Book Reviews: Animorphs -The Encounter / The Message

a1Title: The Encounter

Author: K.A. Applegate

Series: Animorphs #3

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: When Tobias, Jake, Rachel, Marco, and Cassie were given the ability to morph, they were also given one very important warning: Never stay in a morph for more than two hours. It seemed a small price to pay, since the kids know that humans everywhere are being forced to let slimy, spineless creatures creep into their brains. And the only way the kids can fight back is not to be human. But Tobias stayed in his morph too long. And now he’s a hawk — with a boy’s mind — forever. Tobias knows they can’t give up. That they all made a promise. So now it’s four kids and a hawk against a force that’s determined to destroy them. Or die trying…

The Review:

There’s something incredibly fascinating and heart-wrenching about someone’s struggle to hold onto their humanity after a horrific event. The books from Tobias’s viewpoint always have a different, more introspective tone then the rest of the series. I guess you’d be pretty insightful too if you spent every day alone with nature and your thoughts. I don’t think I was old enough to appreciate its depth as a kid, but I sort of do now. Back then, I was mainly just disappointed that the potential to try new animal morphs was gone. This time around, however, I’m enjoying it more than ever before… and that’s an exciting thing (I also notice more plot holes than ever before.  I guess when you’re writing a series like this in under 100 pages it’s difficult to be completely thorough… right? Just go with it – lol.)

a2.0Title: The Message

Author: K.A. Applegate

Series: Animorphs #4

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: It all started with the dreams. But Cassie didn’t pay much attention to them. She and her friends had all been having weird dreams since they’d first learned to morph. Maybe it was just some crazy side effect. That’s when Cassie discovers that Tobias has been having the exact same dreams. Dreams about the ocean. And a strange feeling that someone is calling to them. Calling for help. Now Cassie, Tobias, Jake, Rachel, and Marco have to figure out if the dreams are a message – or a trap. And if it is a trap, it could mean the end – for everyone…

The Review:

After careful consideration, I’ve made a decision (which, of course, is subject to change at any given moment): Cassie is my favorite Animorph. She gets along with everyone, is humble, hard-working, and compassionate. But what I love most about Cassie is her remarkable affinity for animals. She is the character I always envied because she knows the most about animals out of the group and she can control her morph on how amazing would it be to be able to control your morphing – how cool is that. As far as the books go, her stories aren’t always the most action-packed, but they are often the most powerful and profound. At least for me.

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

a3Title: Eve & Adam

Author: Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate

Series: ??

Genre: Teen Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: In the beginning, there was an apple – And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die – not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy. Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect . . . won’t he?

The Review:

Reactions to this book are all over the board. People either seem to love it or hate it. I’m sort of in the middle, as I liked it, but I didn’t love it. That’s a hard thing for me to admit because I’ve had such a long history with these authors that I feel as though I owe it to them to love their stuff. After all, Applegate is responsible for the series that sparked my love of reading (see Animorphs). Alas, the book just didn’t quite come together for me.

I’m usually pretty good at going with the flow as far as characters are concerned, but in this book I just didn’t get the relationships between all of them. All of them were odd, but I had the hardest time with Eve’s bff, Aislin. She didn’t seem to add any value to the story and I wasn’t on board with their relationship or how they treated each other. This odd compilation of characters and motives made the book feel a bit disjointed, and that’s partly why I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I wanted to.

There were some cool elements to the book. I found the setting and the technology to be entirely fascinating.I also liked reading from Solo’s perspective – specifically his strategies for outsmarting the “enemy”. The writing itself was also quite interesting. The imagery at the beginning was especially strong, and I will probably go back and study it for my own craft. The duo writer angle was a unique one too – there were several places where the tone of the book changed, and I’m assuming that’s were one author stopped writing and the other took over. The idea of each writer being in charge of a main character’s motives and personality is pretty cool, and I think if there was one place where the relationship development was successful, it was between Eve and Solo (where I saw this phenomenon take place the most often).

Overall, it was not the stellar read that I was hoping for, but an interesting piece nonetheless. I don’t regreat thhe time I spent reading it, as the positives edged out the negatives and I sort of liked how it wrapped up. I’m interested to see where they take the story in the next book, if there is one… the internet was rather inconclusive.

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

Book Reviews: Animorphs – The Invasion #1 / The Visitor #2

c1Title: The Invasion

Author: K. A. Applegate

Series: Animorphs #1

Genre: Young Reader

Rating: 5/5 stars

The OverviewSometimes weird things happen to people. Ask Jake. He may tell you about the night he and his friends saw the strange light in the sky. He may even tell you about what happened when they realized the “light” was only a plane — from another planet. Here’s where Jake’s story gets a little weird. He and his friends are told the human race is under attack, but they’re given the chance to fight back. Now Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias and Marco have the power to morph into any animal they choose. And they must use that power to outsmart an evil that is greater than anything the world has ever seen…

The Review:

I am so passionate about these books, I feel it would be a shame to run a book blog without paying homage to the series that sparked my love of reading. I read the first twenty so many times as a kid that I talked my mom into buying replacement copies because I was afraid I’d wear them out (as eventually I did). Anyway, I’m 27 now and finally ready to read through them all again. Every couple of weeks, you’ll get an update of my progress, and humor me as I reminisce about how each of these books affected me.

As the first book in the series, The Invasion offers adventure, humor, and creativity, making it a perfect read for ages 8 – 12 (and your geeky older students like me). I originally picked it up because I love animals, and the idea of kids being able to turn into them sealed the deal. While shapeshifting plays a critical role in the story, it was only a side benefit to all the great things Animorphs has to offer. I laughed, I cried, I fricken loved these books.

c1Title: The Visitor

Author: K.A. Applegate

Series: Animorphs #2

Genre: Young Reader

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Overview: Rachel is still reeling from the news that the Earth is secretly under attack by parasitic aliens known as the Yeerks. And that she and her friends — five kids who, purely by chance, stumbled onto a downed spacecraft and were given the power to morph into any animal they touch — are the planet’s only defense. But Rachel’s always been something of a daredevil. So when it’s suggested that they infiltrate the home of their assistant principal, Mr. Chapman, who also happens to be a human host of the Yeerks, she volunteers. But what she finds inside may be more than even she can handle.

The Review: 

This happens to be the first Animorphs book I ever read (when you live three hours from the nearest bookstore, you sort of take what you can get). It has all the things that made the first book amazing, but focuses more on character and story development than grand adventure.

Side story: when I was 11 years old, I typed up this entire book while trying to learn how to use a keyboard. Odd as it sounds, it actually worked. I showed up two years later to my 8th grade typing class an expert (as far as one can be) and spent the semester reading, you guessed it, Animorphs. While I felt pretty full of myself back then, my 27 year old self would like to go back and slap that child for that early induction of carpel-tunnel.

Anyway, I it’s safe to say I know this story well, and have probably read through it the most times of any of them (we’re talking 20+). Although Rachel is not my favorite Animorph, the books from her perspective are great (my fav. in the entire series was with her in book #12: The Reaction).

by Niki Hawkes