THE MASTER CAME BACK AND I HATE HIM!!!

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  9. In my project for the animated series (because yeah, in my head an Animorphs animated series actually exists. Any problem with that?) this was a set-up created by the Ellimist and the Crayak (and not by Random Bored Trolling Space Dude/Dudette) because they wanted to put Jake to the test or whatever. It actually made more sense, I guess (?).

    As for the book... I like it. Even with its blatant inconsistencies, that I usually hand-wave as "it's a dream, so who cares". But yeah, stilistically it kinda sucks, and I think this is one of the books of the series that has actually been improved by the Italian translation.

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    1. Applegate confirmed in an interview that it wasn't the Ellimist or the Crayak (or The One, for that matter.)

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    2. Yeah, I think I read that interview. It's just that I don't like the fact that it basically remains a hanging, unresolved plot point at the end of the series... But again, there are many of them.

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    3. I sorta like the hanging, unresolved plot points. I guess it makes KAA's universe seem more realistic... in real life, there are plenty of questions that never get answers and mysteries that never get solved.

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    4. On the subject of Animorph realism, that's why there are filler books. No matter what you say, there are always going to be stupid battles and episodes in a war that doesn't really contribute to the war effort at all. A lot of them are just forgotten, or edited out of history books so that no one involved are embarrassed or are turned in their graves. This war, however fictional, is no exception. And its soldiers are better actually, because do you see the Animorphs running around, doing disgusting things to civilian women? The Patriots did. And the British. And the Allied Forces. Gosh, a lot of armies did, didn't they?

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    5. Well, the Animorphs occasionally did things like turn into mice and crash pool parties or terrorize annoying teenagers, steal cars and clothes, trash buildings, break into the homes of math teachers, and punish people who mistreat elephants, hawks, and parrots. :-)

      But yeah, in general, they're a hundred times better behaved than the average army you find in a history book.

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  10. I'm with Adam on this one. I genuinely liked this book, if only because the depictions of a Yeerk-controlled metropolis and a look at what day-to-day Yeerk life with no secret underground war might be like. Some parts of it are a little weird, of course, but I think it does a good job of recalling a weird, disjointed, and disturbing nightmare.

    Now here's something that I noticed while rereading this book. Everything in the hallucination/dream seems to have been lifted from parts of Jake's memory (New York, David, numerous red-tailed hawks flying around), except for one thing- the Orff.

    Perhaps the present-day Orff (maybe they are the inhabitants of the Anati system?) are also being invaded by the Yeerks, but have somehow manged to find out that morph-capable humans are also engaged in a war on their own planet. Perhaps this is some kind of telepathic test that they decided to give to Jake to see if he was worthy of leading the Orff people to freedom.

    (Also, with one eye and three legs, they kind of remind me of the effeminate alien from Lilo and Stitch.)

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  11. Well, the Hork-Bajir are fast enough to almost rival the Lightning Bruiser Andalites, but their usual mental levels make me inclinded to agree with you there, Adam. We've both spent way too long TV Tropes to be goood for sanity and we end up liking this crazy thing. Admittedly, the writing is better left forgotten, but the One/Kelbird/Q/Discord/Trollthulu intrigued me as a source of potential fancrack theories and I like seeing the kids' future selves, even if the future is horribly inconsistent.

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  12. I actually like the idea of it not being Ellimist, Crayak, the One, or any other group encountered in series. It increases the scale, making it seem that there are other powers in play that maybe aren't obsessed with what's going down on Earth, and just fucked with Jake while passing through the area. Or maybe some powerful psychic alien that causes teenage guerrilla commando leaders to have fucked up dreams came by. Applegate's universe, for all that it's full of aliens, is distinctly lacking in beings who can't have human morality applied to them.

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    1. I would have liked the idea better if it ever paid off, for anything, ever. We never get this mentioned again and we never encounter this being. Personally, I would argue that this entire thing was a dream of Jake's. He's breaking down, so his mind is trying to make sense of things. It's either that, or the whole book is a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.

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  13. *waves hand in the air* I have a deranged theory! Well, sort of.

    I really liked this book. To me, this one’s all about Jake’s character development. If you try looking at it from any other angle, it’s like Alice in Wonderland meets Animorphs and nothing makes any sense. But from a character development angle, I think it’s great.

