Animorphs #34: “The Prophecy”
Publishing Info: Scholastic Paperbacks, October 1999
Where Did I Get this Book: own it!
Book Description: Cassie’s losing her mind. But she’s gaining the mind of another. Aldrea — daughter of Seerow, Andalite Prince. Aldrea’s persona, her memory, and a valuable bit of information now belong to Cassie.
Plot: Another book where I only had vague memories! Most notable, perhaps, was my lack of memories at being frustrated by a Cassie book, which had been the standard for the last few. And there’s a reason! I think this, so far, is the best Cassie book in the series! I always want to give book #4 credit for introducing Ax, but, really, it’s not that great what with the magical whale nonsense and some of Cassie’s “ponderings” on the morality of morphing dolphins. Is the fact that this is only half a “Cassie book” since she shares the narrative with Aldrea part of the reason I enjoyed it?
But I also think it’s legitimately one of the better ones for Cassie herself. Let’s dive in!
We start with the required mini-adventure that seems to lead off all the books now. This time it’s cat!Rachel and rat!Cassie invading a teacher’s house to retrieve a piece of paper with an “I love Jake” doodle that Cassie accidentally turned in with her homework. Teasing happens, but they manage to retrieve it.
Back at the barn, Cassie is surprised to find Jara Hamee waiting for her. He’s come to fetch the Animorphs to the Hork Bajir valley where something shocking as occurred: an Arn, the alien species that created the Hork Bajir long ago, has arrived and has a request.
The Animorphs all fly to the valley. Once there, Toby, the Hork Bajir seer, explains that the Arn arrived out of nowhere in a stolen Yeerk ship and wants the Hork Bajirs’ help, but she wanted the Animorphs’ insight before making any decisions. The Arn claims to be the last of his species. But he doesn’t want to go quietly into the night and has come up with a way to try to reclaim his, and the Hork Bajirs’, home world. Before Aldrea and Dak died, they had managed to capture a Yeerk ship that was loaded with weapons. With these, the Arn proposes to gather some Hork Bajir DNA and create another guerilla warfare combatant group on the home world that can fight the Yeerks who remain there. The Hork Bajir are all willing to contribute DNA. But the hold up becomes clear: the Arn doesn’t know where the cache of weapons was hidden, only Aldrea herself knew this. But, luckily (?) for everyone, before she died, Aldrea had her personality/memories transferred into this jar thing that can be used to bring her back, sharing the mind and body of a host. Once she locates the weapons, she can be returned to the jar. The danger is that Aldrea herself will need to choose to leave her host body, making it quite a risk.
Rachel, of course, volunteers, as does Toby. After some debate, they all agree it’s for the best, and the ritual begins. But it is Cassie who is chosen. Caught completely by surprise, Cassie still knows that the only choice she really has is to accept. From this point onward, the story breaks into alternating chapters between Cassie and Aldrea.
Sharing minds and bodies, Cassie and Aldrea struggle to find a balance. Aldrea is shocked, confused, and scared by this sudden turn of events. From her perspective, she was just alive, with Dak and their child Seerow on the Hork Bajir homeworld. She’s now awoken to find herself in the mind of an alien girl, years later, and that both her son and husband are long dead. Her, too. There is also a lot of tension and mistrust between Ax and Aldrea. But eventually, they explain what they need from her. Aldrea is able to keep some of her thoughts private and realizes that she doesn’t know where the cache is, it was hidden after she had transferred her memories. But still wanting to travel back to her home, she agrees to the mission anyways.
The Arn, Toby, and the Animorphs all take off in the Yeerk ship on their way to the Hork Bajir world. The Chee remain behind to pose as the Animorphs while they’re away. Days later, when they arrive, they get in a brief battle with an Andalite ship that is patrolling near the Hork Bajir home world (the Andalite only sees the Yeerk ship). They manage to escape by using Aldrea’s skills as a pilot and markswoman. This gains her further trust with the group. She also begins to appreciate Jake’s leadership skills as he makes calls.
On the home world, Aldrea is shocked and saddened to see the destruction the Yeerks have brought to her planet. Many of the trees have been razed and the land is barren in many places. The Arn leads the group down into one of the deep trenches where his civilization used to exist. As they discuss next steps, the mental barrier between Aldrea and Cassie slips for a second and Cassie realizes that Aldrea lied, and doesn’t know where the cache is. The other are furious and say that Aldrea has lost their trust.
