Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book 43: The Test


The Summary
Taylor is back! And she wants to be queen of the Yeerks, so she enlists the Animorphs to tunnel into the Yeerk Pool so she can pump natural gasses into it and blow the place up. The Animorphs agree to this for some reason. Tobias and Ax morph Taxxon to do the tunneling, and get the job done in a matter of hours.

But as he completes the digging, Tobias realizes that something is wrong. He recognizes many hosts from the Yeerk Peace Movement in the pool. He tries to stop the explosion, but Taylor has already turned the gas on. Then she runs off and is never seen again. The Animorphs think they're going to die but the gas magically turns off. It was Cassie, who realized what was going on and decided to put a stop to it.

The Animorphs all go home and Tobias angsts to Rachel.

The Review
Adam: I don't care what David Mattingly says, this is hands down the best cover in the entire main series.
Ifi: AUGH
Ifi: TAXXON
Ifi: FFFF
Ifi: NOOO
Adam: Squishy!
Adam: <3
Ifi: But seriously, I am glad for an alien morph
Adam: With this one done, we now have had all of the main aliens featured on the covers.
Ifi: Blondie up there looks like he's about seven years old.
Adam: Shh
Adam: They would only have replaced the old Tobias model about half a year ago.
Ifi: What?
Adam: Wait, it was earlier then that.
Adam: I forgot for a second that they switch off the Tobias and Ax books.
Ifi: A terrible idea
Adam: Well, they stop doing that now.
Adam: So rejoice, says I.
Ifi: *blows a kazoo*

Adam: But seriously, this is a great cover.
Adam: I like how the second pair of eyes pops out from behind the first, and the beak transitions very smoothly into the gaping Taxxon-mouth.
Ifi: The background doesn't quite work for me but meh, background
Adam: I think that sort of murky color scheme goes rather well with the big slimy, but to each his own.


Adam: The inside cover also features Rachel making a goofy expression, and a gratuitous lens flair effect.
Ifi: Tiny Taxxon or giant Rachel?
Ifi: Actually I think that's Taylor, not Rachel
Adam: Could be.
Adam: They used the same model for both of them, if that is the case.
Ifi: I only say that because in the scene where Tobias rips a hole in the wall and the light/lens flare floods through, Taylor comes up behind him a minute later.
Adam: Ah, you are likely correct then.

Adam: So, we open on Tobias flying around and experiencing some nasty PTSD since his last book.
Adam: Apparently nobody ever tried to sit and talk to him about the fact that he was brutally tortured.
Ifi: Seems like Cassie would be all over that but whatever
Adam: Then again, it does strike me as in character for Tobias to shrug off anyone's attempt at helping him.
Ifi: So there is a storm and some little boy is lost in the woods
Ifi: The boy is deaf, so he can't even hear the search parties looking for him
Ifi: Tobias decides to be a superhero


Adam: I wish there was a superintelligent psychic hawk to save me last time I got trapped in a pit.
Ifi: And when was that?
Adam: Last Tuesday?
Adam: I really have to do something about that gaping abyss in my backyard.

I peered down at the kid. He was searching wildly for the source of my voice. His eyes were swollen from crying. His hands were raw from trying to climb up the vertical, featureless sinkhole wall. He stood in stagnant water a foot deep. And a flash flood was on the way.

<We're gonna get you out of there,> I said.

But I didn't have a morph that could haul him out. Hork-Bajir? I wasn't practiced enough with the blades not to lacerate the kid and I definitely couldn't let him see an alien. <Hang tight, Bobby. I'll be back soon. It'll be okay.> A lightning bolt sizzled the ground nearby. Not good.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: So instead, Tobias flies to the park ranger and leads the search party to the boy.
Adam: Seems like a perfectly safe option

I took off down the swath of rainless sky toward Cassie's barn. It felt so good. I played in the air like a pilot at an air show, awed the audience with my death-defying stunts. I cut my engines, fell into a nosedive, ready to pull up just seconds before I hit the ground.

And then...

A golden eagle, twice my size, screeching toward me like a wrecking ball...

WHAM!

And all was blackness.

I never even had a chance.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: And that's how Tobias died
Adam: There's karma for you.

Ifi: So Tobias wakes up and some veterinarians are poking at him and whatnot
Ifi: He is famous for being superbird, the amazing psychic deaf-kid-finding hawk.
Ifi: He's even in the newspapers.
Ifi: Yeerk attack in three, two...
Adam: BEEP BEEP BEEP

Behind the door, heavy, punishing footsteps slammed down the hallway. A sound that meant only one thing.

Hork-Bajir.

The door burst open.

Tseew! Tseew!

Seven-foot-tall bladed bodies charged into the room! Video cameras disintegrated in flashes of Dracon fire.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: So the Hork-Bajir are like "hell yes promotion time" but then some other Yeerks show up
Ifi: They are human-Controllers, and the Hork-Bajir refer to them as rebels
Adam: The Peace Movement has been busy since we last saw them.
Ifi: The Animorphs also turn up, and Rachel basically kicks Tobias' cage down a hallway until...

Suddenly, the cage stopped. We'd run into something. We'd hit human feet.

Rachel froze, sniffing the air hard. I looked up. Sleek, suede boots. Fashionably worn jeans. The torso and head were in shadow. Who was this? Some innocent vet student, trapped by the battle?

Her arm appeared from behind her back. Her fingers clutched a Dracon beam...

My heart stopped.

The girl's fingers glistened and sparkled in the semidarkness. The way real flesh fingers never do.

<Taylor,> Rachel hissed, her voice rough with rage.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: She's baaaaaack
Ifi: She doesn't seem to have the issue with pronouns that she did in the last book
Adam: Yeah, Taylor has clearly undergone some much needed therapy.
Adam: And when I say that, I mean that she is a completely different person now.
Ifi: Taylor's whole thing was that she was two people who thought they were one person. It was what made her a unique bad guy.
Ifi: Whoever wrote this book did not get that memo.
Adam: Indeed
Adam: When we last saw Taylor, she was a gibbering, incoherent lunatic.
Adam: This Taylor clearly knows what she is doing.
Adam: Which is fundamentally against the point of the whole character.
Ifi: Yeah. I would have loved to see more of her as she was last time.
Ifi: I would almost guess that the ghostwriter didn't read the last Taylor book
Adam: Which is a shame, because otherwise this book isn't all that bad.
Ifi: Yeah, we've had some terrible ones lately. But this one was pretty good. The characters are idiots, but the writing is good and the plot is pretty coherent.

Ifi: Taylor gets Tobias and brings him to her trailer or whatever.
Adam: Apparently she has fallen out of Visser Three's favor, and is now heading a rebel organization against the Empire.

"Civil war is coming, Andalite," she began. "Yeerk versus Yeerk. We've had enough of the petty visser fights, the favoritism, the punishments...the Council makes us sick."

