Monday, December 26, 2011

"Where Is My Son" - Animorphs Fanfic Review

I'm currently on vacation and nervous about accessing anything my parents would consider of a controversial nature with this Internet connection, so my choices of things to write about are fairly limited. I decided to go to my FanFiction.Net account and go through my favorited fanfiction pieces, most of which I haven't looked at in years. Fanfiction has narratives worth critiquing and analyzing, so why not blog about it? Hell, I've analyzed Troll 2. Basically anything is worthier than that. I'll start with the oldest work on my list: Animorphs poem "Where Is My Son" by NovaAni-Bookworm1, posted November 15th, 1999.

The latest book to have come out at the time was #35 The Proposal, and "Where Is My Son" is set in the same environment of Marco the secret warrior having a strained relationship with his father Peter. Unike the what the books give us, this shows things from the parent's perspective. Though Marco still hides his true life, Peter interprets the emotional and social content of Marco's actions, which gives the piece a very human feel to it. The Animorphs series deals with a lot of strange science-fiction content, and it's the character development that's the heart of it, making this glimpse into Peter's perspective a relevant side story. Peter describes how he feels a sense of role reversal in which Marco has become the adult and he the child.

In truth, the role reversal was built into the introduction to the characters. In the series backstory, Peter fell into a depression after his wife's apparent death at sea. Marco was forced into a position where he had to take care of him. Then Marco finds out about the alien invasion in #1 The Invasion and isn't committed to the fight until #5 The Predator because he believes that if the Yeerks kill him, his dad won't be able to take it. Ironically, when he becomes committed to the fight, his dad decides to make the effort to move on with his life. In #8 The Alien, Peter is working as an engineer and basically out of his depression, and Marco is only partially traumatized by war. By #35 The Proposal, Peter is happily dating Nora, and Marco is hardened into a warrior and lost his natural cheer long ago. It could be argued that by #35 The Proposal, Peter and Marco would both be essentially adults. (The series would later address this with #45 The Revelation.)

"Where Is My Son" takes Peter's perspective of Marco to that of Marco's before the series began. He thinks of Marco the way Marco probably thought of him when he was entering his depression. He sees Marco's pain and wants to take the father's role and help him, but Marco pushes him away. As Marco has grown up too fast, this places him more in the adult role than the father.

The piece feels very moving. Structurally, though, it's got some problems. The lines don't have matching beat patterns, making it seem more like a series of sentences that happen to rhyme. The spelling could be better, as there's the classic "loose" vs. "lose" error. In general, I can overlook the flaws to appreciate a powerful little story giving a side character a relatable perspective.

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