|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
Sometimes weird things happen to people. Ask Jake. He may tell you about the night he and his friends saw the strange light in the sky. He may even tell you about what happened when they realized the "light" was only a plane -- from another planet.
Here's where Jake's story gets a little weird. He and his friends are told the human race is under attack, but they're given the chance to fight back.
Now Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias and Marco have the power to morph into any animal they choose. And they must use that power to outsmart an evil that is greater than anything the world has ever seen...
Young teenagers Jake and Marco leave the mall one evening. On the way out, they meet Rachel and Cassie, who are together, and Tobias — all kids from their school—and decide to walk home together. While taking a shortcut through an abandoned construction site, an alien spacecraft lands nearby. The badly injured alien pilot, an Andalite named Prince Elfangor, emerges from the ship and explains to the kids that the Earth is being invaded in secret by a race of aliens called the Yeerks, a slug-like parasitic species who infest species through their ear canals and take complete control of the human's body, turning them into what is called a Controller. The human controllers are still self-aware but the Yeerk in their head has complete control over their body and what they say and do. Elfangor tells them that more Andalites will not come to Earth for a year or more, and by then, Earth will already be completely taken over. To combat the Yeerks, he gives the humans morphing ability: the power to become any creature they touch by absorbing the creature's DNA. Elfangor warns them to never stay beyond two hours in a morph, or they will be trapped in that form forever. The Yeerks, led by Visser Three, arrive to kill Elfangor and eliminate all traces of him and his ship. The five human teenagers hide and watch, but are discovered and chased by the human and Hork-Bajir Controllers. The group escapes shaken, but more or less unhurt.
The next morning, Tobias visits Jake and informs him that the previous night was not just a dream; he had already morphed his pet cat, Dude. The five kids meet at Cassie's farm, where a police officer arrives and informs them that a group of teenagers were sighted setting off fireworks in the abandoned construction site the previous night. He asks if they know anything about it, and the five of them realize that the police officer is a Controller. Later that day, Jake's older brother Tom expresses a similar interest in the teenagers at the construction site and presses Jake for information. Marco realizes—much to Jake's anger—that Tom is also a Controller. Tom invites Jake and Marco to a meeting of a local community club called The Sharing, which is holding a meeting with a bonfire on the beach. When the full members go off to a separate meeting, Jake morphs his dog, Homer, to go investigate. In dog morph, he quickly determines for certain that The Sharing is a front organization for the Yeerks to recruit new hosts. He also discovers that their assistant principal Chapman is the leader of The Sharing and a human-Controller.The next day, Jake morphs into a green anole lizard to spy on Chapman, and discovers that there is an entrance to the Yeerk Pool—a large, underground control center where the Yeerks can feed and recuperate—in their school.
After discussing their idea to go to the Yeerk Pool to rescue Tom, the teenagers, newly christened as Animorphs (from Animal Morphers) by Marco, head to The Gardens, a large zoo and amusement park, to acquire some new, battle-capable morphs. Jake acquires his primary battle morph, a tiger, and Marco acquires his primary battle morph, a gorilla. Cassie acquires a horse and Rachel acquires an elephant.
That evening, they decide to infiltrate the Yeerk Pool in order to rescue Tom, but find that Cassie has been kidnapped by the policeman-Controller. With no time to plan a strategy, the four remaining Animorphs head into the Yeerk Pool. They manage to rescue Cassie, but find themselves outnumbered and outgunned by Visser Three and his Yeerks. They try to free some humans from the cages they are kept in while their Yeerks are feeding, but Jake, Rachel, Marco, and Cassie barely escape along with only woman who was a former Controller. During the escape, the policeman-Controller is killed. Tobias is able to escape later, but has stayed in morph too long and gets stuck in morph as a red-tailed hawk. The Animorphs fail to rescue Tom, and Jake promises to keep fighting the Yeerks until the Andalites arrive.
- Jake (First Appearance)
- Rachel (First Appearance)
- Tobias (First Appearance)
- Cassie (First Appearance)
- Marco (First Appearance)
- Visser Three (First Appearance)
- Chapman (First Appearance)
- Various Hork-Bajir, Taxxon and Human-Controllers (First Appearance)
- Steve (First Appearance)
- Jean (First Appearance)
- Homer (First Appearance)
- Big Jim (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Dude (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Escafil device (First Appearance)
- Andalite fighter (First Appearance)
- Elfangor's fighter (First Appearance)
- Blade ship (First Appearance)
- Dracon beams (First Appearance)
- Kandrona (Mentioned Only)
- The main human characters are introduced. Jake is an average human boy, who is playing video games at the mall's arcade with his friend Marco, his childhood best friend. He and Marco walk home, along with Rachel and Cassie, Jake's cousin and her best friend, the latter whom Jake is romantically interested in. Joining them is Tobias, a blond kid whom Jake saved from some bullies some time earlier. The five kids cut through an Abandoned Construction Site and come face to face with an alien – an Andalite prince named Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.
- Elfangor notifies the kids of the Andalite-Yeerk War and the subsequent Yeerk invasion of Earth, informing them about the Yeerks, the Taxxons, the Hork-Bajir and Controllers. Elfangor explains that Andalite reinforcements should come in 2-3 years, and thus grants the kids a weapon: the power to morph; by acquiring DNA from an animal, they can become that animal for two hours at a time.
- The kids witness Visser Three, the only Andalite-Controller in the Yeerk Empire, devour and kill Elfangor.
