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The Top 5 Animorph Books

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published July 13th 2018
The Animorph series often touched on a lot of dark subjects
After reviewing the Animorph series I thought it would be fun to list what I believe are the top 5 books in the young adult science fiction series. Spoilers ahead!

1. The Sickness

The Sickness Animorphs
K.A. Applegate


Author: K.A Applegate

Illustrator: David B. Mattingly

Release Date: April 1999

Narrated By: Cassie

Details: In the Sickness the Animorphs get plunged into crisis when Ax develops a fever and an inflamed Tria gland in his brain. If the gland bursts the damage will prove fatal to him and he will die. The Animorphs quickly find a place to hide the sick Andalite, but then things get worse. Jake and Rachel and Marco and Tobias become sick as well, leaving Cassie all alone in a time of crisis.

At the same time, Cassie finds out that her friend and member of the Yeerk peace fraction Aftran is being held captive at the Yeerk pool and is going to be tortured for information. Cassie is now faced with two impossible tasks: she has to somehow perform brain surgery on Ax and remove the inflamed Tria gland and also infiltrate the Yeerk pool on her own and rescue Aftran before she can be tortured.

The Sickness is my favourite Animorph book and I think the best Cassie book. I love the way Cassie takes a problem and examines it from all angles and then tackles it with a clear and calm head. She is guided by her strong sense of right and wrong and her trust in herself and I think that makes her the most mature of the group.

My favourite scene in this book is when she loses her cool and snaps at Tobias "I have no time NO TIME FOR ANY CRAP, OK?" and Erek the Chee answers "Yes, ma'am", from inside a horse stall with just the tiniest hint of laughter in his voice. Don't mess with Cassie. She gets stuff done.

2. The Departure

The Departure K.A Applegate
K.A. Applegate


Author: K.A Applegate

Illustrator: David B. Mattingly

Release Date: June 1998

Narrated By: Cassie

Details:

The Departure is commonly listed as one of the best Animorph books. In this book, Cassie decides to quit the Animorphs after surviving another gruelling battle because she can't stomach witnessing so much violence and having to kill Hork-Bajir anymore. The other Animorphs react angrily to her decision to quit and are disgusted by her moralizing, making Cassie feel a lot of guilt. Jake tells her if she is not going to fight that she shouldn't use her morphing powers. Cassie wonders if her friendship with all of them has come to an end.

The next day, Cassie goes on a horse ride to cheer herself up and spots a little girl being chased by a bear. She rescues the girl and discovers her name is Karen and that she has a Yeerk in her head called Aftran. Aftran knows Cassie is an Animorph because she saw her morph. Cassie and Aftran get lost in the forest. During their time together, the two get to know each other. Cassie tries to explain to Aftran why taking hosts is wrong and Aftran tries to explain their point of view and what it is like to spend your life as a blind and helpless worm.

Cassie manages to win over Aftran and convince her that the Yeerks are doing the wrong thing after she agrees to become trapped in a caterpillar morph. Stunned by her selfless act, Aftran agrees to give up Karen and starts the Yeerk Peace Movement. Cassie is able to escape her caterpillar morph a few days later after she turns into a butterfly and the morphing clock is re-set. Afterwards, she agrees to go back to being an Animorph but now she has a new ally: Aftran.

The Departure is one of my favourite books because of the work that went into developing Cassie's character. Cassie is not even fifteen years old in this book. Her depression is understandable when you think about the horrors that she has witnessed. Her time with Karen/Aftran makes for an excellent read. Cassie learns some interesting facts about her enemy and is able to go back to being an Animorph armed with the faith that there is still some good people left in the world.


3. The Hidden

The Hidden K.A Applegate
K.A. Applegate


Author: K.A Applegate

Illustrator: David B. Mattingly

Release Date: February 2000

Narrated By: Cassie

Details:


This one might be a bit of a controversial pick because some Animorph fans think this book is stupid, but I loved it. In The Hidden the Yeerks steal some alien technology and figure out how to use it to sense morphing energy. They get into a helicopter and head toward Cassie's farm because they can sense the energy of the Blue Box. Erek the Chee arrives at the farm ahead of the Yeerks and tells Cassie to get the Blue Box and to RUN NOW.

Cassie and the rest of the Animorphs go on the run with the Blue Box. Cassie heads to a local theme park called the Gardens to try and lose them. In the resulting panic, she ends up in the back of a truck with a Cape buffalo while holding the Blue Box. Cassie morphs into the buffalo and escapes the theme park with the Blue Box.

