Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book 50: The Ultimate

The Summary
Life is getting very stressful at the Hork-Bajir camp, and the grown-ups aren't being very helpful. So the Animorphs decide it is time for some new recruits. Knowing that the Yeerks don't want imperfect hosts, they go to a hospital and recruit some of the long-term patients. Led by a boy named James, this group of kids becomes the Auxiliary Animorphs. There's seventeen of them in all.

After this, the Animorphs try to do the same thing at a school for the blind. But the Yeerks are waiting for them. Tom is furious that Jake has managed to fool him for all this time, and takes the Animorphs hostage, but Cassie gets away and leads the Auxiliaries in a rescue attempt. She is afraid they'll be slaughtered, but they actually do pretty well.

Tom ends up with the Escafil device, and Jake is going to kill him to get it back. But Cassie stops him for some reason, and Tom gets away. Cassie seems to feel that she has done a good thing.

The Review
Adam: This is one of those covers where the middle stage of the morph is just really silly looking
Adam: Though I do like the color scheme, admittedly
Ifi: Trip-tastic
Adam: I don't really give a hoot about that.
Ifi: You came up with that pun hours ago and have been looking forward to using it ever since.
Ifi: Didn't you????
Adam: …Owl let that one slide.
Adam: (10 minutes ago, actually)

Ifi: So this book.
Ifi: The big 5-0
Adam: Should we throw a party or something?
Ifi: I really am not sure.
Adam: People reading this review, send us cake and liquor.
Ifi: More specifically, direct the cake to Adam and the liquor to Ifi
Adam: Exactly.

Adam: Anywho
Adam: This is a rather big book, shall we say
Ifi: This is the beginning of the end.
Adam: Poetic

Ifi: So we open up with the Animorphs and Hork-Bajir totally screwing up some sort of practice battle
Adam: I'm kind of curious as to how they introduced the concept of war games to the other Hork-Bajir.
Ifi: Probably "hey guys let's play a fun game it's called Let's Not Die When The Yeerks Inevitably Find Us"
Adam: Jake hasn't been the same since his parents were taken, and Cassie is worrying obsessively over it.
Ifi: Jake's never gonna be the same again, let's just get that out there now.
Adam: =<
Ifi: Also the parents are not handling this well.
Ifi: Well Eva is setting up Dracon cannons because Eva
Ifi: But the rest of the parents are sort of walking into walls.
Adam: When you say the parent's, you really mean "Rachel's Mom"

“Mom.” Rachel’s voice was hard. She flung a clump of mud from her hand. “You tried to get away, didn’t you? How many times do I have to tell you not to leave the camp?” She barked a very unhappy laugh. “Are you actually trying to get everybody killed?”

Rachel’s mother yanked her arm from a Hork-Bajir’s grasp.

“This is outrageous,” she spit. “This is some kind of loony cult. Or a particularly weird and paranoid militia movement. If you don’t let me contact the proper authorities, I’ll—”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Jesus Whale, Rachel's mom, HAVE YOU NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION?
Adam: Naomi is ill equipped to survive outside the protective shell of upper-middle class suburbia.
Ifi: That actually makes sense
Adam: Well, she's a lawyer, so she has this alpha type personality, but it is focused toward a very specific end, and when she has to deal with something outside her area of expertise, she basically flounders around and falls apart.

He whirled on me. His eyes were dark and wild. For the first time since I’d known and loved Jake, I was afraid of him. Afraid of what he might become.

“You think I don’t know that?! I know we’re slipping up. Making mistakes. I know we’re at one another’s throats. And I know that if it weren’t for Toby, this whole camp would probably be just a scar on the ground by now. What I don’t know, Cassie, and this is the hard part…what I don’t know is what I’m supposed to do about it.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Jake attempts to abdicate, only to find that the others will not let him.
Adam: Well…that honestly kind of sucks.

Naomi looked at Rachel. Her face was tense. “I have three daughters to care for,” she said. “A year from now, I want to still have three daughters. What do I have to do to keep them safe?”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Ha.
Ifi: Ha.
Ifi: Ha.
Ifi: ...
Ifi: Screw you, author.

Adam: Now, was that intended foreshadowing, or just an attempt at making her a little more sympathetic?
Ifi: No idea.

Eva shook her head. “There’s only one enemy Visser One respects. And fears. And that’s Jake. He needs to be our leader.”

My father spoke up. “Even if he can do the job, he shouldn’t be expected to. It’s an enormous burden. It isn’t fair to ask him.”

No one asked him in the first place, I thought. No one asked any of us.

I looked at Jake. He looked like he was about to cry.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Grown-ups, why are you all so incompetent? It's your turn to take the morphing cube and make the hard choices.
Adam: But it's haaaaaard
Adam: Really though, the only one who would be competent at it would be Eva, and they all universally decide that she needs a break.
Adam: Which, on one hand I understand
Adam: But on the other hand, they really ought to be pumping her for Yeerk military secrets.
Ifi: I agree that Eva deserves a break, but at the same time it would be really great if she could participate. She wouldn't do anything stupid to jeapordize any missions the way the other parents clearly would.
Adam: This is all just making me wonder how the series would have turned out if a bunch of people in their late 40's had found Elfangor instead.
Ifi: Alternately, the Animorphs could have just found a not-Controller military person and dumped it all on the actual government.
Adam: That's next week.

Marco nodded. “I’m with Rachel on this. No more Animorphs. Too big a risk.”

“So maybe humans aren’t the best choice for new Animorphs,” Jake persisted. “What about the Hork-Bajir?”

There was a long pause. Then, as one, we all said, “No.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: You guys are jerks.
Adam: And then they turn around, and Toby is standing right behind them.
Adam: And the wha whaaaaa music plays.
Ifi: You just adore that clip.

Adam: It pleases me on a level I may never truly understand.

“It’s got to be kids,” Marco said musingly. “Adults are too reality-bound. It’s too hard for them to suspend disbelief. Even when the new reality hits them in the face.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: No
Ifi: No guys
Ifi: No
Adam: You can practically hear the editor waving around her mallet and yelling, "Target audience!"

<It makes sense that the Yeerks would not recruit the permanently sick or injured. Those people are defective. Vecols. They would not be useful in a battle,> Ax responded coldly.

“Not every species measures an individual’s worth by the ability to fight,” I said.

Ax nodded. “I understand. But the Yeerks do not.”

Marco laughed. “If a guy in a wheelchair could morph a grizzly, he could fight. He could kick some serious butt.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Oh God no what are you doing no
Adam: Why can't they just do what the Hork-Bajir have been doing?
Adam: Rescue a few controllers at a time, starve out their Yeerks.
Adam: Then offer to recruit anyone who seems competent.
Adam: And now that the Yeerks know who they are, there is literally absolutely no reason not to.
Adam: I mean, before they had to worry about their families becoming potential targets.
Adam: But that is clearly no longer an issue.

“Ax, Marco, get on the Web,” Jake said. “Find us a way to reach some likely candidates. Remember, they have to be kids. Locate a clinic. A physical rehab hospital. Whatever.”

Jake looked to Rachel and Tobias. “Just be ready, you two. Keep an eye on the parents. And don’t let them get wind of our plan. I’m betting it would seriously freak them out.”

“We’re on it, fearless leader.” Marco.

The fire of determination—of possibility—burned in Jake’s eyes. “We’ll start out with a small test group. If it works, we’ll expand. And if we can expand enough, we’ll have Yeerks chasing Animorphs everywhere.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Whoosh
Ifi: That was the sound you guys made
Ifi: when you went careening over the edge
Ifi: just now

“I’ve never stolen a bike,” Jake said to Marco. “Any suggestions?”

Marco pretended to look hurt. “What makes you think I know how to steal a bike? However, I would suggest we, er, just pick three unlocked bikes and casually ride away.”

“What if somebody comes out of the shop and sees us?” I asked.

“Pull a Lance Armstrong. Smoke them. Ride away really, really fast.” Marco strode forward and removed a red road bike from the rack.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: This book is so surreal
Adam: Is there a reason they need to steal the bikes?
Adam: Or is this just the "immoral behavior for the sake of it" book.
Ifi: After doing this, they go on to poison local water supplies and set fire to orphans.

Adam: An average day for the saviors of mankind.

Just as I was slinging my leg over the bar of a black hybrid, I heard it.