[...]

"The Yeerks must move on as a race," she continued. "The time has come." She got up again and opened the ancient refrigerator. "We need to make a civilization with the hosts we have." She glanced at me. "Many of us realize that the eternal wars have to end and that the loss on Leera, the stalled offensive on Earth, and now the apparent bungling on the Anati planet have discredited the current leadership enough that it cannot survive."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: This would all be completely believable had the information come from anybody else at all.
Ifi: Taylor claims that she and her friends want to learn about democracy and all that
Ifi: She wants the Andalite Bandits to murder Visser Three to get him out of the way

"Don't answer now." She pulled a scrap of paper from her pocket and pushed it through the bars of my cage. "Here." It was a Web address. "Talk things over with your comrades and leave me a message there. Sign it 'Bandits.'"

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Then she throws him out the window
Adam: Weeeeeee

Ifi: So, after putting absolutely no thought into the situation, the Animorphs decide to contact Taylor and tell her okay
Adam: I see no possible way this could go wrong!

Ax ignored him and typed in the address to Taylor's Web page: http://www.EarthIsOurs.com.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Let's take a look-see
Adam: Nope, nothing.
Ifi: Aww
Ifi: I am disappoint
Adam: Somebody make a website!
Ifi: A helpful description:

Taylor's Web page took a while to download and the image was fuzzy at first. Slowly, the screen became clearer. It was a picture of the earth from outer space, a beautiful blue-green sphere covered with clouds. There was a caption, "Triumph will be ours," and a box to send a message.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: Ah, dial-up.
Adam: It was a different era.

Taylor's reply came an hour later. "No time to lose," it read. "The plan is to attack and seize the 'Pool.' Your special skills are needed. Meet me in a public place. Let's say Borders bookstore. The wildlife section seems appropriate."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: Well now this book just went and made me sad.


Ifi: So Tobias goes to meet her...

Rachel chose the outfit, so I was dressed to kill. And I would have looked great in rags. See, morphing uses DNA, and I'd morphed her body as it would have been before the fire, before the accident. No artificial arm. No reconstructed beauty. I was a cover girl who could give even Angelina Jolie a run for her money. I was...

"Taylor," I said easily, coming up behind the tall blond wandering the wildlife section. She spun around, surprised and off guard. Her mouth dropped open. She was face-to-face with herself. And for a second, I'd trumped her. She was mine.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Tobias feels pretty!



"Decaf latte with skim," Taylor purred.

The kid turned to take my order. I smiled and he almost fell over. It was crazy to have such power. I'd been on the receiving end before. I'd just never been the source. Is this what Rachel experienced? Was this part of what made her so brave?

"Triple espresso. Heavy on the cream and the sugar."

Taylor turned to me. "You dare abuse my body, you filthy grass eater?"

The kid raised his eyebrows. "Grass?" he said. "I can juice you some wheat grass, but that's all we have."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: This book is so random
Adam: Tobias makes the same coffee order as me.
Adam: Actually, that is the sort of thing an Andalite would order, so it was in all honesty a good choice.
Ifi: I would like a chocolate chocolate chocolate with extra chocolate and copious amounts of whipped cream.
Adam: I knew there was a reason I liked you.


Ifi: omnomnom

"Listen carefully," she began, her voice hushed. "There's a natural gas pipeline, a large one, that runs a half mile from the Yeerk pool. We need to dig a connecting tunnel from that pipeline to the pool."

"Why?"

Taylor huffed, arrogant and exasperated. "So that the pipe can be ruptured. So that thousands of tons of natural gas will spew into the Yeerk pool complex. And so that the gas, when exploded, will kill everyone exposed. The hosts. The Yeerks."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Yeah...this totally sounds like the YPM would do.
Ifi: Not.
Adam: Well, with Aftran off frolicking with the Jesus-Whales, their highest ranking member is a middle school teacher.
Adam: So I would not be that surprised if they became a little sadistic.

"You know me well, Andalite." A smile washed over her face.

But then, suddenly, her face transformed. All at once, her blue eyes filled with desperation. Her pink lips parted in wordless horror. A different voice, a frightened, abused little voice, called across the table in a toneless whisper.

"Don't listen," it said. "Don't listen to her!"

I sat transfixed as Taylor's hand blazed across the tabletop, crashing into her latte, smashing the mug to the floor. There was a huge racket as ceramic clattered across tile.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Tobias.
Ifi: Tobias, run.
Ifi: Tobias, run away.
Adam: Well, that bit came totally out of nowhere.
Adam: Wasn't Taylor's host completely willing.
Ifi: Yes
Adam: And part of the reason that the personality merge happened was because she was already heavily traumatized and kinda nuts to begin with?
Ifi: Yes
Ifi: It makes no sense.
Ifi: Anyway, Tobias ignores this completely and Taylor explains the rest of her plan

"That's why I selected an animal for you to morph that can do the job in hours, not days or weeks." Her lips curled into a devilish smile. "You always underestimate me, Andalite."

"What morph?" I asked. She wrapped the fingers of her artificial hand around my arm and started to squeeze.

"I have a morph that will leave behind a tunnel at least as large in circumference as the pipe itself."

"What morph?" I repeated.

"Taxxon, my Andalite friend. Taxxon!"

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: "Upon hearing that, I stood up, made my excuses, and left the bookstore. I never saw Taylor again."
Adam: At least you got a sugary beverage out of it.
Ifi: But the Animorphs agree to go along with this because...no real reason, actually. It just seems to be a thing for them to do.
Ifi: Cassie takes issue with it, but not for the reason a smart person would

"None of you guys are really thinking about this," she said in a voice that made a couple of older kids sitting at the table next to ours look up.

"Shhh."

"No," she said. "It's wrong. I won't. I don't want to judge you guys, but you're talking about strategy and risk like this is some computer game. Like there aren't others involved. Have you forgotten that we're supposed to be in this to save lives?"

Jake put his hand on her shoulder and gently encouraged her to sit back down. No one seemed to know what to say. She continued. She spoke very quietly, but urgently.

"Has anyone stopped to think that we'll be responsible for the death of hundreds, maybe thousands of people? People who already suffer the worst fate imaginable? And not that any of you care, but we'll be killing thousands of defenseless Yeerks right along with them."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: Well, it is an opportunity to blow stuff up
Adam: And who doesn't like that?
Ifi: So Cassie opts out of the mission
Ifi: And Tobias and Ax acquire a Taxxon by mortally wounding him and then acquiring him as he dies.
Adam: Poor squishy.
Adam: I am sad now.

I finished acquiring the Taxxon's DNA. And realized there was something inside me unlike anything I had ever known.

Maybe it was just my own tormented mind at work. Or maybe it really was the DNA, screaming at me on some microscopic level. It was something terrible.

Something dangerous.

A tortured shudder moved the length of the Taxxon's body, from head to tail and back again.

