Book 8: The Alien

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Book 8: The Alien

Post by Snoopy » Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:14 pm

Hi All... sorry I took so long putting this topic up. I had to go on sort of last minute travel, and didn't have internet access while away. Anyway, here's the thread for book 8!
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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by Menno » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:29 am

Oh, I actually thought we were giving a whole month to Megamorphs and Chronicles like Elfangor suggested. I was relieved for the extra time, since I can barely keep up with a book a week. Anyhow.

Ax is my third or fourth favorite of the main characters, but the books narrated by him are usually my favorite books, because I think it's cool when humans are the aliens and Earth is the alien planet, and Ax's books tend to make me laugh a lot, except maybe #46 and #52.

Ever since Elfangor, the Animorphs have basically had this impression that Andalites are a bunch of noble saviors. In this book they learn Andalites are, well, "human", in the idiomatic sense. And, I like the little excerpts from Ax's diary. I wish the other Ax books had them.

This is the first book in which there are serious inter-group tensions. Despite all the crazy dangerous situations they get into, the times when it seems like the Animorphs are in the greatest danger is when they don't trust each other, or when one of them goes their separate way, basically whenever the team starts to fall apart. Those are the times that really make me think Uh-oh, how are they going to get out of this one?

Lots of people say Ax's shenanigans at the mall and the movie theater and whatnot are just unrealistic ways of adding some humor to the series; they say that since Ax is a warrior-cadet, he would be more disciplined than that. Well, in the prologue of this book, we learn that Ax once barrelled right into the captain of the Dome ship, despite being able to see in all directions at once. He lets the captain overhear him refer to the captain as "Old Hoof and Tail" (by the way, I think "hoof and tail" is like the Andalite equivalent of "tooth and nail"), despite the fact that thought-speech can be made private. And he bangs his tail into the doorway when running while excited. So clearly, it is not out of character for Ax to get lost in the moment and become careless. And I like how in this book, we finally hear Ax's side of the story. <The taste!... I felt myself lifted up out of the world of everyday senses to some new level.> Now that sounds like it would be pretty disorienting and compelling. It almost reminds me of some stories about experiences with LSD.

Ax is really bad at lying. On p8 he says he tried to hide his shock when the Anis told him about Elfangor breaking the law. I remember in #4, Cassie said that Ax seemed surprised when they mentioned that. And then in this book on p71-3, Ax trails off and thinks for what seems like at least half a minute, and then just says he isn't hiding anything. You can't look much more suspicious than that. However, maybe he's not always bad at hiding his feelings, because in #6, hx seemed to not really be grossed out by the insect morphs; on p69 of this book, he mentiones that watching morphing is very unappealing.

I like that Ax thinks to acquire the rattlesnake. I mean, ALL the Aimorphs (except Tobias at this point) really should just take a few hours to acquire a lot more morphs. They could still mostly stick with their favorite battle morphs and stuff, but really, having more options is always better, as long as you don't waste too much time thinking about all your options. Anyway, I wonder if it's a coincidence that this was Ax's only new morph in a book where the others were suspecting he might be a "snake in the grass". He was even in grass when he morphed it. And, it's odd that his morph had a rattle, since rattlesnakes obtain their rattles by shedding their skin. They start with just one rattle segment (which can't make sound by itself), and a new segment is added each time it sheds.

Applegrant use the butterfly effect quite well. I mean, the Animorphs only learned Elfangor's name because Visser Three said it. If Visser Three hadn't said it, then they wouldn't know who that Andalite was, which means Ax wouldn't know that Elfangor had given them the morphing power and been killed by V3. The fact that Elfangor gave them the morphing power is definitely something that makes Ax ponder the idea that breaking the rules might not always be bad. And of course the burden of avenging Elfangor's death is a big thing for Ax that motivates his attempt to kill V3, although he seems to mysteriously forget about it later in the series. Another butterfly effect in this book is that Ax contacts his home planet and tries to kill Visser Three, all because Marco forgot the money at his house on p63.