“Andalites! Rebels!”

Tseeeew! Tseeeew!

Three human-Controllers came bursting out of the bicycle shop. Dracon beams singed my hair.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: What the—
Adam: Wait.
Ifi: They're clearly not Andalites, you moron
Adam: Did they see them morphing?
Ifi: NO
Adam: Well, maybe all the controllers are given profiles of Jake and his friends.
Adam: And they just should "Andalite Bandits!" out of habit.

Voices and light came from an adjoining room. The door was partly opened. Jake motioned for silence. We peered around the open door.

And saw an elderly lady holding a big sword.

“Now this is very popular,” she told a group of kids about our age. Maybe a bit older. “Pirates are very big right now.”

I stepped back, turned, and found myself face-to-face with a pale woman with long red hair. I almost screamed, then caught myself.

Not a person. A wig on a styrofoam head.

Marco pulled an obviously fake rabbit out of a top hat. Jake reached for a Spider-Man mask.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Really? The costume shop gag?
Ifi: In which the pursed party runs into a building and comes out dressed in comical costumes?
Adam: You are correct sir.
Ifi: I'm going to start drinking now, and I trust you understand why.

Adam: So, Cassie and co masquerade as part of student acting troupe who are performing at the children's hospital.
Adam: For what I assume are perfectly good reasons, nobody catches on to the fact that there are now several new actors in very strange getup who nobody has ever seen before.

“I feel stupid.”

“You look stupid,” I confirmed.

Marco’s magician’s outfit was seriously cheesy. A shiny polyester jumpsuit that was supposed to look like a tux. It looked more like a Las Vegas showgirl’s outfit, complete with voluminous gold lamé cape.

I looked pretty stupid myself, dressed up like a fortune-teller from a classic B-movie.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Jake's the only one who gets to look cool
Ifi: It's the universe's way of making up for the fact that his life is currently being shredded into millions of pieces of ticker tape
Adam: Well, he's lost his family, but at least he gets to look cool next Halloween.

“No good,” he said. “These kids are too little.”

“The older kids might be on another floor,” Marco said.

“Okay. We go from floor to floor until we find them. Keep up the entertainment act.”

I laughed. “Yeah, that’ll be easy.”

Marco spread open his gold lamé cape. “Easier than you think,” he said. “Voilà!” He reached inside and pulled out a pigeon. A live pigeon.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Marco you are so random.
Adam: He has kept that pigeon in his sleeve for weeks looking for a chance to use it.
Ifi: So they go and find the older kids, who are completely unimpressed.
Adam: And now we meet James, who could probably light a person on fire by staring at them hard enough.

“Look,” the nurse said. “We’re short-staffed. I’m sorry Pedro had to wait, but we can’t let you give him his medication. You’re not authorized.”

“I’ve been here longer than you have,” James retorted. “I’ve been here longer than anybody,” he added dryly. “I would think that gives me some rights.”

The nurse hesitated a second, then reluctantly nodded. “Okay. Okay. I’ll get it right now.” He hurried away.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: He's like the Don of the hospital or something.
Ifi: And then this book gets even more horrible and depressing, which I didn't even think was possible. But that's Animorphs for you.

Collette began to wheel back toward the group. We walked beside her.

“Let me tell you something,” she said. There was no anger or bitterness in her voice. “A disabled kid is like the kitten who becomes a cat. You’re a kitten, everybody wants to pet you and play with you. You get a little older, you’re just a nuisance. Some of the people here haven’t been home in years.”

She pointed back toward James’s room. “About all he has to look forward to is a nursing home when he’s too old for this place. And he’s been here since he was a little kid. He got hit by a drunk driver when he was four. His mother brought him in to be operated on and never came back to get him.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: The worst part about this is that, unlike the alien invasion thing, it is probably actually happening at this moment.
Adam: It is very likely that the ghostwriter went and met with kids like this as research for this book.
Adam: Which means that that may be an actual quote from someone.
Ifi: I wonder if there were kids in hospitals that read these books.
Ifi: And then they got to this book, and they got to be the heroes...
Ifi: Dear God I am going to cry.

Adam: We are also introduced to Colette, who is something like an alternate universe version of Rachel.

She patted the sides of her chair. “This is just a temporary thing for me. I’m not usually in a chair. I had a skiing accident and this place has the best pediatric orthopedic staff around. I came in for some surgery on my knees. Any of you guys ski?”

“Once,” Marco answered. “Didn’t like it. Too cold and chicks don’t dig it when you fall, like, every three seconds.”

Collette made a face like Marco was nuts. “Oh man. You’re missing the greatest sport there is. Maybe you’re more into skating? I like skating but it’s a little tame for me. I’m into the extreme, high-risk stuff.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Collette is
Ifi: a compulsive liar

Ifi: Not one thing she said there is true.
Adam: All of the other kids at the hospital are completely aware that she is lying to make herself feel better. I am not sure if this is better or worse.
Ifi: I'm just going to put it at a neutral 'horrible'

Adam: The other guy we meet is Timmy.
Adam: Timmy is completely awesome.
Adam: But we will get to that a bit more once he can morph.
Ifi: So they go to find James, because he is clearly in charge of the vecol brigade

When Jake finished, there was a long, long silence.

Finally, James looked away from Jake to Marco. Then to me. Then he sighed heavily, bored and contemptuous.

“I’m sure when you talked about this at school, it seemed like a really good joke. But when you go back, you can give your friends a message from the ‘gang-of-pathetically-grateful-for-attention-kids-at-the-rehab-center.’”

“But…” I began.

He cut me off. His voice was more than sarcastic. “You can tell your idiotic little friends that yeah, we have our problems. But at least we don’t get our kicks by dressing up like refugees from a fifth-rate school play and playing tricks on people in wheelchairs.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: This
Ifi: This was so terrible
Ifi: That he's lived the sort of life where this is a possibility
Adam: It's apparently common enough that he's nearly used to it.
Ifi: This book is one punch in the feels after another

Ifi: Also James is awesome

James wrenched his arm out of Jake’s grasp. “Don’t touch me, man,” he warned. “I may be in a chair but I can kick your butt if I have to.”

Jake reached for James again. With a lightning quick motion, James grabbed Jake’s other arm, angled his chair so that it caught Jake behind the ankle, and flipped him to the ground.


Jake lay sprawled on the floor, like a guy who’d just had a bucket of cold water dumped on him.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Did I mention James is awesome?
Ifi: Because James is awesome.
Adam: Now admittedly, Jake's only real experience fighting as a human was that brief bit on the Iskoort homeworld. But I would have figured that he would have developed better reflexes by now.

Adam: Anyway, Jake turns into a tiger, and everyone is surprisingly chill about it.


James whirled around. Collette sat in the doorway, her mouth open. “Allow me to apologize on Kelly’s behalf. I don’t think even Siegfried and Roy could sneak a tiger by the front desk at this place.”

James blinked. “You see it, too?”

Collette wasn’t listening. She wheeled slightly closer to Jake. “Is he totally tame? Can I pet him? Wow! I’m so impressed. I’m going to get the others.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: Just don't pat him on the butt, okay?
Ifi: Anyway, James is like "no we are not doing this" because he understands the seriousness of what he's being offered.
Ifi: Funnily enough, it's Cassie who talks him into it. And she does make a valid argument.
Adam: There are valid arguments on both sides.
Adam: But yes, if everyone is in danger, you are likely going to be grievously injured and potentially killed either way.

“Acting like they’re babies,” I said. Hardly believing it was me talking. “Or dumb. Like they’re not capable of giving informed consent. Look, James.” I knelt by his side so that I was looking up at his face. “I know this whole story about the Yeerks is hard to believe, but you have to believe. Your friends’ lives are already at stake. You need to have some means of protecting yourselves if the Yeerks get any stronger. Look, they might not want to infest you. But they will want to kill you.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: Ruthless!Cassie is always the creepiest one.
Ifi: It's true, though. The Yeerks would just mow down any humans who wouldn't make good hosts. No point in wasting resources on them.
Adam: That seems less like brutal efficiency and more just a lack of creativity.

“I’ve got two conditions,” James said slowly.


“One. I pick my own team. You may not approve of the choices. But if it’s my team I pick its members. I’m responsible for them.”

Jake nodded. “Fine.”