He shook for one violent instant, then stopped.

And I realized that he now lived only in Ax and me.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: It is sad.
Ifi: The whole Taxxon situation is sad.
Adam: We get a bit about the Taxxon ecosystem in the Andalite Chronicles, but I really think they deserved their own book.
Adam: Second only the Gedds, the Taxxons really got the short end of the stick in this series.

Ax was wearing a Timex Triathlon timepiece around his front ankle. Rachel had picked it out for him. He feared that his internal clock might be thrown off by the power of the Taxxon morph.

He and I were going to take turns wearing it while Andalite.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: Aw, cute.
Ifi: I think this is actually a more hilarious mental image than Tobias-as-hawk with the watch
Adam: It's probably one of those Mickey Mouse watches, as well.
Ifi: Then we get the moment we've all been waiting for: Tobias morphs the Taxxon

I was taking on the shape of a worm. Long and formless.

Crystal-clear hawk vision blurred. Think about driving into the rain without turning on the windshield wipers. Then this murky vision was traded for — Whoa! A thousand tiny fragments of my surroundings. Visual shards, like a kaleidoscope image with blurred edges.

I knew that Taxxons had compound eyes, like flies. Each red eye is really a thousand smaller eyes, each scanning a small piece of the world. What I hadn't known was that Taxxon brains aren't quite sophisticated enough to put all the pieces together.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Well that is just sad.
Adam: A housefly apparently has more sophisticated vision than these guys.
Ifi: sad

Then, all at once, I felt it coming. An unstoppable tidal wave riding up the shore.

Insane, insane hunger.

Desperate, all-consuming hunger. Like nothing you can begin to imagine. It reared up, larger than any urge I had ever experienced. Blocking out everything else. Everything.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Tobias manages to refrain from eating his friends
Adam: Despite how delicious they may be.
Ifi: Then it is time to tunnel.
Ifi: Like in the oatmeal book, but way more efficient
Adam: Taxxons apparently tunnel in the same fashion that earthworms do.

We had heard that the Taxxon was a great digger. But that's not true. Not exactly. The Taxxon is great at one thing. Eating. Suddenly, ravenously, I began to devour the dirt beside the hole Taylor's people had jackhammered in the concrete pipe. I turned the full force of the Taxxon's hunger on the dirt.

I was inhaling soil like I hadn't eaten in forty days. I bit off large chunks, coated them with digestive enzymes, and swallowed the sticky gobs. Bite after bite. After bite after bite. The Taxxon was insatiable.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Reminded me of Artemis Fowl
Adam: Man, the comic version of Mulch Diggums is utterly horrifying to look at.


Ifi: AUGH! 
Adam: Indeed
Ifi: I did a rather long-winded review of the series on my personal blog, but I have never actually read the comic version. And now I never will.
Adam: Don't
Adam: It is
Adam: weird

Adam: So anyway!


Adam: Tobias gets caught up in how utterly tasty the dirt is, so the others have to run ahead and get him to calm down.
Ifi: Then Taylor shows up so there can be drama.
Ifi: Everyone basically bitches at each other the whole time, but the digging gets done pretty fast
Adam: Next it is Ax's turn.

Ax didn't move. The big Taxxon just stood there motionless, as if in a trance.

<Hey,> Jake snapped, <let's get moving.>

<Ax?> Rachel said, more kindly. <Everything all right?> She inched tentatively toward him, the way you'd approach a chained dog you didn't know.

[...]

<I am okay,> Ax protested, speaking at last. <I have been practicing control. By temporarily triggering Taxxon hibernation, I am able to resist the urge to eat you.>

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: I don't think that's how hibernation works.
Adam: Well, perhaps it is some sort of mindset they can induce?
Adam: We don't have any sapient species here that hibernate, so there isn't really much for us to compare it to.
Ifi: So there's chapters and chapters of everyone just being horrible to each other while they dig
Adam: Also Taylor tries to pull the whole "You and I can rule together" nonsense on Tobias.
Adam: There doesn't really seem to be much of a reason why, besides the fact that she enjoys messing with him.
Ifi: Tobias would make a terrible leader. No offense to him or anything. He's one of my favorite characters. But he has no leadership qualities.
Adam: Indeed. He tends to ignore problems rather than try to solve them, and he has no people skills.
Ifi: Also Ax gets stuck in some sort of mental loop and tunnels in circles for a little bit
Ifi: But they snap him out of it

When my eyes adjusted, I saw what a strange place the cavern was. It wasn't square or round or ovoid. Nothing normal. It was an undulating, chaotic intersection of many different, smaller tunnels.

<I lost control of the morph,> Ax answered honestly. <I do not remember everything. I know that I became confused. I dug and ate in circles for many minutes before regaining focus.>

<He ate himself to exhaustions Jake added, more for Rachel than for Taylor. <We had to drag him out.>

<I do not remember,> Ax confessed.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: :(
Ifi: Poor Ax
Ifi: go get cookies
Adam: I think he has had enough to eat for now.
Ifi: delicious dirt

No. What drove the Taxxon to eat and dig was more complicated. It was something I understood. A sort of insecurity or fear.
Yes, a fear...grossly exaggerated...beyond anything humans experience...a desperate fear of not having enough...a terror of starvation...a horror that your essential needs will go unfulfilled....a horror demented and contorted by the Taxxon mind until it became a sick, murderous evil.

I wouldn't have understood, or even noticed, if I hadn't been hawk for so long. I've experienced just enough of that feeling to recognize it.

A whole species of terrified overeaters. It made me almost sorry for them.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: A whole species of this:


Adam: Okay, we absolutely need a Taxxon chronicles now.
Adam: I really want some kind of evolutionary backstory for this.
Adam: Perhaps they normally lived through long periods of famine, so they need to compulsively gorge themselves every time there is an opportunity or else risk starvation?
Ifi: They just have lots of feelings
Ifi: and they eat their feelings
Adam: And everything else, for that matter

Ifi: Then Tobias finds the pool

I opened my Taxxon mouth wide. Full capacity. I swiveled my teeth so they scraped the concrete like a drill. A hundred teeth screeched across the stone. Friction made my mouth hot.

Caustic Taxxon spit burned and dissolved the rock.

I gnawed deep into the shell of the dome, a hole four or more feet across and almost as deep. My body felt heavy and ill. And at last I saw a flicker of red light.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Hooray he found the lens flare
Adam: Oh, so that's what that was.
Ifi: Well it's just logic. The Yeerk Pool = Evil. Lens flare = Evil. Therefore, Lens Flare = Yeerk Pool
Adam: Suddenly it all makes sense.

Ifi: So Tobias takes a look-see into the pool

Then I realized that a great number of the caged prisoners weren't crying out. They watched the proceedings with distaste, but they didn't rage with anger. They stood immobile and calm.

