Book 2: The Visitor

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Book 2: The Visitor

Post by Snoopy » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:09 pm

Lots of great discussion this last week on Book 1! I hope everyone's enjoying reading these books again. (Or maybe for the first time!) It's been a week since we opened up the topic for book 1; now it's on to book 2. This doesn't mean that you can't continue any discussions that were occurring in the first topic; it will remain unlocked. But do go ahead and read book 2 and we can talk about it here. In case you have any problems finding the books, you can download them here.
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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by kebrennan » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:42 pm

One thing that stuck out to me about this book is that it marks the end of solo missions. In #1, no one thought much of Jake morphing the lizard for his fact-finding mission. By this point, they know what they're up against and they're starting to get a little smarter. So, even though it's no different than what he did as a lizard, Jake is reluctant about sending Rachel in alone. Thus, we see the first application of the "insect back-up" strategy. In the rest of the series, we only see a couple of instances of Animorphs acting alone, and only in times of great need. AFAIK, Jake doesn't approve of any more solo missions until #53.
Spoiler:
It's a nice bit of symmetry: Rachel is the first Animorph he sends out alone, which foreshadows her final solo mission.
On a more general note, Rachel gets her motivation in this book. The first five are all about their respective narrators finding a reason to fight. For Jake, it's Tom; for Marco, it's his mother; for Cassie, it's all the helpless whales; for Tobias . . . well, what else is Tobias going to do? Rachel is interesting because her reason for fighting is Melissa--a girl she's not that close to, who is barely mentioned again (*cough* KASU *coughcough*). It works, though. Rachel sees the personal cost of the war, but in a very abstract sort of way. She knew already that the Yeerks were evil, but it's the fact that they make little girls cry that ends up filling her with RIGHTEOUS RAGE! I thought it was very appropriate to make her the oldest of three girls; having little sisters to protect can be quite the motivator.

More later, once I've had time to digest.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by Daphnia » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:34 pm

kebrennan wrote:
On a more general note, Rachel gets her motivation in this book. The first five are all about their respective narrators finding a reason to fight. For Jake, it's Tom; for Marco, it's his mother; for Cassie, it's all the helpless whales; for Tobias . . . well, what else is Tobias going to do?
Actually, what made Tobias so willing to fight was the Andalite.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by Menno » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:35 pm

Yep, he had the motivation before any of the others.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by kebrennan » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:53 pm

True. His book doesn't fit with the theme quite as nicely as the other four because he was inspired to fight back in #1. However, in #3 he does have to reclaim the war and redefine himself when he reasserts his humanity after the hawk-bender.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by moonie_knifey » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:15 am

When I read it for the first time, I didn't pay much attention to the fact that Rachel and Jake are cousins. And less still to the fact they are very much alike: in the first book Jake mentions how he unreasonably explored the construction site, and in this one Rachel says "Jake is very much like me, he likes risk & excitement" (that's not an exact quote). So I've been wondering: if at the very beginning Rachel became the leader, would she become more Jake-like (=like Jake in later books) and would Jake be forced to become the dark warrior of the group and, in consequence, become more Rachelish?

The book is overall really interesting, as Rachel seems, well, more intelligent than in later books (particularly ghostwritten ones). It must have been the bear morph in 7 that damaged her so severely. In this book she's satisfied with the agility and grace of a cat whereas later she is always like "I need my raw bear strength, roar".
I'm rubbish at explaining stuff. As a result, frustration eats my head.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by matthew » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:09 am

