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My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )

(Art by hamburger.)
The Decision (Animorphs #18) by K.A. Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I'm reading these books online here. Supposedly the authors are okay with the books being posted. All of them are scanned by fans, and so some of the books are in much worse shape than others. Unfortunately this one was almost unreadable. That's too bad, as I think the story was likely one of the better ones.

Action scenes aside, the main theme of this book was Ax needing to decide who his people are -- the alien race he came from or the humans he now fights along side. A man blue deer scorpion thing can't have two masters.

Usually I don't care much about the action scenes. Every book in this series has them, and they're generally similar. As most of the fights in this one took place on another planet, they were more interesting than usual.
The Underground (Animorphs #17) by K.A. Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

"You know," Jake said in a conversational tone as we waited for Tobias, "from the point where Edelman said 'maple and ginger instant oatmeal,' I should have known this was going to end stupidly."

A book where the Yeerks (the evil alien brain slugs) turn out to be deadly addicted to maple and ginger instant oatmeal sounds like it should be the most stupid book in the series, but it actually worked. Even lines like "[biggest bad guy] would sacrifice hundreds of his fellow Yeerks to the oatmeal madness" couldn't stop the story from actually working.

Oatmeal madness...

While the weakness to one type of instant oatmeal is silly, the story used it to explore the question of lowering yourself to tactics your enemy uses, and how many innocents is it okay to kill while trying to win a war to save them. It closed a lesson to be kind to (seemingly) insane homeless people. Big, important issues for young readers!

The book had lots of plotholes and silly sound effects. (Can you guess what this sound is? "Crrrrr-UNCH! Crunch! Scree-UNCH!" Go ahead, guess. ...it's the sound of an elephant crashing through a wall.) But man, it had some dark, nightmare-ish stuff as well. This was one of those "Hard time believing it's a YA book" ones. These kids keep facing death, almost dying, doing what adults can't, and all in a really realistic way. Oatmeal madness aside, this was one of the most enjoyable books in the series so far.

Book #8 of 2019: The Wolves of Winter

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Post-apocalyptic stories are my second favorite kind to read (right behind talking animal stories), but I rarely get those books anymore. Why? Because they're all the same. Same plot played out. Same type of character. While the details of the end of the world might very slightly, the cause is almost always the same. And sadly, this book was no different.

But! The first three-quarters of the book were amazing! All the story that happened before we got to the reason behind the end of the world was great.

Most of the book was about a small group of people living alone in Alaska. The world did indeed end, so they have to rely only on themselves and each other. Nuclear bombs had gone off, and so nuclear winter was making Alaska even colder and more snowy than it would otherwise be. The main character is a hunter, and for the first 11% of the book, I thought it was a young man. The story was told in first person, so until a bra was mentioned, I had no idea it was a female character. I had to laugh at myself for assuming she was male!

I really enjoyed most of the book. Even once a mysterious young man showed up and I knew he would be her love interest, I still enjoyed it. (The romance did happen, but at least it took the whole book to develop and never went too far, so I was okay with it.)

For me, the last quarter was the least enjoyable. Like every single other post-apocalyptic book out there, the reasons for the war that killed off most of humanity were the same. The climax of the book was the same. It could have been the same ending I read 28472347123 times before in other books. I still enjoyed it, it was well-written, but it felt like nothing new.
The Warning (Animorphs #15) by K.A. Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Positives: Very serious, very dark (one of the kids "dying" again), storyline progress! Addressed the issue I mentioned in my last review (that all this happens within an hour or two of their hometown).
Negatives: The usual big plotholes, lack of logic, unrealistic adult characters.

In this book chapter, the Animorphs discover that AOL WAA (Web Access America) might contain allies in their battle. Like the Area 51/Zone 91 thing from two books ago, there's not a single question that WAA is AOL, including it saying "You've got mail!" when you log in. It was interesting to have a semi-detailed reminder of what AOL was like in early days.

Unlike every other book in the series so far, I had no idea how this one would end. And I loved that! More than that, this was probably one of the darkest books so far, too. One of the kids was killed, but if they unmorph from the animal shape fast enough they can avoid actually dying. But still, the kid experienced dying, his guts outside of his body, all that. And he had to do it all again a couple hours later.

I really enjoyed how this book went into the question of 'If you do evil while fighting evil, are you really the good guys?'. Not just once, but twice they had to deal with that question. Plus there was the whole thing about an inexperienced teenage boy being the leader of a group that's all that stands between evil aliens and the Earth...

I know the ghost writing hasn't started yet, but this really felt like a completely different book than the last few. I wonder if the others (or this one), actually did have a ghost writer, but they weren't credited yet?

There were some annoying plotholes, but all in all, I completely enjoyed this one. This book is what I'm reading this series for.
The Escape (Animorphs #15) by Katherine Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Positives: Better than the last couple books.
Negatives: Plotholes big enough for a hammerhead shark to swim through. Typed out sound effects. So very dated.

