|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. After Jake orders his team to break off, Cassie tears the throat out of a Hork-Bajir, killing him. Cassie, ridden with guilt, decides she has had enough of fighting and killing and quits the Animorphs. She senses someone watching her, but doesn't pay much attention. She demorphs, and has a nightmare about when she killed a Triceratops. She suspects that someone is watching her from outside, but dismisses the notion. The next day, Cassie meets the others at her barn, who wish to know why Cassie skipped school. She restates her decision to quit, and the other Animorphs leave in anger, while Jake makes her promise never to morph again.
While out riding her horse, Cassie 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 had 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. Aftran wishes to exact revenge, since the Hork-Bajir Cassie killed earlier was inhabited by her pool brother, who also died. Feigning ignorance, Cassie helps Karen as they traverse the woods, Cassie warning her that a leopard that escaped from a private zoo is lurking about. Cassie decides to expose herself as a human morpher in order to prevent the leopard from eating Karen.
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. She allows Aftran to enter her brain, thus freeing Karen – and putting the life of the planet at stake. Cassie attempts to convince Aftran that what the Yeerks are doing is wrong. Aftran compels Cassie to morph to a caterpillar, trap herself in morph. and to live life as a helpless worm. In turn, Aftran would free Karen and live the rest of her life in the Yeerk pool, blind, promising never to take a host again. Cassie agrees, and is trapped as a caterpillar.
Jake and the others soon find Aftran back in Karen's body, and Cassie as a caterpillar. The Animorphs are enraged, and are more than willing to kill Karen and Aftran to exact vengeance and keep their identities a secret. Jake hears her out, though, and lets her live. Cassie spins a chrysalis, and stays dormant for a few days. Cassie emerges as a butterfly, and the Animorphs are saddened that she is no longer human, although glad that she would be able to spend her life as a butterfly as opposed to a caterpillar. Ax is curious as to how Cassie changed form, and is told about the natural morphing a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly. Ax then nonchalantly informs the other Animorphs that if she underwent natural morphing, then her morphing clock would have been reset, and Jake orders the others to catch Cassie and make her demorph. Cassie returns home, telling her parents that she was lost in the forest for three days and survived off of mushrooms. She becomes the subject of the media, although after a while it dies down. Aftran keeps her promise, freeing Karen, while Karen compels her father to fund the clinic. Cassie then meets Karen at the mall, overjoyed that Karen is free, with Karen telling Cassie that Aftran tried to prevent Cassie from being trapped at the end, and that she would be happy to know that Cassie was freed as well.
- Naomi (Mentioned Only)
- Walter (Mentioned Only)
- Michelle (Mentioned Only)
- Ellimist (Mentioned Only)
- Pemalites (Mentioned Only)
- Chee (Mentioned Only)
- Erek King (Mentioned Only)
- Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul (Mentioned Only)
- Seerow (Mentioned Only)
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic
- The Gardens (Mentioned Only)
- Yeerk Pool (Mentioned Only)
- Yeerk homeworld (Mentioned Only)
- Hork-Bajir Valley (Mentioned Only)
- Hork-Bajir homeworld (Mentioned Only)
- Abandoned Construction Site (Mentioned Only)
- Underground Chee Park (Mentioned Only)
- Zone 91 (Mentioned Only)
- Dracon beam
- Andalite Dome ship (Mentioned Only)
- Waste disposal module from a first generation Dome ship (Mentioned Only)
- Elfangor's fighter (Mentioned Only)
- Pemalite crystal (Mentioned Only)
- Cassie quits the Animorphs after a battle, tired of killing and injuring other creatures.
- Cassie becomes lost in the national forest with Karen, a young girl who is actually a Controller. Her Yeerk, Aftran 942, reveals that the Hork-Bajir whom Cassie killed was infested by her brother, who also died, and that she had followed Cassie home after the last battle, wishing to exact vengeance.
- Aftran discovers that Cassie is a human who can morph.
- Aftran mentions that there are quite a few other Yeerks who have believed that the 'Andalite bandits' were in fact human, although they had no proof since only Andalites were said to possess the morphing technology.