“Two. No matter what happens, I want Pedro to acquire a morph. A good one. He’s been in that bed his entire life. Fourteen years, flat on his back. Even if I don’t make it out alive, I want Pedro to have at least two hours of freedom.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: "Great, you're in. Now put on this red shirt."
Adam: Hey, let's be fair.
Adam: They all survive (and do quite well) in this book.

Jake cleared his throat. “That’s not all. Staying here might be harder than you think.” He paused before going on. “We don’t know how, or why, or even if it works every time. But sometimes, most times, the morphing process repairs DNA.”

“What are you saying?” James demanded.

“It’s possible that if some of you weren’t born injured or disabled, you’ll be healed,” I told them. “If you are healed, would you still be willing to pretend you’re disabled? At least for the duration of the war?”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: How exactly does one go about pretending they are disabled?
Ifi: This isn't like trying to convince Mom you've totally got the flu today really I swear
Ifi: You're in a hospital surrounded by nurses and doctors who know you personally
Adam: Let's just agree that they didn't adequately think this plan through.
Adam: But they hand around the Escafil Device (which I have no clue how they managed to sneak in with them) and now we have our first batch of new recruits!
Ifi: Yay! I guess...

Three birds of prey perched on the roof of the rehab center and watched the wildest, wackiest, most joyful pigeon rodeo ever.

Because the minute James and the others had wings, they were—transformed.

And thought-speak? For Timmy, this was the biggest miracle.

<Rubber baby buggy bumpers. Rubber baby buggy bumpers. Rubber baby buggy bumpers,> he chanted. <This is fantastically fabulous. Fortuitously felicitous.> Timmy laughed at his own alliterative excesses. <You want to know what hell on Earth is?> he asked.


<Having a large vocabulary, an encyclopedic knowledge of musical theater, and a speech impediment.>

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: Did I mention that Timmy was my favorite?
Adam: Because Timmy is my favorite.
Ifi: Sadly, they demorph and Timmy, Kelly, and Collette are just the same as ever.

Standing over the group now, steady and strong, was James.

He was taller than Jake. Broader-shouldered, too. He looked down at his team, and then over at Jake.

He walked in a circle, as if testing his legs. Legs that hadn’t properly grown since the accident all those years before. Legs that only an hour ago had been atrophied with disuse. But that were suddenly long and muscular.

“Lucky you,” Kelly whispered.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: Well, he can probably just scare away any nurses who ask him about the newly working legs.
Ifi: I guess that's true.

On three more consecutive nights a few of us took a direct route to the rehab center to repeat the process.

Surveillance continued to reveal no Yeerk activity. As far as we could know, our plan was undiscovered.

At the end of the fifth night, Jake, Ax, and I flew back to camp where Marco, Rachel, and Tobias were waiting. Dawn was still hours away.

“That makes seventeen new recruits,” Jake said excitedly. “With the six of us, that’s twenty-three Animorphs.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: So they've more than tripled their numbers in less than a week.
Adam: This can't bode well.
Adam: Inverse ninja law, and all that.

Ax handed Jake a printout. <I have located another facility.>

Marco looked at the printout over Jake’s shoulder. “A school for the blind. Not far. If we go now, we could have another four or five recruits by daylight.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: No guys no no no no
Ifi: Can't you just leave well enough alone?
Adam: Well, the Yeerks finally catch on.
Adam: If you want to be an Animorph, you're going to eventually learn to deal with Esplin's infamous inability to properly delegate.

A sharp intake of breath. Jake, morphing to tiger while the red-haired girl’s hand rested on his head.

Rachel holding the girl’s hand now. A dreamy look on her face.

And then it happened again. My gut screamed at me. Something was wrong.

Something was very wrong.

I demorphed. Remorphed to fly.

That’s when I saw it. A tiny, tiny pinpoint of infrared light. A camera was surveying the room!

<The room is being watched!> I shouted.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Good job guys
Adam: So the Yeerks have been on Earth for what, ten years?
Adam: And only now do they finally learn the magic art of the security camera.
Ifi: Seriously, this is the first time in the entire series that the Yeerks use them
Ifi: The Pool has no cameras. The Blade Ship probably has no cameras. But a school for blind kids does.
Adam: You'd think they would have some sort of audio recording setup instead.

The door flew open. Ten Blue Band Hork-Bajir-Controllers stormed in. Overwhelmed Ax before he could react. Aimed Dracon beams at Tobias and Marco.


Kids sat up in bed. Some screamed. Some shouted questions. “What’s happening? Who’s there? What’s going on?”

“Nothing to worry about.” A human voice. “Just some pranksters.”

The Hork-Bajir stood aside. And in walked Tom.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: How did you get here so fast.
Adam: Keep in mind, he takes this whole situation very personally, what with him and Jake having lived under the same roof for so long.
Adam: So he's probably been obsessively stalking the non-Andalite bandits for the past several weeks.

Ifi: So everyone gets captured, minus Cassie, who is in morph
Ifi: And I guess everyone just sort of forgets about her
Adam: It feels like she just walks out when Tom's back is turned or something.
Ifi: Anyway, she runs and gets the red shirt army
Adam: All caps

The gesture went straight to my heart. I didn’t want these kids to get hurt. Why hadn’t I listened to my dad? How could we have done something so irresponsible? So stupid! So cruel. We—the Animorphs—were as bad as the Yeerks.

We were worse than the Yeerks!

I grasped James’s arm. “It’s okay. We can handle it without you. Morph to bird and get everyone out of here. Fly away as fast as you can!”

“No, Cassie.” James looked down at me. Gently squeezed the hand that held his arm.

“They won’t make it, James. They can’t.”

James smiled and stepped away. “Watch us.” To the others: “Battle morphs. Now.”

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Dude, don't underestimate the handicapped when they're the guest stars
Ifi: They're basically invincible
Adam: So, Esplin who is now some kind of giant squiddy thing, is faced with a massive hoard of random animals (some of which I honestly feel would make pretty crappy battle morphs) who are contractually immortal for the duration of this book.
Ifi: He does pretty well, considering

Visser One was taunting Jake. Curling the tentacle to pull him closer. Whipping him through the air. Smacking him on the floor.

The tiger’s head and neck were a bloody mess. Jake wouldn’t survive this torture much longer.

One by one, the Animorphs snuck in close. Rushed the big black body. Sliced or bit. But each time they were knocked back by a wild tentacle.

James. Rachel. Timmy. Ax.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Oh and then another cool thing happens

“ARGHHGHGHGH!” Visser One let out an enraged howl of pain. The tentacle that held Jake prisoner had been neatly severed.

Jake leaped to his feet. Slowly shook off the dead piece of flesh around his neck. Visser One waved a bleeding stump in the air.

The crowd of Hork-Bajir shifted nervously, eyeing one another. Which one had done it?

It could mean only one thing. The Yeerk resistance was not dead! Somewhere, in the ranks of the assembled Hork-Bajir-Controllers, was a fellow freedom fighter.

And he had saved Jake

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Adam: Thank you, deus ex machina!
Ifi: This could have been made to work sooooo much better if it had been foreshadowed in any way at all
Adam: Or brought up again later on.
Adam: The author really could have just had one of the Auxiliaries save him instead, and it would seem less out of nowhere.
Ifi: Yeah after this, the YPM is basically...forgotten about
Ifi: I like to think they said, "Fuck it" and went and colonized Mars or something.
Adam: They took the Ellimist up on that early zoo planet offer.

<Jake!> I cried privately. <The morphing cube! I’ll…>

I stopped in my tracks.

Because there stood Tom, unsteady, blood dried and streaked on his face. Clutching the blue box. And a Dracon beam.

His eyes were wild. They darted toward Visser One. I imagined what Tom was thinking. Whoever had the morphing cube held the future of the planet in his hands.

Why would he hand that over to Visser One?

Tom ran.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: Oh right
Ifi: This
Adam: And now
Adam: I don't know
Adam: Cassie spontaneously goes insane or something.
Ifi: The universe decides to spit in Jake's face

Tom was out of breath. Staggering.

Jake was only a yard or two behind him.

Tom turned. Lifted his arm. Aimed his weapon.

“I’ll kill you, Jake,” he said, voice ragged. “I will.”

Jake snarled. Crouched. Prepared to spring.

That’s when I shot forward and closed my jaws over Jake’s uninjured back leg. Clamped down.

