Saturday, July 21, 2012

Megamorphs 4: Back to Before


The Summary
The Drode offers to alter reality so that the Animorphs never met Elfangor. Jake is having a really bad day so he actually agrees. The Animorphs walk home some other way, and Elfangor dies alone.

But the Yeerks still exist. Tobias is taken in by the Sharing and made into a Controller. Marco spots his should-be-dead mom and gets shot at by guys with laser guns for trying to pursue her. Jake sees Tom with a gun. Cassie is having flashbacks of the group, even though she doesn't know who or what the group is.

Nobody comes to rescue Ax, so he rescues himself and winds up in a mental hospital for a little while, before leaving and going to the news. So an Andalite is on national television, telling everyone about the Yeerks. The Yeerks freak out and start taking hosts openly, and Tobias and Marco are killed in the insanity.

Ax teams up with the remaining not-Animorphs, Jake and Cassie and Rachel, and they storm the Blade ship. Cassie and Rachel are killed, but Cassie inexplicably reappears and kills Visser Three. The Drode reappears, quite flustered, and the Ellimist shows up to explain that Cassie is some sort of temporal anomaly grounded in her own timeline, and her existence is causing the fake timeline to dissolve. The Drode accepts his defeat and everything goes back to normal.

The Review
Adam: This is the final Megamorphs book.
Ifi: Good, I am not sure my constitution could handle a fifth one
Adam: I would be fine with a fifth if there were dinosaurs again.
Adam: Considering the number of time travel plots, there is a severe overall dearth of dinosaurs.

Ifi: So cover
Ifi: Someone found the greyscale filter~
Adam: I like it!
Ifi: I actually do like it, too
Adam: This is easily the strongest of all the Megamorphs covers.
Ifi: I remember picking it up when it first came out as a kid and being like "aww yeaaaah gurl look at that cover."
Adam: Which by itself isn't really saying that much, but still.
Adam: Also worth noting: this book's cover is printed on matte paper
Adam: All the others are done on glossy paper.
Adam: Which I think is a nice touch.
Ifi: What's happening with Jake's thumb?
Adam: In his pocket.
Ifi: OHH
Ifi: lol
Ifi: Never mind then
Adam: ...
Adam: Annnywho
Ifi: I might be wrong, but I also think this is the first use of Tobias' new model
Adam: Huh. I think you are right.
Adam: After this, it is all blond Tobias, all the time.
Adam: Speaking of which, why is he so tall, and Rachel so short?
Adam: Jake and Rachel are supposed to be the tallest, and Marco and Cassie are the shortest
Adam: But here everyone is just awry.
Ifi: idklol
Adam: Lastly
Adam: This book also has one of those fancy shmancy newfangled foldout covers, a la The Andalite Chronicles.
Adam: This is the full cover:


Adam: And this is what we have inside:
Ifi: This is the most badass thing in the history of badassery
Adam: I like the whole dilapidated post-apocalyptic city thing
Adam: Despite how little it has to do with the plot.
Ifi: Yeah, I will completely forgive that
Ifi: because it looks so cool
Adam: That is a completely legitimate reason to do anything at all.



Adam: And somehow they have managed to pull off this style of tshirt:


Ifi: So now I guess we have to talk about the plot 
Ifi: or
Ifi: whatever
Adam: So, we begin a story with people being slaughtered horribly
Ifi: Typical Animorphs fare
Adam: Exactly what I was about to say.


Adam: Interestingly, we finally have some confirmation here that they do sometimes have to kill human controllers, even though it has long been established that they generally avoid doing that.

"Help me," he said to the tiger's face looming above him. "I'm cold. Help me."

He was cut. Badly. It was a Hork-Bajir slash. Friendly fire, that's what it's called when one of your own troops accidentally injures you. Kills you. Hork-Bajir in the middle of violence slashed one of their comrades.

<Leave him, Yeerk,> I said. <Let him alone, at last. Get out of his head. Let him do this last thing as a free human being.>

His face was pale. White. Waxy, like a white candle. Someone had smashed his head, mangled his ears. I recognized the marks of a tiger's claw. His brown eyes stared up at me.

"I can't get out," the Yeerk inside his head said to me. "The ears are blocked. Can't get out. I'm trapped."

<We have to get out of here,> Ax said. <They may send reinforcements.>

"I'm cold," the human-Controller said. "Just…just get me a blanket or…"

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: They don't do that, they leave him to die
Adam: Well, they mortally wounded him
Adam: Same difference
Ifi: So for some reason Jake is more angsty than usual today
Adam: Sensing this, the Drode decides to be a pal and pay him a visit, in hopes of cheering him up.
Adam: What a sweet guy, that Drode.

"Go away," I said through gritted teeth.

"How long till your cousin Rachel loses her grip? You know the darkness is growing inside her. How long till Tobias dies, a bird, a bird! How can he ever be happy? How long till Marco is forced to destroy his own Controller mother? Will he survive that, do you think? How long, Jake, till you kill Tom? Then what dreams will come, Jake the Yeerk Killer?"

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Is this the first time that nickname has been used?
Adam: Come to think, I believe you are right.
Ifi: Drode probably stole it from the future
Adam: We'll have to take note of when it gets used again

"My master Crayak offers you an escape. In his compassion Great Crayak has struck a deal with that meddling nitwit Ellimist. Crayak would free you, Jake. Crayak would free you all. All will be as it would have been if you had simply taken a different path home."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: Jake
Ifi: Dude what? No. Why the hell would you agree to that, I don't care how depressed you are right now.
Adam: It's another time travel story.
Adam: Anyone with the slightest bit of common sense would want to avoid that.
Ifi: We know the Drode is always looking out for the Animorphs so any deal he offers would obviously be good for the group
Adam: Except…overall this book arguably ends with everyone better off than if the war would have ended normally
Adam: But we will get to that later.

"Just one word, Jake," the Drode whispered. "No…no, two, I think. One must not sacrifice good manners. Two words and it never was. Two words and you know nothing, have no power, no responsibility."

"What words?"

"One is Crayak. The other is please."

I wanted to say no.

I wanted to say no…

I wanted…

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Jake you suck
Adam: Yeah, I really don't understand what sort of circumstances anyone would accept this sort of deal, knowing that it is basically coming from Satan and Cthulhu's illegitimate offspring.

Oh wait.

Ifi: Dude, even if the Drode showed up and offered you infinite ice cream, you say NO because of who is doing the offering
Adam: The ice cream would taste like toenails and sawdust or something

Ifi: So then we get to see what the Animorphs’ lives would have been like if they weren't interesting
Adam: The Drode resets time all the way back to right before they met Elfangor.
Adam: And we finally get to see what they were doing at the mall right as they met up.
Adam: Because all 90's teens go to the mall, right?
Ifi: It's not badly written, it's just not...interesting
Adam: Anyway, instead of investigating the big explody spaceship crash, everyone just goes home instead.
Adam: Lame guys, very lame

Ifi: Also we get to see some of Tobias' life, which is actually pretty sad
Adam: Tobias is living with his abusive aunt and uncle who force him to live under the stairs, until a red tailed hawk appears at his window inviting to the andalite academy. His aunt and uncle don't let him, but ultimately a large beardy alien appears before him to tell him, "Yur an Andalite, Toby."
Ifi: No he just gets taken in by the Sharing
Adam: The fact that the first positive influence in AU!Tobias's life happens to be an evil alien cult is just the most depressing thing I have experienced all week.
Ifi: There's the foster system for you

Ifi: Also Cassie is starting to like hallucinate

I went down the row of cages. Tried not to think. Tried not to believe that I was hearing things, imagining things, remembering things that had never happened. The familiarity of the barn soothed me. But within that very familiarity lay a new, unsettling sensation. I saw Jake, pacing. I saw Rachel, restless. Marco lolling on a bale of hay. And up there, up in the rafters, a bird.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: Man Crayak, you really need to do a cleaner job with your time resets.
Ifi: Right?
Adam: You'd seriously think that he would be more careful about this sort of thing when starting this whole plan off, no?

Ifi: Also Ax is alone in the dome, galloping in circles because he has nothing better to do because nobody is coming to rescue him.
Adam: Ax is going totally nuts here, but at the same time, he is totally awesome in this book, so it sort of evens out


Ifi: Also Marco and Rachel start, like, going out or somethingAdam: I guess they need something to do in this book

Ifi: Then this thing happens

My mouth stopped moving. My throat seized up. I stared. Stared, heart pounding on no oxygen, stared, pushed Rachel aside when she got in the way.

