Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Andalite's Gift (K. A. Applegate)

The Andalite's Gift
(The Animorphs series, Megamorphs 1)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi

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

DESCRIPTION: Jake, Cassie, Rachel, and Marco - plus Tobias, the boy-turned-hawk, and Ax, the Andalite - have been fighting the invading Yeerks ever since that fateful night when they met the dying Andalite, Prince Elfangor, in the abandoned construction site. Given the alien technology to morph into animals, they've struck some serious blows to the invading parasites and caused major troubles for the leader of the invasion, the foul Visser Three. But they're also still human kids, and even superheroes need a weekend off once in a while. With Rachel on her way to a gymnastics camp and Cassie and Jake going to a pool party, they figured they'd leave off the fight for humanity's freedom for a couple days and take some time to just be normal kids.
They figured wrong.
When Rachel goes missing and a new threat appears - an unnatural whirlwind of dust that can form itself into a hideous alien killing machine - the Animorphs realize that their R-&-R will have to wait for a while. The Yeerks have just unleashed a new terror to combat the "Andalite bandits" who have been harrying their invasion efforts. But how can they fight a dustcloud that chews up houses and trees like a living woodchipper... a cloud that can follow them anywhere, through any morph?

REVIEW: The Megamorphs books are "super-edition" installments - the TV movie specials of the series run, so to speak - rotating through multiple character POVs. It works, more or less, telling a longer and somewhat more intense story than the usual Animorphs book. The amnesia storyline with Rachel felt more like a worn plot-extending chestnut than a genuine plot twist, and Ax's chapters also leaned a little heavily on Earth-based terminology for a supposedly alien character, but for the most part it's on par with the bulk of the series. Oddly enough, I had the feeling that Applegate (or more likely Scholastic) was still trying to lure in new readers with this book: multiple characters relate the "how we became Animorphs" tale, and Rachel's amnesia almost feels like an excuse to rehash their predicament yet again.

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