- It is revealed that not all Yeerks wish to take hosts and conquer planets, and that a small portion of them simply wish to be able to see and explore the galaxy, as they are blind and confined to swimming in their natural state. Furthermore, it is shown that certain Yeerks, like Aftran, are tired of killing and fighting and wish for there to be a means of peace, where they can enjoy the beauty of life without taking hosts or being hunted by the Andalites.
- Aftran reveals how Yeerks are born: three Yeerks fuse together to become one, and then break down into smaller pieces. The smaller pieces, known as grubs, grow into full-sized Yeerks.
- Cassie becomes a voluntary Controller in order for Karen to be freed, knowing full well she has given up her friends to the Yeerk Empire. However, Aftran merely morphs into an osprey to fly around, and then re-infests Karen, opting not to reveal the Animorphs' identity to nearby Controllers. Cassie asks Aftran to go back to the Yeerk pool and to never infest a host again. Presenting her with a caterpillar, Aftran declares that if Cassie stays in morph for over two hours and lives out the rest of her life as a caterpillar, she would free Karen and never take a host again.
- Cassie becomes a nothlit; however, due to the caterpillar's natural metamorphosis, Cassie becomes a butterfly. Cassie feels like she has cheated herself out of their deal, since butterflies can fly and see. The other Animorphs are saddened to know that Cassie is trapped as a butterfly forever, only for Ax to mention that her morphing clock would have been reset upon becoming a butterfly.
- Cassie is able to demorph and rejoins her family, telling them she was lost in the woods for three days. She encounters Karen at the mall, who confirms that Aftran kept her side of the deal. Karen adds that Aftran wanted Cassie to demorph before the time limit was up, as she believed that Cassie had proven herself enough.
- Cassie rejoins the Animorphs.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Siberian Tiger, Peregrine Falcon, Great Horned Owl|
|Rachel||--||African Elephant, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl|
|Marco||--||Wolf, Osprey, Great Horned Owl, Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)|
|Ax||--||Northern Harrier, Great Horned Owl, Human (Main)|
- 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 a 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.
- This marks the first instance in the numbered books in which more than one Animorph narrates. Jake narrates for part of the story, near the end, due to Cassie being trapped in caterpillar morph.
- This is the second time in the series in which an Animorph become infested with a Yeerk and thus becomes a Controller, the first instance being Jake in The Capture.
- This is also the second time in which an Animorph becomes trapped in morph.
- This is the third book in which the narrator is the only person to acquire a new morph.
- Aftran mentions that there are quite a few other Yeerks who have believed that the 'Andalite bandits' were in fact human. This is the third mention of the Yeerks' suspicion thus far, following Iniss 226 and Temrash 114's suspicions in The Message and Visser Three's advisers in The Andalite's Gift.
- This is the first mention in the series that Tobias may prefer life as a red-tailed hawk to that of a human.
- Cassie's father mentions that the pet food company has revoked funding for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic. The clinic received funding from the pet food company in The Secret.
- David Mattingly's original sketch of the cover depicted Cassie flying up from the ground morphing to butterfly, with a lime green background.
- 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'."
- Cassie remarks that if the Yeerks took her friends, including Tobias and Ax, they would become human-Controllers; however, neither Ax nor Tobias are human.
- When infested by Aftran, Cassie realizes that while Aftran can read her mind, she can also read Aftran's mind, citing that it works both ways. However, in The Capture, Jake was unable to read Temrash 114's mind at all, realizing that while Temrash could read his thoughts, it did not work vice-versa.
- On p104, Karen is described as a human 'morph'.
- Cassie refers to Aftran as a male on p109, but in every other instance uses female pronouns to refer to Aftran.
- A human-Controller talks in thought-speak on p134.
- Karen is called a "human morph" on p135.
- Jake knows Aftran's name on p143, although no one told him and there was no way for him to know.
- Aftran would be unable to hold her side of the deal. As Karen is an involuntary Controller, Karen would have been caged, at which point, had Aftran not re-infested her, she either would have been found out or another Yeerk would have infested Karen in her place, thereby dicovering the Animorphs' secret. Even if Karen had become a voluntary Controller knowing that she would be freed, and thus was not caged, Karen would be unable to leave the pool without having been reinfested. On the off-chance that she managed to leave the holding area undetected, the Gleet Bio-Filters posted on the entrances and exits would not allow her to leave as it would have detected that the Yeerk was not in her brain. Yet somehow, Karen was freed with Aftran remaining in the pool.