|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
- "You fight alongside us, Ax. As far as I'm concerned, you're one of us. But then I find out you're keeping secrets. Rachel and Marco keep asking me: What do we know about Ax? What has he ever told us about his own planet, while we show him everything? I told them we could trust you. Now I wonder. I really wonder. There's no trust when you keep secrets."
- ―Jake to Ax
What would you do if you were the only alien trapped on a strange planet? Probably freak out, right? Well, that's what Ax feels like doing. But as an Andalite warrior-cadet, he has to be pretty cool about stuff like that. He's been hanging out with the Animorphs ever since the Dome ship was destroyed by the Yeerks and his brother, Prince Elfangor, was destroyed by Visser Three.
Life on Earth is pretty different for Ax. But there is one thing he, Cassie, Marco, Jake, Rachel, and Tobias have in common. Something that one alien, four kids and a hawk know they have to do...stop the Yeerks...
After destroying the Kandrona on the top of the EGS Tower and defeating the Veleek, the Animorphs decide they deserve to take a break and teach Ax stuff about humans. They talk optimistically about how they would see people freeing themselves of the Yeerks because the lack of Kandrona means fewer Yeerks can survive, but haven't. Later, when they take Ax to the movies, they see a man's Yeerk is dying publicly, and the Animorphs figure the Yeerks won't be able to cover this up. But Ax knows the truth – the Yeerks will simply kill former hosts they cannot infest. As they leave, Ax notices a policeman-Controller kill the free man. But as much as he wants to, he can't tell the humans the truth because of Andalite law regarding giving information to other species.
When the Animorphs take Ax to school the next day as Jake's cousin Philip, their teacher's Yeerk dies too. Chapman appears and orders the students to leave and kills the non-Controller teacher. Jake and the other Animorphs are very angry with Ax because they feel betrayed. Ax retorts that they wouldn't have destroyed the Kandrona if they would have known, to which Jake replied that Ax still had a lot to learn about humans.
That night, Ax feels very sad, lonely and confused. While running, he ends up at Cassie's house. She asks him to join her and her family for dinner because she sees that he's very sad. Ax, shocked at the fact that she noticed how he was feeling, accepts the offer and morphs into Jake. He has a good with Cassie's family, having dinner, chatting, and watching TV before leaving.
The next day, he meets with Marco to go to a bookshop, as Jake said: "No, Ax is a friend. Show him we have nothing to hide. Maybe he'll finally decide to trust us." However, Marco forgot the money they collected for him to buy a book, so they go to Marco's house to pick it up. While Ax is waiting for Marco in the living room, he plays with what he thinks is a game on Marco's dad's computer, which he calls "fix the mistakes", but later it turns out that he had developed a new highly advanced system that he knew must be destroyed. But before he does it, he uses it to communicate with the Andalite homeworld with Tobias' help, at the local observatory. During the communication, after giving his report and explaining how Elfangor gave five human youths the power to morph, a higher-ranking Andalite makes Ax assume all the responsibility for Elfangor's action and is consequently forgiven. As Ax is speaking with his father and assuming the duty of avenging his brother by killing Visser Three, he's interrupted by a Controller, whose Yeerk is named Eslin 359. He explains that his loved one had died because of Visser Three, when he chose to sacrifice some Yeerks after the Kandrona's destruction. To avenge her death, Eslin sabotaged one of the shuttles that carried the Visser's favorites, which explained why Controllers were losing it. Eslin then tells Ax that he knows where and when Visser Three goes to feed his Andalite body, thus leaving him vulnerable. He gives Ax a note with the time and place on it.
Ax decides to go alone and not to tell the others. He arrives at the location and morphs into a rattlesnake and waits. When Visser Three arrives, Ax strikes, biting and envenomating him. Ax then slithers off and is midway through demorphing when he encounters a Hork-Bajir, but before it kills Ax, the Animorphs arrive to save him because Tobias had been able to read the note the Controller had written with his hawk eyes. Having been poisoned, Visser Three leaves his host body and escapes. The now freed Andalite begs Ax to kill him, but Ax is unable to kill his fellow Andalite, a War-Prince named Alloran-Semitur-Corrass. He asks Ax to deliver a message to his family, that he is still alive and that he hasn't lost hope, as well as tells him to keep fighting.
Two days later, after some thinking, Ax decides to tell the Animorphs the truth, about the law of Seerow's Kindness, which states no Andalite is to ever reveal technology or secrets to other alien races. The law was named after an Andalite named Seerow who, during an expedition to the Yeerk homeworld, gave Andalite technology to the Yeerks because he felt sorry for them for never having left their planet or seen the stars. Later, the Yeerks used that technology to start conquering the galaxy and other races, spreading like a parasitic virus. Contrary to what Ax had expected, the Animorphs don't blame the Andalites for their problem. They recognized the good action and told him to keep trying, but to be more careful the next time. But last but not least, Marco thinks since Ax wants to tell the truth more, he and the others should know how Andalites eat. Ax tells them that he eats from his hooves by absorbing the nutrients from crushed grass.
