Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book 53: The Answer

The Summary
The Yeerks are building a new pool, so the Animorphs have to blow it up and/or murder all the Taxxons working on it. They also enlist a US general to help them but all he does is supply cannon fodder. While slaughtering Taxxons, Jake falls into a tunnel and meets Arbron, who inexplicably leads a large group of free Taxxons. He says that his Taxxons will fight for the Animorphs in return for the morphing power. Cassie finds an anaconda for the Taxxons to morph (as it only eats once a year) and the Taxxons are thrilled.

Arbron also brings Tom to the Animorphs. Tom says that he'll get the Animorphs on to the Pool ship to destroy it because he hates Visser Three. For some reason the Animorphs go along with it, though Jake is anticipating betrayl and comes up with his own backup plans, which include blackmailing Erek to come along with them and sending Rachel on a suicide mission.

Tom sneaks the Animorphs onto the Pool Ship while on the ground, the soldiers and Auxiliaries are slaughtered as a diversion. As anticipated, Tom betrays them and runs off with the Blade ship, but the Animorphs fake their deaths with Erek's holograms and go about their business. At some point, Jake rather pointlessly murdered seventeen thousand unhosted Yeerks.

Then the Animorphs go to visit Visser Three Visser One Esplin and encourage him to fire on the Blade ship. Esplin says that would be nice but someone has drained all the Pool ship's weapons. Good job Erek.

The Review
Adam: This cover is
Adam: disappointing
Adam: I mean, the color scheme is nice enough.
Adam: But the snake is some sort of awkward CGI render
Adam: and the morph just isn't smooth at all.
Ifi: Smallest anaconda I ever saw
Adam: Eh, the sizes were never to scale.
Ifi: Yeah I guess you're right
Adam: As a comparison:

Ifi: HOly
Adam: They didn't make that dumb series of horror movies about these things for nothing.
Ifi: Also the inside cover is basically the most horrifying thing ever

Adam: Okay, this makes up for the bland cover completely.
Adam: It looks like the cover of a death metal album.
Ifi: Oh man you are right
Adam: Or maybe the rave scene from The Matrix.

Adam: This is the final stretch.
Ifi: Yup
Adam: I'm not even sure what to add to that.
Ifi: Yep
Adam: So.
Adam: It's basically all-out war at this point.
Ifi: The Yeerks are blowing things up just to be dicks
Adam: Including an elementary school.
Adam: That's
Ifi: To be fair, I would have done the same if I'd been able
Adam: not cool, man
Adam: -_-
Ifi: I was assuming nobody had sent their kids to school that day due to the aforementioned alien invasion
Adam: How long has it been since the cast stopped attending school? For all we know, it might be summer break right now.
Ifi: "Ok kids I know there's alien spaceships burning down the mall but you need to go to school and learn geography and music and shit. Have fun!"
Adam: "But moooooom."

Adam: We also witness a group of F-16's try to take on some bug fighters.
Adam: They…don't fare well.

I followed the direction of his gaze, and sure enough, there they were: a flight of four F-16's.

They were racing straight toward us. Straight toward the Bug fighters.

<It's suicide,> Marco said.

We watched, helpless to do anything. We had spent the morning watching helplessly.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Maybe if you'd kept that tank, you would be able to do something useful
Adam: He'd just crash it into a building.
Ifi: So the Yeerks are making circles
Ifi: of dust
Ifi: because
Ifi: art I guess

Adam: I knew it!
Adam: Oh, and the pool ship is on earth now.

This circle of destruction was evidence of fear. They were creating a barrier of sorts: not a wall, but a desert of ash and cinder so that an enemy wouldn't be able to get close, unseen.

It gave me a grim satisfaction. The Yeerks were scared of us. But what were they protecting? The ruins of the Yeerk pool?

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: Nope

It was as big as a sports arena. It moved slowly, cumbersome in atmosphere. It was designed for space, not, like the Bug fighters, to be comfortable in air.

The Pool ship looked like a fat, swollen, three-legged spider. I'd seen it before, up in orbit, high above planet Earth.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: That description is…strangely adorable.

Ifi: And then we get
Ifi: A surname

My name is Jake.

My name is Jake Berenson. The days of secrecy, of lurking in the shadows are over. The
Yeerks know my name. They know my height, weight, eye color, Social Security number, and favorite foods. At long last they know the word Animorph, Marco's word for us.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Oh
Ifi: Okay
Adam: Aw, I kinda wish he left his social security number.
Adam: We could max out his credit cards and throw a party
Ifi: Tragic.
Adam: On a somewhat more serious note, it is a bit sad that we only ever get Jake's full name.
Ifi: Yeah, I'd love to know everyone's!
Adam: I mean, Tobias's was implied, but otherwise it would have helped to conclude the whole thing a little more.

Adam: It is decided that they have to blow up the Pool Ship.
Adam: They go through the whole "I know you know I know" routine with Eva, trying to figure out how well Esplin will be prepared for them.

"No one has decided any such thing," Rachel's mom said angrily. "My daughter is not going to be dragged into some suicidal undertaking like this."

Rachel laughed.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Ha
Ifi: Ha
Ifi: Ha
Ifi: ...
Ifi: fuck you
Adam: Forshadowing is so much fun, ain't it?

"There are hundreds of captive Hork-Bajir aboard the Pool ship," Toby said. "If we could free at least a portion of them…and of course there are the ship's massive weapons systems. Imagine controlling all that power."

"Take it?" Marco yelped. "Steal the Pool ship!"

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: I like Toby
Adam: We all do.
Adam: I wish they had gone through with that plan.
Adam: That is a cooler plan then what they end up doing.
Adam: You cannot comprehend my mastery of understatements.

Ifi: Jake sends the parents away so he can have a private council with the Animorphs, James, Toby, and Eva...but not Cassie
Ifi: He very specifically does not include Cassie
Adam: He didn't even do it intentionally.
Ifi: I'm going to assume it's because the author was getting just as tired of her as everyone else
Adam: Actually, that is an interesting point.
Adam: We are through all of the ghostwriters, and these last two books are written by Applegate herself.
Adam: Cassie has been stated to be her favorite character.
Ifi: I have no idea then.

Adam: Well, anyway, Jake forgot to invite Cassie to the war meeting.
Adam: Tobias chews him out for it.
Ifi: Jake can't get him out of his hair so he sends him on a mission to investigate some smoke
Adam: All the Captain Planet villains from early in the series are having a barbecue and reminiscing.

<They're building a new Yeerk pool,> Tobias reported. <Not so much a cave like the old one. More like they're digging a small lake and going to let it be open. Taxxons are all over the place, like maggots on a piece of roadkill.>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: So, we have two targets to blow up now.

Ifi: Also they go to terrorize a General because they need his help

"General Doubleday," I said. "My name is Jake."

"Get him!"

Three big, burly MP's were on me before I could yell. They knocked me onto my back, twisted me over on my face, and slapped handcuffs on me.

"General, this is a mistake," I yelled.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: They stick Jake in a cell
Ifi: You can guess how long this lasts
Adam: He escapes
Adam: They throw him back in.
Adam: Lather rinse repeat.

Three minutes later, I demorphed in front of General Doubleday again.

He had me tackled once more, handcuffed, shackled, my mouth duct-taped. I was carried, hog-tied, from the room and thrown back in the cell. In the cell I was chained to the cot.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: We do this
Ifi: I actually laughed
Adam: Is there any reason he couldn't try saying hello while still morphed?
Ifi: Theatrics
Adam: This book does legitimately need the levity.

Adam: Eventually, Jake manages to convince Doubleday (who has a name like an action movie star, but that's neither here nor there) to listen.
Adam: Just as the Pool Ship attacks.

Rachel leaned her bladed, goblin head gingerly out of the doorway and yelled, <Stop shooting, you fools.>

The firing continued, but it was no longer directed at our doorway. Rachel and Tobias stalked angrily out and berated the lead elements of the Hork-Bajir assault force.

"We have the gafrash human general, you loglafach. The visser wants him alive, and if you kill him it'll be you the visser eats for breakfast!"

