Monday, September 19, 2011

The Alien (K. A. Applegate)

The Alien
(The Animorphs series, Book 8)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
***+ (Okay/Good)

NOTE: In honor of the re-release of the series, I'm finally posting individual reviews of the Animorphs books.

DESCRIPTION: Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill should never have been on the Andalite Dome ship that came to Earth. As an underaged aristh, a warrior-cadet, he had no place among the full-fledged warriors and princes of his people. But with Prince Elfangor, the great hero, as his older brother, certain exceptions tended to be made. Even then, nobody expected an exceptionally fierce battle... just as nobody expected the Blade ship the Yeerks had hidden on the Earth's moon, the ship that turned the tide against the Andalites. Only when he was rescued from the wreckage on the ocean floor by four humans did he learn the full devastation of the battle... that he was the last free Andalite alive on Earth, that his brother had been killed by the foul Andalite-Controller Visser Three.
And that, in his last moments, the hero Prince Elfangor had broken the greatest law of the Andalite race by giving five human children the technology to morph.
As days turn to weeks, Aximili joins the Animorphs in thier battle against the Yeerk invasion, but he is not one of them. He can never be one of them, never be a true and full companion to these primitive aliens. To share information about his people and their technology would only further compound Elfangor's crime. Besides, as trusting as the Animorphs are now, how could they continue to be his friends if they were to learn the reason for the very law Elfangor broke - the secret shame of the Andalites that drives them to hunt the Yeerks across the galaxy?

REVIEW: Ax the alien finally gets his book-length debut, telling the story from his point of view. As with his chapters in the first Megamorphs book, his narrative leans a bit heavily on Earth-based terminology. The humor of Ax's near-complete inability to function in human morph also grows a bit stale; I understand that he's still a kid, but he's also supposed to be reasonably intelligent. Those issues aside, Ax finally has to confront his conflicting loyalties and decide which master - which world - he ultimately serves. He has an understandably difficult time with this, worsened when he discovers a means of communicating with his homeworld. Overall, while not a stellar installment in the franchise, it's still reasonably entertaining, and Applegate manages to explain some cultural and physical anomolies of the Andalite people.
I also have to say that the original artistic interpretation of the Andalite here doesn't quite match the descriptions given in the book.

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