“And then … AND THEN … THEN THEY HAVE TO TURN INTO BEAVERS—fucking beavers!—to save the day. By building a DAM. Because they’re BEAVERS.”
Occasionally I like to imagine how a book might have been pitched if the pitch meeting involved lots of drinking. (Disclaimer: I have never been drunk. Maybe beavers are inherently sobering.)
The Resistance is such a weird instalment in the Animorphs series. On the one hand, the fate of the free Hork-Bajir colony is in the Animorphs’ hands, and in many ways, this marks the start of the proper, open war between the Yeerks and the resistance. On the other hand … beavers. And space hippie hikers. Oh, and an epistolary story-within-a-story of a Civil War ancestor of Jake’s.
Look, I’d probably get letters for this if anyone other than Julie read and cared about these Animorphs reviews, and I don’t mean to denigrate the proud and mighty beaver. It’s a great animal. And the Animorphs’ plan to dam the river in such a way as to flood out the invading Yeerk forces is extremely clever and a good example of “big picture” strategy in the larger battles they will now have to fight. Yet the way it’s played in The Resistance is quite comical, from the acquiring of the beaver DNA to the Animorphs teaming up with the two actual beavers. The humour is probably there to offset the grimdark atmosphere of this hopelessly outmatched battle that’s going to happen—still, these parts of the book feel like they belong much earlier in the series.
Similarly, Jake’s interactions with the hikers who eventually decide to join the resistance are both hilarious and bleak in their outlook. I love that the Animorphs have just decided, after the events of the previous book, to go, “Fuck it, we’re just going to talk to humans in morph if we have to”. Secrecy is starting to crumble. The cracks are starting to show. And with what eventually happens during the battle, this is kind of an early indication to Jake that his decisions are starting to have bigger and bigger consequences.
The whole Civil War subplot did nothing for me. Not a thing. Firstly—and there would be more letters about this, I’m sure—not into the Civil War. Canadian and actually a little bit disturbed by the American obsession with the Civil War. Like, I get that your country splitting asunder over slavery was a big dramatic thing, but the actual amount you focus on it sometimes seems unseemly. Secondly, this is a very interesting but utterly unprecedented plot device in Animorphs history. I’m reminded, once again, of a long-running TV series: once you get into the last few seasons, you start to experiment and play more with the format of the show, both because you can and also because you want to shake things up. Animorphs has never done something like this before. For me, though, the end effect is that it feels like The Resistance was half a novel, too short even for the lengths of these books, and so they decided to bolt on the Civil War story just to make it long enough to publish.
There’s a good and important story here in terms of our entry into the final arc of the series. Nevertheless, it is bogged down by unnecessary narrative flourishes and an indecisive commitment to the tone of humour (should it be black, glib, optimistic, cynical?). The Resistance is not a misstep by any means, but neither does it stick the landing.
Next time, we take a break from these usual adventures to bring you the final Chronicles story. We’ll finally learn the true history of the Ellimist (or at least, a history. Dude could just be lying to us). Stay tuned.
Letters complaining about my attitude towards beavers can be sent to: Complaints Department, Kara’s Reviews 123 Kara How Could You Lane Beaverton, ON P7H 5J3