Book #15 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 ESCAPE

Animorphs #15
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

Erek the Chee tells Marco and his friends that the Yeerks are doing something weird in an underwater facility, and suggests the Animorphs should check it out. Visser One is supposedly involved, which makes Marco both excited and wary since he knows the visser's host body is his own mother. The group has to go through various stunts morphing dolphins and acquiring sharks to sneak into the facility, but they find out that the Yeerks are mutating sharks' brains so their bodies will function as good host bodies for Yeerks to use on a distant planet: Leerans, a race of telepathic sea creatures, are being targeted by the Yeerks elsewhere in the galaxy, and the Yeerks hope to use the sharks as their water-based shock troops. Unfortunately, the Animorphs end up getting the shark-mutating treatment themselves while finding this out (along with a Yeerk control device in their brains), so they end up having to figure out how to destroy the facility in order to liquidate the chips. Marco encounters his mother while in the facility. Visser One believes Marco to be a Controller, and gloats about how much of a racket her host body is making over this discovery. Marco faces the possibility of seeing his mother die again, and has to figure out whether he really is doing the right thing by trying to save her.

About this book:

Narrator: Marco

New known controllers:

  • Two guards at Ocean World

New morphs acquired:

  • Jake: Parrot, shark (hammerhead)
  • Cassie: Parrot, shark (hammerhead)
  • Marco: Parrot, shark (hammerhead)
  • Rachel: Parrot, shark (hammerhead)
  • Ax: Seagull, shark (hammerhead)
  • Tobias: Dolphin, shark (hammerhead)

Notable:

  • Despite the fact that Ax does not appear to have powers of thought-speak when he is human morph, the kids morphing parrots still have thought-speak abilities while in a body that can theoretically talk. This is more evidence that Ax should be able to thought-speak when in human morph--and really, Tobias should too.
  • At one point when Marco is trying to think of a good unobtrusive morph for sneaking around, he suggests that turning into wolves would be a bad idea since people would notice those. Nobody objected, but the people who needed to hide were just himself, Tobias, and Ax. Tobias and Ax did not have wolf morphs because Tobias couldn't morph when Marco and the others did their wolf missions, and Ax wasn't part of the team yet.
  • When the Animorphs break into an aquarium to get hammerhead shark morphs, they attract Controller attention when guards notice them. Ax is in his natural form when this happens, and so of course the Controllers notice him. But despite the fact that kids are with him, they only seem interested in the Andalite. Even to the point where one of them says that the kids are "irrelevant." That seems excruciatingly stupid, since this can't possibly be a coincidence and they'd have to know the human children could be Andalites in morph (or some other explanation still implicating the kids). Visser Three sure is giving host bodies to some stupid Yeerks.
  • These Controllers also have guns. All of the security guards at the aquarium have guns. Which is odd since not even all actual police have guns. Security guards in most places don't have weapons that can exert deadly force.
  • Visser One refers to "shark-Controllers ready for use on Leeran" at one point, and Ax says "the Yeerks are invading Leeran," suggesting that "Leeran" is the name of the planet, but later it's made clear that the planet's name is Leera and the inhabitants are Leerans. This appears to be a mistake.
  • When Marco and the others begin to get too small and the chips embedded in their brains threaten their lives, it becomes clear that something inside a brain does not change size with the size of the animal morphing around it. This suggests that Visser Three, as a creature physically inside the brain of a morphable creature, would be restricted by the size and shape of the skull cavity. It seems he shouldn't be able to morph into something with a head too small to house a Yeerk, since Yeerks themselves don't change with the animal unless they themselves are morphing (and they are not). It's unclear how large an animal has to be before a Yeerk can safely be inside it.
  • Marco did not kill the Leeran that knew he was human; he only knocked it unconscious with a punch. It's never said how much the Leeran learned about him (and the other so-called Andalite bandits); it's unclear whether it knew his identity or whether it only knew he was human. But since this Yeerk was not eliminated, it's possible there is a security risk here and no one seems to realize it; it was never assured that everyone in the facility was destroyed at the end.