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Uh when did Rachel learn to speak Hork-Bajir?
Adam: They've all been living with them for a month or so, I'm sure they've picked some of it up.
Adam: Plus, her mom was writing their constitution, remember?
Adam: Plus, I honestly really like the idea that they tried to pick up the Hork-Bajir language while staying there.
Adam: I mean, someone lets you stay in their home, it's only fair that you learn to communicate, right?
Ifi: There needed to be more done with alien languages in this series in general
Adam: Agreed

Ifi: So Jake nearly dies but he's fine
Adam: Eh, that sort of thing happens all the time, and now he has the advantage of not having to hide before demorphing.
Ifi: They tell Doubleday to tie up all his soldiers for three days and then apologize profusely if nothing happens
Adam: Fortunately, the Controllers in his ranks don't have the patience for this shit, and try to make a break for it.
Adam: That rather dramatically doesn't work.

Ifi: The Animorphs sit around trying to figure out how to blow up the new Yeerk pool
Adam: They decide to sabotage the mining operation, and just collapse the whole thing in on itself.

"With what?" Marco said.

Cassie started to say something, stopped herself.

Then, gathering her courage, she blurted, "You can't worry about the hole, you have to destroy the digging equipment."

I raised an eyebrow. "The equipment is Taxxons."

She looked away.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Uh
Ifi: What.
Adam: Why the uh what?
Ifi: Cassie's characterization is all over the place. As usual.
Adam: No, she's realized that her usual behavior is getting her in trouble with the group, so she's making an effort to be useful, even if that means being much more ruthless than usual.
Ifi: So they go in and totally slaughter a whole bunch of Taxxons
Adam: And then Jake falls down a hole.

And there were Taxxons: three of them. Each carried a Dracon beam in one set of upper legs. I could get one, maybe two of them. But three?

Before they could shoot me?

<Please do not attack, we mean you no harm.>

It was thought-speak! Not the impossible-to-decipher hissing and spitting of spoken Taxxon. Thought-speak, and impossible as it seemed, I had the strangest impression that it was an Andalite thought-speak "voice."

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: Arbron!
Adam: Aw man, I would just give the giant slimy centipede thing a big hug if he wasn't fictional.
Ifi: Arbron what what are you doing here how did you get here who let you in???
Adam: How is he not a thousand times dead by now?

<The morphing power,> Arbron said, now sounding almost desperate. <The morphing power! Don't you see? If the Taxxons could morph, acquire some more benign shape and find a safe haven on your planet…become something other than what they are, escape the hunger. You cannot imagine the hunger…they've seen that there could be a better way. The virus of knowledge is in their bloodstreams now, they realize that they could change forever!>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Arbron somehow commands almost two thousand free Taxxons
Ifi: No idea how the hell he managed it
Adam: See, this is why we needed a Taxxon Chronicles.
Adam: It would have basically been some scifi version of Heart of Darkness.
Ifi: The hunger! THE HUNGER!

<I have at times contacted the Andalite fleet without telling anyone,> Ax said slowly.

"I'll kill you myself!" Rachel erupted.

"Rachel," I said as evenly as I could.

<There is a possibility that the Andalite high command might resort to…extreme measures.>

"Now can I kill him?" Rachel demanded.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: That could have perhaps gone better
Ifi: They come up with a plan to basically blackmail the Andalite military into doing what they want.
Adam: Well, I see no possible way this could go wrong.

<You must understand that the Andalite high command is not the entire Andalite electorate. This long war has made them a greater part of our civilization than they should rightly be. The Andalite electorate, the people, do not know what is planned.>

"So, how do we tell them?" Marco said. "Any time we dial up that communicator my dad invented it just reaches the Andalite fleet."

<We take the Yeerk Pool ship,> Ax said. <We use its power to contact the nonmilitary Andalite communications net. We tell the Andalite people what has happened, what we've done, and what we have promised the Taxxons.>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Hooray for public opinion!
Adam: In this entire book, have we ever had any interaction at all with Andalite civilians?
Ifi: Nope
Adam: Oh, well Ax talks with his dad in book 8.
Adam: But I am not sure if that counts.
Adam: But really, this implies that we get a very lopsided view of what Andalite life is like.
Adam: It's like if aliens in orbit found footage of the Iraq war, and based their opinions of us entirely off of that.
Ifi: Sorry aliens :(
Adam: Indeed.

Ifi: Cassie picks out a morph for the Taxxons to all trap themselves in

"The anaconda is part of the python family," Cassie said. "One of if not the biggest snake species on Earth. It hunts live prey, but snakes are far from the kind of hunger a Taxxon knows. They have very slow metabolisms. They can go a long time between meals."

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: That is an understatement
Adam: Of course, this sudden influx of anacondas would totally wreck the ecosystem
Adam: But nobody cares about that.
Ifi: Yeah that was something that always bothered me, even as a kid
Ifi: Anacondas are cool though. They're the only natural predator of the jaguar. So. That's cool.
Adam: I've always had a fondness for large reptiles.

Ifi: Then Cassie and Jake randomly start talking about post-war life.

Cassie nodded. "I guess I don't think about that stuff so much. I guess I think more about us. You and me. And all of us."

I took her in my arms. The anaconda's habitat was probably not the most romantic place on Earth, but it felt safe. "You know I love you."

"I love you, too, Jake," she said, and put her head on my shoulder.

"I guess if we win, if we survive, maybe we should, you know, get married and all. I mean, eventually. I know we're young, but man, we've been through enough that it should count for a few extra years, shouldn't it?"

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: ...
Ifi: ...
Adam: D'aw?

Adam: That is an interesting reaction.
Adam: So, you've basically given up on Cassie at this point, I take it?
Ifi: I'm actually angry about the ending they got. Or didn't get.
Adam: Alright, that's justifiable.
Adam: So anywho, Jake and Cassie are now engaged.
Adam: I guess.
Adam: Sort of.
Adam: Calm yourself.
Ifi: No.

Adam: They all go to a dump to meet Arbron, and we get a nice little callback to The Andalite Chronicles.
Adam: Notice the car that they all go sit in.

I found the spot easily enough: a used car lot just outside the blast area. It was abandoned, of course. About half the cars had been stolen by looters, and of those that remained maybe a third were damaged in some way. But there, just as Arbron had told me, waited a yellow VW Beetle.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Awww haha
Ifi: That went right past me
Adam: I suppose it is a bit refreshing that after all Arbron went through, he still has some of his old sense of humor.
Ifi: Elfangor loved that car.
Adam: Where else are you going to listen to loud music and dip your hooves in sweet brown fluid?
Ifi: That is certainly a question.

Ifi: Arbon takes them to the other Taxxons and Jake gives a big speech
Ifi: The Taxxons love it.
Adam: We get our scene from the inside cover.
Adam: Of course, nobody brings up the fact that this will drive the Taxxons to extinction.
Adam: I am legitimately not sure if this is intentional on the author's part or not.
Ifi: I am sort of thinking that would be a mercy
Ifi: Also there's still the folks on the homeworld, assuming they are not all dead/captured
Adam: In one sense, yes.
Adam: But the homeworld is completely under Yeerk rule, and considering that Arbron got sent to Earth, I would assume that the hive isn't exactly doing all that great.

Ifi: Then Arbron reveals he is working with someone else

<And now, my friend,> Arbron said.

I heard footsteps and peered into the darkness of an access tunnel.

"Well, good evening, everyone. It's an awfully pretty night to spend it all in a filthy Taxxon tunnel."

I knew the voice. I'd heard it every day of my life. My brother. Tom.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: ...what are you doing Abron.
Adam: Seriously, I always pegged him as smarter than that.
Ifi: The author just needed a way to squeeze Tom in there somehow

Ifi: Also am I the only one who thinks it's really weird we never learn the name of Tom's current Yeerk?
Ifi: He's kind of important.
Adam: You are not alone.
Adam: We got the previous one's name, and he was really only important for setting up the fact that Tom is a controller in the first place, and the plot of Book 6.
Ifi: So Tom claims that he wants the morphing power for his fellow Yeerks because being a Yeerk is not quite as lousy as being a Taxxon but it's on the list.
Adam: If this was anyone else, maybe we could have bought it.

"What do you have to offer?" I asked Tom.

