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 our new and improved Animorphs Re-Read index for a list of every post in the series.
Your favorite Animophs-delivery vector is back! Today’s offering is courtesy of Elise Smith, whose name sounds like something from a witness protection program. She’s another one-shot ghostwriter, something that hasn’t boded well for a book’s quality in the past. How will it bode this time? Let’s find out.
The tragically non-hilarious cover shows Rachel turning into a cheetah. Whee.
The book opens with a page that blatantly sets up its main character conflict: Jake is out of town and Tobias has discovered Visser Three’s latest feeding spot, which means they have an opportunity to take him out. But oh noes, Rachel has to step in and take command even though she’s not sure if she should. CONFLICT.
They jump straight into the mission, which is a bit unusual. As the cover indicates, they all decide to go in Hit-Cheetah morph, because I guess cheetahs are the perfect animals to use when assassinating an alien despot. Rachel’s description of the cheetah morph involves some pretty humorous sound effects, which I will now reproduce entirely out of context for maximum lols:
They attack Visser Three while he’s feeding, but what do you know, he just happened to have brought along an alien thing that looks vaguely like an Andalite and is even faster than a cheetah. That’s…uh, convenient. It kind of reminds me of one of those really didactic cartoons where the kid who never shares just happens to come up against a monster that can only be killed by the power of sharing.
The creature also thought-speaks incredibly fast, although Visser Three can apparently understand it. He refers to it as ‘Inspector’, which means we’re going to get a tie-in to the events of Visser. (If you recall, that ended with Visser Three getting slapped with a death sentence that would remain suspended only if he managed to conquer Earth in a reasonable timeframe).
The Inspector (whose host body is something called a Garatron) is openly antagonistic towards Visser Three, so Rachel decides to sour the relationship further by continuously attacking or harassing known high-ranking Controllers in a bid to make Visser three look incompetent. Er, even more incompetent, I mean. Marco says they should wait until Jake gets back from visiting his relatives. Rachel disagrees.
The first raid on a Yeerk-owned property goes swimmingly, in that the Animorphs cause a lot of property damage and make it seem like Visser Three has no control over what happens in right under his nose. But oh no, Tobias saw an old guy trip amidst all the panic and is afraid he might have hurt himself! Rachel tells him to stop being such a weeny and pushes on with the attacks.
Sorry, I’m trying not to be too flippant here, but this whole plotline feels really low-stakes. Why couldn’t the entire book have been about them trying to assassinate Visser Three? That would be a lot more interesting.
Anyway, they attack the bookstore and Marco accidentally scares a kid or whatever but that’s the price you pay. In a real war, kids get scared sometimes. Then they raid a clothes store or whatever and later on they find out that the old guy who fell over actually died.
So this would be pretty interesting if it happened because Rachel accidentally mauled someone to death, but no, it happens because some guy with a bad heart was in the vicinity of the world’s lowest-value target when the Animorphs decided to inconvenience it. If you’re going to have the characters accidentally bump off civilians, make it count.
They still decide to go on One Last Raid, but get attacked by Mr. Inspector. Here’s how he’s described:
The inspector circled and spun like a whirling dervisharound Cassie. Jim Carrey in The Mask. The Tasmanian Devil in a whirlwind around Yosemite Sam.
Terrifying. Just terrifying.
Visser Three shows up, because Visser Three always shows up, and turns into what the Wikipdia article for this book describes as ‘Putrid Alien Flesh’. No really, it says that:
They manage to escape, but Cassie gets left behind. Which, again, might be kind of harrowing if she hadn’t been left behind while engaging in the most pointless mission imaginable. Rachel has an ‘Am I really a good leader?!’ moment, and they decide to break into the Yeerk Pool by, uh, hijacking a small plane and crashing it into a known Pool location. I probably don’t need to list the ways that could go wrong, do I?
They get into the Yeerk Pool, something that would usually be a huge undertaking but is handled in a few pages because this plot has no sense of gravity whatsoever, and Visser Three challenges The Inspector to fight them himself. He does swimmingly against them (remember, super-speed) until Marco bites him in snake morph and injects a fatal dose of venom into him. Goodbye, Inspector, we hardly knew ye.
And that’s the end of the book. Rachel has an insignificant character moment, some random guy dies, and the Animorphs defeat an enemy who had zero bearing on the plot and who will most likely never be mentioned again. This certainly wasn’t the worst book in the series, but man, is it forgettable. I can feel it slipping out of my brain already.
Tune in next time for my re-read of Animorphs #38: The Arrival, in which a new Andalite character turns into something called a Grackle. Expect many, many jokes along the lines of ‘Snap, Grackle and Pop’. You’re welcome in advance.