The main contribution of this book is Rachel getting her motivation as others have already said. Her motivation is that the Yeerks are ruining Melissa`s life and may try to infest her. This is some good stuff. The Animrophs actually have more of a plan in this book, instead of running around like in the previous book. They go for information, rather than battle. One important thing they learn is that Visser Three communicates probably daily to Chapman and maybe to other high-ranking Yeerks by holograms. Rachel is spotted, she gets away, and she finds out about Melissa. It is important to note that this is the first real solo mission. Jake might have shown his dislike for this when he is a flea on Rachel as she goes into Chapman`s house a second time. One other interesting thing is when Mr. and Mrs. Chapman rebel against their Yeerks. I have to wonder: How much control to Yeerks really have over their hosts? They are captured, and taken to the construction site. Visser Three wants Melissa to be taken too, but Chapman's Yeerk doesn`t do that. He lets Chapman himself speak to Visser Three and he reveals the deal he made with his Yeerk. Visser Three still insists that Melissa be infested, but he gives in because of the position of power Chapman is in and how he could rebel against his Yeerk at the worst time possible. This shows us that Visser Three is in no way willing to deal with humans or the "Andalite bandits." The other Animorphs come, and they all escape from another insane morph of Visser Three`s. The Animorphs fail to do much good again.

Some people thought that Melissa might eventually become an Animorph from this book. I think KA might have had that idea in her head, but she decided against it. I have to wonder: Could it have worked?

Rating: This book has some good character development for Rachel, some suspenseful action, and it gives some interesting thoughts. However, the ridiculous beginning episode with the guns and the fact that this book sort of seems pointless to the rest of the series brings it down some. I am suprised that I will give as high as a score as this but I give book #2 The Visitor an 8/10.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by kebrennan » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:19 am

moonie_knifey wrote:When I read it for the first time, I didn't pay much attention to the fact that Rachel and Jake are cousins. And less still to the fact they are very much alike: in the first book Jake mentions how he unreasonably explored the construction site, and in this one Rachel says "Jake is very much like me, he likes risk & excitement" (that's not an exact quote). So I've been wondering: if at the very beginning Rachel became the leader, would she become more Jake-like (=like Jake in later books) and would Jake be forced to become the dark warrior of the group and, in consequence, become more Rachelish?
Word. I feel like Jake and Rachel start out as the same person. The difference is that Jake is told that his fearlessness makes him a natural leader--in #54, Marco says that the reason he was so successful is that "You don't scare." Whereas Rachel was told that her fearlessness made her reckless and a liability. So, Jake spends the war honing his leadership skills and Rachel spent the war trying to justify her existance. That would mess with anyone's head. I don't think it's coincidence that in #54
Spoiler:
Jake's last action reminds everyone of Rachel.
As for why they're treated differently, Rachel's temper is shorter, which makes her seem less steady. She externalizes her feelings while Jake internalizes his. If she had become leader, I think she would have had some growing pains, much as Jake did. And, yeah, if she developed into a leader someone would have to take her role as the blood knight. They needed someone to be reckless and ruthless and to do the things the rest of them can't. Given Jake's quiet fuming method of coping, I think this could have led to a very dark Jake.

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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by Snoopy » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:27 pm

Ah... what might have been. As with the last book, it's just sad to see how Rachel starts out compared to how she ends up. In this book Rachel gets portrayed as an noble character with a good reason for wanting to fight, yet still struggling with the whole thing. A far cry from how she turns out by the end. As others have said, I think Rachel perhaps could have turned out far differently if she had been given a constructive outlet for all her pent up energy, instead of just becoming the blood-crazed lunatic.

One scene that I hadn't really noticed before but stood out to me this time through was the scene where Jake and Rachel ride the bus to school together, and Jake tries (successfully) to help calm Rachel's nerves. This is so different from the rest of the series! Do Rachel and Jake ever even interact this way again? Not that I can remember. This scene is such a human interaction compared to the way those two interact through the rest of the series.

It's sad to see how far that relationship goes downhill. If Jake had made more of an effort to interact this way with Rachel, and also respected Rachel's intelligence more throughout the rest of the books instead of allowing her to fill the "dark knight" shoes, things might have turned out much better for Rachel. Of course, one can hardly blame Jake, it's not like he didn't have enough else going on. But at least Jake had some support from his family, and a ton of support from Cassie. Rachel on the other hand was probably always completely emotionally drained, between dealing with Tobias's emotional problems and trying to hold her family together.