- It is revealed that Jake's older brother Tom as well as their assistant principal, Chapman, are Controllers.
- Cassie is revealed to possess an innate ability to control the morphing process.
- The kids, calling themselves Animorphs, acquire battle morphs at The Gardens.
- The Animorphs infiltrate the Yeerk Pool for the first time and also have their first battle against Visser Three, with the Yeerk Visser believing them to be renegade Andalite bandits.
- The Animorphs, minus Tobias, escape from the Pool; Tobias stays behind to remain hidden and eclipses the two-hour morph time, thereby becoming trapped in the body of a red-tailed hawk.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||Golden Retriever (Homer), Green Anole Lizard, Siberian Tiger||Golden Retriever (Homer), Green Anole Lizard, Siberian Tiger|
|Rachel||African Elephant||African Elephant|
|Tobias||Tabby Cat (Dude), Red-Tailed Hawk||Tabby Cat (Dude), Red-Tailed Hawk (becomes trapped in morph)|
|Marco||Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)||Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)|
|Visser Three||--||Antarean Bogg, Unnamed creature with eight arms, legs, and heads, capable of breathing fire|
To be added
- The cover quote is, "Some people never change. Some do..."
- The inside front cover quote is, "Jake is changing..."
- Jake acquires a green anole lizard, but never uses it again for the rest of the series.
- This was the first and only book cover to show 8 stages of a morph; starting with the following book (and beyond) only 5 stages were used. This book's cover, along with that of The Visitor, are the only book covers to show the faces of the characters morphing, rather than the full body. However, in both cases, the flipbook morph at the bottom of the pages shows a full body, side view of the cover morph.
- In the original manuscript for this book, back before a proposed trilogy called "Changelings" became the Animorphs series, Jake was named Matt and had a little brother named Joseph.
- The Japanese publication of this book had a distinct sketched cover, and six black-and-white sketches inside.
- The 2011 re-release had new covers for the American books, as well as the French and Brazilian books (for the first few books in the series, that is). The Brazilian version was published by Fundamento and features an entirely distinct cover design.
- One of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles features a scene depicting the final battle in the Yeerk Pool at the end of this book, where Jake, in tiger morph, fights Visser Three, morphed as an Unnamed Creature with Eight Heads and Eight Legs.
- A Jake/Lizard morphing fast food toy was made by Taco Bell in 1999, based on this book's cover morph.
- ANIBASE : Originally, Andalites were described as looking like the basic big head, big eyes, little body, tiny slit-for-a-mouth aliens with beige skin that you see everywhere. K.A. was trying to be nice, she says, because she figured at some point there would be a TV show or a movie based on the books, and she wanted to make aliens that could be created on a modest special effects budget. But Jean Feiwel, a Senior Vice President at Scholastic and the editor who read and bought the proposal for Animorphs, told Katherine Applegate that the aliens were too cliche. Stung by criticism, K.A. thought, "Fine, I'll show you!" and created the totally unique, hard-to-create-for-a-TV-show, blue-furred, centaur-like scorpion-tailed aliens that we all know and love. As K.A. puts it, "It was kind of a 'so there' moment."
- Visser Three treats Elfangor as if they've never met before. However, in The Andalite Chronicles, it is established that Elfangor knows both the Yeerk (Esplin 9466) and his host Alloran-Semitur-Corrass very well.
- Elfangor warns the kids to not direct their thoughts to Visser Three or he'd hear them. However, humans must be in morph to use thought-speak.
- During the Visser's tirade towards Elfangor, the latter can still hear the Animorphs whispering behind the construction junk. However, if Andalite ears can hear that well, the Visser should have been able to hear them as well.
- Additionally, Elfangor mentions that Hork-Bajir have very good hearing, yet the Hork-Bajir between Elfangor and the kids cannot hear them whispering.
- Tobias tells Jake that he morphed his cat Dude the night before, although not before his cat sliced his finger. Tobias then places his finger in his mouth; however, in the next chapter, it is stated that morphing fixes injuries since it is DNA based.
- Jake uses thought-speak to communicate with Tobias even though he is human.
- Afer Jake morphs into his dog, Homer, Jake has Homer's memory about Streak. However, one cannot acquire the morph's memories.
2011 Relaunch Differences
- In the original edition, Visser Three claims it is nice to meet Elfangor and remarks that he is a legend. However, in the 2011 reprint, Visser Three states that it is nice to meet Elfangor again and that he is a legend now.
- In the original edition, Elfangor tells the kids that so long as they don't direct their thoughts to him, Visser Three will not hear them. In the reprint, he clarifies that they must be morphed in order to use thought-speak.
- The spelling of "Salad Shooter" is changed to "SaladShooter".
- In the original edition, Tobias sticks his sliced finger in his mouth, explaining that his cat injured him earlier. However, since it is also explained that morphing fixes injuries, the reprint omits that line.
- In the original edition, Jake uses thought-speak while in human form to communicate with Tobias. However, since one must be in morph to use thought-speak (unless you are an Andalite), the reprint modifies the situation. Instead, Jake attempts to telepathically communicate with Tobias, only for Tobias to reply that he cannot hear Jake's thoughts and that Jake must be in morph in order to do so.
- In the original edition, Jake mentions that he owns a Sega console. In the reprint, it is changed to "game system."
- In the original edition, Jake refers to Dead Zone 5 as a CD game he plays on his computer; in the reprint, the "CD" and "computer" portion is removed, in an effort by the publisher and editors to remove outdated references.