Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book 52: The Sacrifice

The Summary
Life is tense in the Hork-Bajir valley. The Animorphs are all at each others throats and Ax is getting secret transmissions from home telling him to just let the Yeerks win. The Animorphs come up with a plan to drive a train full of explosives into the Yeerk pool. Cassie objects but nobody cares.

They go to a National Guard outpost to steal the explosives, and wind up having to explain everything to the soldiers. The soldiers turn out to be pretty cool dudes, and the Animorphs cart a small emporium of weapons and trucks and other army stuff home.

They load up a subway car with bombs and stuff, and the plan actually works. The car lands right in the pool and the ensuing explosion takes out not only the Yeerk pool, but all of downtown.

The Review
Ifi: This book hurt my heart.
Adam: Well, it's all downhill from here!
Adam: =D
Ifi: Nobody was ever happy again.
Adam: Marco is?
Adam: Sort of?
Adam: Eh
Adam: You're basically right.
Adam: This is the book where they descend into inevitable bickering.
Adam: And Adam and Ifi are sad.
Ifi: Very unkind words are said
Adam: How differently this series might have ended if they had rescued a therapist from the Yeerks.

Adam: We can pretty much guarantee that they're all out of good cover morphs by now.
Ifi: Yeah
Ifi: Raccoon
Ifi: Again, good for an earlier book
Ifi: They really should have saved the good ones for the end
Adam: The raccoon with the tiny stalk eyes is admittedly a really cute image.
Adam: Though one I really wouldn't call the most fitting for this book.
Ifi: It would have been cool if at some point, we could have seen an Andalite becoming a Hork-Bajir or something.
Ifi: Inter-alien transformation
Adam: YES
Adam: Thank you
Adam: But they already have covers of all the primary aliens in this series, so I guess they didn't want to reuse them.
Adam: No matter how cool Andalite to Taxxon would have looked.
Ifi: Sorrow.
Adam: Cookie?
Ifi: No. No cookie.
Adam: No more cookie forever.
Adam: *sobs*

Ifi: So the book opens with Ax, Rachel, and James doing something.
Adam: Getting attacked by falcons.
Adam: An ordinary Friday evening.

<Okay. No doubt about what's going on,> Rachel said angrily. <I see a pair of Hork-Bajir directing people into a subway station. And the people don't want to go. This is a Yeerk operation.>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: God this is horrible.
Adam: This book has suddenly turned into Schindler's List.
Adam: I am going to go sit in the corner.
Ifi: The characters even acknowledge that this is basically Nazi Germany
Adam: Ax wants to head back to base and tell Jake, but Rachel wants to head in and attack right away.
Ifi: Luckily they are attacked by falcon-Controllers, preventing an argument
Ifi: And for the second time in as many books, they are on a train being chased by bird-Controllers
Adam: *Cue Samuel L. Jackson joke*
Ifi: Yeerks on a train?
Adam: That's it. I've had it.
Adam: Fortunately, they have more morphing experience, so they manage okay.
Adam: However, one of the morphed Controllers has something interesting on his mind.

<It only takes two hours. Right? I've been a falcon for one hour and fifty-five minutes. In five minutes I'll be free!>

So. This creature wanted to be a nothlit.

Wanted to be trapped in his morph.

<You will not be free. You will still be a Yeerk inside,> I pointed out.

<I will be free,> the falcon insisted. <l will fly. I will see. No more need for Kandrona. No more orders.>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Okay, I am going to assume that this guy is a morphed Yeerk, rather than a morphed Controller
Adam: I was just about to say.
Ifi: Otherwise it gets too confusing
Adam: That poor guy.
Ifi: I mean it makes sense that the Yeerks would want the morphing power for themselves rather than their hosts.
Ifi: But they are totally vulnerable between morphs
Adam: He wouldn't even have the time to himself that he usually gets when the Yeerk is feeding.
Ifi: So yeah I am choosing to believe that this is a lone Yeerk with no host.
Adam: Well, later Tom mentions that he gave his Yeerk body and Tom morphing capabilities, but he phrases it in such a way that it implies that not many other Yeerks are doing this.
Ifi: It also raises the question of what exactly happens to a Yeerk when his host is in morph
Ifi: Would he still need Kandrona?
Adam: I am assuming no.
Ifi: Ax lets the falcon go, but Rachel murders him a few seconds later
Adam: =<
Ifi: So much for that I guess
Adam: The ghostwriter has a rather dark sense of humor sometimes.

Ifi: So Ax is starting to get concerned about Rachel's blood knight ways
Ifi: Which is really weird because he has never had a complaint before

The other Animorphs and I truly worry about Rachel.

On the Andalite home planet, when a warrior becomes too fond of war he is shunned. A warrior should love only the cause not the killing.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Ok gonna call BS on this one
Adam: I get the impression that is really one of those rules that exists but is never enforced.
Ifi: Maybe the Andalites even believe it about themselves
Ifi: But as we've seen, Andalites very rarely fit into their own ideologies
Adam: That is a very distinct possibility.
Adam: Ax was still fairly naive when he got stranded on Earth, so he may be a bit more by the book about these things.

