Book #38 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.

THE ARRIVAL

Animorphs #38
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

While saving a Chee from torture at a newspaper office, the Animorphs are startled to find out it was a trap, but even more startled to be saved by Andalites. A band of four of them are on Earth, and Jake needs to know why. Are they the reinforcements from the Andalite world, there to help win the war? Or do they have their own agenda? Ax's loyalty is again tested, but this time he remains loyal to Prince Jake. However, it's hard to resist the lovely female Andalite Estrid, who is brilliant and beautiful and great in a tail-fight.

The Animorphs are shocked and saddened when they find out this is not their salvation; the Andalites really aren't on their way anytime soon, and this group is just there to assassinate Visser Three for personal and political reasons. Jake smells a rat and they stage some in-fighting for the spying Andalites, making it look like news of an unwinnable war has demoralized them and broken their group. This frees Ax to accompany them and find out what they're doing. He finds out they really aren't who they say they are, and even within their group of four not all of them know everything. Turns out the brilliant scientist Arbat is there to introduce a virus developed by Estrid into the Yeerk pool, and the virus's instability may kill humans as well, but they consider this an acceptable casualty. Ax is forced to turn against his own race--but luckily for him, his band of warriors is not turning against him, and remains in his corner to eliminate this terrible threat. As sad as he is to see the girl he's attracted to turn out to be someone who sees humans as expendable, inferior creatures, he's pleased with his human friends' loyalty, and understands more than ever what "my people" is for him.

About this book:

Narrator: Ax

New known controllers:

  • Workers at the newspaper

New morphs acquired:

  • Jake: None
  • Cassie: Snake (pit viper)
  • Marco: None
  • Rachel: None
  • Ax: None
  • Tobias: None

Notable:

  • This book is ghostwritten by Kimberly Morris.

  • Odd that subordinate Yeerks are cautioning against killing a person because Visser Three will be furious at the loss of a host body. Visser Three constantly kills host bodies unnecessarily. If it was really about preserving hosts, Visser Three would hold a host until the Yeerk inside starved, then re-infest the person with a different Yeerk. Of course, Visser Three is also a hypocrite, so it's possible that he would be angry at an underling doing something he himself would do, but in general he does not act like host bodies are precious.

  • Usually, if one of the Animorphs is morphing to an animal that shares some characteristics with humans, those features will morph into the animal version (e.g., arms will become front legs, human noses become animal noses, etc.). But in this book, instead of having his ears migrate up to the top of his head like every other morph so far, Jake's tiger ears pop out of his hair before his human ears disappear. This is really an inconsistency, because while there's not a whole lot of logic to morphing in general, it does seem to have some general rules, and this description broke them.

  • In a previous book, Ax refers to having his second and third heart stop when he becomes a human, leaving him with one heart. This is the first place where it's clearly stated how many hearts Andalites have. But twice since then--once in The Andalite Chronicles and now again in this book--an Andalite refers to "both his hearts." Question is, which account is correct?

  • When Tobias and Ax find Estrid at the mall in human morph, it's made clear that she nabbed the DNA of another customer at the mall because they see the same person there. But it's never made clear how the heck an Andalite got into the mall to acquire a kid's DNA.

  • The Andalites the group meets in this book are named Estrid-Corill-Darrath, Gonrod-Isfall-Sonilli, Arbat-Elivat-Estoni, and Aloth-Attamil-Gahar. All are male except Estrid.

  • It seems ridiculous that Jake and the other human Animorphs would go into the Yeerk pool in their actual bodies. Especially Jake, whose brother is a Controller. He has another human form he could have used, though they were short on time. Just seems like an unnecessary, ridiculous risk.

Best lines:

Ax: We are the resistance. We fight the Yeerk invasion until help from my home planet arrives. Or until we die. The latter possibility seems ever more likely.

Marco: "Thanks, Spock. Sure you're not a Vulcan?"
Ax: "Vulcans are fictional creatures. And not a particularly convincing creation. Variations among real alien species tend to involve more than cosmetic variations in ear formation and eyebrow alignment. As I believe you may have noticed."

Rachel: "Let's rock and roll."
Ax: Rock and roll is a type of human music. Its relevance to the battle before us was a mystery to me.

Ax: It is a moral compromise. We have all learned to make them.

Ax: Shooting deer is a human sport. Human hunters are apparently unaware of the fact that deer are harmless herbivores.

Estrid: "I told you to come alone."
Jake: "And I told him not to."

Gonrod: "You are an untrained human child, playing at war. We are highly trained warriors. You and your band, whoever they may be, will cease to fight. That is an order."
Jake: "I don't take orders. I give them."

Jake: "Now we stop playing games. You're not the Andalite fleet. And I'm not going to snap a salute and say 'yes, sir!' We deal as equals. Which, to be honest, is generous of us under the circumstances."
Arbat: "What do you say, Commander Gonrod? As the Intelligence expert I'd have to say we're not in a position to bargain."
Gonrod: "I command, here. Am I clear on that?"
Jake: "No, sir. This is Earth. This is a human planet. We are not the Hork-Bajir. We know how you 'rescued them.' As long as you're on Earth, you'll get along with us. Am I clear on that?"

Ax: "They have another use for mouths."
Estrid: "In addition to eating and making mouth-sounds?"
Ax: "Yes. Would you like to experience it?"
Estrid: "Is it pleasurable?"
Ax: "I do not know. I have never performed the action before. It requires two individuals, each possessing a minimum of one mouth."

Ax: "I have learned something, Estrid. These are my people. Anyone who believes in freedom, anyone who resists tyranny, anyone who pursues peace is 'my people.' Andalite, Hork-Bajir, or human."
Marco: "Yeah. Besides, we humans make a mean cinnamon bun."
Ax: "That is definitely true."

Estrid: "What natural weapons do these humans' bodies have?"
Marco: "Unless you've eaten a lot of beans, none."

Estrid: "Is this as delicious as the jelly beans?"
Ax: "Even more."
Estrid: "And this is why you care for these humans?"
Ax: "Yes. That is why I like humans. It is all about the cinnamon buns."



Next book: The Hidden, Animorphs #39

"The Arrival" is the second episode of the third season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in September of 1961. It starred Harold Stone as Federal Aviation Administration inspector Grant Sheckley.

At an airport somewhere in upstate New York, a DC-3 passenger airliner comes in to a landing. When the crew comes to unload the passengers and cargo, they find the airplane absolutely empty. This is, of course, a mystery. Like the story of the Mary Celeste, but more so: while an abandoned ship is improbable, it seems impossible that an airplane could land without its crew. The befuddled airline staff call in Sheckley to figure out what happened. While every Twilight Zone episode has a twist, this episode has at least two major twists, neither of which were expected for me. It also has a moment of great suspense.

As I mentioned in my review of "The Odyssey of Flight 33", there are several aspects of travel by airplane that are perfect vehicles for The Twilight Zone. Although our conscious minds might understand what holds airplanes aloft, there is still something mysterious about going into a metal cylinder, to disappear and then reappear somewhere else in the world. On a sub-conscious level, the idea that the passengers of an airplane could totally disappear in transit makes some sort of sense. It is probably because of this that despite the seemingly impossible nature of the story, it strikes a chord of fear with the viewer.

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