Jake roared. Turned on me. Smacked at my head with his paw. The blow sent me sprawling. Claws raked deep gashes in my side.

But it was worth it. The pain, everything.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: You selfish bitch.
Ifi: And you have no idea what you just did.
Adam: Maybe she hit her head in the previous battle.
Adam: Sudden insanity is the only way I can justify her actions as making any kind of sense.

He yanked it out of my grasp and faced me. His face was white with anger. His lips were shaking. “How could you do it?” he cried, his voice breaking. “Why?”

I choked. “I was trying to protect you!”

“Protect me?” His brows lifted in amazement. “How?”

“You were wounded. He might have killed you.”

“Then why didn’t you go after him?” Jake demanded. “You weren’t hurt. With the trees for cover and the wolf’s speed, you could have taken him down!”

I couldn’t explain. Because I didn’t understand it myself. All I knew was that letting Tom take the morphing cube had seemed absolutely the right thing to do.

And something still told me I was right.

----Book Fifty, The Ultimate

Ifi: No
Ifi: No
Ifi: You were WRONG
Adam: If stopping Jake from killing Tom were really so necessary
Adam: You could have gotten the cube back, then let him escape.
Adam: Your honor, I can only plead temporary insanity.
Adam: Eloquently put.
Ifi: The defense rests.
Adam: The End.

Ifi: And this is why I drink
Adam: Confound these books, they drive her to drink.
Ifi: Adam and Ifi fight because you're a bad book.
Adam: So, final thoughts?
Ifi: I could see what the author was trying to do. I could see it very clearly. And the writing wasn't bad. The writing was fine. Good, even.
Ifi: But the execution of certain plot points was very sloppy
Ifi: And sometimes it downright did not make sense
Adam: I would come very close to saying this book was very good.
Adam: Except sometimes the characters decide to do stupid things that make no sense.
Adam: And that is not how you should drive a plot.
Ifi: This was not a nice book.
Ifi: Allow it to set the tone
Ifi: for the rest of the series

Adam: Well, next week we have Marco driving a tank!
Ifi: He is technically the most experienced driver of the group
Adam: And that's terrible.


  1. Your reviews are the best. I'm so glad I found them.

    When I was little and reading these books, I couldn't understand Cassie. None of her moral points made sense to me. And I always thought that this meant that I was some sort of horrible, amoral person because of it. You're reviews have helped me see that I wasn't a horrible kid, Cassie just sucks.

    One thing that tore out my heart while reading this that you didn't get to mention is when Jake says to Visser Three: "Release Tom's host's parents." At that point I understood Jake hadn't even seen his true brother in two years, and had begun to forget he even had a brother, and just thought of him as the yeerk.

    And that's terrible.

  2. F*CK. YOU. CASSIE. FOREVER. I hope every day of her long, outliving-all-the-people-who-sacked-up-and-fought-for-their-homes-and-friends-and-species-all-the-time-not-just-when-they-felt-like-it life, she had a little voice whispering in her ear that everyone died and had miserable lives the last few years before they died, all because of her.

    Oh, sure. She saved Jake from having to bear the guilt of killing his brother, only to invite a situation where he not only has ALL the guilt, since he gave the order, but ALSO has to deal with the guilt of getting one of his people killed in order to prevent the guy Cassie saved from killing them all & dooming Earth AND the YPM to boot. And the death of the only cousin with whom he has any sort of friendly relationship. AND the guilt of betraying a guy who looked up to him, at one point considered him his only friend in the universe, and because of the call Jake had to make, has lost just about everything that meant anything to him. A guy, I might add, who was just about the only one who never got pissed at Cassie for the choice she made that would eventually ruin his life.

    Marco's wealth and fame being hollow and empty in the end is her fault too. I'm sure of that.

    Seriously now, everyone. Aside from her bit of narrator-immunity-to-Andalite-flu allowing her to perform brain surgery, would the Animorph's mission really have been negatively impacted if Cassie had been killed as Aftran's host, back in book 19? There would have been one less vote to induct David. There would have been a general shift in the team mentality to more hardcore attitudes. They might have cobbled together some effective recon plans. The Ellimist would not have allowed the Drode to grant Jake the wish in MM4 - he only did that because he had Cassie as a secret cancellation. Marco is genre-savy enough to figure out a solution to the Time Matrix issue. Aldrea might not have had a suitable host, but when you get right down to it, best aliens or not, the Hork-Bajir planet didn't really affect the war on Earth much. For that matter, given that the Yeerks are concentrating on Earth at the end, it kind of suggests they snuffed out the HB homeworld resistance fairly easily.

    Honestly, the only reason I can see why Cassie deserves to survive (despite being the mechanism through which we got the poop story, the Helmacrons, the buffahuman and the Australian books), is because if they had been forced to kill her in the first Aftran book, she might have been elevated to some sort of indisputable sainthood in their eyes, making them unwilling to remotely do anything Cassie might not have liked.

    1. *gives you a cup of tea and some small cakes* We all okay over here?

      Anyway, if Cassie weren't there for Megamorphs 4, then that means that the Ellimist doesn't get a free time manipulation card, so the Zalcathine Wars excellerate far beyond the point of no return, someone invents an abstraction nulifier before anyone has the capacity to fully comprehend that sort of technology, and then three or so galaxies end up swallowed by the void.

      ...My personal fanon is weeeeird.

      Anyway, if Cassie dies, that means that they are short one soldier in battle, which means that all of the others have an exponentially higher chance of dying in any possible battle.

    2. Too true. I'll bet Aftran's brother was destined to become the most badass Yeerk warrior and brilliant tactician ever. He'd have totally nailed them all by book 30 once he had a little experience and self confidence under his belt. In addition, of course, to the other reasons I gave. Given the Iskoort thing though, and the fact that the Ellimist never again does the slightest thing to help the Animorphs once they save his fallback plan for him, I am highly suspicious of the efficacy of ANY alien gambit being helpful to the cause of Earth. The YPM, the Hork-Bajir liberation, the Anati disaster - none of them did anything to help Earth. Even the free Hork-Bajir, aside from being awesome and lovable, were more plot-hooks than useful allies. Not much aid, but lots of "help us find Bek" "help us decide what to do with the Arn" "help defend our valley". As long as they are OTHER galaxies, I can live with them being swallowed by the void. I go with the Grimlock rule of pragmatism in deciding whether or not I should help out in a war.

    3. ...I said "battle twice.

    4. Your stylistic mishap has destroyed your credibility, sir. I rescind my considered response, and instead, offer a hearty & dismissive "BaH!"

    5. Except sometimes the characters decide to do stupid things that make no sense.

      ^this is WHY Animorphs is so great. think about it. THINK. about. it.

      when you are an Author, or a Writer, or a Gamer, you are an Intruder. You don't let your characters have much free will. You make all their decisions or them. This is what Ellimist discovered.

      "Not a good book"

      It's not....satisfying. But it's terribly realistic, enough so that one has to take it actually seriously.

      They do NOT make optimal choices, hardly ever. They make actually likely ones, because the truth about People is, these are Very People-y kinds of Mistakes for them to be making.

      Yes, I can deconstruct some of their choices in about a million ways, but it goes back to why there's no Yeerk Pool in China. Absolutely the Yeerks should have put a Yeerk pool in China, and there's no reason we can see why they wouldn't.

      But they didn't, as a result of their own failings.

      Cassie let Tom go as a result of her own failings.

      And also, possibly, because of Toomin-meddling: "it's not yet the right time for Jake to be responsible for Tom's death". That could be why Ellimist-through-Cassie made sure it didn't happen here, but allowed it later.
      Megamorphs #4 basically says that Cassie is a Gigantic Hack by Ellimist in his game with Crayak, so while Cassie's actions don't seem perfect to us humans, in order for things to work out well for Ellimist in the Really Big Game, Cassie gets her way a whole bunch--

      resulting in what seems like unfair screwing over of the human race a whole bunch.

      there are a ridiculously large number of plot holes, per book, in this series.

      but I find myself incredibly able to believe 'yeah, that's totally not what SHOULDA happened, but it IS what WOULDA happened', repeatedly.

