Book 28: The Experiment
Publishing Date: April 1998
Ax and the Animorphs discover that the Yeerks have acquired (NOT the DNA!!) an animal testing laboratory and a slaughterhouse, and think the two are related. In the ensuing shenanigans to infiltrate and figure out what the Yeerks are up to (and investigate if they can fuck it up) the Animorphs morph chimpanzees and Ax has a crisis of sentience, and Ax also morphs a bull and steps into a slaughterhouse. And they say the Andalites are meant to be the geniuses of the galaxy…
I didn’t much like this book when I was a kid. For some reason I felt that it was preachy and way too tree-hugging for me. Upon initial reflection as an adult though, I find no clearly defined messages subliminal in the text about the evils of animal testing or the inhumaneness of the slaughterhouse. Maybe this is because the book is told from Ax’s point of view. The Andalite society is completely fucked up like a sinister alien dystopian – they are anti-disabled people, yo. Ax isn’t much bothered by testing on inferior species and can see the benefit. His major crisis comes when he morphs a chimpanzee, which we know to be fairly intelligent. Cassie believes the chimpanzees to be sentient, although Ax never decides. This is interesting because in the previous book we are explicitly told that whales are sentient.
It’s a well-written book and each of the three acts move smoothly from one to the other. There is a distinct lack of description in some areas – the most memorable on being “Cassie turned the stasis field off.” First of all, Cassie’s a wolf, so how does she turn it off? This whole scene seemed completely rushed as the homeless people seemed perfectly happy to escape with a blue centaur alien with a scorpion tail with little more than a ‘What the heck is that?”. Also, apparently they just manage to escape the slaughterhouse and everyone lives happily ever after. Seriously, the book is supposed to end before they even reach the final door. What happens when they get out? Wouldn’t the Controllers chase them down in cars and shoot them? Where it he logic in this? The book is littered with these vague assertions that you wish you get more detail in. It didn’t bother me as a kid, but it bothers me as an adult.
On the plus side, Ax has started watching TV, is obsessed with soap operas and ‘these messages’ – commercials. He’s getting all hip with the pop culture and it’s driving everyone else crazy.
As an aside, I heard a rumour that Applegate was so unhappy with the way this book was written (by an environmentalist ghostwriter, yo) that she added in the final scene where the Animorphs chow down on some hamburgers (after Ax nearly got slaughtered).
Join me for a review of Book #29: The Sickness next week!