Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Journey (K. A. Applegate)

The Journey
(The Animorphs series, Book 42)
K. A. Applegate
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
**+ (Bad/Okay)

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

DESCRIPTION: Another mission, another victory... but, as Rachel and her friends demorph after the battle, something goes wrong. They're spotted - and photographed. Yeerk or innocent bystander, it doesn't matter. They need that film, before Visser Three finds out that the "Andalite bandits" are just human kids. But their plans to snatch the camera are disrupted by the return of an old enemy.
The Helmacrons, pint-sized problems with gargantuan egos, agreed never to return to Earth if they were allowed to recharge their ship on the "morphing energy" from Elfangor's blue cube. Unfortunately, bargains made with lesser species mean nothing to them. They've returned - and this time, they've taken a hostage. Before anyone can stop them, a team of Helmacrons has marched up Marco's nose. Once inside him, they pose a serious problem: their Dracon beams could do some real damage, especially if they get as far as his heart. The Animorphs put their camera mission on hold to free their friend, using the shrink ray of the Helmacron ship... only something goes wrong. The shrink ray works too well, reducing them to cellular size. The Helmacrons sabotaged their own technology, knowing the Animorphs would use it to follow them. Now they're too small to harm even the tiny Helmacrons, and the clock is ticking both on the missing camera and on Marco's life.
But the Helmacrons made one mistake: they made Rachel mad.

REVIEW: I believe this represents the nadir of the Animorphs series. The Helmacrons, irritating in their first adventure, are even more annoying in their return. The whole concept feels pitched at a lower level than the rest of the books, with its focus on snot and phlegm and Magic School Bus-like tour of the body. With a plot this shallow and villains this silly, there's no room for depth, let alone interest. The writing style doesn't even read like Applegate. Like the first Helmacron encounter (in Book 24, The Suspicion), this adventure wraps up with a quick non-conclusion. A clear case of series padding, or author burnout.

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