Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Conspiracy (K. A. Applegate)

The Conspiracy
(The Animorphs series, Book 31)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
***** (Great)

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

DESCRIPTION: Jake leads a dangerous life. He's the unofficial leader of the Animorphs, pitting himself and his closest friends against Yeerks most nights of the week. At home, he lives under the same roof as a human-Controller. His beloved older brother, Tom, may walk and talk and act like he used to, but an alien slug in his brain is really calling the shots. For the most part, Tom ignores Jake and lives his own life, as older teen brothers are wont to do. So, while Jake still must be on his guard, he's never felt directly threatened under his own roof.
Until now.
His beloved great-grandfather has just died, tossing the family into upheaval. Their parents are taking Jake and Tom out to his cabin for the wake and funeral - a trip of four days at the least. Only the Yeerk in Tom's head needs access to Kandrona rays from the Yeerk pool every three days. Suddenly, there's a new battle line in the Yeerk war... a line straight through the center of Jake's house. A line between Tom and Jake... and Jake's father. Jake doesn't know what Tom's Yeerk means to do, but he knows one thing: he won't let the aliens take his father. No matter what the cost.

REVIEW: This book forms a perfect mirror with Book 30. When Marco had to deal with potentially killing his own mother in The Reunion, Jake kept telling him he was too close to the situation to make the call. Now, the leader of the Animorphs finds his own family turned into sacrificial pieces on the game board... and when his best friend, Marco, tries to tell him (from personal experience) that it's not a battle he's equipped to deal with, Jake doesn't take it well, to say the least. In this book, it becomes abundantly clear how the war is changing the Animorphs team... not for the better. These are not the same five children who wandered through an abandoned construction site at the start of the series. Jake finds himself doing things he never thought himself capable of - and ordering others, his friends and allies, to do things nobody should have to do. On its own, this book might've rated four or four and a half stars, but taken with the book before it, it forms a dark, bleak profile of two lives and one friendship irrevocably changed by the horrors of combat. These insights are truly what lifted the Animorphs series above the average young adult action serial.

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