I'd seen voluntary hosts before. Voluntary hosts enjoyed the show. These weren't voluntary. Who were they? What had happened to these hosts? It was like they'd passed a point beyond the point of caring. Like they were zombies or something. But that was impossible. Everyone fights for freedom to the bitter end. Everyone has to!

These hosts had an air about them. They stared off into the vast space with a look of...pride? Conviction? They looked almost as if they had purpose.

Maybe they were Yeerks from the peace faction?

So many of them here? Now? Oh, man, not now...

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Adam: Cassie clearly did a great job of warning everyone.

Ifi: Then Taylor shows up to gloat. Also she paralyzes everyone with her mechanical hand which apparently has a taser setting.
Adam: Are saying that if you got some kind of futuristic cyborg prosthesis, you wouldn't install it with some sort of paralytic nerve gas?
Ifi: Only if there'd still be room for the flamethrower
Adam: You could always put that in the leg.

Ifi: So Tobias realizes that maybe blowing up the Yeerk pool is not the best idea.
Ifi: He tries to stop Taylor, but she runs to break the pipe that will cause the explosion

Her lips twisted into the now-familiar fiendish smile. Pure Yeerk and proud of it. "Wrong, Andalite. You forget that I am not bound to this body. I am the Yeerk inside. And a skull entirely replaced, bone by bone, by heat-proof, blastproof polymer protects me. This body will burn, but I will survive."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: I
Ifi: what
Adam: Um
Adam: You'd still be stuck alone in a tunnel.
Ifi: an unhosted Yeerk is more vulnerable than a newborn kitten
Ifi: also why did they do that to her skull?


Adam: Surgery

Ifi: Anyway, you can't plan an explosion for a hundred and fifty pages and not actually have one, so here you go

Taylor blew a hole clean through the metal.

And in an instant, reality changed.

Fwooooosh!

A pressure wave of natural gas shot from the pipe. It ripped across the chamber and sent us tumbling through the air. Taylor. Me. The others.

Tumbling...

Straight for the tunnel!

<Ahhhh!>

Taylor blew right past me, propelled by the gas, a swirl of blond hair and pink flesh.

And she was laughing.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: And that was the last time anyone saw her.
Adam: She ded
Ifi: It's sort of ambiguous, which leads me to think they were planning on bring her back one last time, but who knows.
Adam: They didn't, so she's dead.
Adam: Anyway, next Tobias is completely awesome

My legs, dozens of sharp sticks, scraped the tunnel sides. I stretched them out as far as they would open. Strained to make them catch hold.

<Can't breathe!> Marco gasped.

Acute pain shot to my core. Momentum snapped off my legs. I was insane to think I could stop us. It was like trying to stop a car traveling seventy by opening the door and dragging your foot on the pavement. Not happening.

But I had a hundred legs. And the tunnel was narrowing.

<I see light.> I yelled. There it was. The red circle that glowed like a harvest moon. Coming nearer and nearer. It was now. Or it was never.

<Ahhhhhl> I cried, and dug in what legs I had left. They punctured the dirt, scraped the stone, snapped like twigs.

[...]

Six inches, five inches, four inches...

Four inches and holding.

The pressure didn't push us any farther. It eased. And then it disappeared.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: This is like that scene in every superhero movie where he holds back the train with his bare hands.




Adam: Tobias pretty much walks out of his own feet to save everyone.

"The gas is off." Those were the first words out of Jake's mouth when he'd finished demorphing, the only words anyone managed to form.

"How?" he whispered. He stood for a minute, numb and dazed. Incredulous. "How?"

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Cassie.

The pumping station.

I got a funny feeling as we got closer to it. Flashing lights by the doors and on the roof doused the surrounding trees in red. I knew something was up, the way you do when a police car rockets past you on the street, no sirens, but lights flashing. There was definitely trouble.

The others landed behind the bushes where Ax and I had morphed earlier. They demorphed, crouching low as their bodies rose from the earth. And even though I knew they were all exhausted, they slowly morphed again. Battle morphs. We weren't taking any chances.

The plate glass door was shattered. A thousand shards sparkled on the sidewalk.

<Somebody charged this place,> I said. <Somebody wild.>

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Cassie.

<Oh, man,> I heard Rachel say. <Oh, man!>

I stepped around her. My rear legs weakened.

Then I saw the bodies. Human bodies. Maybe half a dozen. Male and female. Suited to look like gas company workers. Sprawled now every which way. They were alive — barely. They'd obviously been on the losing end of one very fierce battle. None seemed conscious.

Yeerk slugs wriggled and writhed helplessly on the floor.

<Who could have done this?> Jake gasped.

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: Cassie.
Ifi: It's Cassie
Adam: So, they find Cassie in a pool of everyone else's blood, pick her up and take her home.

"Tidwell and all the peacenik Yeerks try to feed at the same time. They try to show up at the Yeerk pool together so they can exchange information and make plans."

"We know that," I interrupted.

"Right. But we didn't know that they'd reorganized their feeding schedule. We didn't know that they'd rescheduled so they'd predominate on Saturday afternoons."

There was a long pause as I calculated just what that meant.

"Somehow Visser Three got the news? He was going to kill off all his opposition in one day! The Andalite bandits. The Yeerk peace faction. Two groups, one plan."

"Yeah. And Cassie thinks he wanted more than our lives," she said. "She thinks Visser Three planned to pin the atrocity on the peace faction. That he was going to weaken them by frying all their hosts, then discredit them by making it look like they were responsible for arranging the gas explosion and for engineering massive loss of Yeerk life."

"That sounds like the visser we know and love."

----Book Forty-Three, The Test

Ifi: No it doesn't.
Ifi: Visser Three does not do elaborate hoaxes.
Adam: He must have some people that he has to plot for him that he hasn't eaten yet.

Ifi: So Tobias beats himself up some more, Rachel tells him to grow a pair, and then it's the end.
Adam: Nobody ever gets any therapy in this series.
Ifi: Sad.
Adam: Very.
Ifi: So uh
Ifi: I guess that's it
Adam: This book
Adam: Was actually pretty good.
Adam: I mean, it was interesting seeing Taylor again, even though they totally changed her character with no explaination.
Adam: But Tobias's reactions worked well as a logical followup.
Adam: And I like that they explored Taxxon psychology a bit.
Ifi: Yeah the Taxxon stuff was cool
Ifi: And like I said, the writing was not bad.
Ifi: And it was a nice break from all the stupid we've been having recently.
Adam: Well, there is more of it next week!
Ifi: Oh boy
Adam: Road trip!

Ifi: Goddamn it.

59 comments:

  1. You know, it's kind of funny that until the second-to-last book, none of the Animorphs or Andailtes really seem to care about the Taxxons. In all the infodumps at the beginning of each book, they'll always preface it by pointing out that the Hork-Bajir are slaves, but the Taxxons must be evil, because they joined with the Yeerks in an attempt to stop themselves from going berserk and killing their children, or whatever.

