Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book 48: The Return


The Summary
Nobody cares.

The Review
Ifi: I have the flu and I am setting my suffering aside for you guys
Ifi: So
Ifi: You're welcome
Adam: Aw no.
Adam: Drink lots of tea
Ifi: Don't tell me what to do.

Adam: Anyways
Adam: This book
Adam: What in the name of Jesus Whale did I just read?
Ifi: It was like
Ifi: It was like
Ifi: I don't even know
Ifi: It was like everyone at scholastic got stoned
Ifi: and
Ifi: I don't know
Adam: I know I'm usually kinda disdainful at the drug jokes, but seriously!
Adam: What the heck were they on during the writing of this thing?
Ifi: This book was like being on drugs. Literally. This is not sarcasm mode. This is Ifi reacting to nonsensical plot twists and prose.
Ifi: This is like when you get really sick and you're fucked up on cough medicine so everything is weird as hell already and then someone starts talking to you and you have no idea what they're going on about so you just sort of nod and hope they go away soon.
Adam: I mean, look at that cover right there.
Adam: That's not even a morph, someone in the editorial department just wanted to see their X-men crossover fanfiction illustrated or something.


Ifi: Also look at that six-pack
Ifi: or like
Ifi: Twelve-pack
Ifi: Her abs have abs look at that
Adam: "Join Crayak's twelve step program, and you too can look like this!"
Ifi: We'll guarantee that you'll lose fifteen pounds in the first four weeks, or your money back!
Adam: If you don't, then Super-Rachel will eat you.
Ifi: That's the kind of motivation I need to lose weight irl.

Adam: So, we begin with everyone…at the White House?
Ifi: What the hell how did we get here
Ifi: A field trip?
Ifi: Did they load the entire middle school onto a plane?
Adam: Middle school field trips commonly take people across the country.
Adam: Also, Marco is there, even though he is presumed dead.
Ifi: And then the Yeerks decide "you know what, let's attack the white house today."
Ifi: "No time like the present."
Adam: Eh, sure, why not.
Adam: Darn, I already used the Independence Day clip last week.

Half a second later, Tobias crumpled in the air. My heart stopped. The wind sucked out of my lungs. Pain. Disbelief. I watched Tobias plummet to the ground.

A scream. Then lots of screams followed by the sound of crashing doors, splintering wood, breaking windows, and thundering footsteps.

“What’s going on?” one of the chaperons shouted.

I already knew. Marco and Jake, too. And Cassie.

The Yeerks were attacking the White House.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Statistically speaking, it's probably not Tobias, it's probably a random red-tail.
Adam: Anyway, Rachel decides to go totally berserk, for some reason.
Adam: I think she only does it because it fits thematically with the rest of this book

<Uh-uh. You’re out of this now. You’re hurt bad. And you’re so out of control you don’t even realize how bad. That’s why we pulled you off. Morph out, Rachel. Now.>

[…]

Nobody told me when I was out of a fight. Nobody.

Not even Jake.

Why did he think he could do it?

Because I let him think he could. That’s why.

Maybe it was time to show him he couldn’t.

I’d rough him up. Not much. Just enough to let him know that I could take him. Any time. Any place.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Who are you and what did you do with Rachel
Adam: I think it's implied that she's being subtly influenced by the Crayak, but it's vague and still doesn't really make much sense.
Ifi: Yeah honestly it just looks like sloppy writing.

<If you don’t demorph you’ll die,> he said. <Face it, Rachel. You’ve lost. You lost this fight before it started.>

It was his calmness that sent me further into a blinding, scremaing, homicidal rage.

He was so arrogant! So sure of his own superiority!

I thrashed! I screamed! I roared!

But he was right.

I was losing.

<Morph, Rachel!> Cassie. <Morph, now!>

But I didn’t. And I wouldn’t.

Because at that point, I knew I’d rather die than lose.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: I'll grant that Rachel is a hard character to get right. But this ghostwriter was not even trying.
Adam: And then she wakes up.
Ifi: Turns out it was all a dream.
Ifi: Lame. Weak. Okay, whatever.


Adam: Rachel wakes up just as confused as the rest of us, and debates whether she should tell everyone about it or not.
Ifi: She wants to tell Cassie, but can't find her, so she bickers with Marco and Ax instead.

Marco might be speaking for Cassie, Ax, and Tobias. But not for Jake. Jake wasn’t a whining coward at heart, like Marco. Jake wasn’t overemotional like Cassie. He wasn’t withdrawn and passive like Tobias, or a blindly faithful follower like Ax.

Jake was like me. Strong, brave, and aggressive.

WAIT.

That’s it.

Jake was threatened by me.

So threatened that he was turning the others against me.

Trying to demoralize me.

Trying to be sure I didn’t take over.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Whooooo
Ifi: arrrreeee
Ifi: youuuu


Adam: Did something specific happen to Rachel prior to this book?
Ifi: LSD happened.
Adam: Jake had a book where he was on the verge of a psychotic break, but there was a very specific cause behind it.
Adam: Here it is more or less out of nowhere.

A few moments later, I saw the roof of my house below and veered away from my path. Tried to veer away…

I couldn’t.

Couldn’t change directions. Couldn’t change course.

I was flying right toward the radio tower. Toward the red light.

Turn, Rachel, turn!

But I couldn’t do anything but continue to fly straight ahead.

Closer. Closer!

Something was wrong. Very wrong. It was like being in the grip of a tractor beam.

It was pulling me toward the tower. Toward the red light.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: And then she wakes up again.
Ifi: Wait
Ifi: The WHOLE BOOK SO FAR IS A DREAM?
Ifi: THE WHOLE BOOK
Ifi: REALLY AUTHOR
Ifi: REALLY?


Adam: Actually, this whole book doesn't exist.
Adam: It it is all in our collective minds.
Ifi: What is this ghostwriter's name?
Adam: Lisa Harkrader
Ifi: Lisa if you are reading this now
Ifi: I want you to know
Ifi: that you are a despicible human being
Ifi: that is all.
Adam: Did you get that out of your system?
Ifi: For now.

Adam: Also, Rachel is having David related flashbacks now
Adam: Because of foreshadowing, I guess.

Was he still mad at me because I’d disoebeyed him at the White Ho…

Hold it!

I shook my head.

The whole White House thing had been a dream. I hadn’t disobeyed Jake’s orders. I hadn’t tried to kill him.

I hurried on to class and took a seat bhind Cassie. I felt unsettled, uneasy.

She turned. “Hey!”

Her smile was genuine and I smiled back.

Or at least I tried to. But the sense of something being wrong was even heavier, more oppressive than it had been that morning.

Was this still a nightmare?

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: That's a great question Rachel
Ifi: and the answer is
Ifi: I HAVE NO CLUE
Ifi: NOT A ONE
Adam: Now, the writer could be trying that whole In the Mouth of Madness-esque, not sure if it is a dream or not atmosphere.
Adam: But honestly it just comes off as sloppy.
Ifi: I am pretty sure it is meant to be atmosphere, but the writer totally fumbled the ball on this one.

Adam: Anyway, she goes to talk to Cassie about the whole thing.
Adam: Except she is stopped by a horde of rats.


Adam: Well okay, clearly another dream sequence here.

Half a second later, Cassie came running out of the barn. About two hundred rats streamed behind her.

Rats!

This was a dream.

It had to be a dream!

Cassie was fast, but the rats were faster. They climbed up her legs, scampered over her shoulders, down her arms. Biting. Scratching. Chittering madly. Cassie’s face began to melt. She stumbled to her knees. She was going into a morph. Momentarily helpless! The rats became more frenzied. It was horrible.

I didn’t know what to do! What morph did I have that could take on two hundred rats and kill them all before they chewed Cassie to a pulp?

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: I
Ifi: what
Ifi: wha
Ifi: what
Ifi: what the balls
Ifi: what
Adam: I've given up trying to understand anything.
Adam: They run into the pond to try to get the rats off, but Rachel is knocked out for some reason and wakes up inside some sort of underground cavern.
Ifi: I have no idea how Rachel could have possibly gotten from the pond to the underground sewer cave place.
Ifi: It just
Ifi: sense
Ifi: none
Adam: Magic

I was in a dungeon. A huge, cavernous dungeon with stone walls slick with damp and slime. Candles flickered in elaborate wall sconces. Spectacular cobwebs, some as large as bedsheets, hung like shredding drapes from the light fixtures and the walls.

Mice scurried in and out of the shadows. The place stank of rotten garbage and sewage.

Wildly, I expected to see coffins. Vampires just waiting for the sun to set so they could suck my blood, make me one of their own. Midnight killers…

Easy, Rachel. Concentrate. Use your senses, not your imagination.

Listen! A persistent sound, a trickling. And a dripping.

An answer to one of my questions. Not a crypt. I was somewhere in the sewer system. But how had I gotten here?