    The puppetmaster shows Jake a world where he’s basically lost everything – not just the fight, but also everyone he cares about. In the worst possible way. The people he loves aren’t dead. They’re (in Jake’s mind) almost worse than dead; in one way or another, they’ve all lost themselves. They might still be alive, but he’s horrified at what’s become of them. And of course, the planet itself is as lost as it can possibly be.

    Then, after seeing all this, Jake is asked to choose what he wants to save. Does he care more about saving the entire planet from the nightmare future he’s seen? Or does he care more about saving his own friends and family?

    He talks to that little kid at one point, remember? Justice, I think. (Yeah, corny name.) Justice is saying he wants to go back and rescue his own friends before he worries about other people. And Jake basically tells him, well, in a war, you can’t always do that. Jake thinks to himself later on, “Justice would save his friends first. But Justice was just a kid.” Just like Jake used to be just a kid.

    So the whole point of this book, in my mind, is, when push comes to shove, does Jake really mean what he said to that little boy (who probably reminds him of an earlier version of himself)? Would he really sacrifice his friends to save billions of strangers he doesn’t know?

    Jake from book #1 would definitely save his friends. Jake from book #53 would sacrifice his friends. So the question is, at #41, where is he? What would he choose? And then we get an ambiguous ending, which I love, because I’m weird like that. At this point, I think he’d choose Cassie, but I really like how the author leaves it up to each reader to decide for themselves.

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    1. Well someone has to choose Cassie, I guess. I think even JesusWhale hates her at this point.




      AndaliteTobias was the best bit.

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    2. XD I cracked up when I read that. Even though I still like Cassie. *ducks* Please don't throw things at me.

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    3. Skunk Demon hates her too >:(

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    4. And then we get to the end of the series, where he chooses differently. It makes me wonder though how he'd chose if the suicide mission called for the fastest morpher or something that would force him to send Cassie to her death.

      The problem with using Rachel in the end is, IMO, that she's the easiest pawn for Jake to sacrifice, cousin or no. She's not his love interest or best friend-cum-sycophant, and she lacks Ax's skill set. For a long time now, he's been expressing (mostly unwarranted) negative opinions about Rachel and her "descent into darkness". For Jake, the act of sacrificing Rachel to achieve a goal might be spun as a kind of win-win situation where he "saves" her from having to adjust to peacetime. Rachel expresses more war-weariness than any of them except maybe Jake, but only to herself, so the rest of them think she loves the war and would be lost without it, so really, they're sparing her the loss of the best thing to happen to her.

      Rachel is a good choice of a death from a narrative and character perspective, because of the lost life she represents and how much more her death would affect others, but from the narrow view of Jake's character development, she's the worst choice because she's the easiest for him to make. Having to sacrifice Marco or Tobias or Cassie WOULD have been a more agonizing choice for Jake at the end. I think too that a lot of his funk is self-recriminations over that choice, maybe when he sees her die, not raging against her killers or fighting to the last breath in her body, but instead looking at her friends and expressing her love before she goes... that's what does him in, because it forces him to realize he didn't just dispose of a berserk warrior he would not need after this battle.

      Later events sucker him into making "big picture" decisions, when he forgets the lesson he seems to have learned in this book. Or maybe this book helped move him beyond the family-first guy who is appalled at the extreme tactics of the EF and rails at Elfangor for making them into soldiers, and pushes him along his transformation to the big-picture guy. I can't tell, thanks to the surreal qualities of the book, whether the whole episode was trying to show him how badly the "win at all costs" mentality would hurt, or if it was trying to help him get past the childish perspective of "friends and family first."

      Delete
  14. Okay the comments about the writing made me decide to compare the Ghostwriters. According to Wikipedia, KAA would write an outline, the ghostwriter would do the novel and then KAA "would edit the book to make it fit in with the series' tight continuity." You may all desist sneezing "bullshit" now.

    Erica Bonone was only allowed to write one book, #36, the Orca book where they go to Atlantis. Amy Garvey also had only one book, #28 with the cows and the animal testing lab. Her Ax-isms were pretty funny so IDK why that was her last book. Gina Gascone wrote #40, with the Andalite BFFs.

    Ellen Geroux is the big hitter with five books, including this one, and the two books with Tobias & Taylor (#33 & 43). She also writes the book where Marco comes out to his dad (#45) and tries to rescue his mom, and the Civil War flashback book (#47).