Ah well. I've always been so disappointed by the way Rachel ends up (I guess it shows). I think that's partly because I see so much of myself in Jake and Rachel both. It forces me to wonder how I would have acted in their shoes...
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Re: Book 2: The Visitor

Post by Menno » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:31 pm

After reading this book I think one thing that is at the core of Rachel's character is that she holds herself to high standards. For one, she says she does gymnastics because she considers herself kind of clumsy, although it's pretty clear no one else views her that way. She came up with the shrew plan and was the one to morph the shrew, even though it would have been far more logical for someone else to morph it so that Rachel could acquire Fluffer without having to demorph first. But that doesn't even cross Rachel's mind. She has an independent personality and for her, it's sort of an unspoken fact of life that if she wants something done, she's the one who's going to make it happen. Even though she's terrified, she goes in to spy on Chapman a second time. She's far from fearless, in fact her doubt and worry are apparent as early as p5, but backing down or running away is not even an option in her mind (except when it's obviously the only viable option, like at the end of the book). A big part of what makes Rachel who she is, is that she NEVER knowingly does less than she possibly could. She won't walk away from achieving a desired outcome, and she won't give it anything but her best. And of course she takes it too far sometimes, like risking her life just because she can't stand to leave her ex-second-best-friend wallowing in depression.

It's interesting that Rachel would rather not completely control the cat morph because of the confidence it lends her (p83). This may foreshadow her future development.

When she did the elephant morph to scare that creep away: Do you all think that was the best course of action? It was really bad for Animorph secrecy, but it's not like she really had other options. Well, if you wanna get real technical, it's not specified who was the faster runner, so we don't really know if running away was an option. But let's assume it wasn't. She couldn't have known that Chapman (or anyone) was just about to drive by. Perhaps the most ethical thing to do would have been to allow him to kidnap her, wait for him to drive to a place with no witnesses, and then morph elephant and kill him. Yeah, taking a life is real boo-hoo, but killing one lowlife seems a lot better than risking the Animorphs' secret, because after all there are billions of human (and other) lives which depend on the survival of the Animorphs.

Jake is already being quite open about using people (p42).

Another thing about this book is that they get to see a little more of what Visser Three is like. They learn that he will readily kill his own subordinates if they fail him, if he gets mad, or if he just doesn't feel like paying attention to where he's throwing things. But they still don't know him too well: "Visser Three...was not a creature who made impetuous decisions" (p100).

P110: <I decided that I don't care what it takes, or how many risks I have to run. I don't care what happens to me. I hate these Yeerks.> I wonder if the part in bold is an omen. I think it's interesting how Rachel gets her motivation from both love and hate.

I noticed that there is a lot of inter-Animorph lying already. Rachel doesn't tell them that Chapman drove her home, she doesn't tell them that she was seen while spying, they send Jake as backup without telling her, and Jake pretends to have jumped away to saftey when he's really still there. For the most part, the outcome of all this lying seems beneficial. But perhaps lying is only a necessary evil because people sometimes can't handle the truth, whatever that means. It makes me think, though, that a Leeran Animorph would be very interesting.

In Chapter 6, why did they bring the cat carrier in the first place when Rachel was going to acquire the cat? Yes, it ended up being useful, but only because Rachel morphed a shrew to lure the cat out of a tree and then had to demorph before acquiring it, which they definitely were not planning on. To get the cat in the carrier, you have to catch it. If you catch it, you can just acquire it right then instead of going to the trouble of putting it in the cage. Further, Cassie laments that they did not think to use gloves, but if they had brought gloves, THEN bringing the cage might have made sense, if they were opting for a totally no-scratch operation.

