Book 3: The Encounter
Publishing Date: August 1996
Book #3 is Tobias’ time to shine. I don’t know why he was selected as the third character in our merry-go-round of narrators, but it’s a good spot in the story. He’s been a hawk for about a month, and he’s struggling with the instincts that, to him, mean he is losing his humanity: namely hunting and the desire to find a mate. The animal instincts don’t seem to be as well written as the previous two books because this one is more plot-driven than its predecessors, but we still see a lot of Tobias struggling with what he’s become.
OK it’s not gross or anything. It’s still children’s fiction. But he’s inexplicitly drawn to a female hawk, with the feeling that he belongs with her. It’s strange for a thirteen year old child in the body of a hawk to realise, but that’s the mating instinct. It’s weird to think that the child is trapped in an adult hawk body, and a sexually mature one at that.
In this book, Tobias’s whole trapped-in-morph thing is the instigator of the plot and also the resolver of the conflict. Because he’s a bird, he sees something he wouldn’t have seen as a human: namely a Yeerk supply ship taking resources from the mountains nearby. Also, at the end of the book, Tobias is the only Animorph unable to morph and consequently as an outsider to the mission, he’s the only one who can take the ship down.
The best thing about this book is Tobias’ deepening relationship with Rachel. She’s the one he turns to when he needs comfort, and she’s always there to give it. She’ll even lie to him, but probably understands that he can tell she’s lying. And Rachel shows intense affection for the strange, lost boy in the body of a hawk. Rachel’s also showing more of her trademark recklessness, and the others are beginning to realise that maybe she likes the fighting and the violence and the danger. Did I mention Rachel is my favourite character? I find her fascinating.
Tobias shines in the climax of this book, as he’s the one who takes action and saves the day. It’s disappointing that the other Animorphs aren’t/can’t be involved, but hey, every book has to end at some point and it has to kept relatively short. Tobias is a hero, and the others need him even though he feels useless just as much as he needs them to keep feeling human. Overall it’s a great introduction to Tobias as a character, plot driven by his unique position within the Animorphs, and resolves several issues revolving around his character.
Also, did I mention the cover art is about a billionty times better than the previous two?
Join me for a review of Book #4: The Message soon!