"The Yeerks used what they had. They extended the existing subway tunnels using Taxxon labor," Rachel was telling him. "We know what effective diggers Taxxons are. Now the trains run all the way to the main pool. My estimate is that there are at least six lines leading to it. And I spotted some Taxxons at work on what looked like another new line."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: As someone who lives in a city with a subway system, I am sort of cringing.
Ifi: They are lucky they didn't cause a hundred collisions in half an hour
Adam: Yeah, but this isn't New York, they subways there probably follow an actual schedule.
Ifi: Oh yeah you're right

Marco grinned. "Right. They can move Yeerks in big numbers. But we can take them out in big numbers."

"How?" Rachel asked eagerly.

"A subway train loaded with explosives," Marco said. "A small nuke if we could get our hands on one. Run that puppy at full speed, detonate it in the Yeerk pool, big BOOM! 'Bye-'bye Yeerks."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: I never thought I'd say this, but can we go back to alien toilets and Australia?
Adam: Sitting
Adam: In the corner
Adam: This was pre-9/11, it was a different time.
Ifi: So naturally, Cassie objects to this.

"The ends simply don't justify the means," Cassie said softly.

Rachel glared angrily at her. "You weren't there," she said. "You didn't see what we saw. It was like some old World War Two newsreel or something. People being rounded up and forced at gunpoint onto trains. Men, women, old people, and kids. It's like the Yeerks don't even care anymore about finding the healthiest and strongest to infest. They're taking everyone. Quantity over quality."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Gonna have to ask you to sit down, Cassie.
Ifi: I mean I totally understand where she is coming from but
Ifi: How else can they win?
Adam: To be fair.
Adam: This sort of plan is going to kill thousands of innocents.
Adam: A bit of objection might be seen as fair in such circumstance.
Adam: Then again, Cassie has really all but forfeited her right to talk at these meetings.
Ifi: Also at this point, Ax and the others don't know that it was Cassie who let Tom have the cube.
Ifi: They think that he just managed to get away with it.

Ifi: Also Ax has been making late-night secret phone calls to the Andalites
Adam: How he has been doing so…well, that is a very good question.

<The high command has met and made their decision. If the Yeerks are indeed concentrating on the planet Earth, we must allow their plan to continue. Once the bulk of the Yeerk race has been transported, the planet can be quarantined.>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: It's gonna be Hork-Bajir Homeword 2: Electric Boogaloo
Adam: The Andalite military displays an amazing inability to learn any new strategies.

<Has there been any change in technology acquisition?> Jaham-Estalan-Forlan asked.

I knew I should tell him that the Yeerks were now in posession of morphing technology.

But I did not. <No,> I said.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Ax who the hell's side are you even on?
Adam: Ax plays by his own damn rules.

Ifi: So we're going ahead with the bomb plan, but Cassie is out.

Rachel glared at her. "Okay, Cassie," she said in a sarcastic-sweet tone. "So, what do you think we should do instead? Just sit here and wait for the Yeerks to find us? Or maybe we should make it real easy on them and all go hop on the train for a little swim in the pool."

"Why do you have to be so horrible?" Cassie exploded. "You are, you know. And you get worse every day. Your own mother can't even stand you."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: *crawls into corner*
Adam: Everybody got hit by the jerk stick in this book.
Ifi: Yeah, it's almost unreal how horrible they're being to each other.
Adam: I mean, Cassie is literally descending to "your mom" insults.
Ifi: She is lashing out to cover her own guilt.

Tears began to roll down Cassie's cheeks.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have done it. I don't even really know why I did it. I…At that moment it seemed the right thing to do. The only thing. Now, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry."

"What is she talking about?" Marco whispered.

"It was me!" Cassie shouted. "I gave the Yeerks the morphing cube. I let Tom run away with it. I stopped Jake from chasing him. From killing him. Me!"

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Adam: Everyone is surprisingly quick to forgive.
Adam: Except for Ax.

I was angry. So angry the blade on my tail was quivering. <Because my brother, Elfangor, gave the cube to you. To you and your friends. He compromised everything he stood for by giving it to you. He betrayed the laws of his own people. He placed his trust in five humans. I am trying to understand why you would betray him in return. Why you would betray your friends. And why you would betray your people.>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Ow
Ifi: Ouch man
Ifi: Ow Ax
Ifi: That hurt
Adam: Honestly.
Adam: I can completely see where he is coming from.
Ifi: Yeah everything he is saying is valid
Adam: What's more, Cassie tries to justify her actions, by bringing up the Yeerk peace movement and the guy who wanted to become a peregrine falcon nothlit, even though neither of those were on her mind at all when she let Tom get away.

