Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book 49: The Diversion


The Summary
The Yeerks are gathering up blood samples because they have accepted that the Andalite Bandits are probably humans. When the Animorphs go to check out the blood-gathering operation, Tobias finds the address of his mother, Loren. Loren is blind, and has no memory of her son.

Meanwhile, the other Animorphs realize that it is time to get their families to safety. Cassie's parents and Rachel's mother and sisters are relocated to the Hork-Bajir valley, but they are too late to save Jake's parents, who are already Controllers.

Tobias talks to Loren and lets her use the morphing cube to become a hawk. This restores her eyesight, but not her memories. She moves into the Hork-Bajir valley as well, and Tobias debates whether or not to tell her the truth about Elfangor.

The Review
Adam: Cover!
Adam: Is good cover
Adam: I like colors
Adam: And transition is rather smooth
Adam: And he looks like a sort of dog-griffin in the middle.
Adam: Yes
Adam: That is what I have to say about that.

Ifi: It's a good book, too.
Adam: Ah
Adam: So many Andalite Chronicles feels.
Ifi: The plot is good, and the writing is great.
Ifi: I feel like it's been so long since we had actual good writing
Ifi: in a main series book
Adam: Nah, 46 and 45 were both well written.
Adam: But yes, this was a pleasant surprise.

Ifi: So we open up with Rachel feeding Tobias hamburgers, it's pretty odd
Adam: Aw, it's cute.
Adam: There are only so many ways you can go on a date with a bird, anyway.
Ifi: Also someone broke in to Cassie's mom's lab last night.
Ifi: Whoever they were, they were clearly morons, because they didn't take a single drug.

"[...]They wanted blood samples, specific blood samples. Tiger. Elephant. Eagle. Rhino and grizzly. Gorilla and wolf."

Rachel stared at her. "Our battle morphs."

"Right." Cassie nodded. "They showed no interest in the warthogs or baboons. One of Mom's lab techs stumbled in on them. They really roughed him up, especially—" She glanced at me. "Especially when he told them The Gardens didn't have a red-tailed hawk."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Is this a cloning episode?
Ifi: Better not be a cloning episode.
Adam: Have no fear, it is not.
Adam: It is a "the Yeerks finally have a good idea" book.

"I think Ax is right," he said. "They're after something bigger. Tom brought home a flyer yesterday. The Sharing is sponsoring a huge blood drive."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: They did this plot in Sailor Moon, except it was hair instead of blood.
Adam: Because wearing a slightly different school uniform was just too clever of a disguise, I guess?




Adam: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Ifi: WHO IS THAT RANDOM GIRL?
Adam: Beats me

Adam: So, after far, far too big a timeframe, the Esplin's division have finally realized that the Andalite bandits are not, in fact, Andalites.
Ifi: I sort of want to know what specific incident led to this.
Adam: Seriously!
Adam: Visser One is not exactly the kind of guy who changes his mind easily.
Adam: I mean, before this you probably have two thirds of his staff already aware of it, but just too afraid to bring it up at the meetings.

Ifi: The Animorphs freak out, trying to remember if they've donated blood recently.
Ifi: At this point, they're assuming the Yeerks have some way to detect morph-capable blood

"Not a problem," said Marco. "We hack into the computer system of every blood bank, hospital, and clinic on the planet. The one we can't get into, the one with the extraterrestrial firewall, that'll be the Yeerks."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Good job Marco
Adam: Fortunately, this massively time consuming plan pans out in the span of about 15 minutes.
Ifi: Yeah, they get inside super easily

<Hey.> I stared at Marco. <You got a new morphing outfit.>

"What, you just noticed?" He tugged at his bike shorts and tight blue T-shirt.

I leaned over and plucked up a beakful of T-shirt. <Does this remind you of anything?>

"Yeah." He pulled his shirt from my mouth. "It reminds me why I never wanted a pet bird."

<No,> I said. <The color.>

Ax nodded. <It is the color of the Blue Band Hork-Bajir.>

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: This turns out to be one of the best plans they've ever had ever
Adam: Thank Jesus-Whale the Yeerks don't use ID cards or anything.
Adam: It's not like when face off against an enemy capable of shapeshifting that you would need really strict security measures or anything.

The guard hesitated. His gaze flickered toward Jake's armband. Then he aimed the Dracon at Jake's chest. "Where is pass?"

Hey, nobody ever accused a Hork-Bajir of being eloquent.

"Pass?" Jake turned toward us. He jerked his thumb at the guard. "He wants pass! HA-HAHA-HA!"

Cassie and Marco laughed. "HA-HA!"

"HA-HA!" I clapped Ax on the shoulder. "HAHA-HA!"

Ax frowned. "Ha," he said.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Well it's not like Hork-Bajir have pockets, I expect this happens a lot.
Adam: The old Visser One had her top agents wear uniforms.
Adam: Probably to prevent this exact thing from happening.
Ifi: If you lose your ID card, you get a fine because they have to change ALL the locks
Adam: And can't they also use the gleet biofilter to scan everyone to make sure they have a Yeerk in their head?
Ifi: Maybe the interns heard the series was ending and decided to box them up early to save time.
Adam: Yeah, I can accept that.

Ax shook his head. <This is very strange. It indicates a human who has significant family ties with one of the Andalite bandits.> He leaned toward the screen. <But the computer has not yet uncovered the identity of this Andalite bandit.>

<Oh man, Jake.> Cassie closed her eyes. <We overlooked something. Something huge. Our blood is all over the place. Every time we fight these creeps, we bleed. Traces of our human DNA is floating around in all that animal blood. All they have to do is scoop it up and wait for a match.>

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Your morphed blood really shouldn't have your original DNA in it, but whatever, we don't really know enough about how morphing works for me to conclusively disprove this
Adam: I recall reading that their DNA does exist in the animal blood in the form of tiny z-space capsules.
Adam: See, this is why we need more Ax-technobabble.