There is nothing to be done, however, but to move forward with Aldrea’s best guess as to where she might have hidden it. They all morph Hork-Bajir and swing through the massive forest. Aldrea leads them to the valley that used to be her home with Dak and Seerow. But the Yeerks have destroyed it, razing the trees and damming up a portion of the valley to now serve as a Yeerk pool. Aldrea is crushed, the reality of her situation finally hitting home. However, she is able to spot one tree that is part of the dam that has a marking that she and Dak had put on it. That’s where the cache would be. The problem is that the entrance to the hollowed out tree is on the other side, submerged in the Yeerk pool itself.
Jake and the others come up with a crazy plan. Aldrea calls it crazy and is horrified when they decide to move forward. Cassie tells her that they been pulling off crazy missions for quite a while now, and that she trusts Jake’s leadership skills. The team sets up to put the plan in action. Of course, it all relies on Cassie and her unique morphing skills.
All of the Animorphs morph bugs and climb into osprey!Cassie’s mouth. She then flies as high as she can above the Yeerk pool and then begins to let herself fall. As she falls, she slowly begins demorphing, saving her wings for last. At one point, she manages to completely demorph her lower half and begin the whale morph, all while still retaining her wings. As they fall, Aldrea is in awe of what Cassie is managing, never having heard of anyone being able to control their morphing like this. But as Cassie draws things out (to avoid being spotted as a human girl somehow on the Hork Bajir planet), Aldrea begins to panic and tries to take control of Cassie’s body. Cassie manages to not only continue her complicated morph but shut down Aldrea’s attempts as well. Finally, fully whale, Cassie lands in the Yeerk pool. In her huge mouth, the other Animorphs begin their next morphs. She surfaces and Ax, Andalite!Tobias, and Hork Bajir!Marco leap out onto the dam and start fighting off the Yeerks. Shark!Jake and shark!Rachel take care of the Taxxons powering towards them in the water. Lastly, Aldrea/Cassie demorph from whale and morph back to Hork Bajir. In this form, they are able to open the secret door into the tree and they all escape into it. There they find the Yeerk shop and the cache of weapons.
There is only one way out, however. They all load into the ship and blast their way out, creating a massive sink hole into which thousands of Yeerks are sucked down to their deaths. Cassie mourns this and Aldrea, again, wonders at these humans. When they get back to the Arn’s home, Aldrea knows that it is time. After seeing her home destroyed and realizing there is nothing for her in this life (and that she cannot wrestle control away from Cassie), she agrees to return to the jar. She also insists that Toby, her remaining kin, not stay on the Hork Bajir home world. She wants one family member, at least, to not get caught up in a guerrilla war. With the Animorphs’ help, she puts on a scene saying she is trying to take over Cassie. Ax grabs Toby and tells Aldrea that they are keeping her as a hostage if Aldrea doesn’t leave. Aldrea leaves Cassie and slowly fades away. The other return, knowing that Toby will realize it was a trick, but that by then it would be too late.
Peace, Love, and Animals: This is actually a really good book for Cassie. The personal arcs/plot points fall directly into her wheelhouse. And the action itself is of the kind that could be accomplished only by her.
In the beginning, she is sure that Aldrea’s spirit won’t choose her. Aldrea was known as an independent, fierce woman. Naturally, they all assume she’ll gravitate towards Rachel or Toby. After being chosen, Cassie then spends most of the rest of the book wondering why she was chosen. As Aldrea begins to push the boundaries on controlling Cassie’s body, Cassie begins to suspect that Aldrea must have sensed some sort of weakness in her, one that she could exploit to remain in the living world. But it is only in the end when Cassie asks Aldrea that she finds out the truth: Aldrea can’t know for sure, as she wasn’t consciously choosing, but she suspects that she knew she would be tempted to stay and that she needed to be with someone who could remind her of her own “humanity” essentially and strong enough to show her that. I think this fits very well with Cassie as a character.
Also, Aldrea really struggles throughout this book, as would be expected for someone who just woke up years later and finds out they have lost everything. Cassie’s simple sorrows for her and empathy are comforting to Aldrea. Lord knows Rachel wouldn’t have pulled that off. And Toby would also have had some self-interest involved in a way that Cassie’s simple focus on supporting Aldrea’s emotions didn’t.