It's quite fortunate that Eslin happens to have it in for Visser Three. Otherwise, he'd tell other Yeerks about the software, they'd trace it to Marco's dad, and we might get an early #45, but without the Chee.

I thought it was kind of clever how Tobias basically used Andalite rules in order to break his promise of secrecy. And he swore by Elfangor, but there's a loophole there, too: Would Elfangor really want Ax to die avenging him because of a promise in his name?

I like that this book includes other Andalites and a Yeerk, although they both made only minor appearances. I mean obviously most of the books include Yeerks, but usually the Animorphs just fight them and hide from them. Eslin, on the other hand, is a traitor to the empire who has backstory. It's interesting that Eslin apparenetly loved another Yeerk, because from Temrash's memories in #6, Yeerks don't do love. I guess some do, and some don't. When Lirem tells Ax to take the blame for the transfer of the morphing technology, it made me realize something. Andalites are definitely very big on certain values, like honor and courage and freedom. But I don't think we ever hear Andalites espousing the virtues of truth and honesty.

It's interesting how Ax uses his mind directly to configure his transmission on p105. Since Andalites can do this kind of thing, it lends credibility to the idea that they invented computers long before they invented books. However, on p64-5, we learn that Andalite computers did once have keyboards.

So, what's up with the Nahara? Ax says they were enslaved by the Yeerks before Hork-Bajir. But in Hork-Bajir Chronicles, it seems pretty much impossible that these Nahara exist at all. Either that, or Aldrea completely neglected to mention them despite mentioning the less-consequential Yeerk attacks on the Hawjabarans and Ongachics which, incidentally, were first mentioned in this book. Or, maybe, at the time of HBC, the Andalite high command was trying to keep the Nahara incident a secret... and eventually the Nahara were never seen or heard from again... hmmmmm.

I think the artist's interpretation of Ax on the cover is pretty bad. First of all, his tail blade has to be way bigger than that if he can chop a Hork-Bajir's arm off with it. And if his tail was that short, he wouldn't be able to strike things in front of him. And, although it is elucidated in this book that Andalites have 6 fingers on each hand including thumbs, the picture on the cover has 7 fingers on each hand.

A few minor facts about Andalites and their world are noted in this book:
  • P14: Andalites have just one more finger on each hand than humans.
  • P14: Andalites have bones in their tails. I was actually surprised by this. I'd assumed Andalite tails were all muscle, almost like a tentacle. It seems like vertebrae would reduce the speed and flexibility of Andalite tails.
  • P33: Earth grass is rougher than Andalite grass.
  • P75: The Andalite world has four moons.
  • P81: This isn't really a fact so much as it is a new question. Ax says all human fathers are male. Does that mean not all Andalite fathers are male?
  • P134: Earth air is heavier than that of the Andalite planet.
  • P134: On the Andalite world, trees talk. This is probably one reason why they didn't invent books for so long. They didn't invent paper because they don't want to cut down talking trees.
On p4, I was surprised that there was both an upward dropshaft and a downward one. I guess I just expected that superior Andalite technology could enable one big drop shaft that can carry passengers in both directions at once.

Random Trivia:
  • On p17, we learn that chapter 1 of this book begins two weeks after the destruction of the Kandrona in #7.
  • Cassie has acquired at least two different horses. On p77 of this book, her morph has a grey-white mane. On p75 of #1, it had a black mane.
  • On p126 and p127, it seems like it's still some big mystery how Ax knew the Yeerks would kill hosts of starved Yeerks, and whether it's happened before on some other planet. But he already told Jake on p57.
  • This is the second book with no Taxxons, and the first book with Hork-Bajir but no Taxxons.
Last edited by Menno on Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by BabelFish42 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:56 pm

