by K.A. Applegate
Although this one is a prequel to the main series, covering events that happened generations before the core Animorph characters, it\’s intended to be read in the middle of the series if you don\’t want to give yourself spoilers. I read it after number thirteen (some chronological lists recommend reading it after book twenty-two). I was actually putting it off for a while, doubtful I\’d enjoy a story about other aliens on a far-away planet, not the familiar Animorph kids on Earth.
I could not have been more wrong. Like Enchantress from the Stars, this story tells of a clash between civilizations, and alternates between the viewpoints of each. The main characters are Aldrea- a female Andalite, daughter of the famous Seerow who unwittingly taught the evil Yeerks how to use technology; Dak-Hamee, a young Hork-Bajir of rare intelligence; and oooh, Esplin 9466- the Yeerk who would become Visser Three. It was actually really cool to read some chapters from the Yeerk\’s point of view, it makes you realize why they parasitize other species. It doesn\’t make them likeable, but a bit sympathetic. If you\’d never had eyes to see the world with, you might do anything to gain a pair, too. So the story tells how the Yeerks were unleashed by the Andalites, how the peaceful Hork-Bajir planet was overwhelmed, how one small group of Andalites there struggled to hold them off until help arrived- too late. It\’s about a peaceful society attempting to learn the arts of warfare to save themselves- but is it worth the cost. It\’s about one friend taking advantage of another who doesn\’t know as much- until he learns what\’s really going on. It\’s about how brutal and senseless war is, does a personal sacrifice mean anything if they all die in the end. There\’s even an interspecies love story- told subtly, but it\’s there. And if you want some excitement, know that the story moves at a nice clip, with space battles near the end. I also enjoyed the environmental aspect, the description of nature on this alien planet and how delicate its balance was to keep certain species alive.
In spite of the very simple writing style, I was hooked on the story and very interested in all the complex developments that arose as each character became more aware of what was going on and more invested in the outcome, even when they saw the huge negatives along the way. Aldrea driven by her desire to be more than what\’s expected of a female Andalite- to become a warrior, and later on, to get revenge for the death of her family. (The Andalites can be rather arrogant, it turns out). Dak-Hamee driven by curiosity and hunger for knowledge- until he knew enough to be horrified, ashamed, and realize it was too late to turn back. Also inner perspective on the Yeerks- Esplin in particular driven by ambition, needing to set himself a higher rank and earn recognition from his peers- and he did it very cleverly, too. There\’s so much wrapped into this story, its sophistication belies the page length or age level, really.
Enjoyed this one on my e-reader.
Rating: 4/5 224 pages, 1999