      You know they're still, what, 16 year olds? they pretty friggin mature for 16, but they're still kids. not even graduated High School yet. they're going to do a whole lot of dumb things along the way, that a college graduate wouldn't do.

      but that's because Toomin -needed- them to be 13-16, because they can also do what the college grads and ther parents can't do. it's a give and take. it's actually pretty Ender's Game-y.

      it's not that kids are the "Perfect" soldiers. But they are the perfect Rebels. And this is a war that needs more Rebels than Soldiers to be won, though it will as a result cost a lot of things that Soldiers would be more aware that they need to avoid paying.

      If you're expecting highly advanced strategy and tactics from these kids-- remember that the most 'gamer' of them is Marco. He is a little more able to see like we do. Expecting the same mindset out of Cassie is crazy-talk, even after putting her through the war. Her basic moral compass won't change just because of trauma. It's the same thing we saw in the Ellimist Chronicles.

      Jake, he played more physical sports than videogames. Marco and Ax were always the only ones that came across as being able to make hard, calculating decisions. But you don't get that way in just a year. Even two years as eventful as the Animorphs' last two. It takes a little longer to become that. And if you are in situations where you kind of need to be that, but you can't become that quickly enough..more battles actually makes your problem worse, not better. You don't 'grow out of' your natural inclinations so easily. break.

      That's why most of the Animorphs got broken. :/

      I'm speaking from real life experience of knowing people that fight a lot. Verbal fighting with people you don't like differs from games and from wars only in what the stakes are, not in how people behave, really. And people are really, really slow on uptakes. Really, really bad at learning from mistakes.

      Unless they are a rare and lucky type of person- like Marco.

    6. "The YPM, the Hork-Bajir liberation, the Anati disaster - none of them did anything to help Earth."

      What are you even talking about? The YPM saved Jake's life here, but let's mention the Anati situation destroyed the Major front the Yeerks had (evidenced by Visser One's redeployment there, the Andalites sending 30(!) Dome ships to that system, and the general freakout that ensued afterward). Do you think that the loss of One Pool ship was going to be enough to shut the Yeerk Empire down? The only reason the Yeerks lost in the end is because the Animorphs helped either open or turn the tide on multiple fronts.

  3. This being the last Cassie book, it only makes sense that we get to see her complete set of personality traits on display. She's a thin layer of compassion and insight masking self-righteousness and a very skewed sense of morality. Personally, I would love to see you guys do some sort of final analysis of each of the principle protagonists as they have appeared to us throughout the series, ghostwriter influence notwithstanding.

    On a funnier note, I actually had this image of Jake coming back to check in on the Auxiliary Animorphs next week and they have this exchange:

    Jake: How are you guys holding up? Any Yeerk trouble?
    James: Not exactly. One of our group went on a crime spree, tried to give us away. We trapped him in rat morph and left him on an island off the coast.
    Jake: Yeah, that happens sometimes. Just wait until you have to shrink down and crawl up your friend's nose.
    James: What?
    Jake: Don't worry about it. Now here, I want you and your team to scout out this military base in the desert. They think they have alien technology, but it's just a toilet.
    James: ...
    Jake: By the way, have you ever been sent back in time by alien superbeings?

  4. And now to talk about the book, and not Cassie-hate.

    Much as I hate to disagree with the tie-Controllers-up-tactic, it wouldn't have been viable at any point in the series. When they were undercover, freeing hosts alerts the Yeerks. They will make every effort to re-infest or kill the former host, forcing them to go into hiding (though the Chee should really have stepped up as an Underground Railroad sort of thing). Once the Animorphs fled to the Hork-Bajir, the situation was even more nonviable for rehabilitating Controllers. They have a hard enough time keeping a middle-aged lawyer in line. How are they going to be sure none of the recovered Controllers are not voluntary, or have not changed their minds to be more inclined to voluntary Controller status? Too much risk. Also, logistics. Feeding dozens of new people who can't eat bark in the valley would be problematic.

    What's more, the specific reason for the recruiting drive in this book was that the Animorphs were now out of touch. Their human forms, once the perfect disguise for a team of veteran guerrilla warriors, were now a dead giveaway. They had no way to blend into human society to strike by surprise. Rescued Controllers would have the same problem. Again, if Cassie had maybe had the foresight to set up contacts with the YPM, maybe some of them could be trusted with morphing, but considering that in maybe two whole years of existence, they have struck exactly & literally ONE blow against the Yeerks (in this book), how can they count on them?

    IMO, what they should have done was do the frolis manuever with their parents' DNA to create fake adult identities for themselves. With advice from Eva, and Ax's hacking expertise, they could have even given them paper trails and social security numbers and credit cards and bank accounts.

    Then they rent apartments and only demorph behind closed doors, LIKE VISSER THREE MANAGED WITH ARIA. If the king of No Self Control can do that (in a KAA book, no less, so it's not a ghostwriter aberration), why can't the kids who have successfully lived a lie for three years?

    They should have given Toby the morphing power, at the very least. Also, even if you aren't going to trust the Hork-Bajir to morph regularly without supervision, the healing potential of the power was made explicitly clear in the VERY PREVIOUS BOOK. Also, why not Rachel's older sister? She is not that much younger than Rachel (back in the early books, when they were no more than 13, the sister had a crush on Marco - she had to be at least 10, IMO), so she should be close to the age at which they got the power from Elfangor.

    Another thing that was stupid and not touched on in the review, was the arguments against giving the kids the power. It is the same as with the Chee and the violence crystal. Regardless of your feelings about the war, no one is conscripting anyone. By giving them the power, all you are doing is giving them a CHOICE. By refusing or opposing it, you are taking away their right to choose and imposing your own judgment of how you think people should live on them.

    I take it the inverse ninja law has something to do with how antagonists are introduced in a series of books or a show as really dangerous and deadly, and after a while, become cannon fodder in a manner that the good guys accumulation of experience, skill or power cannot account for? Like vampires on Buffy, demons on Supernatural or Terminators? So I take it this means that no matter how six Animorphs manage to survive 50 or so battles without anyone dying, the expectation is that now that they have strength in numbers, the Yeerks are suddenly going to be able to kill them?

    1. It's more that when you're fighting a group of ninjas, they're fairly easy to take out.

      Until you get to the last one. The last ninja is freaking UNKILLABLE. Happens all the time in movies.

    2. Inverse ninja law is a story device that says that "the more you have of something awesome or effective, the less awesome or effective they all become." So one ninja by himself in a story can wreck entire armies, but in a story with a bunch of ninjas, they can be take out easily.

    3. Actually, I'm pretty sure Jordan mentions in book 2 that she's only two years younger than Rachel. So even less reason not to recruit her.

  5. I dunno, I just can't hate Cassie. I can write off a lot of her issues as her being inconsistently written (let's not talk about the buffalo book), but mostly I just think that she's confused. She's kind of designated herself as the moral compass of the group and every mission she gets more and more unsure of how to keep everyone else from spiraling into total all-out violent psychotics (which okay maybe that would get the war won faster but come on, who would want to see their friends put through that?) so she resorts to poorly thought out measures more and more often. And I mean, Jake's her boyfriend, she probably knows better than any of the other characters how much Tom being infested had affected him and caused him to angst and freak out, so I can understand why she wouldn't want Jake to kill Tom and would try to stop it from happening. Yeah, it's not thinking ahead, and in the long run made things worse for the group, but honestly I can see why she'd do it, and when haven't any of them made quick decisions without really thinking?

    And honestly, when she says she feels like she made the right decision, it sounds to me like she's trying to convince herself.

    1. Ah, it looks like you got to the Cassie defense before me, I should have read through before commenting I would have replied here instead. But yeah, agree on that. If Cassie had like an hour to weigh the pros and cons of her decisions she would have had the time to form a plan to stop Tom from taking the cube without killing either of them. However, she only had like what? five seconds in which to figure out what she should do? OK YEAH I'LL BITE HIS LEG is quicker to think of than "first I'll stall Jake, then I'll run Tom down, and somehow I'll get the cube back without murdering him and..."

      Also she can't see the future, while she would have seen the Yeerks getting the cube would meen morphin' Yeerks, she would have to be the Ellimist to realize letting Tom go would fuel his revenge feels against Jake and the Visser would lead to the murder suicide that happened in the last book.

    2. The problem with the "she can't see the future" excuse is that it totally negates the justification later given (which is BS anyway), that she anticipated that the exposure to the morphing cube would inspire the Yeerks to look for an alternative way out.