Ax returns to the observatory again and blackmails Eslin to call his home planet one last time. Ax deliver Alloran's message, and he announces to his homeworld that as of then, his home is Earth and that he will tell the Animorphs everything. He reasoned that if the Andalites had done the same with the Hork-Bajir, they may not have been enslaved.
- Eslin 359 / Gary Kozlar (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Noorlin-Sirinial-Cooraf (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Commander Lirem-Arrepath-Terrouss (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Derane 344 (Mentioned Only)
- Forlay-Esgarrouth-Maheen (Mentioned Only)
- Captain Nerefir (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Ithileran-Halas-Corain (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Hawjabrans (Mentioned Only)
- Ongachic (Mentioned Only)
- Nahara (Mentioned Only)
- The Animorphs discover that human hosts, whose Yeerks have died due to Kandrona starvation, are being murdered by the Yeerks to prevent exposure, with Jake witnessing Chapman kill his teacher publicly at school. The Animorphs are aghast, as they believed the hosts would be freed, and are horrified when they discover Ax was not only aware of the Yeerks' reaction to the events ahead of time, but was expecting it. Jake begins to distrust Ax, since Tom is a Controller and could have been killed, and the other Animorphs begin to distrust Ax even more as the young Andalite refuses to answer any questions they ask.
- Ax reveals that as an Andalite, he is bound to Andalite customs and laws, one of which is the Law of Seerow's Kindness, which prevents Andalites from sharing any knowledge or technology with other species, including his human friends. Ax inadvertently breaks this law when he accidentally updates Marco's father's radio telescope software program into an inter-dimensional telecommunication device. Feeling alone on Earth, cut off from his people and unable to regain the trust of the other Animorphs, Ax enlists the help of Tobias, whom he has forged a friendship with recently as they are both outcasts who live in the woods, to locate the observatory, although he hides his intentions from Tobias.
- Ax reveals that Tobias might be his shorm, the Andalite equivalent of a best friend, as they have both been spending a lot of time with one another, easing the other's loneliness, living in the forest.
- Upon placing a call to the Andalite homeworld, Ax explains the situation on Earth. Not wanting to sully Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul's name by revealing to the public that he broke the sacred law of Seerow's Kindness by giving humans the power to morph, the head of the Andalite council, Lirem-Arrepath-Terrouss, pressures Ax into taking the blame, thus besmirching Ax's name and honor. Lirem explains that they are busy fighting the Yeerks in space and do not have immediate plans to reach Earth, although he advises Ax to keep fighting the Yeerks while withholding information from the Animorphs. Ax then begins speaking with his father, who reminds him that the burden of killing Visser Three is now his honor-bound duty, but the call is disrupted by Eslin 359, a Yeerk who wishes to work with the 'Andalite bandits' to kill Visser Three. Eslin tells Ax where Visser Three would be grazing, and Ax plans to kill the Visser.
- The Animorphs demand Ax to share his knowledge with them or leave the group, and Ax decides to leave them, becoming an independent warrior. The next day, he goes to the meadow where Visser Three is feeding and morphs into a rattlesnake, biting his Andalite host body. Ax is nearly killed while demorphing by a Hork-Bajir, but is saved by Rachel and the other Animorphs, who followed Ax after Tobias notified them of Ax's plan.
- Visser Three flees his host body for the first time in decades, and Ax and the other Animorphs are unwilling to kill the Andalite, who reveals his name to be Alloran-Semitur-Corrass. Alloran begs them to kill him, but when they refuse, he merely asks Ax to send a message to his family on his behalf, and warns him that the Yeerks have invaded the Andalite homeworld. The Animorphs then leave the area, allowing Alloran to be reinfested. The Yeerks' presence on the homeworld is further explored in The Decision.
- Ax decides to rejoin the Animorphs and reveal everything he knows to them, including explaining the truth behind Seerow's Kindness and breaking the law as Elfangor did. He explains that Seerow was an Andalite Prince who led an expedition to the Yeerk homeworld for the first time. Feeling sorry for the Yeerks, Seerow gave them Andalite technology, teaching them how to travel the stars. The Yeerks then left their homeworld and spread like parasites across the galaxy, causing Seerow to become a pariah and for the Andalites as a whole to feel responsible and guilty over the Yeerk invasion. Ax also places one last call to the homeworld, relaying Alloran's message and alerting Lirem that he has broken the law to tell the Animorphs everything, citing that humans were also his people now and reminding him that had the Andalites bothered to save the Hork-Bajir in the past, perhaps every last Hork-Bajir in existence would not have been infested, a fate he does not wish humans to share.