"The keys to the kingdom, kid. I can give you the access codes for every system on the Pool ship. If you can take it, Brother Jake, you and your free Hork-Bajir and your new Taxxon allies, if you can take it, I can tell you how to fly it. Not only that, I have a plan to help you get aboard the Pool ship. And by the way, your old friend Visser One has temporarily transferred his headquarters to the Pool ship. The Pool ship and Visser One—that's game, set, and match."

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: No guys.
Ifi: No.
Ifi: Walk away now.
Adam: Actually, no.
Adam: This is your perfect opportunity to take him captive and starve out the Yeerk.
Adam: Heck, actual Tom would probably know the real codes.
Ifi: He mentioned that he gave the morphing power to himself, though. What if he morphed inside Tom's head and killed him?
Ifi: Just thinking out loud here.
Ifi: It's never mentioned by the text.
Adam: He'd still be outnumbered and surrounded by people who are far more skilled at morphing then he is.

I said, <Marco? Find the Chee. Find them. Bring Erek to me.>

<How am I going to do that?> Marco groused. <The Chee hideout is in the blast area. I tried, but it's nothing but destruction, you can't even tell where the streets used to be. And it's crawling with Yeerks shooting anything that moves. It would be very easy to get myself killed going back there.>

<Yeah, I know. Do it anyway,> I said. <I need the Chee.> I felt sick inside. High and low at once. Exalted. Twisted.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: No Jake.
Ifi: No.
Adam: So Jake finally snaps completely now.
Ifi: "I will get the ancient alien dog-robots who are incapable of violence even in self-defense and hinge my plan for mass murder on their participation."
Ifi: Good thinking Jake.
Adam: It's all downhill from here, folks!

I had a few small changes to make to Tom's plan. The orders came easily, automatically as I dispatched my friends, one after the other. Only Rachel remained.

<Rachel, I have a job for you.>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: NO
Ifi: ARE
Ifi: YOU

Adam: They go back to camp. Marco eventually manages to track down Erik, and the horribleness commences.
Adam: Erek doesn't do so well in this book.

"We know you can't fight us. So we're going to take you, carry you if we have to, put you in a position where you'll cooperate because refusing to cooperate will force us to take lives.

Your refusal to cooperate would be the trigger for killing. Ax? Bring your prisoner."

I had dispatched Ax and Cassie to take a prisoner, a known Controller, a human-Controller. Chapman.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Ok two things
Ifi: 1) Fuck you Jake
Adam: REALLY?!
Ifi: 2) The universe ABHORS Chapman
Adam: Jesus Whale, did this series really need TWO Chapman torture sequences?

Ifi: Next, Jake is horrible to the Auxiliaries
Adam: Oh, we haven't even gotten to what happens to them yet.
Adam: This whole bit just seems utterly unnecessary.
Ifi: James mentions that some of the Auxes are sad because one of their members was killed
Ifi: and Jake yells at him
Ifi: For almost a whole page
Adam: And then sends him and the rest of them off to be killed.
Adam: This could have all been avoided if you just gathered all the Chee, and had them project a holographic redshirt army to use as a distraction instead of sending off real people to be killed.
Ifi: Of all the awesome things that are under-utlized in this series, the Chee are the awesomest and under-utilizedest
Adam: There are so many things you can do with superstrong creatures that have nigh-undetectable holograms and forcefields, even if they are three-law compliant.
Adam: But nope, everyone dies instead.
Ifi: Not three laws, just the first.
Adam: Ah, excuse me, you're right.
Adam: I mean, I would be okay with things going badly if they just tried and failed. But there are so many better plans available, and it just never even comes up at all.

Ifi: Auxes aren't the only one who Jake expects to mindlessly throw themselves in front of the Dracon cannons

"With all due respect to your people, son, they may be great in hand-to-hand combat, but you're guerrilla fighters by nature. Your abilities are geared for that kind of warfare. You're asking me for a good, old-fashioned cavalry charge, here. You're asking me for the Charge of the Light Brigade."

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: General Doubleday does not really raise NEARLY enough objections
Ifi: I guess soldiers are more chill about dying pointlessly than disabled children
Adam: Plus, there's the whole fact that the two star military general isn't willing to share strategies and info or anything.
Adam: He has no ideas on his own at all.

Ifi: I don't feel like the author let the characters act freely here. I feel like she decided on the final outcome and just spent the whole time shoving them towards it, regardless of other options that might have presented themselves.
Adam: That seems about accurate.
Adam: It's already established that this is the penultimate book, so they have to end the war by cosmic mandate, even if by all accounts it would make sense for them to draw it out just a little longer.
Ifi: See, when you write, you (ideally) have an idea of what your ending is going to be and you point your characters in that direction. But as the story goes on, I guarantee you that other paths will pop up. A good writer will toss the original outline and pursue those paths, even if it takes the story in a totally different direction!
Ifi: And I don't exactly feel like that happened here.
Ifi: I mean I could be completely wrong
Ifi: But I sort of feel like KA Applegate wanted to send her brutal anti-war message and she could not have done it if Jake had made good calls.
Ifi: Or at least, not as effectively.
Adam: Or at the very least, come up with reasons why those better calls wouldn't have worked.
Adam: Now to be fair, part of what can make war so awful is when the people in charge don't act logically.
Adam: But it would have been better if this was acknowledged in-universe at some point.
Ifi: It's touched on in the Hork-Bajir chronicles, and basically every time we meet an Andalite in charge, but it wouldn't have hurt to explore it here.
Adam: It's explored with the Andalite military, but it's never really applied to the main cast.
Ifi: Heck, Jake could have come up with the perfect plan, but the Andalites could have screwed them over! That would have been a really good direction to go in for the ending, if the author didn't want to make Jake the bad guy.
Ifi: Though honestly I would have been happy just for an acknowledgment that Jake was not making good calls at this point.
Adam: Even if it was just pointed out after the fact, and he acknowledged it in retrospect.
Adam: He experiences guilt, but it's still treated like a necessary evil in universe
Ifi: Yeah, afterwards everyone is like, "Yeah it sucked but you did your best! Here's a gold star!"

Adam: So, they rendezvous with Tom and make their way onto the pool ship.
Adam: There are a few layers to the plan here, which I do find a bit clever.
Adam: Tom pretends to take Cassie captive, while the rest of them sneak onto the ship in insect form.
Adam: However, Cassie is actually Erek in disguise, who is coming aboard so he can help hack into the ship's computer network.
Ifi: This proves useful when Tom tries to feed her to a Taxxon

<Very good,> Visser One said, laughing. <I've lived to see at least one of them die. That was very satisfying. Now, go, my good and faithful servant: Take the Blade ship. Kill the Taxxon rebels for me! Hammer them into submission!>

"Yes, Visser," Tom said, barely able to conceal his glee.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Tom thinks he's killed the Animorphs because he thinks the Animorphs were hiding on Cassie's body as fleas
Ifi: Also the Taxxon that 'ate' Cassie was Tobias

Adam: Too many layers.

Visser One helped us out inadvertently by ordering the Hork-Bajir guards to <Take that filthy Taxxon out and eliminate him. He'll give you no trouble now that he's been well fed!>

The Hork-Bajir led the Taxxon away. But neither Tobias, nor my friends hiding on his morphed form, had any reason to fear. The Hork-Bajir guards were Toby and twelve of her people.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: I thought Visser Three was good at identifying individual Hork-Bajir?
Adam: Er
Adam: Perhaps the week before, they specifically went and rescued Hork-Bajir who were working aboard the pool ship?

The Pool ship lifted off, a slight vibration being the only evidence. Off the earth to the safety of the skies, or so Visser One believed.

Five Animorphs, twelve free Hork-Bajir, and one Chee were now aboard the Pool ship, unsuspected.

The plan was on track.

<Doing good, huh, Jake?> Rachel said, her thought-speak voice already fading with distance.

I couldn't answer.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: I am filled with so much hatred right now.
Adam: You and me both.

