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Team Rocket Blasts Off! by Tracey West is the fifth book in the novel series based on the Pokémon anime. It focuses on the Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth. It was published by Scholastic in January of 2000 and is 87 pages in length.
This novel follows the basic plot of The Battle of the Badge but expands the story to include flashbacks from Team Rocket's past.
When Team Rocket steals Misty's Togepi and presents it to Giovanni, he is upset because the baby Pokémon is not useful to him. But before Giovanni can scold the trio, he receives an urgent call about trouble with his ultimate Pokémon. He hurries out of the room, reluctantly putting Jessie, James, and Meowth in charge of the Viridian Gym. In their excitement, Togepi wanders away.
While searching for Togepi in the basement of the gym, the trio stumble upon a computer database of Team Rocket's members. While reading their files, the trio reminisce about one of their first battles with Ash, their fashion salon scam, and their encounter with Todd Snap. Frustrated by their failures, the trio decide to disband.
As the three Rockets storm away from each other, they realize that their experiences with Team Rocket may have given them many hardships, but they have also had good times with each other and become close friends. Reunited, the trio decide to go back upstairs and run the Gym.
Meanwhile, Ash and his friends continue their search for Togepi. When they finally find it, they run into Gary, who has been beaten by an unknown, incredibly powerful Pokémon of Giovanni's. As they ponder what kind of Pokémon it must be, the reunited Team Rocket trio reappear.
Team Rocket explain to Ash that they are currently the Gym Leaders, much to his shock. They challenge Ash to a battle with Pokémon owned by the Gym, but there is a twist: every time one of Ash's Pokémon takes damage, Ash is inflicted with pain too. At first the battle is looking good for Team Rocket, but when Ash's Squirtle attacks and Jessie is shocked, they realize that they accidentally left the pain shocker on their side too. Eventually, Team Rocket loses the battle and are forced to award Ash the Earth Badge. The story ends with Team Rocket blasting off again, vowing to one day capture Pikachu.
Prepare for Trouble!
And make it double! When Team Rocket's boss leaves Jessie and James in charge, they become Gym Leaders. And Team Rocket doesn't fight fair.
Jessie and James are determined to finally defeat Ash and get their hands on his Pikachu. No matter what it takes.
- The page numbers on this book have a picture of Meowth next to them instead of the usual image of Pikachu. This is likely due to the book focusing on Team Rocket and not Ash and his friends. However, in Prepare for Trouble, the next book focusing on Team Rocket, the Meowth images are not used.