Review of The Hidden by

Book cover for The Hidden

Cassie is the Animorph who will kill you kindly, with her apologies.

Rachel, of course, would just flat-out murderize you with her polar bear or grizzly bear or elephant morph, and you would be Dead. Jake would kill you because it was necessary, not because he particularly enjoys it. Marco would make lame jokes about death, then find a way to engineer your death.

Slowly but surely, all the Animorphs are getting far too acquainted with murder and death for their own liking. But I feel like it takes a toll on Cassie most of all, and it’s changing her in the most twisted ways.

The Hidden is very nearly a horror story in its own right. I must have been in the older pre-adolescent range when I read this one, because I don’t remember waking up with night terrors even though I should by all rights have been scared out of my mind. There is some seriously messed up shit in this book, and the descriptions are enough that I was worried 27-year-old me might have a nightmare or two. I mean, at one point a part-ant part-Cassie creature is crawling towards her, and it’s disgusting. I’m not even going to quote it. Or the “buffa-human”?? Animorphs has flirted before with mentioning how disgusting and gross the physical process of morphing must be, both to bystanders and to the morpher themselves, but this is the first book that reifies it in such a visceral way.

The story here is so simple and straightforward: stop a helicopter. The means by which they achieve this end, though, are spectacular. Cassie herself functioning as an anvil, a risky plan that places her in mortal danger, is a harrowing moment. It brings back memories of the days when the Animorphs would go off into a situation with a half-baked plan that would always go awry. Nowadays their plans are more like three-quarters baked (just beginning to go golden-brown at the top but still a little too soft in the centre), but they still jump into action before Ax can say “CINNABON”.

It’s curious, because when you think about the plot, in the hands of a different ghostwriter who used a different tone, this book could have been very silly à la #14: The Unknown. After all, it features Helmacrons (well, only their ship, and only as a mention) and animals getting the ability to morph—hilarious! Also Visser Three is once again impressively inept at his job in the Saturday-morning-cartoon-villain style we’ve grown accustomed to.

But no, rather than play these concepts for laughs, Laura Battyanyi-Weiss shows us more of the Cassie we saw in #29: The Sickness, the Cassie who makes Tough Choices™. The Cassie who finds herself acutely aware that she is becoming a soldier when she always thought she would be a medic, and she is not happy at all but can’t quit—because quitting, in this case, is the same as surrender.

The feels in this one, people. That heartbreaking moment when she tells the buffalo “You are good” is almost too much to bear.

We’re coming up on the last Megamorphs adventure, but first Marco is back for another Andalite story in the next book!

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