Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Other (K. A. Applegate)

The Other
(The Animorphs series, Book 40)
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 doesn't get many evenings home by himself, what with being part of the Animorphs and defending the planet from alien parasites and all. After his father remarried, he had even fewer nights alone. But, for once, the Yeerks are quiet and the Animorphs are off-duty. At least, until Marco's channel-surfing thumb leads him to an amateur video on national TV: an unidentified shape in the woods, little more than a four-footed blur. A blue blur.
An Andalite. But not Aximili, or Visser Three.
Investigating, Marco and his friends discover that Ax wasn't the only survivor of the Dome ship that was destroyed over Earth. Two more warriors survived... more or less. One of the pair, Mertil, lost part of his tail - a shameful deformity in Andalite culture. The other, the giant Gafinilan, seems to be Mertil's protector, but there's something very odd about his behavior that sets off Marco's inner alarms. Maybe it's the way he refuses to join in the fight against the Yeerks. Maybe it's his peculiar mood swings. Or maybe it has something to do with why, ever since that video, there's been no trace of Mertil...

REVIEW: Another book in the past-midpoint drift... Since we just had a visit from Andalites two installments ago, it seems a bit soon to play the "More Andalites on Earth" card again. It's also a bit odd that only now, so long after the crash, does anyone seem to notice that Elfangor's ship wasn't the only one to enter Earth's atmosphere intact. But that's as maybe... Some of the paranoia and veiled intentions of previous books returns here, as Marco struggles to figure out Gafinilan's angle: is he a coward, a Yeerk traitor, or something else? The handicap prejudice of the Andalites, as embodied in Ax's categoric dismissal of Mertil, feels more like a political-correctness statement than a natural development. Like the previous book, The Other may not approach the complexity and interest level of the peak of the series, but it nevertheless entertains.

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