Another switcheroo, here. I was surprised when I realized that childhood favorite The Forgotten is not actually very good, and that this one, which I didn’t like very much when I was a kid, is actually super enjoyable. Maybe it’s just that it’s a Rachel book, and those are always intense, but where in the last one I found that the narrative voice felt off, like it was trying too hard, this one immediately felt on and sure of itself, just like Rachel.
There’s nothing super special arc-wise going on here, nothing deep or emotional, really. There’s also a rather silly plot involving the Yeerks plan to use a teen heartthrob (a verrrry thinly disguised nod to Jonathan Taylor Thomas) to be the new spokesperson for The Sharing. The guys and Ax don’t understand what the big deal is until Cassie and Rachel (who think he’s the cutest guy ever) explain that it could actually be hugely damaging, because the kid not only has a huge following, but an insanely devoted one. They have to get him out from under the Yeerk’s influence, and soon. But also, Rachel’s having this problem with a morph. She is apparently allergic to crocodile, and it’s causing her to lose control, like the morphing version of a sneeze.
The scenes where she loses control of her morphing are actually some really effective body horror. She has no idea what’s happening to her, and Applegate does a good job conveying the physical experience of becoming very ill. Which is of course compounded by the danger it puts Rachel (and the rest of the Animorphs in) when she morphs in public, or at her home. Her elephant morph collapses her house and almost kills her two little sisters.
Rachel does a pretty stupid thing here. She asks Cassie to keep her problem a secret initially, so of course the others are upset when they find out, especially since her out of control morphing blows a mission (in the presence of Visser Three no less). And when Ax figures out what’s going on with her, explaining that her body will eventually expel the crocodile DNA (in the form of a fully grown crocodile, mass pulled in from z-space) she then lies to the others again that this has happened, just so she can take part in the mission to “save” the heartthrob, who by this time is a voluntary human controller. Where her out of control morphing (to be technical, it’s actually the burping of the croc DNA this time) once again ruins the mission. Or really, I’m not sure what they were planning on doing if things didn’t go to hell, but I’m sure it didn’t involve unleashing an angry, hungry crocodile, which is currently trying to kill a grizzly bear, on live national television. Not much progress is made here, but it’s still a fun time.
Next up, ANDALITE CHRONICLES YOU GUYS. I have been looking forward to this since I first started my re-read.