"I just know there are so many Yeerks who would defect if they could. Aftran wasn't the only one, we know that. There's always been a group of Yeerks who can't stand the notion of infestation. Who don't want to be parasites. Who don't want to be slavish followers of the vissers! Remember the first battle with the new recruits, when Visser One was in that horrible morph and choking Jake to death? Remember how that Hork-Bajir cut off one of the visser's tentacles and freed Jake? Some of the Yeerks just want to be free! Now, with the ability to morph, maybe they can be. We can't fight on forever. Not just us. And it's beginning to look as if we can't win by conquering. We may just have to learn to coexist. I don't know what was in my head at that moment, when I let Tom go. But now, in retrospect, maybe letting the Yeerks have the morphing technology is the way to peace."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: That is a great justification and a legitimate point that YOU HAVE NEVER MENTIONED ONCE BEFORE
Adam: Yeah, she totally just came up with this now.
Adam: Maybe she's convinced herself otherwise.
Adam: But still.
Adam: We were inside her head when this happened. That was not on her mind at all.
Ifi: Her thought process was basically, "I can't let my boyfriend kill his bro, he will never want to make out with me again."
Adam: I would not have put it quite that way, but basically.

Tobias ruffled his feathers placidly. <I followed you last night. I don't know who you were talking to. Or what you were saying. But I'm guessing you were talking to the Andalite home planet. Am I right?>

I could not lie to my true shorm. <Yes.>

<They're going to fry us, aren't they?>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: There are no secrets from Tobias

Ifi: Also it says a lot about Andalites that he's able to work out their plan in ten seconds
Adam: Aw, I honestly found that last part a bit sweet.
Adam: After all this nonsense, Ax is still willing to be open with Tobias about things.
Ifi: Yeah I don't think I'd have been able to handle it if he'd lied
Adam: Our hearts are still intact, somewhat.
Adam: For now.

Ifi: So everyone goes to steal bombs from the National Guard
Ifi: even the parents come along
Adam: Yay! Field trip!
Ifi: They even come up with a pretty good cover story

Marco's father gestured toward the other adults. "We've been lost in the woods for two days. Night before last, a bear came into our campsite in the middle of the night. We grabbed what we could and ran. And, er, we got lost."

Marco's father did indeed look as if he had been lost in the woods for several days. He was gaunt. His clothes were filthy and torn. His face was dirty and unshaven.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: The National Guard, having nothing better to do, takes them all on.
Adam: While the parents are being all distracting, the rest of the Animorphs go all Solid Snake.

The two guards posted in front of the warehouse did not look as if they were expecting trouble. One was noisily chewing gum and cleaning his nails with a toothpick. The other was glancing through a newspaper.

I walked forward. <Excuse me. Is this warehouse locked?>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Ah, the direct approach
Adam: There are worst methods.
Adam: At the very least, we get a bit of Ax funny.
Adam: It was very much needed, I would have to say.

The second one stepped back. "What in the..." But as he studied me, his face lit up with delight. He held out his hand, palm up, as if I were a dog or horse. "I've never seen anything like this." His voice was low and coaxing. "Hey there, fella. Hey!"

<Hay is for horses,> I retorted. <l am not a horse, though in some aspects I closely resemble one.>

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: That right there is the only bright spot in this book
Ifi: Enjoy it
Adam: I will treasure it forever.

"Sir, did you see the governor on television recently?" Jake asked the captain. "Did you hear her speech about the Yeerk invasion?"

"Of course. But I received word from my major that it was hoax. A very sophisticated hoax. The governor was sent away to a rehab center. Something about drugs or losing her mind. Lieutenant Colonel Larsen is being court-martialed for his association with the governor. Several troops from area bases have been deployed into the city to prevent panic from breaking out."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Awwwwww
Adam: That is
Adam: A remarkably disappointing way to cap off a relatively lighthearted book.
Adam: Hmm
Adam: Let's say
Adam: She broke out with her bare hands, and started fighting the Yeerks on her own, in single combat.
Ifi: Her bodyguard dude is with her, too
Adam: And just for good measure…let's say that they copilot a giant robot.
Ifi: And get married.
Adam: In the giant robot.
Ifi: Very good then
Adam: I feel a bit better now.

Adam: And next, something amazing happens.
Adam: Rachel's mom...
Adam: wait for it
Adam: Rachel's mom
Adam: Is actually helpful!

"But I have no orders," the captain protested. "I can't allow you to leave this base with those explosives."

That's when Rachel's mother stepped forward. "Captain Olston!"

"Naomi. What in the world are you doing here?" the captain said.

Rachel's mother and the captain shook hands. "How are you, sir?"

The captain smiled weakly. "Under the circumstances, uh, fine. And still a soldier. Thanks to you."

Rachel's mom turned to the rest of us. "I represented Captain Olston's oldest son when he was wrongfully accused of car theft."

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Ten points to Griffindor for sheer dumb luck

Adam: It's a Christmas miracle.
Ifi: So now that we're all friends, the National Guard gives them all these free samples of military shit
Adam: Well, you know how police officers are more lenient when giving traffic tickets to other police officers?
Adam: It's actually standard protocol to give out heavy explosives to kids if they have a contact.

"Mom," Rachel said softly. "I...I'm sorry. I…"

"Rachel, it's okay "

The rest I could not hear. Suddenly, Rachel's shoulders began to shake. She was crying. It was an odd and disturbing thing to see. But still, I was glad to see her cry.

Rachel is one human for whom I had never felt pity. But now, I felt an odd sense of kinship.

Perhaps Rachel, like me, suddenly realized that the gulf between the present and her childhood was an abyss of loss.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Adam: I got the warm fuzzies.