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: NOTHING
Ifi: MAKES
Ifi: SENSE
Adam: Rachel is also trapped inside a magic invisible box.
Ifi: Then these two randoms show up

Two guys. Late teens. Neither looked bright enough to be the mastermind behind this nightmare scenario. Definitely not the brains of the operation, Rachel.

One was tall and skinny. He wore dirty, torn jeans and a black T-shirt. There was a tattoo of a rat on his right cheek.

The other one was short and fat. He also wore dirty, torn jeans. But his T-shirt screamed The Grateful Dead in psychedelic swirls and acid-hot colors. Over that he wore a light blue windbreaker. His hair was pulled into a thin, greasy ponytail.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Uh
Ifi: Hi I guess?


Adam: I am going to address them as Bulk and Skull, because it is painfully obvious that that is who they are and nothing is going to convince me otherwise.

Gently, Grease put the rat down on the table or platform. Placed it right in front of me, just on the other side of the clear wall of the cube. We were inches apart, me and the rat. It was large.

A rat that gazed up at me with a strange intelligence in its little beady eyes.

A rat that looked at me as if it knew something important about me.

As if it recognized me.

I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!

One of its own…

If you weren’t such a harsh person…

Of course. Of course.

<Hello, Rachel,> said the rat. <Did you miss me?>

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: Well I certainly didn't.
Ifi: Really, the author could have pulled off the concept of Crayak giving Rachel the hard sell without dragging David into it
Adam: Indeed. I guess they were trying to wrap up remaining plot threads with him, but it just feels really forced and doesn't add anything to the main plot.
Ifi: This book is most comparable to the one where Jake goes to the fake future, as it accomplishes nothing, adds nothing to the series, and is written in an infuriatingly sloppy style
Ifi: Complete with Alice-in-Wonderland style scene transitions
Adam: Like that one, there are some legitimately interesting concepts here that are hidden underneath shoddy writing.
Adam: Though they're a bit harder to find here.

Adam: David goes into his supervillain rant about how horrible things have been for him and how he escaped, blah blah blah.

<At first, the monotony, the loneliness, was unbelievable. Enduring day after endless day on that rock, exposed to the elements, alone except for thousands of other rats, marooned, somehow, like me. But I survived, Rachel. Oh, yes. And eventually I befriended a few of my more intelligent brothers and sisters. I promised to lead them off the island if they would bring me food and obey me. Long story short, they did. How could they not? They were compelled to obey. They knew a natural-born leader when they saw one. And now my forces are here.>

“Forces?” I laughed. He really was insane! “What forces?”

David laughed back, mimicking me.

<The forces of David. You see, I escaped the island with a few select lieutenants.>

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Wait I figured it out
Ifi: Rachel is having a fever dream
Ifi: This is all a side-effect of some weird alien illness
Ifi: The real plot is the rest of the group trying to figure out a cure for the Hork-Bajir chicken pox or whatever it is she has.
Ifi: She's really just stashed away in the Hork-Bajir valley somewhere, babbling incoherently about rats and Edgar Allen Poe
Adam: But we already had the "everybody gets sick" plot.
Ifi: We had two shirinking plots, we can have two flu plots
Adam: Wait, we've had two, technically.
Adam: Marco had rabies in the second shrinking book.
Ifi: I stand by my hypothesis.

I looked at the two witless thugs. David’s willing hands and feet. Maybe I could stir up a little dissension.

“You guys realize you’re working for a rat, don’t you?” I said.

Tattoo shrugged. “He pays good.”

“He pays good?” I snorted. “What are you talking about? He’s a rat. You’re working for cheese?”

David laughed wildly. <A rat can go many places a human cannot, Rachel. You should know that. Into banks. Into businesses. Places where money is kept. Lots of money. I steal it. A few bills at a time. It’s hard work but it’s paid off. Over the last few months, I’ve accumulated two hundred and twelve thousand dollars.>

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: Bulk and Skull, you guys are too good for this book.
Adam: I want a series of just you two getting side jobs as henchmen for various genocidal monsters.
Ifi: With one big exception, which we will get to, this book is nothing but Rachel and David talking to each other
Ifi: They talk
Ifi: and they talk
Ifi: and they talk
Adam: Also, we get some ominous bold narration going on in Rachel's head.
Ifi: yeah idk what that was all about

I’d had no choice! I was the logical one for Jake to send along with David. David hated me most. He wanted to humiliate me. And I’d allowed him to, for our own ends.

There’s something pretty dark down inside you, Rachel.

“I did what I had to do,” I said, trying to hide my distress beneath a tone of conviction. “When you were threatening us. When we thought you’d killed Tobias. Jake sent me after you because he knew I would do what was necessary.”

You, Rachel, you love it. It’s what makes you so brave. It’s what makes you so dangerous. I don’t know what will happen to you if it all ends someday.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Are the lines flashbacks?
Adam: They are either flashback, or else it is the Crayak talking to her and pretending to be a flashback.
Adam: Again, vague.

From some unseen source, a red light began to glow, illuminating the other side of the room. Revealing, out of nowhere, like a magic trick, a second cube on another platform.

There was someone inside the cube.

Cassie!

The cube was small, like mine. Padlocked. Only there were no airholes. And it was soundproof. Cassie’s mouth was moving. But I couldn’t hear her, not really. Just faint, muffled cries.

David’s thugs chuckled and pointed.

<It’s not morph to rat or you die,> David said. <That choice would be too easy. No, Rachel, the choice is this: Morph to rat or Cassie dies. Of suffocation.>

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: Why doesn't Cassie morph into a roach or something, so she uses up less air?
Ifi: Nobody in this book thinks about anything
Adam: So now the book is literally everyone sitting around waiting, while David pats himself on the back.

<We can’t go soft, Rachel. We can’t give in to emotional attachments. Or to morality. A leader leads because he or she is a law unto themselves. A leader really believes that law will be accepted without question by those whose destiny it is to follow.>

Yes, yes. A leader has to be totally focused, totally without mercy, totally sure of her decisions…

<And if you were to destroy Jake, well, then, the other Animorphs would follow you without question. Right?>

[…]

<Right, Rachel?> he pressed gently.

Jake doesn’t even know how to use his power.

<Right,> I heard myself agree.

Then a crazy laugh, high and wild, broke the spell.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Hi Drode!
Adam: So finally Sauron shows his face, and we get the actual plot of this book.
Adam: A little over halfway in.
Ifi: The vast majority of it was Rachel and David having meaningless circular conversations.
Adam: "Join me and together we'll conquer the world. Bwahaha."
Adam: That stuff.

And again, the dark, cavernous space was lit with an eerie red glow. Only now, the light source was visible.

The light source was a large red eye.

It hovered over the room from just under the vaulted ceiling. Peered down like a gigantic red spotlight.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Crayak how are you even fitting in here.
Adam: Um
Adam: Space magic.
Adam: I dunno, maybe this cavern was inside his planetoid the whole time?
Adam: It makes as much sense as anything else in this book.

<Rats are not sentient creatures,> I interrupted. <They don’t take orders. They don’t organize. They can’t be rallied like troops. And they don’t attack people on command.>

David chittered and lay on his belly.

<You might be a rat with human intelligence but that doesn’t make you Dr. Dolittle. You can talk to me and you can talk to your punks. But you can’t “talk” to other rats.>

<You don’t know what you’re saying! You don’t know anything!> David cried. <Shut up! Shut up!>

<Which means that what happened outside the barn couldn’t have happened,> I went on, my brain whirring. <And what you said happened on the island—your building a loyal following—couldn’t have happened. Which means that this, right now, can’t be happening, either!>

I looked over at Cassie. She was smiling. And then Cassie wasn’t Cassie. She became a creature we had encountered before.

The Drode!

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: I don't
Ifi: understand
Ifi: anything
Adam: So anyway, the whole point of this is that with the Crayak's army all distracted with making out with each other, he now needs some new minions.
Adam: So he decides to recruit Rachel.
Adam: Why he decided to get David involved, I have no idea.
Ifi: Really, by human understanding, he has infinite power. He doesn't need to do any of this.
Adam: Well, it's probably tied into his whole game with Toomin, he has to delegate some of his actions if he wants to do them at all.
Ifi: All he has to do is wait for Rachel to get herself into a tight spot and be like, "Oh hey remember me?"
Ifi: "I offered you a job once."
Ifi: "We were on a boat or something."
Ifi: "It was a weird day."

“Excellent, Rachel. You are a skeptic. A good quality in a strategist. And a leader. David? You’ve had your fun but Rachel got the best of you. I told you that if she guessed there was more here than what meets the eye, you had to tell her the truth. Tell her.>

<I am here,> David admitted grudgingly. <But everything was Crayak’s doing. I don’t have a rat army. Rats don’t understand much of anything. You can’t talk to rats.>

David’s rodent body fairly emanated rising panic. Hysteria. So did his voice.

