|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
The Change, published in November 1997 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the thirteenth book in the Animorphs series. It is the third book narrated by Tobias, and the second book with Tobias as the sole narrator.
Tobias has pretty much gotten used to his life. He's a red-tailed hawk with the mind of a kid. It was weird when he first got trapped in morph. But now it's almost okay. After all, how many kids actually get the chance to fly?
Now Tobias is about to make a very special choice. A choice that the other Animorphs and Ax know nothing about. And it could mean the difference between being a hawk...and being human...
Tobias is flying over school and sees Rachel outside and decides to take her on a tour to show her the entrance to the Yeerk pool that he had discovered. Soon, though, he finds he is not where he was heading; they suddenly are flying over the forest, without warning. He turns and turns but cannot get to the spot he wants to go to. They try to fly away but discover that they are still in the same spot. Then they notice one of the trees sliding to reveal a secret hole and out from that hole pops two Hork-Bajir. They are then promptly pursued by human-Controllers on dirt bikes and pick-up trucks, bristling with shotguns, pistols and automatic rifles. Tobias and Rachel decide to help the two Hork-Bajir, as they are enemies of the Yeerks who chase them. They lead one to safety, but the other trips over and falls into a ditch. The first Hork-Bajir screams to the other in the Hork-Bajir language, but they do not understand, he then explains to them that the other Hork-Bajir is his wife. They tell him to run or he risk dying or losing his freedom, and the Hork-Bajir runs for his life. Tobias then leads him to a cave for the time being.
After telling the other Animorphs what happened, they suspect that it could be a Yeerk trap to lure them out. They return to the cave the Hork-Bajir is hiding in, with Ax and Tobias chosen to deal with the Hork-Bajir, while the others would stay close by in morph. After almost beheading Ax, the Hork-Bajir comes out, revealing his name to be Jara Hamee. Ax isn't convinced he's not a Controller, so to prove it, Jara slices open his head and opens up the gash. Horrified, but seeing no Yeerk in his brain, the Animorphs have some peace of mind. Just then, the Yeerks begin to close in on their location, and Tobias concocts a plan. In order to help Jara escape, Rachel morphs into him to lead the Yeerks on a wild goose chase. Tobias is worried about her, and so he hitches a ride on one of her forehead blades. However, Tobias is transported to the other side of the woods mysteriously, to the territory of a Swainson's Hawk, where the Hork-Bajir from before is cornered by a group of Controllers, one of which is revealed to be Visser Three, who demorphs and calls the Hork-Bajir Ket Halpak. Tobias provides a distraction by drawing out the aggressive Swainson's hawk, and he rakes the Visser's stalk eyes, allowing Ket to escape.
With Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak reunited, the Animorphs now decide where to hide them. Tobias suggests a hidden valley that he knows of, that has fresh streams, a meadow, and tall trees. However, Tobias wonders how he knew of the valley's existence or how he has memories of how it looks like if he had never been there before. Tobias now suspects foul play - and that someone or something is manipulating him. During the night while he is guarding the Hork-Bajir along with Ax, Tobias suddenly has visions of tracker Taxxons hunting. To avoid the Taxxons picking up the Hork-Bajir scent, Tobias and Ax take the Hork-Bajir and retreat further toward the mountains. While riding on the Hork-Bajir, Jara tells Tobias that a voice in his head told him to escape from the Yeerk Pool and that "it" would send a guide to ensure their freedom. Frustrated about being used, Tobias stops everyone and demands to find out what is happening. Tobias then finds himself in another plane, and sees himself as a cross between human and hawk. He encounters the Ellimist, who explains that while his species does not interfere with other peoples' lives, he wishes to save the Hork-Bajir. He also learns that when he could not get anywhere earlier and the images in his head were all the Ellimist's doing. Frustrated, Tobias asks for his innermost wish to be granted, which the Ellimist agrees to.
Tobias and the Animorphs take the Hork-Bajir to the mountains, pursued by Yeerks in helicopters, Hork-Bajir and Taxxons. Tobias, out hunting breakfast, is caught in the helicopter's rotor vacuum, and breaks his wing. He is immediately discovered by a raccoon, who prepares to eat him. At that moment, the Ellimist restores Tobias's ability to morph, but does not return him to human form. Tobias is enraged, accusing the omniscient being of not keeping his promise. Tobias escapes by acquiring and morphing the raccoon, and rejoins the others.
The Animorphs realize that the Yeerks will not give up until the free Hork-Bajir are dead or captured, because if the two of them escape safely, others would try to do the same; additionally, as the Animorphs have revealed their true forms to the Hork-Bajir, Ax states that they could never be recaptured. Jara and Ket state that they would rather be dead than enslaved, which Rachel agrees with, warming her up to them. Tobias comes up with a plan: he acquires and morphs Ket and, together with Rachel in Jara morph, traverse towards the ravine. The two Animorphs jump over the ravine and are caught by Marco, in gorilla morph, in a small cave right below the top of the ravine that is not visible from the top. At the bottom, the real Ket Halpak and Jara Hamee are pretending to be dead, while Cassie and Jake, in wolf morph, begin to rip their flesh (with Tobias stating that despite it being painful, the Hork-Bajir would be able to heal from the injuries). Visser Three, witnessing the supposed feasting, is convinced that they are dead and the Yeerks give up searching. The Animorphs then take the Hork-Bajir to the valley, which Jake suspects the Ellimist created and Tobias discovers is very difficult for others to find.
