At this point in the Animorphs series, the team has been fighting the Yeerks long enough that each of them must come to terms with how this war is changing them. The Prophecy is Cassie’s turn, as she suddenly finds herself riding shotgun with the personality of Aldrea (remember her from The Hork-Bajir Chronicles?). The Animorphs need Aldrea’s personality to help them retrieve a cache of weapons on the Hork-Bajir homeworld. With it, the last Arn can arm a new generation of cloned Hork-Bajir who can rise up and retake their planet. There is something so strategic in the way the Animorphs agree to help in this mission, not just because helping the Hork-Bajir is the right thing to do, but because it would be a distraction for the Yeerks and might divert resources away from Earth. Very calculating.
Aldrea’.s presence in Cassie’s mind reminds me of #19: The Departure, where Cassie is temporarily host to a Yeerk. There is, of course, an intentional parallel between Aldrea’s presence and the Yeerks: Aldrea can seize control of Cassie’s body, although Cassie has at least some capacity to wrest back that control, which is not the case when a Yeerk infests you. There is something very ironic to having an Andalite mind in control of one’s body in this way, however. Applegate and Metz capitalize on the tension of whether Aldrea will go willingly once the mission is over. I like the subterfuge that Aldrea and the Animorphs commit, exploiting this tension, to ensure that Toby returns to Earth instead of staying to lead the new Hork-Bajir.
On one level, it might seems surprising that such a big adventure takes place here, instead of in a Megamorphs instalment. The Animorphs visit the Hork-Bajir homeworld! This should be a big deal! There are explosions and chase sequences and stuff! Most of that gets sidelined, though—and it’s better that way. This book works because it’s not about the fight or the struggle. Instead, it’s about how to conduct yourself when you don’t want to fight. Aldrea chooses Cassie not because she is weaker and therefore easier to control, as Cassie first surmises, but because Cassie is most similar to her: cool and collected, intelligent and compassionate, but with an inner wellspring of strength. For all her fighting, Aldrea is not the gung-ho warrior that Rachel is. She and Cassie share the trait of not really wanting to be in this fight but having no choice in the matter.
Aldrea has to struggle with losing her beloved Dak, and that grief runs through this entire book. It’s mirrored and amplified by the way Cassie casually addresses her feelings for Jake at the beginning, prior to the start of the adventure. I love how the Animorphs’ various relationships are intensifying at this point in the series. While the ongoing fight makes it difficult for them to explore these feelings and associations in ways they might like, it’s nice we’re seeing some acknowledgement of the situation. Aldrea and Dak’s ending, if you will, is a portent (dare I say, a prophecy?) of how Jake and Cassie could end up: torn asunder in the fighting, one or both wounded or killed and thereby snatched away from the other. It’s a reminder that life is unfair, that the universe is uncaring, that good people do not always get happy endings.
This is another very strong book in the series in a sequence of strong books. The Animorphs (both group and series) have come so far. Whereas the earliest books necessarily deal with more localized problems—aliens in your high school, kidnapping your family, etc.—these books are addressing far larger issues. The Animorphs are literally helping an entire species to rebuild! That’s huge! It lends credence to the meddling of the Ellimist and Crayak earlier (and later) in the series: despite being five human beings from a backwater of the galaxy, the Animorphs do get around and have remarkable influence on events. As The Prophecy explores, however, these events take a toll on the Animorphs themselves. How much longer can Cassie continue her cognitive dissonance of compassionate warrior before something has to go?
Find out … well, not next time. Next time Marco has a much more important mission: his Dad must not get laid!