Discover a forgotten classic and tragic fantasy war tale for kids in the Animorphs book series.

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Animorphs book series reviewed

There are fantasy series from the ‘90s that may be collecting dust on bookshelves, but Animorphs is one of the forgotten classics. Not many kids today know about the courageous human guerilla fighters who could morph into a red-tailed hawk, chameleon, Siberian tiger, and, yes, a gorilla, as well as other creatures.

The book series is one of the most exciting epic war tales written for middle school kids in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Themes and values of the Animorphs series

The Animorphs books became classics in American libraries in the mid-2000s. The books written by K. A. Applegate had beautiful cover art, bright colors, and fantastic sci-fi adventures.

But Animorphs books were about more than kids turning into animals and going on undeniably fun and wild adventures. The theme of the series was that young generations carry the weight of all previous generations and their mistakes.

Those who took the time to read the books and understand them realized the connection between feelings of isolation, paranoia, secrets, body dysphoria, etc. The Animorphs book series delved into hard topics and disguised them well, using aliens, shape-shifting, and other science fiction elements.

But at its core, the epic series is an anti-war tragedy with great insights into human nature.

Series overview

The original Animorphs saga contains 54 books published between 1996 and 2001. Here’s a list in the order of publication:

  • The Invasion

  • The Visitor

  • The Encounter

  • The Message

  • The Predator

  • The Capture

  • The Stranger

  • The Alien

  • The Secret

  • The Android

  • The Forgotten

  • The Reaction

  • The Change

  • The Unknown

  • The Escape

  • The Warning

  • The Underground

  • The Decision

  • The Departure

  • The Discovery

  • The Threat

  • The Solution

  • The Pretender

  • The Suspicion

  • The Extreme

  • The Attack

  • The Exposed

  • The Experiment

  • The Sickness

  • The Reunion

  • The Conspiracy

  • The Separation

  • The Illusion

  • The Prophecy

  • The Proposal

  • The Mutation

  • The Weakness

  • The Arrival

  • The Hidden

  • The Other

  • The Familiar

  • The Journey

  • The Test

  • The Unexpected

  • The Revelation

  • The Deception

  • The Resistance

  • The Return

  • The Diversion

  • The Ultimate

  • The Absolute

  • The Sacrifice

  • The Answer

  • The Beginning

These 54 books are part of the main series, written by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant under the penname K. A. Applegate. The plot follows five Animorphs, or changelings. Jake, Cassie, Rachel, Tobias, and Marco are human, but the sixth member of the team, Aximilli-Esgarrouth-Isthill, or Ax, is alien.

All 54 original books in the series revolve around the Animorphs and their battle against a secret parasitic alien race that infiltrated Earth. These aliens, known as Yeerks, could make any living creature their host.

The beloved main characters essentially fight a guerilla war against the Yeerks led by Visser Three. In true superhero fashion, the Animorphs hide their identities using their morphing abilities. Together with the help of Ax, a member of the Andalites, they attempt to do whatever they can to rid the planet of the alien infiltrators.

Not only were the Animorphs great characters, but they had an excellent supporting cast of allies and antagonists like the Yeerks, Howlers, Auxiliary Animorphs, Hedrick Chapman, the Andalites, Visser One, Visser Three, and others.

The original series sparked a few companion tie-ins taking place at various points throughout the main story:

  • The Megamorphs companion books feature narrations directly from the Animorphs and present the story from multiple points of view. Each book follows the Animorphs at different points in books 7 and 8, 18 and 19, 29 and 30, and 40 and 41.

  • The Chronicles is a companion series of four books—The Andalite Chronicles, The Hork-BajirChronicles, VISSER, and The Ellimist Chronicles. Again, the series offers tie-ins and resolves plot holes for various key moments in the original series.

  • The Alternamorphs are the first books created as a spinoff of the original series. They feature a second-person narrative and offer a more immersive reader experience. It’s an interesting approach that makes the reader an Animorph and gives them a form of creative control regarding the plot’s outcome.

The Scholastic book series received plenty of love in the late 1990s. The Animorphs received the TV show treatment on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and on YTV in Canada, where it spanned 26 episodes over two seasons and closely followed the book’s plot.

But while the networks canceled the TV series, the Animorphs never disappeared. Fans of the series could enjoy listening to Animorphs audiobooks and reading the tie-in companion books. In addition, loyal fans can catch up with the main heroes in the graphic novel series that also chronicles the Yeerk invasion of Earth.

Note that some companion books and graphic novels are not written by either of the original writers. Instead, some have stories created by ghostwriters and art by award-winning cover artists like Chris Grine.

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The Animorphs books had a bit of everything, from kids morphing into animal form to crash-landed alien invaders to guerilla war to a gritty, and often with horror approach to children’s books storytelling. It was a revolutionary fantasy book series.

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Why was Animorphs canceled?

The writers stopped working on Animorphs after wrapping up the story. However, the TV series ended prematurely due to financial reasons.

How did Animorphs end?

Animorphs didn’t end on a high note, hence its classification as a war tragedy. The aftermath of the Yeerks invasion shows the hard-hitting effects of war and how relationships and allegiances can change in the blink of an eye.

What grade level reading is Animorphs?

Despite touching on adult themes and complex concepts, Animorphs carries a reading difficulty of grades 3 to 7.

Which Animorph did Jake have a crush on?

Jake and Cassie were the main couple featured in the Animorphs book series. Subsequently, their connection on the screen during the TV series run marked a few firsts in television.

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