"It's her," I said. I was aware that my voice had cracked. I knew I looked like an idiot. Didn't care. I was far away. I was in some frozen universe watching would could not possibly be.

"Who?" Rachel snapped.

"Mom," I whispered.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: Didn't this plot point not happen til much, much later?
Adam: I mean, the book even keeps track of how many days have passed here.
Ifi: Everything is a big mess because the universe was so poorly constructed
Ifi: So Rachel and Marco decide to chase down Visser One
Ifi: Her bodyguards shoot them
Adam: That does not seem like the best method for maintaining cover
Ifi: I mean she probably thought it was one of Visser Three's stupider assassination attempts
Adam: <Yes! I will send ineffectual children to chase her down! Then she will finally love me!>
Ifi: Nobody dies but Rachel and Marco get a good look at some Dracon beams
Adam: Something that makes me curious
Adam: Apparently the Animorphs are initially the only ones who find out about the Yeerks in this timeline as well.
Adam: I mean, if people are running around with lasers, eventually someone is bound to pick up on it.
Ifi: Maybe everyone else is just really unobservant
Adam: …That seems like as legitimate an excuse as any.

"I wasn't going to," I said. I pointed at the books on my desk. "Homework."

He looked disappointed. "Oh, man, that's too bad, man. I figured you'd be there. There's some people I wanted you to meet. One of the high-up guys in The Sharing is coming."

"Yeah?" I said, trying to sound interested.

"Mr. Visser himself."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: ...
Ifi: That's your alias, bro?
Ifi: Really?
Adam: Since when has Esplin been known for subtlety?
Ifi: It's really sad that the TV show handles this better than the book
Ifi: In the show, he has an alias and his character has a whole human double life and it's like a thing that makes sense
Adam: Do they explain how he knows how to speak English?
Ifi: No but he does watch some TV
Adam: Ah, I see.
Adam: I would be curious to see what his taste in television programming would be.
Ifi: I recall it being really terrible, actually
Adam: Seems in character

Ifi: Boring stuff...boring stuff...scrolling through the boring stuff...
Ifi: Oh right Tobias gets infested
Adam: Apparently they make Visser Three attend all the voluntary infestations.
Adam: He seems about as thrilled about this as you would expect.

No, no, this was insane. No, this was wrong. No. No. Handcuffs? I looked pleadingly at Mr. Chapman. He was the vice principal, he wouldn't be part of anything bad, would he?

But Mr. Visser was in the way. It was his bored face I saw.

I placed my left hand. Bill fastened the cuff.

"Now lay your head down, sideways, in the harness," Bill instructed.

"What is this?" I asked. "What are you doing? I mean, what's going to happen?"
"Your whole world is going to change, Tobias," Bill said soothingly. "You will see and know and understand everything."

[…]

I shook my head, wildly, firmly. "No. No. I don't want to do this."

Bill smiled. He laughed. "Well, guess what? It's too late."

He grabbed my head in his two hands and shoved it down.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Visser Three really just wants to be watching cat videos right now


Adam: Hanging right behind Tobias's chair.

Ifi: And then Ax is awesome for a little bit
Adam: He captures a shark.
Adam: I will repeat this.
Adam: Ax catches and then beats up a shark.
Ifi: Then the humans put him in a mental hospital

"You have to at least give me your name."

"I am called Hey Moron. Hey! Moron-nuh!"

The human before me closed his eyes and used his five-fingered hand to rub the flesh stretched across his forehead. Then he rubbed the back of his neck. Then he exhaled breath through his mouth. He was called Dr. Duberstein.

Early in my stay at this location I had not fully understood his function. Now I did.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before


"Well, to tell you the truth, the nurses don't want you around at cookie time. You made quite a scene yesterday."

This was disturbing news. "No cookies?"

He shook his head back and forth and looked at me with his two small eyes located on the front of his face. "No cookies."

"Then I must go elsewhere in search of cookies," I said. "The cookies formed by two thin, round, black discs with a layer of adhesive white substance between them are the finest accomplishment of your species!"

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: No
Adam: No no no
Adam: You can remove everything else from the timeline for all I care
Adam: But you do not take Ax's love for cinnamon buns
Adam: That is sacred

"I meant our species."

"You said your species."

"Evidently I am insane. May I go now?"

The human raised his hands vertically and said, "Why me, Lord? Why?"

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: So this is fun but Ax is getting bored so he decides to reveal himself to the world
Adam: Pretty much the only reason he stuck around that long was because of the desserts.

I followed the direction of her amazed stare. It was the familiar news set with the familiar newspeople.

But standing in front of them was something decidedly unfamiliar.

It was a centaur. No, not a centaur. Not like it was half-horse and half-human, more like it was half-muscular blue deer, half-human. Only with a face that was definitely not human. For a start, it had no mouth. But it had two additional eyes mounted on moveable stalks atop its head. And it had a tail like a python with a blade at the end.

"Special effects," I said. "It must be for some movie or whatever."

"Tom!" my mom called. "Turn on channel seven." Then, to me, "I don't think the anchors expected this. They look scared to death."

I shot a look toward Tom, illuminated by the glow of the TV in the family room. He was standing up. Rigid. Staring. But not amazed or amused or curious. His face was a mask of rage and hatred.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Now from here on in, the book actually is really good
Ifi: it almost makes up for the boring of the last 100 pages
Ifi: We get to see what Animorphs would have been like if the Yeerks had gone for the open invasion
Ifi: Because at this point, the Yeerks say "fuck it" and start grabbing random people who look like they might make good hosts
Adam: In spite of the Animorphs not actually being the Animorphs, they are still the only ones who get involved.
Ifi: Main Character Syndrome
Adam: I would have figured Melissa Chapman at the very least would have gotten involved
Ifi: That would have been cool, but no
Adam: But apparently the reason for this is because even without Cassie's weird sub-temporal timey-wimey powers, the Crayak did a really cruddy job of erasing everyone's memories.

What could I do? I wasn't armed. I wasn't some action hero. All I could do was hide. Hide right here, right where I was, till the cops showed up. Only the cops were already here.

So I hid. For half an hour I just crouched, waiting for it all to end. But then…then something started to happen to me. My hands were changing, flattening out. And orange-and-black fur was growing. And my fingernails were extending, curving, forming claws!

What was happening to me? What was happening?

Then, instantly, my hands were normal again.

Stress. That was it. I was imagining things. Freaking. Losing my mind.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: I honestly feel like this aspect really weakens this book as a concept.
Adam: I like "what if" type stories, but if everyone has vague recollections of the past timeline, you aren't really showing what would have happened had things gone differently.
Ifi: The fact that they are remembering alters the choices they make now.
Adam: Exactly.

"I was shot at. With guns. And with some kind of laser. Just like you two."

Weird. Once again, I had this weird feeling. Deja vu. The sense that we'd all been here, together. Not once, but many times. Only ...only there was something missing. My eyes rose to the rafters. Something missing.

"What is this?" Rachel exploded. "Someone has a grudge against us? What did we ever do?" She peered at Jake. "We're cousins, does this have something to do with that?"

Marco flopped back on the hay bale. Like he did sometimes. Like he'd done so many times. And yet never done. He'd never been in our barn before.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: It's actually very frustrating for both the characters and the readers
Adam: The readers?
Ifi: Yes because we're like
Ifi: GOD JUST
Ifi: DO SOMETHING
Ifi: But they can't
Ifi: Because
Ifi: they are boring regular teenagers
Adam: Isn't that kinda the point?

"How about this alien thing you saw on TV?" Marco asked.

"What about it?"

He shrugged. "What'd it look like?"

"I don't know, like a—"

"Like a blue deer," I said. "Only it had a kind of human face. And a long tail."

Jake looked at me in surprise. "You saw it on TV, too?"

"No." I shook my head. "No. I've never seen it. But I know that it has two eyes on top of its head, on these little stalks."

No one moved. The three of them just stared at me.