    The Animorphs try to not kill humans and Hork-Bajir in battle, and spend a great deal of time creating a free sanctuary for the Hork-Bajir, but they continue to merrily slaughter Taxxons every book and do some pretty cruel things to them. Not even Cassie, who angsts over killing a Yeerk, seems to really care about them.

    You'd think that the Animorphs, or at least Tobias and Ax, would gain some sympathy for the Taxxon race in this book, but no, the Animorphs keep murdering them in droves until book 53. And even then, the Animorphs joined up with them because it was either that or the human race gets destroyed.

    Forget the Gedds, the Taxxons are the ones that really got screwed over.

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  2. This is a website... interesting.
    http://www.earthisours.com/

    Also, what did the firefly thing have to do with anything?

    I'm just assuming that Taylor is wrong. When your host dies, you die.

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    1. That's just a cybersquatting website. Either that, or the Yeerks plan to subjugate Earth with House reruns.

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    2. *gasp* That's it! This explains everything!

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    3. Do you want me to tell you?

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    4. They're brainwashing us...

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  3. Okay, you guys are right, we need a Taxxon Chronicles. Deep down inside, they're not evil, murderous monsters at all. They're insecure and afraid of not having their basic needs met. So basically, Taxxons just want to be loved...

    Awesome review! Thanks for posting!!

    Oh, and I actually tried to see if I could set up an "EarthIsOur.com" website, because I am nerdy like that. Apparently, that domain is already taken. Sad face.

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  4. As out of character Taylor was in this book, the image of her flying and laughing on fire propelled by an explosion seems like it suits her pretty well.

    An entire race of people that eat constantly to drown out their feelings? IT'S LIKE K.A.A. KNOWS MY LIFE. But for real Taxxons really do get shafted in this series. Nobody ever has any qualms about killing them right off the way they do with human (and hork-bajir, sometimes) controllers, and they're really kind of a pathetic species.

    I'm kind of glad that Cassie's morals actually ended up saving everybody for once. I actually really like Cassie and I feel like the last couple ghostwriters assassinated her character a bit with all that buffalo bullshit and whatnot.

    Man, I can just picture that EarthIsOurs website. It would totally be hosted by Tripod or GeoCities and the text would be in bright yellow Comic Sans.

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  5. Um... guys, Taylor never said she was part of the Peace Movement. She said she was part of a new group of Yeerks. The PM is bent on making the hosts not seem like animals, so the Empire will be reorganized into something better, that won't be expanding. This new group is similar, as it wants to alter the Empire, into specifically a democracy, and so the United Yeerks of America will still be expanding, and the transformed Empire will still be expanding, conquering despite now being an democracy. But, as we know, there isn't really a new group if Yeerks, as this was orchastrated by Visser Three.
    On the subject of the Taxxon Chronicles, there already is one on fanfiction website, and I'm pretty sure Tom Serveaux wrote it.

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    1. >_>

      <_<

      Yes, I did.

      I need to continue writing it.

      <_<

      >_>

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    2. It's very good. I recommend it.

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  6. As soon as i read the review, before i even read the comments, i opened a new page and googled "earth is ours". I got some website about enery efficiency and whatnot. Honestly, to me, Taxxons are giant, squishy, opposite-of-anorexic alien centi/millipedes that i still don't care much about. My brother, even less. He is still too arrogant now that "he" has created Cybajir. By "he" i mean i did, but i was still using my alien, Zajanora, for my fanfiction, I let him use it, excuse me while I edit Andalite bad boy out of my fanfic.

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    1. I really need to read that. SHARE IT WITH ME, OWL NUTTER DEMANDS IT.

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    2. I shall share when i finish it, which i have not

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  7. Cybajir is a Hork Bajir cyborg. He's super cool and better than andalite bad boy.

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  8. The Taxxon homeworld seemed to be pretty barren from what little we saw of it, so I'd imagine finding enough food would be a problem.

    The ability to hibernate would make sense in that environment too.

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    1. I figure that the constant hunger is more of a social control thing imposed by the Hive. The Taxxon rebels we see in the Andalite Chronicles seem to be more or less functional while they're in the vincinity of the Living Hive, but when far away enough, they rapidly become more and more disorganized and cannabalistic.

      Presumably, when the Taxxons work for the Hive by digging tunnels, finding food, laying eggs, etc., they're rewarded by having their hunger temporarily eliminated or drastically reduced. The constant need to eat would also make sense on a desert world, as well as serving as a form of population control in times of famine. Of course, the practical upshot of all of this is that the Taxxons could never expand beyond their homeworld without undergoing a complete social breakdown.

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    2. I would have guessed it had started the other way around. The Taxxons developed or attached themselves to the Hive as a means to control their (already existing) hunger.

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    3. I guess that would depend on what the Hive actually is, and where the Taxxon's hunger comes from.

      In my own little fanfiction universe, the Taxxons as we known them are in fact a pedomorphic form, that, while capable of mating and laying eggs, are basically larvae. Only one in a few thousand Taxxons are capable of undergoing metamorphosis into a juvenile Hive, which is then buried in the ground where it gradually fossilizes and connects with other Hives nearby. This is a really slow, million-year process, of course, which is why the Taxxons quickly allied with the Yeerks- not only to sate their hunger, but also to make sure that no more Hives were destroyed.

      The Taxxon hunger began as a basic survival instinct as Adam and Ifi theorized, as their home planet orbits a red giant that regularily emits solar flares and radiation. Because of this, the Taxxons are driven to eat as much as possible in between radiation storms, so that their bodies can manufacture certain chemicals that allow them to ride out the worst of the flares deep underground in their hives, in the hibernation state that was discussed in the book.

      Of course, as time went by, the sun's condition steadily deteriorated, meaning that the solar storms became worse and worse with increasingly less time in between to stock up, natural selection favoring the most voracious Taxxons with the most insatiable appetites, at the cost of their group cohesion. Because of this, the hives began to use their hunger as a social control mechanism as I theorized earlier.

      Of course, this is all just background theories and fanon about a fictional alien race, and I'm no biologist. Thoughts?

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    4. It's actually kinda sad if the Living Hive was decreasing the Taxxon hunger. It would practically mean that Taxxons, a sentient species, would never be able to make space travel on their own. They're too attached to a network of caves.

      Now I'm imagining the Taxxon rebels as like Jim Carrey from The Truman Show.

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  9. After spending a week reading all of the reviews, I'm finally caught up to live. Yay!

    The thing I don't understand about the Taxxons is how they could possibly have evolved intelligence, let alone sentience, in such a situation. I want a Taxxon Chronicles just to explain that. And how sentient are they anyway? (This might get brought up in later books, I don't remember.) Do they have names?

    Maybe the Taxxons were created as a cruel joke by Crayak.

