Animorphs: The Message
Recaps three days in a row?! I am busting through these! I’m going to try to keep up this intensity (maybe not a recap everyday, but often) during my break from school. I’ve gotten a couple messages and pokes, so I’ll try to hit a Goosebumps or Fear Street book soon, too.
The Message is an extremely important book in the series. As much as I love (nearly) the entire series, there’s a lot of fluff books that you could definitely skip and not miss out on the overall story. This is not one of them. It’s the first Cassie book. I have always been a big fan of Cassie which is interesting because she is generally regarded as fans’ “least favorite Animorph.” It’s also the introduction of Ax, who coincidentally is my least favorite Animorph. Because this is a Cassie book, we are slapped hard in the face with a moral issue. I’m excited to dive into it. Get it? Dive?
I want to point out that this is the first cover with an actual scenic background. The previous books have had textured backgrounds, so the sky and ocean is interesting. Cassie is morphing to dolphin, and I have to say, this is a pretty dang cool morph. This is the first cover model that I’ve liked as well. It’s how I imagined Cassie, more or less. She even looks the right age.
Tagline: Sometimes you have to change a little more than your mind. . . .
A four-dotted ellipsis is really interesting. Grammar time. Four dots actually can be used in an ellipsis if the first dot is placed right after the last word without a space. This first dot is a period, indicating the end of a complete thought. The other three indicate an omission, which here means more is to follow. The thought or paragraph is trailing off , basically, rather than the sentence, which concluded with the period. This makes the sentence, and the tagline as a result, stronger. I knew my
passion for obsession with grammar would come in use somewhere other than a classroom.
This is my favorite tagline yet. It’s interesting, it pulls the reader in, and most of all, it’s relevant to the book. Cassie struggles with morphing a dolphin because dolphins are an intelligent species, and she feels like she’s invading on the dolphin by using its DNA. Without getting too much into the plot before the plot analysis, she eventually comes to find out that the Yeerks not only infest species, but that they wipe out planets, killing all life that is not beneficial to their survival. Cassie changes her mind about using the dolphin, rationalizing that she has to use the dolphin to save the dolphin. It’s really quite profound. I’m really impressed with this tagline.
The new cover is far less interesting and appealing to me than the original, mainly because the scenic background was taken away and replaced with an abstract one. I get that it’s supposed to be water, but I’m just not digging the new background.
I’m going to stop analyzing the morphs in the new covers because I don’t think it’s fair for me to comment on them not having seen the lenticular covers in person. This could just be a bad screen capture.
Cassie to dolphin was the best morph choice for the cover. Not only does she spend the most time in the dolphin morph in this book, but the dolphin morph is how she reaches Ax, and so it’s most related to the plot. A seagull or squirrel, her other morphs in this book, would have just been random.
Cassie has been having weird dreams. In them, she hears someone calling out for help. She discovers that Tobias has also been having these weird dreams, and they discuss the dreams with the other Animorphs. No one else seems to be having the dreams, but when Cassie and Tobias have one in the middle of an afternoon and pass out simultaneously, the other Animorphs experience weird feelings. Jake, Rachel, and Marco are affected by whoever is calling out for help as well, but not as strongly as Cassie and Tobias.
It’s deduced that Cassie and Tobias are the ones who hear the distress calls because the calls must be sent somehow through morphing. Tobias is stuck in a morph and Cassie is the best morpher in the group. It’s a stretch, but we’ll go with it. Cassie and Tobias try to figure out who is calling out for help, and Tobias says that the call reminded him of his time with Elfangor at the abandoned construction site. They realize that the call is coming from an Andalite. When Jake discovers news that a piece of an Andalite ship has washed up on shore, their suspicions are confirmed. An Andalite is out in the ocean somewhere, trapped. The Animorphs figure that Elfangor has done so much for them and Earth, that it is their duty to help this Andalite in need.
While on the beach, after running from Controllers, the Animorphs overhear Controllers discussing that Visser Three has been having weird dreams as well. He, too, is receiving the distress call. The Yeerks are very interested in finding the stranded Andalite.