Marco leaned over Ax's shoulder. <Uhh Tobias?> He looked up at me. <You may want to see this.>

I crossed to the computer. Ax moved aside so I could see the screen. And the name.

Loren.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Anyone craving a Big Mac?
Adam: SO MANY FEELS
Ifi: I personally could go for some liquidized grass.
Adam: And then we could remove our artificial hooves and go for a stroll.

Ifi: Then there is this random old lady Controller who shows up throughout the book.
Ifi: idk what the deal with her is, maybe she's in charge of the project
Adam: Nobody cares about her. Loren's back.
Ifi: It turns out that Loren was living only a few blocks away from Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia this whole time, which Tobias understandably takes pretty hard.
Adam: Tobias was previously under the impression that she was a secret agent with x-ray vision who was currently fighting the Nazis for the fate of the Earth's core or something.
Ifi: Whatever that's what my real mom is doing right now too
Adam: Ah, okay

Ifi: Also the Animorphs
Ifi: finally
Ifi: finally finally FINALLY
Ifi: decide that it's time for Operation: Tell Parents Everything



Ifi: (Though at this point, it's only Cassie, Jake, and Rachel's families that need to be told)

Ifi: But first, Tobias stalks Mom
Ifi: All the way to some terrible scary neighborhood

I listened. No other footsteps. Just one careful woman and a decent-sized dog.

A chain jangled, and the front door swung open. The woman stepped onto the porch with the dog. A German shepherd, wearing some kind of harness with a big, rigid handle. Like a guide dog.

Guide dog? I stared at her. She fumbled with her keys, then turned and felt along the edge of the door. She slid the key into the lock and turned it, using her fingers as a guide. She never looked down.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Loren is blind for some reason



Adam: Toomin took the most dickish route of giving her amnesia possible.
Adam: Also, Loren is apparently some kind of saint, which makes her not having visited Tobias even more confusing for him.
Ifi: Tobias leaves in a huff

"We got the circus in trouble," Rachel said. "Channel 6 reported a rogue elephant escaped from the Civic Center, ripped up a blood bank, and damaged a gas main that later exploded, wiping out an alley and torching an abandoned warehouse."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: How is this even news at this point?
Ifi: I find it easier to believe that the anchors announced, "Okay folks, to save on time from now on, we're just going to let you know the days when random exotic animals DON'T terrorize the town."
Adam: The only reason people still live in Generictown, CA is because the housing is so cheap.
Ifi: On the plus side, it must be great to be a kid there.
Ifi: You get to see awesome shit up close like every day
Adam: Of course, people are constantly trying to induct you into an alien run cult.
Adam: But hey, can't make an omelet, I guess.
Ifi: It's true, I can't. I try to flip it and always mess it up.
Adam: ...
Adam: Moving on.

Adam: They go and tell Cassie's parents.

Inside the hologram, I flew across the yard and landed next to her coffee cup. She didn't look up.

Clink-clink. I tapped my beak on the cup.

She peered over the top of her paper. "My. Aren't you a friendly hawk."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Hi Mrs. Cassie's Mom
Ifi: I'm gonna look up your name
Adam: Her name is "Cassie's Mom"
Adam: Her parents were very presumptuous about grandkids.
Ifi: Michelle
Ifi: Michelle you are a nice lady

"Something's wrong with that bird! Get back, Cassie."

Before I could stumble away, she threw the sports section over me, wrapped me up, and scooped me under her arm.

"There's nothing wrong with him, Mom," Cassie said. Okay, now there was slight panic in her tone. "Put him down."

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Fingers shot from the ends of my wings.

"Good heavens." Cassie's mom stared at the human hands hanging out beneath the newspaper wrapping. "Cassie, get your father. Tell him to meet me in the barn. In the operating room. Stay back, all of you. It could be contagious."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Adam: I knew we had to take precautions about that avian bird flu.
Ifi: How did you graduate med school, woman.
Adam: Then Ax shows up.

She narrowed her eyes. "You were a hawk. I can't believe I'm saying this, but a few minutes ago you were a hawk."

I nodded.

She looked at Ax. "And he…?"

"Is an Andalite," Cassie said softly. "His name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-lsthill. We call him Ax. He's our friend."

Ax stepped forward and bowed.

<It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Cassie's Mother.>

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Oh
Ifi: I guess you were right
Adam: See? I do not lie about these things.
Ifi: Michelle molests him some and then Mr. King shows them some gruesome holograms and the parents agree to leave for Hork-Bajirland
Adam: And now Ax needs therapy.

Ifi: Then they hit Rachel's house

Little girl giggles erupted from the living room.

<I have already made sure, Prince Jake. They think I am a "pokey man." I have told them I am an Andalite and am actually quite swift, but they insist they need to train me.>

Ax clopped into the kitchen with Sara on his back. Jordan paced along behind.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Oh God
Ifi: This is just
Ifi: I can't handle the precious
Adam: See! I knew it!
Adam: Andalites are pokemon!
Adam: Let's see...
Adam: Normal/Psychic type, perhaps?
Ifi: Maybe ground?
Adam: Possibly.
Ifi: Grass?
Ifi: Hmmmm
Adam: Nay
Adam: Moveset is Stomp, Slash, Transform and… I dunno, Telekinesis?
Ifi: Boast
Adam: That ain't no pokemon move
Adam: What craziness do you speak of?
Ifi: Andalite uses Boast. It's super effective! Yeerk has departed in exasperation.
Ifi: I'm thinking outside the box, leave me alone

"My babies! Leave them alone!" Rachel's mom reached behind her and ripped a spice rack from the wall. And lunged at Rachel.

Yes, lunged at a grizzly bear. With a spice rack.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Look it's genetic
Adam: They don't really succeed at getting her calmed down, so they basically just pick her up and go.

