Book 4: The Message

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Book 4: The Message

Post by Snoopy » Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:24 pm

And, here's #4... the first book narrated by my very least favorite character. But still definitely worth reading, if for no other reason than to gripe about Cassie…

As much as I don’t like Cassie, I do appreciate the added insight we get on the other characters from her perspective. Her portrait of Jake is probably the best so far. Same with Marco.

A few other random observations…

Cassie is the first to refer to Rachel as an “Amazon warrior” I believe. Of course, all the narrators recognize that Rachel is strong (except possibly Rachel herself in #2), but Cassie is the first to suggest that Rachel is actually happy about fighting the Yeerks.

Also, I find it interesting how quickly Tobias is now at peace with his new condition. I mean, in #3, we see him struggling a great deal. Obviously, he reaches some kind of turning point by the end of #3, but now at the beginning of #4, we find him making jokes about his diet, and about pooping in mid-flight on people he doesn’t like. Quite the turn around, I’d say. Of course, I guess that is sort of like a coping mechanism for Tobias… as he admits in #3, he likes it when people joke about his condition. I can relate to that. Joking about something makes it seem far less serious.

Oh, another interesting tidbit! Marco is more willing to embark on this mission then any past missions. Even though Marco still wants to forget about Yeerks and morphing at this point (according to Cassie, anyway), when it comes to rescuing an Andalite… any Andalite, he’s in. As others have pointed out, it’s interesting how the Animorphs currently view the Andalites as all noble and good… little do they know.

This never occurred to me until reading the series this time through, but whatever happened to the controllers being on the lookout for the teens they spotted at the construction site? Why did they just give up on looking? And then, when they find kids hanging out on the beach, why is it that no one tells the Visser about it? I mean, sure, no one wants to tell V3 that he’s wrong, but if a controller had just pointed out the fact that some kids had been seen near the beach, disappeared into the water and were never found, then also pointed out the fact that they never found the construction site kids, V3 probably would have put two and two together.

Of course, we have to put up with Cassie’s never-ending false moral dilemmas about whether it’s wrong to use dolphin DNA, and comparing the Animorphs to the yeerks for using dolphin bodies. Sigh. Really Cassie? Oh well… I suppose that sort of thing has to be there, otherwise it wouldn’t be a Cassie book. I also find it interesting how in the end, Cassie finds new motivation to fight not just to save humanity, but to save all the wonderful animals which she loves so much. Whatever works, I guess.

And we can’t forget our first chance to meet Ax! Great character. It’s interesting that Ax of all the Animorphs is the one responsible for cementing Jake into the leadership position.
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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by PKWonder » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:29 am

The plots and details presented in Cassie's books are either hit or miss (not because of her narration). This one is definitely a hit. As Snoopy mentioned, Ax is a fantastic character, and an irreplaceable ally. If it had been any other Andalite who was not an Aristh, he would have been too stuck in his ways, and even more arrogant. Luckily, what we are presented with here is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The introduction of Ax is the biggest contribution this book gives us, and with him further insight into the technology and society of the Andalites. The interior of the GalaxyTree dome ship simulates the Andalite homeworld, and Ax's fascination with human-Andalite differences begins. You guys balance on two legs? You communicate with those slits on your faces? It all continues to provide hilarity throughout the series.

Also as Snoopy mentioned, this book gives us a major Cassie-driven moral dilemma. Sometimes, she offers a very justified viewpoint. But especially in the beginning of the series, a lot of her ethical concerns are truly petty, and she takes them to the extreme of being potentially detrimental towards her own life and those of her fellow Animorphs. I'm not saying some of her concerns wouldn't briefly cross my own mind, but most of them wouldn't be something I would discuss in great detail with my friends, and compromise the mission for. The ironic similarity of controlling other bodies might cross my mind - except, unlike Cassie, I would clearly realize that these are genetic copies. Even if the dolphin is a very intelligent creature. Even if we might have to morph sentient creatures in the future, even fellow humans. They are a copy. Their instincts might inhabit my mind while in morph, but they are not an original, authentic creature. A copy of their DNA is something the Animorphs now possess, and acquiring or morphing that creature in no way will hurt the original. She doesn't seem to understand this. I do appreciate her need to ask permission of sentient aliens in the future, but the idea of feeling like a Yeerk isn't justified.

Cassie generally has a very logical and sound mindset. But the moment the slightest questionable ethics affect her, she becomes completely emotion-driven. One of the more extreme cases of Cassie guilt, involving some baby skunks, happens in her next book.

