(The Animorphs series, Megamorphs 3)
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: Many years ago, a lost and war-weary young Andalite warrior came to Earth... and stayed. Prince Elfangor brought the Time Matrix, the most powerful piece of technology known in the galaxy, and buried it in an empty field, before morphing to human to live with the one person he truly loved. At least, until the Ellimist intervened, sending Elfangor back to the battle zone. But the Time Matrix remained - and, just before his death at the hands of Visser Three, Elfangor almost retrieved it.
Now, Supreme Leader Jake rallies his friends - Marco, Cassie, Melissa, and Tobias - and an upstart alien to defend the Empire from the Yeerk invasion... a matter only slightly more pressing than Cassie's disturbingly rebellious remarks and his own nation's wars against the Primitives of South America. But - no. Something's wrong with time. Terribly wrong. The Yeerk known as Visser Four - smarting from the loss on Leera, a loss caused by the interference of the Animorphs - has located the Time Matrix, using it to manipulate history so that the Yeerks will have a much easier time conquering Earth. For once, the Ellimist and Crayak agree that Visser Four must be stopped... but the Crayak demands a price for giving the Animorphs a chance to set the timeline right. A life must be paid. Against the millions who will die in altered wars throughout history, a negligible cost, but that life will be one of their own.
The Animorphs have never hesitated before. They cannot afford to hesitate now, not when the alternative is to grow up in a slave-based society with a set of morals so twisted they can scarcely contemplate them. Even if one of them may not return from their journey through time...
REVIEW: I came close to clipping this another half-star. The set-up feels rushed; no explanation is given for how Visser Four, alone of all the Yeerks - with access to all that superior Yeerk technology - tracked down the Time Matrix and worked out how to use it, though it's implied that the Crayak himself might have been involved, only to regret it. Once that bump is over, the rest of the story moves quickly, twisting down dark paths through puzzles that strain not only the temporal but the moral fibers of the Animorphs to their utmost. "Right" and "wrong," "good guys" and "bad guys," all labels quickly lose their meaning as battles are lost that should be won, lives that should burn long are snuffed out, and flags that should fly are never sewn to begin with. Thrust into the heart of war after war, the blood toll and body count can't help but be high, and Applegate - as usual - doesn't pull punches. War is Hell, no matter what the reason, the era, or the timeline.
At the end of my copy, as in the previous book, is an ad for the short-lived line of Animorphs transforming action figures. Toy technology just cannot adequately combine a human figure with an animal without making both look very, very screwy...