The morphing scene at the end was also awesome. We’ve seen Cassie pull off some amazing stunts before (all seemingly involving morphing whale while falling from the sky), but what she manages here takes it to a new level. I don’t believe we’ve ever seen her (or obviously, anyone) pull off morphing two different animals at once, getting her legs fully human and started up on whale while her arms are still osprey and waiting to go through the human stage. It’s pretty incredible and Aldrea’s own shock and awe is a nice cipher for readers to understand how truly extraordinary what Cassie is pulling off is. Throughout the book, Cassie also notes to herself that even while she has a particular talent, the Animorphs in general are all probably morphing experts, as compared to the Andalites who rarely actually use the ability, including Aldrea.
Aldrea: It’s great having another book with Aldrea in it. Through her memories, we get more insight into what her and Dak’s life was like with their baby before the end of everything. Obviously, we know it ended tragically, but there are some sweet moments between the two that we get to see through her memories and dreams.
She is also, understandably, dealing with a lot of anger, confusion and denial throughout this book. She’s never even heard of humans and now suddenly she’s on their planet inside the body of one. She’s rightly skeptical of the Arn’s motivations for his whole plot, and sees the Animorphs as children and finds it difficult to trust and follow their lead. Further, she and Ax have an ongoing conflict, each looking on the other with a sense of distaste.
The space fight scene is a good moment to highlight her skills as a combatant, and while they are all in Hork Bajir morph on the planet, we see just how comfortable she is in that form, having truly adopted it as her own.
We also see her struggle with the idea of returning to her unconscious state. She never outright plots to take over Cassie, but when, in a moment of panic, she tries to take over while they’re falling through the air, the realization that she actually can’t is a helpful push for her to realize just how wrong what she had been considering was.
It’s also a nice touch, in the end, for her to feel so strongly about Toby returning to Earth, not wanting the same life for Toby as the one Aldrea lead.
Our Fearless Leader: Jake really highlights his strength by repeatedly standing up to Aldrea. It’s mentioned several times that she’s essentially a war hero straight out of history. So it’s natural that there might be tension regarding who makes the calls. Jake never wavers, however, and as the story progresses, Aldrea begins to see why he has been so successful for as long as he has and why the other Animorphs trust his judgement with some of their more crazy plans.
Xena, Warrior Princess: Rachel, of course, volunteers immediately and is very confused when she isn’t chosen. She outright asks Aldrea about it early in the book, but Aldrea doesn’t really know at that point. Along with Jake, Rachel is also the most on the alert for signs that Aldrea may be trying to take over Cassie or not give her up. There were a few instances when Aldrea talked from Cassie’s mouth and Rachel was immediately angry and upset, insisting that she let Cassie back.
A Hawk’s Life: Tobias doesn’t have much in this book, other than it being recognized that he is the closest to the Hork Bajir and the one who had heard Aldrea’s story from Jara Hamee originally. When they’re all on the Hork Bajir planet, he stays in hawk morph and struggles to navigate around the massive trees.
The Comic Relief: Marco also doesn’t have much. He has a few good one-liners here and there. His usually commentary on how insane all of their plans are. And there is a moment when Jake is in the middle of a big “leader” speech where he interrupts him to make a joke. Cassie notes this as a good service that Marco provides his best friend when he thinks Jake is getting too serious or caught up in things.
E.T./Ax Phone Home: Ax struggles the most with the appearance of Aldrea. His normal Andalite arrogance is amped up when presented with the daughter of the Andalite who essentially created the Yeerk threat. Not only does he have the usual Andalite disdain for Seerow, and through him, his daughter, but his own prejudices regarding Andalite superiority are on display. He cannot understand why an Andalite would choose to live as a Hork Bajir. Aldrea does a good job calling him out on both of these fronts, noting that Elfangor did the same by giving the Animorphs their powers and naming his prejudice for what it is with regards to her decision to become a Hork Bajir. By the end of the book, both have come to an understanding and appreciation for the other, but it’s rough there at the start.
Best (?) Body Horror Moment: Cassie has one of her biggest moments of panic and horror when Aldrea takes over the morphing process when they morph wolf back on Earth as a practice run. For the first time, the morphing process is described as being painful, likely largely due to the psychological strain of having one’s body go through that but not to be in control of it. Probably especially for Cassie, as she is used to having more control over the process in general than any of the rest of them, so to have it completely out of her hands…
Couples Watch!: Obviously there’s the bit in the beginning when they’re fetching the love note. Maybe aware that Tobias/Rachel jumped the “using the ‘L'” word hurdle in the last book, it is noted here that Cassie and Jake have kissed other times (though usually just after battles) and, while they haven’t told each other, they both know they love each other.
