Mar 6, 2019

The Departure

Animorphs #19
by K.A. Applegate

I was looking forward to reading this book, because I had hints from some others' reviews of what was coming. It was both more and - different- from what I expected. I really like the cover image. Someone (on Goodreads or Amzn) made it sound like Cassie just quits, and flits off into the landscape as a butterfly to escape everything. Not at all what happens. Warning for spoilers if you haven't read this far in the series.

Cassie's bad feeling for what the Animorphs do in the war against the Yeerks has been building, and in the dinosaur episode it just goes too far. Fed up with the violence and killing, Cassie declares to her friends that she's quitting the Animorphs. They're shocked, angered, disgusted by turns. Make her promise she can't use her morphing powers if she isn't in the fight, because it could endanger them all. She goes home, learns some bad news from her family, goes out on a horse ride for some mental space and there's a little girl being chased by a bear in the woods. Cassie runs after them on horseback to save the girl, they end up falling in the river and when Cassie revives, she finds that the little girl saved her. They're lost in the forest and (conveniently for the plot) there's a leopard on the loose- escaped from a private collector somewhere nearby. Cassie finds out pretty quickly that the little girl is controlled by a Yeerk, who suspects she is an Andalite and tries to force her to tell. Cassie stubbornly refuses to admit her true identity, until the leopard attacks. She tries to save the girl without revealing herself, but ends up morphing the wolf to threaten off the leopard, and the game's up.

So Cassie and this Yeerk end up having an in-depth argument in the woods: whose side is right? the Yeerks, it turns out, are not all in agreement with what the Vissers order. Some of them don't want to be in the war at all. All of them want to have the blessing of using limbs, having eyes to see, ears to hear. The little girl Controller lets Cassie know she thinks humans (and Andalites) are domineering, holier-than-thou busybodies trying to make everyone in the universe follow their rules- when all the Yeerks want is to use all five senses, not spend their lives swimming around as "slugs" in a murky pool. Hm. Really puts it all in a new perspective. And Cassie gets it. She and this Yeerk make a deal- if the Yeerk leaves the little girl host and goes back to existing in its natural form in the pool, she will make a similar sacrifice by morphing into a dull, wormlike Earth animal and staying there.

Of course, Cassie doesn't get stuck forever in the caterpillar morph, but I sure wondered how the author was going to pull her out of that situation. It never occurred to me that natural metamorphosis would yes be comparable to the Andalite morphing technology- tadpoles into frogs, caterpillars into butterflies. It seemed very clever to me that this would be used as a device in the story- although the explanation for how it works is lacking.

Anyhow, this of all the books so far really brings up a ton of gray areas- is the enemy really as evil as they've always seemed? is Cassie being foolish or a decent human being, by refusing to fight and kill anymore. What has the war done to these kids, that their reactions to Cassie's defection include declaring an end to friendship, and turning against her if it looks like she will betray them to the enemy- no matter for what reason.

more opinions:
Thistle Chaser
Arkham Reviews

Rating: 4/5          pages,


  1. I'm glad you caught up to this one! It was one of my favorites. I love stories highlighting the grey areas in things.

  2. Me too. I'm in the middle of The Discovery but got busy with my garden and then HAD to finish a library book I can't renew- paying by the day now. Right after that, diving back in. Idea of a new animorph kid is really cool. And disturbing, how different his attitude is from the others'.


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