This article is written from a Real World point of view.

The Invasion, published in June 1996 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the first book in the Animorphs series. It is the first book narrated by Jake.


Offical Description

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...

Plot Summary

Animorphs 1 the invasion inside cover only high res

Inside cover showing Jake morphed as a lizard in his locker.

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.

Tobias morphed as dude cat string book 1 the invasion japanese illustration

Tobias morphed as his cat Dude, in Jake's room, playing with a string. Illustration from the Japanese publication.

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 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.
Jake as lizard spying on chapman book 1 the invasion japanese illustration

Jake morphed as green anole lizard, watching as Principal Chapman descends the steps to the Yeerk Pool at an entrance in the janitor's closet of his school. (Japanese version illustration)

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.


Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Other Characters:



Contributions to the Series' Story Arc


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
Cassie Horse Horse
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.
    Animorphs puzzle jake tiger fighting visser three eight headed creature

    One of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles featuring Jake fighting Visser Three at a battle in the Yeerk Pool.

  • 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, when 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. 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.[1]
  • 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 : 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 -- Animorphs 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 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."


Original Release - US images

Original Release - International Covers

Original Release - International Back Covers

2011 Re-release Gallery

Taken from


  1. Fundamento
Main Series #1 The Invasion | #2 The Visitor | #3 The Encounter | #4 The Message | #5 The Predator | #6 The Capture | #7 The Stranger | #8 The Alien | #9 The Secret | #10 The Android | #11 The Forgotten | #12 The Reaction | #13 The Change | #14 The Unknown | #15 The Escape | #16 The Warning | #17 The Underground | #18 The Decision | #19 The Departure | #20 The Discovery | #21 The Threat | #22 The Solution | #23 The Pretender | #24 The Suspicion | #25 The Extreme | #26 The Attack | #27 The Exposed | #28 The Experiment | #29 The Sickness | #30 The Reunion | #31 The Conspiracy | #32 The Separation | #33 The Illusion | #34 The Prophecy | #35 The Proposal | #36 The Mutation | #37 The Weakness | #38 The Arrival | #39 The Hidden | #40 The Other | #41 The Familiar | #42 The Journey | #43 The Test | #44 The Unexpected | #45 The Revelation | #46 The Deception | #47 The Resistance | #48 The Return | #49 The Diversion | #50 The Ultimate | #51 The Absolute | #52 The Sacrifice | #53 The Answer | #54 The Beginning
Megamorphs The Andalite's Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor's Secret | Back to Before
Chronicles The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | VISSER | The Ellimist Chronicles
Alternamorphs The First Journey | The Next Passage
TV Tie-Ins Meet the Stars of Animorphs

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