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  10. A few things:
    This was the same ghostwriter who wrote the last Tobias/Taylor book. I think the interpretation given in the books for Taylor's character is that she and Subvisser 51 had some personal empathy or something and shared control, like some sort of gestalt. Subsequent to her getting utterly pwned by Tobias, the Subvisser reined that shit in and retook control of her mind. There's still some artifacts of her previous sharing mentality, such as her ego about her body, but the spoiled whiny teenager is gone now, and it's all the Yeerk.

    Ellen Geroux seems to have a much more hardcore view of the Yeerks, as she shows that even when a Yeerk and host are in harmony or accord, there can be no true equality, as the Yeerk can simply reassert control at any time it wishes.

    I also think the gestalt personality only served a purpose from a narrative sense because part of the trauma for Tobias in the last book was the similarity of Taylor to Rachel, both in appearance and life situation. The point of the character was not simply to have an evil torturer, but a nightmare nemesis who was the evil version of the most important person in his life, to play further with the concept of tainting his positive experiences.

    She also wrote the Jake-to-the-future book, which also mentions the ongoing issues of Tobias' torture experience in passing. Plainly she wanted that to be a thing that stuck with him. But he also beat and broke the gestalt Controller, so she needed an upgrade in personality to be dangerous, so they took away the weak cowardly girl who abandoned her humanity to look pretty, and put in the high-ranking Yeerk officer. I think the Yeerk made the co-ruler offer because it picked up on some sort of connection or association its "Andalite" victim had made with its host.

    IMO, the psychological stuff makes sense if you work at it.

    Also, this is my favorite book of all in one narrow aspect: at the end, Rachel argues that even though Cassie's moralizing turns out to be right, they were still right to do the thing she objected to. All to often when Cassie is right, it's because the author sets her up to be an all-seeing genius who makes the right call based on absolutely no information (i.e. selling the team out to Aftran, because she had NO reason to believe or even hope Aftran would do what she did - it worked out, but even hindsight can't justify what Cassie did, because there was no reason to believe it would work out that way). In this case, Cassie's objection was not based on anything other than her own squeamishness. If they take her objections about attacking the pool to the logical conclusion, Cassie can only accept an eternal stalemate, because the Animorphs can NEVER, ever go on the offensive to try to stop the Yeerks, only react to their plans. Acting against the Yeerks to seriously impede their infestation of Earth is "wrong" in Cassie's book.

    And look at what she did - either she knew that the Peace Movement were the targets of the operation, in which case she betrayed her friends to save a bunch of aliens who are still trespassing on Earth and cooperating in an attempt to conquer the same; or else she had no idea they were the targets, and actively worked to ruin the Animorphs' plans! And then, because she's Cassie and rules don't apply to her, she sits there sniveling in the ruins, purely lucky that Yeerk reinforcements didn't show up to kill/capture her before the Animorphs did.

    Rachel, for possibly the only time of ANY Animorph in the series, actually correctly says "Even if we turned out to be wrong, we made the right call with what we knew at the time, and things turned out better than if we had done the (made-up)moral thing."

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    1. Hmmm... I don't really see your view of Cassie. I mean, yes, the Aftran thing was just pure chance, but if she hadn't done that, Jake would have died in book 50. So, even if it was just pure luck Aftran wasn't a sadistic Yeerk, but still, would you have killed a 5-10 year old when you were 13? A lot of the time you sneer at Cassie, what you have done in her shoes? Let's see, in the book nineteen situation, would you have cracked from killing helpless victims, who were the most total slaves ever known, who had no choice, while you were thirteen, day after day? Would you, in this book's situation, not cried after slaughtering all those people? Would you not have cried? You say Rachel was a better person than Cassie for dealing with this trauma silently, but would you have done that? Would you have stood there, for three years, just remembering all those people you killed? How would you have reacted? All the Animorphs deal with the war trauma differently, and between the six of them they show almost all the different ways people deal with it. Would you have alienated yourself, like Tobias? Would you become an adrenaline junkie and love the fight, like Rachel? Would you force yourself to see the world as funny, so you wouldn't find it tragic, like Marco? Would you have seen it as your duty, and accepted it like they all did, especially Ax, with varying smoothness, despite the way it isn't, nor should it be? Would you have realized your own insecurities and hardened yourself, only occasionally showing cracks in your shell, like Jake? Or, would you realize you are unraveling and just try to hold on to your humanity by just trying to do what you believe right, like Cassie(most people would be like that) ? (Everyone who reads this tell me who you would react like the most) You say the Cassie and Aftran situation was pure luck, but Rachel's strength is just luck as well, isn't it? Couldn't she have reacted the same way Cassie does? Bottom line: EVERY REASON YOU SAY CASSIE IS WEAK IS HOW MOST PEOPLE WOULD BE, POSSIBLY YOU TOO. Got it?

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    2. Bullshit. Morality is not subjective. All your "what would you have done in her shoes" issues are pointless because even if the answer is "the exact same thing" I would still be just as wrong as Cassie. Most people are weak and selfish. That doesn't make selfishness right or acceptable, and it doesn't make weakness that endangers others acceptable either. Life and personal growth are the processes of overcoming weakness and selfishness.

      Don't make me steal your next house, dude.
      And you're full of it. Most people would not try to do what they believe right, they would do what they wanted while trying to rationalize it as right. Though you are right in saying that most people would do what Cassie does, because that is exactly what she does - she almost always argues for what she wants or prefers, and tries to force the others to conform, and very frequently endangers all of them with her selfish pursuits. And yes, they are selfish, regardless of whom she thinks she is benefiting with her actions or choices, because she is making others do what she wants, most notably compelling them to take risks to make Cassie happy. And as Adam and Ifi often point out, she is the first one to throw morals out the window when she is really pissed off.

      I can't say what I would have done as a 13 year old, but by the rules as I understood them, I would not be making other people jump through moral hoops I invented on the spot. Unlike hippy animal lovers, my parents raised me with traditional moral values that had been practiced for centuries and millenia and refined by some of the greatest philosophers of the last 20 centuries, so I would not have had any BS qualms about morphing sentient creatures nor would I have been as racist as the Animorphs with their explicitly stated preference for not killing humans.

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    3. No, Cannoli. Morality is the most subjective thing on the planet.

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    4. I think you're taking your Cassie vendetta a little too far.

      I mean, she's a fictional character.

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    5. Doesn't change OP's rebuttal that "you probably would do the same thing Cassie did" doesn't work. I as a 13 year old might have done what Cassie did, but that has zero bearing as to whether my actions or my reasons were right. It doesn't matter what I *would* have done. What matters is what I *should* have done.

      Just because that one case of selling out the team worked out in the end because it was Aftran does not making the act itself forgivable.

      Also, with the subjectivity of morality, we have two possibilities. If morality is objective, then Cannoli's point stands. If morality is subjective, then what makes Cassie's morality more valid than everyone else's? Not to mention she's always the one to impose her morality on everyone else on a level not seen before I watched Avatar the Last Airbender and became acquainted with Katara.

