Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Sickness (K. A. Applegate)

The Sickness
(The Animorphs series, Book 29)
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: Cassie and her friends just wanted one ordinary night, a night when they could be regular kids at a school dance. Then Ax, in human morph, grows strangely delirious... the onset of an Andalite glandular illness that might be lethal. In the middle of hustling the erratically-demorphing alien from the school gym, Cassie is confronted by a mild-mannered teacher who seems strangely knowledgeable about her extracurricular alien-fighting activities. Mr. Tidwell and his Yeerk companion are part of the fledgling peace movement, comprised of Yeerks who don't want to be forced upon involuntary hosts, who want to find a better way than continual galactic war. He brings grim news: Aftran, the Yeerk who founded the movement after an eventful meeting with Cassie, has been captured, and Visser Three plans to interrogate her personally. Everything - the peace movement, the Animorphs, the fate of the Earth itself - rests on freeing Aftran from the Yeerk pool. A daunting challenge, even for the Animorphs at full strength. But Ax's disease is catching. One by one, the Animorphs fall ill... leaving Cassie on her own, with a dying Andalite and an impossible mission.

REVIEW: An excellent follow-through on Book 19 once more pits Cassie against herself. Making the choice to let Aftran (and her human host, young Karen) live was one thing: surviving the consequences, including this worst-case scenario, is quite another. In some ways, she's revealed to be the strongest of the Animorphs, sticking to her convictions even when they fly in the face of practical, hard-learned battle instinct. (In light of the series finale, this strength shines even brighter.) The side-story with Ax and the others falling ill adds a nice, if slightly plot-convenient, sense of urgency. And, once more, Erek the Chee comes into play, though for once he's not the reason for their current predicament. Coming as it does in the middle of an overall downgrade in quality, this book serves as a nice reminder of why I became hooked to begin with.
On an unrelated note, the ad campaign for K. A. Applegate's Everworld series (reviewed on my website here) begins here. They were pitched at a distinctly older audience than the Animorphs books; I suspect that Scholastic realized by now that a fair chunk of the readership was over the target age.
And on yet another unrelated note, this book marks the halfway point of Project Animorph; 29 books down, 29 to go...

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