<Do you have any idea just how bad it was for me on that rock, Rachel? Not another sentient creature. And having to defend myself from the others? From other rats? From birds of prey? From the rain and the cold and—>

“I didn’t tell you to whine!” Crayak thundered angrily.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Oh Crayak you lol me so much
Adam: Y'know, I really would have loved to see the scene where Crayak picks David up and explains the whole plan to him.
Ifi: You know what I don't get?
Ifi: Well, aside from everything
Adam: Hmm?
Ifi: Now that the bad guys have revealed that their hostage, Cassie, was a fake, Rachel has no reason to stay in rat morph.
Ifi: She could demorph literally whenever
Ifi: but she doesn't
Ifi: She spends the whole time being, "OH DAMN ITS GONNA BE TWO HOURS SOON."
Adam: The implication later on is that they really do have Cassie there.
Adam: But like everything in this book, it is vague and poorly worded and nonsensical.

Adam: We finally get to the bit where Crayak turns Rachel into Lady Deathstrike.

Crayak had moved, somehow, to the far side of the room. Suddenly, from its bulk a muscled armlike thing extended.

“Come with me, Rachel.”

I don’t know why. But I reached out. And the distance between us magically shrank. I looked up. And in an instant, the distance between me and the thiry-foot roof disappeared.

I looked down and saw a white speck scurrying into the corner for safety. David.

“What is this?” I demanded. “I’m a giant now?”

“Only if you need to be,” Crayak replied. “You are as strong as you need to be. As big as you need to be. As ruthless as you need to be. You’re not Rachel anymore. You’re Super-Rachel. Can’t you feel it? The raw power?”

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return
Ifi: Say hi to Craychel
Adam: Her description in the book is really nothing at all like the cover.
Adam: The only thing it gets right are the claws, which I suppose are a carryover from the Howlers.
Adam: But otherwise, Craychel is this giant biomechanical thing.
Adam: Basically a more humanoid version of Crayak himself.
Ifi: And more overpowered than your run-of-the-mill Mary Sue

Every bizarre morphing sensation I had ever experienced was suddenly telescoped into a nanosecond. Every cell burst, shifted, flowed, exploded with energy! My body adapted to meet the needs of the moment.

I was twenty feet tall with the strength of thirty Hork-Bajir. My hands were massive steel claws.

I caught the cube easily. My “fingers” closed neatly around it as if it were a softball. Even the Drode looked slightly amazed.

I dropped the cube with a thud and lifted my lip in a snarl. I felt my teeth click together. Upper and lower rows had become iron fangs that sparked as they gnashed against each other.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: So the whole transformation process has some clear addictive properties, and Crayak keeps continuously switching her back from rat to giant cyborg just to screw with her.

“You would let me stop the Yeerks?”

Crayak waved a dismissive hand.

“I would create you, Rachel, and you would do as you please.”

WHOOSH!

I was back in the cube.

A rat. With David’s teeth in my neck. And the counter in front of my eyes.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Also she rips the Drode's head off
Ifi: not very nice
Ifi: I mean he's fine obvi
Ifi: But still
Ifi: Manners

“There are many masters of illusion in the universe, Rachel. Many manipulators of perception. But only I am a master of reality. A manipulator of the concrete. Well, then, perhaps this is a fantasy, after all. Your fantasy. But I can make it real at any time. For example, perhaps you would like to rip the Drode apart for real?”

“Hey!” the Drode protested. “Now, let’s not get carried away.”

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Am I the only one who wants to chill with these two?
Adam: Yes.
Ifi: Awww.

“The good against the bad,” Crayak murmured. “The age-old battle. Let’s settle it once and for all.”

WHOOSH!

In the blink of an eye, the dungeon-like sewer expanded to the size of a football field. Bleachers lined three of the walls.

High up in the stands, I saw the pusing red mass. Beside it, the Drode. Crayak nodded, and the Drode threw something out onto the field.

It was a ball.

The ball hit the ground, bounced slightly, and rolled toward my feet. I bent to pick it up…

And reared back when the ball exploded into matter.

I found myself eye-to-eye with Visser One’s Andalite stalk eyes.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: Visser One doesn't have an Andal—oh wait never mind.
Adam: Wait
Adam: Wait wait wait
Adam: Wait.
Adam: Did the Drode...
Adam: No
Adam: Did he just throw a pokeball with Esplin inside?
Ifi: How do you even get into these situations, Esplin?
Adam: <Did I ever tell you about the time that me and my archnemisis and his girlfriend accidentally created a parallel universe and we all ran around and ate hamburgers?>
Adam: <Man, good times, good times.>
Ifi: Seriously, though. Why is it always you, Esplin?
Ifi: Why is it always you?
Adam: It's fun to push his buttons

Adam: So now we get our big ridiculous battle sequence.

Visser One is no fool. At least, when it comes to saving his own precious hide. He bowed his head slightly.

<Of course, Crayak. I apologize for my arrogance.>

“Better,” Crayak boomed. “Now…let’s get down to business. Visser One, I desire to test the strength of my new creation. You will fight. To the death. If you win, Visser, Earth belongs to you. If my creature wins, you and your band of slugs will leave this planet. Immediately.”

I grinned. Metal teeth flashed. A fight to the death!

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: Why have these two never interacted before?
Ifi: Meanwhile, on the Blade Ship, Esplin is also having a fever dream.
Adam: <Why did I eat all those extra Gedds…?>
Adam: Okay, this next bit, I'm not going to lie, I honestly found it really rather cool.

Visser One completed his morph. It wasn’t one I recognized, but it was monstrous. He was fifteen, twenty feet tall. Almost as tall as me! His arms and hands dragged the ground like a gorilla’s. His skin looked reptilian, weeping and seeping some kind of acid poison. My jaw racheted open and the sound that came out was so loud it shook the walls.

The pain was unreal. Acid penetrating, eating my flesh! But by the time the scream was over, the pain had already gone. My skin had morphed to meet the immediate need! I was covered with thick, scaly plates like an alligator.

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return


Ifi: I think it says a lot about Visser Three that he was able to hold his own against Sueified Rachel
Adam: It's easy to forget, but there is a reason he's the highest ranking military officer in the Yeerk Empire.
Adam: Eventually Rachel figures out that she can basically just morph into whatever she wants, it doesn't even have to be based on a real animal.
Ifi: Morph into something huge, like something bigger than the world
Ifi: and eat Crayak
Ifi: eat him
Ifi: put him in your mouth
Ifi: and eat him
Adam: I somehow really doubt that would work.
Ifi: I could make it work.
Adam: ...Sure

Adam: Anyway, I like this part because I feel that it basically gives an idea of what the morphing technology is bound to turn into in another 50 years or so.

(c) not Adam

Adam: Excellent.
Adam: Esplin turns into the blob, but Rachel counters by morphing into a giant plant monster and eating him.
Ifi: Karma
Adam: So with Visser One now out of the way, Rachel and Crayak leave to go destroy the universe. The End.

“Finish it,” Crayak said quietly.

It was unbelievable. After all this time, I finally had him. Totally at my mercy. With a simple squeeze I could put an end to Visser One, to the Yeerks, to this whole sorry episode of Earth’s history.

All I had to do was execute him.

I’d never known true euphoria until now. What couldn’t I do? There was no species in any universe that could defeat me.

I was indestructible!

I would exterminate the Yeerks. I would bring universal peace to the planet.

And then…and then…

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Ifi: PUSSY OUT


Adam: Crayak goes home despondent, and now Rachel is stuck in a box with David as a rat again.
Ifi: But the two random mooks are still hanging around
Ifi: Though why, I have no idea
Adam: Still hoping to get paid after all this is done with.
Adam: Speaking of, Rachel actually has a good idea.
Adam: First time in this book anyone did.

<No human would be able to find David’s stash. But another rat? Another rat could find it easy. Like me. I could follow his scent. I could track back where he’s been.>

“What do you want?” Grease demanded.

Not so dumb after all.

<I want you to let me out of this box. Just for a second. Okay? So I don’t get trapped as a rat forever. Then I’ll morph back to rat and get the money for you.>

Eighteen seconds.

Seventeen seconds.

“How do we know you’ll come back?” Tattoo asked.

It was all I could do not to scream. I forced myself to stay calm. To speak slowly. To sound sincere.

<You’ll still have Cassie as a hostage.>

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: See, they did actually have Cassie there, I guess.
Ifi: Now I am just confused but whatever
Adam: Only just now?

Adam: Anyway, Rachel manages to turn back in time, but only just barely.
Ifi: At this point, I really lost what little interest I had in this book.
Adam: Rachel goes grizzly bear and scares Bulk and Skull off, saves Cassie, and then has to figure out what to do with David.
Adam: And then we get a cliffhanger that is never resolved.

I was alone with David.

My enemy was completely at my mercy.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a broken shard of mirror.

And saw what anyone looking down the alleyway from the sidewalk would have seen.

A young girl sitting knees-up in the sun, staring at a white rat.