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    6. I think blogspot ate my post. But to Owl Nutter: My current self, at the least, would recognize that participation in a guerilla war essentially renders my entire life one big extended self-defense scenario, in which case I would have no more qualms about killing Controllers (all of whom fit under "enemy combatants") than a movie!Spartan would have about cutting down Xerxes' slave soldiers. Perhaps my 13-year-old self would have come to the same conclusion, or perhaps he would have done what Cassie did. But what *would* I do is irrelevant and unimportant compared to what "should" I do.

      It would be one thing if Cassie turned out to be flat-out wrong on a moral issue or two. To my recollection, she never is.

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    7. Morality is subjective people. Cassie's problem is not that her morals are wrong. They just don't make sense to people with different morals because MORALITY IS SUBJECTIVE! Cassie's problems are that she forces her morals onto everyone, they change way to often and that they are used as a bad plot device to make stuff for the Animorphs more difficult.

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    8. Ironically, I feel that a large degree of fault in Cassie's morals are a result of the fact that she fails to take into account the fact that morals are subjective.

      Her morals aren't so much "bad" as they are simply half-formed. She has a naively black and white view of the universe, and initially lacks the foresight to think out how her moral code would apply on a larger scale and in non-ideal circumstances.

      All circumstances are different, and you need to judge them on an individual basis, but if you just start off with a simplistic "this here is right, and this here is wrong," you'll end up finding that it doesn't always apply in every situation, as is what happens with Cassie.

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    9. You could write a book about Cassie's moral code in contrast to the rest of the series. Or at least a really hardcore essay.

      It's funny because Cassie's character had an interesting premise (An idealist pacifist who saw the world in black in white who has to fight a war), and it really could have explored the moral gray area a lot more. To me, I think the highest character point for her was The Departure, where she was scared that she would lose her compassion and empathy due to all the fighting, briefly quits the Animorphs and has a run in with a Yeerk and learns a bit from their side (being that they're blind defenseless slugs who need host bodies to do anything cool. That whole "people eat meat" argument was BS though).

      What annoys me though, is that that's pretty much where Cassie's internal struggle plateaus. She never really challenges her morals and does not think (or attempt to think) in the long term. And on top of that,all of the moral decisions she makes are only for herself and her own desires and only really work through luck or coincidence, and even the decision of letting Tom get away with the morphing cube near the end of the series panned out. At that point, to me, it would have meant more for her character if she had just out and killed Tom right there. She still would have kept Jake from having to kill his brother, but she also would have had to deal with the fact that she betrayed her overall morals (in a way that wasn't just for her own sake) and killed Tom.

      Another thing is that I think Cassie was kind of written into a corner, because as the supposed moral pillar of the group, she wasn't allowed to change as much in terms of how she saw and reacted to things (as opposed to the rest of the group, who mostly started off idealistic before ending up jaded and with varying levels of PTSD) and it "always" had to be pointed out how far they have moved away from how they started. To put it bluntly, Cassie is to the Animorphs as "And that's terrible!" is to the Joker stealing 40 cakes. And so to compensate, KA Applegate had to give her all these abilities to try to make her look like something more than a measuring stick, like how she can morph the best and is an anomaly on top of having access to every animal ever and knowing how to perform brain surgery, but it still doesn't do anything to dissuade the fact that she's willing to sacrifice plans and other's safety to meet her own ends. And didn't change or grow at all.

      So there's my incredibly long two cents.

      Also, here's a link to a wikipedia article about stages of moral development.

      http://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/Lawrence_Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development

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    10. For the record, it was Lex Luthor who stole the cakes.

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    11. I feel like Cassie's characterization was just destroyed a lot worse than Rachel's, because she had TWO main sides to her character. With both of them, the ghostwriters are simply looking at the most noticeable traits (Rachel: her bloodthirstiness, Cassie: her moralizing side). With Rachel, it actually makes a sort of sense, as the war goes on she grows accustom to it, so she is able to remove herself from her own guilt, and is able to enjoy it. The ghostwriters are simply applying that too fast, and probably noticed, but a bloodstained Rachel book is more fun to write than a calm, rational book. They just make her look more insane so it fits in the outline and gives it the extra action, and dropped her war guilt all at once, not just gradually like they should have. A lot of her other less important character traits were erased as well.
      With Cassie it's a lot worse. Unlike Rachel, who's alteration simply came too abruptly, Cassie's other side, her manipulative side, simply vanishes. Just right off the earth. That is a trait that would stuck as the war raged, while her moralizing side would have not disappeared, but altered to suit the actual moral situation. She was not a black-and-white moralizing fool, as the ghostwriters depict her, or as she was in the beginning, but saw things in gray and wished they were black and white. In book nine, she went in seeing black and white, and she discovered that, and realized her views of the universe were romanticized, and things are really gray. She also started the group's acknowledgement that they were prejudiced against the Hork-Bajir and Taxxons. The moral code against morphing sentient animals was really branched from a fear that what if the animal they were creating through the DNA they absorbed would be more than just instincts, with a functioning mind and will she would be overpowering, like the Yeerks, which would be unbearable to her. As you read the books, she brings that up less and less... until you hit the ghostwritten ones. The ghostwriters had a single view of Cassie; a moralizing black-and-white fool who complains about morphing intelligent animals . Now that this view is set, they don't alter her, and so throughout the majority of the series she is in a perpetual pre-book-nine stage. This is why she is like that through most of series. Only three books actually give her personality okay justice. Book 25; she gives a speech on how she is now valuing things the way she should, with their survival worth more than a baby seal's body. Book 29; she morphs a Yeerk, a sentient being, with her only qualms with it is how the process is disturbing. She also takes over the human girl and attacks Visser Three because she understands that if she doesn't take over this girl's body, her friends are doomed, the leader of their only enemy peace group is dead, and Ax's head explodes. She could have objected to Aftran morphing a whale, a sentient creature, but she didn't.
      Her manipulative side was important, as ignored as it is. If she wasn't there, David would have won. He knew where they all lived, their classes, where they met, everything.They knew nothing they could use against him, beside he was using Saddler's parents, and he could have ditched them easily. Plenty of kids in critical condition to replace. Cassie manipulated him, even though she knew it would scar her. And like Rachel, she lost a lot of her minor traits.
      Though Rachel's ghostwriter character shift was bad and sudden, her transformation would have happened eventually, but Cassie's wasn't realistic, nor did it follow the pattern previously established, with her adjusting her code, and it left her stuck in a mode-lock in her more negative and prejudice stage. So, in other words, KAA-Cassie is a good character and can't be blamed, while Ghostwritten-Cassie isn't a good character and can be.

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    12. Why do we always seem to have giant walls of text arguing that Cassie is the most horrible character in all of literature?