      When you "can't see the future" you have to go on what is right in front of you - bad guys stealing the ONLY weapon that has enabled you to last this long or do ANYTHING against said bad guys. You DON'T stop the one guy with a chance to save the day, in order to spare his feelings. That is a cause worth sacrificing his LIFE to prevent, let along his emotional well-being.

      You can't defend Cassie by saying she did not know that her actions would cost Rachel her life, and Jake his sanity, because that outcome is BETTER than you could have expected! The Yeerks taking the morphing cube is something you could expect to result in the deaths of ALL the Animorphs! People are defending her by saying that she could not know that 2+4=1, but she lucked out in that it was ONLY 1. We should have expected the result to be 6 (dead Animorphs, that is), and the Animorphs mostly seemed to think they were boned as a result.

      Only five seconds to figure out what to do? LET THE BOSS DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE! You have trusted him to be in charge for 52 books so far, let him make that call, instead of, like your mom & dad, arrogantly deciding you know what is best for other people. That IS the whole point of the war, after all. That's why even if ALL the Yeerks were like the benevolent symbiotic partners as they are mostly portrayed in the Controller Chronicles, they still have to go.

      I'm starting to think Cassie is so sympathetic to peaceful options not because she feels for all living creatures, but because she empathizes with the Yeerks themselves.

    3. Cassie seemed more cut out for a peacemaking/treaty-maker role than a warrior role from the beginning. And I suppose that's why I'm neither a soldier nor would I ever be able to. (As I mentioned below) I'm fairly sure my reactions if placed in the Animorph situation would be closer to Cassie's than anyone's (though, tbh I honestly probably wouldn't even make it close to as far as her).

      I'm not saying what she did was good or right or at all, just that I can understand and sympathize with her in that moment. (And, tbh, I think she's just bullshitting her excuses afterwards, though IDK if that was at all what the author(s) wanted us to think reading it.)

    4. @ Cannoli:
      I didn't get the vibe that she was trying to sympathize with Yeerks, OR protect Jake. Remember, earlier in the Hork-Bajir's camp, just because his whole family was infested because of him, Jake dissolved to the point where the others are trying to force him to step up (the grown-ups did the opposite. Later in the series, when Jake's action's cause Rachel's and Tom's death's, he loses it. And that was with his parents comforting him. If his actions had killed Tom at this time, he would have fallen apart, and wouldn't be able to put himself back together. This would be fatal for the resistance.
      Bottom line: I don't think the excuses most people are giving her are completely valid. But if she did nothing, Jake would have killed Tom, and he would never piece himself to be the leader they need him to be. This was, before you complain about her amazing foresight, a piece of her reading-people skills at work.

    5. Owl Nutter's right. Jake did lose it after sending Rachel to kill Tom ... but the war was effectively over at that point. He could afford to lose it.

      If he had killed Tom at THIS point in the story, and not been able to keep it together, the entire resistance would have fallen apart and the Yeerks would have won. End of story.

      Anyway, my secret pet theory has always been that originally Jake DID kill Tom at the end of Book #50 and that sequence of events ended up horribly, so the Ellimist gave Cassie a chance to go back to this point in time and change things. That would explain her strange certainty that she was absolutely doing the right thing.

  6. Timmy and James were in charge of the auxillary animorphs.
    Timmy and James.
    Timmy and Jimmy.
    South Park reference?
    Wouldn't be the first.

    1. Oh my God...

      (Re-reads James' lines in Jimmy's voice...)

    2. One in a wheelchair, the other with a speech impediment. It makes too much sense.

    3. Wasn't Timmy a soldier? Like, James, a guy named Craig, and a girl named Erika were healed, so they were the leaders of three teams. But yeah, it's funny. At least until they change his name to Terone.

  7. Ok thoughts on this book. And also spoilers for the last book, just in case people are reading along with this IDK.

    1. I can't hate Cassie, honestly. TBH (and now I don't have three years of war experience behind me but as I am RIGHT NOW) I probably would have done the same thing if I saw my boy/(girl)friend about to murder his brother in order to get back alien technology. While it was a dumb idea, it was very spur of the moment panic mode IMO and her "justifying" it as doing the right thing struck me as her trying to convince HERSELF not stating a fact. (Cassie's moral side reminds me of Ed Elric from FMA:B and the FMA manga tbh. In fact, minus the "dangerous alien tech in the hands of the enemy" bit, it kind of reminded me of the scene in FMA:B when Ed jumps in front of Winry, not to protect her but to stop her from murdering Scar (who murdered her parents). ... which might be a stretch but that was the first thing I thought of when I reread this book a few months ago.)

    And throughout the rest of the book Cassie was the one that got a) Jake out of his self-loathing and b) James to allow the other kids to have the choice to fight. Scary manipulative Cassie is my fav, and I'm glad they gave that side of her a chance to shine in this book.
    The only other book I really remember that coming out was the last of the David trilogy, and that was a Rachel book.

    2. James is one of my favorites oh man what happens in the second to last book with his team KILLS ME and I hate everything about it.

    3. Naomi talking about how she wants to have three children left once this war is over never fails to make me tear up. Though we know what runs through Rachel's head in the end, I really wish that we'd gotten Naomi and Rachel's dad's reactions more too. Can you even imagine losing your child like that? Your TEENAGER goes on a SUICIDE MISSION SHIT. I also wanted conversations between Jake's dad and Rachel's dad (they're brothers right?) about what happened between Rachel and Tom like REALLY BAD. Adult feelings.

    4. Um. From the last Rachel book (with super Rachel) until the next Jake book I think those were some of my favorites in this series. Mostly because SHIT STARTS TO GET INTENSE. And its great.

    1. re: 3. Also, throw their sibling George or Ellen into this too. Remember Saddler's parents, whose kid was almost killed in an accident, got miraculously healed overnight, and then disappeared suddenly? He was Jake and Rachel's mutual sibling, which means Aunt Ellen or Uncle George is another sibling of Steve & Dan. As I noted elsewhere here, those guys are the Jewish family of the series, and their fates are like a reversal of Passover, wherein the Jews were spared a plague that killed the first born of each family. The first born child of each of the elder Berensons dies in this series, Saddler, Tom & Rachel.

      Sadness, sadness, EVERYWHERE.

      It's probably what makes the series so compelling, and why we're back reading this blog ten+ years later.

    2. And on this (sadder) note, ughhhhhhh the adult sadness of this series is heartbreaking.

      I also always question how Jordan (and Sarah, how old was she anyway?) felt, how did their parents treat them after losing Rachel? How did JAKE'S parents treat him after Tom? How did Naomi act towards Jake after realizing it was his call, esp regarding the lines quoted above? Did Jake tell George/Ellen about David/Saddler? I imagine there just wasn't time to pack all the adult horror in, but I must be a masochist because I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THIS FAMILY.

      (And everyone else's too. The Chapman family? Marco's family, esp Eva after however long as Visser 1 once the war is over? Alloran after like two decades of being Visser 3?)

    3. I think Jake's parents accepted it. In book 54, Jake moves out of his parents' house after writing his autobiography, so they must have accepted his decision to allow him to live with them. And they get to see how guilt tore him apart too.

    4. Or they were too scared to kick him out. He sent their niece to murder their first born son. They still have like four nieces left, that's two for each of them.

      Seriously though, they were Controllers too, for a little while, so they probably accepted it. And if they did not know guilt was tearing Jake apart just living with him, they are much suckier parents than they have been portrayed thus far.

  8. Honestly one thing I'm starting to notice is how Cassie has a personality that would make for an interesting villian (I think they might have mentioned this though at one point). Seriously someone right a story with evil Cassie I want to see it.

  9. I didn't know when the best time to bring this up would be but I suppose this is it given that we're in the home stretch of books.

    Adam and Ifi, have you given any though as to what, if anything, you're going to tackle after this series?

    1. Continue with Applegate's legacy! Do Everworld!

    2. Everworld would be AWESOME. It's been a long time since I read those too. Yes, do Everworld!!

  10. I agree with a lot of other commenters on the Cassie issue: when I was younger Cassie was a bit of a favorite for me, but now that I'm older, there have been things about her that I am not fond of. In this book, however, her last actions that seem to doom the Animorphs, I want to defend.

