Book 17: The Underground
Publishing Date: April 1998
Rachel saves a guy from suicide and the Animorphs discover that maple and ginger flavoured instant oatmeal will keep a Yeerk alive sans Kandrona rays, but it is an addictive substance that will also drive them mad and relinquish most of the control back to the hosts. The Animorphs decide that the best thing to do for the good of the Earth is to deliver the oatmeal straight into the Yeerk pool, but they have to morph moles to do so because the security around the Yeerk Pool has been enhanced.
Rachel is widely known as the bravest and most insane of all the Animorphs, and her attitude really shines through in this book. She readily admits she doesn’t know why she’s so gung ho and sometimes stupid brave things pop out of her mouth, and she’s too proud not to follow through. This is why she is the first to morph the mole, and why she feels responsible for discovering the oatmeal situation. Yes, she’s insanely brave, but she’s also terrified of morphing a mole and digging into the Yeerk Pool – not because of the Yeerks, but because she’s afraid of being buried alive.
The difficulties of pulling off a long-term mission is not really explored in this novel. The ANimorphs need to spend a lot of time as moles digging, but moles don’t go straight down. They can only go one at a time as well. And once they’ve dug their way in, there’s no plan on how to drag box after box of instant oatmeal, somehow open it, and tip the contents into the Yeerk Pool without anyone noticing.
But luckily that plot hole is overcome when it is discovered Controllers are already bringing their own oatmeal to the party. It’s confiscated, of course, but stored in a shed conveniently close to the Pool. When Ax, Tobias and Jake are captured, Cassie, Marco and Rachel blow up the supply and escape the Yeerk pool.
While this book gives some character insight into Rachel’s fears and bravery, and some really great descriptions of morphing a mole, it remains at heart an adventure as Rachel wanders the Yeerk Pool as a human and uses her wits to overcome her problems. She happily admits she’s not good at planning, and works better with hit first ask questions later. Without Jake, Rachel assumes a leadership role and thinks fast on her feet. In the end, because it’s Rachel’s novel, she saves the day. With no plan, of course.
Join me for a review of Book #18: The Decision next week!