"And I'll tell you something else. He should be here." I pointed to a spot off to one side. My arm was goose-bumped all the way up and down. "He should be standing right there."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Author could not commit to the concept though
Adam: *sigh*
Adam: agreed.
Ifi: Also Tobias has this Yeerk, Odret, who works for Visser One
Adam: I'm not sure why they gave such a high ranking Yeerk such a cruddy host body.
Ifi: Also Visser Three is like "no food for you"
Ifi: So Odret tells him that Visser One is totally trolling him over this whole Earth thing

I looked straight into Visser Three's Andalite eyes. "The council knows nothing. Visser One hopes to convince them to restrain you. She sent me to delay you till the council issues the order.
But it will come."

Visser Three nodded. <As I suspected. I will have to move quickly. Very quickly and present the council with a done deed. Then their order will be irrelevant.>

"I work for you, then?" Odret asked pitifully.

Visser Three laughed. <You betrayed Visser One, Odret. Should I keep you around to betray me? Kill him.>

A Hork-Bajir pressed a Dracon beam against my head. I felt it. Felt Odret's terror. Felt my own shock, fear. Regret.

"No!" my mouth cried. "NO!"

Felt slight pressure as the Hork-Bajir's finger tightened.

Felt—

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: And Tobias dies
Adam: Oops.
Adam: Well, at least he wasn't a bird this time around?
Ifi: I don't know if that's a positive or not
Adam: Touche

The screen showed a definitely inhuman face. Two main eyes, two stalk eyes. No mouth. But it was speaking anyway.

I scanned quickly. Channel nine, channel five, channel four, all the local channels were carrying the alien. All but channel seven.

<…are a parasite species.>

"What the…"

It was the alien. The blue deer. Making his second televised appearance. But this time he wasn't on the news set. This was a remote. Probably on tape.

<In their natural form they are similar to your Earth slugs. They enter the body through the ear canal, releasing numbing chemicals to dull the pain. They wrap themselves around the brain, and tie into all neural functions.>

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Ax tells the world everything
Ifi: Which is actually pretty cool
Adam: Yeah, this is my favorite part of the book.

"That's what Tom is, Jake. A Yeerk. Or what did he say? A Controller. My mom, too. She's not dead, she's one of them."

I lifted the phone receiver. "You still there, Cassie?"

"Yes."

"What does this all mean?"

"I watched it and ...every word he said, I was like 'Yeah, yeah, that's it. That's the truth.' Jake?"

"Uh-huh?"

"We call him Ax."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before
Adam: Cassie's brain is slowly leaking out of her ears the whole time


Tom. He was standing in the doorway. I didn't have to ask whether he'd heard. He had. The ray gun in his hand told me he'd heard.

"I can kill you, or you can come along peacefully," Tom said calmly. "Your call."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: This is refreshingly direct
Ifi: I like it
Adam: It is interesting to see what approach the Yeerks would take if they were given away right away.
Adam: You'd figure they would try to play up the whole philanthropy card, but no.
Ifi: Yeah, they could have totally abused the humans' trust
Ifi: Instead they're like
Ifi: "HAHA I HAVE A GUN RUN AWAY!"
Adam: On the other hand, Visser Three has pretty much been hoping to do exactly this for years in the other timeline.

Tom flinched. Too late! The baseball bat came down hard on his gun hand.

"Ahhh!" he yelled.

The ray gun clattered down the steps.

The bat came up fast, caught Tom in the face.

Then, one! Two! Three! Three stiff, hard blows and Tom was down, curled in a ball, groaning, eyes rolling, blood gushing from his nose and ear.

I stared at my cousin. Rachel was breathing hard. But her outfit, hair, and makeup had remained perfect.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Rachel beats Tom with a basebat bat
Ifi: She is only moderately hindered by the loss of her morphs
Adam: Well, during the shopping scene early on, it is established that Rachel is still her deranged, war-princess self, with or without the morphing


"Run!" Jake yelled.

"Yes, run! Run! Run, ah-hah-hah-hah," Tom jeered giddily. "Run, humans, run!"

TSEEEEEW! TSEEEEEW!

Two huge beams of light chewed furrows in the lawn on either side of us.

We ran. Across the lawn, the next lawn, the next lawn.

TSEEEEEW! TSEEEEEW!

A garage to our left blew apart, burning splinters.

Marco tripped. I grabbed him and hauled him to his feet. We turned a corner. Jake yelled, "This way!"

We scrambled over a fence, raced through a backyard. I jumped a Big Wheel. Another fence, taller. No problem. Amazing what you can do when you're being fired on by a spaceship hovering a few hundred feet up in the air.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: I don't even have anything to say about this.
Adam: Somehow they manage to outrun a spaceship.
Ifi: Well

I looked around. Jake was just getting up. He was slapping fire off his shirttail. Marco was on his back like he was enjoying a day at the beach.

I climbed up, woozy, fading in and out, but more or less in one piece.

"Marco! Let's go!" I yelled.

I ran to him. Stopped. Looked down. Not comprehending. Not believing.

Jake grabbed me from behind. "Run!"

"But Marco!"

"Run! Just run!" Jake sobbed. "Run!"

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Marco's dead too
Adam: Get used to that sort of thing.
Adam: It’s that sort of book.


Ifi: Have some Ax

I used my human mouth to explain what should have been obvious. "Electromagnetic pulse," I said. "The Yeerks have simply fired a burst of powerful radiation that has rendered primitive electronic devices inoperative. Raydee-ay-shun. It is a complex word. You will discover that any device containing a simple human computer chip will have been overloaded. Chip is a very short word."

The human looked at me in bewilderment.

"No TV?"

"No TV," I confirmed.

"Why would they knock out the TV? Is it all the violent shows? Are they sending us a message?"

"Yes, they are sending you a message," I said impatiently. "The message is: We are coming to enslave and destroy you."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: Is he just explaining this to some random guy in a Radio Shack?
Ifi: Yes.

Adam: Clinton is on tv. He gives no useful advice at all.
Ifi: Oh right, I forgot!
Ifi: Clinton!
Ifi: What are you doing in this book even
Adam: I wish they had gone into a bit more detail about the various world governments' reactions.

I had walked from the Circuit City, down a hill, closer to what humans called a "mall." I had a clear view of what happened next. Bug fighters began dropping from the clouds. They landed, forming a loose perimeter around the mall parking area. Hork-Bajir jumped out, armed with Dracon weapons.

An interesting move. Yes, the Yeerks would be able to take several hundred humans at once. It made sense.

Several human cars attempted to exit. They were blown apart.

I had a perfect view as well of the black, dangerous shape that swooped confidently down from the blue sky and settled arrogantly atop the mall roof.

A Blade ship. The Blade ship of Visser Three.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Edriss is weeping into her pillow right now
Adam: I'm telling you, Esplin has been waiting to do this for years.

It was a monster of destruction. A creature from a nightmare.

And I said, "Hork-Bajir."

No one asked how I knew. The Andalite had used the word on TV. And this, I knew, was a Hork-Bajir. More of the monsters poured from The Gap.

I should morph…what? What was I thinking about?

Behind us, Hork-Bajir coming up the aisles of the mall. Not after us. They were rounding everyone up, forming people into little groups and holding them under guard.

"What do we do?" I cried. "We can't fight those things!"

"I'm going to try," Rachel said through gritted teeth. She drew a weapon from her waistband. One of the ray guns she and Jake had taken. She was grinning. She was vibrating with a dangerous energy.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: Everyone shoots everyone else, and they end up making it inside the Blade Ship
Ifi: I like the Animorphs with Guns
Ifi: They're awesome
Adam: Gunimorphs

Ifi: Megatron is way too drunk for this shit
Adam: That exactly the sort of comment I was expecting out of you.

The Andalite kicked up the gravel. We raced along behind him. Something was coming down the ramp.

Tseeeew!

Now nothing was coming down the ramp.

Under the shadow of the ship! We hit the ramp. Hork-Bajir above us.

Tseeeew!

More! Aiming at us.

"Yaaahh!" I screamed and lunged. I felt the wind off the Hork-Bajir arm as it blew past me. I never felt the wrist blade. I hit the corrugated steel floor. Rolled onto my side. Saw bright lights and moving shapes.

The movements grew slower…slower…

Stop.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Rachel's dead

I was holding Cassie by the hand. Pulling her along with me.

Tseeeew!

I felt the charge jolt my fingers. I let go of a hand that was no longer there.