    Cassie bites the leg of Jake, the leader, and this seems perfectly in character, because of all people, Cassie would be the one who turns her back on her leader, and acts against him. She is scary because of her capacity to do what she deems right to do. However, Cassie can't see past her emotions for Jake, and this decision is not a logical one, because Cassie doesn't work logically, we associate her with emotions and morals (no matter how hypocritical at times)

    She sees Jake on the cusp of falling over the edge the whole book, and figures that him killing Tom will take him completely over. After all, Jake's entire goal of the war was to save Tom. In saving Tom, she saves Jake's sanity, at least for a few more books, and saves the rest of the team until of course, there was no choice but to kill Tom. She couldn't see that Jake would fall further and faster than he was now, she couldn't see that Tom would use the cube in such a way, or that the Yeerks would use it to morph, or anything. Cassie is entirely focused on Jake's mental state the whole book, if you notice, this is a book on her point of view and it is concentrated on Jake a good amount of the time- this is a book as a farewell to the relationship Cassie and Jake has, as much as it is a sendoff to Cassie individually, and Jake as a stable leader.

    Cannoli, Cassie deliberately chose to not trust her leader because I think she unconsciously did not trust him anymore. And Cassie, the whole time, has been making her own decisions often, doing things as she sees it, and if she doesn't do things as she sees it, she starts worrying over it needlessly. It's the kind of person she is, and it leads down to this moment. She picked what she saw was best- in a contest between the blue box and Jake's sanity, she picked what she thought the team could and could not live without. And yes, in doing so, she doomed her team. Perhaps the Ellimist did have a point in saying she grounded one time line against another. We'll never know what exactly would happen if she let Jake kill his brother.

  11. That kitten analogy reminded me of this.

  12. One of the interesting and more subtle things I noticed in this book was how the ghostwriter set up James as the next David. Not only is David brought up several times as a reminder of what happens when they make more Animorphs, but James is intially presented as resentful and stubborn, in that he wants to lead his own team of Animorphs. The analogy is heightened by James taking on a lion morph later on. But unlike David, James and his team probably become one of the greatest heroes in the final battle by laying down their lives so that Jake and Arbron can buy time to pull of their gambit.

    Jake and James seem to have a sort of Ender/Bean mentor relationship going that becomes very clear in the next book.

    And another note, to distract everyone from the growing anti-Cassie sediment: If you were an auxiliary Animorph, what battle morph would you choose? I'd personally go with a hippo. Not only are they fast and durable, but they have insane bite pressure that could probably break apart a Hork-Bajir's bones...

    1. Cassowary.

      Also, dude, Tasmanian Devils are tiny. I mean, they're ferocious for their size, but said size isn't even a foot tall. A Hork-Bajir could punt one of them aside pretty easily.

    2. That's why you have to go for the eyes.

    3. Ostrich. I would have been a fighter jet, but it was taken.

    4. honey badger
      also damn the aux animorphs were cool what happened to them again....oh *sobs*
      also (again) the yeerks getting the morphing power probably sent desertion skyrocketing as the next book will demonstrate very early

    5. Baboon. A big monkey with FANGS.

    6. Andalite or Hork Bajir. Blades and hands baby, blades and hands.

    7. Depends. What's the most deadliest thing in Australia?

    8. If we can do aliens, I'm going to change mine to a frolis maneuver Andalite-Hork Bajir combo. Think of a Hork-Bajir with an Andalite tail blade & eye-stalks, and four Hark-Bajir legs, with claws and food-absorbing feet, and muscular, brachiating, blade-covered limbs.

    9. Hork-Bajir aren't acclimated to walking quadrupedal, and Andalite torsos are lighter weight. You'd be unbalanced and tripping over your own feet all the time.

      This place has some articles on how creatures move different based on their differing number of limbs, if anyone is interested:

    10. I don't know if I was clear, but I had a basic Andalite structure, with four legs and two arms (Hork-Bajir, not Andalite). Or maybe just a Posleen. They're from a series by John Ringo, and are pretty much reptilian centaurs, but their upper torsos are a lot smaller, so as to have more leverage, I would assume, without needing the lighter Andalite torso that becomes functionally less effective in battle. Also, they can eat anything from any planet (the ability of Andalites and Hork-Bajir to survive on Earth plants should have been another problem), are all but immune to bio or chemical weapons, have inherited combat skills and are natural marksmen. Who carry rail guns.

      Or maybe a Predator or Xenomorph from the Alien films.

      Or maybe a fighter jet. I don't want to get too ridiculous, after all.

    11. If I could get a hold on one, I would also morph Howler. I would comb the galaxy, looking for them, until I find the Sharf Den and their Howler lovers. If I can I shall make them my army and rule the world.

  13. I was extremely angry at Cassie for the next two books. The YEERKS can MORPH. NO! That's WRONG. NO!

    The Andalites must have all had a collective heart attack when they found out.

    The Auxiliary Animorphs must have been all "FUCK YES I CAN LEAP AND FIGHT FUCK NO YEERKS YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GET ME HAHAHAHAHA" the entire time, high on adrenaline. Because they're invincible. For now.

  14. The thing with the parents derping around and Marco's comment of "Adult's can't adapt" reminded me of JesuOtaku's Digimon review when she said that Western kids' series almost always make the parents either stupid or absent.

    I know you guys touched on it already, but I just feel like making almost every non-controller human adult in this series out to be unrealistically dumb, disbelieving or useless just doesn't fit. I know that the writers do this just to make the kids look more powerful and capable, but at the same time, it goes against a lot of what the books try to convey.

    For example, every enemy alien species we've seen has been presented with deeper qualities that make us want them to have better lives. The Hork-Bajir are child-like and simple to the point of frustration, but will do absolutely everything they can to free themselves and die for it. The Taxxons were controllers willingly, but only in an attemp to curb their eternal hunger that they can't control. Even the Yeerks are portrayed as sympathetic because all they want is to be able to function and experience things that they would never be able to as slugs.

    But when it comes to non-human-controller adults? Outside from the army guys, they're played up to be unreliable obstacles that will only slow them down (see: Trekkies, Rachel's mom, anyone with a shotgun, innocent bystanders, etc). They rarely see any competent adults in this whole thing, and have no human adult allies (aside from controllers and army guys). I get that nobody knows what's going on, but when they do, they just call shenanigans and get in the kids' way instead of actively helping.

    It just really bothers me that in a series that takes the time to even make the alien invaders sympathetic, it falls back on, "Adults don't understand us and are obstacles to our goals," when thematically speaking, it should be the exact opposite, especially when it's ALL humans under attack.

  15. "Adam: This is all just making me wonder how the series would have turned out if a bunch of people in their late 40's had found Elfangor instead."

    This fic here:

    -except they're the same characters, just in their mid-30's (I believe). I find it fairly good myself.

    1. Whoops-
      nope, the old gang is in their twenties. And here's the summary:

      "The year is 2010 and the Yeerks have only just arrived on Earth. Jake, a veteran in his mid-20's, must put his career plans on hold when he and his friends discover a dying alien who warns them about the coming invasion. AU"

      It's especially interesting how Ax turned out, with those extra years in the Andalite military.

      The author also made character sheets here-

    2. -Whoops, actually mid-late 20's; my bad. Also, here's the summary for any interested:

      "The year is 2010 and the Yeerks have only just arrived on Earth. Jake, a veteran in his mid-20's, must put his career plans on hold when he and his friends discover a dying alien who warns them about the coming invasion. AU"

      It's interesting how the characters have changed with several more years behind them- especially Ax.

    3. IDK, I thought they undercut the whole interest of the premise by having Jake be military. The whole point of the Animorphs is that it was a group of ordinary people. Jake's thought process in that is completely atypical and divorced from the normal perspective. It's like that one really long story where Elfangor survives the crash and leads the Animorphs through all the same crises. It's purely an Elfangor story, with no payoff for the other characters, who barely develop. Same thing in that story about the adult Animorphs - Jake, as the sole military experience, dominates and the others will have to become more like him, rather than all bringing a significant piece to the table. A story like that could be interesting, but only if they are all military personnel. "My favorite characters and his five sidekicks" is not nearly as interesting a story as most fan fiction authors like to think. See also another one referenced in the comments a few weeks back by a guy called capnnerefir, or something like that. That one is a little better, because in spite of the author's imposition of his tastes on characters and outright favoritism of Tobias, he attempted to give the others equal play and be true to their voices as he saw them.

