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Review of The Unexpected by

The Unexpected

by K.A. Applegate

Nobody expects the Australian Inquisition!

Animorphs #44: The Unexpected is a wildly uneven book that vacillates from cringe-worthy to touching and back, with little to no regard for anything resembling a unified plot, coherent characterization, or actual writing skills. It’s not that it’s a bad story; it’s just a mess.

Cassie ends up in Australia after inadvertently stowing aboard a passenger jet bound for that country. The first half of the book comprises her hiding from the Yeerks aboard this jet in various morphs and in her human form, culminating in a dramatic escape from the plane by jumping out of it. This is Megamorphs-level action, I must say, and it is quite exhilarating. But when Cassie touches down in Australia, half the book is already gone, yeah? And so the rest, no matter how interesting, feels far shorter than we deserve.

This book is notable for how little the other Animorphs appear in it. I do enjoy Cassie as a narrator, but having her carry virtually the entire book on her own is a tough ask. I would have preferred to see all, or even some, of the Animorphs stranded in Australia. There’s so much more the writer could have done with that idea! Instead, Cassie makes friends with a kid of Aborigine descent (presumably?) and then they get to amputate his grandfather’s leg together. Fun times!

I kid, but I kid you not—that leg amputation scene is some of the darkest shit we’ve seen so far in this series, at least for its grittiness. And that’s where I have a big problem with The Unexpected: it just can’t decide if it wants to be a light romp in the Outback or this serious rumination on Cassie’s misgivings about prosecuting this war against the Yeerks. And in not making a decision, we get these incredibly jarring transitions from light-hearted to dark in a way that doesn’t work. At all.

Anyway, next time we’re back to Serious Drama™ as Marco’s father gets embroiled in a suspiciously advanced physics project!


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