Menno wrote:Ax is my third or fourth favorite of the main characters, but the books narrated by him are usually my favorite books, because I think it's cool when humans are the aliens and Earth is the alien planet, and Ax's books tend to make me laugh a lot, except maybe #46 and #52.
Ax is almost my favorite narrator, second only to Marco. Same reason - love the humor, love getting to see humanity through alien eyes.
Menno wrote:Ever since Elfangor, the Animorphs have basically had this impression that Andalites are a bunch of noble saviors. In this book they learn Andalites are, well, "human", in the idiomatic sense. And, I like the little excerpts from Ax's diary. I wish the other Ax books had them.
I love how KAA takes ever single traditional notion of good guys and bad guys, and turns it completely on its head by the time the series is over. This book is just the beginning of that. We find out Andalites aren't the saviors of the galaxy, not all Yeerks are loyal to the Emprire, and they can fall in love. By the end of the series, the Anis will be battling alongside free Hork-Bajir, rebel Taxxons, and members of the Yeerk Peace Movement, trying to defeat the Empire before the Andalites show up to kill every living thing on the planet. Not to mention, in the process, all of them, even Cassie, take part in a massive surprise attack on a largely civilian population when they blow up the Yeerk Pool. Good guys and bad guys? What good guys and bad guys?
Menno wrote:I like that Ax thinks to acquire the rattlesnake. I mean, ALL the Aimorphs (except Tobias at this point) really should just take a few hours to acquire a lot more morphs. They could still mostly stick with their favorite battle morphs and stuff, but really, having more options is always better, as long as you don't waste too much time thinking about all your options.
Weren't they worried there might be a limit to the number of morphs you could acquire? Seems like a pretty logical concern.
Menno wrote:And, it's odd that his morph had a rattle, since rattlesnakes obtain their rattles by shedding their skin. They start with just one rattle segment (which can't make sound by itself), and a new segment is added each time it sheds.
I think the reason is obvious: it wouldn't be nearly as cool if he didn't have a rattle :) Besides, by that logic, when you morph a human, shouldn't you be bald? The rules of morphing are often very convenient in that sense. Little things that aren't in the DNA, like hair style and morphing outfits, still show up in the morph.
Menno wrote:Applegrant use the butterfly effect quite well. I mean, the Animorphs only learned Elfangor's name because Visser Three said it. If Visser Three hadn't said it, then they wouldn't know who that Andalite was, which means Ax wouldn't know that Elfangor had given them the morphing power and been killed by V3. The fact that Elfangor gave them the morphing power is definitely something that makes Ax ponder the idea that breaking the rules might not always be bad.
Whoa. I never thought of that. But that's huge. One little throwaway line from Visser 3, but it had an enormous impact on Ax's relationship without other Anis. Whenever Ax was debating about where his loyalty should lie, with humans or Andalites, he often came back to "what would Elfangor do?" I think he'd have been a lot more likely to betray them in the end if he never knew it was Elfangor who gave them the power to morph... crazy, what a big impact that one little line had.
Menno wrote:And of course the burden of avenging Elfangor's death is a big thing for Ax that motivates his attempt to kill V3, although he seems to mysteriously forget about it later in the series.
I think it was part of Ax's character development. His obsession with honor and adhering to Andalite customs becomes less of a motivating factor for him as time goes on.
Menno wrote:Another butterfly effect in this book is that Ax contacts his home planet and tries to kill Visser Three, all because Marco forgot the money at his house on p63.
Random side note: I thought that whole exchange between Marco's dad and Ax (aka "No") was one of the funniest Ax moments ever.
Menno wrote:When Lirem tells Ax to take the blame for the transfer of the morphing technology, it made me realize something. Andalites are definitely very big on certain values, like honor and courage and freedom. But I don't think we ever hear Andalites espousing the virtues of truth and honesty.
I think Aftran said something in #19 about Andalites being the only species in the galaxy who lie to people and then say it's "for their own good." That mentality of "it's okay to lie when we know what's best for others to hear" totally fits with what we know about Andalite arrogance.
Menno wrote:So, what's up with the Nahara?
Uh... my guess would be this is just one of the many plot seeds KAA planted and then never came back to. Or maybe your theory's correct. Who knows?
Menno wrote:I think the artist's interpretation of Ax on the cover is pretty bad. First of all, his tail blade has to be way bigger than that if he can chop a Hork-Bajir's arm off with it. And if his tail was that short, he wouldn't be able to strike things in front of him.
Lol that always used to annoy me so much. The tails have to be way longer. But if that's the case, it seems like those tails would get in the way all the time, wouldn't they? Then again, apparently we humans look like we shouldn't be able to balance, so I guess I shouldn't make assumptions about alien physiology.
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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by Menno » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:36 am