Adam: Well, it's off to blow up public property!

When the train had emptied of uninfested humans, a group of ten human-Controllers in various military uniforms stepped onto the platform.

One of the human-Controllers came forward.

"So," he said, laughing, "it looks like the circus is in town." He turned to his companions. "How about we join them in the center ring?"

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Adam: Are snarky oneliners a requirement in the Yeerk military?
Ifi: Apparently.

Captain Olston's men had joined us on the platform and opened fire on our attackers. I struggled to my feet. Saw a dead polar bear, a dead rhino, a dead cheetah. And many dead wolves.

Many dead wolves!

My hearts stopped.



I had thought I hated Cassie.

But I did not. I felt for her as I felt for the others.

And now she was dead.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: She's fine.
Adam: But Ax forgives her, I guess.
Adam: So we get a bit of closure on that subplot.
Ifi: They've really been through too much to hate each other properly.
Adam: Yeah
Adam: This is fair.

Ifi: So they run around and eventually Ax is the one chosen to set off the detonator
Ifi: (Though they agree to give everyone five minutes to get away)
Adam: (It's clearly not enough time to get away, but hey, it's the thought that counts, right?)

The train hit the end of the track and I felt it go airborne.

It arced through the air.

And jackknifed over the Yeerk pool.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Boom.

Humans, Hork-Bajir, and Taxxons swarmed toward the crash site.

It occurred to me that the Yeerks had not yet realized that what they had just witnessed was not an accident, but rather, an attack.

Dead slugs were everywhere. Floating on the surface of the pool. Pasted to the sides of the buckled and destroyed train. Scattered all over the docks.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Sentient beings are the same no matter what their species is
Ifi: Everyone loves to gape at accidents
Adam: The next part is better.

"There are ten one-thousand-pound bombs on this train," Cassie shouted. "They're going to go off in four minutes from now. You have four minutes to evacuate. Anyone still here in four minutes is dead."

If there had been panic before, Cassie's announcement produced utter pandemonium.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Some of the Controllers stay behind to unlock the caged hosts, which I actually thought was nice.
Adam: See, this book has some positive moments.
Adam: Of course, they all die a few minutes later.

I turned back toward the pool. And saw Marco as gorilla struggling with one of the cage. A female human-Controller ran over with a key. She turned it quickly and helped him release the trapped people.

Just as something monstrous rose from the surface of the pool.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: Visser Three what are you doing
Ifi: Were you just going for a swim when the train came crashing in?
Ifi: I don't
Ifi: understand
Adam: Hey, it's been a stressful time for him lately.
Adam: Sometimes you just need a good soak.
Ifi: Anyway, there's no big battle this time because the Animorphs explain about the bomb and Visser Three is like "O. Kthxbai."
Adam: After all this, it's a bit of a relief that the guy has some sanity left.
Ifi: So everyone runs away and the explosion happens.
Ifi: The Animorphs are fine because cockroaches I guess
Adam: As it turns out, blowing up a massive underground complex?
Adam: Maybe not the best idea.

Late that day, we perched on the roof of one of the few skyscrapers left in the area.
The destruction was breathtaking. Below us, there was a sinkhole where much of downtown had been.

Everything had just caved in. Half the mall, several office buildings, train stations, stores—all were gone.

Most of downtown had simply collapsed, swallowed up by an explosion the size of a small nuclear blast.

The buildings still standing were cracked. Some listed to the side.

----Book Fifty-Two, The Sacrifice

Ifi: lol whoops
Adam: Yeah...
Adam: Ax and Marco's dad at least should have seen this coming.
Ifi: Well at least we've finally done something about the Yeerk pool

Ifi: And yeah that's basically it
Adam: Next week
Adam: We have the penultimate book.
Adam: Almost done.
Ifi: Yeah...

Ifi: I am really regretting letting you talk me into doing this review series.
Adam: We all know you liked it.
Ifi: I never like anything
Ifi: trufax


  1. I think we get one sort-of happy moment when they figure out how to win, and then nothing but trauma and sadness. Looking forward to it.

  2. Probably one of my favorite books in the series. It's a shame that it will probably never be reprinted again, but whatever.

    Ax is pretty awesome in this book, what with him hijacking a subway train filled with bombs and ploughing into the Yeerk Pool.

    But more importantly, this is the book where I think Jake finally loses it. From 49 to 50, he's more despondent than aggressive, but when Cassie surrenders the morphing cube you can definitely tell that from here on out he is willing to do whatever it takes to win the war.

    And, in turn, their actions become far worse than anything the Yeerks have ever done. It's remniscient of a scene from Ender's Game, where Ender says that the only way he knows how to deal with bullies is to break and destroy them so utterly that they can never hurt anyone again. Jake is angry at himself for losing his parents, and so in desperation he lashes out at everything and everyone associated with the Yeerk operation- even though he knows that he will likely never see his parents again.

    Also, Thomas the Tank Engine, yay.

    1. I don't know about this "far worse than anything the Yeerks have ever done" thing, since the Yeerks pretty much as a rule target civilians and the Yeerk Pool is a clearly military structure. I mean, I'm sure more people have been made controllers by the Yeerks than have been killed by the Animorphs.