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    13. Welcome to the internet.

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    14. She isn't the most horrible character in all of literature.
      There is still Bella Swan :P

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    15. "All your 'what would you have done in her shoes' issues are pointless because even if the answer is 'the exact same thing' I would still be just as wrong as Cassie."
      You completely missed the point of this rant. What I'm sying is, if you would do exactly what Cassie did, you can't criticize her, because you are then a hypocrite.
      In other words, "Hi Pot, I'm Kettle you're black."

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    16. SINIZ: Bella isn't a bad character. She just knows she wants two things that she can't have together, so she tries to choose, and hits rock bottom. But everything drives her towards Edward. The author wanted her to not have to choose and disappoint her readers, and she wanted her to have one, so she just strings a bunch of coincidences to force her wherever. Not unlike several characters, she was written into a corner. Just like Cassie and the ghost writers.

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    17. "It was Lex Luthor who stole the cakes."

      O_O Well, there goes any credibility I ever had . . .

      @Owl Nutter: Uh, no. At least Cassie tried and had a defining personality and interests. And I just stick to the opinion that Twilight was a narrative that should never have been published in the first place, no matter how much cash it would have squeezed out of naive teenage girls and desperate housewives.

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    18. At least Cassie tried and had a defining personality and interests.
      YES. I KNOW. THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING. I AM COMPLAINING THAT SHE WAS RUINED BY THE GHOSTWRITERS AND FORCED TO DO THINGS THE REAL CASSIE WOULD NEVER DO IN A MILLION YEARS. DO. YOU. UNDER.STAND?

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    19. No Owl Nutter. She is a Mary Sue. An absolute Mary Sue and is the most terrible person ever.

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  11. "Ifi: I would almost guess that the ghostwriter didn't read the last Taylor book"
    Actually, the person who wrote this book wrote The Illusion. (i.e., both Taylor books were written by Ellan Geroux)
    The reason for the different character depiction is because it said specifically Taylor and the former Sub-Visser 51 have become different. Tobias probably shook the actual Taylor to the core in their first interaction, so she is now ashamed of her existence, and how far she has stooped for her own shallow impulses. Her freedom, her mother, her sanity, all of which she sacrificed for beauty. So now she is rebelling from Sub-Visser 51, who is so used to not having to fight for control Taylor had no trouble warning Tobias about Sub-Visser 51. That's is why the her character is so differnt.

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  12. I don't think Cassie's only options in the butterfly book were kill the girl or go butterfly. Her excessive morality is a hindrance more often than a help.


    ... I never realized Tobias was only 8 at this point in the series... Seriously, that model is a baby.

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    1. It's never a help, but her boyfriend is in charge, and he says she's useful so everyone else has to shut up.

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    2. Psh, when you get stuck as a nothlit you grow backwards. Duh. Did you even read the series?

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    3. From a literalistic standpoint, it actually was her only options. The whole point of the book was to drive Cassie to realize there are good Yeerks and to convince the team of this. That's why she cracked. KAA chose her for this book, because she knows characters must be used in a way that doesn't argue with their already established personality. The ghost writers obviously didn't.

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  13. For some reason, I felt like Taylor in this book was a lot more desperate than in the other- something about how she was losing her grip on her host, and how she didn't have a problem with her host being tossed around by pressurized gas and/or possibly blown up. She probably snapped badly between the two books, which kinda accounts for her strange behavior.

    I originally thought the Taxxons were in this book because of some sort of parallel that the author was trying to draw between Taylor and the desperation of the Taxxons, but maybe I was reading too much into this.

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    1. No, your right. That's a good point.

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  14. I miss Borders D:

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  15. You know, there's nothing in the book to say that we're definitely dealing with the same Yeerk as in the last Taylor book. We know that Visser 3 doesn't often tolerate failure, and any subsequent Yeerk can use Taylor's memories to see all of the Sub-Visser's interactions with Tobias and the others and pretend to be her.

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    1. Exactly what I was thinking as well.

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  16. Okay, reading through your reviews, this is how my Taxxon evolution headcanon goes:

    The Taxxon homeworld was once an enormous ocean world on par with Leera. We know from Book 4 that Taxxons swim rather well. I'm imagining a world much like Leera, where there was a ton of life just exploding. Proto-Taxxons were the top predators, and there were food species in abundance, so they didn't have to worry too much about food. They had a minor sedentary gathering society, something like the Tlingit and other Pacific Northwest coastal Native tribes. Probably not much, but with potential to develop.

    Then catastrophe strikes. The ocean is gone, leaving the Taxxon homeworld a desert. The cause of the catastrophe isn't that important, but I'd make it the Five, the same race that liquified the Venber for computer coolant, as Ax told us in Book 25. Though maybe that's too contemporary, so we could make it some long-dead alien race. The Taxxon homeworld was a waystation for this race's travels. Nothing important, but they could harvest water from the vast oceans for their use. Over a period ranging from a century to a millenium, the evolutionary blink of an eye, the Taxxon homeworld is dried out.

    What follows is a tumultuous time as life adjusts. Most of the food species go extinct. Taxxons starve in droves... but over time, some species do arise, giving the Taxxons a steady food supply. But by then, natural selection has implanted within them the need to eat anything that bleeds. Their parents, their siblings, their children, themselves... all of it is fair game, because those Taxxons who didn't have that drive to ensure that they don't starve get eaten by those that did.

    Over time, evolution reinforces this, as the Taxxon hunger becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, eating as much as possible whenever there is a glut of food, leading to times of famine. Then the Yeerks show up and give them the offer they can't refuse, literally.

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  17. What I'd like to know is why the Taxxons are used by the Yeerks at all? I mean, to fight at least. They are butchered by the Animorphs every single time. Taxxons are useful to the Yeerks for other things (like their piloting, etc) but not for fighting. Sure they make a nice scare tactic occasionally or provide some gross-out value, but seriously? You'd think the Yeerks would learn: "Ok. Human-controllers rarely get killed. Dracon beams are usually successful. Hork-Bajir do serious damage, causing guts to be spilled repeatedly and give the Animorphs plenty of narrow escapes. But the Taxxons seem to be mowed down freely. And if even one gets hurt, the rest turn on it providing much needed time for withdrawal, remorphings, reinforcements and other attacks. Hmmm... well, let's just keep expending our hosts needlessly. SEND IN THE TAXXONS!!!"

    As much as I found them to be gross, I did feel bad for them and was very happy that they turned into something that blocked out the crazy hunger. Although eating rodents for thirty years while crawling around on your belly with no hands to play video games seems like a pretty sucky way to go...

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  18. I always thought that the Yeerks were short of hosts. There are probably a lot of Yeerks who don't have hosts at all because there are not enough hosts available for them to wear.

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  19. It sounds like a visser we know and love...just not the one who's running the show. The Animorphs just foiled Visser One's plan.

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