Jul 12, 2018

The Alien

Animorphs #8
by K.A. Applegate

This one was great. I really enjoyed reading a narrative from Ax's perspective. He spends much of this storyline trying to fit in, and learn more about Earth and its inhabitants- so while in human morph, the team of kids takes him to the movies, to the mall, to school for a day, into their homes to meet their families. They give him an encyclopedia and he devours the information, then spits it out again at odd moments. His combined awkwardness and confusion at human culture is a nice foil against the superior knowledge and technology he possesses. It quickly becomes clear that Ax is keeping secrets from the Animorphs, which understandably makes them upset, as they openly and share everything with him. Being inside Ax's thoughts helps the reader understand why he is reluctant to share information, what strictures the rules of his own culture have placed upon him, and also how very lonely he is, being the only Andalite survivor on Earth. Serendipitously, he plays around with a computer when visiting Marco's house, changing some code which allows him to communicate with his home planet, except he can't get caught- his meddling with human technology is strictly forbidden. His reception when he finally makes the long-distance call home, is less than welcoming. He takes heavy blame for some serious events, and starts to wonder if some things he has been taught are right or not. It's pretty heavy stuff. And through it all, he falls apart with ecstatic excitement when faced by a new flavor: chocolate. Popcorn. Chili peppers. I thought this was funny at first, but it makes sense that Ax has trouble controlling human senses, just like the Animorphs do when they use a new animal form. It's interesting to read how Ax experiences the morphing process. (He's not as skilled at it as Cassie, who appears to have a natural affinity for morphing). They all use previous animals in this book, but some new ones for Ax are a harrier hawk, and more significantly, a rattlesnake which he attempts to use against one of their greatest enemies.

My favorite quote (I'm not alone), from Ax: Books are an amazing human invention. They allow instant access to information simply by turning pieces of paper. They are much faster to use than computers. Surprisingly, humans invented books before computers. They do many things backward.

Many aspects of this story were reminiscent to me of situations in Enchantress from the Stars. I think it has to do with the conflicts and difficulties that arise if two cultures in different stages of their evolution encounter each other. And of course, the teenager perspective.

Borrowed from the public library, as an e-book.

Rating: 4/5                    176 pages, 1997

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