1. Assuming you know his role in The Andalite Chronicles, what do think of Chapman-the human-now as opposed to his adolescence? How do you explain any changes? What about his deal with the Yeerks? How valuable is an assistant principal to global domination?
Oh, Chapman. I never know what to think of him. On one hand, we can safely assume that he was a young teenager during the Andalite Chronicles (Elfangor notes that the 5 children "are no older than Loren was," and we know from the dialogue that Loren and Chapman are close in age). And a lot of total jerk teenagers grow into perfectly nice adults. And when he looks Visser Three in the eyes and says "The girl is no threat. But I am." Just epic. To be honest, I often view them as two different characters. I wish we could have seen something in between jerk-teenager-Chapman and don't-touch-my-daughter-Chapman. I want to know what happened to change him so drastically.
I would say not very valuable, but the Yeerks needed people in SOME form of power and we see later how hard it is to get politicians. And recruiting for a group that advertises acceptance and friendship, in a place full of insecure teens and preteens? Yeah, that would be extremely effective.
2. Despite having only a few minor roles, Melissa is commonly viewed as a favorite secondary character. What do you think of her portrayal in this book and her role in the series? What else would you liked to have seen done with her?
I would have liked to see her after the war. What did she think when she found out about Rachel? Was she ever infested? Did she even survive? A lot of people died. What about her and Cassie? They were Rachel's two best friends, so they had to at least know each other a bit.
3. With regards to Visser Three: What do you think of his pursuit of the "Andalite Bandits"? Is the line "...he was not a creature who made impetuous decisions" accurate now? Does that description endure as time goes on? While a number of his subordinates end up dead at his hand, Chapman never does-what do you think of their dynamic? Do you think the Visser remembers Chapman as the first human to encounter Yeerks?
I recently saw a post on a different forum that argued that Visser Three was not as big of an idiot as we all seem to perceive him as. It's a rather interesting take, and I it definitely has significant points. I think we can agree that, at the very least, he is a much better leader in the beginning of the story. And he is definitely thinking here. So yes, at this point, Visser Three is not a creature that makes impetuous decisions.
I think that Iniss two two six was very smart and very, very lucky. We notice that while a lot of subordinates get killed, they are not usually recurring ones. My theory is a combination of Visser Three not wanting to constantly have to find new Controllers to be his more important minions, and the idea that once they have been around Visser Three enough to BE important, they have figured out how to not make him mad.
You know, I have wondered about that. We never get any indication about how much Visser Three remembered.
4. When ordered to subject their daughter to Yeerk enslavement, the human Mr. & Mrs. Chapman fight back. What do you think about host rebellion, particularly this one being triggered by love for their child? How complete do you think Yeerk control really is?
The power behind a hosts rebellion seems to stem from emotion. This is our best example, but I also like in book 1, when Tom twitches JUST enough. We can assume that he was pretty scared for Jake, and desperate. It is barely anything, but it's enough to get his message to Jake. And I would guess that Yeerk control is pretty complete. We see Jake trying to get control back in book 6, with no result. But, an effort like this clearly leaves the host exhausted. It is by no means successful, but in an infiltration style takeover, it would be a severe problem. Especially when you consider people in power. Can you imagine if the President started twitching and hitting himself during the State of the Union address?
5. So far the Animorphs have freed one host from the Yeerk Pool, killed a handful of controllers, destroyed a Bug Fighter and stayed alive. What do you think of their performance saving the world to this point? What real accomplishments do they have so far? Did they accomplish anything in this book?
At this point, I think they are some lucky 13-year-olds. They are not soldiers, and it's a bit amusing that the Yeerks think they are. And on a similar note, when Jake attacks the Visser, he yells <This time, you're mine you jerk!> You know, it's rather astounding that the Yeerks didn't piece things together earlier. Visser Three LIVES in an Andalite's head, and he doesn't think it's odd that another Andalite called him a "jerk?" This is the kind of things that supports the "Visser Three was an idiot from the beginning" argument.
Accomplish anything? Nope, not really. But it had some entertaining moments and I enjoyed it. And it gave Rachel a real purpose to fight, rather than the general good of humanity.
6. This book opens with a couple chapters on flying. Any thoughts on how the experience is described in the series or what it must be like? How badly do you want to fly on your own wings? How much of that is because of Animorphs?
Thought about it, daydreamed about it, etc. Long before I read an Animorphs book. But Applegate's descriptions definitely fueled my fantasies.
7. In this book, and only this book, Rachel morphs into a shrew. What are your thoughts on her account of the experience? What do you think of an animal being subject to overwhelming fear or endless hunger? What do you envision the experience of being a shrew to be like?
They morph panicky animals many times. All I know about the shrew comes from this book, so I don't have a whole lot to compare to for accuracy. It is always interesting to see Rachel, the icon of reckless courage, take the form of such an animal.
I think the attraction to rotting meat would be the worst part.
8. Continuing the discussion of roles, what do you think Rachel's role is at this point in the series: how does she contribute to the benefit of the Animorphs and the war effort? Do you think her role changes as the story progresses? How does her attitude and behavior tie in to this?
Rachel's characterization has always fascinated me. At this point, we see a girl who loves and hates with a deep passion. Her little speech about hating the Yeerks is fueled by love.
I also find her developing relationship with Marco interesting. He annoys her, but she notes that he has a talent for making you laugh when you need to.
9. Would you do it? Think about someone precious to you. Would you personally be willing to accept enslavement, surrendering your body, your mind, every aspect of your own life in exchange for keeping that person free? How close to you would a person have to be to you for that to even be a prospect?
Yes, yes and yes. My family, my closest friends. Here's a harder question: someone you don't know, but would do great things for humanity and would slow down or even possibly stop an invasion of Yeerks, IF they were free.
10. Have you recently read the original, the reprint, or did you do this from memory? If you've read the reprint, how do feel about any changes?
Read the original.
11. Anything else?
Just a thought: Is it just me, or does this book include the most convoluted plot for the smallest gain? Rachel morphs a shrew to catch the cat to sneak into Chapman's house to learn... well, not much that affects the war, really, besides "sometimes voluntary controllers have good reasons." It's just the sort of book that wouldn't have fit later in the series, I guess.
I think it sets the stage for the idea that not all Yeerks are evil. Its a stretch to get us to believe that brain-stealing slugs can be okay, but if we are first introduced to the idea that a voluntary controller, a human, isn't all bad, it become possible to introduce the idea of peaceful Yeerks.
It is definitely a filler book, but an interesting one.
Another thing I noticed was the number of jokes that Marco makes at Tobias' expense. He's not being mean, he just isn't thinking. We see in the next book that Tobias IS struggling with his diet, and we can assume that Marco saying "I don't know if I can have someone who eats rats for a friend" did not help the situation.