<No, no, cancel wide dispersion,> the visser ordered. <I want to see them burn, one by one. Move us in. Use narrow beam. Forget the human soldiers, they're irrelevant. Rid me of these Animorphs, one by one. Close-up! Maximum magnification. Let me see them die!>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: If you are thinking something will happen to save them at the last moment
Ifi: You would be wrong.
Adam: So, you know how we were all ranting about how horrible that last bit with Erek was?
Adam: This is worse.
Adam: This is far far worse.

"Visser, that appears to be the last of the morphs."

<Ah, well, all good things must end,> Visser One said. <But it was a good ending. Be sure to save the recorded data—I will wish to play that scene over and over again. Now, set Dracon cannon for wide dispersal, let's end this game.>

"Dracon cannon configured, Visser."



<Ah, the humans have begun to notice, eh? Ah hah hah! Look how they squirm!>

"They will suffer one hundred percent casualties in thirty seconds."

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: I don't even know what I can say to this.
Ifi: Oh no wait
Ifi: You know how when you're little, things seem so much bigger than they are? Big playgrounds are huge. Scary things are terrifying. Good things are the best ever. Sad things are devastating.
Ifi: Well sometimes
Ifi: You find out
Ifi: That it was actually exactly as horrible as you remembered

Adam: I am just
Adam: going to sit in the corner
Adam: for a while

<They are on board!> Visser One said, aghast. <They're here. They're on board! They sacrificed the girl and used her as a Trojan horse!>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: How the hell does he know that term?
Adam: The same reason everyone suddenly knows that the group is called the Animorphs in this book.

<Dracon weapons on medium power,> Visser One ordered. <When the door opens begin firing. Fire until your power cells run dry, do you understand me?>

"Visser, there are surely some of our own people still alive in—"

The visser spun, whipped his Andalite tail, and decapitated the Hork-Bajir who had interrupted him.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: There's the Visser Three we all know and love.
Adam: For a certain amount of love.
Adam: So, this next bit just ends badly for everyone

Cassie grabbed my arm. "Jake, was Rachel down there with them?"


"Then where is she? Why isn't she with us? Why won't you tell me?"

I sighed. No way to avoid it any longer. "She's with Tom." I wanted to keep my eyes on the floor. Cassie was Rachel's best friend. Tobias, her boyfriend, if that term could apply to a hawk.

I couldn't look at either of them.

"Oh, Jake…" Cassie cried.

<You son of a…> Tobias began. <You arrogant, ruthless…What have you done? What have you done?!>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: A good question.
Ifi: They could have let Tom fly away with the Blade ship and the cube and find a nice empty planet and name it Tomland, and then come back in a year loaded up with Andalite tech and THEN dealt with him.
Ifi: There was no need to go after him right away
Adam: It isn't Animorphs without angsty moral dilemmas, even if they're forced.

"One chance and one chance only," I said. "You said it, Ax: one or two quick shots, if we had access to weapons. One or two shots, maybe we could disable the Blade ship."

"We don't have access to weapons," Marco pointed out.

I nodded. "Yeah. But Visser One does."

"Use Visser One to disable the Blade ship?" Marco frowned.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Yeah let me know how that works out for you.

Ax said, <Prince Jake! Inside that booth, those must be controls for the pool.>

<Yeah?> I didn't get it.

<They must occasionally repair the pool itself,> Ax said. <That would mean draining it.>

<Let's go!>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: Oh God
Adam: Welp.
Adam: So
Ifi: This is not necessary
Adam: This is enough to count as genocide, right?
Adam: I just want to be sure.

<The pool is full to capacity. These are the Yeerks that were rescued from the earth-based Yeerk pool. Plus the bulk of the unhosted Yeerks recently transported here.>

<Some reason you're telling me all this, Ax-man?>

<Jake, there are seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy-two Yeerks in this pool.>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Adam: Yep.
Adam: So our main character commits genocide.
Ifi: Wikipedia (and the UN) defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group"
Ifi: So there's no set 'number' of people you have to kill
Ifi: Or like
Ifi: a high score you have to reach
Ifi: It's more about intent
Ifi: And Jake has it.
Adam: Hmm, well, I would not call what Jake does "systematic" exactly.
Ifi: Not the first time he fucked up a pool
Ifi: Or the second time
Adam: True
Adam: Alright, close enough.
Adam: So our protagonist is genocidal

They could have stayed home, I thought. No one had asked them to come to Earth. Not my fault. Not my fault, theirs.

No more than they deserved.

Aliens. Parasites. Subhuman.

<Flush them,> I said.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: They could have stayed home.
Ifi: Are you
Ifi: Are you
Ifi: I'm done. I am so done.
Ifi: I am 800% done
Adam: And we haven't even commented on the "subhuman" bit.
Ifi: Technically they're not subhuman. They're nowhere in the category. Biology.
Adam: They're nonhuman.
Adam: Non=/=Sub

We ran from that place, ran from thoughts of what we'd done. Ran for the bridge. His fault, it was Visser One's fault, all of it. Who had started this war? Not us. We hadn't asked for it.
It was him. Him and his filthy, subhuman, parasitic race.

His fault. Not mine. Not mine.

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: I don't know who you are but you're not Jake.
Adam: Like I said, he snapped completely once Tom showed up at the Taxxon party.
Ifi: Maybe in return for being able to handle some crisis on the opposite side of the universe, the Ellimist let Crayak swap out Jake for the Drode.
Ifi: And nobody notices.
Adam: Not even the Drode?
Ifi: Nope.
Adam: Ah.
Adam: Well that makes perfect sense

<Visser, you can still get off one or two shots at the Blade ship. Take out his engines.>

<Yes, we will try that very thing,> he said dryly. <But you see, someone is bleeding power out of the Dracon beams. Power is being diverted. One of the traitors at work, I suppose. We will get off one or two shots, but at one-quarter strength. Will they be enough? Unlikely.>

<Erek!> I raged in private thought-speak. <Stop draining power from the Dracon beams!>

No answer of course.

<Erek, I know you think you're doing the right thing, but you're making it worse!>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: I'd like to offer a big 'fuck you' to all parties.
Adam: They would have been fine if they had just talked to Erek and tried to come up with a plan together instead of blackmailing him right away!
Adam: I don't mean to come off as overly sentimental, but sometimes things just work better if you try to be maybe a bit more thoughtful.
Adam: Instead of diving into inhuman monster territory right off the bat.

"You seem to be experiencing some engine trouble, Visser," Tom gloated.

<The Empire will track you down and kill you, you do understand that, I hope?>

"Oh, I doubt it. I think the Empire will have its hands full," Tom's Yeerk said cheerfully. "The Andalite fleet is rather close by. It's possible that I misled you on that point."

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: And so I guess he's planning to fly off and colonize Planet Tom.
Adam: With his degree of backstabbiness, I feel that they'd all just kill each other before they get anywhere.

Ifi: Then Tom realizes the Animorphs are alive
Ifi: And freaks out

Tom snapped an order to his crew. "Bring us around to target the Pool ship's bridge. Do it! Now! Now! Bring us around!"

<Jake,> Tobias said, pleading, knowing, but pleading anyway.

<Rachel...> I said. <Go.>

----Book Fifty-Three, The Answer

Ifi: *throws hands up*
Ifi: Yeah. I'm done.
Adam: This book...
Adam: I don't want to say it was poorly written.
Adam: And by all accounts, it is certainly good to have Applegate back.
Adam: It was just
Adam: Frustrating.
Adam: Very, very frustrating
Ifi: Yeah
Ifi: The writing was fine from a technical point of view. But the plot was...
Ifi: at best, disappointing
Adam: As we discussed before, it's never good to have a plot run on the idiot ball.
Adam: Especially something that's going to finish up the whole series.

Ifi: So.
Ifi: That's that, I guess.
Adam: One more, and we're done.
Ifi: Yup.
Adam: Ominous.
Ifi: It looms on the horizon
Ifi: Like a
Ifi: looming thing
Adam: Very eloquent.
Ifi: Yes


  1. Well, this book is definitely when shit gets real, I can tell you that much. It's kind of funny how after reading this book, I want to go back and read #1 again. Rather bittersweet, the contrast between the very first book and this one. I kind of count this book as the "finale", because book 54 is largely a denoument that doesn't have much to do with the rest of the series.

    And Arbron's back! For the Taxxon Chronicles story I wrote and put on hold because of univeristy, I tried to come up with a believable story of how he got to Earth.