    2. If there is even one Controller alive afterwards, mathematically, that assessment must be accurate. And there are, so it is.

  3. This book. :-( Remember when they used to do stupid stuff like turn into flies/seagulls and go crazy over rotting food?

    So. I am going to defend Cassie just a little, because, I dunno, I guess I think someone has to. This is the book where she says "Okay. Then it's wrong. But let's do it anyway. I'll learn to live with my conscience." That's some pretty intense character development; she's come a long way from the girl who objected to morphing dolphins in #4. Also, with Cassie, I think there's always a lot going on subconsciously. Consciously, she wasn't thinking about the Yeerk Peace Movement when she let Tom take the cube. But subconsciously, something was telling her this was the 'right' thing to do... in my mind, subconsciously, part of her knew giving the Yeerks the morphing power was part of a long term solution to all the conflict. Obviously, I don't have a lot of solid evidence for this. It's just my head canon.

    I am also going to defend Rachel. She is... very stressed? She's just so angry at all the horrible stuff she sees (Nazi Germany, basically) that she has to do something about it. That's not a bad thing. In the book, it's sometimes implied that Rachel would never have been able to lead a normal life after the war, but I disagree. She's Rachel! She can handle anything. She would've figured out how to readjust to normal life, would've found something else to do, like, I dunno, start a band called "Baby goes to Z-space."

    I love the little bright moments, which are so few and far between now. Like Tobias and Ax still trusting each other. Little bits of warmth between Jake and Cassie, and Rachel and her mom. Also this:
    "Ax, for the last time..."
    "Don't call me 'prince.'"
    :-( this really the last time in the series we ever hear that little exchange? I think it is. Gah, sadness.

    Thanks, Adam and Ifi. I'm glad you guys did this review series. It has made my life happier the past few months. Even if the ending is page after page of sadness.

    1. Tobias SkywalkerMay 24, 2013 at 12:33 AM

      you go :')

      Thanks for defending Cassie.

      My answer to you is: Yes.
      You're right. Because Toomin.

      It's like everyone forgot the Iskoort and Megamorphs #4 and even the Andalite Chronicles.

      I am not going to say Cassie is always perfect Word-of-Ellimist. On things where we see her change, she is clearly character-growthing. But I think when Cassie sticks to her guns and gets tons of flak for it...

      That's when we're seeing her be the most loyal and useful piece the Most Brilliant Loser to ever exist ever played. :P
      And allowing yourself to be played by Ellimist is not quite a bad thing. It's not perfect either. But's better than not making a move, and better than making a move for Crayak. Making your own moves is best, but when you can't make your own moves anymore, try guessing what Toomin is trying to manipulate you into doing.

  4. How weird is it that I just realized right now, that in my head, Eva looks almost exactly like Judy Reyes (the Latina in the Scrubs music video)?

    Anyway, despite his coming around in this book and realizing how much he cares about his friends, I kind of despised Ax a little bit. Aside from the treason & accessory to genocide thing (he's a teenager under a lot of pressure, so I give him a pass because teenagers are morons anyway), he was an absolute shit to Rachel. You guys skipped that bit, but right before Naomi is useful on the mission, Rachel, Naomi & Ax were driving a truck loaded with bombs out of the base. A soldier got in their way, and Rachel was going to keep driving to get out no matter if he was in her way or not, until Ax & Naomi made her stop. AFTER THE FACT, it turned out that he was a good guy and the base was run by normal soldiers who showed an amazing amount of trust (and probably criminally bad judgement in trusting strangers with ordnance just because they were accompanied by a competent juvenile attorney), and Ax & Naomi LIED to Rachel about hearing an order to stop. THAT's why she was crying to Naomi - not because she had done something wrong and was sorry, or seeking comfort from her mother, but because they made her think she was evil or psycho.

    Rachel had been right to do as she did. The soldier could have jumped out of the way, and if he hadn't well, considering all the other innocents they kill in this mission, a man who volunteered for the military is hardly a stain on their consciences. If they had kept going, one guy too dumb to get out of the way of a truck would have died. If they had stopped and he had been a Controller or the base had been under Controller authority, the mission would have been failed, and multiple irreplaceable good guys in the less-than-30-people-who-are-Earth's-last-hope might have been lost. At the very least, Naomi, Michelle, Walter, Peter & Eva were not getting away without morphing powers. But because Ax & Naomi had qualms, they lie to Rachel to make her think there's something wrong with her, that she's so berserk and blood-crazed she wasn't hearing orders. Her stricken reaction and remorse show the exact opposite to be the case, but because Ax is mad she killed a Yeerk deserter she had no idea was deserting (and neither did Ax, for that matter - he might have been lying and going out to seek reinforcements, and his species flies a lot faster than Rachel or Ax), he decides to treat his friend like shit and make her think that maybe she DESERVES to be sent on a suicide mission, maybe she isn't fit to enjoy victory.

