Animorphs: The Predator
I didn’t intend to finish another book so soon, but I couldn’t put this one down. The first time I read Animorphs, Marco was one of my least favorite characters. Reading through the series a second time, as an adult, he is one of my favorites. I used to hate how he joked about everything all the time, and I felt like he whined too much. Now, I guess I’m understanding him more.
I was discussing Animorphs with my friend Lori the other night (because I can think of little else these days). Marco happens to be her favorite character. This is her favorite book. I was explaining to her that I was liking Marco more this read-through. This time, after reading the first four books, I began to realize that Marco has something to live for rather than fight for. It’s not so much that he is afraid of getting hurt or dying for himself. He’s afraid of getting hurt or dying for his father. After this book, Marco has both a reason for living and a reason for fighting. This book made the battle against the Yeerks personal for Marco.
This cover isn’t terrible as far as the illustration and background go. I could complain about Marco’s 90s jeans, but he was from that time, so they’re okay. My real issue with this cover is the animal being morphed.
Marco to gorilla is alright, and he did spend a good amount of the book in his battle morph, so I understand, but I think Marco to ant would have been a much better cover morph. Marco hated his experience as an ant. Aside from Jake morphing flea in the second book, this is the first time the Animorphs morphed bugs. The Animorphs morphed ants to infiltrate Chapman’s basement and get a zero-space transponder (discussed in the plot analysis). On their way out with the transponder, they become surrounded by ants who see them as the enemy and start ripping their bodies apart. Marco almost dies as an ant. And yet, as much as he hated the morph, Marco suggests that the Animorphs morph ants again to escape when they’re in trouble near the end of the book. The ant morph just seemed a lot more important to the book.
The ant morph is actually used on the cover of a later book, The Revelation. Funny enough, Marco is the most vocal about hating bug morphs, and he morphs bugs on four separate covers. Only Jake and Ax morph bugs, too, and only on one cover each.
Tagline: What you see isn’t always what you get. . . .
Another great tagline. This tagline is interesting, engaging, and most importantly relevant to this book. This tagline clearly refers to Marco’s mom (or at least I think it does) and it’s great.
I’m putting the 2011 cover out for completion’s sake, but I’m not commenting on them anymore since I don’t have access to the physical copies with lenticular covers. (I only have to write this three more times!)
I’m going to go ahead and just say I like the original cover more, probably for nostalgia, though, like I said, I can’t properly judge the new one.
Marco begins the book playing super hero with his gorilla morph. He ends up getting shot at by the robbers he intended to scare and the victim he saved. He learns quickly that heroes are not always thanked.
The other Animorphs are not happy about his choices when they hear the story. What’s cool about this is Marco is the one who chewed out Tobias and Rachel when they saved the female Red-Tailed Hawk in the third book. I just started The Capture last night, and Cassie chews out Jake for trying a new morph (roach) out alone, which is kind of hypocritical when you think about it because she morphed a squirrel in the middle of the night alone in the fourth book and Tobias admits he considered eating her. My point is the Animorphs are making mistakes all over the place. All of them are. They’re kids, and it’s easy to not necessarily forget, but not focus on that fact when you read these books. They seem so mature sometimes.
In the last book, the Animorphs found and rescued Ax, a stranded Andalite. Well, Ax wants to return home. He has a plan to send out a distress signal to the Yeerks, steal a Yeerk ship, and use it to fly back to the Andalite home world. I know you guys are probably expecting me to talk about how horrible this plan is like I have every other plan the Animorphs have made, but this is one of their better, more well thought out plans. It’s dangerous, yes, and it’s not perfect as we’ll later see, but it makes sense for what they want to do.
Marco, Jake, and Ax (in human morph) go on a shopping spree at the mall. Ax forces Jake to buy him a coffee from Starbucks. They enter a Radio Shack (Are they still around?) and pick up pieces Ax needs to make a distress beacon. Meanwhile he drinks his coffee. After becoming fascinated with human taste and smell, Ax escapes while Jake and Marco are paying for the various parts Ax selected, and heads for the food court. He begins making a huge scene, eating everyone’s half-eaten stuff. Mall cops notice Ax, and Marco yells for Ax to run. Mall cops give chase, and for some reason Ax decides it’s a good time to demorph. One of the mall cops utters, “Andalite,” revealing he’s a controller. The real cops get very interested in Ax and give chase. Marco, Jake, and Ax escape into a grocery store where they acquire and morph lobsters in a tank to hide from the controllers chasing them. They decide to wait out the near two hours they can be in morph before demorphing to better their chances of not being seen. While in morph, the three are all conveniently bought together and brought to a woman’s home. Marco demorphs just when he is about to be dropped in a boiling pot.
He sufficiently freaks the woman who bought him out. She screams, naturally, as the others demorph. Marco tells her she’s having a dream, and it’d be wise not to tell anyone about this because people will think she’s crazy. We’re five books in and this is now three humans who have communicated with the Animorphs. Well, kind of. We have the woman who escaped the Yeerk Pool on Cassie’s back in the first book. We have the man Tobias helped escape from Hork-Bajir in the third book. Now we have this woman, who has seen lobsters turn into humans. What if she becomes a Controller later on? Her Yeerk will know that there are humans with the ability to morph. She may even be able to recognize Marco and Jake. Why are the Animorphs not worried about her? They don’t even really give her a second thought after this scene.