    In short: After losing his mind several times in the Andalite Chronicles, Arbron went totally native and forgot about being an Andalite. However, after a weird dream involving the Ellimist, Arbron attacked the spaceport and Yeerk pool by planting bombs underneath the structure, causing the whole base to collapse into a sinkhole, killing a Visser in the process.

    In the confusion, Arbron and many of his followers hijacked a Pool ship, dumped the Yeerks into space, and set out for Earth, Arbron having been told by the Ellimist that the future of the Taxxons depended on this planet. Someday, I swear this will be written up.

  2. (Cues "End of the Road".)

    Well, all sadness aside, I want to focus on the "Try to jail Jake four times" bit. Thank you, Applegate, for reminding us that the whole series takes place in Genre Blind Land.

    1. I think it was the only part of the book where I sort of smiled.

  3. Oh god. This book. It's not of 'those' books, but even as a kid in junior high I could tell it was powered by idiocy. How does every single character ever suddenly leave their brain at home for this one?! FFS.

  4. akjaskjha;kjgfa;kj
    this book
    this fucking book
    I re-read it
    and like you said, it was a horrible as I remember. This is pretty much rock bottom. though by that I don't mean that there's no where to go but up. it sort of just hits rock bottom and...stays there.
    in other news, CB is almost over what am I going to do with my Saturday mornings now?

  5. I had my own ending for the last book but after reading this its pointless to keep the animorphs alive. i never read the real book 53 or 54 but ill find out what happens next week. Today ive lost my interest with animorphs fanfiction. i will keep my story though.

    Cinnamon bunzuh is almost over. You should start an "Adam and Ifi play Minecraft" sort of thing. Best game ever! I will love you forever if u actually show us videos of u playing the game! Creative, survival it doesnt matter.

  6. It's like if aliens in orbit found footage of the Iraq war, and based their opinions of us entirely off of that.

    Um, you guys do realize that's exactly how the whole Animorphs story got started, right?

    Regarding General Doubleday's name, there was an actual Civil War general by that name, who is generally credited with inventing the game of baseball. Given her historian chops, KAA almost certainly knows this, and I spent the rest of the book looking for the pun. General Abner Doubleday actually fired the first shot of the Civil War for the Union.

    He also had one of the best line in the series, IMO: "You need my help? See the stars on my shoulder there, son? I'm a major general, U.S. Army. You're a kid who can turn into a bug."

    General Doubleday does not really raise NEARLY enough objections...I guess soldiers are more chill about dying pointlessly than disabled children
    Um, yes. Duh. The latter are living proof of extraordinary efforts we go to keep people alive. I can't see how being disabled and getting special care is not daily evidence that your life is important. Meanwhile, US soldiers all pretty much volunteer to die pointlessly. I mean, we have not had a necessary war in more than 100 years, possibly 200. Almost every American military death since the Constitution was ratified could be construed as pointless on a certain scale, and yet, today we have the most powerful military in the history of the planet, staffed entirely by volunteers.

    And for those aware of military stuff, Doubleday WAS putting up significant objections. His reference to the Charge of the Light Brigade was to a suicidal attack made by a British unit during the Crimean War, that was pretty much unnecessary, but was ordered in order to prove a point in some quarrel about changes in military technology. In the context he uses the term, he is comparing Jake's request to that aspect of the incident (the other aspect is the heroism of the men who charged "into the valley of death" ). On the other hand, he's totally outclassed by his enemy, he's just had his face rubbed in how few of his forces he can trust, and for all his derision of Jake's ability, he has to be aware that the Animorphs are the experts and probably know what they are doing. At worst, he's throwing away a rather tiny force. IIRC, he describes the diversionary force as a battalion. Several of those form a regiment. Several regiments form a brigade, several brigades form a division. A Division is what a major general traditionally commands. The unit he sends out for the diversion is a fraction of his force, so it's not like he's going to lose his whole army in that fight.

    On the other hand, the expression "a forlorn hope" comes from a military term for a unit that is sent out on a near-suicidal mission, that if successful, can win the day for the army, and if not, at least will distract the enemy. Traditionally, it was a small unit sent to carry bombs to the gate of a fortress, in hopes they could blow it up for the rest of the army to get in, and make the defenders worry about the gate so the rest of the army can try a different attack, even if the forlorn hope gets wiped out.

    The point is, there is some military context for what Jake is asking. If he's a major general in 2001, he might have served in Vietnam, and almost certainly Iraq, so he's used to getting orders from civilians that are going to leave his troops totally boned, but will theoretically accomplish a greater good.

    Really, Doubleday & his men serve the whole "evils of war" theme better than almost any other aspect of this book.

    1. I would argue that putting an end to the Nazi menace (However untimely our appearance was) was LOADS more pointed than us getting so upset over Sales tax we started a war.

    2. The Nazis were menacing basically the only regime more despicable than they were, a bunch of countries that picked fights with them in the first place, and the population that voted them into office in the first place. All we did in that so-glorious war, besides commit a bunch of atrocities like incinerate women and children from the air, just because we could and starve prisoners of war, and turn refugees over to hostile regimes to be imprisoned, tortured and murdered, was to enable the USSR to rule half of Europe, despite their being loyal allies of Hitler until he betrayed them. We turned the Poles, who had fought Hitler from the first day of the war to the last, who saved more Jews than any other nation, over to the Soviets, whom they feared even more than the Nazis. All we "saved" in that war, was France from the consequences of a fight THEY declared and lost and Italy & half of Germany from leaders they themselves elected. We set up the Cold War, we abandoned good and loyal people, we sold out millions of people to tyrants, and were complicit in the revenge genocide of millions of German civilians living in Eastern Europe. Yeah. Those guys all died pointlessly. The ones fighting Japan died pointlessly to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor which was a justified military attack against a nation that was waging economic warfare against Japan. The arrogance and possible racism of the government brought about Pearl Harbor, and none of those men had to die in the Pacific, if the president had not been so afraid to show weakness by attending a summit meeting in a wheelchair. He let the world burn so he didn't have to look bad in public.

  7. Book 54: Rachel goes to Z-Space. Forever.

    I'd love to know the circumstances surrounding the end of the series from a writing/publishing perspective. Did Applegate plan for things to ramp up and end so abruptly, or did Scholastic tell her she only had two books left, and she had to slap something together in a week? That might help me understand why things happened the way they did from a writer's perspective.

    I was honestly waiting for the moment when the rest of the Animorphs finally turned on Jake and unanimously elected to boot him from the leader spot. It seemed like that's where they were heading from the way he's been breaking down. It'd be like that scene from the final season of Buffy where everyone has a meeting and decides to kick her out. Except unlike in that situation, this one would have made sense.

    Hell, Marco should have become the leader at this point. He's had his moments throughout the series (remember his quote about ruthlessness) and now that he has his parents back, he's probably thinking way more logically than Jake is, who just lost his own. But that's the stuff of fanfics now...

    1. IDK, I think Marco is the most who is next most likely to be making Jake moves. He is the one who approves of Jake's horrible strategem in hindsight, and later on, tells Jake not to be afraid to make similar disastrous calls when they head out on the rescue mission.

      The rest of the Animorphs should have called a timeout and demanded to know Jake's master plan, but I think at that point they were so weary that they would have gone along with anything he said if he was promising it would lead to victory. As it was, only Rachel knew the whole plan, and she had pretty much been conditioned to think of herself as the team goon, and objecting to the Win-the-War plan based on your own probable death is a bit awkward, so she did what Rachel always does, and took one for the team.

      Had he run this plan by Marco, there would have been objections, by Cassie, some rational questions about whether this is the best way, by Tobias, violent revolt. But Cassie interfering with his pursuit of Tom to save him from himself pretty much guaranteed that he wouldn't trust anyone else to not stop him again, so he'd have actively worked to prevent anyone from figuring out what he was up to.

    2. For what it's worth, Rachel was set to die a long time ago, when the final arc first started. The Return was placed very deliberately to wrap up Rachel's storyline, and Ellimist Chronicles was released at the same time and told us that the "happy accident" Animorph would die.

