Book 4: The Message
Publishing Date: October 1996
Cassie’s our gentle, empathetic narrator in Book #4: The Message. She’s been having weird dreams, like someone familiar is calling to her from the ocean. Tobias has been having the dreams as well. The Animorphs decide it’s a lost Andalite and go off to rescue him in dolphin morphs.
Cassie was my favourite Animorph as kid. I loved her. I loved her moral wallowing and her desperate need not to be responsible. But now I find it a bit annoying. I understand why she feels bad morphing intelligent animals, but you are saving their butts, so get over it!
Also, this book is the most unrealistic of all the unrealistic things that happen in the series. I can accept alien parasitic slugs and blue centaur-aliens and kids trapped in morph. I can’t accept telepathic whales. When I was a kid I thought it was awesome. Now I’m just like…’huh? Whales do NOT do that.’ You can make up whatever shit about aliens you want – after all, they’re YOUR aliens. But whales? They belong to everyone. They’re in the real world. They’re not telepathic. Maybe if Cassie morphed a whale and then understood the language, that would be OK. But telepathy? No.
This book is probably the most important out of all the early books for one reason: the introduction of a new major character and future series narrator. Ax is the lost Andalite, and he’s also Prince Elfangor’s little brother. A space cadet, Ax doesn’t have the training or wisdom to lead the Animorphs – he instead fixes on Jake as his ‘Prince’ (a military rank). He’s an extraordinarily valuable member of the group: he can keep track of time and knows a darn sight more about the other aliens than the humans do, even if he had trouble paying attention in school.
There’s a lot of humour in this book when the group morphs seagulls, but also a hefty dose of realistic fear and violence when in dolphin morph they take on a group of sharks. In both of these morphs, the group struggle with the animal instincts. They aren’t even aware that the animal is taking over. Applegate does a brilliant job of this especially with the dolphin morph.
Overall, if you were looking to skip any books in the series, this one would NOT be it. You basically need to read it. It’s pretty good, even if the suspension of disbelief is a bit too much for an adult.
Join me for a review of Book #5: The Predator soon!