When they get back to Cassie’s barn, they discuss the beacon Ax is making. He has everything he needs except for a zero-space transponder. If you recall in the second book, Rachel spied on Chapman while he made a call to Visser Three. Chapman’s device would have to have a zero-space transponder to make calls on Yeerk frequencies. The Animorphs decide to morph ants to get into Chapman’s basement and steal the transponder.
The ants sufficiently freak everyone out, but everything goes to plan until the Animorphs are escaping with the transponder and run into a colony of ants who begin to rip them apart. The Animorphs demorph to save themselves. The ant morph messes with everyone. Rachel, on edge, fights a girl in the school cafeteria, and Marco has to break it up. In the assistant principal’s office, he tells Chapman that the fight was his fault, that the girls were fighting over him because they’re madly in love with him. I’m madly in love with Marco at this point.
This scene actually made me feel pretty sad for Marco. Jake and Cassie have each other and Rachel and Tobias have each other. Marco doesn’t have anyone. He’s getting to the age where he will start dating. Can you imagine trying to date people, as Marco, knowing about the Yeerks? Imagine how paranoid he might be. He would have to wonder if his girlfriend is a controller. That’s a worry that normal guys just wouldn’t have. And it wouldn’t be a one-time worry. After insuring that she’s not a controller, he would find that it’s his duty to keep her safe. That’s so much pressure on an adolescent relationship. Poor guy.
Somewhere between this scene and the next mission, Marco tells Jake that this will be his last mission. He will be done being an Animorph. He feels that he has done enough and that there have been too many close calls. His mom drowned two years prior, and his dad is still not handling it well. Marco has to be there for his father. He can’t risk his life anymore.
Ax finishes the distress beacon and the Animorphs fly out somewhere remote to make the distress call. Marco, Jake, Rachel, and Cassie morph their battle morphs. Ax and Tobias hang tight since Ax doesn’t have a battle morph and Tobias is stuck in morph. A Bug Fighter (a type of Yeerk ship) receives the call and descends. A Hork-Bajir gets out of the ship and stands at attention. The Animorphs fight the Hork-Bajir as well as the Taxxon that’s in the ship, but they soon realize that something is wrong. An army of Hork-Bajir begin descending on them. Visser Three is with them. The Yeerks change frequencies, and when a distress call came on an unused frequency, he knew it was a trap and was able to turn it into a trap of his own. He gloats having finally captured the “Andalite Bandits.”
Visser One is on the Mother Ship orbiting Earth visiting Visser Three to help him deal with his Andalite problem. He decides to show off his captured Andalites to Visser One, so he has the Animorphs enter a ship and they are taken to the Yeerk Mother Ship. While waiting on Visser One and accepting the reality that they are probably going to die, the Animorphs realize that there are two sets of Controllers. Many are dressed in red (Visser Three’s controllers) and the rest are in Gold (Visser One’s).
Visser Three calls out to Visser One. He says that he has captured the Andalite Bandits and Visser One has wasted a trip to Earth. This next scene really gets to me every time. It’s a huge reveal. I feel so bad for Marco. When Visser One walks out, Marco sees that she is his mother. Rather, his mom is the host body of the Yeerk, Visser One. Jake immediately begins talking to Marco telling him he has to keep his cool. Marco is in shock, but he stays cool.
The Animorphs become aware that the Vissers hate each other. It’s a politics thing. They are moved to a jail cell. They think it’s over for them and start thinking of desperate plans. Marco even suggest morphing ants again, which they all hated, in an attempt to survive. This would leave Tobias behind, sadly, but Tobias is okay with that if it meant the others might survive.
The first time I read this I remember thinking, man, they need to hurry up and get out of this. There’s not many pages left. A Hork-Bajir in gold comes and releases them from the cell. He tells them how to escape. As it turns out, the Animorphs were saved by politics. Visser One saved them to make Visser Three look incompetent.
As the Animorphs are riding an escape pod back to Earth, Marco asks Jake not to tell the others about his mom. Jake promises.
The next day, Marco visits his mother’s grave with his dad and they both cry. Marco’s father apologizes to his son for mourning so long and says that he’s going to see about getting his old job back and moving on. Marco jokes with him that he shouldn’t, because he’s clearly not good with computers since he loses in video games all the time. The two decide to head home and prove that Marco does beat him every time.
Marco had planned for this to be his last mission. After the discovery of his mom, he knows there will be many more missions. He will continue fighting until he can save his mother.
This is one of the trickier titles to analyze. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’m having trouble coming up with something. All I have, really, is the Yeerk, Visser One, in his mom’s head preying on his mom. What do you guys think? Who else could be the predator?
I do not remember this book being this good when I was younger. That reveal at the end, in particular, was ridiculously well-done and well-written. I teared up reading Jake trying to calm Marco. Poor Marco. With the exception of possibly Tobias, none of the other Animorphs’ problems or reasons for fighting come close to Marco’s now. Marco, who does not have a romantic interest in the series like others, who up until now desperately did not want to be an Animorph and frankly seemed whiny to me, who jokes all the time and seems one-dimensional, just became the most interesting character in the series. I think possibly it was because I read the books out of order when I was younger and am now reading them in order, but this revelation did not come to me when I was kid. I didn’t even really like Marco. Reading him now, he might have just became my favorite character.
This was by far the best book yet.