BabelFish42 wrote:
Menno wrote:I like that Ax thinks to acquire the rattlesnake. I mean, ALL the Aimorphs (except Tobias at this point) really should just take a few hours to acquire a lot more morphs. They could still mostly stick with their favorite battle morphs and stuff, but really, having more options is always better, as long as you don't waste too much time thinking about all your options.
Weren't they worried there might be a limit to the number of morphs you could acquire? Seems like a pretty logical concern.
True. But now that Ax is with them, they ought to ask him about it.

BabelFish42 wrote:
Menno wrote:And, it's odd that his morph had a rattle, since rattlesnakes obtain their rattles by shedding their skin. They start with just one rattle segment (which can't make sound by itself), and a new segment is added each time it sheds.
I think the reason is obvious: it wouldn't be nearly as cool if he didn't have a rattle :) Besides, by that logic, when you morph a human, shouldn't you be bald? The rules of morphing are often very convenient in that sense. Little things that aren't in the DNA, like hair style and morphing outfits, still show up in the morph.
Ha, I always assumed that a human morph should have full-blown Cro-Magnon hair. But yes, point taken.

BabelFish42 wrote:Random side note: I thought that whole exchange between Marco's dad and Ax (aka "No") was one of the funniest Ax moments ever.
Me too. In fact when I was younger, I took up the habit of saying only "yes" and "no" to people when I wanted to confuse and annoy them.

BabelFish42 wrote:
Menno wrote:I think the artist's interpretation of Ax on the cover is pretty bad. First of all, his tail blade has to be way bigger than that if he can chop a Hork-Bajir's arm off with it. And if his tail was that short, he wouldn't be able to strike things in front of him.
Lol that always used to annoy me so much. The tails have to be way longer. But if that's the case, it seems like those tails would get in the way all the time, wouldn't they? Then again, apparently we humans look like we shouldn't be able to balance, so I guess I shouldn't make assumptions about alien physiology.
I always figured Andalites kept their tails in sort of an S shape with the blade flat against their backs when they wanted to keep them out of the way.

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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by BabelFish42 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:59 pm

Menno wrote:
BabelFish42 wrote:
Menno wrote:I like that Ax thinks to acquire the rattlesnake. I mean, ALL the Aimorphs (except Tobias at this point) really should just take a few hours to acquire a lot more morphs. They could still mostly stick with their favorite battle morphs and stuff, but really, having more options is always better, as long as you don't waste too much time thinking about all your options.
Weren't they worried there might be a limit to the number of morphs you could acquire? Seems like a pretty logical concern.
True. But now that Ax is with them, they ought to ask him about it.
But what if he doesn't know? I doubt anyone has ever tried acquiring dozens of morphs before, since the Andalites mainly just use the technology for espionage.
Menno wrote:
BabelFish42 wrote:Random side note: I thought that whole exchange between Marco's dad and Ax (aka "No") was one of the funniest Ax moments ever.
Me too. In fact when I was younger, I took up the habit of saying only "yes" and "no" to people when I wanted to confuse and annoy them.
Haha, aww, that's adorable/hilarious! (Adorabilarious?)
Menno wrote:I always figured Andalites kept their tails in sort of an S shape with the blade flat against their backs when they wanted to keep them out of the way.
Yeah, that would make sense.
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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by lanceypooh » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:14 am

This book sort of ruined the first 7 for me, because reading the stories of the Animorphs before Ax just feels incomplete hahaha

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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by moonie_knifey » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:57 am

