Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Discovery (K. A. Applegate)

The Discovery
(The Animorphs series, Book 20)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
**** (Good)

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

DESCRIPTION: Since becoming an Animorph, school has become the less-stressful part of Marco's life... or, rather, the place where stress comes from ordinary things, like pop quizzes and girls and lunchroom bullies, instead of alien parasites and watching his own body melt and distort into animal form. But then he sees a new kid on campus with something very, very strange in his backpack. Strange, yet all too familiar. It's the blue cube that Prince Elfangor used to create the Animorphs, transferring the Andalite morphing technology to five human kids. They had thought that it was destroyed when the Yeerk Dracon beams reduced the dead prince's spaceship to molecular dust. Apparently not.
Then Erek the Chee brings grim news: a top-secret world summit meeting is coming to the area, placing six world leaders within the Yeerk's grasp. Only one of them's already a Controller... but Erek doesn't know who. Just one more helping of stress atop Marco's already-overfull plate.
As the Animorphs race to secure the blue cube before their mission to the summit meeting, the boy David - oblivious to what he's found - posts an ad online offering the "strange box" he found for sale. With the Yeerks closing in, the Animorphs have two choices: steal the box and abandon the boy to his fate, or use its power as Elfangor did to add David to the team. With time running out and the biggest mission they've ever faced closing in on them, they have to choose quickly...

REVIEW: This begins the David trilogy, one of the great moments of the series as a whole. The first book struggles a bit under the extra load of establishing a new character and setting up a large-scale mission. It also ends on a cliffhanger. The Animorphs' early read off David is mixed, to say the least: he's a loner who keeps a cobra for a pet and doesn't respond well to authority, but beneath it all he seems to be just as scared and lost as any of them were that first fateful night in the construction site. While Marco can sympathize with his position, somewhere deep down he senses the trouble that's to come... but, considering his own early issues with being an Animorph, he doesn't feel right voicing those misgivings, especially when the others seem almost relieved to have an extra pair of morph-capable hands available going into their most dangerous mission to date. If he'd stuck to his guns, perhaps things would've gone differently... but that's for Book 21.
As a closing note, this book starts the advertizing blitz for the short-lived Animorphs TV series on Nickelodeon (from 1998.) While it featured impressive CGI morphing effects, it short-changed the aliens - even the plot-pivotal Andalites - and the scripts dumbed down and glossed over the best parts of the books.(Nickelodeon also kept bumping the air times without notice or reason; I finally gave up trying to chase it.) I still keep expecting a reboot, if not a film franchise... preferably all-animated. The guts for a good show are right there on the page, if someone could manage it.

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