Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Answer (K. A. Applegate)

The Answer
(The Animorphs series, Book 53)
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: Three years.
Three years, since Jake and his friends took the shortcut through the old construction site. Three years since the dying Prince Elfangor told them of the secret Yeerk invasion. Three years since five human children and one Andalite warrior-cadet joined forces to defend the world, using all the power of the animal kingdom.
Now, the secrecy is over. The Yeerk pool under the city lies in ruins, but Visser One has only stepped up his campaign of open warfare. To feed his people with vital Kandrona rays, he has landed the massive Pool ship. This is it: the heart of the invasion force. A battleship to dwarf the strength of the Visser's own Blade ship.
It's a target too big, too tempting, for Jake and his companions to resist... but impossible for them to take.
Or so they thought.
While disrupting construction of a new Earth-based Yeerk pool, Jake discovers a secret group of rebels within the Yeerk ranks, in the most unlikely of places. The Taxxons, giant cannibalistic centipedes, want out of their lopsided alliance with the Yeerks. If the Animorphs will help them, the Taxxons claim they can deliver the keys to the Pool ship.
Jake has a target. He has a plan - a ruthless, terrible plan, a plan that the old Jake, that thirteen-year-old boy standing in the construction site, could never have believed himself capable of devising, let alone executing. It might end up with one or more of his friends dead. It might get every resistance fighter on Earth - the newest Animorphs, the free Hork-Bajir, the parents of his friends, the last of the Yeerk-free military, everyone - killed.
But it's the last - the only - chance for victory. And Jake isn't about to let it slip through his fingers.
No matter what the cost...

REVIEW: And so, at last, it comes to end-game. Though there is one more book in the series, the actual final battle begins - and mostly plays out - in these pages. The levity of the earlier Animorphs books has almost entirely dissipated; these are no longer kids, but war-weary soldiers who finally see the end in sight. Jake has transformed from a reluctant leader beset by inner doubts to a ruthless general capable of issuing orders that are tantamount to suicide... orders that may twist in his gut, but which he issues nonetheless. By this point, he knows his allies and his enemies inside and out, placing them with all the care and deliberation of a chess master setting his opponent up for the ultimate checkmate. It is the sort of character transformation one rarely sees even in grown-up fiction, let alone middle-grade series. The month-long wait for the conclusion in Book 54 was excruciating... a wait, fortunately, I don't have to replicate now.

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