    Also, the whole incident with the would-be nothlit. Since we see absolutely NO sign of morphing Yeerks since Aftran went whale, there is a good chance that even if the Yeerk was telling the truth, he was condemning a human to a life of being a nothlit. As noted, Tom's Yeerk has the power, but still chooses to infest Tom, so why should we assume the Yeerk is just morphed. If V3 knows when the peace movement schedules their Kandrona feeding, he sure knows enough to keep them from the morphing power.

    I was just really, really disappointed in Ax in this one.

    1. I was disappointed in Ax too, albeit for different reasons.
      "Rachel was going to keep driving to get out no matter if he was in her way or not, until Ax & Naomi made her stop. AFTER THE FACT, it turned out that he was a good guy and the base was run by normal soldiers"
      You are saying since she didn't know that the man was good or bad, she could run over him and just assume he was a Controller. Um, no. You don't kill someone because they CAN be a bad guy or what they could do. You can use that excuse to kill ANYONE, because of what they could do. Just because anyone could be a terrorist doesn't mean the US government can slap them into jail. Also, if this soldier's order was to stop them, as you said a few weeks ago, that order must be held, even if he would get run over. This base is operating on the assumption that these are terrorists trying to steal bombs to use against the USA. They would probably treat this as what it appears. So he probably wouldn't move, as he thinks he is defending his country. So Rachel's only apparent motive for driving over him was that she was just so focused on the mission an innocent is worth the cost, instead of waiting to see if he's a Controller or not or just driving into the trees. And besides, even if they lied to Rachel, how was she supposed to get from "They said stop, you must not have heard it over the engine" to "I am an immoral monster an I deserve to die." How are you suggesting that she got that message out of you can't hear something over an engine? She was crying because her mother had done something for the mission, and said that they aren't insane teenagers, when she could have said "these children are crazy" and get out of the Hork-Bajir camp.
      Also, "he's (Ax) a teenager under a lot of pressure, so I give him a pass because teenagers are morons anyway"
      Interesting. When one teenager is an accessory to genocide, and betrays (sort of) his friends, you say oh it's okay he is a kid. And yet when another does something stupid, despite being the same age, you say ugh she's an idiot there is NO EXCUSE FOR WHAT YOU'VE DONE. Bit of a double standard, hmm.

    2. What established moral standard or legitimate authority sanctioned Cassie's actions? As it is, Ax's offense is "sort of" at worst, and he hadn't followed through on anything bad. Ax has conflicting loyalties, but what is Cassie's excuse for keeping it a secret?

      Also, your rationale about that situation with Rachel in the truck is ridiculous. It was a war-time situation, more so than just about any point in the series, and she was performing a task vital to the mission. She was not seeking him out to harm him, she was trying to bring out critical materiel that was the whole point of her mission. He was in the way and she was going to drive the truck regardless. She was not morally responsible for his being in the way, even if he was an innocent civilian. He was nothing of the kind either, he was a soldier and a volunteer at that. Even if he was doing the right thing, he is still a perfectly legitimate target even by the most rigorous standards of just war morality.

      Your perspective about good and bad guys is incredibly naive and childish. It has nothing to do with good and bad, and people who decide to kill or not based on moral judgements are the most suspect. It has everything to do with whether or not someone is hostile. A man who is trying to kill you for the purest motives and in the honest and sincere belief in the threat you pose to innocent lives is still hostile and an enemy and a legitimate target. The most evil, immoral and malicious individual in the world, if a genuine non-combatant, is not a legitimate target if he is not actively pursuing harm to others. If the soldier had orders to stop them, that made him a threat and a legitimate target in a guerrilla warfare against compromised authorities. The governor being deposed means that EVERY state employee is now a legitimate target, and it is not the Animorphs' ethical responsibility to determine who is and is not sympathetic to their cause. By putting on the uniform of the National Guard or California State Police, no matter how innocently or well-intentioned, they become lawful enemies.

      And what did I say a few weeks ago about orders? I suspect you've got that bit wrong too. In any case, even if they think they are doing something good and the Animorphs are evil, the situation is the same - they are enemy combatants and legitimate kills. The fact that that soldier has orders (he doesn't - stopping the truck might be an order, but not "stop it by letting it run you over and hope the terrorists feel bad about your death" ).

      Rachel was upset because first of all, thought-speak has nothing to do with noise. If Ax & Naomi heard it, Rachel should have as well. She believes she did not hear it because she was so focused on the driving and forcing the truck on, that she missed an order. She has already been concerned about the supposed violent tendencies she harbors (people wrongfully killed or allowed to die by Rachel in 53 books = 0; STFU Jake & Cassie). She was crying because they made her think she's losing control.

      As for her being awed by her mother's momentary utility, recall that Naomi had already attempted to do all that. This incident doesn't redound much to her credit - she was just saving her own ass from charges of aiding terrorists. All she did was what lawyers do - present a case whether she believes in it or not. That little speech to the officer about Jake was not a sudden conversion on her part, it was her betting on the only thing that could save her from jail, now that she had got them caught by making Rachel stop.

    3. No. Jake wasn't in morph at the time, none of the Animorphs were except Ax. They were all humans in the back of the truck. His "order" wouldn't have been in thought-speak, it would have been spoken. So Rachel not hearing the order over engine noise is a perfectly legitimate lie.

