If this is your first time dipping into the Animorphs Re-Read, I strongly suggest you head back to the beginning and start there unless you’re already familiar with the books. Alternatively, check out the Animorphs Re-Read tag page for a list of every post in the series.
Fear not, intrepid reader, there is a good reason for the stupidly convoluted title of today’s post. I’ve finally decided to do the first Megamorphs book, which presents a certain logistical problem. See, up until now I’ve been numbering the re-read posts in sequential order, which is just fine as long as post #1 corresponds to book #1 and so on. But if I keep doing things that way, posts #9 and #10(this one and the next) will correspond to the two-part Megamorhps #1…and then post #11 will correspond to book #9, and the blog (nay, the world) will spiral into a pit of madness.
So, in the interests of being colossally anal-retentive, I’ve altered the title format for these posts. The re-cap posts themselves are no longer numbered – rather, the number in the title refers only to the book number covered in that post. As you can see above, this isn’t post #9. It’s just a post which happens to be covering the first half of Megamorphs #1: The Andalite’s Gift.
…yeah. On with the recap!
First of all, you’re probably wondering what the whole ‘Megamorphs’ thing is. Basically, these were bumper-sized Animorphs books that sort of slotted in between the ‘ordinary’ volumes, in terms of series continuity. This one was apparently published in two volumes first, before being collected into one big book, but I only ever read it as one.
In terms of structure, The Andalite’s Gift is a bit of an oddity. Unlike previous books, it cycles through the ‘core’ cast of Jake, Rachel, Marco, Tobias and then Ax. Overall, the plot of The Andalite’s Gift is a bit of a trifle. It doesn’t really make much of an impact on any of the characters, nor does it advance the overall mythos very much. As we’ll see later, this is not true of many of the other ‘bigger’ books, some of which delve into the series’ mythology in fairly dramatic ways.
The book starts off from Jake’s point of view while he delivers the usual Animorphs preamble: can’t tell you who we are, alien invasion, we got super powers, and so on. Quick-cut to Rachel (man, this must have been a pain to write), who decides to go looking for Tobias in bird morph. Things go swimmingly until she gets attacked by a swarm of birds and crashes head-first into a tree. Whoops.
AND THEN SUDDENLY MARCO. Man, we need some nice swooshy George Lucas wipe effects for this…
It turns out Marco and Ax are planning on crashing a party, because I guess they need something to do other than sit around twiddling their thumbs all day. This is where the revolving-door narrator structure shows some of its weaknesses; since Applegate has to give each character a certain amount of page time, she needs to come up with ways for them all to keep busy and remain involved in the plot. It doesn’t always work, which is probably why The Andalite’s Gift comes off as a bit disjointed in places.
NOW BACK TO JAKE. I think I’m getting whiplash.
Jake and Cassie are also at the pool party, which I guess must be the social event to be at in whatever town the Animorphs call home. They were actually invited, though, unlike Marco and his freeloading alien pal. Of course, Marco and Ax don’t just show up and eat all the hors d’oeuvres while making backhanded compliments about the host’s taste in contemporary art; no, they have something far less mature in mind:
I sat straight up. Trouble! I could feel the familiar rush of adrenaline. I quickly looked around, checking for the ways to escape, the places where we could stand and fight, the places we might be able to hide for a quick morph. People were running.
No … on a closer look, only a couple of girls were running. They were the ones screaming.
“That’s Darlene,” Cassie said. She sent me a puzzled, worried look.
“Oh! Oh! Oh! Get it away from me!” Darlene screamed. “Get it awaaaaay!”
Darlene is running away from a mouse, which is also Marcus. I guess when girls get chased by mice, they go ‘Oh! Oh! Oh!’. It’s funny how Jake immediately thinks they’re about to be killed, though. Slightly on edge, are we?
He’s also just a bit annoyed at Marco:
“I’ll kill him,” I said. “Just as soon as we save him.”