It would be hard to believe the entire fate of the planet depended on that girl.

A girl who wanted to do the right thing.

But who had no idea at all what that was…

----Book Forty-Eight, The Return

Adam: Want to hear something really depressing?
Ifi: What?
Adam: This is the last Rachel book.
Adam: Well, I suppose you could consider the finale a Rachel book, since it takes her spot in the lineup, and it starts with her narrating.
Adam: But yeah, otherwise, this is the last Rachel book.
Ifi: I am so done

Adam: Well, let's end this on a better note.
Adam: Next we have a book which actually has *gasp* something good for the cast.
Ifi: *le gasp*
Adam: Yep!
Adam: Loren's back!

Adam: Any other closing thoughts?
Ifi: I have the flu.
Adam: Have some soup, and feel better soon.
Ifi: *crawls away*
Ifi: Bluh
Adam: Seriously dude, feel better, okay?
Ifi: I think I'll get sicker, just to spite you
Adam: …you do that

63 comments:

  1. One thing I forgot the bring up:

    Why is David always referred to as "The Sixth Animorph?" He's clearly the seventh.

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    1. I think it ws because the books always described the group as "[Character narrating the book], the Animorphs, and Ax." By that (flawed) logic, I guess he'd be the sixth Animorph.

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    2. Ax isn't an Animorph. The backs of the books always say things like "The Animorphs and Ax will have to blah blah blah"

      Animorphs are only for humans. If Ax were to morph those kafit birds and djerbils or whatever live on the homeworld, he'd be an Animorph. But it's a portmanteau of Animal Morphers, and Ax only morphs aliens (from his perspective). IDK, that's my ridiculous explanation for why he isn't a real Animorph. And to be fair, while they are close friends and fight in the same battles, his experience is radically different from theirs. He isn't going to school and leading a double life and just a kid in way over his head trying to protect his home planet. He's pretty much a militarily trained soldier, shipwrecked on a foreign world, and has, in large part, turned his conscience over to Jake. Not to slight or denigrate him, but despite participating in the same events, he is not sharing their experience.

      One might argue that this definition applies in large part to Tobias as well, but then, he shares his Pov slot with Ax. And he WAS a "real" Animorph for like a day or two before switching species.

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    3. That's what it says on the back covers, but it is pretty clearly contradicted by the text in several other books. The Animorphs are simply the Earth-based Yeerk resistance movement led by Jake. Ax is considered to be once of their numbers pretty shortly after Book 8, where the group begins to trust him.

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    4. Sorry, Adam, but I have to side with Cannoli on this one. Going by your definition, you could argue Animorph allies like the free Hork-Bajir and the Chee are Animorphs as well (though the Hork-Bajir have their own leader in Toby, typically they go along with Animorph plans unless Toby specifically says otherwise). It's never outright stated in the books that Ax isn't an Animorph, but all of Ax's books (with the exception of the terrible #28) are geared towards this exploration of his conflicted loyalties between his human allies and the Andalite military he's a member of.

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    5. Well yes, but the ultimate decision that everyone comes down to, even though it takes everyone a bit of time to work out, is that Ax is a true member of their group, and therefor an Animorph. That's really what makes one an Animorph, more than simply having the morphing ability, or just fighting against the Yeerks in of itself.

      That's also why the Auxiliary Animorphs have the "Auxiliary" in their title, rather than just being called the new Animorphs, or something similar. They're really their own group, working for main Animorphs, but also inherently separate from them.

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    6. It takes a bit longer than a bit of time. It takes until the very end, really. Though Ax affirms his allegiance to Jake as early as The Alien, all his books after that (again, excepting #28) feature his conflicted allegiance. Further, In The Threat Jake explicitly identifies Jake as "the sixth Animorph" on page four, meaning David was considered the sixth Animorph on more than just the back covers. It's not really until The Answer, when Cassie tells Ax he has to choose 'once and for all', that Ax commits his allegiance fully to the Animorphs. But that's a few reviews in the future, so I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

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  2. After re-reading both this book and the Ellimist Chronicles, I have come to a new conclusion as to what Crayak is in the grand scheme of things.

    As we know, Toomin is, and always will be a gamer at heart. To him, everything has a strategy that can be worked out logically, with clearly defined rules and laws that can be used to solve any problem. When he assimilates Father and begins travelling the galaxy, he begins to view the entire universe as one big game of the evolution simulator he played during his Ketran phase.

    So to him, Crayak is an aberration- he does everything the "wrong" way, destroying instead of creating, going out of his way to frustrate and confound the Ellimist, bothering him at every opportunity by undoing his work. In other words, his only reason to exist is to harass people; he points out that he's been waiting for someone to play with.

    In other words- in gaming terms- he is a griefer. Everything he does is designed to anger and annoy people, and he takes pleasure from their suffering. Crayak, then, is the ultimate troll.

    Problem?

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  3. I remember liking this book...
    ...I have no idea why. But I adore the next book, and this I am sure of because of how many times I have read it. Cheers!

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  4. Also, one note, the ghostwriter is mistakenly credited (just like there was no ghostwriter credit for the squid book). The real GW was Kimberly Morris, who did the Andalite assassin squad. Lisa Harkrader does the next book.

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  5. After last week's book coming as close as we ever got to an origin for Crayak, I think I have come to a conclusion about why he and the Drode target Rachel. It's not that they think she's the most susceptible (most of the others have explicit wants that could tempt them to switching - promise to free Eva or Tom and Marco or Jake would be hard-pressed to resist, and so on), or the closest to them in nature. For all her violence, she is also the most prone to self-recriminations and has the most active conscience regarding the violent stuff - Cassie just doesn't like it, while the others seem more concerned with the danger, and Tobias & Ax might intellectually and emotionally grasp the issue, but just say "screw it" and kill whoever they have to.

    The Crayak and Drode team targets Rachel, because she is the one who, by her very existence, most challenges their philosophy. For the most part, beings who subscribe to survival of the fittest do so to excuse their own moral shortcomings or else selfish behavior. Basically, it means they can do whatever they want, and if they get away with it, it is justified, because they are obviously fit.

    Rachel, however, by any objective standard is among the fittest, and most survival oriented. Sure, she dives into a lot of danger, but she is also the most capable of handling it. And one of her paramount traits, from literally day one of the series, is her compassion. Before she ever had a chance to demonstrate her bravery or combat ability, she was comforting Cassie when Elfangor was getting eaten (and from a materialist perspective, her entire friendship with Cassie has to be pity-based). She was also the only person who was nice to Tobias, long before she developed her own feelings for him (even as late as the dinosaur book, she shows no signs of any interest in him in her PoV, ever). He started out linked to the group by Jake and going to Jake's house for status updates and food and shelter, but within two books, he had totally switched over to Rachel.

    Rachel lives the example that strength and compassion are not mutually exclusive, and is a living rebuke to any who justify their own shortcomings (at either trait) with the opposite contention. That's why they want to bring her down, to prove that they are right, and she was either made weak by her sentimental foolishness or that she'll ditch the compassion if pressed.

    BTW, I think the boldface lines were flashback lines from the last Rachel-David book. Without checking the exact wording, they sound like the stuff Jake told Rachel during their argument about him using her as the team goon.

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    1. I think you're over-romanticizing Rachel a bit here. Rachel fights because she likes fighting. She likes helping her friends and all too, but that's second to the fight. Megamorphs #04 shows us that even when Rachel had no idea what was going on and no real enemy to fight against (the scene where she's helping Marco chase down Visser One), she still throws her all into it because she likes it. Crayak and the Drode target her for that reason.

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    2. Yeah, and? Liking fighting has nothing to do with being good or bad. She doesn't go around picking fights for the sheer joy of it, and the fact that she was unarguably the most successful at real life (good at school, sports AND hobbies is more than any of the others can say) shows that she doesn't let it dominate her, that it's not an addiction. Self-aware bad guys hate that kind of thing, because she shows by example that just because you like something that could be abused, doesn't mean you have to give in to it. They want to make her give in and prove that no one could resist, so they themselves cannot be held weak for succumbing themselves.

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    3. There's no "And" about it, and liking fighting has nothing to do with being good or bad by itself, but Rachel does have a habit for picking fights for the fun of it - the scene in #32 where she verbally eviscerates the Bailey kid comes to mind, as does the scene in Megamorphs #04 where she helps Marco chase Visser One basically on a whim. Similarly, your statement that she's 'unarguably the most successful at real life' is not as unarguable as you attest: while Rachel definitely starts the series as the most academically successful of the kids, as the war goes on she disassociates from her 'normal' life more and more. It's funny that you make the argument in this of all book reviews, where the seventh chapter opens with Rachel walking through the hallways like a zombie mentally thinking that she can't relate at all to anyone there and feels like a stranger in a land she should know. While there's no line I can remember about Rachel's grades suffering, it's made clear that she has less and less interest in her 'normal' life as the war goes on. Finally her actions in the last few books make it clear that by that point she's given in near-completely to her darker urges and has no problem with going on the final deadly mission. She knows by that time there's no place for her in a peaceful world.