The other buffalo, having seen Cassie morph into its double, becomes attached to Cassie. Cassie later discovers, to her horror, that it brushed against the Blue Box in the truck and now has the power to morph. The "buffa-human" can now turn into a human but it has no idea how to think or act like one.

Cassie blames herself for what happened to the buffalo, but at the same time is fascinated by his new abilities. She becomes attached to it and feels the need to care for it even though she knows, realistically, that it cannot be allowed to live as a mutant.

The buffalo was not the only animal in the Hidden that touched the Blue Box and developed the power to morph. An ant touches the box as well and morphs into Cassie's genetic double! In the horrifying scene, the Ant rises up from the ground with a confused look on its face, and then once its human brain clicks on, it proceeds to shriek in utter horror because it cannot comprehend what has happened to it.

The Hidden was a fun book that featured some great descriptions of morphing and had some fun horror elements in it. It is one of my favourite Cassie books.

4. The Capture

The Capture K.A Applegate
K.A. Applegate


Author: K.A Applegate

Illustrator: David B. Mattingly

Narrated By: Cassie

Release Date: February 1997

Details:

The Capture was the fifth book in the series and the first one that took a real dark turn and was able to really grab my attention. In this book, Jake accidentally falls into a portable Yeerk pool during a mission and ends up with a Yeerk in his ear.

After the Yeerk crawls into his ear, it takes him some time to figure out what happened, and once he does he has to face two horrifying realities: he is now a controller and what's worse he has Tom's (his brother) Yeerk in his ear!

What I love about this book is how the rest of the Animorphs handle Jake being captured and becoming a controller. Do the kids panic? Do the kids run away from him? Oh no. The kids handle it with a maturity well beyond their years. We are talking about kids who are barely twelve years old.

The Animorphs take Jake to an isolated cabin in the woods and hold him captive there for three days until the Yeerk is starved out of his head. Jake's Yeerk tries several times to escape but each time he tries to leave the cabin the Animorphs attack him.

My favourite scene is when Jake's Yeerk morphs into a tiger and slips out of the cabin in the middle of the night only to be swooped by owls and then he notices something terrifying standing in front of him watching him.

It's Rachel in her elephant morph.

She never says a word to him. She just stares at him.

Shaken, Jake's Yeerk gives up and goes back to the cabin. Another scene that stood out to me was when the Yeerk tries to escape again by morphing into a bird. But before he can finish the morph Tobias the Red Tailed Hawk swoops down and grabs his head in his talon.

"You will kill your friend," the Yeerk tells him.

"Better than being one of you," Tobias replies.

In the end, the Animorphs succeed in starving out the Yeerk, and Jake is freed but left with horrible emotional scars from the experience.

5.The Journey

The Journey K.A Applegate
K.A. Applegate


Author: K.A Applegate

Illustrator: David B. Mattingly

Narrated By: Rachel/Marco

Release Date: May 2000

Details: In The Journey the Animorphs are visited by an aggressive race of aliens called the Helmacrons. The Helmacrons are a race of aliens who are the size of a flea. Their space ships are so small the Animorphs mistook them for children's toys when they first saw them.

In the Journey , the Helmacrons attack the Animorphs and demand access to the Blue Box to charge their ships. When the Animorphs refuse, the tiny aliens abandon their ship and march up inside Marco's nose and take him hostage.

Jack and Rachel and Ax and Tobias decide to use the Helmacron's shrinking ray to shrink themselves down to the Helmacron's size so they can follow them up Marco's nose and force them to come back out before they can kill their friend.

The Journey is narrated by Rachel and Marco. I thought this was the most creative Animorph book. It featured some truly horrible moments like when Rachel in Elephant morph falls into Marco's stomach and lands in a pool of stomach acid and the hot juices burn her flesh off and melt her eyeballs.

The book also featured some hilarious moments like when the Animorphs are unsure how to exit an organ and Ax wonders out loud "Ennie Meenie Miney Mo?"

Rachel replies, "Ok, you have definitely been on Earth too long."

"I would miss the Saturday morning cartoons," the Andalite quips back.

Another funny part is when Marco morphs into a cockroach while his friends are still inside him after promising not to do that. His friends all start screaming in terror and after it is done, Jake asks Marco silkily, "Why did you morph when I told you not to?"

"I plead the fifth," Marco replies.

If you liked reading this article and would like to learn more about Animorphs CLICK HERE.
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Why? Animorphs were a popular young adult science fiction series published in the 90s and 00s. Take a walk down memory lane and revisit the Animorphs.
Where: Available from your local bookstore or online retailer
Cost: The books are $4.99 each on the iTunes store
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