Thursday, September 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

By: K.A. Applegate
Genre: Chapter Book Sci-Fi
First Published: 1997
Publisher: Hippo Books
Books in the Series: 54 (plus special volumes)
POV: First Person - Each book is a different Narrator
Kat's Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Animorphs is an exciting series for young adult readers about five teens who are given the power to "morph" into any animal they touch and then to absorb its DNA. This power is granted them by a dying Andalite alien named Elfangor, who also warns the teens that Earth is being threatened secretly by a group of aliens called Yeerks.
First book description:
The Animorphs #1: The Invasion
Sometimes weird things happen to people. Ask Jake. He may tell you about the night he and his friends saw the strange light in the sky. He may even tell you about what happened when they realized the "light" was only a plan -- from another planet. Here's where Jake's story gets a little weird. It's where they're told that the human race is under attack -- and given the chance to fight back.
Now Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias, and Marco have the power to morph into any animal they choose. And they must use that power to outsmart an evil that is greater than anything the world has ever seen..
Main Character: There are five (eventually six) main characters. Each book is told from a different animorph's POV:

Jake: Has the perfect nuclear family. Parents who love him, a cool older brother, and a snarky best friend to play video games with. He's pretty popular at school and gets along with most people. He has a natural leadership ability that makes him the defacto leader when he and his friends gain their morphing powers. His battle morph of choice is the tiger.

Rachel: She's a hothead gymnast. Although she looks like a blonde cheerleader type, she's not one to be messed with (she's pretty kick butt). However she can be pretty reckless sometimes and her cousin, Jake, has to pull her back from doing some stupid stuff. Her battle morph of choice is the elephant and bear.

Cassie: She's very kind, maybe because she's the daughter of two veterinarians. She loves animals (convenient that now she came become them!). She and Jake have had a flirtation for a while. When she becomes an Animorph she is often the voice of reason. Her battle morph of choice is the wolf.

Tobias: He's a loner. He didn't really have any friends in the beginning because he's often passed from one relative to another. His mom went a little crazy and now he alternates time between an uncle and an aunt. He and Rachel eventually form a romantic relationship, but things get pretty rough for Tobias when he first becomes an Animorph because there's a price to pay for morphing and he learns it the hard way. His battle morph of choice is the red-tailed hawk.

Marco: He is the funny one. Always with a snarky word to put into a conversation. He loves playing video games with his best friend Jake and sometimes he doesn't take the Animorph missions that seriously (but I think it's because he's really justifiably terrified and covers it with humor). His battle morph of choice is the gorilla.

Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (Ax) - An Andalite alien who crash-landed on Earth. He is found by the other Animorphs and joins their motley crew. His older brother is Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul, who gave the Animorphs their powers. He forms a strong friendship with Tobias (it was a bromance before I knew I loved bromances!). He has hilarious moments where he doesn't understand Earth things, but he's really useful since he can build advanced machines. He can morph into a human form that he created by absorbing small pieces of the other five animorphs' DNA and mixing them.

Love Connection: Jake + Cassie. This is a sweeter love (think Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter). Jake is the defacto leader, and Cassie is the super smart and sweet girl who gives him strength. They're pretty adorbs together.

Tobias + Rachel. This is the angsty love (think Tris and Four). Rachel is a beautiful hothead and Tobias is the angsty loner foster child who has to deal with a lot (especially after what happens to him at the end of the first book).

Allies and Enemies: The Animorphs have little to no allies since no one knows they are fighting this battle.

The big enemy are the Yeerks a slimy slug-like species that take over people's minds by crawling into their ears (ick!). They've done it to multiple other species and they're trying to do it to humans. They are led by Viser Three the only Yeerk who was able to take control of an Andalite body. Therefore, he is the only Yeerk who can morph.

Also, Jake's older brother Tom has been taken over by a Yeerk (which Jake finds out very quickly in book 1). It's what makes Jake truly committed to the cause, because humans are still alive inside their heads when they're taken over, so Jake vows to save his brother.

Setting: Present day United States. The actual state is never told to us because it's first person POV and they have to keep that stuff a secret! They are fighting a secret alien war guys.


So, there we were. The five of us - Marco, Tobias, Rachel, Cassie, and me. Five normal mallrats heading home.
Sometimes I think about that one, last moment when we were still just normal kids. It's like it was a million years ago, like it was some totally different group of kids. You know what I was afraid of right then? I was afraid of admitting to Tom that I hadn't made the team. That was as scary as life got back then.
Five minutes later, life got a lot scarier.
- Animorphs #1: The Invasion 

Review: Welcome to a defining series in my childhood. Pull up a chair, get cozy while I tell you all about why I'm such a weirdo. First of all, I went through a period of time where I thought any series about kids fighting a war was super fascinating (like when I was obsessed with MS Gundam Wing). Second of all, I would hide these books under my bathroom sink before bed. Then about ten minutes after bed time I'd get up to "pee" and then just lock myself in the bathroom for an hour reading. It worked really well for almost a month until my mom figured it out.

This series might start out as a chapter book adventure story, but it quickly turns into a lesson on the ramifications of war! These kids go through the ringer and K.A. Applegate knew what was what in the what-what. She made them very believably react and adapt to these situations. She made them change as characters because, ya' know, they were fighting a war!

My favorite character was always Tobias. Poor poor Tobias, he started in the negative and just kept losing ground. No matter how he tried to pull himself up, he kept getting knocked back down. It was great that he had his friends and Rachel. But Sh*t got real for my favorite Animorph time and time again (see The Invasion, The Pretender, and The Change).

Also, there are some epic "Special volumes" that were released like The Hork Bajir Chronicles, The Viser Chronicles, and the Megamorphs books. Without giving too much away, I'll just say one of the books features dinosaurs (DINOSAURS! I am dying just remembering the awesomeness of that book!)

Recommendations: Everworld by K.A. Applegate

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