Book 37: The Weakness
Publishing Date: January 2000
Jake has gone away for a week, leaving the Animorphs leaderless, when they come upon the perfect opportunity to make Visser three look incompetent in front of a Yeerk Inspector, reporting to the Council of Thirteen. The Animorphs can’t pass up this opportunity, so Rachel takes charge and they wreak havoc all over town. But Rachel’s recklessness gets Cassie captured and taken to the Yeerk Pool for infestation…
This book goes to show just how important Jake is. It’s a hot mess of a book, badly written, poorly plotted and takes the main characters to the extreme of their characterisation, but it does demonstrate how poorly the Animorphs act when Jake isn’t there to call the shots. The book opens with Jake already absent and the Animorphs attempting to assassinate Visser Three using cheetah morphs. With the arrival of the Inspector in an ultra-fast Gavatron body, they are forced to retreat, but decide to keep up the attacks to make the Visser look bad.
I can’t believe Applegate had time to read over this book after receiving it from her ghost writer before sending it off to the editor. The editor probably added in little bits to make it linear within the series – you know, references to past adventures. But Rachel’s hubris is the main factor in this book, as well as her out of control rage. It’s written as if we’ve got a slightly more in control Mean Rachel from the Separation in place of our normal gung-ho but intelligent Warrior Princess. Tobias is also out of character because he doesn’t support her, quietly tries to take the leadership from her and then yells at her. That’s not very Tobias-like. The other characters seem like their usual selves – Marco’s positioned as the main opposition to Rachel, but even he doesn’t want to lead.
This book is just so poorly written. I already mentioned Jake’s already gone by the time we open it The ruched feeling continues as the Animorphs destroy half the town in a narrative that mostly tells us what happens instead of shows us. I know there’s a lot to pack into these little books but this book is by far the shortest of any, and it shows. Half the book is taken up with Cassie’s rescue. The narrative itself is really choppy and neglects small details in favour of keeping the fast pace.
Overall this book is not important either for the greater narrative or as a Rachel character study. She’s too out of character in this book. The new villain of the week is crap. Why the Yeerks didn’t infest or murder Cassie right away is a mystery. The squabbling between Rachel, Marco and even Tobias is forced. For some reason Ax in human morph stumbles over stairs yet climbs a chicken wire fence with barbed wire easily enough. As a kid I wasn’t this harsh, but I do remember this was one of the more useless books in the series.
One thing I do like is the title. Rachel as the leader is the group’s weakness. The Animorphs exploit the Inspector’s one weakness while trying to exploit Visser Three’s, and in turn show the Inspector the Visser’s weakness. Enjoy, if you dare.
Join me for a review of Book #38: The Arrival next week!