Cassie sizzled and disappeared. Simply evaporated.

I stared at the blank space where she had been. I stared at my hand. I was moaning. A weird sound. Moaning. Like a hurt animal. No sound that any human would make.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: Cassie's dead
Ifi: Damn we're just mowing them down today, aren't we?
Adam: I guess it has to be a tradeoff.
Adam: Considering that without superpowers they end up winning the war in a little over a month.
Ifi: Yeah that's true
Adam: Which in retrospect, is remarkably depressing.
Adam: In the long run, it seems that Elfangor trying to help earth just ended up drawing the whole thing out and causing needless casualties.

The creature called Visser Three struck with his tail. The Andalite stared stupidly down with his main eyes at the stump of his arm.

The Andalite was between me and Visser Three.

I raised my own weapon...

Visser Three lunged.

...fired.

Tseeew!

Missed!

Fwapp!

I hit the ground.

Then Cassie fired.

Tseeeew!

Cassie?

Visser Three's upper body sizzled and disappeared. The deerlike lower half fell over, lifeless.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: #winning

Ifi: Naturally, this upsets the Drode
Adam: Enough that he pretty much just gives up on this whole thing.

"No, no, no!" It was a voice that dripped sarcasm and contempt. But it was annoyed, too. "She's dead! The girl was dead! This is really too much!"

Cassie came rushing over to me. She knelt down and helped me to my feet. The Andalite stared weirdly at me. And more so at Cassie.

"It's breaking up," Cassie said.

"What is?"

She shook her head. "I don't know. I...I don't know what to call it. But it's falling apart."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: The plot?
Ifi: Yes.
Adam: So, Cassie has returned from beyond the fourth wall, as we are nearly 200 pages in and Applegate couldn't think of a better way to end this.

"Oh, this is wrong!" the angry, grating voice from nowhere cried again. "This isn't it at all!"

"What's that voice?" I asked. "And what's a gorilla doing here?"

<Gorilla? I'm a gorilla? Ahh! I'm a gorilla.>

Marco? It was his voice. Coming directly from the gorilla.

"It's coming apart quickly now," Cassie said, still staring weirdly around, like nothing she was seeing was real.

"Ax! What is all this? You're the alien, man, what is going on?"

The Andalite winced a little at the question. Then, obviously reluctant to admit ignorance, he said, <I do not know.> He looked at Cassie with both stalk eyes. <Perhaps she does.>

"It's all a part of it," Cassie said in a sort of whisper. "It's coming apart."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: Why is he a gorilla?
Ifi: Because of reasons
Adam: Ah…of course.
Adam: So, the timeline unravels, and the Ellimist pops up to explain just what the hell happened.

"You cheated me, Ellimist," the Drode snapped. "We had a deal, a trade-off. You were allowed to meddle with the time line in the Falla Kadrat situation, and we, my master Crayak and I, were to be allowed to tempt this young jackal here." He stabbed a finger at me.

"I kept my bargain," the Ellimist said. "I have done nothing to bring about this result. The girl is an anomaly. She is sub-temporally grounded. You were careless."

"She's a freak of nature!" the Drode screamed.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: And now we know.
Adam: This is the most important book in the series.
Adam: And we finally understand why the Animorphs exist.

"Oh, I see it now, I see it now," the Drode said, ignoring Marco, ignoring all of us. "Subtle as always, Ellimist. Your meddling came before, didn't it? How could we not have seen it? Elfangor's brother? His time-shifted son? This anomalous girl here? And the son of Visser One's host body? A group of six supposedly random humans that contains those four! You stacked the deck!"

"Did I?" The Ellimist laughed. "That would have been very clever of me."

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Adam: The Ellimist set them up as a group entirely so he could later negotiate a deal with the Crayak that would allow him some ramification-free temporal manipulation on some far off, totally unrelated planet.
Adam: That is the entire reason this series exists.
Ifi: I want to know what this other conflict was. I'm sure it was very interesting.
Ifi: I want to see the Falla Kadrat situation
Adam: You have another story idea to add to your list.

Ifi: Does anything else notable happen after this?
Adam: Well, the time resets back to the point where the Drode offers Jake this whole Faustian deal, but he just gives up before Jake even gets to say anything.
Adam: Apparently this is one of those plots that nobody remembers.

"Just one word, Jake," the Drode whispered. "No...no, two, I think, one must not sacrifice good manners. Two words and it never was. Two words and you know nothing, have no power, no responsibility."

"What words?"

"One is Crayak. The other is please."

I wanted to say no.

I wanted to say no...

I wanted...

I opened my mouth to speak.

"Oh, forget it. Never mind," the Drode said angrily.

----Megamorphs #4, Back to Before

Ifi: kthxbai
Adam: Everyone goes home
Adam: Maybe they have pie.
Adam: I would like to think so.

Adam: So, overall thoughts.
Adam: I honestly quite enjoyed this book.
Adam: It is easily the best written of all the Megamorphs.
Ifi: The writing was good.
Adam: And it is nice to have something that is not ghostwritten.
Adam: It has been a while since we have had one of those.
Ifi: I actually don't have much to say for this book, I feel like it really speaks for itself
Adam: I enjoyed it overall, but as I said before, the whole "Cassie is a temporal lock" subplot was just really a great big copout
Ifi: Yeah they didn't have to do anything to resolve the issue. Even if they'd all sat on their asses the whole time and watched TV it would have ended the same way
Adam: I am not sure how I feel about the fact that this book arguably ends better for the characters than the actual series does.
Ifi: It totally does
Adam: One one hand, it is certainly an interesting twist.
Adam: But on the other hand, it kind of makes everything that has happened over the course of the series seems kind of meaningless.
Adam: Then again, that is suitably Lovecraftian enough for me to approve of it on some level.
Adam: So like I said, mixed feelings.

Ifi: Are we finally back to the main series next week?
Adam: Yep!
Adam: Next up is that weird "Jake wakes up in the future" book.
Ifi: Oh no.
Adam: Oh yes.

90 comments:

  1. As a little kid, I never really enjoyed this book, but now I think I will have to re-read it.
    Also, I can be unsure about this book, but next weeks? Is just wrong. Really, really wrong.

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  2. Oh dear lord, Save us from next Saturday! That book is probably the worst animorph book

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    1. Hey, I actually loved that one. It was interesting as hell to see the Yeerkopolis of the future, and seeing life pretty much be business-as-usual for most Controllers while there's still a resistance movement going on. It's your standard Bad Future plot, and it's executed rather well. I mostly loved the first half of it, but I'll save those comments for next week.

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    2. Same here. 41 is one of my favorites! I love ambiguous endings where it's basically up to you to figure out what you think happened... I'm weird like that.

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    3. And 3 for liking it. It is kind of weird coming on the heels of the last Megamorphs though.

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    4. That book is... crazy. I can't believe I didn't notice how crazy it was when I was younger. It actually does play out a lot like a dream, with nonsensical plots and characters jumping from one thing to another.

      ... at least, it's like my dreams.

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    5. I liked it too. At the beginning, it's a look at how a successful Yeerk society would look (we don't really get to see one of those, since so far every world they get a host species from is a war zone). Then, it gets weird, but it's a good kind of weird.

      I still remember those bizarre translucent aliens.

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    6. Jake wakes up in the future is the second worst book. After buffahuman.

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  3. I love those 100 pages of boring...

    I died laughing at "Tobias is living with his abusive aunt and uncle who force him to live under the stairs, until a red tailed hawk appears at his window inviting to the andalite academy. His aunt and uncle don't let him, but ultimately a large beardy alien appears before him to tell him, "Yur an Andalite, Toby.""
    I am now Elfangor reincarnated as a cool ghost and that is how I can type this

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  4. [A group of six supposedly random humans that contains those four!]

    I'd like to point out that this is the second time that the Animorphs have been referred to as six humans, as opposed to five humans and an Andalite. (The first was in The Stranger.)

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  5. The TV episode handled this concept way better. It was a lot less mind-screwy. Well, not a lot, but still.

    There were a lot of different ways this could have played out, and I don't necessarily blame Applegate for fumbling the ball. If they were playing this for total realism, without their powers and knowledge the Animorphs would have been rounded up or killed like everyone else who lives in Yeerkville USA. She would have had to stack the deck in some way so the book doesn't end the way it logically would.