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    4. She's suffering from PTSD and the effects of taking upon herself a lot more of the burdens! There have been numerous psychological studies about how it is easier to do violent or morally repugnant actions with encouragement or group mentality. Rachel's trademark "Let's do it!" provides the group with that psychological release, while at the same time, increasing her own responsibility (because there's no one to tell HER let's do it)! And meanwhile, she has most of her closest friends treating her like a monster and offering very little emotional support. You are citing the effects of her victimization as some sort of evidence of moral turpitude, but it is nothing more than the cumulative effects of a three years of a child being forced to do hideously difficult things (psychologically speaking), while at the same time, taking on herself a lot of the morale burden to relieve those same stresses on her teammates. All the while, having people facetiously (Marco) or not (Jake, Ax) call her a psycho and opine that there is something wrong with her.

      As for the Bailey incident, how is that "picking a fight for the fun of it"? She had some creep come up and leering at her during a school trip and blew him off because she was preoccupied. Aside from that very dubious example, when else did she pick a fight? She screamed at David - when she thought Tobias was dead. She pinned Jessica down - when Jessica yelled at her and pushed her the day after the ant-morphing nightmare. She flaked and spent a day cutting school and flying around - after another traumatic battle & the Ellimist telling them they were doomed to lose. In a fight we didn't see, the (perhaps excessively) cautious Marco disagreed with her as to whether or not she could have won.

      And what "actions in the last few books make it clear that by that point she's given in near-completely to her darker urges"? When Ax and her mother lie to make her feel guilty about something and she breaks down and cries in her mom's arms? When instead of fighting the inevitable, she stays in human morph to tell her friends she loves them? When she apologizes to Tom as she kills him? When she forgives the Ellimist and offers him empathy and understanding?

      As for the "final deadly mission" she is afraid and doesn't want to die, but has to go through with it in order to save her friends' lives and allow them in turn to save Earth. She is as likely to have acquiesced to the suicide mission because she was coming to believe the crap everyone else was dumping on her about her supposed moral shortcomings - again, in keeping with psychological evidence and studies - that she felt she didn't deserve to live.

      Your point that under extraordinary circumstances and almost superhuman pressures and stresses, she starts to disassociate, does not in any way whatsoever invalidate or counter the fact that she was more successful than the rest. Yeah, she might have started to let things slip while fighting a war and maintaining a cover lifestyle in a manner no professional adult soldiers have been called upon to do in the history of ever, but there is no indication the others were handling it much better than she, or that their own lives were not coming unglued. Jake and Marco, in their personal lives showed more stress earlier, and acted out in much more self-destructive ways. She's got really good reasons for disassociating from her normal life, that are in no way an indication of aberrant behavior or an unhealthy personality. To the contrary, her reactions and tribulations indicate a certain degree of mental health and empathy, whereas a psycho wouldn't be feeling the effects, and a wimp would not be able to bear the suffering - Rachel suffers and endures, proving she falls into neither category.

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    5. Also, there is no evidence that any of them held it together any better, and Jake and Tobias certainly did not. Jake was in far worse condition the last few books, vacillating between indecisive funks, and overcompensating dictatorial management, as well as being abrasive to the team and mishandling personal issues. Tobias was just about the only one not flaking out, and that was because he had checked out much longer ago, and had reduced his horizons to keeping the group alive and together.

      Sorry, if I seem to be pressing this hard, but this IS the last Rachel book, and one of the last points it will be appropriate to set the record straight concerning her. Though I plan to give Ax a pageful or two concerning his wretched perspective of her in his last book...

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    6. Cannoli, calm down. No one's talking about moral turpitude here, and frankly, you're imagining an attack where none exists. This isn't an attack on Rachel, it's simply a statement that she had here own issues, which you've been so kind as to acknowledge, and that she was no more or less 'succcessful' than any of the other Animorphs. Now, to your statements.

      Regarding the other Animorphs and their opinions of Rachel, I'm inclined to think that as of #48 that was largely paranoia on Rachel's part, most likely instigated by Craka's mental meddling. Unlike a series such as Harry Potter, Animorphs gives us perspectives directly into each of the kids, so we can see what they think. And what we see is while the other Animorphs begin to worry about Rachel's ever-increasing lust of battle (which, after #32, they would have very good reason to worry about that), none of them consider her a monster. Not even Marco, who is by far her harshest critic. And especially not Cassie, who as wel all know is the omnipotent voice of morality and everything just in the world.

      Regarding Bailey, the plain facts are that a kid came up to her and tried to make conversation and she verbally eviscerated him. The text doesn't say anything about him leering or being a creep. He just comes up, says hi, blushes, and then gets mad and walks away when she returns his greeting nastily. Aside from that example (and the numerous examples of Mean Rachel, which we'll leave out for obvious reasons), I can think of no better example than the one in Megamorphs #04, which I notice you didn't address. At the point in the book where Rachel helps Marco chase Visser One, she doesn't know about the Yeerks. She doesn't particularly care for Marco. Her own narration admits as such: "Maybe I wanted to help him. But that's not what it felt like. It felt like . . . I don't know, like I liked chasing someone." (Megamorphs #04, pg. 56). And of course, the Megamorphs are also Applegate-written.

      Regarding her actions in the last few books, I was trying to avoid citing specific examples for the sake of spoilering any new readers, but I'll cite them for your convenience while being as vague about it as possible. You're not a new reader, clearly, so you can look up the examples in question: her loss of control against the Yeerk 'soldiers' and later Captain Olston from #52. You cite Ax's 'wretched perspective' but given these incidents, I'd say he's entirely in the right. Indeed, Rachel herself seems to think so, as evidenced by her last conversation with Jake.

      You clearly have a lot of investment in Rachel and vigorously defend her, but you seem to have problems with recognizing her shortcomings (as opposed to St. Cassie, who you are happy to rip into). Again, this isn't an attack on Rachel and shouldn't be construed as such. But Rachel, like all the Animorphs, has gaping character flaws, and those should be taken into consideration to get a full perspective of who she is.

      Oh, and in regards to holding it together: comparing Rachel's last books (#37, #48) to Jake's (#47, #53), it's fairly clear that Jake doesn't start to break down until the events of #49 and that's when he breaks down hard. Rachel starts disassociating earlier than that. Again, that's not an attack, but your argument that Rachel is a bastion of strength and moral justice while the other kids are all flawed and petty is shortsighted and, frankly, a little petty.

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  6. Could you explain what you mean when you say that "from a materialist perspective, her entire friendship with Cassie has to be pity-based?" I'm not really sure what you're driving at there.

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    1. If you take out emotions and personality and all the intangible stuff, Cassie doesn't measure up. Rachel has everything on paper, which is why they're always commenting on how their friendship might seem strange. Rachel is academically successful, athletic and fashionable. Cassie...likes animals. From a coldly abstract perspective, Rachel has no reason to be hanging out with this loser. The balance and complementary aspects of their personalities, and mutually supportive dynamic doesn't register on that kind of scale. That is also the sort of standard a "survival of the fittest" type like Crayak would use.

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    2. Not necessarily. Cassie has clearer personal goals (she already has a career path mapped out in veterinary medicine) and better people skills (whereas Rachel is cold and awkward whenever she has to interact with anyone outside her immediate circle of friends.)

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    3. Oh yeah, but that's like the intangible stuff. No Crayak type would put "people skills" on his list of assets.

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    4. But isn't that why he has the Drode? Manipulation and pushing people's buttons are a form of people skills.

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    5. Yeah, but he doesn't value what drives those skills - her compassion. Like Tobias was the most gung ho to fight in the beginning, but he was driven by ideals. Rachel is gung ho to fight because FIGHTING!, so they want her to give into the temptation to embrace fighting for its own sake, rather than control her impulses. If the Drode was recruited for his people skills, it was probably because he enjoyed yanking their chains and making them jump through his hoops.

      Cassie uses her powers for good (mostly) because they result from good impulses; Rachel mostly limits her fighting to justifiable causes because she has control or morals or whatever, and that's what they want to break.

      I don't know if I'm explaining this too well, but I think that if you made a list of concrete attributes, Rachel would have a longer list, whereas Cassie's are more abstract, organic and holistic. Compassion & empathy can lead to manipulation skills and healing and all that. I don't see how a love of fighting leads to scholastic aptitude, shopping or solo-athletic ability (if she was a basketball, soccer or other direct competition - sure, but not an exhibition-type sport like gymnastics; likewise if her shopping habit was actually a type of hoarding or purely acquisitive impulse). She's successful in a bunch of different ways, and she restrains her bad side in a way counter-indicated by her nature. Cassie refrains from abusing her talents, because the basis of those talents would be undermined by abusing them - such as if she manipulated people for fun or profit, or became a mad scientist on the order of Dr. Moreau, the Arn or V3's pet Frankensteins. In Crayak's eyes, turning Cassie would make her less fun, whereas turning Rachel would spit in the face of morals AND justify his mentality. Turning Cassie or Jake and watching their abilities wither because they grow from good impulses only proves that there is power and strength in those attributes he scorns, like compassion and self-sacrifice.