Later that night, Tobias finds himself irritated at the Ellimist's failure to deliver on his promise. As a response, the Ellimist sends Tobias back in time, to the night before he went to the Abandoned Construction Site with Jake and the others. Upon seeing his younger, human self, Tobias comes to terms with the fact that he is no longer the human self he used to be; he also feels that this situation is familiar, realizing that he, as a human in the past, met his future hawk self but forgot about it. Tobias remembers the Ellimist's statement about Tobias being able to change a timeline, and is given a choice: he could tell his younger self, who has waken up, not to go to the construction site, thereby preventing him from gaining the power to morph or being trapped as a bird, or he could decide to let things pass as they did and use the opportunity to acquire his human self. Tobias chooses the latter, accepting that he wishes to be a hawk with the ability to morph and become human temporarily rather than be human forever. Returning Tobias to the present time, the Ellimist asks Tobias if he has delivered on his promise, and Tobias replies that he has. The Ellimist then warns Tobias that he has two hours in a morph, and that if he traps himself as a human, he would never be able to fly again. The next day, he shows up in human morph at school for Rachel's Packard Foundation Outstanding Student award ceremony, to Rachel's amazement.
- The Ellimist engineers the escape of two Hork-Bajir, Jara Hamee and his wife Ket Halpak, from the Yeerk pool. He tells them he will send them a guide, and transports Tobias to where they will be, with Tobias deciding to help them, as they are the only two non-enslaved Hork-Bajir in the galaxy. Irritated that he is being used by the Ellimist in such a fashion, Tobias barters a deal with the Ellimist – in exchange for guiding the Hork-Bajir on a safe passage to a valley, the Ellimist would grant Tobias his innermost desire, which Tobias believes is to be human again.
- The Ellimist restores Tobias's ability to morph.
- After saving the Hork-Bajir and bringing them to the valley, Tobias becomes angry towards the Ellimist for failing to make him human again. The Ellimist then transports Tobias back in time, to the night before he went to the Abandoned Construction Site and received his powers, where he witnesses his human self. Realizing that, as a human, he vaguely remembers this meeting, Tobias is forced to choose between changing the timeline by warning his younger self not to go to the site, or to let events to transpire as they did. Tobias reflects and comes to the conclusion that he does not wish to be a human again – he enjoys being a hawk, but would like to be able to be human occasionally. He then chooses the latter option, encouraging his human self to go to the construction site with Jake. Tobias acquires his younger human self and is transported back to the present, where he confirms to the Ellimist that the all-powerful being has truly delivered on the promise to grant his innermost desire.
- Tobias is now able to morph into his human self for two hours at a time.
- It is revealed that the blades on a Hork-Bajir are designed solely to strip bark, their only food source; additionally, male Hork-Bajir have three forehead blades while females have two.
- Tobias and Rachel's relationship is further explored when Tobias privately likens his situation as being similar to Romeo and Juliet, except remarking that his feelings for Rachel is troubling as a someone of another species rather than someone of a warring family. Rachel also tells Tobias that she wishes very much for him to be able to attend her award ceremony, and she later heads to his meadow to spend the day comforting him.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Siberian Tiger, Peregrine Falcon, Wolf|
|Rachel||Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee)||Bald Eagle, Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee), Grizzly Bear|
|Tobias||Raccoon, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), Human (himself)||Raccoon, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), Human (himself)|
|Cassie||--||Great Horned Owl, Osprey, Wolf|
|Marco||--||Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim), Osprey, Wolf|
- The front cover quote is "Be afraid...."
- The inside front cover quote is, "It was only a dream...or was it?"
- A picture of illustrator David Mattingly's cat, "Orson", can be seen in the first-page illustration of this book, standing in for Tobias' own cat, his first-ever morph, "Dude".
- This is the second book in the series to feature a human morph on the cover, after The Alien.
- Tobias is referred to as a "dirty blond" for the first time as opposed to "blond", since his cover model is a brunet.
- Jake thought-speaks for the first time to someone outside of the Animorphs, when he decides to communicate with Jara Hamee; he is the last of the six Animorphs to do so.
- This marks the first time in the series where an Animorph acquires and morphs a creature not native to Earth, as Rachel, and later Tobias, acquire and morph into Hork-Bajir.
- This book also marks the first time that an Animorph acquires themselves, with Tobias acquiring his human self in this instance.
- If one counts Tobias as a human, he would be the second human member of the Animorph to acquire a human morph, after Cassie. If one counts Ax as an Animorph and his acquiring of the human members' DNA in The Message as separate acquisitions, this marks the seventh time that an Animorph has acquired a human, as well as the seventh time that one of them has acquired a member of their team.
- This is the third instance of Tobias time traveling, after The Stranger and The Forgotten. This is also Tobias's second time traveling into the past.
- It is revealed that Hork-Bajir have two hearts.
- Tobias mentions two Controllers that they are aware of – a policewoman and a reporter. These are the two Controllers who Cassie overheard speaking with Chapman in The Andalite's Gift.
- This book was released at the same time as The Andalite Chronicles, which revealed Tobias' true parentage.
- By this point in the series, the author had been asked several times by fans to make Tobias human again.
- Tobias asks Jara Hamee if Hork-Bajir can swim, which Jara confirms. However, in The Message, Ax tells the Animorphs that Hork-Bajir cannot swim. Ax also stated in The Alien that Hork-Bajir were biologically hardwired to fight among themselves every sixty-two years, a fact which was proven to be false, thereby making Ax's claims on Hork-Bajir physiology dubious.
- Tobias states that his parents abandoned him when he was younger; however, in The Encounter, he claims twice that his parents had died when he was a child. Tobias' parents are featured extensively in The Andalite Chronicles, which was released on the same day as this book, in which Tobias tells Elfangor that his parents, especially his mother, supposedly abandoned him but that he chose to believe that they died, rather than accept that they did not want him.
- Jake tells Tobias and Rachel that there are six enemies converging on them: four Hork-Bajir and two Taxxons. However, in the next page, the enemies comprise of only six Hork-Bajir and no Taxxons.
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