<Oh, right, Mom.> Rachel held her mother back with one paw. <You're really gonna do some damage with the bay leaves?>

"Rachel? I hear you!" Her mother collapsed against the bear. Pressed her ear against Rachel's grizzly belly. "Are you in there? My God, this creature ate you alive."

<Oh, brother.> Rachel rolled her squinty bear eyes. <Mom, listen to me. I'm not in the bear. I am the bear. Get a grip. You have to drive.> She heaved her mother over her shoulder. <Jordan, grab Mom's purse.>

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Why are all the parents complete morons in these scenes?
Ifi: I mean I understand this is stressful
Adam: It is a law of literature that anyone outside the age range of the main characters is an idiot by default.

Ifi: So next we hit Jake's house
Ifi: What are the chances that we get all three families to safety?

"They'll be home." Jake dribbled back up the drive, toward the basketball hoop mounted above the garage door. "It'll take my dad a while to decide on a lawn mower."
<Lawn mower,> I repeated.

"Yeah."

<With Tom.>

"Yeah."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: None.
Ifi: This is Animorphs, after all

<Okay, think about this a minute. Tom is a fairly high-ranking Controller. By now he knows about the blood bank break-in. About a partial human DNA match. But he's spending the morning shopping for a lawn mower. Does that strike you as odd?>

"No." Jake faked left, broke right, charged the basket. "Lawn mowers are on sale. They went to look at them. Perfectly normal." He shot. "A family looking at lawn mowers."

Swish! Through the net.

Jake loped toward the garage and grabbed the rebound. "Nothing odd about it."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Adam: Oops, they're already Controllers.
Ifi: Now you're just playing dumb, Jake


Adam: For some reason, this does not immediately send Jake into a spiral of self destructive impulses like it always does.
Adam: So that's progress, I guess?

"I can't leave, Tobias! They're my family."

<Prince Jake, remember. Tactical retreat. Save the army. Live to fight another day.>

"No! There won't be another day. If we don't get them out now, we may not get another chance."

Jake dropped the basketball. Orange-and-black stripes erupted from his skin. Tiger fur.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: He does sort of flip out, though
Ifi: And really, he's never the same after this.
Adam: True.
Adam: I guess it isn't as apparent as it was in book 31 since he isn't the viewpoint character.

Jake's mom leaned from the car. She turned.

Aimed.

I swept toward the sky. I could see Tom through the rear window. He reached over the backseat. Slapped the Dracon beam from his mother's hand. It bounced across the pavement.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Hey! Was that real!Tom right there?
Adam: I would assume so.
Ifi: Four for you, Tom Berenson.
Ifi: You go Tom Berenson.
Adam: I have no idea what you are saying.
Ifi: Here's Jake freaking out some:

<We will return, Prince Jake. When the time is right, we will get them out.>

Jake dove. Hurtled toward Earth at two hundred miles an hour. Toward the parking lot below. He pulled up seconds before his beak hit pavement, skimmed along the asphalt, and climbed again.

Jake, our fearless leader. On a crazed kamikaze mission.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Don't worry, he's fine.
Ifi: He just has to express himself somehow
Adam: It's times like these that he really ought to take up a hobby or something

Ifi: Tobias goes to stalk Loren some more, which is really the whole point of this book.
Ifi: Ax and Marco show up, because, honestly, where else would Tobias be?
Ifi: They're gonna rescue Loren, yay!
Adam: They all told him not too, since it's obviously a trap, but nobody expected him to listen.

Adam: Tobias acquires Loren's seeing eye dog in the most horrible method possible.
Ifi: They follow her into a 7-11
Ifi: And thus begins the greatest Ax scene
Ifi: In the entire series
Adam: Behold the magic:

Ax sidled up to [the clerk]. "Do not worry," he said. "We are irresponsible teenage hoodlums, possibly gang members, but you are not in any danger."

The guy gave Ax a blank stare.

"His gang's from out of town," I explained.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Anyway, Tobias and Marco totally bully Loren for absolutely no reason.
Ifi: Loren is completely unimpressed, even though they are being legitimately horrible
Adam: This is clearly the best way to make a good impression on your long-lost mother.
Adam: Poor lady.
Adam: One gets the impression that she has to put up with this nonsense on a regular basis.

"Ah." Ax nodded. "She does not understand how menacing we are." He tapped her on the shoulder. "You do not know me," he said, "but I am a juvenile delinquent. I do not trust authority figures, I probably will not graduate from high school, and statistics say my present rowdiness and vandalism will likely lead to more serious crimes. I am a dangerous fellow, and I am causing mayhem in this store."

He reached behind her and pulled three jars of baby food from the top shelf. Shoved them behind a box of macaroni. Shuffled the Cheez Whiz in front of the Marshmallow Fluff. Tossed a bag of lady's shavers onto a bag of hamburger buns.

"There. I have now shamelessly destroyed the symmetry of this shelf, undoing hours of labor by underpaid store employees. If you could see me, you would be frightened."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Ax come here and let me hold you.
Adam: Should I leave you two alone?

Ifi: Loren is busy pretending that she doesn't exist for all of this.

"If she could see you, she'd have you committed," Marco muttered. He grabbed the handle of Champ's halter and jerked it from Loren's hand. "Listen, lady, we're gonna borrow your dog."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Loren: Go for it. I don't exist.
Adam: From then on, they went and threw rocks at orphans, and blew spitbubbles at lost puppies.
Ifi: Anyway, they swap out Champ for morphed Tobias.
Ifi: The woman is blind I really feel like there must have been an easier way to do this.
Adam: They couldn't have just flown in through the window as flies or something when she was home?
Adam: There really was no need to torture the poor woman

"How are we going to keep him quiet?" Marco hissed. "He's a smart dog. He'll be on a mission to get back to his master. We can't keep acquiring him over and over."

Ax slid a box from behind his back. "I am truly a juvenile delinquent. I shoplifted these from your mother's basket, Tobias. I apologize."