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    6. But, your argument is self-destructing. You say she is successful because she's athletic, academically successful, fashionable, etc., and Crayak values these over Cassie's people skills, well, that's bologna. According to you, Crayak values Rachel's successful traits that only apply and are useful in human society more than he values Cassie's manipulation traits, which are mirrored in a more negative way in the Drode. *arches eyebrow* The things you listed are useless to Crayak. "Academic success" is useless to Crayak, who has god-like understanding of physics, evolution, Time/Space, etc. He doesn't need English literature or math skills in genocide or the game. "Athletics" are useless to Crayak too. Why would he need her human body to be strong, when he can alter her to become the powerful being he makes her in this book? "Fashionable." Can you think of one reason he would want her to be pretty? Just one.
      What it boils down to is that he values her for her violence. You make it sound all heroic of her to resist turning in your comment above, well, no. He values her because she enjoys the idea of power, to cow her enemy to its knees, no matter what the cost, because to her, the ends justify the means. So joining Crayak, killing Jake, trapping David, even killing thousands of sentient beings -including herself!- is worth it. There's a such thing as a war-crime, because some lines shouldn't be crossed. THAT'S what Crayak values about her, not turning her would be a slap in the face for the Ellimist.

      Back to the original matter, the Cassie-Rachel relationship was not pity based. Cassie is a person who, despite having excellent people skills, lives in the middle of nowhere, and she also knows to deal with people, she doesn't know how to add herself into the equation, which she slowly learns how to do. Rachel is a violent adrenaline junkie, who displays several sociopathic tendencies, despite not being a sociopath. She knows how to involve herself in life, but she makes people uncomfortable with her bloodthirstiness. Without Cassie, Rachel would be that weird, feral girl, who scares people so they spread rumors about how she came to her bloodiness. Without Rachel, Cassie would be that weird girl who doesn't have any friends because she doesn't talk to people. The pair compliments the other's weak spots, Cassie draws attention away from Rachel's violence,while Rachel draws Cassie into relationships and giving her the ability to get involved. Just as Rachel, on the surface, is an mall crawling airhead, the pair is just a popular girl dragging a shy weirdo through a mall, when if you look deeper, their relationship is clearly much more. Cannoli, you are doing what you are always complaining people do, looking at the surface of Rachel and just thinking she is bloodthirsty, you are doing just that on the Cassie-Rachel situation.

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    7. I didn't say it was pity-based! I said to people who looked at external stuff, who didn't get virtue and feelings and whatnot, might THINK it was. I was not listing Rachel's attributes as things that Crayak might be interested in, I was citing them as symptoms of someone who succeeded at what she did. By turning her, they make the point that Evil=success, they get to imply that what made her succeed, was the evil inside herself. Obviously, there is some very strong quality to her personality, that makes her good in so many areas of life. Even the violence thing, given that she never abuses it, suggests a lot of self-control. More than Marco, for example, demonstrates, or Cassie with her tendency to lash out in morph. The particular things she is good at do not matter on their own, but taken together, the fact that she's good at so much, indicates a "winner" type. THAT'S an aspect that interests Crayak. Violence? Pfft. How hard is it really to find thugs? Finding a successful, controlled person, capable of using violence to great effect, without abusing it? That's something special.

      As for you, as delightful as your hideous zoological facts may be, reading comprehension is clearly your weak point. Not long ago, you completely misremembered a sequence of events in one of the books, and you have complete twisted around the meaning of my words. I never said Rachel's friendship was pity-based, only that it might appear that way to some. I also never said turning her would be a slap at the Ellimist, who is as much of a douchebag in his own special way.

      And Rachel is not remotely an "end justifies the means" type. That goes far more to Marco, Tobias, Ax and even Cassie. Tobias & Ax both identify moral issues, but blow them off willingly, even to the point of genocide. Cassie is always compromising to serve what she sees as a greater good, as Marco points out in book 28 (and the Drode notes as well elsewhere).

      "...but she makes people uncomfortable with her bloodthirstiness..." Who? Where? When? She upsets Jake and maybe Cassie (who never shows any sign of that towards Rachel that I recall, and long after Rachel's propensity for violence emerges, still admires her), and the alien.

      Rachel does like action, but that is any action, regardless of violence, and just as likely to be a hasty rescue mission or aerial stunt as an attack. Note that while she and Marco both encounter suspicious people in their first PoV book, Rachel, who is directly accosted, only scares off the possible rapist, while Marco involves himself in a fight he could have avoided. Rachel simply has a higher tolerance for the psychological effects of violence, and as a result of this, subjects herself to ordeals on behalf of her teammates, taking the psychological hit because she is the one who can bear to do it. She didn't stand the countdown watch on David because she liked it, or didn't care about what she was doing - she did it because she wanted to spare her friends the cost. Most of her "reckless acts" are compassionate, rather than attacking - she frightens away a possible sexual predator, rescues a caged hawk (at a friend's behest, and no doubt inspired by another friend), frightens (without harming) an animal abuser, rescues a child from a crocodile pit, attempts to rescue a suicidal jumper from first a fall, and then drowning, and unnecessarily smashes extra walls in an abusive zoo. She hardly ever engages in violence against living beings unless the whole group is doing it. She just gets a bad rap for being good at what they all do.

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    8. Rachel doesn't abuse violence at all? Tell that to Dealin' Dan Hawke from #03 or Josep Something from #07. Hell, tell that to Captain Olston.

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    9. It's not like she hurt either of them - she just commited vandalism and made threats based on their own abuse of animals. Not something I'd condone, in the general run of things, but she didn't harm anyone. There are lots of movies etc where kids do worse in the name of animal rights or the environment, that are not considered violent. Her actions aren't nearly as bad as throwing paint on fur-wearers or spiking timber.

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    10. I'm super, duper late to the game but just have to jump in, in case I'm not the only one still reading these reviews.

      You can't argue that Rachel is a compassionate person at the beginning of the series and then say that she and Cassie have nothing in common. You shot your own argument in the foot. Just because you don't like Cassie (and I get why, for sure) you cannot say that she's not compassionate, especially at the beginning of the series or pre-series. If you argue that Rachel is the most compassionate Animorph then it makes perfect sense why she and Cassie are friends. Soooo there you go.

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  7. I loved the David trilogy, and this book really let me down. The way they left him stranded, as a rat, was one of the darkest scenes in the series. He represented their regret, the innocence they lost, and the worse side of humanity.
    I like to pretend this book was never written. I read it once, and will never read it again.

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  8. "the entire FAT of the planet"??

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    1. When choosing a planet, it's important to look for one not containing hydrogenated oils.

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    2. It's also important to never choose a pulsar or a magnetar. Just sayin', ya wouldn't want all of your atoms to be vaporized by getting too close to a magnetar would you? Look up on youtube " how the universe works magnetar" Science!

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  9. I always wanted to write a fanfic where Crayak resurrected Rachel, turned her into Super Rachel, gave her an army of robots or whatever, wiped her memories, and set her out to destroy the galaxy. She then shows up at the end of the final book, and manages to regain her memories in typical plothax fashion, and become living Rachel again. Mostly so she could get with Tobias, because I felt sorry for him.

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  10. Hey, by the way, Lisa Hardraker wasn't supposed to be credited with this one. It was supposed to be Kimberly Morris. Lisa Hardraker is awesome.

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  11. When Ifi recovers from her flu, steal her copy of this book and claim that she hallucinated the entire plot.

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  12. This book was crayak experimenting with the more WH40K style of uncontrollable evil beyond reality. Instead of being all mysterious and pragmatic, he takes the more direct route of taking bloodthirsty and strong soldiers, corrupting them, and giving them insane power, so they will overtake planets and stuff. Cause when your an eldritch abomination, you gotta keep things fresh and change thing up once in a while.

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  13. Honestly loved the art for Sue!Rachel though if I had god like powers I'd porbably just find a way to summon Akuma instead. That or become Akuma or Megatron.

    @King Rock IV

    Wouldn't it be safer to steal it while she is still sick so that fact you broke in and stole from her could also be hand waved as a hallucination?

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  14. This book drove me mad as a kid. I couldn't accept not knowing whether she killed David or not. (she totes did btw)

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  15. Uh, she's not "Sue!Rachel". Power does not mean "Mary Sue". Mary Sue has a more specific meaning, a character who has everything the author thinks is cool, gets whatever they want, and the entire universe basically revolves around them.

    "Tasting the unhallowed power she could command by giving in to the the darkness that's nibbled at the edges of her brain since the beginning of the series!Rachel" is not at all comparable to being a Mary Sue.