    4. I'm still holding out for someone to tell me the name of the crazy Animorphs/Twilight one they found months ago. At this point, I'm 90% sure they made it up.

  16. Something else interesting that I noticed about the final few Animorph books is how they seem to highlight how far the characters have come since the first book and highlighting just how much they have gained (or lost) throughout the series. I'm not counting 54, since the majority of that book is more of a denoument and it's narrated by everybody.


    Jake in #1 is initially very hesitant and unsure about joining the war, and has to be coaxed by his friends to morph at all- but realizing that Tom is a Controller galvanizes him into action and allows him to lead an effective rescue mission to the Yeerk Pool. By Book 53, Jake is so devoted to the cause of the war that he is willing to do anything- including manipulating his comrades and making some very dramatic sacrifices- to win the war and, by proxy, save Tom.

    In book #2, Rachel is sent on her first solo mission to the Chapman's house, where we see her adventurous, risk-taking devil-may-care side first really surface. In 48, however, Rachel realizes that she is basically consumed by the war, and is forced to acknowledge this- even though her most hated enemy is held captive and begging to die, she isn't sure that she can carry it out and fully become what Crayak claims she is inside.

    In book #3, Tobias struggles to deal with life as a hawk, but eventually finds balance and settles into his new lifestyle, forgetting about his human problems unless he is directly confronted by then. #49 shows what happens when Tobias, who is almost entirely hawk by now, is suddenly forced back into his human life to meet the mother that he always wanted, who has no memory of him or Elfangor.

    Book #4 sees Cassie unifying the team with a mission to rescue Ax underwater, and helping to reinforce the ranks with a new addition to the team. But in this book, her idealism and morals are responsible for destroying a great deal of the group's cohesion, and driving a wedge between her and Jake.

    Marco is perhaps the only one that doesn't seem to lose something in the war. In The Predator, he is still doubtful about being an Animorph and struggles to come to terms with his new responsibilities and powers. But like Jake, realizing that his mom is a Controller snaps him into becoming an effective warrior. By book 51, he leads a strike team to the Capitol and manages to alert the National Guard to the crisis at hand more or less singlehandedly, proving that he has become an effective leader.

    Finally, Ax struggles with his divided loyalties all throughout the series. The law of Seerow's Kindness is something that he rigidly adheres to for all of book 8, but is finally persuaded to disobey Andalite law by his allies at the end. In book 52, Ax turns his back on his birth race once and for all, directly disobeying their orders to destroy the Yeerk Pool in one of the best scenes in the series (in my opinion, anyways)

    1. Also, initially Ax was really detached and seldom held opinions on human stuff. In 52, he's a lot more judgmental & opinionated. There is also the parallel/contrast of his human-Andalite perspective, where his pro-Andalite stance is not entirely reflexive loyalty or trained obedience to his superiors. In both books, more than any others, he exhibits concerns about humans. He picks them in the end in 8, because of the personal loyalty and friendship they demonstrate to him, but despite the erosion of the group and in particular his disenchantment with Cassie, Rachel and even Jake to a lesser extent, and his exasperation with humans in general and his observations of their nature, he comes around due to a more even-handed perception in his last book.

      For the human Animorphs, each one's first book is kind of a call to action. As a human Tobias embraced the idealism and was the most enthusiastic for the fight, but by his own book, now that he had begun to acclimate to being a hawk, he had to find a way to live with it, while carrying on the fight. All the others were more reluctant and really hit their strides in their first books. Jake undertook the responsibility and as you said, was motivated by Tom just as Marco was by his mother. While Cassie, like Tobias, was ready to fight for an ideal, I think it was just empty words, which only sustains you so far. Tobias' encounter and connection to Elfangor gave his ideal substance and I think for Cassie, it was the confirmation of her Ax-message dreams that gave her more confidence to go with her intuition, and her rapport with the whale that actually reinforced her ideals and cause and made them a concrete reality. For Rachel, while she was good to go on the action front, and ready to dive in and help her friends from the beginning, it was seeing the effects of what Controllers were like and how their situation effected more than just the host and the war. That book was the canon version of the Controller Chronicles.

      I don't know that the last-book thing really comes around with the first books. Rachel is gung-ho in hers, because that's Rachel. There really is no exploration of her moral issues or the costs of violence, which is what she deals with in her last book, and indeed, most of her subsequent books, except for the Helmacron return. Book 2 was a bit early to deal with that stuff.

      For Jake, I think sometimes that 47 was really his last book, and really finishes up his leadership story. 53 was more of an action book, and less about character developments, aside from setting up the rapprochement between him and Cassie. Rather, that book is the culmination of a character development that has been ongoing since the Loren book. 53 is really the climax of the arc of 49, 50, 52 with 54 as an epilogue. For all intents and purposes, 51 was a side story, which is why I'd also go back to 45 as Marco's last real book and the culmination of his character arc. I feel like 51 was kind of saying "Well, we finished Marco early, let's just send the fun squad out of town for a book." Marco's also not much on the interpersonal stuff, so he's the wrong narrator to observe other character's developments (as Tobias & Cassie play witness to Jake's final arc), but and is not removed enough to be a neutral observer (as Ax is to Rachel & Jake especially in his last book). The rotation dumped a Marco book into the middle of that final sequence, so they yanked the plot out of the rest, got the finished Tobias & Marco away, and brought Ax, to keep his relationship with the group on pause. Marco & Tobias are the two he had the least issues with, so his problems could take a rain check while he was with them.

  17. "I wonder if there were kids in hospitals that read these books. And then they got to this book, and they got to be the heroes... Dear God I am going to cry."

    If my math adds up, this book came out about a year after my longest hospitalization. I didn't start reading Animorphs until a few years later, but yeah, this book has always struck a chord with me for that reason. (Tuan/Timmy in particular. Not only do we share a condition, we're similar in personality.) What I'm trying to say is that it's very likely they were kids reading #50 in the hospital. There could very well be kids doing it NOW. And, unfortunately, the description of disability in this book is... painfully accurate.

  18. I really don't understand one thing... everyone is PISSED that Cassie let Tom get away with the morphing technology by stopping Jake from killing Tom... EXACTLY LIKE WHEN JAKE STOPPED MARCO FROM KILLING HIS MOM, LETTING VISSER ONE ESCAPE AND LAY A TRAP FOR THE ANDALITES THAT DREW THEM AWAY FROM EARTH AND SEEMED EQUALLY PROBLEMATIC AT THE TIME!

    Totally okay when Jake does it, really fucked up when Cassie does the exact same thing.

    1. But can you write absurdly vitriolic and lengthy diatribes against Jake? That seems like it was the way to convince people in these comments.

  19. Loved this book a lot as a kid. I loved seeing more Animorphs. Especially ones that weren't complete jerks like David. Even more so, seeing disabled kids get a chance to speak or walk again (or fly if they previously flew in life) was so heartwarming.

    A few questions I had about it was how in the world did all these disable kids acquire morphs? Especially dangerous ones? The Animorphs had a hard enough time just trying to do it in their healthy, fast normal bodies. Can you imagine kids that have to crawl or be pushed or carried up to these animals, like LIONS??? And what about Pedro? Did we ever see him morph? I would've liked to see that. His first experience. Poor guy. Maybe I'm losing it and its already covered in the last few books which I have yet to read at this point.

    Anyways, thanks again for the reviews and insights. Always enlightening and very funny!

  20. What I want to know is... why didn't KA tell her ghostwriters about the Chee? They act like they don't exist anymore in the universe. They would have been very helpful. Of course they cannot fight for the Animorphs, but they can provide protection in the form of holograms and can do incredible things to trick the Yeerks. Sure, they do this in the final book, but why wait so long?

  21. You know, come to think on it...David was going to give Esplin the morphing cube, right? Esplin offered him his family back, and David prioritized saving his family over saving the world...until *Cassie*, in wolf morph, closed her jaws over his lion hind leg. Now, Jake is prepared to sacrifice his family to prevent the morphing cube from falling into Esplin's hands, and Cassie, in wolf morph, bites him on his tiger hind leg to stop him.
    I dunno if that's intentional.

  22. > Adam: That seems less like brutal efficiency and more just a lack of creativity.
    Funny, that's what I think about a lot of villains' plans. "Seriously, guys, there's a way to do this without being so cartoonishly evil."