I am ambivalent about this one. On the one hand, Ax! Being delightfully too human! Soaps! On the other hand … everything else.
The plot of #28: The Experiment is a mess. It’s backwards, in fact, with the big reveal delayed and stuck at the end as some kind of huge twist when it should have been up front. What we’re left with is a couple of attempts by the Animorphs to infiltrate a meat-packing plant, some righteous indignation from Cassie, and Visser Three being played for laughs. In my opinion, the series is at its worst when it undermines Visser Three’s callous disregard for laugh for humourous purposes—there are plenty of other ways to be funny in these books, as every time Ax describes a human activity can attest.
So I’m not even going to mention the plot. It’s dumb and forgettable, and it didn’t have to be that way, but it is. Enough of that.
Ax is lovely. While the ghostwriter for this one probably over-emphasized his goofy obsession with, say, food, or bemused relationship with human clothing, I love the Ax books, because they provide a different perspective on humans and the other Animorphs. He is able to be a bit more honest when describing, say, Cassie’s conflicted position on morphing sentient beings. As an alien, he has a less biased vision of how the Animorphs interact with each other.
There are some awkward moments in this book, moments where Marco or someone else butts heads with Cassie and her moral nature. Indeed, perhaps The Experiment’s greatest success is in how it reminds us that, prior becoming the Animorphs, these kids didn’t really hang out much. They weren’t always a social group. Jake and Marco were besties, and Jake and Cassie were kind of friends, and Jake and Rachel were cousins … but that was it. And I think it is a nice way to introduce young readers to the idea that you don’t have to be friends, or even really get along with, coworkers: sometimes you just have to do a job with people you don’t much like, and you have to be professional about it. Marco and Cassie might have very different priorities when it comes to saving and rescuing animals, but at the end of the day, they have to work together here.
OK, that’s all I have for this one. Next time, on a Very Special Episode, Ax gets deadly sick. We continue reading … after These Messages….