    I liked this book. You kinda have to play along with what it's trying to do, though, and you guys didn't seem all that interested in doing it.

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    1. (This is also directed at Jonel, but I can't reply to both posts)

      Hey, I called her Sueified Rachel too. She's completely God Mode. She can't beat Visser Three in a fair fight, so she starts warping reality so she comes out on top. Even if we give the author the benefit of the doubt and say "well the point is that she can do whatever she wants because Crayak" it's still bad writing.

      I think like 75% of the reason we were so tough on this book was because the writing was so awful (The other 25% is because we are jerks). The author couldn't even write a proper scene transition. We totally appreciated what she was trying to do, the Crayak/Rachel thing had tons of potential. But the author didn't rise to meet the challenge.

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    2. I don't think that's entirely accurate. It's pretty clear from the depiction of the fight, at least in my reading of it, that the Visser Three Rachel is fighting is yet another Crayak illusion. At one point he morphs almost directly from one morph to another, and generally morphs at a pace consistent with Super Rachel's reality warping abilities. That's not a pace the real Visser Three could match, I think.

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    3. Adam and I assumed it was real, but since you mention it, it's possible that it wasn't. That would alter our review some, I think. But since the author didn't tell us, we can't know if it's just sloppy writing or deliberate hints. Given the tone of the rest of the book, I am more inclined to go with sloppy writing, but I'm a cynic.

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    4. In my first readthrough, as a kid, I thought the fight was real. Re-reading it again as an adult, my inclination is to think that not just the fight, but most of the events that occur after Crayak shows up, are illusions. After Rachel rips off the Drode's head Crayak teases her by offering to let her decapitate the Drode "for real" implying it was just an illusionary Drode she attacked. Similarly, his line about masters of illusion and hasty reassurances that he's a 'manipulator of the concrete' felt to me like a hint in the other direction. Of course, you're right about the writing quality itself, but I always figured it was Kimberly Morris's way of deliberately trying to create a disjointed and almost dreamlike quality to this book. None of the other books on her resume (The Arrival, along with two upcoming books) are written with this style, which makes me inclined to think it was deliberate.

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  16. @Huitzil

    They called it more over powered than the run of the mill Mary Sue so I ran with that and called her Sue!Rachel. Also while missing the influence on other people part the power does kind of go into God Mod Sue territory. Maybe not the perfect use and as someone that runs a blog for riffing on fanfiction I should have been more creative.

    Also I think this book just strained the suspension of disbelief even for Animorphs fans and that is why it isn't that well liked.

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    1. Actually not me. It will take alot to do that to me. I am almost as good as Crayak in the confusing reality department. The holigram within a holigram within a holigram thing in 21 the threat is like 2+2.

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  17. Let me begin by saying I'm one of those lurking readers who's followed your blog silently ever since the beginning. I've never commented, but I've usually enjoyed your reviews, finding them an engaging alternative to the rarely-updated poparena reviews. I've enjoyed the comments at least as much, particularly once your blog got more well known and more people started commenting. I think what you're doing here is awesome, and I'm still looking forward to reading the last few round of reviews you have ahead of you.

    But with all that said... I think you've really dropped the ball on the last few reviews, and this one is a huge disappointment.

    The Return has always been in my top five favorite Animorphs books, and it remains one of the most memorable ever. The eerie, dreamlike quality with which it was written I found to be memorable and very unique among the Animorphs series . I didn't find Rachel's characterization out of sorts at all and I think it's frankly incorrect to say so. In general Rachel is a lionized character among the fandom, which makes sense given that she's the martyred Animorph, but the fact is that that hyper-aggressive, challenging Rachel we see in the first few chapters is a direct callback to Mean Rachel from The Separation (which was written by Applegate, before any ghostwritten excuses come up). Now, if Rachel had challenged Jake like she did in real life, maybe that would have been an eyebrow raiser. But as it was a dream, and The Separation showed us that side of Rachel undisuptably exists, I didn't find it out of character at all.

    I do think that trying to mash together the Crayak/Drode plot and David's return was a mistake and that these two plots should have been handled in different books, but given what she had to work with I think Kimberly Morris did a pretty good job making the plot work. The book's trippy, and unreal, and if it involved the Yeerks at all it'd be ridiculous. But given it involved Crayak, a being known from The Capture onward for mind games of the singularly unpleasant sort, it always felt to me like Crayak's actions here were perfectly in character. I admit, I did laugh at the Bulk and Skull comparison (growing up on Power Rangers, I can't believe I missed that) but that alone wasn't enough to redeem this review.

    In particular what stood out for me while reading this was how much it contrasted with the praise you heaped on the Ellimist Chronicles last week. I found the Ellimist Chronicles to be a middling book on the first read and largely full of disappointments and missed opportunities. The brief mention of the Pemalites, the completely absence of any explanation for the Time Matrix, and Crayak's characterization as just absolute irredeemable evil all make the Ellimist Chronicles one of the more disappointing books in that line. So to see the praise you heaped on it contrasted with the way you ripped this book a new one was really kind of jarring.

    I didn't think the reviews for The Resistance and The Revelation were all that on the mark either, but I do enjoy your reviews on the whole and I don't want to ruin that by dissecting them all into itty bitty chunks. And besides, I think I got a little long-winded here already. ;)

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    1. *shrug* We're all different people, and it's to be expected that no everyone will have the same interpretation of each book. Ifi and I don't always agree on which books we like or dislike, and that applies to everyone else (as can be witnessed by skimming around the comment section.) I hope that just because we might have a different take on a book than you doesn't get in the way of your potential enjoyment of the reviews.

      That said, welcome aboard.

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    2. No worries, I've been reading your reviews for ages and while I find myself agreeing with them more often than not, the ones I don't agree with don't get in the way of my enjoying them as a whole. I do wish Ifi would write a proper summary, I think the book deserves that much at least (as opposed to The Hidden, which deserves every inch of the thrashing it got and more), but again, that's just one person's opinion.

      Also, mildly unrelated, but since I have you - did you really think the ghostwriter writing The Resistance was insulting fandom with her depiction of the crazy campers? I never got that vibe, either in the first read or the re-read. The first read I didn't think about them too much, while the second read made me think more of LARPers gone overboard than any kind of serious fandom (or non-serious, as the case may be). But I don't think, whatever they were based off of, they were meant to be insulting to anyone.

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    3. She had the flu at the time we were writing this, so I'm willing to let that sort of thing slide every once in a while.

      And no, I don't think the ghostwriter was intentionally trying to be insulting to the fanbase with the campers. But it absolutely was insulting, regardless of the initial intent. The problem with it is that it gives the impression that that people who are particularly serious about a fandom are somehow unable to distinguish fantasy from reality, when in real life this is clearly not the case. And I know several LARPers, they're all really nice people who just have a particularly elaborate game that they happen to fancy. But that's all it is, a game, and there is no reason they would be unaware of that.

      But yes, the problem wasn't that it was an intended insult, the problem was that it bases characters off of wrongful, preconceived stereotypes.

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    4. Yeah I was coughing my organs up, consider yourselves lucky (or unlucky) that I was alive enough to post this thing at all.

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  18. Maybe it's just that differences thing again. I'm serious about more than one fandom and I never got a sense of being insulted from the depiction of the campers. Rather, my understanding was that the ghostwritter was trying to evoke a sense of contrast between the war-hardened Animorphs and a group of civilians that had never known war. Remember this was written in the late nineties, in a period where a generation had grown up almost completely innocent of war, before 9/11 hit. Admittedly, the depiction of the personalities in question was heavy-handed, but they seemed more absurdly comic (a bit like Bulk and Skull from this book) rather than stereotyping all fans as crazies who can't differentiate fantasy from reality. That's my take, anyway.

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    1. Whoops, looks like this got posted here instead of the comment thread by mistake. Sorry about that, Adam.

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  19. This book was very hard to follow, and very difficult to know what's "real" or not. And parts of make very little sense.
    That said, it contains what, to me, is one of the 3-4 most powerful scenes in the entire series, and I was a bit disappointed you guys didn't touch on it more.
    ---
    This is the David-Rachel book. The Crayak plot is a bit random and absurd, but the David-Rachel parts shined, and the final scene between the two is (again, my opinion) the darkest in the entire series.
    You have David utterly losing control of himself to his worst enemy. He comes across as a kid who's finally realized the consequences of his life are all a result of his own decisions, and he can't live with the knowledge. He's even lost his delusions of grandeur at this point, and you actually feel sorry for him because of that. He even admits that he cannot be allowed to roam free because he can't change who he is.
    And you have Rachel, who is supposed to be the hardest of them all, and the one whose character would seemingly be the least affected by what's happening. And many ghostwriters (as we've seen) can't handle writing Rachel.
    Well, the last few pages of this book nailed it. Here she is, with her worst enemy at her mercy, literally begging for death, and she doesn't know if she can do it. And, as David shows his vulnerability to his worst enemy, so does this battle-hardened Rachel, breaking down in front of David. In this way, it is David who gets a truer glimpse into Rachel's character, moreso than any other character (except perhaps Cassie/Tobias off-screen). That's telling.
    This scene paints the consequences of two kids wholly unprepared to handle what war has forced them into. It's a testament to the strength of the writing (and the characters built by KAA) that in this moment, you feel badly both for David, who you suddenly wish was boasting about Rat empires again, and Rachel, who is faced with a decision that in black and white terms is so simple, yet has no real answer as to what the right thing to do is.
    Having caught up, I'm re-reading at the same rate as you guys now, and I haven't read the final 10 books in 10 years. But, for my money, this is the singular most powerful scene in the entire series to this point (and possibly beyond, we'll see).