    Jeffrey Zeuhkle
    #25, the arctic book,
    #35 the one where Marco is conflicted about his dad remarrying while they stalked Dr Phil.
    He's the only male ghostwriter, and the most consistently bad, along with…

    Emily Costello,
    #42 next week's return of the Helmacrons
    The second CYOA.
    That is another in the explains-a-lot category.

    Melinda Metz
    #29 with Ax's brain surgery & #
    #34 Aldrea's ghost.
    She also wrote the books on which they based the TV show "Roswell" around the same time these books were getting published. The main character on that show was an annoying shrill short girl who also placed too much value on the lives of aliens who can pass as people, so you can see why she'd get Cassie books. So writing the two most readable Cassie books, and bringing a young, nubile Katherine Heigl into our living rooms make Ms Metz pretty much the most accomplished writer on the list.

    Laura Battyanyi-Weiss
    #27, giant squids, Pemalite ship
    #31, Tom tries to make their dad a controller to get out of going to a funeral,
    #39, the buffahuman book
    Whacky shenanigans seem to be her specialty: the introduction of the Drode, the crackhouse shootout, the Snoopy spaceship, Erek frozen in the mall, the morphing animals-monstrosities, the car-alarm sequence, the WW2 flashback, fighting Yeerks with a hose...

    Elise Smith, to my astonishment, actually wrote three books. It's kind of weird that two books which seem to have elicited such varied reactions here were written by the same woman.
    #30, where Visser One comes back to Earth and Marco pushes her off the mountain after blowing their cover
    #37, with the Garatron and unrecognizable Marco & Rachel having a power struggle
    #46, the battle on the aircraft carrier
    The same woman wrote the highest and lowest points of Rachel & Marco’s relationship.
    I recall #46 as being totally insane and off the hook, but I can't recall specifics about the characterization or writing.


    Kimberly Morris
    #38 with the Andalite war-crime unit,
    #48 the return of Crayak & David,
    #50 where they recruit the handicapped kids
    #52, Ax's last book where he seems to have to completely relearn the lessons about trusting the Andalite military, and they attack the Yeerk pool. It also was the only time I ever loathed Ax, not so much for his actions, but his attitudes.
    As with Elise Smith, I find it hard to believe the same person wrote #38 & #52.

    Finally, we have Lisa Harkrader,
    #44 Cassie Down Under,
    #49 the return (or introduction) of Loren,
    #51 where Marco, Tobias and Ax go on a road trip to see the governor and are amazingly successful & blindingly incompetent at the same time. I loved that one.

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    Replies
    1. You sir, are awesome!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, but it's not that big a thing. I only copied a list from Wikipedia and inserted my own opinions. Inserting my opinions is only about as difficult for me as breathing.

      Delete
  15. I don't recall if I ever finished this book. I can't remember any of the stuff after the first half of this review.

    I'm not sure what theory I should formulate on the puppet master(s) since there wasn't really much to go on. Based on how they talk about studying them I feel like they're meant to be generic grey aliens although the Skrit Na already did that and they're not smart enough to do this. The way they can act like a lotus eater machine sort of makes me think of that one thing from the Ellimist Chronicles...what's the thing that lived in the ocean called again?

    Anyway I'm sticking with them being grey aliens that got interested in Earth because of the Yeerk invasion but don't want to directly interfere.

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    1. I don't know what happened in the Elemist chronicles. :(
      I DIDNT LIKE IT >:(

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    2. Father.

      And grey aliens are the Skrit Na in the Animorphs universe.

      SINIZ, it got less weird once you get past the part with Father.

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    3. I don't even remember Father so I don't think I even got that far :P

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  16. On a totally superficial note, the morph stage before last (4th Jake yo) is REALLY HOT!

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    1. ...
      ....
      .....
      ...What.

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    2. You can't deny it!!!!!! Jake will have a very good short phase in his life. Though the third Jake isn't bad either...

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  17. @ the presence of Taxxons in the bad future: Seeing as how all eusocial organisms give birth to enormous amounts of babies, it would make sense that the Taxxons are probably the most populous out of all the various Controller-species. Also, the fact that they are naturally used to subterranean environments and cramped spaces would mean that they'd be really good pursuing targets in a choked urban environment.

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  18. ...I really liked this book.

    Then again I dig bad future books. And Animorphs was never exactly the king of amazing prose anyway, I could tolerate the badness.

