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The Stranger, published in April 1997 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the seventh book in the Animorphs series. It is the second book narrated by Rachel.

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

Plot

Official description

Okay. Rachel and the other Animorphs have finally found the new entrance to the Yeerk pool. They've even figured out a way to sneak in. The infamous roach morph. But they didn't count on roaches being a Taxxon delicacy. This time escape doesn't look so good.

And then everything stops. Everything. The  Taxxon, the human-controllers, the Hork-Bajir. Time. Now Rachel, Cassie, Marco, Jake, Tobias, and Ax are in for their wildest trip ever. They're going to get the chance to decide whether they want to stay on Earth and fight the Yeerks. Or go to another planet. And the guy giving them the choice says he can save them. Now all they have to do is make the choice...

Plot Summary

One night, Rachel and Cassie are at the circus with Rachel's dad, Dan and sisters, Jordan and Sara. After the show, Rachel and Cassie sneak around back where Rachel morphs into an elephant so that she could teach the elephant trainer a thing or two about mistreating elephants.

The Stranger Illustration

The first page illustration of The Stranger featuring Rachel in her grizzly bear morph, with Jake in his tiger morph, and Marco in his gorilla morph, riding the elevator to the top of the EGS tower.

The next day, after some reconnaissance work, Marco and Tobias tell the others they found an entrance to the underground Yeerk Pool. The Animorphs decide to infiltrate the pool and to try to find the location of the Earth-based Kandrona by going in as cockroaches. Once inside the complex, however, they get caught on the tongue of a Taxxon. As they are about to be devoured, time freezes and they feel themselves being forcibly brought out of morph, where they discover they're in a cafeteria filled with Controllers. They run and meet a unfrozen human, it was Tobias. They are then introduced to an all-powerful being called the Ellimist, who is the cause of all this. He tells the Animorphs that he cannot interfere with other species, but when they are in danger of becoming extinct, he can step in and save a sample. He informs them that he wants to preserve part of Earth's beauty, along with some humans, because the Yeerks are going to win the war in the future.

The Animorphs ask how much time they have to consider the offer, but the Ellimist tells them that they must decide now. If they choose yes, they, their families, a few other humans, and a few Earth animals would be transported to another planet, but if they choose no, everything would be returned to the way it was before the Ellimist's arrival. The group puts the decision up to a vote, and during the deliberation, Jake and Rachel notice a dropshaft and a human frozen in the act of moving up in it. The Animorphs choose not to accept the Ellimist's offer and are immediately back in their cockroach morphs on the Taxxon's tongue. They get swallowed, but start demorphing and Ax uses his tail blade to slice open the Taxxon's stomach, which gets the attention of all of the Controllers. They run as they begin to morph again and fight their way to the dropshaft, with Rachel morphing into a grizzly bear she secretly acquired the other night at The Gardens and goes into an uncontrollable rage. She snaps out of it and they all escape the Yeerk pool.

Later, Rachel has problems with making a choice of her own. Her dad is moving to another city in another state, and he wants Rachel to come along with him, but Rachel is overwhelmed by the decision of whether or not to go with him and return to a normal life, or to stay to continue fighting the Yeerks. Eventually, the Ellimist appears to the group again to give them the choice one more time. To aid in their decision, he transports them to a grim future in which the Yeerks have enslaved Earth, and they meet Visser Three, who is now Visser One, and a grown-up Rachel, who is now a Controller. Rachel notices, with some confusion, that most of the skyscrapers and buildings in the city have been leveled except for one: the EGS Tower. This tower stood at the base of a large, open Yeerk pool and was covered with a shiny dome. After they return to their own time, the Animorphs reverse their earlier decision and accept the Ellimist's offer. They expect to be immediately whisked away, however, nothing happens.

Rachel bear animorphs jigsaw puzzle cover hq

Rachel in bear morph fighting a Hork-Bajir at the top of the EGS tower, in a depiction from one of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles.

Rachel is disconcerted by this and concludes that the Ellimist did not transport them because he wanted a different answer. While thinking on it, she realizes that only because of the Ellimist's first appearance were they able to see the dropshaft and know that there was a chance to escape the Taxxon's grip. She then determines that during the trip to the future, the Ellimist was once again simply trying to show them something that he could not overtly tell them without interfering. She remembers the EGS Tower, deduces that the Kandrona must be located there based on the Yeerks' near-reverence for the Kandrona- the future Yeerks leaving the tower standing in future as it was almost sacred to them- and gathers the rest of the Animorphs for a raid.

After a vicious battle just before dawn, the Animorphs manage to take the top floor of the tower, where Rachel uses her elephant morph and shoves the Kandrona out of the window, destroying it. The Ellimist appears to them again, and confirms Rachel's suspicion that even he cannot tell the future, and humans might win the war yet. Later, Rachel goes to see her dad off knowing she's not going with him and he understands. As he leaves, Rachel sees Tobias up in the sky, saying the others are waiting for them, and she sets off to meet with them.

