|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 humans 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. 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 humans hide and watch, but are discovered and chased by the Yeerks. 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. 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 the teens quickly determine is a front for the Yeerks to acquire new hosts. They also discover that their assistant principal Mr. 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. 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. 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. Jake, Rachel, Marco, and Cassie barely escape along with a woman who is free. 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 Berenson (First Appearance)
- Jean Berenson (First Appearance)
- Homer (First Appearance)
- Big Jim (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Dude (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Escafil device (First Appearance)
- Andalite fighter (First Appearance)
- Blade ship (First Appearance)
- Dracon beams (First Appearance)
- Kandrona (First Appearance)
Contributions to the Series' Story Arc
- The main human characters are introduced.
- Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul is introduced.
- The Andalite-Yeerk War is introduced.
- Visser Three is introduced.
- Hork-Bajir are introduced.
- Prince Elfangor is eaten and murdered by Visser Three.
- The Animorphs' battle begins.
- Tobias is trapped in his hawk morph.
|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|
|Marco||Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)||Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)|
|Tobias||Tabby Cat (Dude), Red-tailed hawk||Tabby Cat (Dude), Red-tailed hawk (becomes trapped in morph)|
|Visser Three||--||Antarean Bogg, Unnamed creature with eight arms, legs, and heads, capable of breathing fire|
- 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.
- Tobias acquires his cat Dude, and becomes the first out of the five to acquire a morph. However, at the end of this book, he loses his morphing ability after getting trapped as a hawk. Despite this, Dude's DNA still exists within him; however, he regains his morphing ability later on, he is not able to morph into Dude.
- This was the 1st and only book cover to show 8 stages of a morph, starting with the following book (and beyond) only 5 stages were used, it's also 1 of 2 book covers to not show the full body of the character morphing the other being The Visitor.
- 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 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.
- ANIBASE : So what exactly IS the deal with Jake thought-speaking to Tobias while human, even though every other book says that's impossible? The answer's pretty basic: K.A. Applegate changed her mind about how thought-speaking works and forgot to change that part of the book. What a mistake -- Animorph fans have been hounding her about it ever since!
- 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 bdget. 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."