Dog biscuits!

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Oh Ax, what has Earth done to you?
Adam: He is truly ruined for all the other Andalites now.

Ifi: Tobias goes through all Loren’s stuff and finally finds a letter

Enclosed please find final payment for injuries suffered in an automobile accident on June 12.

We acknowledge that you have suffered brain damage and loss of vision; however, these conditions are permanent and irreversible. Further medical attention is not authorized. Your claims of total amnesia cannot be proven, and reconstructive surgery is not covered under your group policy.

The enclosed sum terminates our liability in this incident.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Wow you have the worst insurance policy ever.
Ifi: Ellimist, you couldn't have done better for Elfangor's baby momma?
Adam: Toomin you suuuuuuck
Adam: Maybe beyond the Ellimist, there is just some sort of code written into the fabric of reality that states that all of the Fangors have to suffer.

Ifi: The next morning, Tobias finally introduces himself

"No." She shook her head. "Not the way you think. I know I have a son. I know his name is Tobias. But that's all I know. They brought a little boy to me after the accident. A baby really. They told me he was mine. I didn't remember him. I wanted to. I tried to. But I didn't. I don't remember anything of my life before the accident."

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Maybe it had to be this way
Ifi: Maybe if Loren hadn't been so badly hurt, she would have raised Tobias and loved him and he'd never have trapped himself in morph, never led the Hork-Bajir to freedom, and never spied out a billion places for the group.
Ifi: I mean without Tobias free to be a full-time spy, the Animorphs probably would never have made it so far.
Adam: Alternatively, maybe they could have rescued Elfangor, her meeting him could have brought her memories back, and Tobias could have one big happy morphing family.
Adam: And now I am sad.

I took a deep breath. "Those strange alien images in your head. Huge, right? Leathery. With blades. Like razors, erupting from their skin."

[...]

"You described them as nightmares," I said. "But were there any other images? One that wasn't a nightmare? One that seemed kind? Honorable, maybe?"

She nodded. Slowly. "It's so vague. No form. Nothing recognizable. I've never told anybody about it. It's just a…a feeling, almost. A flash."

"A flash of blue?" I said

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: So we're going to rescue Loren from poverty and also Controllers
Adam: And this next part makes me happy.
Adam: They let her use the morphing cube.
Ifi: Though the Yeerks are closing in tight at that point.

<Chopper!> said Marco. <Headed our way. Tobias, buddy, you're so out of time.>

<Okay.> I kept my thought-speak even. <Keep your hand pressed against my feathers and concentrate. Think about the hawk. Focus on how the hawk feels under your hand.>

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Very nerve-wracking scene right here.
Adam: Wait.
Adam: Wait wait wait
Adam: How is Loren able to acquire Tobias?
Adam: Is it because he's a nothlit?
Ifi: Oh. Hm. Yeah. Idk.
Ifi: I assume so.
Adam: Usually the rules state that you can't acquire anyone in a morph.
Ifi: He's not 'in morph' though
Ifi: When he's a hawk, he's his real self.
Ifi: Because the Ellimist ripped him off, sort of.
Adam: Yes, but he became a hawk in morph
Adam: Did the Ellimist turn his natural state into a hawk?
Adam: it's all very confusing
Ifi: I always assumed so.
Ifi: Space magic~~~

The morph was complete. She was a hawk. A red-tailed hawk. Exactly like me.

<Tobias?> Her thought-speak was a whisper. <It can't be true.> She blinked her fierce eyes. <I can see. I can see. Tobias, I can see!>

Ka-BOOM.

The entire front wall of the house splintered and crashed to the floor of the living room.

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion

Ifi: Don't worry it's just Rachel.
Adam: Rachel.
Adam: Rachel.
Adam: This is not how you introduce yourself to your boyfriend's parents.
Adam: There are certain procedures here.

Ifi: And there is an epic chase! With every Controller in a five mile radius trying to shoot two birds and failing.
Ifi: Also they crash a helicopter with an old lady inside.
Adam: And then Loren gets shooted
Adam: =<
Ifi: But she's ok, morphing heals injuries!
Ifi: Though she is like "lol no" when Tobias tells her to morph out because she thinks she'll be blind again.
Adam: This part just about broke my poor heart.

<Demorph!> I ordered. <Focus on your human self and demorph.>

<Can't.> Her thought-speak was weak. Distant.

<You have to.>

<I'll…be blind.>

<You'll be alive.>

The helicopter swept toward us.

<Listen to me.> I kept my voice even. <We don't have time for Biology 101. Morphing is based on DNA. It fixes shattered wings. It should fix your damaged eyes, too.>

<Can't…take…the risk.>

<It's not a risk. You can morph back. You can always morph back. Please. Mom. Demorph!>

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion


Ifi: Anyway, that's pretty much it.
Ifi: They take her back to the Hork-Bajir valley, where she ignores Tobias in favor of her dog
Ifi: And as far as I can recall, they never mention her again.
Adam: Annnd that ending is probably the biggest emotional punch in the face Tobias ever receives.

Her scars were gone. Her long blond hair fell shiny and straight down both sides of her head.

And she could see. Morphing had restored her vision.

I'd thought—hoped—that it would also restore her memory. But it didn't. She still didn't know me. Didn't remember anything from before the accident

----Book Forty-Nine, The Diversion
.
Ifi: Seriously, though, is Loren ever mentioned again?
Ifi: She lives in the valley, but I don't remember her in any more scenes.
Adam: I don't believe she is.
Adam: And now I am sad again.
Ifi: It’s really too bad, because this book had some great stuff going on
Ifi: It had its weak moments, sure, but overall the good outweighed the bad
Adam: It honestly was great seeing Loren again.
Adam: I sort of wish that she and Chapman had gotten some interaction together in this book.
Adam: Another potential bit of closure that was missed out on.
Ifi: And we never get to see her find out Elfangor was her husband
Adam: I sort of get the feeling that Tobias decides to not tell her.
Adam: It's sad, but in spite of everything, she really could have always visited him.
Adam: So it gives the impression that he honestly wasn't wanted.
Adam: Which makes him even more tragic a character, if that were at all possible.
Ifi: Yeah idk he might have maxed out his angst points
Adam: Does he win a car?
Ifi: Doesn't matter because he can't drive
Adam: More tragedy!