  5. Hmm...
    I don't know about the Cassie-making-up-YPM excuse thing. It says something like, several things were going through her mind, but the one most important to her was that if Jake takes Tom down, the group goes down, because Jake is the glue that holds the group together. She could have thought of that, but didn't note it as important as saving Jake and consequently the rest of the group.

    1. She was still wrong. In the first place, she was interfering with his own right to make those decisions himself. In the second, all she did was push him too far in the other direction. Prior to this, the Animorphs made decisions as a group and their individual strengths contributed to the battle plans. Rachel would push them past any squeamishness or fear, Marco would poke holes in the shaky aspects, Ax would vet it for practicalities and so on. But in large part because Cassie's choice exposes a lack of confidence in Jake's moral strength and emotional constitution, he starts acting like a dictator and commanding rather than leading. Instead of leading them in making a plan and carrying it out, he comes up with one on his own and imposes it on the group, and it is particularly inhumane in some aspects, which they would never have agreed to beforehand. Rather than blaming Cassie, he blames himself for the weakness Cassie must have perceived to intervene as she did. If he had been tough, Cassie would not have felt the need to spare his feelings, is his thinking on the matter, so he goes out of his way to show how tough and what a hardass he can be. And he murders 1700 sentient beings to break the will of their commander, and sends a trusting teammate on a suicide mission to kill his brother in part to spite Cassie who thought he was not strong enough to bear it. Kind of like saying "See, I CAN too take it!"

      And of course he can't. Cassie was right all along, and wrong about what she did about it. The Law of Unintended Consequences. Tiger vs kid. I'm pretty sure Jake could have found a non-fatal resolution to that outcome that does not lose them the morphing cube. Cassie has to learn her limits as a healer - you can't save people from themselves. She tried to suppress that self-destructive urge that has been lurking in his brain at least as far back as book six, and instead it just bursts out even worse farther on and will eventually kill every Animorph but her.

  6. What no 1812 Overture during the exploding train bit?

    1. Eep. Sorry, I've read the comic, but haven't seen the movie.

  7. Honestly it was after this book that I started to call Jake by the title "Jake Nelson Destroyer of Worlds".

  8. It's sad that this will be over in two weeks. Seriously, why does this have to end!?

  9. Oh, and I also thought this had a really telling point about Tobias that explains a lot about his reaction after the war.

    Even though Tobias is usually agreeing somewhat with Cassie about the moral issues, he blows off his own objections and goes along with the group. It seems kind of weird until you get to this book, when he makes the extremely good and way too late point about them being in uncharted territory and that maybe they need to feel out their moral boundaries as they go along.

    It also explains how he still supports Cassie in the next book, and gets in Jake's grill about giving her the cold shoulder. It explains how when Marco was starting to lose it on the mission to con Visser Mom, and Rachel wanted to abort the game and just put her down, and offered to take the shot on his behalf, Tobias intervened and said to let Marco follow through - not because it was best for the mission, but because it was what Marco needed to do personally.

    Tobias' character arc is that of the idealist volunteer who becomes disenchanted with the costs of the cause. In the beginning, he is the most gung-ho to fight, and the one without a serious personal reason, like Jake's & Marco's family liberation hopes. He was in it purely because he thought the Yeerks were bad and needed to be fought. But by the time he learns about Elfangor and is tempted with the appeal of a real family, he has boiled his motivations to something a lot simpler - he's fighting for the Animorphs, as he put it "I didn' about the fate of the human race...I cared about Jake, and Cassie, and Marco, and Ax-man, and Rachel."

    Tobias has given up on the cause for its own sake, and given up any idea of higher morality or abstract ideals. He is in this solely for his friends. When observing their parents behavior as they are told about the Animorphs, the identifying characteristic he picks out as common to the parents is their knee-jerk defense of their kids and that's what ultimately seals the deal for him and makes him happy with the recovery of Loren despite her complete ignorance of him: she was willing to take a bullet for him and that made her family as far as he was concerned.

    Tobias' relationship with the Animorphs is no different. He'd do it for any of them, and he knows they'd do it for him. He saw Jake cry when he revealed he was trapped as a hawk. He is the least close to Cassie and Marco of the team, but when he was captured by the Yeerks, Cassie sacrificed one of her patients as a decoy to get them in to rescue him, and Marco worked through serious wounds to keep trying to free him from the cage. Ax has expressed an extraordinary amount of trust in Tobias, and Rachel goes without saying.

    They're his people and that's all that matters to him. Forgiving things like conspiring with the Andalite commanders or letting the Yeerks get the morphing cube are small potatoes for Tobias when held against everything they are to him and he feels they should be to one another. That's why in the next book, he rips Jake a new one for giving Cassie the cold shoulder.

    That conversation between Tobias and Ax puts a lot in perspective for the next two books for them and especially explains a lot of the choices the two of them make in the finale.

  10. "It also raises the question of what exactly happens to a Yeerk when his host is in morph"

    To go along with the discussion of last week, I would like to post MY theory about how morphing works.

