The Predator

Animorphs #5
by K.A. Applegate

The newest member of the Animorphs- the alien Ax- just wants to go back to his home world. So without much forethought (no surprise) they decide to lure an enemy ship onto Earth, kick its crew off, and send Ax home in it. Most of the book is them just trying to put the first part of this plan into action. The first few chapters have some awkward moments when Ax goes with the boys to the mall- in human form- but he acts strangely and attracts the wrong kind of attention. I don\’t know how this didn\’t have any repercussions for the team. They ran out of there chased by police while Ax was morphing back into alien form, and tons of people saw it. They hide by morphing into lobsters, but almost get boiled alive. Again, a woman who\’d bought them for dinner sees them morphing back into kids, but they convince her either she\’s crazy, or it\’s a dream. Later, they all morph into ants to sneak into Chapman\’s house again, to steal something. That was really interesting, the ant part. And terrifying. As ants, they momentarily loose their sense of self, feel controlled by the need of the colony, and nearly get torn apart – literally- by rival ants. It causes nightmares. They\’re all really unnerved by the experience, Marco (the narrator this time) so much that he wants to back out entirely- no more morphing, no more fighting alien enemies. Just to be a normal kid again. To be there for his father, who is still struggling with depression and grief (his mother had died two years ago). But when they finally get the enemy ship- plan goes wrong and they\’re all taken captive- Marco suddenly finds a very compelling reason to stay in the fight. And at the very last moment, when all seems lost, a faction between two enemy Vissers gives them a way out.

This one was better told than the last, for sure. And the gorilla? That was a brief scene in the beginning, when Marco morphed into a gorilla to fight off some thugs who were going to mug an old man in an alley. He got no thanks for his effort. I didn\’t really like Marco\’s character in the first four books, but reading this one from his perspective changed that somewhat. And the Andalite Ax continues to be intriguing, especially how he plays with words and finds so many human accoutrements puzzling. In spite of his formal-sounding speech and superior knowledge (because his race is older than humans), he is still a child and acts like one sometimes. I\’ve seen mention that one or more of the books further on in the series are from Ax\’s point of view- that should be interesting.

Rating: 3/5            152 pages, 1996

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