    Here's how I would've done it, since you obviously care: Elfangor, having crashed alone, would have had time to get away by morphing. He would hear Ax's distress call and save him, and they try to contact their military, who arrive far sooner because Elfangor's opinion actually matters.

    Cassie's freaking out because she's got two sets of memories, and is less-and-less convinced that the other one's just a dream. She asks Jesus Whale for guidance, and after following Tom around for a bit, learns the truth. She goes to Jake, and he believes her. They recruit Marco and Rachel and meet up in her barn, but not Tobias because A) none of them really know him and B) nobody knows where he is. He's been missing for months.

    Rachel's a controller, having joined The Sharing because everybody else in school was doing it and she's a popular kid. She tries to dismiss their claims, but Marco buys it, having seen a woman who looked like his mother earlier. Rachel has them all captured and brought to the Yeerk Pool for infestation, and it's about to happen when there's an attack: Elfangor, Ax, and Tobias show up in battle morphs, Tobias having been recruited by Elfangor months earlier.

    In the ensuing battle Jake, Marco, and Cassie are freed, and Rachel and Tom are killed (hey, foreshadowing!). Maybe Melissa joins them, I don't know, this is running long already. The general public becomes aware of the invasion and open warfare is engaged. The Andalite military arrives and decides to glass the planet rather than risk losing humanity to the Yeerks.

    Out of options, Elfangor decides to try to use the Time Matrix to fix things. They get to it at the construction site where it's buried, and Elfangor tells them all about the night of the crash, Jake remarking about how different things would be if he had decided to cut through the construction site. Rachel and Tom would be alive, for one thing. Visser Three attacks and manages to kill Elfangor, then starts in on the rest. Jake grabs the device and sends himself back to the night of the crash, in his own body, with fading memories of the previous timeline. The last thing he does before the memories are totally gone is to suggest taking a shortcut home.

    Crayak and the Drode are obviously pissed, but there's nothing they can do, since events occurred naturally and just happened to loop back on themselves into the primary timeline. Certain events are meant to happen and can't be altered, but the final outcome is still unknown. Thus, we get the ending where Drode has to cancel his offer and things continue as usual.

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    1. I would read this. Ifi? "Looks pleadingly"

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    2. Damn, it looks even longer than it did when I was typing it. Probably should have put a TLDR warning at the top. Or kept my mouth shut. Rather, fingers.

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    3. Whoa. WHOA. This is AWESOME. Only things that didn't fit for me were Cassie seeking out Jesus Whale (as a joke it's great, as something that would happen in an actual book... I don't buy it) and Rachel joining the sharing just because it's popular, even though having one of them be a Controller does make for a more interesting plot. Hey... maybe instead, Melissa could join the Sharing, and Rachel could be worried about her and know something's not right and try to go investigate and then get herself caught and made a Controller. After fighting back epically, of course, and probably taking out at least a half dozen Hork Bajir.

      Rocky, if you ever decide to rewrite this book, I would totally petition Scholastic to put it in the re-releases as the new MM4 :-)

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    4. KR4, it ALWAYS looks longer than it does when you're typing. Welcome to the dark side.

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    5. Yes, Jesus Whale was thrown in as a joke. Cassie's dreams/visions of the original timeline would include knowledge of Tom as a Controller, so she would follow him around as a way of confirming her suspicions before she brought it to Jake. Otherwise she'd just look craaaaazy. I also wanted to attempt to explain WHY Cassie has the power to resist timeline alterations, but that one stumped me.

      I disagree with your view of Rachel though. At the time, there was no reason to suspect The Sharing was anything other than a popular after-school club like the YMCA, and Rachel is a popular girl. Logic follows that she would probably join, and as a popular person the Yeerks would angle to make her a Controller to influence others. Melissa wouldn't be a controller because Chapman's protection of her hasn't changed in the new timeline, so he probably wouldn't even let her join.

      I really do feel bad for Melissa as a character. She's so utterly passive and eventually gets swept under the rug entirely. The idea that she gets to be something more in an alternate timeline is the only comfort I can get, so that's what I go with. It's why I turned Tobias from a outcast into a badass. Now that he's got a strong father figure and something to fight for, we get to see that side of him emerge. It's the potential for stuff like this that makes alternate future stories so interesting, and we didn't get any of that here.

      Rewriting an entire book would be fun, if a little labor-intensive. I think I'll leave fanfic writing to the professionals. :D

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    6. Hmm, good point about Melissa. Unless... she joined without her parents' knowledge? That actually would make a lot of sense, since they don't have the best relationship there. And she's pretty lonely/depressed - perfect Sharing candidate. As for her being "passive" in the few scenes we see her in, I think she could have been a lot more. Tobias is pretty passive too before becoming an Animorph, but he totally changes once he has something worth fighting for.

      As for Rachel, I guess we just have to agree to disagree on that one. I don't think Rachel is one of the "popular girls" in the usual sense. Sure, everyone loves her, but she doesn't let it go to her head at all, and she's certainly not going to do something just because everyone else is doing it. Someone obsessed with popularity would probably have a different group of friends, and probably wouldn't spend most of her time hanging out with Cassie. As for her hobbies (shopping and gymnastics), she just does that stuff because she enjoys it, not because everyone else does it. I have a hard time imagining her loving the Sharing, and a hard time imagining her joining if she didn't love it.

      Idk, Rachel just strikes me as very much her own person, not someone easily swayed by popular opinion. Just my interpretation, though.

      So no rewrite, then? :-( Well, I guess you do probably have a life outside the computer, so I forgive ya ;-) Still a wicked good plot outline, though.

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    7. KR4-
      Rachel joining the Sharing because a lot of people joined it doesn't work. If you think so, you haven't been in middle school for a while. Being popular doesn't mean you go out and do what all the other kids do, it's making a lead. Like, girl popularity is setting the example. For example, Kayla wears an outfit that no one else wears. The other girls see her, and, realizing it is good, flock to her. They then wear it too, because she set the stage. So she is the most popular girl now. Then, she changes her style next month or so, probably sooner, and then, the other girls see her, copy her. This will be the cycle until she is demoted by a) moving or b) someone doing it, so all the other girls flock to her. So being popular doesn't mean you go and do what every one else is doing. It means YOU decide the style, and everyone else copies you. At least with girls. Boys operate differently.
      Also, Chapman DID let Melissa be a member in the Sharing, just not a full member.

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    8. Even if she DID join the Sharing, they won't be making her a Controller. Someone's going to have to shove an uncooperative Rachel, who he is not aware is a deranged war-princess, in the pool. She'll either break some limbs and escape in the confusion, or more likely put up so much of an unexpected fight she gets killed in an attempt to subdue her, but she doesn't end up a Controller.

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    9. A more accurate depiction of popularity among high school girls would require me to watch movies like Bratz or, if I want a period-accurate depiction, Sweet Valley High. That's far too high a price to pay.

      As my last comment on the subject, I'll just say that Rachel might be tough, but she's not superhuman. They've made Controllers out of police officers, government agents, people who are far bigger, stronger, or angrier than our Warrior Princess. You might like to think she's too awesome to be taken alive, but she's only human. If they wanted her, they'd get her. They wouldn't even need to take her to the pool, they could just slip a slug into her ear while she sleeps. That's what makes the entire Animorphs premise so scary. It's Body Snatchers dressed up as a Saturday Morning cartoon.

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    10. Oh yeah, another issue. If Jake used the Time Matrix, there would be two Jakes. Two Jakes, which would mean time travel Jake would just appear. If he sent himself into the place other Jake was, their atoms would be aligned, which, according to popular theory, would causetime travel Jake to be disintegrated, which would mean Jake is doomed. If Jake doesn't arrive right on top of himself, the Time Matrix is there, specifically not buried, allowing the Yeerks the easy ability to grab it. And, if Jake uses the Time Matrix to take the construction path, he never would be able to touch the Time Matrix so he never would have gone back in time. And, finally, both Jake's would be destroyed, because as Ax said in book eleven, if two of the same thing appears in one moment, as soon as the Sario Rip effect ends, both copies are destroyed. There is no Sario Rip here, so both are destroyed immediately. It doesn't work out.

