Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Extreme (K. A. Applegate)

The Extreme
(The Animorphs series, Book 25)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
***+ (Okay/Good)

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

DESCRIPTION: Marco thought his week was going bad when he totally blew a date with Marian, one of the cutest girls in school. (But, really, a Beethoven concert? How was he supposed to stay awake?) Then Erek the Chee turned up with news that makes things even worse: the Yeerks are working on a way to remote-beam Kandrona rays via satellite relays. If they can pull it off, then their greatest weakness - the need to leave their hosts every three days to visit the underground Yeerk pool - will be history. The Animorphs have to crash that party... only Erek doesn't know where it is, or what defenses the Yeerks have waiting for them. All they know is that it's somewhere remote... very remote, where alien ships won't be noticed.
Which explains how the Animorphs find themselves on the ice-blasted shores of the Arctic Ocean. It doesn't explain how they're supposed to survive, when the weather alone is nearly as deadly as their alien enemies...

REVIEW: Not quite as silly and pointless as Book 24, it nevertheless continues an aimless coast in the series. Like the previous book, it's more about the "wow" gimmick - in this case, the "field trip" to the Arctic Circle - than about character growth, or even the fight against the Yeerks. I've heard rumors that ghostwriters were responsible for a good chunk of the series, especially this middle stretch; that might explain the autopilot overtones, but it's not really an excuse, as I'm sure there are decent ghostwriters out there who could've managed to pep up even a canned plot like this one. Still, it's not outright embarrassing, even if there's a slight continuity hiccup.
On an unrelated note, this book features an ad for the late, lamented Watchers series by Peter Lerangis (reviewed on my website here), which was axed by Scholastic after six books and never had a chance to develop as it should have. There's a certain irony in its appearance in a book that's essentially series-padding.

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