Book 50: The Ultimate
Publishing Date: February 2001
Cassie and the Animorphs are at a loss. They’re on the losing side of war continually upping the stakes – the next level is all-out invasion. With only six of them, and with Jake falling into a depression over the loss of his family, the Animorphs decide it’s time to expand their army. And the only kids they know the Yeerks won’t touch are the disabled.
This is the book where the reading audience turns on Cassie, if they haven’t done it already. All of her moralising almost gets in the way of action and her final act in her final book left many of us completely shocked. That’s not to say that this isn’t a valuable book – no no, you NEED to read this one. It’s one of the essentials. See, after the first half of the book delivers a poor drill and a group meeting of the ‘rebels’ with reassurance of faith in Jake’s leadership, they start recruiting. And they pick some good ones.
So before this happens, I just need to backtrack a little. In Book #47 the ghost writer decided that Animorphs only morphing skin-tight clothing was stupid and retconned it so they could morph outer clothes ‘after a lot of experience’ which was a stupid and lazy thing to do and also served no purpose. Then in Book #49 they’re back to skin-tight as demonstrated by Marco’s ‘tight’ Blue Band t-shirt. In this book they’re back to morphing ‘some’ outer clothes but still no shoes. Also, when they decided to randomly steal bikes to book it to the rehab hospital they’re attacked by Yeerks who not only waited until they almost got away to launch an offensive but also called them ‘Andalites’ when we know they know all but one are actually human. We have no idea why a) Jake decided to land behind the bike shop and b) the Yeerks even knew they were there.
Cassie’s the one who convinces golden boy James that the disabled kids have a right to fight for their own planet. She does this in a very un-Cassie-like way by employing her little known hidden feature, ruthlessness. You know, like the time when she came up with the plan to trap David in rat morph. The time that is only like my most favouritest part in the whole series. I think I like ruthless!Cassie.
Meet the ‘auxiliary Animorphs’ – disabled kids with mega willpower who can morph in an instant, and some of them even return to healthy bodies as theirs were not damaged by DNA. James is Jake’s new second in command, and he’s a tall natural leader with golden hair like a lion’s mane – it’s not ironic that he chooses the lion as his battle morph, it’s just chance. James is in charge of the auxiliaries, but he defers to Jake. The auxiliaries outnumber the originals by more than double. Also, there’s a kid called Timmy in a wheelchair who has a speech impediment who reminds me strangely of Timmy from South Park. They were introduced a year apart. South Park Timmy was first. Maybe this is why they change Timmy’s name to Tuan in subsequent books.
The Animorphs continue their mission and infiltrate a school for the blind. The Yeerks somehow knew the Animorphs were recruiting disabled humans, but don’t know about the rehab hospital full of Animorphs in wheelchairs. They set a trap and wait until Cassie morphs to a fly and spots the infared camera and warns the others before bursting in and taking all the Animoprhs hostage. But the Yeerks don’t think about counting the Animorphs and don’t realise they’ve only got 5 of them. Cassie escapes and goes to James for help, and the Auxiliaries enter their first tussle. They win, of course, because you can’t kill disabled kids on their first outing.
Jake goes after Tom who has the morphing cube, and Cassie makes simultaneously the best and worst decision in the entire series. The decision that fucks up everything but ultimately leads to peace. The decision that will, effectively start the trail to lead to her best friend’s death.
Cassie stops Jake from killing Tom and lets him escape with the cube.
But see, I can’t hate Cassie for that. She’s in love, and when I was little I thought she was my favourite. I trusted her. She was the most capable and often made hard decisions on her own. Most of her books are either her fighting solo battles or somehow being forced into some kind of leadership position. I knew she was doing the right thing because it’s her human compassion that makes her so different from the Yeerks’ ruthlessness. She understands things at a deeper level and I’m pretty sure that she knew by levelling the playing field and sharing the morphing ability, the Yeerks and Taxxons would one day (soon) ask to choose different forms permanently. It must be so hard living in a body you despise that much – and I’m not just talking about looks. A blind, deaf, helpless slug or a raging giant worm with no self-control and insatiable hunger? I believe Cassie had two reasons for stopping Jake. The first is to spare Jake, but the second is to end the war.