I'm going to start with random things because I haven't finished the book yet.
Menno wrote:(by the way, I think "hoof and tail" is like the Andalite equivalent of "tooth and nail")
Probably; but if you think about it, Andalites don't really fight with their hooves. So maybe "hoof and tail" is someone who likes to eat (and fight). Or run away. Or, even better, someone who pretends to run away just to turn his deadly tail at the enemy. (Just joking, of course).
Menno wrote:So, what's up with the Nahara?
Unfortunately, it's probably like BabelFish said: KAA probably just forgot about the Nahara. Just like she forgot the Mak and the Sstram. BUT we can still think of possible explanations, and that's nice. I love Menno's theory.
Menno wrote:It's interesting that Eslin apparenetly loved another Yeerk, because from Temrash's memories in #6, Yeerks don't do love. I guess some do, and some don't.
Temrash was an evil Yeerk sociopath. But seriously, I think that love happens to Yeerks who become more used to their host bodies, who get enraptured by the host's senses, hormones, memories, etc. The Yeerk in its natural state wouldn't probably understand the concept of love, just like it wouldn't understand the concept of sight. Solidarity with "brothers" from the same pool - yes, but not love in human (or Andalite, or Hork-Bajir, or other species similar to ours in that respect) sense.

And because Temrash was an evil sociopath, he despised his host body and all its pitiful functions. As for Eslin (btw, why does his name have to be so similar to Esplin???), it seems that his story is quite similar to Edriss'. But Edriss was power-hungry in addition to being human-addicted.
And just for the record, I hate the cover art for Andalites. Other aliens look generally ok (especially the Hork-Bajir on 34), but those Andalites...
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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by Elfangor » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:38 am

I really do love reading your random trivia Menno. Every time I read them, (on each new thread,) I am always suprised at the things I have never seen mentioned about the books anywhere on AFF before.


For my own tiny input, (until I am back to my own computer,) I will just say this. Ax is an idiot, on so many levels. Refusing to tell the Animorphs anything till it was almost to late, not wanting any help with his suicide mission, and lastly for not killing Alloran when he had the chance. If you have a chance to remove the single greatest Yeerk host, you do it. Though a smarter idea would have been to move him to a safe location and get the venom out of him and then use him and his supior knowledge to help destroy the Yeerks.
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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by BabelFish42 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:36 pm

Elfangor wrote:For my own tiny input, (until I am back to my own computer,) I will just say this. Ax is an idiot, on so many levels. Refusing to tell the Animorphs anything till it was almost to late, not wanting any help with his suicide mission, and lastly for not killing Alloran when he had the chance. If you have a chance to remove the single greatest Yeerk host, you do it. Though a smarter idea would have been to move him to a safe location and get the venom out of him and then use him and his supior knowledge to help destroy the Yeerks.
I know. Too bad Alloran couldn't, oh I don't know, MORPH. That sure would've been useful. If only.
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Re: Book 8: The Alien

Post by moonie_knifey » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:48 am

The ending was kind of... stupid. I mean, why didn't they grab Alloran and run away with him? Why couldn't he morph a Kafit bird? Or better still, some monster acquired by Visser? Visser Three didn't morph either, he chose to escape into a stream in order to be eaten by some trout. How were they going to find him? I've just imagined a group of Hork-Bajir splashing in the stream and going "ooh, i found him... oh no, i cut him accidentally in half! Wait, it's not him. What a pity". So unless they've got some tracking devices or superefficient hunter Taxxons, I can't really imagine how he survived.

But casting the temporary lack of logic aside, the book itself was pretty good. I think Ax is my second favourite character. I know he makes some poor decisions and he can be annoying, but I can understand his homesickness and the conflict with the Andalite law he feels. The bit with Andalites deciding to put the blame for Elfangor's deed on Ax was really good, too - it shows well how they are ready to cover their history with lies "because the people needs it".
Also, the book contains a good deal of Ax's funny silliness from before it got a bit stale. Very refreshing.
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