The Megamorphs series is a spin off from K.A. Applegate’s popular Animorphs franchise. Although they still occur in the same continuity, they are longer stories with multiple narrators. For today’s review, I’m going to be looking at Megamorphs #1: The Andalite’s Gift. Please note that this novel makes reference to the events of the seventh Animorphs book, The Stranger, so be sure to read at least that far in the main series before starting this one.
Following a string of small victories against the Yeerks, the Animorphs prepare to relax for the summer. Rachel is heading off to gymnastics camp, Jake and Cassie have been invited to a pool party, and Marco is planning on crashing the same party for kicks. After the nightmares that they have faced, it feels nice for them to be able to act like normal kids for a while. Unfortunately, strange things start happening.
While at the party, the Animorphs are attacked by a strange creature that behaves like a living whirlwind. The monster seems to be attracted directly to them and is capable of shredding everything in its path. Realising that it’s Visser Three’s newest weapon, they are forced to think of a way to destroy it. Unfortunately, the creature seems unstoppable and even Ax has never seen anything like it before.
To make matters worse, Rachel has vanished. On the way to camp, her bald eagle morph was mobbed by smaller birds and crashed into a tree. The accident caused her to lose her memory and wander aimlessly in the forest, frightened by her freakish ability to become a bird. When she encounters an insane former controller, things go from bad to worse. It’s up to the other Animorphs to find and rescue her before the monster can…
I decided to look at the Megamorphs and The Animorph Chronicles books separately to my reviews of the main series as there is a bit more to talk about with them, yet The Andalite’s Gift is one of the more typical of the stories. More than anything, it’s really just a long Animorphs book. It contains the same characters and situations and doesn’t really introduce any new innovations, especially coming right after the revelations of The Capture and The Stranger. The only unique thing about it is really its narrative style, which I personally found to be just a little too gimmicky.
While I say that the novel is long, it’s still less than two hundred and fifty pages in length, putting it only around a hundred pages longer than a typical Animorphs novel. To have all six Animorphs taking it in turns to narrate chapters just felt a bit over the top. There was far too much jumping around for my liking. Sometimes, perspective only remained with a character for a few pages before it flipped to someone else who was standing in the same room.
It also meant that the reader was treated to the iconic “Hi. My name is…” speech six times, so this novel contained even more of the repetition than ever before. I’ve you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know that this is starting to drive me to despair. I can understand the first few books containing lengthy exposition to bring new readers up to speed but now we’re eight books in. When is this going to stop?
The balance between the narrators also felt very uneven. The plot was really Rachel-centric as she provided the narrative voice for thirteen of the chapters, far more than any other Animorph. By contrast, Tobias only got to narrate three (and two of these were right at the end of the book). As not all of the Animorphs were central to the story, I felt that it would have been better to cut some of them out to focus more on those who were. The only really interesting thing about this structure was it allowed Ax a voice for the first time, though this is made a little more underwhelming by the fact that the next story in sequence is also told by him.
The story itself really has two central plots. The one about the Veleek – Visser Three’s Andalite hunting pet – is relatively straight forward, but felt a little simple in execution. The most excitement came from the part where Ax and Marco were forced to escape the Blade Ship as the Veleek proved to be very easily outsmarted in the parts were the Animorphs faced off with it. I’m actually starting to wonder how Visser Three even got himself put in charge of the invasion of Earth. For a high ranking Yeerk, he’s pretty easily outsmarted by five teenagers and an Andalite warrior-cadet.
The second story was Rachel’s amnesia arc. I’m sure that some people actually do like these (every sitcom seems to contain at least one amnesiac) but I personally find them to be so clichéd that they’re not funny anymore. This plotline felt really tacked on, only existing to give Rachel some kind of purpose. It never really affected her interactions with the other Animorphs as she instantly trusts Cassie despite not recognising her. It’s also resolved really quickly (one hit to the head loses her memories, the other restored them). Maybe it would have seemed better if it had allowed Applegate to explore a vulnerable side of Rachel that we hadn’t seen before but, as it stood, she seemed to shake off her experience almost instantly.
The story didn’t even really contain any decent character development, which was a shame after the powerful explorations of Jake and Rachel’s motivation in The Capture and The Stranger. The only thing I found a little interesting was how Ax felt when he found himself face to face with Visser Three for the first time. Although he is honour-bound to kill the Visser, he realised just how heavy this burden actually was when he finally had the opportunity. I am interested to see how this continues to affect Ax over the rest of the series, as avenging Elfangor is an incredible weight for anyone to bear.
So unfortunately, this novel was a bit of a disappointment. I won’t be getting to the next Megamorphs book for a while but hopefully it will be a stronger entry to the series than this one. As it stood, The Andalite’s Gift had some fun moments (Marco continues to be comedy gold) but was largely unmemorable on the whole.
Megamorphs #1: The Andalite’s Gift is currently out of print. If you’d like to read it, try Amazon Marketplace or your local library.