    I enjoyed it because it actually was an interesting character study. Even if it had no meaningful conclusion, it gains more value because it somewhat foreshadows the last arc of Jake's character development.

    Also I liked the giant Jake-man-figure-thing he had going on.

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  19. Because... shooting lasers at moons makes them turn into suns. Of course.

    Glass frogs are pretty cool.

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    1. "Because... shooting lasers at moons makes them turn into suns. Of course."

      Pssh, logic. It's overrated.

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    2. Actually, scientists are considering the possibility that if something ruins our current planet so we have to evacuate it, if we find a new planet or space rock or moon or something, we could use a laser to turn a meteor into a mini-sun so we can do something on our new home. So the Yeerks could have a more advanced way of that, but whatever. Why we would bring a laser with us to space after the Apocalypse, I have no idea, but there you go. Also, if we find a new planet, shouldn't it have a sun already? Otherwise it will be uninhabitable. So, the logic behind it is logic less.
      While we're on the subject, would any one care to hear about how a possibly-colossal-or-posibly-giant squid ate a crew of scientists while they were on a deep diving submarine?

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    3. What? How is that possible? A sun = fusion reactions. Self-sustaining fusion reactions = a whole lot of mass. You cannot make a meteorite into a sun by shooting lasers at it.

      I mean, maybe you could put a laser on the meteorite and the laser itself you be the source of the light. But you're not going to make a meteorite into a star. No way.

      Also, planets by definition have to have suns. So yeah, you're right, it should already have a sun.

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    4. LOGIC. THIS IS LOGIC. IT OBVIOUSLY SHOULD NOT BE IN THIS IDEA FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL. DUH.
      -The scientist who wrote that idea

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  20. I can totally picture V3 going up to random yeerks and singing (call me maybe) then out of song voice then the yeerk he's talking to runs away.

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    1. It deleted my song. I meant "hey i just met u, and i have to say, im head of the council now, so u have to obey me" then "OBEY ME OR DIE"

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  21. I actually read a theory in a continuation fanfic that made me appreciate this book a lot more. While it's a typical Bad Future setting, it also represents all of Jake's innermost fears. Marco, his best friend since childhood, is suddenly a high-ranking enemy. Rachel was once his best warrior, but is now crippled and helpless. Cassie lost her sentimental and over-moralizing side to become the EF version of herself. Ax disappeared, so Jake could no longer rely on him to provide information.

    The fic then used the fact that Tobias was the leader of EF to transition leadership from Jake to Tobias.

    (If anyone was wondering, this is the series by capnnerefir)

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    1. That.... is a cool theory.

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    2. And a crazy fic. I think that's the one where they all start working for Crayak to fight The One, Jakes dies, Rachel comes back to life, Jake comes back, Cassie dies, her boyfriend joins the Animorphs, David rejoins, James turns out to be alive and joins the main team, Tobias & Rachel get married & pregnant but not in that order, Tobias works for the Russian mob, they make friends with Vladimir Putin, Marco dates Jake's student, Jake's other student goes back in time and dates Loren, Elfangor's long-lost Andalite son joins the Animorphs and walks in on Tobias & Rachel having sex in their spaceship. Tobias makes him go to human high school, he encounters bullies, so he photoshops them into gay porn, the bullies seek revenge and Tobias sics the Russian mob on them.

      There's other stuff that's all too weird to describe here.

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    3. I really really need to read that

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    4. You forgot Eyepatch!Ax, that they (finally) enlist Melissa, Marco's amnesia, and when they go back in time to China's Three Kingdoms. Oh, and "sario" is an Andalite swear word. (Never read the gay bully porn one, though. :/ )

      Eyepatch!Ax rubs me the wrong way, because capnnerefir handwaved it away as "Oh, sometimes morphing technology doesn't heal injuries, (and permanently wounded Andalite soldiers are culturally accepted. Forget book 40)," which I'm calling immediate bs on.

      I did enjoy the dialogue between Tobias and Visser Three(One, whatever) when they were trying to starve him to death. That was a highlight for me.

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    5. IDK, about the story at least, but assuming you are talking about Ax losing an eye and this being acceptable in the fan-fiction's universe, I remember the Andalite leader from book #54 (last in the series) was missing an eye and had scars. I would presume a single missing eye does not make one a vecol, since you can still see (and an Andalite has three good eyes as opposed to the single one a human has), whereas loss of a tailblade does equate to losing a particular capability.