Unfortunately, what should have been big miles stones for these two (but AGAIN, all of that supposed kissing happened off screen, so I’m still calling these two the wet blanket couple of the bunch) are over-shadowed by the much-more compelling and adult-feeling relationship between Aldrea and Dak. Not only do they have a whole book of backstory for the two of them together, but Aldrea’s emotions and memories of Dak just feel deeper and more meaningful.
If Only Visser Three had Mustache to Twirl: Another book without Visser Three! Really, this is one of the few books that had no main villain. Like we saw in the last book, sometimes other Controllers step in for the villain role, but here we don’t have much other than the generic Hork Bajir and Taxxon Controllers they all fight in the end. And even there, Cassie/Aldrea are never really in that battle. But the Arn is viewed with quite a lot of suspicion from everyone. He says he is the only one left, and they all question his motivations for wanting to start up another guerilla war with the Hork Bajir serving as warriors. What’s in it for him? It’s not like the Arn have a great history about caring for anyone other than themselves, especially not the Hork Bajir. He also has an unfortunate habit of referring to the planet as only his own. Though, to be fair, they were there before the Hork Bajir. So while it’s the Hork Bajirs’ home, too, they can’t really deny the Arn some ownership of it. But, in the end, there doesn’t appear to be anything to all of this suspicion, and while the Arn is still arrogant and a bit off-putting, his claims seemed to be true.
An example of his sliminess, when they are discussing who needs to make the trip to the Hork Bajir planet:
“But she is just a vessel,” Quafijinivon [the Arn] said with a sort of greasy smile. “Why would you humans need to come?”
<Because you think she’s nothing but a vessel, that’s why,> Tobias said.
Adult Ugly Crying at a Middle Grade Book: The scene where Aldrea first sees what used to be her, Dak, and Seerow’s home, now converted to a Yeerk pool of all things. It’s pretty crushing. Especially because up to this point, some small part of Aldrea has been in denial about her situation. Seeing it really makes it hit home what she’s lost and how far removed she is from everything she knew. It’s really tragic when you think about it. To her, she had just minutes ago been alive and well, transferring her memories. And now it’s all gone. Her husband is dead. Her son went on to be taken by the Yeerks and die in captivity. Her home is a freaking YEERK POOL. The tree in which she and Dak essentially carved “A hearts D” is part of the dam itself!! It’s rough. And then, in the end, she has to choose to return to oblivion, not knowing if she’ll ever wake again.
What a Terrible Plan, Guys!: The plan with Cassie’s morphing feats was really awesome. The plan to trick Toby was…really not. It all happens in about two pages and it just doesn’t make sense. I feel like Toby knows that Ax threatening her is an empty threat, so it’s hard to believe she’d fall for it. Beyond that, I have to think she’d be more open to an honest conversation with Aldrea and none of it might have been necessary. Beyond that, once she does learn the truth, I’d think the fallout would be massive. That’s a HUGE betrayal by the Animorphs. And it’s only made worse by the general way that Hork Bajir have been mistreated in the past, manipulated by “smarter” species “for their own good.” I have to believe that Toby would see it as such and have a hard time forgiving them all for taking away her agency.
Aldrea notes with some confusion the Animorphs’, and Cassie in particular, sadness over the death of all the helpless Yeerks in their pool. It’s over this concept that Ax and Aldrea begin to understand each other:
<Let us agree, then, that all civilized species must share a hatred of war,> Aximili said.
Funny AND super dated moment. Marco expresses an opinion that does not hold up well!
<He [the Arn] had to come. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace isn’t coming out on DVD there for, like, two years. He buys up a bunch of copies here, takes ’em home, makes a fortune.>
<Good grief, Marco, you live science fiction, why do you want to watch science fiction?>
<Don’t be dissing TPM,> Marco said. <Cool is cool.>
Scorecard: Yeerks 8, Animorphs 14
This is a big win for the Animorphs. Like huge. Having another battlefront break out on the Hork Bajir home world will be a huge help in dividing the Yeerk’s attention and assets. Plus, as sad as they all are about it, they took out a good number of Yeerks in the process.
Rating: I actually really enjoyed this book! All of Cassie’s strengths were utilized in excellent ways, and of course, it was great having the character of Aldrea back, if only briefly. I’m not sure why I forgot this one as much as I did, given how much I liked it this go around. But I was definitely pleasantly surprised.
Note: I’m not going to rate these books since I can’t be objective at all! But I’ll give a one sentence conclusion and you can take from that what you will!