Adam: This is Tobias's last book. How do you think it works as a sendoff?
Ifi: I'm glad he finally got to meet Loren, I'm just sad that they didn't get a true 'ending'
Adam: To be fair, nobody really does.
Adam: It's that sort of series.

45 comments:

  1. I think Loren was mentioned later on, but didn't actually have a role. She was just sort of there, chilling with the Hork-Bajir.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A rather depressing book, I must say. Not only does Jake's life get utterly destroyed and send him into a self-destroying spiral, Tobias finally gets to meet his mother... who doesn't recognize him and wants nothing to do with him.

    It's also rather depressing because since we're on the final five books, and then this wonderful blog that has enlivened my Saturday mornings will go away and my childhood will die forever.

    As for the whole acquiring thing, I always figured that the Ellimist twisted Z-space around so that Tobias's hawk body became his default body, while his former human body became a morph that could be unlocked by reacquiring his human self in the past. Otherwise, Tobias would never actually get to acquire any animal, if the laws of morphing counted Tobias's body as a morph. Keep in mind that in the next book Tobias gets acquired again.

    Next week's book... I like it, personally, but I get the feeling that some commenters might not be all too fond of the ending.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I think later books say they are trying to work on a relationship. It's not so much that she wants nothing to do with him, as they have no context for a relationship. The fact that she miraculously has her eyesight back and a moment to frolic in the woods with her only companion of the last few years, probably overwhelms the abstract datum that a child she doesn't remember being pregnant with or giving birth to, is there. Also, Tobias is kind of passive in relationship stuff. The book starts with Rachel seeking him out because she knows he's having a rough time - experience has probably taught her not to wait for Tobias to come to her with any problem less than an suicide-hotline-level existential crisis. It makes sense to, with the whole once-bitten-twice-shy attitude he envinces regarding the possibility of a family. Between the Dursley-esque guardians, the Ellimist teasing him with restoring his humanity, and the Aria incident, Tobias isn't going to go putting it out there without a lot of encouragement. And of course, Loren hasn't been reading the books, so she doesn't appreciate the gesture he's making by hanging around in human morph. I mean this is the guy who can't be bothered remorphing to extend a date with his girlfriend and sole emotional support system, but he's "trying out" his human morph in case amnesia mom wants to chat?

      I mean, you're right - it's depressing both for the implications of Tobias' life AND the incredibly upbeat perspective he takes on it (Hey, his life ONLY sucks! That's a freakin' upgrade from usual!).

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    2. I found a quote.

      “Loren and Tobias sat next to each other, shoulders touching. Tobias again in human morph. There, but somehow in a world of their own.” - Book Fifty, The Ultimate.

      Maybe it's not the relationship Tobias dreamed of, but they seem to get along fine.

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    3. That's pretty much what I was refering to.

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  3. This book, and maybe the next one were the last two I read without cursing out the characters the whole way through.

    As I recall, you guys were right about the future of Jake & Loren. She's got maybe one line of dialogue in the rest of the series, and only shows up as part of the parents group. Jake - at this point, they should have relieved him of command. I mean, up until now, they've pretty much handled things democratically, with Jake just being in charge for heat-of-battle type decisions when there is no time to come to a consensus. He "leads" in the sense that he's the one they all respect. But just at the point where he should be considered compromised, he kind of starts acting like they're soliders and he's their commanding officer. From here out, it's a string of idiotic or pointless orders, culminating in ordering suicide missions, making him responsible for 2/3 of the Animorphs getting a crappy ending (maybe Ax too, since Prince Ax seems to be consciously emulating Jake's leadership style).

    Anyone notice how Tobias's series of books are elegantly bookended by Rachel morphing elephant to be a distraction, Tobias dogfighting Yeerk helicopters, and trying to save a hawk-chick he likes who takes a Dracon beam near the end?

    Oh, and since this is a Tobias book, Rachel shines of course, with the diversion and rescue of the team from the blood lab place.

    Have I mentioned how the Tobias-Marco-Ax teamup is always the best combination of Animorphs? We get the grocery store scene with Loren and then the madcap adventures in the next book (they steal a tank and even manage to apall RACHEL with the outcome of that episode).

    There's also the bit where Naomi helps the Hork-Bajir draft a consitution, which was one of the funniest scenes in the series.
    "Do I look like a teacher?"
    The Hork-Bajir took a vote and agreed that yes, she did look like a teacher, so now she was teaching them to read.

    The Hork-Bajir are consistently awesome, in spite of, and often by making the best of, their intellectual shortcomings. They're like walking proof that intelligence is overrated, and there's a pretty long list of people who survive the series, I'd have traded for Jara Hammee.

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    1. Tobias-Marco-Ax is always my favorite teamup in these books--I am a happy reader when the three of them go off on a mission together :D

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  4. Loren is mentioned again when they go get the nukes from the base she is with them.

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    1. Yeah, but she does the least. Naomi, Peter & Eva do everything among the parents. Loren is just there, and never even morphs.

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  5. I also wish they'd given Tobias and Loren a better ending. You also do have to feel bad for Jake...I wish they could've ended up saving Tom.

    This was always one of my faves, but now that I'm' a huge Pokemon fan, I like it more. I'd say Fury Swipes (or Slash),Iron Tail, Transform and Stomp. Grass/Psychic might work. I do have to wonder though, because only the first two gens were out then and there weren't any Pokemon Ax looked like. Now, though, he looks a bit like Gen V's Cobalion, with an added human torso and arms. http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Cobalion_(Pok%C3%A9mon)

    There are two newer ones that look like Taxxons...Scolipede http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Scolipede and Giratina (without the wings in Altered Forme). http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Giratina.