    First of all, on an unrelated tangent, I do not think morphing was intentionally invented. I think it was a wholly accidental discovery. I think what Escafil was attempting to build was a Z-space teleporter. The original intention probably went something like this: the Escafil device in your body is activated. Your brain is uploaded to some storage device in Z-space. Your matter vanishes at one point, is taken into Z-space, emerges at another point in real space and rebuilt using cellular regeneration, and then your brain is re-downloaded back into your body. Considering that no Andalites really harness the power of morphing for combat, or anything besides entertainment - and it's been available for 30 years, it only really makes sense if its discovery was an accident. I suspect what happened was something along the effects of a Brundlefly/The Fly screw up took place, leading to the accidental discovery of morphing power. Tech to turn people into birds would be really weird to set out to make. Tech to teleport people instead of using Z-space ships seems like a practical jumping off point for this. Maybe there was a Kafit bird that snuck into the exit tube, I don't know.

    Anyways, when you morph, your brain is backed up in Z-space. When you do morph, the tech can apparently readily adapt to alien brains. Humans have a two-hemisphered brain, which is unusual, but the tech adapts. The brain is simulated into some means of storage in Z-space regardless of the species, but doesn't have any physical form. It is just a backup.

    When a Yeerk morphs in a host, the morphing tech accidentally misconstrues the brain/Yeerk combo as an alien brain structure, and simply incorporates the mental structure of both creatures into the same brain backup. We know morphing will recreate symbiotes when going in and out of a morph. In this case, the Yeerk is mistaken as a symbiotic organism inherent to the host's brain.

    So no, a Yeerk should not need Kadrona rays if their body and mind are simply on some Andalite mega-computer stored in Z-space.

    1. In that case, it makes sense that the Animorphs are so much better at combat than the Yeerks. Sure, they do have way more experience on the battlefield, but they explain that they usually just provide the willpower and leave the actual fighting to their animal minds. However, while the Animorphs only have to control the morphs's instincts, the Yeerks would have to deal with those instincts AND the protests of their hosts, making it harder for them to concentrate on the fight.

    2. For some reason this reminds me of Bird of Poetry*'s Daemorphing crossovers, in which the His Dark Materials Daemons and their humans get merged into one morphed creature. You think the host and Yeerk brains suffer any aftereffects from getting assimilated during the morph?


  11. Of all the books, I thought it really interesting that we see Rachel going completely downhill at this point. I mean, the audience knows that Rachel was reaching this point, but since the focus was on Jake and his loss of sanity for the last few books, it was a startling change to watch Rachel from Ax's point of view. I remember in the last book, when Cassie was thinking about how Rachel was her best friend, and then I compared it to the way they acted in this book- all joking aside, Cassie's "mom" joke at Rachel shows that Cassie's morals dominate her reaction towards Rachel more than her feelings for Rachel as a friend. It is as if Cassie has a hard time understanding Rachel's ruthlessness that has come to the surface. When we look back at their friendship- how everyone said that Cassie and Rachel are absolute differences in terms of looks or hobbies, well, this is what really divides them, I think. Out of all the friendships in this series, the one that really degrades is Cassie and Rachel's, while of course Tobias and Ax's strengthens. Jake and Marco, on the other hand- stays strong, I guess?

    1. I'd say that all of Jake's relationships kind of crumble by the last two books or so and stay that way after the war.

    2. I'm not sure I'd want a relationship with someone who could send a friend on a completely* needless suicide mission.

      I'm sure you could argue it wasn't needless- but he didn't need to send her alone. There were other options available to him!

    3. How is Rachel going downhill? What does she do, aside from allow another character to say that her (infamously uncooperative) mother can't stand her? What did she even do that was notably ruthless? She had no choice with that soldier blocking the truck and Ax & Naomi pretending that she had ignored an order. Her reaction to the mistake she believes she made, if nothing else, proves she has not "gone downhill".

    4. Buckle up, everyone.

      This conversation is going places.

  12. When I first read this series, I largely accepted that the characters opinions of each other were accurate. It's odd to re-read it and go 'hmm, Rachel wasn't actually cracking up' and 'Cassie is a vile waste of oxygen'.

  13. There is one point in the book when the controllers are morphing to wolves and cheetahs a nd such, and Rachel suggests taking them down while they're in mid-morph, and Jake says they need to let the Yeerks finish morphing so they'll have a fair fight. He's acting like this is middle school soccer. I am just going to assume that he is very confident and he wants a little challenge.

  14. I have two things to say in Cassie's defense (re: letting Tom have the box). First, you could put it down to intuition, although that's putting a LOT of trust in your intuition. Second, her explanation about the YPM and the draft-dodging Yeerks is actually something that is completely reasonable for her to think, as is really something that she should have been thinking all along but the authors forgot to put it in or something.

  15. I think the part of this book that bothers me the most is how, ONCE AGAIN, they failed to properly utilize the chee.

    There is no way they could've thought that the area above them would be unharmed by the blast. Would it have been too much to ask a few of the chee to.... I dunno, put up some holograms that made them look like big monsters and then just run around for a few minutes scaring everyone off?
    Sure, there would be cops, but with as much power as even a single chee has, it really should've been, if not a cakewalk, then AT LEAST viable enough to consider!

    C'mon, I know they're all breaking down, but NO ONE considered this?