Best lines:

Marco: "We like to keep busy. It's either rescue entire races or play Nintendo."

Marco: If you step back far enough from the details, everything gets funny. You say war is tragic. I say, isn't it crazy the way people will fight over nothing?

Marco: "We're still just us. Nothing that happens can really change what you are. Right?"
Jake: "Look, Marco. I'm not exactly a philosopher, okay?"
Marco: "Yeah. Well, I'm me, no matter what. No matter how many morphs, no matter how many battles. No matter what. I'll still be me. Everyone better accept that."
Jake: "Marco, if it makes you feel any better, you'll always just be a punk to me."

Rachel: "Olivia Newton-John? Have you been listening to dinosaur-rock radio again?"
Marco: "How about you? You actually know who sang that song."
Rachel: "My mom controls the radio in the car. And she wonders why I don't go places with her."

Marco: I'm me, Marco, not some touchy-feely, share-your-feelings-with-the-group kind of person. I don't share feelings, I make people laugh.

Ax: "Now, this is an interesting human concept. This hologram makes it almost appear that we are under the water."
Rachel: "Ax? It's not a hologram."
Ax: "Then . . . we are underwater? Protected only by badly made human plastic?"
Rachel: "Yeah."
Ax: "Why do you humans do things like this?"

Rachel: "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe?"
Marco: "Heads or tails?"
Cassie: "One potato, two potato?"
Ax: "What do these things mean?"
Marco: "These are highly advanced human methods for making choices."

Marco: "Hey, it's me. Please don't remove my head. I use it sometimes."



Next book: The Warning, Animorphs #16

"The Escape" is a 2009 novel by British author Adam Thirlwell, describing the quest of a retired banker to regain his family's appropriated villa in an unnamed formerly communist country somewhere in the Alps. While there he remembers his life, muses to himself, and engages in some tawdry sexual behavior.

I was about twenty pages or so into this book before I realized I would not enjoy it. It is a combination of the banal and pretentious, describing the textureless life of a bourgeois in a way that I can't guess at the aim of. Is this book meant to shock? To mock? Is this meant to be a slice of life? Are we still unmasking the dark underbelly of society in 2009? Or making comments on the arbitariness of life? I couldn't even guess what clich├ęd point the author was trying to make. A small part of me can hold out the hope that I got this wrong and there was some transcendent point behind it all. But mostly I was bored by the book, despite occasional flashes of sympathy for the protagonist. Mostly I wondered if people really lived like that, and if Europeans really still smoked cigarettes that casually. I also wonder how prose that might have been cut by the editor of a White Wolf novel makes it into serious business literary fiction.

Canine, Bacchic, Haffner thrived on the lower thrills: the women with their marine and sour aroma, the rotting rich smell of powdered roe, the ammonia rinds of cheese.
It is just surprising to me that a writer writing in 2009 would use the issue of women's vaginal smells as a metaphor for the hidden underbelly of sensuality beating within the formal world of Europe. Or whatever he is getting into. I just don't get it.

So why did I continue to read this book? The answer is simple. I realized that as an ironic reader, I had to challenge myself. Recently, from Dollar Tree, I purchased Mr. T #1, a predictably ironic read. But what type of ironist am I if I am reading a Mr. T comic book? And that is why I continued to read "The Escape". Also of Dollar Tree provenance, I considered spending several days reading a pretentious novel about the lives of eurotrash to be a challenge to my skills. And while it was sometimes a strain, a strain I had to escape from by reading Lisi Harrison's novel The Clique, I persevered. And I am proud to say that upon finishing a book where the main character reaches an epiphany into the transience of existence and the limitations of identity from a young waitress probing him anally with a candle, I have reached a new level as a satirical ninja that it is hard to communicate to those who did not undergo this test.

Below, find this book's cataloging and publishing information.


1. Older Men-Sexual behavior-Fiction
2. Adultery-Fiction
3. Inheritance and succession-Fiction
4. Alps Region-Fiction

Adam Thirlwell
2009
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
978-0-374-14878-2

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