Book #8 in the series Animorphs
by K.A. Applegate.
Disclaimer: If you've heard of Animorphs and you're thinking "Aww, how
cute," maybe you should read my introduction to the first book
to see how wrong you are.
by K.A. Applegate
Ax is interested in learning more about humans, but his Andalite laws forbid him to give away much information about his own species. But one day, he accidentally breaks a law about giving humans advanced technology, making some changes to a computer program without realizing that he's pushed human science ahead of itself. Feeling isolated after so long without seeing another Andalite, Ax tries to call home using this technology, but even though he's successful, he's reminded of how Andalites don't necessarily put humans' best interests at heart. After getting some inside information, Ax involves himself in a plot to kill Visser Three, but even though it's something he feels he must do alone, he finds that his allies are willing to back him up whether he wants them to or not. Ax has to decide whether being true to his people's laws is really worth not belonging and not fighting for what's right.
About this book:
New known controllers:
- A nameless man on the street
- Mr. Pardue, Jake's first period teacher
- Gary Kozlar/Eslin three-five-nine
New morphs acquired:
- Jake: None
- Cassie: None
- Marco: None
- Rachel: None
- Ax: Rattlesnake
- On the back of the book, Ax advises that the free bookmark inside is not meant to be eaten, but that it does taste good.
- An inconsistency when it comes to thought-speak appears to come out in this book. At the very beginning, a prologue details Ax with his brother and an Andalite soldier named Captain Nerefir, and Ax's thought-speak is "overheard" when he's "thought-speaking a little loudly." In previous books it's been noted that thought-speak can be publicly sent to everyone in the vicinity like speech, but can also be directed privately like whispering, and it makes no sense that Ax would make a disrespectful joke about the Captain right in front of him and NOT do it in private thought-speak to Elfangor. Targeting thought-speak to a particular individual is not supposed to be difficult, as the humans with no experience grasp it fine.
- Ax's last words to his brother were "Go burn some slugs," and his brother's last to him were "That's the plan."
- Ax keeps a diary of human-related factoids in this book, and some of the anecdotes are hilarious.
- Andalites have three hearts according to Ax's narration, when he explains that his second and third hearts stop beating when he becomes human. It's contradicted in later books when Andalites refer to "both hearts" as though they have two.
- Early in the book, Ax suggests that Andalites can tell who is a Controller. (He says that for humans there is no way to tell, and that the only way to tell is if you're an Andalite.) This is not explained, and later doesn't always seem to be true. He could be referring to the fact that Andalites and Yeerks have a visceral hatred reaction to each other, but that only seems to happen if they know what each other are. No magical Yeerk-detecting ability appears to be part of the Andalite experience.
- There is a reference to Marco "dressing like Beavis" in this book, which is another bit that dates it.
- When the group goes to the movies, they see a Star Trek film and Ax compares the Enterprise to a Hawjabran freighter and a Klingon character to a real race called the Ongachic.
- While watching a movie, Ax gets distracted by food and starts crawling around on the floor looking for more, ending up separated from his companions. It seems odd that the Animorphs would not have seated themselves on either side of him and stopped him from going anywhere. It seems like an excuse for hijinks and makes the book seem less realistic.
- Ax suggests early in his narration that something Andalites have done cannot be shared with humans because they might turn against him. He is apparently very aware of this and the humans have no idea.
- It seems inconsistent that Andalites in human morph cannot thought-speak. (Ax confirms this is the case by saying "And since I was in a human body, I too was restricted to spoken language.") It makes sense that humans can't do it when they're not in a body made possible by Andalite science, but it seems ridiculous that if a morph can speak, the thought-speak ability goes away. It's also contradicted later in the series. Ax also appears to thought-speak while in human morph in this book, since thought-speak tags are surrounding Ax saying "I win" to himself, but it's possible this was supposed to just be Ax thinking and it was unclearly punctuated.
- Ax reveals in this book that Andalites eat with their hooves.
- Ax mentions that he has morphed into some animals from the Andalite home world, but so far none of those morphs have shown up in the story. Either they wouldn't be useful, or the author has forgotten he has any options besides Earth animals.
- This book uses the word "adrenalin" when talking about the hormone that speeds up the heart rate and makes a person be on edge. In that situation they really should spell it "adrenaline," which is interesting because they have corrected it in later books.