    I also love Cassie's mom patting Ax's butt LOL. And Rachel and the spice rack.

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  6. Hrm...

    I have to do this, don't I?

    All right; Andalites, let's see... not gonna make 'em Psychic-types, actually; I'd rather just give 'em Telepathy for their passive ability and maybe some Psychic utility moves, because they don't actually *have* any other mental powers that I know of. They can be Fighting-types instead, partly because of the warrior traditions and honour fixation, but mostly so I have an excuse to give them Sacred Sword (because, face it, that makes way more sense for Andalites than it does for Cobalion et al.). Good attack, absurd speed, decent HP and special defense, poor defense and special attack.

    Notable moves... Slash, of course, and Sacred Sword for the high-level War Princes. Gotta give them Taunt and Swagger. Swords Dance, Double Kick, Tail Whip, maybe Iron Tail. Might slap on some weird stuff like Telekinesis, Reflect, and Imprison just for the hell of it. Oh, and Transform, of course.

    Ax's moveset is [Slash/Taunt/Tail Whip/Transform]

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    1. I disagree. Andalites are psychic. The definition of psychic is very loose, but in ordinary English, being psychic means you could:
      a) move objects with your mind (telekinesis )
      b) predict the future ("seeing")
      c) communicate via your brain (telepathy)
      d) any combination of those three
      Andalites are clearly psychic-type. I would say they are psychic-grass type, like Celebi. Hork-Bajir are grass-fighting type, Taxxons would be Bug-normal type, Gedds would be normal type, and Yeerk would be a normal type, but if they beat a Pokemon, they can evolve into a whatever-it-is-Controller. An evolutionary nightmare. Eat your heart out, Eevee.

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    2. You forgot Devour. Only possible after they Transform to human (or one of Visser Three's crazy space monsters) but clearly one of the their most deadly moves, especially in the presence of candy, grease, and cinnamon buns.

      And Technobabble.
      "Andalite uses Technobabble. Enemy has fallen asleep!"

      And can we make "Destroy the Symmetry of Shelves" another move? Please??

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    3. Sure. Another move could be Cinnnamonbun. All Pokemon can use it, and if an Andalite uses it, he gets double his/her HP, and causes 80 damage to any enemy. Or, during a double battle, if your partner uses it, the other Pokemon, if its an Andalite, attacks the enemy so hard its always a KO.

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    4. Nah, definitely part psychic type (though I could see fighting/psychic as thematically appropriate.) Proto-andalites partially communicated through a sort of empathic projection, and there was the more generalized long range communication method that Ax used in book 4. Plus, there are several Ax focused books where he seems to have several prophetic dreams, of sorts.

      I am now sorta really hoping that you'd come up with other pokemonized versions of the other Animorphs species. The only immediately obvious ones are Taxxons and Leerans (Bug/Poison and Water/Psychic.) Yeerks I would make some combination of Poison, Bug and Psychic, though I am not sure specifically which. Hork-Bajir are possibly some combination of Grass, Fighting and Rock, though again, not sure. Ketrans are obviously part Flying, and I would also peg them as part Rock type, due to their whole connection with their crystals. Annnd, that's as far as I got.

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    5. Skrit Na are definitely Bug Type.
      I'd say Yeerks are Bug/Psychic.
      Garatrons are... Grass/Psychic?
      I think Arn are Flying type; even though they don't actually fly, they look like birds in my mind.
      Howlers are definitely Fighting type.
      Venber are Ice/Ghost types.
      Helmacrons are... I guess Bug Type?

      Wow. So much nostalgia going on right now.

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    6. Skrit Na would probably drastically change type and moveset when they evolve.

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    7. *cracks knuckles*

      Challenge accepted.

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    8. Andalites, Yeerks, and Hork-Bajir.
      http://pokemaniacal.tumblr.com/post/32662505962/lets-stat-up-the-animorphs-aliens-as-pokemon
      Others may follow if my own readers don't find it all too weird.

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    9. Iskoorts would be normal/bug types. Father would be water/ground, or maybe water/psychic. Nahara would be flying/something else. This is fun.

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    10. Chee would be pure steel type and have really high stats but no offensive movepool.

      Pemalites would be pure normal, and probably otherwise not too dissimilar from the Chee.

      Howlers would be Fighting/Steel.

      I feel that the Helmacrons would be Bug/Psychic, but I have been labeling everything as psychic and I like variety.

      The Crayak as a legendary would be part Ground, though not sure about the other type. Either Steel, Dark or Ghost, perhaps.

      This is fun.

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    11. Oh, Christ, I'd forgotten how many alien species there were in this damn universe...

      I like the Iskoort as Normal/Bug; I wasn't sure what to do with them. I think Father needs to be Water/Psychic, just because of the whole bizarre hive mind thing. Ifi's Nahara seem like they would be Bug/Flying, which is a shame because Bug/Flying is just about the crappiest type ever, but I'm sure I can come up with something to make them awesome.

      Adam, I agree with Bug for the Helmacrons, but why Psychic? It's been at least a decade since I read the Helmacron books, but I don't *remember* them possessing any psychic abilities...

      As for Crayak... hmm... Tricky. Dude's just a big red eye. He's Sauron. I think Dark/Ghost maybe gets closest.

      Ooh; what about the Drode? I'm thinking Dark/Psychic, ludicrous speed and defenses, and little offensive presence but lots of support moves.

      You're right; this *is* fun.

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    12. I went with Psychic for the Helmacrons since they have that whole fungible hivemind aspect to them. Still, I seem to be relying on Psychic a lot for this whole thing, so I am a bit iffy on it.

