Book 2: The Visitor
Publishing Date: June 1996
In Book #2: The Visitor, the Animorphs decide to infiltrate the suburban home of one of Visser Three’s top-ranked Controllers, Assistant Principal Chapman, using the family cat as a morph. It’s a genius move: after all, who would suspect a kid can turn into a cat? Well, no one except for a race of parasitic slugs bent on taking over the galaxy, that’s all.
When I first read this book, I was ten years old. I’d had no experience in reading a series where events in the previous book had a direct impact on events in the current book. Even when the book opens with the five Animorphs flying over the city, just chilling out, I’d somehow come to the conclusion that Tobias wasn’t trapped in his red-tailed hawk morph. Even when Rachel dropped several hints, such as there only being four pairs of shoes for the five of them, I thought that meant Cassie had learned to morph shoes. I actually needed it spelled out, because I was such a book series noob – the previous series I’d read had never affected their characters the way Tobias was permanently affected, or else the series was a collection on mostly unrelated books (Goosebumps) – I was ready to accept that Tobias was actually OK. After all, who in their right mind would actually do that to a character?
Applegate would. And thank god she did. Tobias stuck in morph was one of the greatest ideas ever. This kid with no home is granted absolute freedom.
Anyway, on to the book. Now, Animorphs books are short. I don’t think many go over 200 pages. So this review will be short, too. Now, the best thing about this book is being inside Rachel’s head as she’s inside the cat. Rachel’s attitude matches for finely with the housecat. It’s not that Rachel is never fearless – she gets scared, just like everyone else. She can just handle it better than most. That cat’s attitude was good for Rachel, because it wasn’t afraid of the things that Rachel was afraid of, and Rachel wasn’t afraid of the thing the cat was afraid of.
I felt the ending was a bit anti-climactic because there wasn’t a fight as such. Visser Three morphs his monster of the week, but all Rachel does is run away, which is all she can do. There’s a sub-plot involving one of decay of one of her friendships, and that’s not really resolved either. All the book does in the long term is give Rachel the best reason to fight: because the Yeerks tear families apart. That, and help explain the difference between a predator brain and a prey brain, much like Jake’s first book did as well. That’s something that comes into play in the next book, the first from Tobias’ point of view.
Join me for a review of Book #3: The Encounter soon!