      There was a big long argument on this on MorphZ (the premier Animorph fansite back in the day), where we all puzzled out that Rachel had to be the one to die. Megamorphs 4 spelled out for us that the Ellimist stacked his deck, with Elfangor's brother and son, Eva's son, and a general who tied them all together. That left just the girls, Rachel and Cassie. But since Cassie was a temporal anchor, that meant Rachel had to be the happy accident and thus the one to die.

      Fun trivia: Rachel Morgan-Wall (one of MorphZ's admins) was the first to guess that the final book would be called The Beginning, and that Rachel's narration would end fairly early in the book.

    3. That's meta/narrative reasons, we were arguing in-universe. None of that meant that in the story there was no other way or that they could not have won without Rachel dying or that Jake could not have made better choices. Outside things like "KAA wrote in an earlier book that Rachel would die" are pointless to that kind of decision, since EVERYTHING in the stories happened because she wanted it to, and there is no point to discussion if it's all going to be on that basis.

    4. Tobias SkywalkerMay 24, 2013 at 1:56 AM

      my short answer to you Cannoli, is that yes, 'that's meta narrative', but there's a space between narrative and meta-narrative in Ani-Universe:

      Ellimist vs. Crayak. They are by nature Meta-Beings playing a Meta-Game through Meta-Narrative.

      If something looks ''forced'' by KAA, then the outside universe explanation is 'KAA wanted it that way', but the in-universe response is actually just the same-

      Because she created the Ellimist. Because of who and what the Ellimist means, and how.

      Blame Toomin.

      In Animorphs, Always Blame Toomin, except when you blame Crayak.

  8. And some Animorphs stuff:
    The thing with the Chee was kind of dumb for other reasons. First of all, the hostage issue kind of undermines the moral notion of the Chee's position. Morally speaking, they have a perfect right to tell Jake to take his hostage and go screw himself. You can't justify an evil act. Period. If someone else is going to do something evil, you have no moral responsibility for their actions. And the moral calculus comes out wrong anyway, since by refusing to allow Chapman to die, Erek makes himself a party to lots more deaths, justified or not.

    Secondly, as you guys alluded, it is just begging the other guy to screw you somehow. As Erek does, passive-aggressively.

    Thirdly, it is in complete contradiction to previous portrayals of the Chee. A guy who can't allow weapons to function in his presence, who can be blackmailed into any action with a threat to a hostage, should not have been able to want to reprogram himself for violence! If Erek's programming mandates that he drain the Dracon beams, it should have mandated that he leave his non-violence programming intact - either way, he is choosing whether or not to empower a weapon. Likewise, his deliberately keeping quiet about the nature of the Howlers. When Jake discovers they are kids at play, he asks Erek if he knew, and Erek's response is basically "Yeah, so? Fuck them!" The implication is that he didn't tell because he didn't want the Animorphs to have any qualms about killing the Howlers. In BOTH those KAA books, she firmly establishes the Chee as not being compliant with the Second Law of Robotics, as Ifi points out. Yet, this book seems to suddenly make it operative for them. There is literally no other way to explain his compliance with Jake's hostage scenario, but it contradicts other stuff they did. Even Erek's characterization. The guy who asked them to break into a secure facility to retrieve a crystal so he could program himself to be a killing machine would have been delighted that Jake would have found a loophole in his programming that would allow Erek to help.

    On the other hand, it could just be Erek being a passive-aggressive dick, which is how I lean.

    As for Jake, I think this is basically him snapping. I think he even says as much, and Rachel seems to think so too in the next book, that he is overcompensating for the perceived weakness in himself that made Cassie think she needed to protect him from his own actions. Now he's all "If I let people complain or argue, I'm just asking for another disaster like Cassie letting the Yeerks get morphing powers, because she didn't think I could handle killing Tom." So he conceives this secret master plan all by himself, with no input from the group sought (and I think at this point, they're desperate and burned out enough that when someone says "I know what to do" they're like "Oh, thank heaven. Tell me what to do!"), when in the past, he has NOT been some sort of master strategist, but more like the good example, and the one who breaks the ties or gives the orders when you need a fast decision (like in the middle of a fight or mission). In the past, they all worked on the plans together, and hashed them out as a group. By their reactions, there is no way they'd sign off on the suicide mission aspect, and could probably have come up with a better plan. And more creative uses for the Chee, as Adam and Ifi suggest.

    For example, the whole Rachel plan might have gone better if they sent a Chee along (without telling him the mission), and then after Rachel kills Tom, he can be the escape pod (forcefield bubble holds air and protects against re-entry). Not to mention, an indestructible hologram generator would have been great means of stowing away. AND the Chee could have drained the BLADE SHIP's weapons. And Tom would not have changed the codes to the Blade ship since he had no idea the Animorphs would try to take it, thus making hacking that ship easier.

    1. Any back up at all would have been nice! (I sort of forgot the Chee existed till this book).

      Maybe one or two of the Auxillaries, rather than wasting them all as cannon fodder.

      Whilst I certainly buy that Jake has cracked up, and that Rachel had long ago accepted her role as 'doer of the fucked up things' I don't by any means buy that the others would just go along with this terrible, terrible plan.

  9. WRONG

    Elfangor liked the MUSTANG -- not a VW beetle!

    (Rudeness due to Sherlock cosplay.)

    1. Yes dear, we are aware. But the group was sitting in a car lot that had been looted. Do you really think that if there had been a mustang, it would still be there? The fact that it was yellow was the reference, and possibly the fact that it could be a convertible.

      (Don't blame your clothing for your personality defects)

    2. Nah, he's got a point. What would be the point of a partial reference? I don't get why they couldn't have just made it a Mustang if they intended for it to be a reference. It might as well have been a Blue Beetle for all the good it did. Maybe the car was up on blocks, so it couldn't be stolen? Maybe the engine's shot, or whatever.

      I knew you guys would have known that, since Adam did draw a rather badass picture of Elfangor cruising through the desert in a Mustang. Someday, if I ever get a car (the city I live in has great public transit), I'll get a yellow Mustang, and get a custom license plate that says Elfangor. And nobody will get the reference. :P

  10. Honestly? I loved this book. Any other time, I'd be mad that it's an idiot plot. But here, it worked, for whatever reason. I honestly believed that Jake had truly snapped, maybe BECAUSE it was an idiot plot. Hey, wait, I just noticed circular logic. It's an idiot plot because Jake snapped, and I know Jake snapped because it's an idiot plot. Note that I am developing my opinions as I write this comment. Okay, so since Jake kind of snapped first, maybe that caused the idiot plot. Because he sort of snapped the first time Tom tried to kill him. And now I'm confused. Feel free to clear up things for me.

    1. He's been in one form or another of snapped since his parents were taken. That made him go pretty irrational in the past (Bk 31), and cuts right to the heart of his whole reason for fighting the war. He blames himself for holding back and giving Tom a chance to snatch his parents, he blames his weakness for Cassie's holding him back from retrieving the morphing cube, and he is utterly determined never again to let someone interfere with his gambits (as Cassie did) or to hold back from an move out of humanity (giving the team one last night with their families before going underground).

      A bunch of things come together to put Jake in a place where he makes the calls he does in this book.

  11. Somehow I doubt Arbron has an intimate knowledge of Earth automobile manufacturers.

  12. The title of this book is "The Answer". The tagline is "All questions are about to be answered...".

    Apparently, that answer is "Fuck you".

    1. No, the real "Fuck you" hasn't even arrived yet. KA's final letter to the fans was the REAL fuck you, and the biggest one I have ever witnessed in fiction.

  13. About Rachel learning the Hork Bajir language, I like to think she did what most people would do and just learned the swear words. The quote you have up there seems to bear that out.

  14. Ifi and Adam should do a fanfic of #53 onward where all the characters aren't idiots. This would allow me to die happy.

  15. Honestly, I like Jake in this book because it shows really clearly how the war drove him totally batshit insane. He did, after all, lose everything - his family, his day-to-day life, his home, he's at risk of losing his entire planet as well.

    He's been put in charge (unwillingly) of the only thing keeping the entire planet from being enslaved and even his own team is a source of stress, Cassie is a straight-up traitor even though (or because) she loves him, Rachel is going nuts, Ax is sneaking around behind his back...

