Marco books might be the best books if you’re looking to jump into Animorphs. After fifteen books that might very well be the case. Applegate, cognizant of course that random books from this series would end up on library shelves the world over, with unconscionable gaps as a result of poor funding and attrition, tries her best to summarize the key points at the beginning of every book. But Marco does it best: succinct, but with that typical Marco humour. Like Jake, Marco knows what it’s like to have a family member who is a Controller. But Marco’s mother isn’t just some random Yeerk … she’s Visser One, one of the most powerful members of the Yeerk Empire.
And now she’s back on Earth, doing nasty things with sharks.
That sounded wrong, sorry. She’s back on Earth, planning to invade a planet with a sentient aquatic species by modifying hammerhead sharks. Which frankly sounds terrifying, and I’m very glad that the Yeerks are only using Hork-Bajir on Earth. Can you imagine if Sharknado was a thing back in the 1990s? Visser One would be all over that.
Random Yeerk: Visser, my host’s family was watching a program on their primitive video transmission devices—
Visser One: You can just say “television.” It’s fine, really.
Random Yeerk: —ah, yes, Visser. Anyway, we were watching the primitive television devices. One of their longer-form fictional documentaries—
Visser One: They’re called “movies.”
Random Yeerk: —ah, yes, Visser. One of their longer-form fictional movies was on. Something about these creatures we’re experimenting on being carried by tornados and deposited on the land.
Visser One: That sounds like it would end badly for the sharks.
Random Yeerk: Oddly enough, Visser, no. More so the humans.
Visser One: Hmm … I suppose if we created vortices using our Blade ships … yes. Yes, that could work. In fact, that’s brilliant. Keep this up and I might have a replacement for Visser Three in the near future.
Random Yeerk: salutes
And so the Yeerks develop actual sharknado technology and win the war. Thanks, Hollywood.
Anyway, so The Escape is obviously most notable for the return of Marco’s mother and the feelings that result. Marco has to make the whole “save your mother or save the world” choice, with Applegate once again foreshadowing how bad it’s going to get by the end of this whole war. And now the rest of the Animorphs know that his mother is Visser One, so that’s cool.
Also, Tobias has his morphing powers back. He used them a little in the last book, but now we get to see him acquire a couple of new animals. I love his hesitance because he can’t fly in something like a dolphin or shark morph. It’s hard, sometimes, to get a read on Tobias’ character; we forget he’s just this goofy, shy kid who really doesn’t want to draw too much attention to himself. So no wonder he’s reluctant to leave behind his hawk form—which he is used to now—for another strange animal experience.
The entire underwater setting is a welcome change of pace. Marco does a great job describing the nature of the shark mind and what it’s like to be able to sense electromagnetic fields and just be a stone-cold killing machine.
It’s also important to note that, for once, the Animorphs’ plan actually works fairly well. They infiltrate the base, sabotage it, and escape without too much hullabaloo. Maybe they’re finally not sucking at this whole saving-the-world thing.
All in all, definitely an enjoyable instalment in the series. It has some series moments, but they don’t eclipse the rest of the book. This is mostly about the plot, the Yeerks’ machinations, and Marco’s feels for his mom. It’s good stuff.
Next time, the Animorphs venture onto the strange and glorious information superhighway! And it is glorious.