- The shades of gray are first explored in this book, with all three factions. The first faction, the Animorphs, discover that their biggest victory (destroying a Kandrona) hurts the Yeerks significantly, albeit at the expensive of the lives of their human hosts, and thus learn about the horrors and desolation of war-time decisions. The Yeerks, who were previously painted as evil, malicious slugs, are also given more depth, when Eslin reveals that Yeerks are capable of love and passion, and that he wants Visser Three dead for killing his Yeerk love, Derane 344. Finally, it is revealed that the Andalites, who were initially known as heroes for saving other species and fighting the Yeerks, are only fighting the Yeerks because they are responsible for their campaign and that they are indifferent to the fates of other species, such as Hork-Bajir and humans.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Peregrine Falcon, Siberian Tiger|
|Rachel||--||Bald Eagle, Grizzly Bear|
|Cassie||--||Osprey, Horse, Wolf|
|Marco||--||Osprey, Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)|
|Ax||Rattlesnake||Human (main), Human (Jake), Northern Harrier, Rattlesnake|
The Alien was adapted as part of the Animorphs TV series, which aired on Nickelodeon and YTV between the fall of 1998 and the spring of 2000. The eighth book in the series was covered in episodes eight, "The Alien (episode)". The TV episodes did not follow the books faithfully, altering many aspects of the characters' roles within the Animorphs, the events in the war against the Yeerks, and added plot lines that were not present in the books.
Changes from Book to Episode
- Rachel, Cassie, and Tobias were not featured in the episode.
- In the book series, Jake and Marco took Ax to the movies, and what they saw was a Star Trek: The Next Generation movie. But in the TV show, the movie they saw was an old black-and-white monster movie.
- The cover quote is, "He's only human. When he wants to be...."
- The inside front cover quote is, "Look who's talking....", which is a reference to the hit 1980s film Look Who's Talking starring Dan Aykroyd of Ghostbusters fame.
- Four Andalites terms are introduced for the first time; shorm, tail-blade; aristh, a warrior-cadet; nothlit, someone who has been trapped in morph; and estreen, individuals with the ability to control the morphing process.
- The events of this book are stated to be taking place two weeks after The Stranger. Ax also states that it has been quite some time since he acquired his human morph, giving us a sense of the passage of time from The Message to now.
- This is the third book in which the cover art does not depict a morph acquired in the book. Ax acquired his human morph in The Message.
- This is the first book in the series to feature a human morph on the cover.
- This is the first and only book to feature Ax's "Earth diary" entries.
- This book came attached with a pair of Ax bookmarks with it. The bookmarks come with humorous tear-off corners, as if Ax bit into them
- This book is the first to have the earlier printings feature a shiny dark color around the Animorphs logo on the cover. For books #1-7, all earlier printings had the 'Animorphs' logo on the cover with a white background, replaced in later printings with a shiny color. Starting with book 8, all book covers had a shiny color either on the Animorphs logo itself, or the background color.
- This is the first time Alloran is freed from his imprisonment, albeit briefly.
- This is the second book in which the narrator is the only person to acquire a new morph, after The Stranger.
- The cover of this book is the first time any alien is depicted on the cover. It is also the first official image of an Andalite. The preview ad for this book, found inside The Andalite's Gift, had the text "cover shows an alien morph!" because this was a first for the series.
- This was the last book to be released as a part of Scholastic's Animorphs Relaunch. While The Stranger was the last book to be released physically, The Alien was released in e-book format online.
- Jake and Marco take Ax to the movies, and they see a Star Trek: The Next Generation movie. Ax comments that the male Klingons look like female Ongachic, and the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) looks like a Hawjabran freight ship.
- This is the first time Ax is referred to as "Ax-man"; this is also the first time Visser Three is referred to as "The Abomination", although Ax did refer to him as an abomination in The Predator.
- Ax reveals that he has morphed animals from the Andalite homeworld before. According to The Andalite Chronicles, Andalites typically acquired a djabala, hoober or kafit bird, and since Ax's first flying experience was as a northern harrier in The Predator, he most likely possessed a djabala and a hoober morph.
- When contemplating his human morph, Ax adds that he would have liked to have acquired Tobias' human DNA as well, but never got to, since Tobias is a red-tailed hawk nothlit; however, the Ellimist briefly rendered Tobias human twice in The Stranger, leaving Ax with two opportunities to have acquired Tobias' human DNA.