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    11. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TimeyWimeyBall

      I don't think a Sario Rip works under the same science as the Time Matrix. Let's compare:

      A Sario Rip deals with an explosion of sufficient magnitude that sends you back in time. If you're sent back in your own lifetime, you exist simultaneously. However, in the first incident Jake's death merged his memories with his past self, allowing him to change history and avert the whole thing while still possessing the memory of the altered timeline. Jake did exist in two places simultaneously.

      The Time Matrix is f*cking magic. It can transport you through time and space at will, alter reality and memory, and even create whole new universes. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the device is controlled by thought, so if Jake simply wanted to go back and change things, the Time Matrix could have interpreted his wishes and provided him with it in such a way that the laws of time and space would permit. It's practically a TARDIS. It's entirely possible that when Jake sends himself back, the Time Matrix doesn't come with him because it already exists in this timeline and Jake doesn't actually want to keep it.

      TLDR version: Time travel works however the hell the author wants it to. If I say the Time Matrix can do this, and there's no previously established evidence that it can't, then there's no reason not to go nuts with it. I imagine this sort of discussion goes on in the Doctor Who writer's room every few weeks.

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    12. Exactly. People think time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. :-) (That is by far the best explanation for any time travel plot I've ever heard.)

      As a scifi fan, I've learned to simply not question time travel. The story's always so much more enjoyable if you just go with it, no matter how little sense it makes.

      And the Time Matrix is totally a TARDIS, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure if they could just figure out how to open it, it would be bigger on the inside.

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    13. No. If they opened the Time Matrix, it will release the energy equivalent of ten suns. It will destroy everything in a one hundred light-years, and since it's tied to Zero Space, it will send energy into it and it will pop out wherever and blow that up to. So don't crack it open, unless you want everything from here to the Andalite home world to get ker powed, along some other random place. The cracked shell will then probably contain all the alternative universes that could have been possible or are still possible.

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  6. So Clarence manages to show Jake that his life was meaningful after all. So Jake goes home to his family, where he finds a first edition of Tom Sawyer under his Christmas tree, and a note telling him that no man is a failure as long as he has friends. Mr. King and Erek managed to go around town and raise enough money to buy back the building and loan from Visser Three, and Tom happily proclaims that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings oh wait wrong story.

    All references aside, this was undoubtedly the best of the Megamorphs books. The first half of the book was pretty boring, but it did get to show how ruthless the Yeerks could bew when there is no opposition in their way.

    Rachel always seems to be pretty badass in the Megamorph books, too: managing to fight off an alien dust monster while suffering from amnesia, tunnelling her way out of a Kronosaurus, and pulling a Scout on Tom.

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    1. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    2. I read that last part and immediately started flipping through my copy of "To Kill A Mockingbird" to find the scene where Scout beats a man half-dead with a baseball bat. Someone else had to explain to me what Team Fortress 2 is.

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    3. To Kill a Mockingbird would have been more entertaining if it had starred a team of nine crazed mercenaries beating the crap out of one another.

      You all know it.

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    4. Haha, Rocky, I thought the same thing! I was actually wondering if maybe it was Jim who beat up that guy who attacked them in the woods. I'd never heard of Team Fortress 2 either.

      Tim, as awesome as "To Kill a Mercenary" would be, I think some of the book's deeper themes and character development might be lost if it was all about beating people up. ;-)

      ...or maybe not. I mean, Animorphs was a whole lot of turning into animals, fighting aliens, and blowing stuff up, but it still managed to be pretty thought provoking and had amazingly good characters.

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    5. "Now is coward-killing time!" bellowed Atticus Finch as he grabbed his minigun from behind the defendant's stand. Miss Mayella screamed and dove for cover as a barrage of rockets erupted from Bob Ewell's conveniently placed rocket launcher.

      "You are all scum!" he screamed. "I will enjoy killing each and every one of you sorry maggots!" Like a trio of avenging angels, three of his napalm-fuelled projectiles smashed into the courtroom wall, allowing the brawl to spill out into the streets of Monroeville.

      Judge Taylor ducked behind the juror's stand, fumbling for his shotgun, but was felled by a crack sniper rifle shot aimed by Miss Atkinson. Blood splattered everywhere as I grabbed my baseball bat and slammed it again and again into Bob Ewell's skull, reducing it to red mush.

      Boo Radley had already grabbed his gasmask and flamethrower, spraying fiery death all through the streets. Who would win this legal battle?

      _____________________

      Even if my version loses some of the deeper themes and character development, you'd have to admit that it would certainly inspire kids to read.

      Admit it.

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    6. Hahaha okay, okay, you win. :-) That is definitely a legal battle any kid would want to read about. Though I can see some parents protesting the part about reducing someone's skull to red mush as being a little to violent for their kids to read.

      Have you ever heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I think you and that author need to get together. I see a bestseller in the making.

      Oh, and sorry I called you Tim earlier.

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    7. Wasn't Atticus the crack shot? He should totally be the Sniper. They even look alike (a quick Google search on Gregory Peck confirmed it).

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  7. Loved the review, guys. Especially the "yur an Andalite, Toby!" part of it. XD I'm a little confused about why you think this timeline arguably turned out better... didn't the Ellimist say millions of people died? I don't think the casualty count in the other time line was that high.

    But yeah, great, hilarious review, thanks for this!

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    1. [MAJOR SPOILERS ALERT]

      Well, in the "main" timeline, several hundred thousand Yeerks are killed, along with almost the entire population of the Animorph's hometown, a fair amount of the US Army, an unknown (but presumably rather large) amount of rebel Hork-Bajir and Taxxons, plus twenty-four Animorphs. However, in the variant timeline Jake and Ax managed to bring the Yeerk invasion to a grinding halt in a matter of hours, albeit at the cost of all of their friends and lives.

      The question is, which choice was better?

      [/SPOILERS]

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    2. Matter of hours, plus the "millions of lives" BF42 is referring to. Also, IDK about Hork-Bajir & Taxxons lost in the main timeline, since only a dozen or so Hork-Bajir accompanied the Animorphs on the ship, and as far as I know the Taxxons didn't do anything other than hook up Jake & Tom for their mutual backstabby plan.

      Without the Animorphs to put the smackdown on the Andalites, in this MM4TL, the Andalites end up top dogs in the galaxy, the Hork-Bajir stay enslaved or are wiped out fighting for the Yeerks and no way in hell they let the Taxxons go ahead with the genocide-by-morph option.

      There's no question that the main timeline is better, which is why Babelfish and I are confused by the other assertions. The main timeline was restored by mutual consent, because the Ellimist was playing for a neater victory and Crayak for a win. MM4TL gave the Crayak a defeat and the Ellimist a bloody win, and we see from the Ellimist Chronicles that he likes nice, happy, minimal-violence solutions.

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  8. Which makes Jake and Rachel the only "accidental" members of the team. I like to think Ellimist chose them so Crayak would develop a crush on Rachel and a hate crush on Jake.

    The scene of Jake making that Faustian bargain is so wrenching. Drode is being such an asshole about it, and I imagine would do this all just for the look on Jake's face even if he was going to say no. He know who Crayak is and how incredibly stupid this all is and he still does the unheroic thing and gives in to the temptation to make the pain go away. Except duh, it doesn't suddenly make the Yeerks go away.

    Rachel's still awesome and so is Ax. Tobias actually ends up worse on account of not being a bird. That's pretty much all I look for. But I agree that making it "they sort of remember" instead of full AU doesn't work nearly as well. I'd forgotten about that plot point completely.

    And now the future!Jake one. I've completely forgotten how in the world it ends, but remember it as one of the last books I found really interesting.

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    1. Actually, the Ellimist only chose Jake and only Rachel was an accident. Jake was chosen, even if he had no alien connection or time-space qualities, because aside from his leadership, he's the one who can bring three of the four significant elements together. He's the object of Cassie's affection, Marco's best friend and Tobias' only friend. He was the means the Ellimist used to bring Cassie, Marco & Tobias together so they could all rescue Ax. Rachel just came along in their wake, because her cousin and best friend were involved.

      Rachel was the accident, but Jake had a purpose, even if it was not his personal quality and only due to his relationships with the other significant characters.

      IMO, that makes Rachel even more badass. She's not even supposed to be there, and she shows them all up.

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    2. Rachel was the accident man. We all know it was supposed to be Melissa Chapman

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    3. Maybe Ellimist chose her because in 'The Weakness' Rachel was the only coice for a leader that would'nt get everyone killed?

