Animorphs (Megamorphs #1): The Andalite’s Gift

Megamorphs #1: The Andalite's GiftI’ve been talking to friends about Animorphs and felt inspired to come back to my Animorphs recaps. I’ll be real with you guys. When I was in college last semester, I read books 7, Megamorphs 1 (this one), 8, and 9 without writing about them. I felt so overwhelmed with school and work and had no energy to devote to this blog. I honestly considered closing it. I am so glad I decided to keep it open, because reading and writing about books is a passion, and that discomfort and insane busyness was temporary. The problem now is I have to go back and reread these books I’ve very recently reread to give them a good review and move forward with this project, and really, I just want to pick up reading where I left off at Book 10, so I’ve pushed this project to the side. I’m too much of a completionist to jump from Book 7 to Book 10 on this blog, haha. I’m making my way, though! Just two more and I’ll be caught up.

This recap is going to look different from the recaps I have done before. I am adopting my new style of reviewing in which you have probably seen in recent entries. Basically, I don’t want to rehash the entire plot of each book anymore. Most people reading these entries have read the books, and there are Wikis available with detailed plot summaries for those interested in that kind of thing. I would rather focus on analysis, which is what I enjoy and what I think is unique that I can offer here. I will probably restructure my blog to call this Animorphs read and analysis a project rather than a recap, but that is something I will play around with later. Also, I am not starting over. As I wrote on the blog’s About page, this site is a living, breathing thing, and living things change. My past entries will just reflect that. Anyway, onto this book!

There are four Megamorphs books placed within the Animorphs series. They are Animorphs on hyperdrive: their stories are bigger, faster-paced, and more epic than the normal books. They are also, for the most part, inconsequential. Although they fall between other books in the series (This one falls between Book 7 and Book 8), there is little character development and little, if anything, occurs in the plot that is lasting and relevant to the entire series. This is the only one that even remains in the main plot. I’ll discuss more about that when I get to Book 11. Think of the Megamorphs books as big, fun rollercoasters; just enjoy the ride.

Plot Synopsis (Spoiler-Free)

A tornado-like monster with teeth is after the Animorphs. Rachel is lost, alone, and has amnesia.

Yep, that’s pretty much it…

Review

Although the Megamorphs books are inconsequential, they should not be skipped. They offer a lot to readers and fans of the series. The weaknesses I listed are minor annoyances that don’t make the book bad.

Strengths

1. Isolation – Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first time the Animorphs are split up for a long period of time. Rachel has amnesia and is on her own. Ax gets captured and his own his own. Isolation is heavy in this book, and it makes me think about how important it is that the Animorphs have one another. In all reality, they are in way over their heads even together, but when isolated, there is a sense of hopelessness and dread. It was interesting seeing the Animorphs worry about Rachel, not knowing where she was or if she was okay. They do the same thing with Ax. With this epic, seemingly unbeatable monster targeting the Animorphs, they are left worried and scared. When I read this as a kid, that didn’t hit home for me, but reading it as an adult, I am feeling the weight of their situation.

2. Action – As I wrote above, the Megamorphs books are Animorphs on hyperdrive. There was everything in this book: more morphing, a bigger enemy, Ax and later Marco being captured, Rachel getting amnesia, Marco driving a truck, and Cassie, the underdog of the group, stepping up and being the hero. This latter element was exciting, and it is the reason Book #29, The Sickness, is one of my favorites. I’ll touch more on that when I make it to that book, though.

The plot was fast-paced and exciting. I’ve read this book before but even I kept turning pages in this read, excited to read what happened next. A middle schooler would love this book; I certainly did in middle school.

3. Messages – This book is thought-proving and beautiful in a couple areas. One that stands out to me is Tobias talking about fear. He talks about living as a predator that has predators, and having to worry about the Yeerks on top of all of that.

There’s only one way to deal with fear: Be afraid. Be afraid, and then go ahead and do what you have to do, anyway.

Applegate’s love for whales is evident in this book, and I like how she wrote about the whale Cassie acquired. It’s hard to describe, but it was peaceful, intelligent, beautiful…

Jake: What are you singing? What are the words?

