Book 48: The Return
Publishing Date: December 2000
Rachel has been kidnapped by David the rat, the boy the Animorphs trapped in morph when he sold them out. He wants revenge on Rachel, but who is really behind the scenes pulling all the strings?
The Return is highly reminiscent of Jake’s nightmare book #41: the Familiar, but it’s even more messed up and mind-fucky than that. At least if you approach Jake’s book as a nightmare or his worst fears come real you’ve got a good interpretation. I’m still struggling to figure out whether Rachel’s book is at all based in reality – mostly because it’s never mentioned again in the few remaining books.
That’s because for the first few scenes Rachel keeps waking up from nightmares, so we’re never sure if we’re a dream in a dream in a dream. Inception eat your heart out. To make matters worse, people keep telling her it’s reality, and she can’t prove that it’s not – except that, you know, nothing makes sense.
So along with the nothing-making-sense part, throw in David and Crayak (who, by the way, is a very deliberate homage to Sauron from Lord of the Rings, so if you wanna bitch how Applegate ‘copied’ that, then go ahead, you look like an idiot) and some weird plot that Crayak wants Rachel to come to the dark side or something… though why he chose David as his mouthpiece for the beginning is beyond my comprehension. I mean, Ellimist probably had something to say about this, but he’s not around. It’s not like Crayak knew we the readers needed to wrap up David’s storyline. As far as I was concerned he was living as a rat on an island, happily munching his way through maggots and eggs and whatever else rats eat on isolated islands.
And overall, the book kind of has no plot either. It contributes very little to the overarching Animorphs series plot, brings back a character whose doom I wasn’t questioning anymore, served little to add as a character study of Rachel (we’ve already done that *cough*#31*cough*), was presented pretty poorly to boot.
The best part about this book is the end (and I mean that in a nice way!), so if you can be bothered to read through all the weird alternate-reality-but-not parts, it’s well worth the final few pages (or I guess you could just skip the mad parts and go straight to the end). Rachel is my frickin idol for a reason, and even though the final question remains unanswered, it’s enough for a reader to make up their own mind. Does she or does she not kill David? What is the ‘right’ thing to do, and will Rachel do it because she’s one of the good guys, or because she’s the only one who can?