Jul 10, 2018

The Andalite's Gift

Megamorphs #1
by K.A. Applegate

It's vacation time. Rachel is supposed to go to gymnastics camp, but she decides to skip it without telling her family, so no one knows where she is. Flying as an eagle, she gets mobbed by smaller birds, crashes into a tree and suffers amnesia for much of the story. Having lost her memory causes a lot of fear and confusion discovering she could be part bird, and later being shocked into turning into a grizzly bear. She stumbles across a shack in the woods where a crazy lady lives, who from her raving and strange reactions to things, appears to have once hosted a Yeerk herself.

Meanwhile, Marco and Ax crash a pool party- chasing the girls as mice. They attract the attention of a new threat- a dangerous swarm of tiny sentient alien creatures that can shred anything in its path (this reminded me once again of a L'Engle character- Proginoskes from A Wind in the Door). They figure out how to decoy it using their morphing ability- tiger, gorilla and wolf alternately run through the forest- and end up in a hilarious car chase (with lots of side damage). Rachel in her elephant morph, crashes and recovers from her amnesia with the second knock on the head (a bit too conveniently, hm). The alien swarm (bystanders assume it's a tornado) proves it can capture them- Ax and Marco get taken to the enemy ship. Here I was confounded at the actions of Visser Three. Terribly ruthless, yes. But not so smart. I don't know why he would explain things so readily to Ax and Marco- except to relish in his superiority, and of course it helps the story along. Anyhow, they quickly come up with a clever escape move, and together with the Animorphs back on the ground, find a way to defeat the swarm creature. With the help of a new morph- Cassie turns into a whale.

Interestingly, in this book quite a few times the kids get stuck mid-morph, while they are a strange and awkward combination of human and animal form. They keep remarking how horrible it is, but find a way to deliberately remain in this in-between state when it is advantageous. Compared to prior reads, this book was stuffed with action, had enough new ideas to keep me alert, and peppered with humor. A bit much of the ridiculous alien fights, but considering the premise it's to be expected. I rolled my eyes a few times (some of the writing felt juvenile again, and hello a wolf's hock is not a knee turned backwards! that little detail makes me grimace every time). Side note: while the kids find turning into small insects like ants, roaches or fleas disorientating and frightening, they happen to enjoy being a housefly, because of the speed and dexterity in flight. Which comes in very handy in this story, too.

This book was published much later, but I'm reading them in the sequential order the author intended. The Megamorphs books are different in that they alternate POV every chapter. It gives you different insights into what is going on- and especially more information about Ax- and how he ended up under the ocean in a broken piece of spacecraft to begin with. But it makes the flow uneven- I prefer to be in one person's head per book is all. Delightfully, I discovered that when Scholastic declined to reprint these books (nearly a decade ago), the author made them all available as digital files. So I've downloaded all the ones I don't yet own in paperback onto my e-reader. Prepare for a good month or so of Animorphs! (with some intermittent reading of other types, I might need a break now and then).

Rating: 3/5                240 pages, 1997

more opinions:
Arkham Reviews

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