Cassie: It isn’t words, exactly. But if it were, it would be just one word: hope.

Weaknesses

1. Redundancy – One of the problems with having multiple narrators is the reader has to sometimes find important plot elements out multiple times. The Animorphs are split up in this book, so we learn that the Veleek is a morph-hunter from Ax as he listens to Visser Three, from Cassie when she spies on Chapman, and then again from Marco when four of the group are together again meeting. The conversations and internal dialogue as these characters figure out this important detail, which the reader may have already figured out on his or her own and which has been revealed directly in another chapter, is long and drawn out. When Cassie morphs a fly and spies on Chapman, we learn nothing new, so it is just kind of annoying. This is the nature of the format of the Megamorphs books, however, and I’m not sure how it could have been avoided. It does make me wonder, though. If these unnecessary chapters with repetitive information were removed, would this book be the size of a normal Animorphs book?

2. Cassie’s Dream – Early in the book, Cassie has a dream in which she is given a choice and has to decide who lives and who dies among her friends. It is not explained at all where this comes from or why Cassie was chosen. I have several ideas, and I’ll refer back to this book when we get to another Megamorphs book  where this happens again, central to the book’s plot. Here, it was just random, and I don’t even know if this connects to that later book. I would love to hear you guys’ thoughts on this.

Her dream kind of comes to fruition when the Animorphs are playing morph tag with the Veleek and she can let the Veleek take Marco or morph herself and let the Veleek take her. It’s a stretch though. Overall, I’m just not a fan of precognition without substance. It is an enticing plot element, but in this book, it doesn’t go anywhere.

3. Visser Three – Visser Three successfully captures an Animorph, Ax, and rather than make him a controller, he keeps him prisoner and has him watch him try to capture the other Animorphs. He even makes a comment about killing Ax, but again, nothing happens. I get that this book has a lot going on and Visser Three doing more may have been too much, but it made Visser Three come off weak to me. He is kind of a joke in this book.

Analysis

Mostly a fun ride, there’s not a lot to analyze in this book, but I do want to touch on the cover and title.

Cover

This is one of my favorite Animorphs covers. I love the half morphs. If the Animorphs books didn’t have morphing sequences on the covers, I think these would have been a good alternative. I kind of wish Marco was a gorilla here. Also, where is Ax? His absence is noticeable to me.

The Andalite’s Gift

I’ve never really thought about this title before now, but looking at it analytically is interesting. The Andalite’s gift is morphing. Morphing is what the Veleek is drawn to when it targets the Animorphs. It kind of plays with the idea that some gifts are burdens, and I really love that.

Final Thoughts

Although at times it seemed all over the place with multiple narrators and several things going on at once, The Andalite’s Gift is a fun read and Applegate found opportunities to go deep and comment on war, fear, and cowardice. The highlight to me was Cassie, disappointed in herself for giving in to her perceived cowardice and losing Marco, and trying to make up for it by stepping up and being the hero. She took on a role Rachel or Jake would have had in previous books, and she showed real strength.

With the narration bouncing around, there was not much opportunity for character development, but Applegate squeezed what she could in here and there. In addition to Cassie’s growth, we get a little bit on Tobias’s fear and we get some narration from Ax in which we see the weight of his duty and responsibility of revenge for honor. I’m looking forward to more of both of these elements playing out in future books. We don’t have to wait long for Ax, because The Alien is next.

4 thoughts on “Animorphs (Megamorphs #1): The Andalite’s Gift

  1. “. Also, where is Ax? His absence is noticeable to me.”

    The reason his face doesn’t grace the cover is that they were saving the first art of him for the cover of The Alien. The ad for it in this even hypes up how it’ll have the first alien morph on the cover or something like that. An interesting bit of marketing releated trivia.

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      1. Lol, feel free to be repetitive, especially if it sparks discussion. I could discuss these books anytime. You’re way ahead of me in the reread. I finished 8 last night and should have a post up soon.

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