Okay, first of all, whoever had the idea to jumbo-size Animorphs was a marketing GENIUS. Get kids hooked on a book series and then just give them as much content as possible. They are a captive audience, and they have enough pocket money to pay out once a month to get their next fix. (If you’re lucky, it will also be quality, like this series.) Animorphs was such a success by the time this book was published that they moved it from being a bimonthly series to a monthly, and added specials like this one. There were eventually four Megamorphs books–which are roughly double the size of a normal installment, and include all the kids as POV characters–and four chronicles: Andalite, Hork-Bajir, Visser, and Ellimist. The chronicles were always my favorite, but we’ll get to that.
For now, let’s talk The Andalite’s Gift. When I first read this book I LOST MY MIND. Basically, because it was double the size of a normal installment, as previously mentioned, and that was literally the only reason. Kids are not hard to please. It’s not actually any more significant than a normal Animorphs book, just a little different stylistically. There’s more time for Applegate to play around with small moments, and to really take advantage of the shifting POVs to replay scenes from different perspectives, something that won’t continue in future books, because fans complained (I said kids were easy before, but they are also tough, because a kid will not mince words when they tell you you’re wasting valuable book space replaying things they’ve already seen).
The plot of the book is that Visser Three has a new pet monster, and has somehow set it loose on the Animorphs, who he aims to capture if possible (can’t waste a morph capable body). The creature is relentless, and destroys everything in its path. The whole book is basically them being chased all over creation, trying to stay away from it, and keep it away from civilization. Meanwhile, Rachel is missing.
SPOILERS Rachel’s plot is one reason this book doesn’t get four stars from me as an adult. Amnesia plots are soooooo common, if you’re going to do one, you have to do it so well no one can question you, and this one is pretty half-assed. Her amnesia is almost an after-thought, it’s solved so easily, it is entirely a plot move so that she can go missing, and really, it could have been cut entirely. The “crazy lady” in the woods (who is obviously a recent Yeerk survivor, my guess being her Yeerk died after the Animorphs destroyed the Kandrona) would have been a much more interesting way to have Rachel go missing, if it really needed to happen END SPOILERS.
The book is also really heavy on action, and light on emotion and thematic resonance. I like both things ideally in some sort of balance, and here that balance was off for me.
All in all, The Andalite’s Gift is a successful ploy that paves the way for much more successful jumbo-sized books in the future, but which ultimately pales when compared to the better stories in this series.
Next time, our first full book with Ax POV. Bring on the cinnamon buns. Buns. Bun-zah. Bunssss.