Feb 3, 2019

The Underground

Animorphs #17
by K.A. Applegate

I liked this one. In spite of the utter silliness of its main premise. Warning for spoilers if you haven't read this far in the series.

Opening scene, the animorphs attend a Planet Hollywood event by morphing birds of prey and cruising the skies above the venue. But Rachel sees a man in a building nearby intending to jump to his death- so she dives to save him. Even five birds aren't able to keep the man from falling hard (and I kept thinking: wouldn't their talons have just torn through his clothing?) so he crashes into a body of water and Rachel has to morph a dolphin to save him from drowning. Not long after, they find out the man has been committed to a mental hospital- because his family heard him raving about aliens living inside his brain. So they morph roaches to sneak into the facility and question the man- Rachel lets him see her morphing from insect to human, figuring no one will believe if he tells. Discovers the Yeerk in this man's brian was partly disabled and driven mad by an addiction to -- instant oatmeal.

That's the ridiculous part of this whole book. But it has a very serious side, too. The Animorphs debate how to use this new knowledge- is wielding an addictive substance as a weapon against their enemies stooping too low? They finally decide to tunnel into an underground Yeerk pool as moles- it literally takes days of claustrophobic work- and I guess the next step was to transport masses of oatmeal to dump on the helpless Yeerks in the pool there. They never quite get that far. Plan goes awry- and they find themselves separated, under suspicion, in different morphs- at one point Rachel is human again while two of the others are bats, Marco a gorilla and Ax his normal Andalite self- and facing none other than Visser Three himself in a battle with barrels of confiscated oatmeal (taken by Yeerk controllers from human hosts that tried to smuggle it in) as a bargaining chip in a pivotal life-or-death moment.

I often get bored during battle scenes but this one held my attention. They escape by Rachel literally collapsing a tunnel ceiling over everyone, hoping they can survive by tunneling out as moles again. They barely make it. The book is from Rachel's viewpoint, and it's nice to see her debating some of the possibilities instead of diving right into action every time. Which she still frequently does when the pressure is on, but there was a lot more thought on her part this time. The main morphs in this book were of course the mole, and the bat. At other points they morph seagulls, the wolf and elephant, and flies. Rachel even forces herself to morph an ant- in spite of how terrified she was of that experience before- when she has to use its abilities and avoid detection in a tight moment.

Enjoyed the copy on my e-reader.

Rating: 3/5               176 pages, 1998

more opinions:
Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales
Arkham Reviews

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