      Also, tailblades have a lot of significance to Andalites. Their word for "tailblade" is the same as their word for "best friend." So a guy who loses his tailblade has lost his best friend. The loss of a tailblade means an Andalite can no longer "be his own best friend." So in that sense, losing a tailblade is equivalent to castration.

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    6. Well, the Andalite you mentioned could just not have morphed since he got them. Most of the time they never really morph, they just use it for their inadequate espionage. If the dude was a warrior, he wouldn't really need to morph. As they have spies for that.

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  22. I also hate this book. And making theories is almost pointless, because as has been pointed out, it makes no sense. Or rather, about half of it makes no sense, and another quarter is flat-out insulting to the reader.

    I much prefer the other alternate world/Bad Future stories. Remember book 7?

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  23. I always assumed there was no judging alien intelligence. Jake was just going crazy.

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  24. Wait a sec, the voice, the choice of words, i know who did it. Why is my cousin messing with jake? Then again he has always been interested in other species... i shouldve seen it comin.

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  25. Question: Why is this called the "Familiar"? I mean, the whole setting of the book is not familiar to Jake- it's all new things, with strangely surreal scenes...is it named for the choice he needs to make at the end, that he finds familiar with the choice he needed to make at the beginning of the book?

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    1. (cracks knuckles)
      Each book is named for a reason. Sometimes stupid, but a reason.
      The Invasion. Duh.
      The Visitor. Rachel visits the Chapmans.
      The Encounter. Tobias encounters the female hawk.
      The Predator. Eva is discovered to be infested, and is now "preying" on the humans and all the other host species.
      Stuff like that.

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    2. So why is this book called the FAMILIAR???!!!

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    3. No. Sometimes the titles are completely random. See: the Prophecy, the Warning, the Conspiracy, Elfangor's Gift. Those aren't the only ones, just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

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    4. Wasn't "The Warning" referring to the warning they gave to JB Fenestre about his house as a sanctuary? Must...reread...#16....

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  26. If the Andalite homeworld has been subjugated, I would assume the Yeerks have morphing technology and having a morph-capable host just doesn't mean much - because if they've infested the Animorphs they know that the anti-morphing ray failures were engineered, and they may have perfected it. That's why Jake's Yeerk is a lowly engineer, because he's not as valuable as a host as he used to be. Maybe his Yeerk left for a host that didn't scream as much, and Marco's Yeerk is more sadistic/Marco gave up.

    The story of Ax and Marco as Controllers leading Yeerk armies actually seems pretty interesting.

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  27. I'm going to vote that the Mysterious Unknown Voice is actually Death from Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

    1. His form of speech is often described in a manner much like thoughtspeak, merely lacking the needed <> symbols.

    2. He's not the most... creative, when making worlds. A description of his realm is of a place in varying shades of BLACK. So it's understandable that after a while he'd have a hard time keeping all the annoying little things like plotlines, physics and morphing in line.

    3. He's always shown as being intrigued but confused by humans (and violins, but meh).

    4. And of course, he ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

    Therefore, headcanon: a very drunk Death decided to mess with Jake.

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    1. Does this mean that the Helmacrons are actually the Nac Mac Feegle?!

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    2. *Takes theory and runs off with it like it's a ship* The Pictsies are known for being the little blue boisterious bruisers ruled by their women... The Helmacrons must be the first life the Nac Mac Feegle died in to reach the afterlife on the Disc. That's why they kill their leaders on the ships and there are fewer Nac Mac females... This is my new head-crack-canon.

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  28. It was an April Fool's joke. The book number was a reference to April First.
    #41= 4/1

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  29. how is al fango tobias dad

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  30. Adam, I was curious to see your point made about the Star Trek episode and its relevance to this story. I guess I'll just have to google it....

    Anyways, as much as this book was crazy, I loved it. Cuz I love craziness. :D Definitely one of the better ghostwritten books, at least in terms of making me think and wanting to know what the heck was going on. Some of those other ghostwritten books... YAWN. But anyways... this book had 2 of my favorite lines. Tobias' repeated condescending line to Jake and the line from Justice (which someone kinda commented on) - "I'll save my friends first, then I'll save other people's friends."

    Have no idea why, but those lines stuck with me. Of course, I'll always cherish Ax's funny commentary over anything else.

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