Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Unknown (K. A. Applegate)

The Unknown
(The Animorphs series, Book 14)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
****+ (Good/Great)

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

DESCRIPTION: Cassie may be part of the Animorphs, secretly fighting the hidden Yeerk invasion with the Andalite power to morph animals, but she also has other responsibilities, namely helping her father run the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the family barn. When Crazy Helen, an eccentric woman in the remote Dry Lands, calls about a sick horse, Cassie and her father - and Rachel, who happened to be visiting - drive out to help, finding a staggering and snake-bitten horse barely able to stand up. But, just as it collapses, the girls see something very disturbing: a large slug crawling from the horse's ear. A Yeerk.
The other Animorphs don't really believe them. Why would a Yeerk make a Controller out of a horse? It just doesn't make sense. Even the blast that destroyed the horse's body could've been old army munitions, and not the Dracon beams Cassie and Rachel swore they heard. But in the middle of the Dry Lands is the top-secret military base Zone 91, where fringe elements claim that the government's been keeping alien technology hidden for decades. Of course, only people like Crazy Helen believe the rumors; there's nothing alien about the operations at Zone 91... or is there?

REVIEW: The series has settled into a nice pattern by now, with bursts of action and humor amid incremental progress in the overall war. Not so profound or serious as some of the best books, it nevertheless entertains. As a former X-Phile, I especially enjoyed the Animorphs' thinly-veiled take on that favorite target of conspiracy theorists, Area 51. It earned an extra half-star for the real secret hidden at the base, one that would've made for an absolutely priceless "moment" for Agents Mulder and Scully.

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