Most helpful critical review
Great aspects but uneven
on September 18, 2014
I particularly loved or at least remembered the dino book from when I first read the series as a kid, so I wondered how I would react to it now. It had its moments, including various bits that are a great assessment of the characters' personalities. However, the story had various plot holes. It was the first one I had any trouble getting through.
It's good that the navy diver happened to be female. In general, characters that don't have to be any particular gender are often male by default. (similar with race, sexuality, et cetera)
Why didn't they think about a Sario Rip quicker? They already encountered it, although under different circumstances, in #11 The Forgotten.
I thought morphing fixed nongenetic injuries, so that seems like another plot hole, but maybe that's Tobias being a weird case.
Tobias as a dino nerd seems like a reasonable plot device - useful information in character, an exposition mechanism, and a way to riff on the series' animal info theme. It was funny how that was compared to Rachel knowing about clothing designers. Also, Marco's line about a quarter tonner was classic.
I still love Ax POV, as I have with his whole books. However, the switching between POV's seems more disjointed than it usually does, whether with Animorphs in particular or in general. The science nerd in me appreciated how he said something about this planet's hours and minutes - those terms can be thought of as 1/24 and 1/1440 of whatever the planet's day is rather than a fixed amount of time based on modern day Earth measurements. I wonder how that would affect the morph time limit, but that never came up.
Why didn't they think of acquiring dino morphs? Using their Earth morphs to bust out of dinos trying to eat them got stale after a little while. When Tobias finally has that realization, it comes suddenly, without any leadup. Also, controlling the morph's instincts was particularly difficult with the dino's - were they especially different?
Rachel's food themed analogies for their situation were hilarious.
The story seemed to get better when it returned to the Nesk plotline. The creature being composed of many smaller creatures instantly reminded me of the Veleek.
The book had a good action ending that felt similar to other successes in the series. Not saving the Mercora felt like pretty standard time travel ethics, not interfering with the past. As such, it didn't feel like one of Cassie's odd moral objections. Voting yes on something with intent to sabotage it reminded me of Mockingjay (the third and last Hunger Games book).
As for the last paragraph: It seems like K.A. Applegate remembered to reference only Cretaceous dinosaurs but didn't think of when during the Cretaceous they existed, and then decided to address the mistake in-character. I thought that was a nice touch instead of ignoring it or rewriting to fix it. (I'm not enough of a dino nerd to notice anyway)