Appearing

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Contributions to the Series' Story Arc

  • The Animorphs meet the Ellimist.
  • The Ellimist is introduced.
  • Rachel's Grizzly Battle Morph is introduced.
  • Dan moves to the east coast and offers to take Rachel with him. She declines.
  • It is established the Ellimist has the power to alter the Nothlit effects of morphing.

Morphs

Morpher Morphs acquired Morphs used
Jake -- Cockroach, Siberian Tiger
Rachel

Great Horned Owl, Grizzly Bear.

African Elephant, Great Horned Owl, Cockroach, Grizzly Bear, Bald Eagle
Cassie -- Cockroach, Wolf
Marco -- Cockroach, Silverback Gorilla
Ax -- Human, Cockroach

Trivia

  • The cover quote is, "This time there may be no way out...."
  • The inside front cover quote is, "A little something to bear in mind...."
  • This is the first book in which the narrator is the only person to acquire a new morph.
  • The Ellimist was inspired by the Star Trek character Q, and the novel Flatland.
  • The Ellimist briefly demorphs Tobias to human. This is the first time Tobias is seen as human since The Invasion, and shows the Ellimist has the power to alter the Nothlit effects of morphing. Tobias is next seen as human in The Change again at the hands of the Ellimist.
  • During their time in the future, it is hinted that this timeline is actually an alternate future altogether rather than a possible future for the Animorphs' true timeline, as Rachel's Yeerk is confused by the presence of Ax and she and Visser Three refer to six humans coming into the future- the Visser even correcting himself to state that they are five humans and one Andalite- suggesting that this world is a timeline where Ax was never rescued and/or another person was with the main Animorphs when they walked through the construction site.
  • Starting with this book, the Animorphs became a monthly series. Animorphs was released every other month in the start before this, but due to high popularity, the Animorphs contract was bumped up to have a book come out every month instead, with a set number of special editions which would later turn into Megamorphs and Chronicles.
  • It's interesting to note that in this book Rachel has a conversation with Tobias and wonders how long the war will last and if they'll ever have to worry about college or how they'll operate if they ever have to move away from each other. The actual ages of the characters was kept a mystery through most of the series, and the length of the war in 'Animorphs time' was often wondered by the fans as well. The question wasn't answered until the last two books, #53: The Answer and #54: The Beginning.
  • The events in this book occur after #6: The Capture when the Big Red Eye (later named Crayak) takes a notice to Jake after his Yeerk dies, which presumably is what leads to the Ellimist contacting the Animorphs in this book. Although at first the Ellimist stays vague about himself and makes no mention of the two incidents being connected, he does try to help the Animorphs here by re-strengthening their determination in fighting for the war.

Gallery

Original Release US images

Original Release - International Covers

International Back Covers

2011 Re-release Gallery

Books
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


TV Adaptation

The Stranger was adapted as part of the Animorphs TV series, which aired on Nickelodeon and YTV between the fall of 1998 and the spring of 2000. The seventh book in the series was covered by the twelfth episode, "The Stranger", along with the fourteenth and fifteenth episodes, "The Leader" (Part 1 & 2). The TV episodes did not follow the books faithfully, altering many aspects of the characters' roles within the Animorphs, the events in the war against the Yeerks, and added plot lines that were not present in the books.

Changes from Book to Episode

  • In the book series, the Animorphs rarely acquired morphs if they did not have a specific use for them. In the TV series, Cassie encourages this behavior, acquiring whenever they can.
  • Ax is captured by several Controllers with rope lassos; it is clearly established in the book series that it is nearly impossible to sneak up on an Andalite from behind. Ax would also be able to quickly cut through the ropes and escape his captors.
  • In the TV series, the Animorphs meet the Ellimist when they are captured in a net by the Yeerks in the forest, as they search for Ax. In the book series, the Animorphs were infiltrating the Yeerk Pool as cockroaches when they were suddenly swallowed by a Taxxon and about to be digested. Allowing Rachel to notice a human-Controller flying up a drop shaft is the Ellimist's subtle interference, allowing the Animorphs to escape the Yeerk pool once they burst from the Taxxon's stomach. The Ellimist shows the kids the future so that they may deduce the location of the Kandrona, atop the EGS tower; in the TV series, the point of showing them a Yeerk-controlled future is so that Rachel may bring a knife back to their reality, allowing them to escape the Yeerks' net trap. The Animorphs discover the location of the Kandrona by overhearing a telephone conversation between Tom and another controller regarding the new Kandrona's installation.
  • The Kandrona in the TV series, unlike that in the books, emits a visible red light ray.
  • The only non-Andalite to morph in "The Stranger" is Rachel, into a lion; the attack on the Kandrona that was a key plot point of the book occurs in the "The Leader (Part 1)". Cassie and Rachel are left to destroy the device, while Jake and Marco are aboard the Pool ship, a plot line from The Predator.

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