- Cassie's father asks Ax, who is in Jake morph, if the Chicago Bulls would make it to the NBA playoffs again this year, as they did the previous year. At the time of this book's printing (1997), the Chicago Bulls did indeed go to the playoffs, winning the 1996 NBA playoffs by defeating the Seattle SuperSonics (now known as Oklahoma City Thunder). However, later on in the series, the events of this book are said to take place in 1998; fortunately enough, the Chicago Bulls also reached the playoffs in 1997 as well, winning once more.
- In The Message, Marco and his father lived in a low-income garden apartment complex, a place they still lived in by the next book, The Predator, with Marco musing that he used to live in the same suburbs as Jake. However, at the end of that book, Marco's father decided to go back to work, and by the next book, The Capture, Marco and his father had moved to a middle class apartment. By this book, Marco's father has once again purchased a house in the same affluent suburban area.
- Elfangor and Ax talk about defeating Yeerks and refer to them as 'slugs', a creature native on Earth. Although Elfangor lived for a few years on Earth, it would seem odd as to why he would refer to them as such in front of any other Andalite, due to the fact that no one except him and another captain were aware that he lived on Earth. However, it is possible, due to the fact that Andalites have been known to study Earth and its television programming, that Andalites learned about slugs and began to refer to the Yeerks as such.
- Ax states that he cannot use thought-speak when he is in human morph since human bodies are restricted to spoken language. However, in every other instance in the series, Ax has been able to use thought-speak in human morph because it is a morph. This is fixed in the 2012 reprint.
- Ax tells Cassie that the Hork-Bajir had a biological time clock that caused them to engage in war among one another every 62 years; although, in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, we learn that the Hork-Bajir did not understand the concept of or practice any violence until the Yeerks enslaved them. This error is rectified in the 2012 reprint.
2012 Relaunch Differences
- In the original 1997 edition, Ax states: "It was Tobias, on patrol far overhead. Of course, no one could answer him. Humans can use thought-speech only when they're in a morph. And since I was in a human body, I too was restricted to spoken language." However, since Ax, as well as any others in human morph, are able to use thought-speak every other time in the series as it is a morph, the 2012 reprint rectifies the error by replacing the passage with: "It was Tobias, on patrol far overhead. Of course, none of the humans could answer him. They can use thought-speech only when they're in a morph. Since my human body itself is a morph, I could have responded, but Tobias went on."
- In the original 1997 edition, Ax tells Cassie: "Every species fights wars. In the past, Andalites made war on other Andalites. And the Hork-Bajir used to have a biological time clock that set them all warring every sixty-two years." However, The Hork-Bajir Chronicles makes it clear that the Hork-Bajir were unaware of violence of any kind until the Yeerks invaded their homeworld. The 2012 reprint fixes this earlier error by modifying Ax's statement to: "Most species fight wars. In the past, Andalites made war on other Andalites. The Hork-Bajir were peaceful before the Yeerks enslaved them, but they are a rare exception."
- Cassie refers to Nordstrom's adolescent female section as "Junior Miss" in the original edition. The reprint changes it to "the junior's department".
- "Visser", "human-Controllers" and "adrenalin" is changed to "visser", "Human-Controllers" and "adrenaline" in the reprint.
- Marco refers to Jake's attitude as being akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1997 edition. In the 2012 reprint, the Schwarzenegger mention is removed and Marco instead remarks that Jake's attitude is macho.
- In the original 1997 edition, Marco refers to Ax's appearance in his morphing outfit, consisting of tight shorts and a spandex top, as looking like an "escapee from the Ice Capades". In the 2012 reprint, the Ice Capades reference is replaced with "the Winter Olympics" as the Ice Capades were shut down in August 1997, three months after this book initially released.
- Rachel compares to Marco's choice of wardrobe to dressing like "Beavis" in the 1997 edition; the 2012 reprint changes it to "Shaggy from "Scooby-Doo".
- When Rachel remarks on Ax's human morph, she exclaims "He looks like me!"; the emphasis on "me" is removed in the reprint.
- Chapman tells the students to go out to the playground in the original edition; the reprint changes it to "quad".
- Ax compares his heavy human legs to feeling like lead in the original edition; the reprint changes it to "concrete".
- In the 1997 edition, Ax remarks that the United States imported $36.7 billion dollars' worth of clothing. In the 2012 reprint, he states that the United States imported $93.3 billion dollars' worth of textiles.
- In the original edition, Ax muses that: "Of course, Tobias still did not know that I had communicated with my home." However, Tobias was there when Eslin 359 mentioned Ax calling home, and thus was aware of it. The reprint amends it to: "I did not know how much Tobias had figured out about the "touching conversation" the Yeerk spoke of."
- The original 1997 edition has Marco exclaiming that Seerow "hooked up" with the wrong species. However, due to the change in meaning of the words "hook up" from the 1990s to the 2010s, the reprint replaces it with "helped out".
International Back Covers
2012 Release Gallery