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    1. This was really good - one of the best reactions, IMO, to the book, with which I agree the most.

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  20. (Tried posting this several days ago from a different computer, but it didn't show up for some reason, so here goes again.)

    I laughed so hard I cried at several points during this review.
    Thanks, guys, I needed that.

    And, well, I guess I feel like someone needs to stick up for this book
    and poor Kimberly Morris, so:

    I actually liked this book. But then again, I also liked #41. I dunno,
    I guess I don't mind a surrealist, nonsensical plot if it puts the
    characters in situations that (I think) are interesting for their
    character development. And I love unresolved cliffhanger endings where
    it's basically up to you to decide what decision the character made.

    Kimberly Morris, if by some off-chance, you are reading this, you're
    okay in my book.

    The bold text was word-for-word what Jake said to Rachel after she
    stuck a fork in David's ear and threatened his family. I dunno if it's
    a flashback or what, I just figured those words always haunted her.

    Also, I can't help noticing that whenever people are frustrated with Rachel's actions/portrayal, they go "agh, stupid ghostwriter!" but whenever it's Cassie, they say, "agh, stupid Cassie!" Bit of a double standard, isn't it?

    Anyway, loved the review. I really needed something to make me laugh today. Thanks Adam and Ifi! You guys are awesome.

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    1. Well, there's Cassie's portrayal by KAA, and her actions, rather than her thoughts that aggravate people. Cassie gets handled rather well by the ghostwriters, and as far as big actions are concerned, KAA probably approved that. No one is saying "Why did this ghostwriter make Rachel psycho?" They are saying "Why did this GW make Rachel into a classical drama-citing megalomaniac obsessed with her own rise and fall?" Nobody is blaming her reign of terror or cheating on the squid draw or actions when David or the Helmacrons return on the GW. By the same token, no one is complaining about how Cassie expresses herself or views herself. Instead, they complain about her selling out the team or taking incredibly imprudent actions in order to service her personal squeamishness. Cassie's worst actions were under the pen of KAA - like betraying the group to Aftran.

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    2. I thought the Cassie in #34 especially was overly-Cassie-ish, like someone took a bunch of Cassie's most notable character traits and exaggerated them to ridiculous proportions. This is exactly what people complain the ghostwriters do to Rachel. People do complain about Rachel's actions under the ghostwriter's pen, not just her thoughts (#37 in particular comes to mind). Likewise, people complain about Cassie's thoughts and inner dialogue, not just her actions.

      And I do not think wanting to save Karen in book #19 equals trying to teach the buffahuman English in book #34. One action is very understandable, and (while letting Aftran into her head was still very stupid) you could argue that it wasn't completely illogical. Cassie's very good at reading people and because of the whole weird, sub-temporally-grounded thing, she has very, very good intuition. My head cannon is that at some subconscious level, she knew she was doing the right thing by trusting Aftran. But the buffahuman thing was just stupid.

      And don't forget that it was also under KAA's pen that Rachel jabbed a fork into David's ear while threatening his family. And KAA wrote number 32, so Mean Rachel (who IS a classical drama-citing megalomaniac obsessed with her own rise and fall) is indisputably her own invention. So I don't think it's fair to say that ghostwritten Rachel is just poorly written, when she compares to what we saw under KAA's pen, at least as much as ghostwritten Cassie compares to KAA-written Cassie.

      My personal opinion is that everything we see in the ghostwritten era is more or less accurate. I believe KAA when she says she gave the ghosts detailed outlines, read the manuscripts, and fixed anything she didn't like. So even though I don't always like them, I accept all of Cassie's actions and thoughts and inner dialouge during the ghost era as being pretty true to character. And by the same token, I accept all of Rachel's thoughts and actions and inner dialogue as being pretty true to character. Yes, of course there are differences between the ghostwritten characters and the ones from the beginning of the series, but that's to be expected. The war is having a huge impact on these kids.

      I just think it's a double standard to say one girl was mishandled by ghostwriters because you don't like the way her thoughts/actions were written, but then say another character is an awful person because you don't like the way her thoughts/actions were written.

      Anywho, you obviously disagree, and that's okay. It's just a book series. As much as I like over-analyzing this stuff (because I am a nerd), I don't really want to get into another gigantic Rachel vs. Cassie discussion with you. Sorry, I know that makes me a terrible archnemesis, but I have too many other things to do, and I don't want to clog up Adam and Ifi's blog.

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  21. I have a question about the one with the sexy cyborg assassin, but i posted it here because its an old entry. Rachel is all scared that Tobias is going to die in 18 years.. but doesn't morphing reset that animal back to when you acquired it? Like, it was a problem before Ellimist dude did his thing, but now..?

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  22. Ryan, the hawk is his base form now. The kids are presumably still growing and aging in their human forms, so why would Tobias not be aging in his normal hawk form? Sure, the morphs reset, but those are the forms where you can't aquire other animals, or be aquired. Tobias aquires animals in hawk form, and in the next book, someone aquires his hawk form. Thus, we see the hawk body is like the human bodies in other ways, so why not aging? The other side of that coin is the notion that his human morph is staying 13 years old, so that at the end of his lifespan, when his friends are adults in the prime of his life, he would be switching from a decrepit old bird to a 13 year old boy. That's going to make dating a woman in her late 20s awkward, to say the least.

    And think about the rather horrific ramifications if your idea is right - that means the kids are not aging either! They are all 13 for life, or unless they stop morphing. And as for the proof of the hawk-age issue, in the future Jake wakes up in, he meets Tobias who's an Andalite nothlit. Tobias says he became an Andalite permanently, because his hawk body was getting too old. Yet, Jake & Cassie are not elderly, so this is not taking place that far in the future. Not only that, Tobias did it long enough ago for his juvenile Andalite form to reach maturity, to grow up enough that Jake did not recognize him as Ax. Of course, that future didn't make sense, so there is no proof it would happen that way, but it illustrates what Rachel was afraid of happening (and what she wanted him to do, only choosing human instead of Andalite).

    I prefer to think that the Ellimist made an exception and that Tobias' human form is aging with the rest of his peers, otherwise someone would have commented on it by now. But it doesn't help that on his last three covers, he looks to be about six.

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  23. I just found this website today, and I've been reading and laughing my head off and just generally smiling like an idiot, and refraining from actually commenting since I'm a few months late to the game, but for this one, I have to put my thoughts on record.
    THIS IS MY FAVORITE ANIMORPH BOOK.
    I'm serious.
    It's a masterpiece.
    It's part Conrad's Heart of Darkness, part Goethe's Faust, and part Poe's Tell-Tale Heart.
    It is a thing of Gothic, nightmarish beauty.
    "It makes no sense going in, it's not clear what's real and what's not..."
    CORRECT.
    Because...
    This whole book is Rachel's nightmare. That's how I think of the book: Rachel's Nightmare. That is its title in my head. Metaphorically for the most part, literally in the beginning. Everything that scares her most is all shoved in her face at once. The best part is that only one thing really scares Rachel, and that's herself. Her own inner darkness. The blood-crazed rage machine that she desperately, barely holds down. David brings out the worst in her. Crayak offers her the possibility that her worst is actually her BEST. Mephistopheles talking to Kurtz.
    Now, I say its my favorite, but that doesn't mean I think it's the best. That's probably nineteen or twenty-six. It just happens to appeal to all my personal sensibilities at once. My favorite character, facing all my favorite literary themes... Yes. Beautiful. Gripping. Horrifying.
    To me.

    -N-

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  24. The bold comments are from Jake's "you have something dark in you" conversation with Rachel in book 22.

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  25. My personal headcanon: This whole book was one of Marco's acid trips.

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  26. I hated this book. I hated that we didn't know for sure what was real and what wasn't. I feel we're owed a different last book for Rachel! Did she kill David or did she leave him to live out the rest of his life as a rat?
    "I'm one of the good guys." That's one of the only lines I remember from this one. Yet people argue she lost it and crap like that. But how many times did she turn her back to the Drode and Crayak? How many times did she fight alongside her fellow Animorphs, suffer just the same? Just in the previous book she was seen protecting Ket and Jara's new baby. She is a hero and I hate that there are those who doubt her.

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