    And teenagers have never particularly been known for a high ability to handle stress!

    When Tom shows up it's like driving every single one of those points home so suddenly (he had no warning!) and so hard the he just snaps and is like OKAY THIS ENDS IMMEDIATELY I AM GOING TO RUIN EVERYONE WHAT NOW MOTHERFUCKERS!!

    And so he ruins everyone and life is terrible. Honestly the point in book 51 (was it that one?) where everyone stares at Jake until he agrees to continue to be their leader and Cassie thinks he's about to cry... that's the point where they should have just made Eva the leader instead and let Jake retire.

    But they didn't, they forced him to stay on, and he drove their boat off a waterfall, as one does.

  16. I really liked Cannoli's point that Jake's insanity along with his paranoia and mistrust of his team members from the moment that Cassie stopped him from killing Tom means that Jake is proceeding on a dark road of destruction where only he can see the road, and dragging everyone else along blind. Jake was never considered the best strategist- he has his moments, but it's Marco who could probably have combined ruthlessness with the perfect plan. Jake has always previously told his team mates of his plans- the scheme against the Howlers, the plan against David, etc. It was always a team effort. IMHO, the moment Jake acts like a tyrant kind of leader, he falls.

    On the other hand, the image of the yellow convertible made me so sad- we started with Elfangor, and we kinda ended with Arbron, showing that series came full circle! (kind of)

    Also about the whole Tom's Yeerk's name and how we never got it, I really think the whole point is that from Jake's point of view, Tom is more his enemy than his brother- in fact, he's thought that way since he snapped and tried to kill him for the blue box. It's more like Tom is the Yeerk and vice versa in his head, and giving a name to the Yeerk is kinda meaningless at this point

  17. I agree that I actually really enjoyed this book for the reason aforementioned (It really showcased the toll the war has taken on Jake. This is no longer the "LOL WE NEED TO KIDNAP A CAT" plots of the yesteryears.)

    The only complaint I have in regard to believability is that it perhaps came TOO LATE, not that it occurred. If you have been fighting a war for 3 years since you were 13, you are going to be fucked in the head. Teenagers get their reputation for moodiness for a reason. If your entire post-puberty life has been about fighting an war against an alien species that has cost you all your other friends, all your other interests, have stolen your family from you, has made you paranoid that the next person you see is going to realize who you are and stab you. All the Animorphs have to deal with this, but especially Jake. He is the one who has to live with the decisions. Everyone else can pass the buck to Jake, but until the Andalites show up Jake was all Earth had. At 13. And he was holding it together until his parents, his last link to normal life, were taken from him, probably permanently in his mind. I don't know, it seems to me it would be realistic for all this shit to happen and Jake to still be the same guy he was. He wanted the war to end in his favor, and he stopped giving a shit what it cost so long as it cost the Yeerks more.

    Like, at 16 I've made way dumber decisions than "I think we should act first and think later", and I didn't have 3 years of emotional scars, countless physical ones that only don't appear because he morphed them away, and just had my parents stolen.

  18. I read this book a grand total of once, and never looked at it again. Not because it was bad, but it was too depressing and always left me feeling deflated.

  19. Oh god, whyyyyy! Racheeeell! This book was so depressing when I was a child. Good to see nothing's changed, though I don't remember noticing Jake going psychotic way back when.

    Rachel/Tobias forever. Damn you Applegate.

  20. Well, didn't they learn the name of the group when Jake's parents were infested? IDK, I thought that was what happened.
    As for the Trojan Horse thing, Esplin waaaaaaaaaaay back in the Andalite Chronicles, he infested Chapman and some random guy infested Loren. So I think maybe he scanned Chapman's memories, and anything he found interesting, like war strategy, he just remembered that in particular. Other things like biology or animal life Chapman could not no about or Esplin didn't care about he could have forgotten.

    1. How would Jake's parents know the name?

    2. No, like Jake told them. Its been, like, three years since I've redad that particular book, but that's how I remember it. It also could have been public knowledge to the Yeerks, but they could jyst not use it to show how little respect they have for the Anis, kind of like the British knew the Americans called themselves the Patriots, but called them rebels anyway.

    3. When would Jake have told them? He never got a chance. He was waiting for them to come home so he could tell them about everything, and they drove up with Yeerks in their heads shooting at him. Reread before remarks. Good rule of thumb.

    4. *headdesk* This is getting ridiculous. I meant he told the YEERKS. The Yeerks are the them that Jake told. Again, it's been three years, but I seem to remember him saying something like we are the Animorphs when he did the whole dramatic morphing-to-falcon scene.

    5. Sorry, no dialogue. He just deliberately morphed so his parents would see and realize Jake was one of the resistance.

  21. Just wondering, will the blog stay up after you finish the last review? I'll still want to re-read reviews and go back to the ones I've missed.

  22. Visser Three isn't necessarily good at identifying individual Hork-Bajir. The only time we saw him do it was with Ket Halpak (actually Tobias in Ket Halpk morph). And that was several months after the escape & establishment of the colony. At that point, she was one of the top two public enemies of the Yeerks, so of course he knew her by sight. She and Jara Hamee were probably on wanted posters all over the Yeerk Pool. Also, Visser 3 got an up close and personal look at her when she (Tobias) came screaming right at him on the edge of a cliff before going over the edge. Even for a total sociopath, that kind of sight sticks with you.

    1. That was more of a joke from an earlier review, not a serious criticism.

  23. Are you gonna have another fan art day?

    1. You know what? Why the heck not. I'll put in an announcement for it in at the end of the final review.

  24. Hey your reviews are really good. I still feel that much of what Jake does in this book is necessary. I totally hate his genocide against the 17000 yeerk. Or the fact that he becomes so dictatorial, and doesn't listen to alternative plans (that chee one was pretty good, and would've saved the lives of the Auxies!). He was under a lot of pressure though, and was outnumbered by a lot.

  25. One thing I want to note is that the basic idea of sending Rachel on the Blade Ship is that they were worried Tom might blow up the Pool ship, thus allowing the Andalites to destroy Earth. Obviously, this isn't a well thought out plan, and the Chee are super duper underutilized, but there is a rationale behind it.

  26. I just hated the inconsistencies the books had with Yeerk technology, especially when it was scaled up against human tech.

    All yeerk ships apparently have some super duper cloaking tech against human radars, yet we see the F-16s effortlessly approach and achieve a lock on the two bug fighters. If you argue that the F-16s fired heat seeking missiles instead of the longer ranged radar guided missiles, that might be a case for them actually being able to shoot before the bug fighters did, since even short range heat seekers can fly in from 20 miles out.

    Bug Fighters and Dracon Beams in general always had a hard time hitting animal morphs in pursuit - the arguments being that the dracons were aimed and shot like an arcade screen and joystick combo by a Taxxon pilot - yet we see them effortlessly shoot down four supersonic jets plus missiles flying in at Mach 2?

    Call me a human supremacist, but I really think those two bug fighters should have been toast (if you want to say that KA needed to paint a hopeless picture for human military victory against the Yeerks, maybe have the two bugs be downed, only to have 'wide dispersal' dracon beams from the pool ship wipe the 16s out right after, heck, that would foreshadow what would eventually happen to the Auxies and Doubleday's men). Early on in the series, we see a parked bug fighter EXPLODE after the animorphs crash a slow moving bull dozer into it. I'd think 20lbs of explosives would hit much harder.

    1. They removed their cloaks, there was no need anymore.

      It was a Pool Ship not a Bug Fighter, it had better weapons.

      Come on, people.

    2. The AIM-120 AMRAAM those F-16s would be using is a Beyond Visual Range missile, it would not be used at such a short range, especially since the Yeerk ships are stealthed to radar.

      I actually don't think they're stealthed anywhere near as well as far as thermal emissions, because the birds of prey are able to see the distortion caused by the engine heat in the earlier books

      AIM-9s being launched at max range is only possible if they could immediately acquire the thermal signature of the bugfighter

      As to the "Bug Fighters and Dracon Beams in general always had a hard time hitting animal morphs in pursuit" point, it's because they're literally designed to engage Andalite spacecraft moving at a sustained 10Gs (or whatever their hearts and compensators can handle) at ranges of thousands of kilometers and weapon speeds that make the side winder look like a shuttlecock.