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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by Brandonmack » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:58 pm

Oh man! I missed two whole books! I already read them anyhow, but I didn't make even one single post about them. Anyway, I officially don't like Cassie. I mean, in general, there's nothing really wrong with her, per se... But she is whiny and preachy about... Well, everything. I especially am annoyed by her oh no! Not the dolphins! They're intelligent! issue. Whatever.

Other than Cassie's whining, I rather like this book. It's one of the ones I best remembered from my youth. One thing I certainly did NOT remember was Cassie's communication with the whale, which was actually kinda cool. And being dolphins sounds like a lot of fun! :)

Also, yay Ax! One of my favorite characters, partly because of his excellent comic relief.. And his extreme attraction to anything he can eat.. Especially those delicious, gooey, sticky, sweet Cinnabons :) Bummer that his books had to be split with Tobias... What a waste. Anyhow, all around a great book!

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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by kebrennan » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:55 pm

It's interesting how Marco-driven this book is, especially early on. It's the best lead-in I can imagine for #5--you get imagery of Marco's homelife, more insight into how he operates, his loyalty to Elfangor's memory is established, and all the ocean imagery reminds us about his mom. It's little details like this--where one book sets up the next--that get lost once the ghost-writers take over.

I find Cassie's "does this make us Yeerks?" dilemma annoying and incomprehensible when taken on its own. It becomes slightly more interesting when you remember that in #3 Tobias found that he could empathize with hosts because of being trapped in morph. If morphing can be seen as analogous to both controlling and being controlled, then we get some interesting questions about the nature of power. It hints at some of the themes that arise in #19.

Another random parallel: in their respective books, both Tobias and Cassie have that moment of "Oh, lover, we're about to die and I never told you . . ." The moments are almost identical. Apparently, the Anis get romantic whenever Visser Three is around.

I'm not sure whether Ax's introduction was planned from the beginning of the series, but it was one of the better ideas Applegrant ever had. Ax was able to provide exposition and world-building, but he (almost) never seemed like a plot device. And rather than just randomly throwing him in, we spend the next four books examining how he fits into the team. I felt like there was a moment when they were all talking in the Dome, where if they had asked Ax what to do, he might have started giving orders, kind of like Jake. We see from MM4 that he can be decisive and effective, even early on. But, instead they transition into that "you're just an alien kid?" talk. It foreshadows how they'll have to hold their ground when the grown-up Andalites return.

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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by Snoopy » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:56 pm

Oh… how could I forget to mention, Applegate’s lovely use of deus ex machine? I mean, I know, some people like the “whale song” business, but to me, that just seems like a desperate attempt to make what has now become a familiar scenario (the Animorphs in an impossible situation at first, then getting chased by Visser 3) new and interesting by providing our protagonists with yet another new way of out-witting the Visser. It’s not a huge deal, but it does leave just a bit of a sour taste in my mouth… not so much because I mind the idea that whales could be slightly more than dumb animals (let’s face it, we’ve already bought into the idea that slugs from another planet can take over peoples’ brains; the idea that whales are slightly more intelligent than your average pooch doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore), but mostly because it strikes me as just a desperate attempt to shake things up a bit. What really irritates me is that this story was already interesting enough without the weird semi-supernatural whale experience. Why couldn’t KAA have saved the talking whale (or excuse me, singing whale) plot device until later on in the series when the ghosts were really scraping for interesting things to write about? I suppose one could make the argument that at this point, KAA didn’t yet realize how long she’d have to stretch the series out, in which case this rather awkward throwing in of the whale can be somewhat excused.

Also, as kebrennan pointed out, I like the way this book gives us such interesting insight into Marco, leading perfectly into #5. Definitely very well planned. That’s one of the reasons I like the first 20 or so much better than the last 30… KAA obviously put a lot of time into the plots and the overall story arc, which is sadly somewhat missing in the later books.
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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by moonie_knifey » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:05 am

It was very well written, I loved Marco's subplot and even Cassie's moral dillemma didn't annoy me that much. Mostly because it was introduced logically: there were some small hints about her uneasiness and control-issue before she names it openly, so I had this short moment when I really got into her head, sort of "I know where you are going with it". Sure, it was absurd and I certainly do not agree with her on this matter, but it was introduced well.