That’s leadership in action, folks!
A mass case of the willies breaks out as everyone runs screaming from the two harmless mice. Jake is hell-bent on getting things under control until the entire party is attacked by some sort of alien thing-a-ma-whatsit:
I looked up. The sun was hidden behind a swirling cloud of dust. Like a flat tornado. A tornado in a clear sky.
I felt a terrible sensation of dread from deep down inside.
The dust swarm grew solid. Within seconds, it assumed a shape. A shape like nothing ever seen on planet Earth.
You know, one of those.
MARCO TIME AGAIN GO GO GO.
The big alien dealie destroys Darlene’s house, which I imagine is going to be hard to explain away as some freak natural phenomenon.
WHOOPS IT’S RACHEL O’ CLOCK.
So Rachel wakes up from her little face-first tree collision and discovers that she’s still half-morphed. This would be distressing enough, but she also has amnesia! So she’s half-bird, half-human, but doesn’t realise that this is a relatively normal state of affairs for her. The dust-cloud alien thing hovers over her in the sky, as if not quite certain whether to attack, and I’ll spoil the big surprise right here and reveal that it’s drawn to the ‘energy’ giving off by morphing. So if you morph, it comes and eats you.
Pretty effective weapon to use against ‘Andalite bandits’, I gotta say, although it seems to be easily confused.
There’s a brief Tobias interlude here, but I’m not going to bother going all caps-lock on you because it’s like two pages long. Then we’re back to Rachel. She demorphs and runs off, still confused and frightened by the fact that she can turn into animals and also there’s a Thing trying to kill her. Her whole scene is about eight pages long, but it comes across as amazing choppy thanks to all the character-swapping.
Man, someone really should have reconsidered the whole ‘every kid gets some POV time’ thing.
Speaking of which, LET’S CASSIE.
The kids are all watching a news reporter about what happened at the party, and sure enough, the authorities are blaming it on a ‘freak tornado’. I imagine most meteorologists would balk at the idea of a tornado forming on what was apparently a sunny day, but whatever. Let’s assume the Yeerks had something to do with it.
At one point during the report, Jake happens to spot someone who looks an awful lot like Rachel running across a road in the background:
Hey! Look!” I said.
“What?” Jake asked.
“It’s gone now,” I said. “Are we taping this?” “Yeah,” Marco said. “What is it?”
“Back the tape up. Back it up.”
Marco reversed the VCR tape. I watched as the camera panned back across the wreck. Then .. .
“Right there! Right there!” I said. “That girl. See? She’s only in the shot for a second. Can you freeze-frame her?”
For those of you only just reaching the demographic age range for these books, a VCR is what you’d get if you made a DVD player that sucked.
Jake realises that the Animorphs-eater alien is drawn to locations where people are getting their morph on, and further deduces that Rachel may be in some sort of trouble since she hasn’t contacted them. I bet he’d make a great detective.
Speaking of Rachel (or should I say SPEAKING OF RACHEL), she ends up being held hostage by a crazy old woman who is apparently a former Controller. (Remember the whole destroy-the-Kandrona thing? I guess this is more fallout from that.) She’s convinced that Rachel is trying to re-infest her, and plans on locking her in a shack and then burning it down.
Meanwhile, Jake and the others (I’m not doing more all-caps!), go looking for Rachel, but get attacked by the Veleek. (AKA the Thing, AKA the Animorphs-eater, AKA a tornado.) They’re in wolf morph, so they can keep running for hours, but they know that eventually they’ll either tire or run into a dead end. And then they’ll die.
The race is on! Will Rachel escape from her fiery doom? Will the kids who aren’t Rachel get away from the Veleek? Will I go all-out and put a ridiculously-captioned JPEG between every single paragraph of text from now on? There’s only one way to find out: join me next week for the second part of our Megamorphs double bill, as I try to make the surprisingly-boring plot this thing has been saddled with sound like something worthy of two whole posts!