- Ax doesn't have a sense of aesthetics for humans when he's in his natural form, but as a human male he finds Rachel attractive. Interesting that this comment makes it clear he is heterosexual while morphed, but no other sexual behavior (except for clear distinctions due to sexual dimorphism in the species) crops up for any of the Animorphs while in animal forms both male and female. Surely this is because it is a children's series, but exploring that aspect would have been interesting.
- Cassie has a picture of Jake in her locker. Ooooh.
- Ax is estimating and sort of joking when he says it, but at one point he refers to his world as being "about a billion Earth miles from my home world," and later in the story he says his world is "billions of miles away." And interestingly, Ax says "a billion" twice and says "billions" twice in this book. Which is it? "A billion" would make no sense. We have planets in our solar system that are more than a billion miles away.
- Apparently Ax can speak English while in human morph, but cannot read it. No real explanation for the language ability (as mentioned in a previous set of notes), since Andalites use thought-speak but specific knowledge does not come with the minds when one morphs. Ax does learn to read English very quickly, also with no real explanation.
- Ax tells his new friends that the Hork-Bajir "used to have a biological time clock that set them all warring every sixty-two years," which seems unlikely when we find out in a future book that they were created as peaceful creatures by a species called the Arn, and no warring tendencies were likely to have been built into them.
- The word for a person with a morphing talent is estreen in the Andalite language. Ax brings it up while watching Cassie morph, and claims it is an art form on his home planet. This is a bit odd because in later books the Andalite morphing technology is referred to as "top secret." Which is it?
- The Andalite home world has four moons, and at least two of them are up at all times.
- While discussing human rituals, Ax notes that Jake's family has a prayer before meals while Cassie's family doesn't. This suggests that Jake's family is more religious than Cassie's.
- Ax compares human male pattern baldness to older Andalites' tendency to get dull hooves.
- Tobias once again refers to having a strange fascination with Elfangor, and discusses having been the last to leave the dying alien's side. Again, the reason for this is revealed much later.
- Yeerks are suggested to have gender and sex. A Yeerk in this book refers to a female he cared about and assigned her female pronouns even before she was in any kind of human body. This sort of contradicts other parts of the canon because Yeerks' mating and reproduction is nothing like humans; Yeerks don't have parents, and it seems unlikely that they'd mate for life.
- It's unclear really what the naming conventions are for Yeerks at this point; previous books suggest that the first word of their names are a rank type and that the numeral is a ranking within that rank group, but in this book the male Yeerk Eslin three-five-nine refers to his female Yeerk mate as "Derane" even though she was introduced as "Derane three-four-four."
- Besides the Gedds, it appears that the first alien race to be conquered by the Yeerks was a species called the Nahara.
- Ax was addressed by an old Andalite named Lirem who said he served as an aristh under Prince Seerow. He said that this happened "centuries ago." According to the events recorded in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, Seerow's actions made possible the Yeerk/Andalite war in the human year 1966. So either Seerow was a prince for centuries before that, or the Andalites don't count years the same as humans do.
Ax: The texture was rough and strange. And the flavor! It reminded me of a food called pizza. But there was just a hint of cigarette butts, which I also enjoy. Although Prince Jake had told me never to eat cigarette butts again. They are bad for you.
Ax: But humans seem fascinated by my stalk eyes. One of the humans, Marco, has said they "creep him out big time." I believe this is a compliment.
Jake: "Ax, it's just the bell for first period. Take it easy. People are staring."
Ax: "It's not a threat?"
Jake: "No. It's not a threat. It's depressing, but not dangerous."
Jake: "You know what, Ax? You're right to try and learn more about humans. Because you don't know a thing about us. Not a thing."
Marco: "Don't be weird, okay?"
Ax: "No. I will not be weird. Weeeerd. Weeeeer-duh. I will act like a normal human."
Ax (after "making conversation" about sports): Then it was my turn to ask a question. That is how "making conversation" works. "So, did you know that the cream separator was invented in 1878?"
Ax: "Give me liberty or give me death." A human named Patrick Henry said that. I wonder if the Yeerks knew before they came to conquer Earth that humans said things like that. I wonder if the Yeerks knew what they were getting into.
Next book: The Secret, Animorphs #9