I think it's kinda funny how Jake and Rachel talk about how they're scared that they might have to morph bugs someday, when later it becomes such a familiar and routine part of Animorph missions. I guess that says something about desensitization.
matthew wrote:Some people thought that Melissa might eventually become an Animorph from this book. I think KA might have had that idea in her head, but she decided against it. I have to wonder: Could it have worked?
No. I could think of reasons, but what it comes down to is that I don't like her as a character. She seems like more of a wimp than Tobias was before they got the morphing power. Sure she has a reason to be depressed, but she acts like a quitter, like she's got learned helplessness. And to boot, she outwardly manifests her self-pity as impotent passive-aggressive snobbishness.
matthew wrote:Rating: This book has some good character development for Rachel, some suspenseful action, and it gives some interesting thoughts. However, the ridiculous beginning episode with the guns and the fact that this book sort of seems pointless to the rest of the series brings it down some. I am suprised that I will give as high as a score as this but I give book #2 The Visitor an 8/10.
I actually liked the beginning episode. I like some variety; not all the action has to be about fighting the Yeerks. With brain-stealing aliens running around, it's easy to forget that there are so many human jerks who must be dealt with. And I really don't mind that it seems pointless to the rest of the series. It gives the series more realism. In real life, digression is the norm. Things don't always end up having a point in the long run. We don't completely know where we're going so we sometimes wander on paths that lead nowhere. If every book in the series just added another totally logical piece to the big picture, THAT would annoy me.
kebrennan wrote:One thing that stuck out to me about this book is that it marks the end of solo missions. In #1, no one thought much of Jake morphing the lizard for his fact-finding mission. By this point, they know what they're up against and they're starting to get a little smarter. So, even though it's no different than what he did as a lizard, Jake is reluctant about sending Rachel in alone. Thus, we see the first application of the "insect back-up" strategy.
I think they mostly did it because they knew there was something Rachel wasn't telling them, which made them extra worried. But the tactic certainly did become one of their main standbys.
moonie_knifey wrote:When I read it for the first time, I didn't pay much attention to the fact that Rachel and Jake are cousins. And less still to the fact they are very much alike: in the first book Jake mentions how he unreasonably explored the construction site, and in this one Rachel says "Jake is very much like me, he likes risk & excitement" (that's not an exact quote). So I've been wondering: if at the very beginning Rachel became the leader, would she become more Jake-like (=like Jake in later books) and would Jake be forced to become the dark warrior of the group and, in consequence, become more Rachelish?
I don't think Rachel would have developed into a leader. Her personality is too independent and individualistic. Jake and Rachel certainly have some traits in common, but what distinguishes Jake as the leader type is that he's most willing to step up to the responsibility of making tough decisions and telling people what to do, whereas Rachel's the type who takes a more self-contained responsibility and does what needs to be done (or doesn't need to be done, in some cases).
Snoopy wrote:One scene that I hadn't really noticed before but stood out to me this time through was the scene where Jake and Rachel ride the bus to school together, and Jake tries (successfully) to help calm Rachel's nerves. This is so different from the rest of the series! Do Rachel and Jake ever even interact this way again? Not that I can remember. This scene is such a human interaction compared to the way those two interact through the rest of the series.

It's sad to see how far that relationship goes downhill. If Jake had made more of an effort to interact this way with Rachel, and also respected Rachel's intelligence more throughout the rest of the books instead of allowing her to fill the "dark knight" shoes, things might have turned out much better for Rachel. Of course, one can hardly blame Jake, it's not like he didn't have enough else going on. But at least Jake had some support from his family, and a ton of support from Cassie. Rachel on the other hand was probably always completely emotionally drained, between dealing with Tobias's emotional problems and trying to hold her family together.
I think the main reason why the others don't offer much emotional support to Rachel later on, is that she outwardly seems like the last person who would ever need it. Even Tobias sees her as being pretty much devoid of weakness. As early as #1 she was the one who always had strength to spare.


Random trivia:
  • On p3, Tobias refers to Rachel's eagle morph as "she", but in #23 he specifies that it's male.
  • On p12, Rachel says that demorphing is easier than morphing. I'm pretty sure this is the only time in the series when this is mentioned.
  • On p65, Cassie says that Rachel now has four morphs, more than any of the others. But that's not true; Jake also has 4 morphs.
  • They don't go to Cassie's barn in this book. Very rare.
  • One little-known fact is that Cassie and Marco morphed flea during this book. Jake says so on p128.
  • On p165, Taxxon goo is greenish-yellow. I noticed that the colors of the blood of various species are not consistent throughout the series, so now I'm keeping track.

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