Cassie takes the other Animorphs to her mom’s zoo, The Gardens, and a dolphin trainer just straight up allows the kids to feed and pet the dolphins after a show. Well, that’s convenient. Cassie, Marco, Rachel, and Jake acquire the dolphins, though Cassie struggles with the idea, as I discussed above. The Animorphs go out to the ocean and morph the dolphins. Cassie is relieved to find out that there is not a sentient mind in there with her. The dolphins just really want to play.
While playing as dolphins, the Animorphs come upon a whale being attacked by sharks. The Animorphs fight off the sharks to save the whale at a great cost, because Marco’s tail is nearly bitten off. The sharks scatter away, and Marco demorphs. The Animorphs find out that when you’re hurt in morph, if you demorph and remorph, the injury goes away. DNA is not affected by injury. The whale helps save Marco by allowing Marco to rest upon it. Cassie somehow “feels” the whale, and sees pictures of its history and of the stranded Andalite. The whale is very peaceful, powerful, and all-knowing, The scene with the whale was very reminiscent of a Madeleine L’Engle novel to me. It’s a good thing. I love Madeleine L’Engle.
Applegate clearly loves whales. We’ll see the beauty of whales again further along in the series.
The Animorphs head out again the next day. This time they fly as seagulls and catch a ride on a ship heading to Singapore since the Andalite is too far out for them to swim in two hours. Cassie is hesitant, but when they get close, they morph dolphins and discover an Andalite dome ship under water. It’s basically a clear globe with a field and trees inside. They enter the dome ship and demorph. Upon gaining entry to the innermost level of the dome ship, the Animorphs are knocked out by the stranded Andalite.
They awake and are questioned by the Andalite. The Animorphs explain that they are there to help him, and they tell him the story of how the gained morphing ability from Elfangor. The Andalite trusts them after the mention of Elfangor. Elfangor was the Andalite’s older brother. This Andalite, Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill, who the Animorphs call Ax, is a juvenile who became separated from his cousins, Andalites who rode with him to Earth. The group of Andalites battled the Yeerks in space, and he’s the sole survivor of his group.
Since Ax was separated from his “Prince,” I guess he decides he needs a new one. He asks the Animorphs who their Prince is. They all look at Jake. Ax says that he will fight for “Prince Jake,” until he can return to the Andalites.
The Yeerks get close and the Animorphs decide it’s time to escape. They remorph dolphins. Ax morphs into a tiger shark that he had tased and acquired when one drifted by while he was stranded, and they swim toward land.
Visser Three, who has caught up to the Animorphs by now, begins to chase them as an aquatic morph he acquired from the seas of an Andalite moon. The Animorphs run out of energy and are almost caught by Visser Three, but Cassie thinks of the whale and calls out for help. A group of whales arrive just in time and attack Visser Three until he retreats.
The whale that the Animorphs had saved lets the tired Animorphs ride him all the way home. Cassie demorphs and passes out from exhaustion.
Once they are back on land, Ax acquires Cassie, Rachel, Marco, and Jake, and morphs a human male that is the mix of their DNA. The Animorphs decide to hide Ax in the woods behind Cassie’s farm.
Cassie goes back to The Gardens to visit with the dolphins and thank them for allowing the Animorphs to use their DNA. She morphs to dolphin and plays with them.
The “message” in this book could refer to the signal that Ax sent out to Cassie and Tobias, the “feelings” the whale used to communicate with Cassie, or figuratively, what I think is the theme of this book, that the Animorphs are invading on species by using their bodies when they morph. Sharing a mind with the animal they morph and controlling a body, they are very much like the Yeerks, and that’s something that I didn’t grasp when I read the books as a kid. Sure, they are controlling a copy, but that mind is in there with them. They’re still controlling. How are they better than the Yeerks?
I love Cassie books because they make me think. I’m finding that I’m more and more like Cassie, especially rereading these books as an adult. I have some of the same thoughts and reservations that she does. I tweeted this to K. A. Applegate, and she actually responded and told me that she was glad. She said that Cassie is a special soul. She truly is.
I’m hitting my friend Lori’s favorite book next, The Predator.