      I went with Ground for the Crayak, since he was implied to have initially been some sort of subterranean organism before ascending to godhood, as a counterpoint to the Ellimist coming from a species of fliers.

      Speaking of, the Ellimist in his post ascended state, the best I can come up with is Flying/Ghost. Flying as a throwback to his original Ketran form, and Ghost because it was the best thing I can find for some sort of noncorporial time-manipulating being. The current pokemon associated with time travel (Celebi and Dialga) don't really have anything in common, so I figure any type would really be up for grabs with a new temporal pokemon.

      What else...

      The Veleek is probably Rock/Flying or Ground/Flying, something to go with a sandstorm based moveset.

      Getting obscure now. The Venber are Ice/Electric, being solid only at below freezing and composed of a naturally conductive substance.

      The Garatron...there really isn't any typing immediately associated with superspeed, and while Agility is Psychic type, pretty much any fast pokemon seems capable of learning it, so I wouldn't necessarily tie it to that. Quick Attack and Extremespeed are normal though... Normal/Electric, perhaps? It may be a bit of a stretch.

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    13. I think Taxxons would be Bug/Ground, seeing as how they spend most of their lives underground. They'd likely know Stockpile and Swallow, as well as Bite/Crunch, and a few ground-moves like Dig and Earthquake.

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    14. Not to mention Gastro Acid, Lick, Acid, Slam.

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    15. Ah; I see. I've never actually read the Ellimist Chronicles, so I'm only familiar with Crayak in his giant eyeball incarnation. I'm inclined to make the Ellimist Ghost/Psychic, on the grounds that Psychic covers everything weird, and stat up the Ketrans separately ('cept that, again, I don't know them very well).

      I think I would make the Veleek pure Rock, actually (or maybe, like, Rock/Bug or something for the swarmy aspect) and give it Levitate for an ability, just because Flying tends to be connected with stuff that has actual wings 'n' shit.

      I like Ice/Electric for the Venber, though I'm tempted by Ice/Steel to really hammer in their vulnerability to heat (they're silicon-based, right?).

      And the Garatron... hrm... another book I never read as a kid, so I'm going mainly on what I learned in your review... I was tempted by Electric, since it tends to be associated with speed, but the Garatron doesn't really have any electrical powers, so... eh. Normal for STAB Extremespeed seems reasonable enough, although I'll probably be giving him a high base speed and Speed Boost anyway, so it's doubtful Extremespeed would see much use.

      Also, +1 to everything Tom said on the Taxxons.

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    16. I'm reading all this. Blame TV Tropes for linking me to the fanfic.


      Alien Pokemon: The Garatron should also be something Poison is super effective against- after all, the sole example we have died to a cobra bite.
      ...
      so grass, rather than (or as well as) Normal?

      either that, or make up some species-type ability that's not very effective against Poison type Pokemon... but is pretty effective against everything else.

      The Garatron also know Teleport? It gets places, very quickly... and so do they...

      Ketran: Flying/Psychic (Legendary), evolves into an Ellimist after level 87?

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    17. Yeah, looks good. Totally agree with Andalites as Fighting/Psychic.

      And there's now an alternative to Grass for Poison-weak. Namely, Fairy-type. Also has to be some type associated with speed, and since it clearly isn't a Flying-type... looking at the description, there might be some justification for Bug-type. So a Bug/Fairy type. Had to double-check to make sure Bug wouldn't cancel out the Fairy's weakness to Poison; it doesn't. (Yes, Bug is actually one of the speediest types out there. The two fastest non-legendary, non-Mega Pokémon? Both Bug-types. Ninjask's only outsped by Speed Forme Deoxys, while Accelgor's only beaten by Deoxys in any Forme other than Defense, Ninjask, Mega Alakazam, and Mega Aerodactyl. Overall, Flying or Electric is probably a better fit for "Speed", but Bug definitely has a case.)

      Yeah, Ice/Steel for the Venber sounds about right. And definitely Bug/Ground for Taxxons, though they'd have ridiculously weird stat breakdowns. I'm thinking something like 30 HP, 105 Attack, 10 Defense, 85 Special Attack, 10 Special Defense, 105 Speed--stat total 345, which makes them still pretty weak overall...so, yeah, definitely NU regardless. Also, their ability is obviously Gluttony.

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    18. Oh, we forgot the Mortrons! Let's see... Steel-type for being semi-mechanical; maybe ground? Or something? I'm not even sure what their other type would be, if they have one. Their floating heads give them Levitate as their primary ability, but due to the "head split up on their own to attack" thing, we might have to give them a Mega Form so as to justify "Parental Bond"

      And, yeah, Normal/Bug seems best for Iskoort, representing the two halves

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  7. Notice also that this book is pretty big in terms of marketing- the summary on the back changes quite a bit because now their identities are found out. The Yeerks were very clever to have used blood to find the identities- I found it really ironic, because DNA is the whole basis to their morphing power but at the same time, DNA dooms them all in the Yeerks hands.

    Poor Jake :( I felt so bad for him at the time, and it's like he unravelled bit by bit after this. At the end of the book, it's mentioned that Tobias and Jake have switched places. Now Jake has no family and is as angsty as can be, while Tobias has his mother and is slowly getting better at reaching out in relationships. If it wasn't for a certain death at the end, Tobias really might've ended up doing well after the war...

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    1. Oddly, the back summary doesn't change until Book 51.

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  8. Yay!! Another review!

    Despite the lack of closure, and the implication that Loren is more attached to her dog than to her son, and the impression you mentioned that Tobias wasn't really wanted... this is still by far the happiest Tobias book we ever get. He actually has something majorly good happen to him for once. So that makes me happy.

