The Predator is the fifth book in the Animorphs series, written by K.A. Applegate. It is the first book narrated by Marco.

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


Official Description

Marco never wanted to be an Animorph. He never wanted the ability to change into any animal he touches. He just wants to chill. Whatever happens, happens.

Jake, Rachel, Cassie, and Tobias know why Marco feels the way he does. He's worried about his dad -- the only family Marco has left. And if anything happens to him, his father will be all alone.

But something is about to change Marco's mind. It seems the Yeerks have a little surprise waiting for him. And it's definitely not nice. Now Marco has a reason to fight...

Plot Summary

Marco is walking home one night from getting some groceries at a 7-Eleven when he hears an old man getting mugged by some punks in a dark alley. He decides to step in by using his gorilla morph to take care of the punks, but the old man gets scared and grabs a gun that one of the punks had and starts shooting, Marco high-tails it out of there. The next day, the Animorphs meet out in a meadow where they talk about stealing a Yeerk ship so that Ax can use it to get back home and inform the Andalites how desperate the situation on Earth is.

Jake, Marco, and Ax (in human morph) go to the mall to get the components needed to create a Yeerk distress beacon. After doing so, Ax tries food with a mouth for the first time and is overwhelmed by taste and goes crazy in the food court, snatching up half-eaten food and gobbling it up. The mall cops step in and try to stop Ax, but he makes a break for it and begins morphing back to Andalite form.

The first-page illustration of The Predator, featuring Marco in his gorilla morph, ready to deal with some punks who are trying to mug an old man.

That's when Jake and Marco find out one of the mall cops is a Controller. They head for a grocery store where they quickly acquire and morph into lobsters and hide out in the lobster tank until things calm down. They soon find themselves in a bag of ice and about to be boiled alive; they quickly demorph, freaking out the lady that purchased them, but they convince her it's all a dream. That night, Marco wakes up from a nightmare, and his dad checks on him because he said "Mom."

The next day, Ax finishes building the distress beacon, but unfortunately, it's useless without a Z-space transponder. The Animorphs figure that Chapman would have one, so they sneak into Chapman's basement room undetected (where Rachel had been previously in cat morph) by morphing ants. Their experience in ant morph is nightmareish because ants are machine-like with no sense of self and because the tunnels they went through felt cramped and claustrophobic. When they finally get into Chapman's basement room and get the transponder, they also learn that Visser One is coming by to see how the Earth invasion is going. As the Animorphs head out, they're confronted and almost killed by an army of enemy ants but are able to demorph in time. 

The Animorphs meet in Cassie's barn after Ax finishes the distress beacon to discuss where and when to lay their trap. While Jake and Marco are walking home together, Marco tells Jake he's had enough of fighting, and after he helps Ax use the distress beacon to call the Bug fighter, he's done being an Animorph. He says he doesn't want his father to leave flowers at two graves, for both him and his mom. Marco is surprised that Jake takes this admission well.

A few days later, on Saturday, the Animorphs fly out toward a quarry to set their trap. They assume their battle morphs, with Ax staying in his natural Andalite form. Ax then activates the distress beacon and minutes later, a Bug fighter lands. However, instead of just the one Hork-Bajir and one Taxxon they expect from the Bug Fighter, they discover they are surrounded on all sides by Visser Three and an army of Hork-Bajir, each armed with a Dracon beam. It turns out that the Yeerks had figured out the Animorphs had laid a trap and used it to trap them instead. The Animorphs are taken captive and brought onboard the Blade ship, where they travel to the Yeerk Pool ship in orbit high above Earth's surface. There, they meet Visser One, whose host body is a human female, but one that Marco, as well as Jake, recognizes: it's Marco's mother, who was thought to have died in a boating accident two years ago. They see that Visser One and Visser Three don't really get along before being escorted to a holding cell. 

Animorphs in escape pod from pool ship The Predator japanese illustration

Marco in gorilla morph, and the rest of the Animorphs, in the escape pod ejected from the Pool ship that will send them back to earth.

They try to figure out how to escape when Hork-Bajir who serve under Visser One appear and tell them they can get to an escape pod. They first think it's a trap, but realize that they are being given these instructions because Visser One wants Visser Three to be humiliated for letting the "Andalite bandits" escape. They battle their way to a bottomless elevator-like tube called a Dropshaft, and take it into the escape pod room, where they get into an escape pod that is programmed to return them to Earth in the same area where they were initially seized.

