Book #50 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 ULTIMATE

Animorphs #50
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

Knowing they can't just hide out and protect their parents forever, the Animorphs need to figure out some way of strengthening their ranks. They have a few contingency plans for if they're found or attacked, but they need to do some offense of their own, and Jake is lacking the backbone these days because having his whole family taken by the enemy took the wind out of his sails. Cassie tries to help share the load and bolsters Jake, and together they all come up with a plan to recruit more young morphers. But how can they make sure they aren't Controllers?

They come up with the plan to recruit disabled kids, since their bodies aren't suitable hosts for Yeerks. Cassie has a huge moral quandary about this, and flip-flops a lot between trying to support Jake/understanding the realities of war balanced against her compassion and her desire to not use other people. Together, the Animorphs recruit some disabled teens who develop their own leaders, most notably James, who ends up being healed by the morphing technology after he demorphs. The group helps the new recruits get battle morphs, though they have no experience. But then, while trying to get blind kids, a security camera picks up what they're doing and Tom and his team come in to capture the Animorphs. Only Cassie is spared because she was in hiding, so she has to fly to the new recruits and get their help in a rescue mission.

During the battle, the disabled kids experience physical violence for the first time, and have some trouble with it but hold up surprisingly well. However, Visser One arrives. And it's through his actions and Tom's actions that the morphing cube ends up in the Yeerks' control. Jake tries to chase his brother, but Cassie determines that if Jake has to kill Tom he'll never come back from crossing that line, so she stops him and lets him get away with the cube. Despite being the sole cause for the Yeerks' acquisition of a great weapon, Cassie feels she's saved Jake from himself.

About this book:

Narrator: Cassie

New known controllers:

  • None

New morphs acquired:

  • Jake: None
  • Cassie: None
  • Marco: None
  • Rachel: None
  • Ax: None
  • Tobias: None

Notable:

  • This book was ghostwritten by Kimberly Morris.

  • In this book, the absence of Rachel's father from the hideaway compound from the last book is acknowledged, but all the narration says is that "there was no time to find him." If it had to do with a family member--and Rachel is close to her dad--it doesn't seem like they'd just leave it hanging as a loose end. Rachel probably would have found a way to go check on him. There's also no mention of whether any of the Animorphs' extended families were checked out. We know Rachel and Jake have other cousins, and Cassie's possible grandparents or aunts/uncles aren't ever discussed.

  • It's noted in this book that the David/Rachel altercation from a previous book had an unknown resolution. The book did indeed end without revealing whether Rachel killed David or let him escape, but now it's shown that no one but Rachel knows, and she refuses to tell.

  • Ax's disgust toward disabled people is apparent again in this book, as it was in a previous book (though that was directed at people of his own species). In this book, his excuse for disapproving of the disabled is that they are useless to their people in battle. Seems like an inconsistent thing for anyone to say if the same person has also expressed elitist scorn over a species that fights members of its own species.

  • Dressing up in costumes and randomly joining up with a group of young thespians as cover would not work in real life. Groups that rehearse their acts and perform them will notice extra people who are not supposed to be there. The audience and bystanders wouldn't notice, but the troupe itself would.

  • In a later book, a character named Tuan shows up without having been mentioned before, while Timmy is no longer mentioned. They have the same morph that they chose. In supplementary materials, K.A. Applegate reveals that Tuan was the original name for the character who debuted as Timmy, but nobody updated the later book with the name change. Because there are seventeen auxiliary Animorphs and not all of them are given names, this is easy to miss and could have just been written off as minor characters being interchangeable, but this mix-up is on the record.

  • One of the auxiliary Animorphs, James, was healed from his handicap the first time he demorphed, because it was the result of something that happened to him in an accident. However, when he demorphed his legs were strong and muscled instead of withered. It seems possible that reconstructing him from his DNA would of course heal the injuries of improperly healed legs, but it doesn't make sense that it would also build the muscles for him when he hadn't used his legs in over a decade.

  • Only a few of the disabled children are "healed" by the morphing process, and the rest still have their various ailments when they return to human form. James, the leader of the auxiliary force, is one of them, and this makes perfect sense because he was completely a leader type before he was healed of his accident-caused leg issues. But when it turns out that the only other people who were healed by the morphing were Craig and Erica and then those two automatically became James's lieutenants, it starts to sound a bit suspicious. Giving disabled kids a major, brave role in a war was a gutsy writing decision, but then still handling the leadership roles to only the able-bodied takes away from the significance a little.

  • When James decides to sign on to the group, one of his conditions is that his bedridden roommate Pedro should get to acquire a morph. Pedro is never mentioned again after seeing his roommate and some others leave the facility in their new morphed bodies. It's not explained why Jake didn't give Pedro a morph or what condition he has that would prevent him from being recruited for the first wave. It became impossible to give Pedro a morph once the Animorphs lost the morphing cube, but it seems inconsistent that Pedro wasn't given a morph to start with, given that James so often goes to bat for his less capable friends.

Best lines:

Marco: "This, Cassie, is the almost-lost art of whittling. It's something people used to do when they were passing the time between milking the cows, plowing the back forty, and doing all kinds of labor-intensive jobs that are now rendered unnecessary by the proliferation of food courts."

Naomi: "I have three daughters to care for. A year from now, I want to still have three daughters. What do I have to do to keep them safe?"
Eva: "Believe that you're at war. You're a parent and a soldier. Learn to follow orders. Learn to respect experience."

Timmy: "You want to know what hell on Earth is? Having a large vocabulary, an encyclopedic knowledge of musical theater, and a speech impediment."



Next book: The Absolute, Animorphs #51

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