Wednesday, July 5


"My name is Jake. My name is Rachel. My name is Tobias. My name is Casse. My name is Marco. My name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil." I could have skipped the first chapter or two that followed these lines. They were never much more than quick summaries, but I always read them, every freaking word. I was competely in thrall to the majesty that was Animorphs.

For five years, K. A. Applegate's master series sustained me, even when there was that span of completely ludicrous, poorly edited trash that preceded the big finale. If I ever drew near that yawning abyss which inspired thoughts such as My God! How can I go on with junior high and the drudgery that is my various classes I would remember Oh yeah, the Animorphs book coming out next month! That preview chapter has me so hooked! Living in a small town that lacked a book store and lacking the ability to ordering online left me anticipating out-of-town trips where I could buy the next book, along with the other one or two I had missed from previous months, or begging others to pick them up on their own beyond Baudette adventures.

So, why write about this now, a series that ended five years ago and should have ended a year and a half earlier than that to keep the quality at a reasonable level? Because I started reading them again. You know, a quickie before bed. The literary equivalent of Shock Tarts to balance out the delicately constructed, full flavored rhubarb tarts that are Dr. Zhivago and Pride and Prejudice. My tastes in reading material have matured, and this return to my long time favorite series has been fascinating. I can still remember my sides literally hurting when I read the chapter where Marco stole the truck in the first Megamorphs, and it brought a smile to my face when I came back to it again. Even Ax playing with mouth sounds, and Marco making fun of "your minutes" (both of which were overdone) made me happy.

And there has been so much more I've rediscoverd. The fantastic images that came from them plowing a private jet into an unfinished building to reach the Yeerk Pool to save Cassie, and Tobias stealing the Dracon beam and burning the transport ship, leaving his friends to morph to bird in mid-air. The insane, overly complicated plans of The Arrival and The Solution. The spectacular, untouchable The Attack and The Departure. The sheer ridiculousness and shoddy writing of The Unexpected and The Journey. Megamorphs and Chronicles, which were like Christmas early since they were released alongside the regular book-of-the month. And the utterly amazing six book finale. Only Shinichiro Watanabe's Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo have endings that can touch it (Yes, I know very well they're anime, not books. Sue me.) Good times.

Not to let myself be blinded by nostalgia, I'll own up to some of the glaring weaknesses. The characters, though complex for their intended age group and some of my favorites ever, are largely defined by a single flaw. Jake's sometimes questionable leadership. Rachel's love of battle. Tobias' loss of humanity. Cassie's moralizing. Marco's mommy problem, and Ax's conflicting loyalties between the Andalites and Animorphs. I'm simplifying. Other stuff is going on, like their various relationships with the other characters, but that is minor to what I just listed. None of the characters ever really moved beyond these problems. They just dealt with them over and over, in different situations, and ended being up rather static. Also, like I mentioned several times before, the plots of more than a few were simply silly. The Helmacrons were an enormous (shameless pun now that I think about it) mistake and Cassie's trip to Australia and Jake's trippy adventure into the future were stupid, stupid, stupid. Less good times.

Not much substance to this post, but it was fun to wax nostalgic and re-examine what I once loved.

In case you're wondering, my favorite character is a toss-up between Marco and Tobias, and my favorite book is probably The Attack, the Back to Before, the last Megamorphs makes a strong run at it.

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