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    4. Melissa Chapman is the Neville Longbottom of the Animorphs universe. If she was running things, the war would have ended in six months, she would have brokered peace between all species of the galaxy, become The Ellimist, and punched Crayak so hard he gets a black eye. (Get It?)

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    5. King Rockey... you are just AMAZING!!

      NEVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILE!!!

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    6. Cannoli-
      Actually, Rachel wasn't chosen by the Ellimist to become an Animorph, but she would have anyway. Before the Ellimist and Crayak time still ran, didn't it? She was always destined to be an Animorph, no matter what. When the Ellimist "stacked the deck," Rachel was the only one who had to be an Animorph, unless the Animorphs were prevented from existing, which we know wouldn't work unless they intercepted Cassie from being born. Rachel was destined to be an Animorph, without the Ellimist intervention, the others wouldn't be fighting the Yeerks, but she still would. The others would be stacked on top of her, so to speak.

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    7. That's not a bad theory, and anyway, it still doesn't contradict what I said. I was talking about the reference to the Ellimist's plot. He arranged for Jake, Marco, Tobias and Cassie, and probably Ax too, to all be in place to meet up and join forces, knowing that with Cassie's "power" and the others' connections, they'd find themselves in positions to have significant effects on events. Rachel came along with them, but she was not part of the Ellimist's plans or schemes, she was just an outside element, which fits in with the notion that he isn't God or all-powerful or in control of everything.

      If I take your meaning right, Rachel was chosen by something else, maybe fate or destiny or whatever, and as the natural warrior would have fought no matter what, and by sending his picked team into the fight, the Ellimist unknowingly put them in Rachel's path.

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    8. QUOTE FROM THE ELIMIST CHRONICLE'S EPILOGUE:
      "I did not cause you to be one of the six. You are... you were... a happy accident. An unwitting contribution from the human race to its own survival"

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    9. or Rachel is a sign that destiny isn't a finality, that choice and random things still happen, that god-figures aren't the end-all to everything and free will still means something.

      Which makes it almost fitting that she's the one to spoilers at the end.

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    10. your comment gave me sadfaces. But that is totally true!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYYAY TO HAPPY ACCIDENTS!

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  9. I don't get how you guys can keep saying this alternate world ended up better for the characters. "All but one wiped out in a matter of days" doesn't seem much of an improvement on "all but one killed over a six year period, with several getting to experience fame, wealth and even love in the meantime." As for the bigger picture, I think it was implied that the Yeerks were defeated earlier, but at a greater cost. In the series, the collateral damage doesn't spread much beyond their hometown, whereas this could have been a worldwide thing. Also, in this AU, the Hork-Bajir & Taxxons would probably have been genocided with their Yeerk masters, and there would have been no eventual way out for the "good" Yeerks.

    Another possibility is the Andalites end up losing the war, because Earth is the only planet that was saved, or if they did beat the rest of the Empire, Earth falls under their hegemony, and we get things like the Andalites forcing humans to stop their technological innovations because they don't trust human violence.

    Even if my recall is off though, and this book had a better for everyone, it makes sense. I think, based on the eventual end of the series, that KAA was really trying to write an anti-war series disguised as a fun-with-animals series. It makes sense from that perspective that the timeline where they had to fight the war was worse than the one where they never got drafted by Elfangor (however benevolent his intentions). Since most of the time, she's trying to say "Look at all the horrible things war does even to good people," it is consistent that she'd show how the choice to give the kids the power to fight, even out of concern and to protect them, was misguided.

    I just don't get art. My brother keeps trying to explain it to me, but I cannot see how this cover is the best of the Megamorphs, or a standout cover in any way. I thought the gray thing was kind of lame. I mean, until I started reading this blog, I never even thought about the covers except as a way to tell the books apart, given the forgetability of the titles. I could probably do a better job matching a plot summary to the cover illustration than to the title, but the goodness or badness of a cover or even the inside animal picture, never registered with me.

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    1. Um... SPOILERS FOR THE LAST BOOK!
      They all died except for Cassie. They rammed the ship. They all died. It was a suicide mission to save Ax, who then died.

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    2. Duh. As I said in my post, how is it better that they all die at 13 (except Jake), rather than all dying at 16 or 19 (except Cassie), after at least having lived a bit, and with some of them having the chance to be rich and famous and reunite with long-lost mothers?

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    3. SINIZ: That's what he said: All except one died over a six-year period.

      Cannoli: I agree that the alternate timeline presented here really was much worse for the Animorphs overall, although it may or may not have ended better for Earth (I don't remember the specific details of the actual war in the book).

      "I think, based on the eventual end of the series, that KAA was really trying to write an anti-war series disguised as a fun-with-animals series."

      Someone asked her that either in an interview or in that one Reddit AMA, and I recall her response something being along the lines of "that wasn't the intent, but we're both anti-war so it sort of ended up bleeding through."

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    4. Left on a cliffhanger, you mean. Jake gives the order, we never see the result. It's a Bolivian Army Ending.

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    5. The cliffhanger part is dumb and unnecessary anyway, so you're better off just pretending it didn't happen.

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    6. Yeah I'm dumb YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYYAAYYAYAYA

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  10. Is that supposed to be Rachel as Little Slugger? If so, awesome, if not, ignore me.

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    1. Damnit, I was hoping I was the first to notice.

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  11. Also, I'm looking at the cover illustration, and Rachel is kind of leaning, but she's still taller than Marco or Cassie, so the heights are not really contradicted. They are all a bit closer in height than the books suggest, but no one is shorter or taller than anyone they are not supposed to be. As for Tobias, I know it says in a couple of places in the series that he's tall. Even if Rachel is very tall for a girl, that's no reason to assume she's taller than he. Really tall girls are only about average male height.

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    1. Well, they are all standing on magma. Maybe they're all slowly sinking into it, and they're focusing on maintaining their cool poses to not think about the horrible pain.

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    2. It says Rachel is the tallest in the group.

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  12. WHY IS EVERYONE BUT AX IN THE COVER!!!??? Ifi, did you not notice?

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    1. Because Ax isn't really an Animorph. He's part of their group, yes, but that's why David is the sixth Animorph and not the seventh.

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    2. The backs of the books usually say things like "the Animorphs and Ax will have to...." or "Jake and the other Animorphs, and Ax, will face..."

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    3. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MyFriendsAndZoidberg

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  13. Ahem, it is time for the first annual Owl Nutter PTSD comment! I will now give you people a really creepy thing I know about! But I will start small, and not that creepy. Here we go.
    "In Africa, their is a small parasite that lives in water. Inside it is another parasite. When the water is drunk by humans or animals (mostly humans), the outer parasite will hit the digestive acid. The outer parasite will die and dissolve, causing cramps, but the inner parasite will chew its way through the side of the stomach and into the area of the body between muscle and skin. Inside the body, the parasites will then mate, and the male will then be consumed by the females. The female will then become pretty much just a mouth and a giant uterus. After one month, the female will create a blister on a place of the body, usually on the hand or foot. The next time the host's blister touches water, the blister will burst. The female will then poke her head out, spit out the eggs (ranging from One hundred to two hundred) and then die. The only way you can get the corpse (usually three meters long) is to jam a stick into the mouth, and twist the body out a little each day. If you pull it out at once, it will break and infection will spread, killing the host in a matter of weeks. There is no way to prevent it, because boiling water will only kill the outer parasite, not the inner one. Any questions?

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    1. Dear god, why would you post something like that?

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    2. I don't know, but it is beautiful.

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    3. Not quite. The inner parasite, otherwise known as the Guinea Worm, Dracunulus medinensis, definitely dies if you boil it. Also, the "outer parasite" (Daphnia aren't parasites, they're tiny little bugs that normally swim around eating algae - they swim with their antennae, how cool is that?)is big enough that you can avoid drinking them by straining your water through a piece of cloth. Oh, and the other way to prevent them is to make sure people with worm infections don't put their affected bits in their drinking water.

      Guinea worms are actually going extinct.

      And "if it breaks, you die from infection within days" is a wild, wild exaggeration. More like "if it breaks you suffer severe pain and a bad case of ewww for months, if you're unlucky it gets infected, if you're particularly unlucky the infection kills you." Also, if you just leave the dead worm where it is under the skin, then the pain lasts longer than if it gets twisted out but it eventually gets harmlessly replaced by scar tissue.