    And Loren coming back was so awesome. Yes, we never really find out what happens with her and Tobias's relationship, but this is still way more closure that we usually get from KAA. Considering how many characters remain forever stuck in minor character limbo, I'm pretty grateful we get to see so much of Loren again. And grateful that she at least remembers "a flash of blue." It's not much, but it's something, and considering this is Animorphs and happy endings only happen about .001% of the time, I'll take what I can get and be grateful. Also, I was legitimately afraid she might die during the chase scene, because it is that kind of series, and the universe just loves to make Tobias miserable, so I was very glad she survived, and even got her sight back too.

    The Ax scene is priceless. Someone needs to put some of those quotes on a T-shirt. It would sell big.

    I never watched Avatar, but that video you inserted makes me want to start looking up all the YouTube videos.

    And hey, did we just get a Pokemon reference in two consecutive books? (Last week, Drode may have thrown a Pokeball with Esplin inside.) Just for the record, I think Andalites would make awesome Pokemon, with Boast as one of their most effective moves, right after Slash and Devour (a move that can only be used after they first Transform to human, or, if it's Esplin, to some crazy eight-headed space monster).

    I thought the Jake scene was one of the most heartbreaking in the entire series. Especially considering how easy it would have been to get his family out the night before. Especially considering how they never do manage to rescue Tom, and this what probably their last chance.

    "Ifi: Four for you, Tom Berenson."
    "Ifi: You go, Tom Berenson."
    "Adam: I have no idea what you are saying."

    Umm... the fourth time that he overrides his Yeerk to protect his little brother? Or else a basketball reference to scoring four points which is practically unheard of but makes you incredibly awesome? (I'm guessing it's the first one.) But yes, Tom is one of the awesomest characters in the series, and I wish we got to see more from his POV.

    And this line: "Jake didn't understand any of it better than the rest of us did. If he defeated the Yeerks, freed humanity, rescued Earth, that was good. But that was just a bonus. His main goal was much simpler. To save his family. That goal was what had given him strength. That goal was what had kept him sane. Allowed him to retain a center of calm focus amid the awful chaos. Family."

    Oh, Jake. I want to give him a hug. I think of this as the point in the series where the old Jake, the one we saw at the beginning, disappears forever. Before this point, you could still see little traces of the original kid here and there. But now he's gone forever, and we are left with a new Jake, completely and totally unrecognizable from the one at the beginning of the series.

    I wonder if the whole series would've ended differently if they had just gotten their families out sooner. I think Jake would've been a little less crazy/ruthless towards the end, and less likely to send people on kamikaze missions. The Yeerks may never have gotten the morphing cube, which would've meant no Taxxon rebellion, maybe no blowing up the Yeerk pool... oh, who knows. It's too hard to tell.

    Wow, that review ended up way longer than I ended intended. Free cookies for anyone who actually reads it all.

    Adam and Ifi, thank you. You are awesome human beings.

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  9. "I sort of want to know what specific incident led to this. "
    "Visser One is not exactly the kind of guy who changes his mind easily. "

    Maybe the idea crept into his head while he was fighting for his life against a certain morph-capable humanoid during the last book. Kind of like how the Ellimist showed the Animorphs where the Kandrona was during #7 during some absurd pretense about making a human zoo. Crayak showed Esplin that the 'Andalite Bandits' could be human during some absurd pretense about giving Rachel unlimited power.

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    1. But he was clearly an illusion. He morphs from one form to another without stopping, and when Rachel became a rat in the middle of their fight, he shrank from Esplin to David, just as Rachel shrank from Super-Rachel to rat.

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    2. I had had the same thought, but I didn't think of the Crayak pulling the Ellimist's "accidental reveal" trick. Good call.

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    3. That is brilliant. This is my new head cannon.

      Who knows, maybe that Esplin was real, maybe he was just an illustion. It's impossible to tell. Rachel was doing some impossible morphing too, so just because Esplin also was doesn't mean he wasn't real in some way. But this theory is too awesome to pass up, so I'm going to go with it.

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    4. Even if Rachel was experiencing a dream-illusion-whatever, Esplin could have shared it. His initial arrogance followed by sucking up to Crayak doesn't seem like the kind of superfluous detail Crayak and Drode would have manufactured to convince Rachel. So they pulled him into the dream or reality as well, and also left clues in there for him to pick up on if he's sharp enough, just like the Ellimist did for Rachel when he first intervened directly in the Animorphs' cause.

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  10. 'four for you Tom Berenson' is a Mean Girls reference.

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  11. This one was one of my favorites-really, all of the books from here through 53 were fun and exciting reads. A few of the ghostwritten books prior to this might have been rather weak but I always thought the series became really strong again as it moved towards its climax.

    Also-is Tobias supposed to have brown hair or blonde? In the earlier books he’s shown as having the former and in the later books he switches to the latter. I know that the animorphs cover models changed as the series went on but it’s odd that the Tobias they used for the cover of this book looks so obviously different from the boy they used earlier in the series.

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    1. I think they fudged it by calling his hair dirty-blonde in one book. So it could go either way, depending on the light and stuff.

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  12. First I'd like to say I'm so happy there was at least one reference to Toph in this.

    Also yeah it is interesting to see what is going to come after there are no more Animorphs books to review. If I'd make a suggestion I'd say Beast Wars but that is just me and the fact that the "Code of a Hero" episode has SO MANY FEELS!

    Finally I'd think Ax would be a Psychic/Fighting type.

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  13. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6489357/12/Idyllic

    This fanfic has a pretty good depiction of what probably happened when Esplin saw that one of the "Andalite bandits" was related to his good old friend Loren. Excerpt below...

    {It would be a member of Loren's family,} Visser One fumed. {I should have hunted her down long ago, blind and amnesiac or not.}

    Chapman cleared his throat. "Do you know her, Visser?"

    {I still find it hard to believe that you do not,} the Visser replied. {It was the son. Elfangor's son, I just know it. I knew he couldn't have been that pathetic waste of life he appeared to be and what other human would Elfangor have reproduced with?}

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    1. I think Esplin's memory was erased just like Loren's at the end of the Andalite Chronicles.

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