When I was in elementary school we were provided with the option to order books through Scholastic book orders. Ordering books through this program was a great option for purchasing books as I am from a small town. I can still remember the excitement of coming back to the classroom after the final recess and finding new books sitting on my desk. It was through this program that I found my favourite childhood book series, Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. An alien race called the Yeerks invade Earth and are working towards global domination and it is the job of six kids to stop them. Unfortunately, high school came and book orders ended and I was never able to finish this series.
At this point I am sure that you are wondering what any of this has to do with The Beetle, which is a reasonable question as I was side tracked by the nostalgia of Scholastic book orders. Back to the point. As I was reading The Beetle, especially the possession scenes, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Yeerks from Animorphs. The Beetle and Yeerks are both creatures who invade a body and take control. Yeerks are like slugs and they crawl into the ear cannel of their victims and from there proceed to the brain where they take control of the body. Likewise the Beetle is some shape shifting creature that invades the body and controls the person through some form of hypnosis. In both cases the victims are aware that they are no longer in control. In Animorphs one of the kids, Jake, is invaded by a Yeerk and as the group is escaping he realizes that he is no longer in control.
I felt pain, but it came from far away. The coat was loose. I looked around. Trees, everywhere. A panting horse standing nearby. I saw all this, but in a distant way, as if I were watching it all on TV. My eyes moved left, right. They moved all on their own. Like someone else was focusing them. (Applegate 57)
Holt seems to have a similar experience when he is sent on his thief’s mission.
I went to the window; I drew up the blind, unlatching the sash, I threw it open; and clad, or, rather, unclad as I was, I clambered through it into the open air. I was not only incapable of resistance, I was incapable of distinctly formulating the desire to offer resistance. Some compelling influence moved me hither and hither, with completest disregard of whether I would or would not. (Marsh 69)
The Beetle was published in 1897 and the Animorphs series began in 1996. There is a 99 year difference between the publication dates but the theme of external forces taking control of a body is still a popular one today. People seem to have a fascination and fear of the idea of losing control of their bodies. I mean how horrible would it be if you were stuck inside of your head while someone else took control of your body and you became responsible for actions you did not choose to commit.
Applegate, K A. Animorphs: The Capture. Vol. 6. New York: Scholastic, 1997. Print.
Marsh, Richard. The Beetle. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2004. Print.