      And they don't lay "one or two hundred" eggs. Like most parasites, they lay thousands and thousands.

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    4. Meh, I'm not surprised that I have details wrong. My teacher was horrible, as you can probably tell from the introduction to that subject:
      Teacher: All right, you filthy little maggots, today's lesson is on parasites. I don't know why I gotta teach ya this, considering your already parasites yourself.(coarse, grating laughter) Now, listen up.
      Yeah. It's really what he said. But, Margaret, I am really happy you shared these corrections with me. I had no idea the outer bug wasn't a parasite. Adam, draw this person a cookie.
      On this being beautiful, yes it is. All my thoughts are beautiful, as they range from the Hindenburg to the my beautiful cat, who relishes in killing small things and bringing their heads to me to play fetch and beating up the neighborhood dogs to owls to fire, burning things, spreading, destroying things, and being beautiful. They are all lovely thoughts.

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  14. I really liked this book, IDK why. I wish it was totally AU, but I still liked it. Ax was completely awesome in here.
    Since I read the PDF version of this, I didn't get to see the cool extras. That's cool, I like it. The cover itself is okay.

    And Adam, I love that gritty look you gave the Rachel illustration. I am so digging those blood-splatters.

    By the way, I'm currently half-way into the jungle (and typing on a Spanish-language keyboard uuuugh this is so frustrating hey there's an ñ in here wow), and there are so many handy animals crawling around my grandma's house, I keep dreaming that I can morph. I was considering not reading Animorphs in my spare time, but ha, why on Earth would I do that?

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  15. So, I finally stole a computer so I can actually say something more than yay book and jungle bugs.

    About Visser Three's human persona:
    He doesn't need one. He is so infatuated with his Andalite body that he only morphs to a) be an asshole, b) fight, and c) do random stuff, like walking into buildings or talking to non-Controllers. He can threaten any Controller to get him food or pay for his pedicure or whatever it is evil war lords do on their time off, so he doesn´t need to worry about anything more than looking good and completely terrifying when he´s human (by the way, there used to be a teacher at my school that was so terrifying, that even other teachers were afraid of him, and he was being nice to them. That´s how I picture Visser Three's human form). And Visser is an actual last name, so Mr. Visser isn´t too bad for someone who doesn't spend much time as a human.
    Meanwhile, the TV show didn´t seem to have the budget for nice alien effects. All the Andalites were kinda weird-looking and in shadows and were on screen for only a few seconds at a time. So, I'm guessing they couldn´t have Visser Three hanging out in his Andalite form very often, but they still need him and his evil to be there, so they gave him a human persona. My brother was all like, "Why is he human why isn´t he an Andalite doesn´t he have an Andalite body where's Visser Three what's a Visser why is he Three I wanna be a Visser" I haven´t seen the show in a while, I forgot his Visser Three was. Was he that bald guy? I thought he was that bald guy. IDK
    But anyway, yeah, that´s what I was going to say.

    Oh, and my cousin is absolutely terrified of Andalites. He saw a picture once, and he screamed forever and had nightmares. That was a few years ago, and he's still scared. So I show him more Andalite pictures, because I am a terrible person.

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    1. When I was in junior high, one of the math teachers was named Mr. Visser. I was suitably frightened of him.

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    2. trollolol

      (actually visser is a real surname meaning fisherman i forget where from)

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  16. It's been a while since I read this book, but do they explain how Ax is able to use thought-speak on a news broadcast. I don't think normal microphones would pick it up, nor would speakers be able to transmit it.

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    1. Darnit, I knew I was forgetting something when writing this up!

      Seriously, that part bugged me to no ends when I was reading this.

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    2. It's a thing in the last book, too. See for example, Jake & Tobias on the Pool Ship talking to Rachel on the Blade Ship. Unless capital starships come as close as cars on the highway, there is no way they should be able to talk that well.

      I just kind of assumed that some medium of telecommunications by which a thought-speak recipient can expect to make contact is sufficient to augment thought-speak over long distances. In other words, because people would normally be able to hear a thought-speaker talking on TV or ship-to-ship viewscreen, their receptivity to thought-speak is enhanced as well. No reason why, but I can't think of any better explanation.

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    3. But in Visser the council was far away and they were on a screen and they could hear Visser 3 so...???!!

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    4. Maybe, if you send it to the device, it automatically transmits it from the device. That's what I thought.

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  17. Honestly I'm curious what Visser Three would watch on TV.

    My guess would be a combination of the Kill Your Family Show and Thundercats. Not sure why but it seems to fit in my head at least.

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    1. He would watch Captain Planet, and get tips from the villains :P

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    2. He would watch AFV when noone was around and laugh at how puny, weak, and foolish our race is, or watch syfy channel and see our version of aliens, or maybe warehouse 13 which comes on in 5 minutes and oh shoot I forgot andi im gonna miss it gotta go remind my brother the season premier is on!

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    3. He would watch youtube clips of cats.

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  18. I can't believe you guys forgot my favorite part! After Marco is killed, Rachel, Jake, and Cassie went to the mall to search for leads, and because they think the Andalite is there, but out of the Gap fly a bunch of Hork-Bajir. They grab a bunch of humans, but one man has been smart today so he has a gun and he kills a Hork-Bajir, But its comrade kills him with a Dracon beam, so oh well for him. So Rachel draws her Dracon beam, but then Ax flies out of Radio shack, already demorphing, and cuts a Hork-Bajir's head off. But, another of the fifty Hok-Bajir attacks him, and gets him on the floor, and so Rachel doesn't have gun, because a HB knocked out of her hand, so she picks up the decapitated Hork-Bajir's head, and using the horns, to kill the Hok-Bajir who took down Ax. HOW DID YOU FORGET THAT!?!?!?

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  19. I really liked the Ordet subplot, Visser One setting up a fake message from the Council of Thirteen forbidding Visser Three from open invasion to stall him until the Council officially makes the decision. If nothing else, in and of itself it makes a great reason for the enmity between the Vissers.

    A lot makes sense if you read the first books assume that Visser Three has been in charge of the invasion for less than a week before the first book.

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  20. The part about Visser Three's upper half getting zapped off made me think about the half-a-satyr from Everworld. Fairy Land, anyone? No? Aw, nuts.

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  21. I didn't like this book that much growing up. It was a neat premise, but I hated all the digressions of the actual plot. I was like, well, what the heck is actually happening to the Animorphs right now, ya know?

    Anyways, reading it over later on and currently rereading again, it was actually pretty profound to me. Like was mentioned, this along with the Ellimist Chronicles (and others I'm sure) really brought out this underlying focus to the series. Sure there was lots of other stuff happening, but there was this plan from the Ellimist and destiny or whatever bringing them all together to fight. And figuring out it had to be either Jake or Rachel that would eventually die (although as Cannoli mentioned Jake was basically handpicked as well) was intriguing too. Poor Rachel. And I guess, poor Animorphs. Unlike dumb Cassie. The only jerk that actual lives.

    Anyways, I love stories or series like this were there's deeper stuff going on beneath the surface of all these characters we know and love. I think they probably could've expounded further on this, making it even more interesting, but I feel like the these things nor the Ellimist got a whole lot of playing time. And I guess I'm satisfied with that too. I know Applegate didn't want the Ellimist being in there too much.

    Anyways, on a purely immature level, I was so happy to see that, even though they technically shouldn't have (according to the Drode or otherwise ignorant readers at that particular moment) the Animorphs still got together to fight (even though it was kinda dumb how it happened and it excluded Tobias). It made it show me that NOTHING CAN PREVENT GOOD TRIUMPHING OVER EVIL.

    I will now get out my coloring books and drink a juice box.

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  22. tobias potter lololololololololol XD
    (if you haven't guessed tobias potter is funny I want a tobiias potter fanfic)

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  23. Every time the Drode speaks, all I hear is Q.

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  24. Commenting on this many years after it was made (found you guys through Bogleech since he linked this in his first Animorphs article. Sidenote, if Adam and Iffi ever team up to review any other series I'd literally love that to PIECES) before I even finished reading the review just so I can say the following: I cannot fucking believe you drew Rachel as Little Slugger. Also, my email is smartykid99@gmail.com just in case, I dunno. Just in case?

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