      They are not designed to shoot animals running around in a forest, at that point the literal dispersion of the two beams would come into play, combined with them being fixed position makes it an incredibly awkward aircraft for ground support.

      Notice how the cannon turret on the pool ship had no problem simply sniping individual animorphs

      TL:DR Yeerks didn't think it was worthwhile to use a dedicated CAS version and just shoehorned the ASF/SSF into the role which it was bad at.

  27. Tobias SkywalkerMay 24, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    I've figured it out. You aren't going to like it, probably, at all, but I figured it out.

    As this is the last Jake, let's review the Jake Books:

    #1: We are introduced to Ani-verse. Jake is almost too stereotypically normal, and we each probably relate a bit more to an -interesting- character, but we relate a LOT to Jake. We are most definitely sympathetic.
    #6: We've already seen the group come a long way. Last book was the Pool Ship and first appearance of Visser One. We get even more sympathetic...but we also note that, already, Jake is a somewhat aggressive leader. Mind you, I'd say 'it's war- how can we fight without fighting?' is so far a valid excuse.

    #11 and #16: Jake is shown to be a leader fully capable of messing up, badly, even fuelled by the best of intentions.

    #22: yeah I'm citing this one instead of #21. You all know why. It's the same thing then as here. Rachel's Darkness showed itself out in, #17 or even #7. Jake's and Rachel's Darknesses are on somewhat full display at The David Trilogy. I don't need to cover the 30's and 40's now- I wanted to show you how far back, and how repeatedly, we get lots of warning signs to lose trust in Jake as someone to be Confidant in. He may be trying to be Good, but he's like Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back.

    I'm scared that this is the best leader the good guys have.

    And one more stroll down History/Memory Lane:
    #26. And OK, I said no 30's but I lied: #36.

    Ever since #6 ended, I liked him less and less-- except once or twice, but not because he deserved it- more because he got lucky and a really bad thing worked out really well for him. Curbstomping the World Summit with Rhinos and Elephants for example.

  28. Tobias SkywalkerMay 24, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    Know why? Crayak. We didn't know Crayak, or Ellimist, or even a HINT at any larger game than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers here, until books #6 and #7.

    I am putting my foot down saying ever since #6 and #7, Crayak had the Berensens MARKED, and #26 and #27 (sorry it was 27, not 36 that I was thinking of. both of them were 'Ocean Adventures'.) REALLY pissed him off.

    Crayak's moves, any time his actions were even hinted at, from #26 onward have been showing this.

    We thought it had resolved at Megamorphs #3. It hadn't. Ellimist Cheated. Ditto MM#4, Ditto, Ditto AM#41.

    And then we see Ellimist Chronicles. And here is what Crayak does when Ellimist Cheats. He stops around, and he does to Toomin what Jake did to Erek. "Here are the rules. I am going to get some of way here. I can't demand you award me victory. I must give you some chance at something, or it is no game. But make no mistake: I don't have to give you what you want. I can make your victories pyrric. I can still get my way. The name of the game is Kobayashu Maru, Ellimist. The human is mine. Name. your. price. No Tricks."

    And this is why:

    The Animorphs win-- but the ones who lose the most are the ones whom Crayak hates the most. Ellimist had to pay DEARLY to defeat the Yeerks, because he had to come to terms so harsh with Crayak that they would both be willing to not interfere in #54. Any subtle string-pulling on the fabric of time is done here, by either of them.

    Rachel loses her life. Jake loses his soul. Crayak is merciless and demands his pound of flesh, and demands it measured. Ellimist has to spend all his chips on keeping this much

    "Cassie remains against genocide. And the Yeerks must lose." He's put too much into the Andalites and the Humans at this point.

    Ellimist values the removal of the Yeerks from the board as much as Crayak values the removal of Jake Berensen from the board. That is what happened.

  29. Tobias SkywalkerMay 24, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    And that's where the One came from. Crayak doesn't need the Yeerks to survive to continue his wargame. And with morphing technology widely dispersed, and all the Animorphs believing they died for something, he doesn't need them to survive either to continue The Game with Crayak.

    My headcanon says that the One ends the lives or freedoms of the Animorphs. And my headcanon also says that Toomin beats the One. But I don't know how or with who. Not Cassie. She's retired. Crayak's orders.

    And there is only one person that Crayak hated more than Jake Berensen, but less than Toomin the Ellimist. Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.

    So something final and bad happens to either Ax or Tobias. Theory one says Ax pulls an Anakin Skywalker and is free of the One before he dies Heroically, and this would be counted as 'good' for Ax from Ellimist's View. Tobias therefore would have to be killed by Ax.
    Theory Two says that Ax dies enslaved to the One, and that Tobias gets the meaningful heroism moment. Perhaps he kills Ax. Perhaps Tobias somehow finally, at the end of his part to play, finds more Peace than any other Animorph including Cassie, but simply takes a very, very long, very, very painful route to get it.

    And that would certainly be something Ellimist would try to arrange.

    But bottom line:

    Crayak's "I Hate You" List:
    Rachel-Hates her because he hates everything. But he's not above Using what he can Hate-but-Respect.

    Remember the Ani-Universe is a cosmic game between Ellimist and Crayak, so we can make assessments about how the Big Game is going, and Why things happen in the small games, based on what ends up happening to the people on Crayak's "I Hate You" List.

  30. Nice review and nice comments too. I already had in mind what I was going to say about this book but it's slightly changed now due to this blog shattering my entire universe (no hyperbole).

    Anyways, never thought about how useful the Chee could've been here in preventing the deaths of the soldiers and the auxies. And in being aboard the Blade Ship! Good grief Applegate. But its ok. I forgive her. She wanted to end the story. But Ifi's right. Sometimes, you need to let your characters and story write itself instead of being a story Nazi. And Adam's right, some more explanations and reflections would've helped too.

    I did like this book a lot though. As much as Jake resorted to crazy methods, I understand him and am happy he was the one who thought of the final plan in his emotionally deranged teenage state. He started the series. He felt responsible. He needed to end it. Whatever the heck way he could. IT NEEDED TO END.

    And I respect him slightly for actually trying to bail Rachel in the end. I think he was regretting his decisions and desperate to make things work. Save the world and his cousin and his self-respect. Like him commenting on those little things that didn't originally fall into his ruthless trap... which I honestly would like to meditate more about as to why that could've worked in his favor and saved Rachel. Anyways, though, I know Jake messed with Erek (although as Cannoli said Erek was inconsistent anyways) but it really was Erek that screwed them all in the end. Not Jake. Jake was hoping for a bail out. Erek was depleting the weapons... dumb idiot.

    So that's my two cents. Like it or lump it.

  31. Tom isn't going to just land on Mars and sit there while Andalites come to him. There's no guarantee they can just find him with a Z-space capable, interstellar battle ship. Another poor review clouded by your biases and selective reading.

  32. You’re so right. We needed a Taxxon Chronicles before this book—perhaps right before it, in fact. It could show the details of Arbron’s journey from the Taxxon homeworld to Earth. Show how he gathered those two thousand Taxxon to join him.
    About driving the Taxxons into extinction… I think we’re the only ones worried about that. You’re talking about an alien race so cursed they’d eat their parents if they could. Or themselves, like the one a few books back with its last breath, it sucked up its own guts. They don’t seem loyal to each other and were willing to be infested. I think the hunger was so bad that they didn’t care.

    I admit when I read this the first time through I (of course) desperately hoped Rachel would be okay. A small part of me suspected that the reason they kept mentioning her and her secret plan was because it was all a red herring. We all thought Rachel would obviously die and in the final book, we get the delightful surprise that we were all wrong.
    Cannoli had it right. Why not hide a Chee on board? Erek’s “dad” seemed like a good guy. Or Lourdes, why not her? I hated Erek and I still do. I was so devastated after the last book I re-wrote that scene where the floor is to slippery for some morphing Yeerks and Rachel wins.
    What was the point of sending Rachel? The Blade ship still got away. Was it purely to kill Tom? What kind of plan is that?