Book 16: The Warning
Publishing Date: March 1998
Jake discovers a chat room talking about Yeerks, Controllers, and the Sharing, on a rehashed AOL called Web Access America. The Animorphs decide to break into WAA headquarters to find where the chatters live in an effort to warn the real people to shut the hell up. Because I don’t think anyone knew about IP addresses in the middle 90s, and also since this book is written based on an Internet in the mid 90s it’s aged dramatically since then.
The most jarring moments are Jake checking his emails (seriously, who uses emails anymore these days?), Cassie barely goes online, Jake has to wait for his modem to dial up (HA HA) and of course, the breaking into WAA headquarters because no one can explain to Ax what an IP address is or how to track one. Or maybe it’s just a sign of my paranoia online that I tend to hide mine when I browse ha ha.
On the way to breaking into the WAA headquarters they decide to hitch a ride on an airplane. Tobias doesn’t handle the fly brain very well but eventually admits they fly better than he does. Jake gets swat as a fly and ends up as traumatised as Marco is about ants or Cassie is about termites. Then the Animorphs find out that the guy who owns WAA and therefore the Internet (or something) and is the second richest man in the US is one of the chatters and knows about Yeerks.
So the Animorphs decide to break into his mansion and find out what he knows and if he’s a threat, and if he set up the Yeerk chat room to track potential suspicious hosts. His name is Fenestre and he reveals himself as not only Visser Three’s twin brother but also a cannibal of fellow Yeerks – it’s how he survives without Kandrona rays.
Unfortunately for Cassie, she figures out Fenestre’s rather malicious method for extracting the Yeerk from the human host, and although Applegate never says outright that Fenestre is a murderer or that he’s like the Dexter Morghan of the Yeerk world, it’s obvious that’s why Cassie’s so upset. Jake makes the hardest call of his career and lets Fenestre go – Cassie and Jake have their first confrontation and extreme disagreement on the morality of letting a murderer go because he’s also killing Yeerks.
It’s the first really big look at morality and shades of grey in the series, even more so than the Andalite Chronicles when Alloran wanted to kill several thousand natural state Yeerks and Elfangor wouldn’t do it. Even so, as a kid I can understand from Jake’s point of view why he would let Fenestre go, but as an adult I totally side with Cassie. Even the idea of Fenestre going after children and waiting until other family members are infested before going after them horrifies me. It didn’t seem that big a deal when I was a kid, but now the impact is that much bigger.
To add on top of that, Fenestre’s mansion burns down at the end of the novel and Jake won’t tell us who did it.
This novel reveals some pretty important plot points that don’t really go anywhere (so Visser Three’s a twin? It’s mentioned maybe once else in the series) but it’s worth the read for the WAA break in where as a distraction Bear-Rachel mops a carpeted floor while Tiger-Jake holds a bucket politely in his teeth.
Join me for a review of Book #17: The Underground next week!