In this chapter book, Marco (POV character) has to confront his mother. His mother, who has one of the evil brain slug aliens in her head, thus she's under their control.

I don't usually like funny characters, but in the case of this series, I think the funny character works best, since it's such a contrast to how dark the situation is.

I really wish the author would stop with the sound effects. I wonder if they were in the earlier books and I just hadn't noticed them? "TSEEEEWWW! The Dracon beam missed." "CRRR-UMPH! The window exploded inward!" Most of the time, the sounds don't even make sense. "CRRR-UMPH" for glass breaking?

Even though this was a better book than the last few, I'm still this close to abandoning the series and checking out fanfics instead. There are just so many issues in the books. I mean, the brainslug aliens are trying to take over the world, but there's never an attack or any other activity anywhere other than an hour or two around the town the Animorphs live in?
The Unknown (Animorphs #14) by Katherine Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

On one hand: This was an awful, terrible, horrible book.
On the other: It wasn't written for me. Kids probably enjoyed it.

In a series that is already full of plot holes, this book takes the cake. The bad guy alien race (Yeerk, brain slugs, they crawl into your ear and take you over), has no issues at all with possessing people. The whole series thus far is full of that. They take people over, people in powerful positions, and they're setting up the Earth to fall.

In this book, the Yeerk's wanted to get into Area 51 Zone 91, so do they take over scientists working there? Do they take over members of the many, many military people stationed there? No. They take over horses. A herd of wild horses so they can wander in unnoticed. Instead of using their usual, established, proven tactic of taking over humans who work somewhere they needed to be, they use horses. To get into one of the most secure military bases in the country.

And what were they trying to get into Area 51 Zone 91 to learn about? Something that turns out to be a (spoiler) toilet. An alien toilet. Ha. Ha. Ha.

As if those things weren't bad enough, the other characters were just so unrealistic and not believable. An adult man, a military commander, living in the 90s, bought the fake names Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, and Cindy Crawford that the Animorphs used.

And lastly, for some reason sound effects were written out, it was so annoying:

A warm breeze blew and whistled between the rocks: WHEEE-HEEEEEE-WHEEE-EEEEE-WHEEE


Gun firing noise:
KRRR-Chunk! Rrrrreeeeeeeeee!

Horse noises:

And lots more I hadn't bothered saving.
The Andalite Chronicles (Animorphs) by Katherine Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

My first Did Not Finish book of the year and my first DNF of the Animorphs series. I strongly doubt it will be the last of either of those. My patience for this series is growing thin.

I've now read 15 books in this series, and I just want something to happen. Not filling in backstory (as this book was). Not side stories. Not basically the same plot over and over and over again (small battles with no overall effect on the war). I want story progress. Problem is, the author has a financial interest to not let that happen -- the more books in this series, the more money they make.

Other reviews said that lots of things happened in this book: Other alien cultures met and explored. The parents of current characters met. But none of those things are progress.

Edit: Apparently the next Animorphs book, The Unknown, is one of the worst books in the series. wheeeeee

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this book: 20%
Previous abandoned book total: NA
New total: 20%
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

One of the reviews of this book said something like "This will make people on Tumblr happy", and that is very true. Everything in this story was Kumbaya. Every sexuality was okay. Nontraditional pronouns (xir, xer, etc) were 100% A-OK. Even just the thought of owning a gun shocked people. I'm not saying that those are bad things, but it just made everything seem less realistic, more, as the other reviewer said, a book written for the typical Tumblr person.

Not much happened in this long book, and that too was okay. The story was mostly just about interesting characters interacting with each other. Only the last 10% of the book had much plot, and honestly I could have done without that.

The main character, Rosemary, is new to space travel, but she joins the crew of a tunneling ship (tunneling through space/time to make wormholes for travel). Through her we meet and get to know the whole crew. Most of the book is just about them getting to know each other, talking with each other, and rare shopping trips. It may sound boring, but it really wasn't. It was quite nice and I mostly enjoyed reading it.

I see there are two more books out in this series, but I doubt I'll pick them up anytime soon. Too many other books to read, and while this first book was nice, it didn't drive me to want more. (Based on reviews of the three books, I appear to be in the minority opinion on that.)

Currently reading: The Wolves of Winter, which is really, really good. Post-apocalyptic (which I don't seem to read too much of anymore), but the main character's voice is great and I love the book so far.
The Change (Animorphs book 13) by K. A. Applegate
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Well now. After a whole lot of nothing, stuff finally happened in this series. Thanks to an almost literal deus ex machina, there was character evolution. We also got a lot of interesting information on one of the alien species.

Spoilers behind the cut on that character change: Click to see.Collapse )

The other plotline was about the Hork-Bajir, an alien race taken over by the bad guys. I really enjoyed learning more about them.

After a few duds, it was nice to get another enjoyable book in this series. (Down side: Apparently this is the best book of the series, and it was only "enjoyable".)

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