|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
Cassie's had it. After the last mission, she realizes she's getting tired of missions. Tired of battles. Tired of being an Animorph. She decides that she just can't do it anymore. So she quits.
But that's not the worst that's happened. It seems a human-Controller named Karen followed Cassie after the last run-in with the Yeerks. And she knows Cassie is an Andalite...or human. Either way, if she exposes Cassie, it's all over. No more Cassie. No more Animorphs. No more planet Earth ...
The Animorphs attack Hork-Bajir bodyguards at a Sharing meeting. The very second Jake orders his team to break off, Cassie tears the throat out of a Hork-Bajir. Cassie, ridden with guilt, runs away. She senses someone watching her, but doesn't pay much attention. She demorphs, and has a nightmare (a scene from Megamorphs #2). She wakes up, and begins scrubbing her teeth and gums until they bleed. The next day, Cassie meets the others at her barn. She explicitly declares that she's fed up with all the violence, and quits being an Animorph. The others are disgusted with her scrupulous behaviour, and brand her a hypocrite. Marco makes a sarcastic remark about Cassie "going back to playing with her animals". Cassie then tells them that her father lost the much-needed funding to keep the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic open. A distraught Cassie goes on a horse ride to calm her nerves.
Cassie suddenly spots a girl with red-hair being chased by an angry bear. Cassie pursues them, but is knocked off her horse, and falls into the icy river. When she wakes up, she realizes she'd been saved by the girl. She introduces herself as Karen. Karen tries to force Cassie to reveal her true identity. Cassie laughs and pretends the girl is mistaken. Soon it is apparent that the girl is a Controller, whose Yeerk is called Aftran 942, watching her own father, the president of UniBank. It also becomes apparent that Cassie had killed Aftran 942's brother. They're both lost in the forest, and Cassie knows that a leopard that escaped from a private zoo is lurking about. During their time together, Cassie reveals her identity when she fends off an attack by the leopard.
Cassie begins to discuss the morality of enslaving another creature, while Aftran defends the Yeerk's right to experience life as a human or an Andalite does. Cassie tries to turn Aftran against her own people. Aftran tells Cassie that to preserve the freedom of one species, she must surrender her own. Karen presents Cassie with the following scenario: if she were Karen, would she stay in the Yeerk Pool forever? Cassie is uncertain. She allows Aftran to enter her brain, thus freeing Karen - and putting the life of the planet at stake. Cassie convinces Afran that what the Yeerks are doing is wrong. In return, however, Aftran compels Cassie to morph to a caterpillar, and to live life as a helpless worm. Cassie reluctantly agrees, and morphs, staying beyond the two-hour limit.
Jake and the others soon find Aftran back in Karen's body, and Cassie now a caterpillar. The Animorphs are enraged, and are more than willing to kill the Controller in revenge for Cassie, and to keep their identities a secret. Jake hears her out, though, and lets her live. Cassie spins a cocoon, and stays dormant for a couple of days. Cassie emerges as a butterfly, and the Animorphs are overjoyed, but saddened, as well, certain that Cassie would spend the rest of her brief life as an insect. Ax is puzzled, explaining that Cassie's process is a natural form of metamorphosis, and that she is able to morph back to her old self. Cassie does so, and is willing to be an Animorph once more. Aftran keeps her promise, freeing Karen, and the Yeerk establishes the Yeerk Peace Movement; Karen compels her father to fund Cassie's father's Wildlife Clinic.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Siberian Tiger, Great-Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon|
|Rachel||--||Grizzly Bear, Great-Horned Owl, Bald Eagle, African Elephant|
|Cassie||Caterpillar/Butterfly||Wolf, Osprey, Caterpillar/Butterfly|
|Marco||--||Silverback Gorilla, Great-Horned Owl, Wolf, Osprey|
|Ax||--||Great-Horned Owl, Human|
- The front cover quote is, "There's always room for a little change...."
- The inside front cover quote is, "Float like a butterfly...." which is an obvious reference to Muhammad Ali's famous quote, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!"
- Although the front cover depicts her doing so, Cassie never actually morphs into the butterfly; she morphs into a caterpillar, which metamorphoses into a butterfly, and then later she is able to demorph back to human.
- It is not stated whether Cassie can morph into the caterpillar or the butterfly again
- This is the third book in which the narrator is the only person to acquire a new morph.
- This book marks the first in the regular series in which more than one Animorph narrates. Jake narrates for part of the story, near the end, due to Cassie being trapped as a caterpillar in a chrysalis.
- This book officially sheds the image of the Yeerks as one-sided ruthless and evil beings, and marks the beginnings of the Yeerk Peace Movement, which is later developed with the return of Aftran in Animorphs #29: The Sickness..
- The naturally-occured morphing timer-reset exception is the second morphing glitch that is shown in the series. The first one being shown in #12: The Reaction, where it is revealed that an animal cannot be acquired if you are allergic to it. These exceptions never occur, nor are exploited in any way, in the series ever again.
- David Mattingly's original sketch of the cover depicted Cassie flying up from the ground morphing to butterfly, with a lime green background.
- KASU : By the end of the book, Cassie and Aftran have made a small peace, where Aftran promises to go back to the Yeerk Pool and never take another host again. However, this does not explain what happens to Karen, or even if she gets away. Once a Yeerk is released from the host body, the body is caged by the Hork-Bajirs at the infestation pier. Also, if by some chance that Karen did end up escaping, she would have never made it past the Gleet Bio-Filters, which are located at every entrance of the Yeerk Pool (as established in #17: The Underground).
Karen would have eventually gained another Yeerk when it would have been assumed that it was time for Aftran to re-enter her again. The new Yeerk in Karen's body would immediately know of Cassie and the fact that she's the "Andalite Bandit" that the Yeerks were looking for.
- ANIBASE : Ever wonder why K.A. felt the need to show us the "bad guys" point of view like she does in this book? Here's what she said:"Sometimes the bad guys of the world come at you guns blazing. Sometimes they come at you wearing a mask, hiding their intentions, deceiving and manipulating, turning one person against another without giving you a fair chance to fight back. Life would be easier all around if evil people would simply announce that they are evil so we could all reject them. But in many cases evil creeps in, hiding behind politics, philosophy, patriotism, law, religion, science, art. Sometimes evil can be very plausible, logical. That's why I've gradually fleshed out the history of the Yeerks. I hope that readers will, on occasion, find themselves thinking, 'You know what, the Yeerks are making sense. They kind of have a point.' It's easy to figure out right and wrong when it's clear as black and white." But the challenge in our lives is "to be able to figure out right and wrong even when the bad guys 'kind of have a point'."