On the other hand, too much in this book depended on sheer coincidence and Whale Ex Machina. A Sentient Whale Ex Machina. I mean, I can accept that whales are very intelligent creatures and so on, but they are apparently telepathic. And they act as big brothers/guardians to dolphins. It's not just the ending that is saved by the whale's intervention; meeting with him is actually a major plot point, as Animorphs wouldn't find Ax without his help. Still, I guess it could be excused as a mean to allude at the concept of Mother Earth defending herself against the invasion...

Now I think about it, it just makes this whale plot even worse... I'm not a big fan of ecology mysticism.
Why couldn’t KAA have saved the talking whale (or excuse me, singing whale) plot device until later on in the series when the ghosts were really scraping for interesting things to write about?
Maybe she could put it in the Atlantis book :twisted: I don't know if it would make that book better, but it wouldn't make it worse for sure.

Other than that, the book is pretty good, enjoyable to read and thought-out really well.
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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by Brandonmack » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:23 pm

moonie_knifey wrote:Maybe she could put it in the Atlantis book I don't know if it would make that book better, but it wouldn't make it worse for sure.
Haha, right? Couldn't do too much to make that one any worse..

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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by Elfangor » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:59 am

My loathing dislike for Cassie has once again been awakened. The weak minded bumbling idiot should have been removed from the Animorphs as soon as Ax had been rescued. I mean if it was anyone even slightly human he or she would have not even considered that morphing a dolphin could be immoral. Hell, I would morph another human if it was gonna save my town, let alone the entire earth. But no, Cassie has to first weigh up the pros and cons of morphing a sentient dolphin before she can morph one.
"Is Humanity worth more then this single dolphins DNA?" Cassie pondered. "Ahhh, f*** it. Humanity can die," Cassie said. Later that evening Cassie machine gunned down her entire city, speeding up the Yeerks job of destroying Humanity.
That is how I see Cassie. She would rather murder and entire city of people then morph a dolphin. Girl, I hate you with the power of 1000 suns.

By the way, in Book 6 Cassie agrees to allow Ax to use Jakes DNA to save Jake, without Jakes permission. Though I am sure he would have given it, had he been able to use his mouth. Even though it was for the greater good I am fairly sure she had less concern over using he DNA then she did the dolphin, despite Jake being the sentient one of the two creatures. Then in Book 8 she encourages Ax to use Jakes DNA so that Ax can have dinner with her family. By the way, neither of times Ax morphed Jake did he agree to it. However Cassie found it morally right in both situations to allow Ax to morph Jake.

Cassies fragile psyche is that of a mental patient. Do not approach her. I repeat, DO NOT APPROACH!
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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by Daphnia » Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:16 am

for some reason, this is one of my favorite books. I remembered reading it for the first time and having such an emotional roller coaster and even cried on some parts. It was somehow beautiful. And I don't hate Cassie. Ok, she could be annoying in book 19 or book 9 when she was upset about killing the termite queen, but in this book she's ok. And I can understand her doubts about using dolphin morphs. They are an intelligent species, after all. But I guess that's Cassie's part in the group. If it were left to Marco or Rachel, they would just do anything to win. But Cassie voices the doubts and makes them think.I think it's like in the Andalite Chronicles, where Elfangor wouldn't just flush the thousands of defenseless yeerks in the pool. In his conversation with Loren they said that it won't be right if they do win, but in the process they changed and became ruthless just like the yeerks. Cassie overthinks things sometimes, and ended up doing unwise things, which do annoy me. But I still like her and I think she is important to the group.

I guess what I like most about this book is that it describes so much beauty. The dolphins, the whales, the ocean, the inside of the andalite dome. Being sort of a tree hugger myself, I really enjoyed imagining everything that was described in the book. I really wished I was there. I wished I could morph a whale and dive deep and all.

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Re: Book 4: The Message

Post by BabelFish42 » Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:32 pm

Can we include best quotes from each book here? If so, I'd like to contribute this one:

"No, I haven't had any weird dreams about the sea," Marco said. "I've had weird dreams about my sheets trying to strangle me. I've had weird dreams about falling from way up high and when I finally land I'm in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood talking to King Friday. I've had weird dreams about that woman on Baywatch... hmm, well, that does kind of involve the ocean, I guess."

I love you, Marco. Never change.

Also!

"A few minutes later we turned around. We all stared.
Ax had the T-shirt pulled up like a baggy pair of shorts. The boxers were on his head."

I remember laughing so hard at both of these passages the first time I read this. Then me and my sister cracking up years later when I read them to her. Ah, nostalgia :)
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KA: "So sorry to get you into writing. What a horrible thing to inflict on you. Should have just sold you crack."