The next day on Sunday, Marco and his father visit his mom's grave on the two year anniversary of her "death". Marco's father comments that he hasn't been a very good father to Marco lately (because of his despair over Marco's mother's death), and he doesn't think Marco's mother would want him to give up and continue working as a janitor. He has talked to his old boss, Jerry, about getting back to his work as an engineer. Marco is proud of his dad, and thinks back to his discovery that his mother is not dead. He now knows he has a reason to fight the Yeerks and remain an Animorph: to free his mother.


Visser One aboard the Pool Ship The Predator Japanese Illustration

Visser One in the Pool ship, as seen by the Animorphs as they are being held captive (Japanese illustration).

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Contributions to the Series' Story Arc

  • Visser One is introduced.
  • Marco's mom Eva is introduced. Marco and his dad thought she was dead and drowned two years prior, but she's actually still alive, and is Visser One's host body.
  • The existence and function of the Pool ship is first shown. This plays an important role in the Animorphs knowing that another Kandrona source still exists after they destroy the Earth-based Kandrona in The Stranger.
  • Marco in this book initially decides he is going to quit being an Animorph, because he worries about his dad. By the end of the book, his discovery that his mom is Visser One gives him a reason to continue fighting, so that he might save her one day.
  • Jake knows that Marco's mom is Visser One because he has seen her before and recognizes her, but the other Animorphs don't and Jake promises Marco he won't tell them.
  • Ax is thwarted in his attempt to fly home to the Andalite homeworld, but he still wants to call home, which he will do in The Alien.


Morpher Morphs acquired Morphs used
Jake Lobster, Ant Lobster, Ant, Peregrine Falcon, Siberian Tiger
Rachel Ant Ant, Bald Eagle, African Elephant
Cassie Ant Ant, Osprey, Wolf
Marco Lobster, Ant Silverback Gorilla, Lobster, Ant, Osprey
Ax Lobster, Ant, Northern Harrier Human, Lobster, Ant, Northern Harrier


  • The cover quote is, "What you see isn't always what you get...."
  • The inside front cover quote is, "Monkey see, monkey do...."
  • This is the second book in which the cover art does not depict a morph acquired in the book.

Book 5 Iron-on Transfer that came attached in the book

  • Promotional Tie-in: This book came attached with a free iron-on shirt decal.
  • The book's title, The Predator, refers to the Yeerk Pool ship, which this book introduces (but usually refers to as the "Yeerk Mother Ship". As Marco looks out the window of the Blade Ship, he observes, noting the Pool Ship's massive size, "It just hung in orbit, like a predator gazing down hungrily at blue Earth below."
  • This was the only book cover in the entire series to show Marco with longer hair, starting with Marco's next cover Book 10 (The Android) Marco would have his hair in a shorten style for the rest of the series.
  • The UK, French, Argentinian Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Polish edition's cover art depicts Marco morphing into a lobster rather than a gorilla. This is the only book where international editions featured a different cover morph.
Animorphs predator spanish depredador marco lobster

Marco morphing lobster on the spanish edition cover. For some reason, many of the international edition books featured the Marco/lobster morph instead of the Marco/gorilla morph.

  • This marks the first time when Ax tries out human food. The first thing he tastes? Double-Latte Coffee. The fact that Ax goes crazy over food consumption every time he morphs to human is played for laughs throughout the rest of the series - most significantly, with his obsessive love of Cinnamon buns and his tendency to play with sounds through vocal speech.
  • ANIBASE : One some of the stepbacks (inside covers) -- the pages behind the front cover that show a scene from a book -- cover artist David Mattingly would hide little images of his beloved, deceased cat Orson, as well as some other surprises. If you look on the brick wall on the stepback of this book, you can see "ORSON" spray-painted across it in white, and the initials "DBM" to the left in black, right above "96" -- the year the cover was made. Below Orson but above the trashcan is the name of another of David's cats, "MOUSE". There're a few more hidden images (of David's other cover work) and even part of the name of another of David's cats, but you'll have to find those for yourself.


Original Release Images

International Covers (Gorilla morph)

International Covers (Lobster Morph)

International Back Covers

2011 Rerelease Gallery


  1. [1]
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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