Book 43: The Test
Publishing Date: July 2000
Tobias and the Animorphs have made a deal with ex-Sub Visser Taylor, the insane Controller who tortured Tobias, to blow up the Yeerk Pool using natural gas and Taxxon morphs. But is it all a clever trap to eliminate the ‘Andalite bandits’ once and for all?
Taylor wants to kill Visser Three and rule the Yeerks in a democracy. LOL. But Taylor’s democracy movement is NOT the same as the Yeerk Peace movement. That’s complicated. There are now several factions that rebel against the Yeerk propaganda. Except not really because it was all a lie.
The problem with this book is that it happens ten books after Tobias’ torture, which was an amazingly good book, but because it happened so long ago it kind of made me feel like he was going on a bit about his fragile mental state and so on. Not that I think he should be ‘over it’, because he was freaking tortured, but I do wish this book had happened earlier. Unfortunately, at that point in the series Tobias and Ax were swapping book numbers so we got less Tobias. Which is ALWAYS a bad thing.
The same ghost writer who wrote Tobias’ torture book tackled this one, which is awesome, because she’s an awesome writer. A lot of time is spent as a Taxxon or figuring out ways to make Taylor think Tobias is really an Andalite. It’s difficult to imagine the kind of hunger a Taxxon feels but it’s pulled off nicely in this book. I understood the depth and complexity of being a ravenously hungry giant centipede with soft, easily biteable skin.
In my opinion Tobias didn’t spend enough time questioning Taylor and being suspicious, which is why she almost wins and destroys everyone. Even when Taylor’s host fights back – which is totally believable, because now the host knows Taylor wants to destroy the Yeerk Peace Movement, not Visser Three. Taylor – the real Taylor, not the Yeerk – has had a change of heart somewhere in the last ten books and is now not as willing as she used to be. Therefore, Yeerk-Taylor is not as insane as she once was. Which is why it totally makes sense when she offers the co-leadership to Tobias, because she’s totally fucking with him.
Luckily for us, Cassie protests the mission, to blow up the Yeerk Pool – not only because of the innocent caged Controllers that will be there, but because Cassie alone understands what it’s like to be a Yeerk and has a deeper understanding of their military culture and propaganda. She sympathises with them and can see things from their point of view, and doesn’t want to be a part of murdering a poolful of helpless slugs which she believes can one day be made to see the light and you know, not enslave entire races. People like to dismiss Cassie because she’s gentle and a pacifist but she’ll fuck you up if you mess with her friends. There’s a lot of strength that comes in being able to say no to your friends like that and still have their back.
It’s good for us that Cassie believably sits this one out because she’s the only reason the other Animorphs aren’t murdered and the series ends with a bang. Strange how a book lacking Visser Three can come so close to wiping out our heroes – I think it’s more believable because when Visser Three is there you know they’ll outwit him some way. Taylor is scary because she’s a different sort of insanity.
Here’s a little tidbit you might find interesting. Taylor gives the Animorphs a web address to contact her: http://www.EarthIsOurs.com. It doesn’t exist anymore, but back when this book was first published, it DID exist - because of course I visited it. Like in the book, it consisted of an image of Earth and a contact box. I copied the Animorphs and sent a random message saying “We’re in.” It’s totally not original, and I wonder how many emails that host got saying just that! Totes hilarious.